Category Archives: brunch

Strawberry Mint Muffins

DSC_0028

Muffins are the perfect breakfast item.  I will bake up a batch on a Sunday morning to be enjoyed over lazy cups of coffee all morning long.  Leftovers can be reheated and eaten on the go for busy weekday mornings.  Just about anything can be added to a basic muffin recipe.  Fruits, nuts, chocolate; the possibilities are endless.  I like to use buttermilk as the liquid in this recipe since I think it adds a slight tang to the muffin but you could easily substitute plain yogurt or even sour cream.  Depending upon the add-ins, I’ve also used good quality unsweetened flavored yogurt with fantastic results.

This time of year I like to use fresh fruit.  Fresh seasonal fruits are a perfect foil to the sweet, crumbly cake but if fresh fruits aren’t in season, frozen makes an absolutely acceptable substitution.  With fresh strawberries in abundance I had been thinking about baking up a batch of strawberry muffins all week.  When I discovered mint growing in my garden I decided to turn these muffins into the ultimate spring treat.  The mint adds a fresh contrast to the sweet berries and the combination is amazing. Do eat these muffins warm.  If you can’t eat them fresh from the oven reheat them in the microwave for a few seconds. You won’t be disappointed.

STRAWBERRY MINT MUFFINS

3 cups flour plus 1 Tablespoon

1 cup white sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 Teaspoon baking soda

1/2 Teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1 1/4 cups sliced strawberries

1 heaping Tablespoon fresh minced mint

1 Teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Granulated sugar (if desired)

  • Preheat an oven to 375 degrees.  Generously grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
  • Combine 3 cups of flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the mint and lemon zest.  Set aside.
  • In a medium-sized bowl whisk the eggs until blended.  Add in the buttermilk and stir to combine.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg-buttermilk mixture.  Gently stir until just combined.
  • Add in the butter and mix until incorporated.
  • In a small bowl toss the strawberries with 1 tablespoon of flour.  Mix into the batter being careful not to crush the berries.
  • Using a large ice cream scoop or spoon divide the muffin batter evenly between twelve muffin cups.
  • Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with granulated sugar if desired.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until browned and a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tins.

Popovers

images-85

I love big, fluffy, and eggy popovers.  There is something innately elegant about this oh so simple treats.  Served in their simplest form with a dab of butter and a dollop of jam they are the perfect breakfast treat.  Or you can follow an old Maine tradition and eat popovers and chowder on the lawn of the Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park.  In college I discovered Judie’s Restaurant in Amherst, Massachusetts where oversized popovers were served as the foundation for hearty sandwiches, as an accompaniment for soup or salad or all on their own.  (When I was back in Amherst this past summer I went to Judie’s with the sole purpose of eating a popover).

I tend to forget how easy popovers are to make. This recipe from America’s Test Kitchen only has six ingredients. Instead of using a blender I use a stick mixer which makes cleanup a breeze.  With a little prior planning (the batter needs to rest before baking) they are a snap to make.  If you want to serve them for breakfast you can even make the batter the night before and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight.  If you do this there isn’t any excuse for not serving them for breakfast.

POPOVERS

2 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • Blend the eggs and milk in a blender until smooth.  Add the flour, melted butter, and salt and continue to blend on high speed until the batter is bubbly and smooth, about 1 minute. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • While the batter is resting, measure 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil into each cup of a popover pan.  Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position, place the pan in the oven, and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • After the batter has rested, pour it into a 4-cup liquid measuring cup.  Working quickly, remove the pan from the oven and divide the batter evenly among the 6 cups in the pan.  Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes without opening the oven door.
  • Lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake until golden brown all over, 15 to 18 minutes more.  Gently tip the popovers out onto a wire rack and let cool slightly before serving, about 2 minutes.

Cinnamon Buns w/ Cream Cheese Icing

IMG_3741

There’s nothing like waking up to a house filled with the aroma of warm cinnamon. Well, it isn’t a scent this cook wakes up to herself but her family does. And then I get to enjoy it alongside my lucky family. If you love cinnamon, and specifically cinnamon buns, then this recipe from King Arthur Flour is for you. It is rich, spicy and with a smear of cream cheese icing on top, decadent but the perfect weekend morning treat.

If you have night owl tendencies the way I do, even with the two separate dough risings, you can have these warm buns on the table by the time the rest of the family wakes up. Some mornings I do this but on others I prepare the rolls to the point of the second rising the night before. I then cover the buns and let them rise overnight before popping them in the oven in the morning. I also let the icing ingredients set out too; this ensures that they are soft and ready to go when the buns are. So however or whenever you prepare them, enjoy. They are just so yummy.

