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Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Hi there.  Deep breath.  Life moves quickly, sometimes too quickly to even think about sneaking away and sitting down to write.  But here I am, and boy do I have beautiful things to report.

The three things from the title of this post all happened and I want to tell you about them all, though not in that exact order.

The second big thing that happened as of late was that I had a birthday.  April 5. Sometimes it occurs to me that every single day is the birthday of some person, somewhere on this big old earth of ours.  How lovely is that?!  Think of how special and wonderful you feel on your big day–that is how someone is feeling right now.  Maybe I’m an eternal optimist, but if that thought doesn’t make the world seem a bit friendlier, then I don’t know what would.

It’s easy to bemoan the prospects of getting older, but as my mother always says, it sure beats the alternative.  After all, on the cusp of another birthday, we stand to be the recipients of the vastly simple joys of being in our bodies–the sight of springtime flowers, the pleasure of laughing deeply and loudly, the ability to fill our lungs with air and bellies with good food.  All of this if only we can bear the facts that the next year will undoubtedly bring us weeds in our gardens, some type of small or large heart break, a cold snow, a bad sun burn, and yes, the small pains of growing older.  It seems like a great deal to me, especially when it means another year to enjoy treats like these profiteroles.

So now the third thing that happened was that our family had a baby shower for my sister.  Take everything I said about the loveliness of a birthday and multiply it by one thousand.  That is the joy we already feel for this little one we have yet to meet.  My contribution to the party was facilitating a onesie decorating table.  This way my sister and her husband will see sweet messages when they are changing the baby.  Check ’em out, we have some talented loved ones!

And now the first thing that happened.  I made banana oatmeal chocolate chip muffins.  Boom!  Just like that, I was sitting at work and I started thinking about them.  Sometimes, I read a recipe and it stays with me in the back of my brain, slowly nudging at me trying to get my attention, like a hungry kitten paws at your leg.  But other times, it hits me like a ton of bricks, a food that I’m not sure how to make yet, a recipe I’ve never read but am sure exists somewhere out there, in the great expanse of cookbook land.

And so it was with these muffins.  I knew I had bananas at home–if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that I’ve been loving baking with bananas lately–and I was in serious need of a muffin.  But I wanted one that was more wholesome than sickly sweet dessert.  I combined a few recipes I had, tweaking and tasting until, I got this….


dry ingredients:

2 c flour- 1 ¼  cup whole wheat pastry flour ¾ white flour
½ c oats  (old fashioned)
½ c sugar
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
½ c dark choc chips
wet ingredients:

6 tbsp butter, melted
3 mashed bananas
1 whole egg, 1 egg white
½ cup yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Note:  I think that 1/2 cup sugar was actually too much for my taste buds (although this amount is considerably less than your typical muffin) so if you want to reduce it, please do!  I think the chocolate chips add a lot of sweetness anyhow.  Also, by all means play around with the flour, I am trying to do less and less white but everyone’s taste buds are different.

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter muffin cups or use papers.  This yields about 18 muffins of a good size.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients and add to dry, stir until incorporated but don’t overmix.

Once everything is mixed up, fill muffin cups about 3/4 of the way full.  Bake about 25 minutes or until they are firm in the middle.  Cool on a wire rack.  Enjoy!

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Life is sort of weird right now.  I’ve been serving on a jury since last week.  My new routine is wake up, take the D train to the Yankee Stadium stop and report to the Bronx Supreme Court.  On Sunday, I’m running a half marathon.  My dreams have been filled with the worst case senarios.  I show up without my bib or without running shoes or worst of all with no idea why I am there.  My life could use a little normalcy right now, before I start thinking of “juror” as my new job title.  It’s times like these that baking therapy helps.

Recently, I stumbled across A Homemade Life, Molly Wizenberg’s memoir-cookbook that is just incredibly lovely.  Remember when I made some pancakes from it?  Mmmm I have to make those again soon.  Anyhow, the banana bread recipe in that book had been in my recipe queue for ages and was beginning to sulk and fret and beg that I make it.  This is the post on Molly’s Orangette blog that the recipe originally appears in.  I love Molly’s description of the bread, it is probably close to the description in her book but the recipe in the book is slightly different.

Well I am here to tell you, if you ever happen to find yourself let out of jury duty early on a rainy March day during which you were vexed by race anxiety daydreams, this bread will do the trick.  This bread was a miracle worker for my mood.  Ok, so it’s not bread.  It’s cake.  Let’s just lay that out there right now.  If you eat it for breakfast, as I definitely did, don’t try to kid yourself–you are eating cake for breakfast.  But I’ve made my peace with that, and so should you.

Here is Molly’s recipe, my substitutions are noted:

6 tbs unsalted butter, melted

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour ( I used 1 cup whole wheat plus 1 cup white flour)

3/4 cup granulated sugar (I used 1/2 cup sugar)

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips)

1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 large bananas)

1/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt (all I had in the house was raspberry yogurt from my CSA, it worked great!)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with butter or cooking spray, and set aside.  Make sure to melt butter first (in the microwave) and then set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Add chocolate chips and crystallized ginger, mix to combine.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly then add the banana, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla.  Mix well.  Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and stir.  Molly stresses not to overmix….although the batter will be lumpy, you don’t want chunks of flour.  Pour batter into the pan you prepared and pop it in the oven.

Bake until the bread is golden and firm in the center.  This takes about 1 hour.  Cool the bread in the pan 5 minutes and on a wire rack until completely cooled off.  I ate it all before I had any to freeze, but Molly says it freezes very nicely as long as you cool it completely first.