 

For the dough:
1 cup lukewarm milk
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

For the filling:
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

For the icing:
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup  unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer combine combine the milk, eggs, butter, flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Use a wooden spoon and stir until the mixture becomes cohesive. 
  • Using a dough hook, mix for 4 to 7 minutes at medium speed until the dough is well combined and smooth. 
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to grease all sides, cover the bowl with a proof cover or plastic wrap, and let it rise for 60 minutes, till it’s nearly doubled in bulk.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and roll it into a 16 x 21-inch rectangle.
  • Spread the dough with the 1/3 cup butter.
  • Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl then sprinkle it evenly over the dough.
  • Starting with a short end, roll the dough into a log, and cut it into 12 slices.
  • Place the buns in a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch pan or two 9 inch round pans.
  • Cover the pan with a proof cover or plastic wrap, and let the buns rise until they’re nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.
  • Bake the buns in a preheated 400°F oven until they’re golden brown, about 15 minutes. While the buns are baking, make the icing.
  • To make the icing: In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla.
  • Spread the icing on the buns while they’re warm. 

Yields: 12 large buns

IMG_3743

Cinnamon-Apple Dutch Baby

pancake

Breakfast is undoubtedly my favorite meal of the day yet it is one that I am more apt to skip than not simply because I’m not a fan of cooking before I’ve had my morning dose of coffee. On weekends I love lounging around and sipping my coffee while I catch up on the news and plan my day ahead. By the time I am ready to get moving the breakfast hour has passed or what I want to make simply takes too long to get from bowl to table. But when I am really craving breakfast a Dutch baby is my go-to dish.

A Dutch baby is essentially a giant popover and it comes together and cooks up so quickly that it is silly not to make one. The key to a puffy Dutch baby is a very hot oven and eating it the minute it comes out of the oven. To achieve the hot oven I turn mine on before I start any of my other preparations. I cook the apples in the same cast iron skillet that I will bake in then pop the pan in the oven the minute my apples are done. It truly is fast; you can have go from bowl to table in twenty minutes. Why that’s just enough time to enjoy a second cup of coffee.

APPLE-CINNAMON DUTCH BABY

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 semi-tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I like Pink Lady)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk

2 large eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Preheat oven to 450°.
  • Melt the butter in a 9 inch cast iron skillet set over medium high heat.
  • Add the sliced apples and sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • Stirring occasionally, sautee the apples until they are soft and the sugar begins to caramelize, about 5 minutes.
  • In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, flour, sugar and salt.
  • Add the batter to the apples and immediately place the skillet in the oven.
  • Bake for 10 minutes or until puffed and browned.
  • Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Spice Waffles

IMG_3095

This is for all of you pumpkin fans out there. Specifically anyone who loves the warm and fragrant flavors of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg combined with their pumpkin. Think pumpkin pie, pumpkin flan or even the flavors of Starbuck’s pumpkin spiced latte. Are you hungry yet? Then try these pumpkin spice waffles from countryliving.com. Filled with rich spices and sweet pumpkin they are sure to jump start even the laziest weekend morning. I love to serve them topped with real maple syrup along with a side of crispy bacon or sausage patties. Now that is what I call the perfect autumn brunch.

PUMPKIN SPICE WAFFLES

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

4 eggs

2 cups buttermilk

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat a waffle iron.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and cloves in a large bowl and set aside.
  • Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, pumpkin purée, sugar, butter, and vanilla in another large bowl until smooth.
  • While whisking, add the flour mixture and blend until smooth.
  • Generously coat the waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray and cook the batter in the waffle iron as recommended in the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Repeat with remaining batter.

Yields: 8 waffles

Popovers

images-85

I love big, fluffy, and eggy popovers.  There is something innately elegant about this oh so simple treats.  Served in their simplest form with a dab of butter and a dollop of jam they are the perfect breakfast treat.  Or you can follow an old Maine tradition and eat popovers and chowder on the lawn of the Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park.  In college I discovered Judie’s Restaurant in Amherst, Massachusetts where oversized popovers were served as the foundation for hearty sandwiches, as an accompaniment for soup or salad or all on their own.  (When I was back in Amherst this past summer I went to Judie’s with the sole purpose of eating a popover).

I tend to forget how easy popovers are to make. This recipe from America’s Test Kitchen only has six ingredients. Instead of using a blender I use a stick mixer which makes cleanup a breeze.  With a little prior planning (the batter needs to rest before baking) they are a snap to make.  If you want to serve them for breakfast you can even make the batter the night before and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight.  If you do this there isn’t any excuse for not serving them for breakfast.

POPOVERS

2 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • Blend the eggs and milk in a blender until smooth.  Add the flour, melted butter, and salt and continue to blend on high speed until the batter is bubbly and smooth, about 1 minute. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • While the batter is resting, measure 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil into each cup of a popover pan.  Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position, place the pan in the oven, and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • After the batter has rested, pour it into a 4-cup liquid measuring cup.  Working quickly, remove the pan from the oven and divide the batter evenly among the 6 cups in the pan.  Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes without opening the oven door.
  • Lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake until golden brown all over, 15 to 18 minutes more.  Gently tip the popovers out onto a wire rack and let cool slightly before serving, about 2 minutes.

Raspberry-Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

IMG_5995

Bread pudding is the oh so humble dish that is oh oh so good. I mean, who would think that a dish built around stale bread cubes could end up being so impressive. And bread pudding is just that; crusty bread that has been soaked in a rich egg and milk custard and baked. It can be made as is or you can make it fancy with the addition of fruit, chocolate or even nuts. You really can’t go wrong.

Bread pudding is one of my favorite ways to use up old bread. I am so lucky to have really good bread readily available here in Belgium. It tastes wonderful when it is still warm from the oven (which is how it is most often bought here). The bread is so good that it usually disappears before the end of the day but sometimes it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t bread pudding is on the menu for the next day.

I love combining fruit with chocolate so this bread pudding is one of my favorites to make. It can be served as either a dessert or a brunch dish. I’ve served it both ways and it has always been met with great appreciation around the table. Because the chocolate chips and raspberries are evenly distributed throughout the dish, you get a bit of their sweet and tangy goodness in every bite. It is really important to use fresh fruit; if raspberries aren’t in season strawberries or even bananas can be substituted. Just be sure to fold them in right before baking so their keep their texture and color.

RASPBERRY-CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAD PUDDING

1 day-old baguette, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

4 eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

4 cups milk

1 cup fresh raspberries

1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

  • Lightly butter an 10 inch souffle dish. Add the bread cubes and spread them evenly throughout the dish.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla and salt until well blended.
  • Pour in the milk and whisk until combined.
  • Pour the mixture over the bread cubes. Let stand for at least 1 hour or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.
  • When you are ready to proceed, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you have refrigerated the bread mixture overnight, allow it to sit for 20 minutes at room temperature before proceeding.
  • Sprinkle the raspberries and chocolate chips over the top of the bread cubes and using a rubber spatula, gently fold them into the bread. You don’t want to break the berries but you do want them to be evenly distributed throughout the pudding.
  • Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the pudding comes out clean.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature dusted with the confectioners’ sugar.

Serves 8

 

Pecan Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

IMG_4420

Coffee cake is a classic that never goes out of style. Tender and crumbly with lots of flavorful cinnamon, and perhaps nuts, coffee cake is the perfect mid-morning snack when served alongside a cup of coffee (hence its name). At least that is what my husband’s co-workers said when they devoured an entire coffee cake in less than 10 minutes.

This recipe comes from King Arthur FlourBecause I was gifted with several pounds of pecans I’ve taken the liberty of adding finely chopped nuts into the streusel topping. I love the toasty crunch they add  to the topping. There are two things that you will immediately notice about this recipe; first it makes a large cake. If you prefer, you can cut the recipe in half then bake it in a single 8″ x 8″ cake pan. (You may need to reduce the baking time slightly). The second thing you will notice is that the recipe does call for a lot of sugar. Disliking anything too sweet, I was initially skeptical about the amounts but much to my delight the cake is not sweet. Instead, the generous amount of cinnamon adds spice and complexity to the cake. So bake the cake, pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy.

PECAN CINNAMON STREUSEL COFFEE CAKE

Streusel Topping:

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Cake:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs

3/4 cup plain yogurt

1 1/4 cups milk

3 3/4 cups all purpose flour

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9 x 13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • To make the topping, whisk  together the sugar, salt, flour, and cinnamon.
  • Add the melted butter, stirring till well combined. Set the topping aside.
  • To make the filling, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder in a small bowl Set it aside.
  • To make the cake, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, salt, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat well combined and smooth.
  •  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  •  In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt and milk till well combined.
  •  Add the flour to the butter mixture alternating with the yogurt and milk mixture, beating gently to combine.
  • Pour half the batter into the prepared pan, spreading all the way to the edges.
  • Sprinkle the filling evenly atop the batter.
  • Spread the remaining batter atop the filling.
  • Use a table knife to gently swirl the filling into the batter. You don’t want to stir the filling into the batter, rather you want to create a ribbon of cinnamon filling throughout the cake.
  • Sprinkle the topping over the batter in the pan.
  • Bake until the cake is dark golden brown around the edges and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving.
  • Serve cake right from the pan.