Enjoy!

Oh, and a little jury duty humor to brighten your day, you’re welcome!

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Mmm.  I’m eating pancakes right now.  No, I’m not eating them for dinner.  I had pizza for dinner.  I guess you might say they are my dessert or else they are my second dinner.  No matter, they are the best pancakes I’ve ever had. YES.  You read that correctly.  They are THE BEST pancakes I’ve ever had.

Let’s start at the beginning.  I’ve always been more of a pancake kind of gal.  French toast is nice, I enjoy it now and again especially if it’s made from challah bread.  But for some reason, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always gravitated toward pancakes.  Growing up, we didn’t have pancakes on a regular basis–my parents are the kind of parents who allowed us to have treats on Fridays/vacations/holidays/birthdays but not on a regular basis.  Even soda was banned from our house.  Thank goodness!  At the time I didn’t understand why we weren’t allowed to have a junk drawer, but now I am so very grateful for my lefty-hippie parents.

Anyhow, pancakes.  When I was young, they were a treat.  Summers we always spent at least a week in Maine at the family cottage.  Often that vacation fell within blueberry season and we would pick as many as possible.  I’m talking about wild berries–the small, sweet ones not the huge, tasteless factory farm guys!  Now, my Dad doesn’t cook much but he makes a mean blueberry pancake.  It was a special treat to enjoy his berry pancakes on the deck of the cottage (come to think of it, we still enjoy them from time to time even though we’re all grown up)!  Another pancake memory that I hold dear is eating a whole plate of silver dollar pancakes at IHOP with my Mom.  It was very late at night after one of my Nutcracker performances when I was in second grade.  Another little girl who had happened to have seen the show was there with her mom too.  She recognized me and I felt like such a star!

Ok, so now you understand my pancake past.  Let me tell you about my pancake present.  Lately, a few things have reignited my love of pancakes.   First off, I found some incredible recipes that I’ll share with you now.  But also, New York is getting a huge amount of snow and I think pancakes are perfect for snowy mornings when all you want to do is be lazy on the couch.  Finally, I’m training for a half marathon and my body is craving carbs like never before.

But enough about all that, on to the actual recipes!

Pancake Number 1

I’ve been hanging onto this recipe for a while now–wow, I think for almost a year and a half.  Perhaps some part of me knew I’d be going through a pancake period later on down the road.  These cakes cook up beautifully.  In fact, I thought they would be my favorite until I made the recipe I’m eating right now.  However, these are a very close second favorite. Now here is the link to it, on a food blog called 5 Second Rule but it is modified from The Silver Palate Goodtimes Cookbook.

They are yummy.  Don’t be fooled by the fact that they are “multigrain”.  Although they seem to be much healthier for you than a standard pancake, they are very very yummy.  These are sort of crisp and have a crunch and weight to them.  But they are still light enough to be a pancake.  I added cinnimon to them and I would have added apples if I had had them on hand.  Also, I had blue corn meal and since I used it they all had this nice purplish hue.  Good news!  The recipe makes quite a lot but the batter freezes splendidly.  So if you are a single gal such as myself, go ahead and make enough for a few days and freeze the rest of the batter.

Pancake Number 2

Ok so on to my new favorite pancake recipe.  I was hoping I could find it online since the recipe is Molly Wizenberg’s of Orangette but apparently it is just in her book, A Homemade Life.  I can’t really get into it right now, seeing as this post is already too long, but I almost couldn’t start reading this book.  It wasn’t because I didn’t want to–after all it is a memoir/cookbook, two things I love–but rather because I knew I would be so jealous of her life.  I’m actually not jealous, but moreso in awe of her story.  If you are intregued, look into it later…right now, you have pancakes to make:

-2/3 cup all purpose flour, unbleached

-1/3 cup buckwheat flour

-2 tsp sugar

-1/2 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp baking powder

-1/4 tsp baking soda

-3/4 c buttermilk

-1/4 c milk plus 2 tbsp

-1 large egg, separated

-2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit

-frozen berries

-vegetable oil

-maple syrup or powdered sugar

NOTE: if you do not have buttermilk (as I almost never do!) then subsitute 1/2 cup yogurt and 1/4 cup milk but don’t forget you also need to add the extra 1/4 plus 2 tbsp as the recipe calls for.  Try to use real butter, not margarine and use something other than skim milk if you can.  I had 1% milk and 2% plain yogurt.

1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a  large bowl.

2. Whisk butter milk (or plain yogurt plus milk) with the regular milk in a small bowl or a 2 cup liquid measuring cup.

3. Beat the egg yolk into the cooled melted butter and then whisk this into the milk mixture.

4. Mix the wet into the dry ingredients until just combined, don’t overmix!  The batter is pretty thick.

5. Heat up a griddle and brush with oil.  When it is about hot (I set my to medium-high heat) ladle out the batter no more than 1/4 c at a time.  When the underside starts to set after about a minute, add some frozen berries–I added blueberries and raspberries.  After about 3 minuets total on the first side, flip and let sizzle for 1-2 minutes on the other side.

The recipe yields about 10-12 pancakes and I didn’t freeze any of the batter since I’m sure I’ll have no problem eating all these within the week.  I think these are my favorite because they are so moist and dense and full of flavor.  I actually ate them without any syrup or jam, just a sprinkling of powdered sugar.  I can’t vouch for how they taste without berries, but with them, each bite packs a sweet, tangy punch of yum.

Trust me, whether you are preparing for a half marathon or sitting lazily on a the couch on a snowy afternoon (or if you are doing both!), you are going to love these. Enjoy!

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