Yields 16 pieces

Cannoli French Toast

IMG_4259

French toast is a breakfast and brunch favorite in my house. There is something about the simple ingredients of bread, eggs and milk that turn what should be a basic meal into something special. But why stop there? These pantry staples are just the jumping off point for endless possibilities of morning culinary fun.

Case in point is this stuffed French toast, adapted from the Noble Pig website that brings a touch of dessert to your morning meal without being overly sweet. The recipe is inspired by classic Italian cream filled dessert of cannoli. I’ve used my own cannoli filling recipe, infused with lemon zest and a touch of Grand Marnier. And to complete the dish, and give you a serving of fruit, I’ve topped the French toast with some of the juicy fresh strawberries that are just beginning to appear in my local markets.

CANNOLI FRENCH TOAST

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar plus more for dusting

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Pinch nutmeg

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon Grand Marnier, other orange liqueur or vanilla extract

12 slices sandwich bread, crusts removed

1 cup sliced strawberries

  • Sift confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl, then stir in ricotta cheese, lemon zest and nutmeg.
  • In a shallow dish (a cake pan works well), beat the eggs, milk and Grand Marnier.
  • Trim the crusts off 12 slices of sandwich bread and using a rolling pin, roll out the bread to flatten.
  • Place 6 slices of bread on a flat surface then add 1 tablespoon of the ricotta cheese mixture to the center of each slice. Top with the remaining 6 slices of bread.
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat.
  • Working in batches, dip the stuffed bread slices in the egg mixture and transfer to the skillet.
  • Cook, turning once, until puffed and golden, about 3 minutes.
  • Dust with more confectioners’ sugar and top with the sliced strawberries before serving.

Serves 6

Ham, Cheese & Asparagus Filled Crepes

IMG_3988

It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

I love this dish. It can be the ultimate leftover meal–if as I do, you have pre-cooked ham and a stash of pre-made crepes sitting in your fridge or freezer–or you can make it completely from scratch. Made with leftovers it is the ideal “Fast Friday” dinner; not so much if you make all of the components from scratch at dinner time, but it is delicious just the same.

I love homemade crepes and when I make them, I usually make a double batch then stash the extra in the freezer for quick meals (like this one). If your crepes are frozen, simply let them defrost in the refrigerator during the day and then they will be ready for assembly once dinner time rolls around. And the ham? My family is a fan of spiral cut hams but even the smallest ones out there produce a lot of meat for a family of three. My solution is to enjoy a meal or two with the meat then cut it off the bone and freeze it for later use. Again, it is perfect for this meal.

To make this extra special, and decadent, top with a spoonful of hollandaise sauce. Now that is good.

HAM, CHEESE & ASPARAGUS STUFFED CREPES

1 bunch asparagus

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

8 crepes

16 slices pre-cooked ham

8 thin slices Gruyere cheese

  • Trim the asparagus and steam until just tender crisp. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large non-stick skillet. Once the butter has melted, add the ham and saute until warmed through. Remove the ham from the skillet but do not clean it.

To assemble the crepes:

  • Lay one crepe on a flat surface and place a slice of cheese in its center.
  • Top with two slices of ham and then three or four spears of asparagus.
  • Fold the bottom quarter of the crepe up towards the center then fold the sides in. You want to form an envelope with its top kept open.
  • Move the filled crepe to a plate and place seam side down.
  • Repeat with the remaining crepes and filling.

To cook the crepes:

  • Melt the remaining butter in the skillet.
  • Working in two batches, place the crepes seam side down in the melted butter and saute for 3-4 minutes.
  • Carefully turn the crepes over and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Serves 4

Making Here Home

Expat life, travel...and books

One Real Peach.

reflections on the heartbreak and hilarity of mothering, writing, and living authentically

Wine and Cheese (Doodles)

Salty observations about life, love, and living abroad

Sprouted Kitchen

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Not Without Salt

Delicious Recipes and Food Photography by Ashley Rodriguez.

101 Cookbooks

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Local Milk Blog

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Spoon & Shutter

In and out of the kitchen with Susan and Ted Axelrod

Plating Up

The food that accompanies my adventures!

A Life of Spice

Food, Culture and Lifestyle with Monica Bhide

The Blueberry Files

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Zosia Cooks

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Yummy Supper

The food that accompanies my adventures!

What Julie Ate

It's a delicious life, but somebody has to live it.

United Noshes

The food that accompanies my adventures!

The Bitten Word

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Hip Foodie Mom

The food that accompanies my adventures!

From Away

Cooking and Eating in Maine

Always Order Dessert

The food that accompanies my adventures!

Yankee Kitchen Ninja

The food that accompanies my adventures!

%d bloggers like this: