Tag Archives: Breakfast

Breakfast in Bed: Almond Milk Pancakes

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Post by Alison Hein.

I’ve recently begun experimenting with almond milk in my cooking and baking. Almond milk has a creamy texture and mildly sweet, nutty taste. It is dairy-free, contains no cholesterol, and is low in calories. Besides that, it is delicious! I completely understand why it is now so popular and available.

I’m entranced by the simplicity of this pancake recipe. The almond milk is sweet and rich enough that there is no need for sweetener or shortening. The texture, somewhat thicker than usual pancake batter, takes a little getting used to. But the end result is well worth the learning curve. Not as many bubbles appear (you’ll need to peek at the bottom of the pancakes while cooking), and the almond cakes will not brown as much when cooked.

Almond Milk Pancakes 1

I’ve been using my old cast iron pan for frying, which is so well-seasoned that I don’t need to use any shortening at all. Amazingly, I don’t feel the need for butter – a splash of maple syrup or chopped, fresh fruit seems just right.

Use almond, buckwheat or rice flour if you are looking for a gluten-free pancake option. Or, toast some almond slivers in advance for a nice, crunchy topping.

You’ll soon come to see why almond milk was a staple in medieval kitchens, and why it is a wonderful choice for breakfast in bed!

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Ingredients 

1 cup flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup almond milk
Cooking spray, butter, or vegetable oil, for frying

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Preparation

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Whisk in the egg, then the almond milk, until batter is thick and smooth.

Heat a pan or griddle on the stove over medium to medium low heat. Splash a few drops of water on the pan to test the heat. The pan is ready when the water drops sizzle immediately. Add cooking spray or a small amount of butter or oil. (If you have a well-seasoned cast iron pan, you may be able to completely dispense with any type of shortening.)

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Ladle about 3 tablespoons of batter into the pan for each pancake, and spread out a little in the pan. Cook until small bubbles appear throughout the pancake, about 1 minute. Flip once with spatula and continue cooking until lightly golden, another minute or so. Serve hot with real maple syrup or chopped, fresh fruit.

Makes about 8 3-inch pancakes.

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Breakfast in Bed – Hot Cocoa

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by: Alison Hein

It’s so easy to make prepared hot cocoa – just stir a packet of mix into a mug of hot water and pop it into the microwave – you may wonder why I suggest you make your own.

Well, truth be told, it’s not too much harder than the method just described. Yes, you have to dirty a pot and make a few measurements, maybe wait 5 minutes longer for the final product. But trust me, the end result is more than worth this tiny bit of extra fuss.

Hot Cocoa 1

This recipe mirrors the classic Hershey’s instructions printed on the side of the little brown box of hot cocoa mix. I’ve just added a little oomph by topping with whipped cream and cinnamon. Don’t stop here though. This recipe is merely the basic pattern for finding your very own hot cocoa mix, tailored just for you. Try using different types of chocolate – there is now a wide variety of cocoa offerings in every store. White cocoa is lovely, and you dark chocolate addicts can even shave a bit of your chocolate bar right into the milk before warming.

I like cinnamon, but nutmeg, mace or allspice add a little punch, or you can even try a sprinkling of sea salt or a tiny dash of cayenne pepper for some serious spice! Sweeten the cocoa with brown sugar, honey, or caramel sauce. On special days, pour in a finger of whiskey, brandy or Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Hot Cocoa 4

Make a big pot of steaming hot cocoa for a large group (simply multiply the recipe times the number of people) or just treat yourself to a little something special. Homemade Hot Cocoa – so right for these fleeting autumn days, so right for breakfast in bed.

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons whipped cream
Dash of cinnamon

Hot Cocoa 5

Preparation

Pour milk into small, heavy saucepan. Whisk in cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla and salt. Heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until smooth and thoroughly warmed. Pour into mug. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Makes 1 serving.

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Breakfast in Bed – Stuffed Italian Frying Peppers

Italian Frying Peppers 10

Post by Alison Hein.

I’m always on the lookout for a good, new restaurant, and happily, my husband, Kevin, is always on board. So when a homey new BYOB Italian storefront recently popped up,  we promptly made a reservation after learning that the chef makes only fresh pasta, uses handed-down recipes from the old country, and is a CIA alum.

The interior was clean and welcoming, the wait staff cordial and professional. A daily specials menu featured an exciting appetizer of stuffed Italian frying peppers. When a trio of cubanelles was brought to our table, lightly charred and neatly lined up, I began to salivate. Then, Kevin and I each took our first bite, and our expectations were dashed. They were burning hot on the outside, yet cold in the center (heated in the microwave???). The stuffing was bland and over-bready.

Italian Frying Peppers 2

“These could be so much better,” I said.

So I went home and began to experiment, using a stuffing of sautéed Italian sweet and spicy sausages, just a touch of breadcrumbs and parmesan, and a heavy hand with the seasoning. Cooking the stuffed peppers in a lidded foil pan on the grill seemed the logical next step. The results were delicious – an instant success of an appetizer.

A few modifications – pancetta instead of Italian sausage, no breading at all, and a couple of scrambled eggs – turns these lovely peppers into an instant success of a breakfast in bed that will keep your expectations intact.

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Ingredients

1 Italian frying pepper (Cubanelle)
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons diced pancetta
1 small red onion or shallot (2 to 3 tablespoons), chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375º. Clean and core Italian frying pepper by cutting a circle around the stem and removing inner seeds. Remove as much of the ribs as possible with your fingers, and give the pepper a good shake to free any remaining seeds. Set pepper aside.

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Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in small pan over medium heat. Add pancetta, and cook for a minute or two, until it begins to render. Stir in onion (or shallot) and garlic. Sautee for another minute until softened. Reduce heat to low and add beaten eggs. Stir and lift, cooking until eggs are fully cooked, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste.

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Fill the pepper with the scrambled egg / pancetta mixture, tapping down a little on the work surface to fill completely. Rub the outer skin of the pepper with the remaining olive oil and bake for around 40 minutes, until pepper is cooked and lightly browned in spots. Serve hot.

Makes 1 serving.

NOTE: Peppers can be stuffed one day in advance, then baked when ready.

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Breakfast in Bed: Rhubarb Crumble Top Pie

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Breakfast in Bed – Rhubarb Crumble Top Pie

Post by Alison Hein.

Remember how I was recently prattling on about an article I wrote for the Skylands Visitor Magazine? This recipe is an offshoot of my adventures in farming edible flowers!  No, you’re right, rhubarb is not an edible flower.

One of the growers we interviewed for the article was a spry septuagenarian named Stan Styer, who packs his one acre lot with a mélange of fruit, vegetables and flowers. Come August, he wheels a little cart out to the road filled with whatever is ripe and fresh that day. It’s all honor system, and Stan does it purely for love.

While we were visiting, I admired Stan’s rhubarb. “I’ve been trying to get someone to make me a rhubarb pie,” he lamented.

“I’ll do it!” I responded.

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Stan promptly fell to his knees and began hacking away with his garden knife, filling my arms with a bundle of fresh, green rhubarb.

I think of rhubarb as a homely, garden-grown old-fashioned vegetable. Only recently have I seen it for sale in some grocery stores. Store-bought is usually a pretty reddish color, but homegrown is bright green, that turns a rather dismal shade when cooked. Thus I chose to put a crumble top on my pie. The crumbles look nice, and the extra sweetness helps to offset the tart rhubarb.

Take care to never eat any of the leaves of the rhubarb plant – only the stalks are edible.

When August rolls around, take a drive out to the Skylands and see what Stan has to offer. Perhaps his little cart will hold the perfect ingredient for your next breakfast in bed.

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Ingredients

Pie Crust

1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon ice cold water
⅓ cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes

Pie Filling

10 cups rhubarb stems, cleaned, trimmed and chopped (makes 4 cups of filling)
1 cup water
¼ to ½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup flour

Crumble Topping

1 cup flour
1 stick unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into small cubes
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of salt

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Preparation

To make crust, sift together flour and salt. Remove half of the flour mixture and add to a separate small bowl. Add water to flour mixture and stir to make a paste. Cut butter into small cubes and cut into remaining flour mixture, using a pastry cutter or two forks. Mix all ingredients together until a smooth, uniform dough forms. Split dough in half. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 30 minutes before rolling.

Preheat oven to 350°. Remove dough from refrigerator. Gently roll out one piece of dough on a lightly floured board, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Roll dough to form an approximate 12-inch round. Place dough in pie dish. Trim edges and crimp with the tines of a fork.

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To make filling, wash and coarsely chop rhubarb stalks, removing some of the celery-like strings in the process. Place in medium heavy pot. Add water, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until rhubarb is soft and coming apart, about 20 minutes. Stir in flour and add filling to prepared pie dish.

To make crumble topping, add flour, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt to a small bowl. Mix together, allowing topping to form into large clumps. Spread enough topping on pie filling to cover. Any extra can be stored in the freezer for future use.

Place pie in oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes until crust and topping is golden brown. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if you like.

Makes 1 pie.

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Breakfast in Bed –Wicklow Pancake

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Post by Alison Hein.

Sometimes, when I’m looking for inspiration, I turn to my mother’s collection of old cookbooks. There is something meditative about leafing through a pile of worn and tattered recipe collections that provides a lot more satisfaction than a Google search. Maybe because I’m not sure of what I’m looking for. 🙂

One of my favorite of these little books is The Art of Irish Cooking by Monica Sheridan. Peppered with quotes, tips and sayings, the writing is as engaging as the recipes. Irish food is often underappreciated, but I admire its creative adaptations of local, fresh ingredients.

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Almost stark in its simplicity, the Wicklow Pancake is a crisp and savory carrier for a medley of fresh green herbs. More omelet or frittata than pancake, and sometimes called an Irish Omelet, this dish is alleged to be a specialty of County Wicklow (just south of Dublin) which first appeared around the turn of the 20th century. Use day old bread to make your own fresh breadcrumbs for authenticity and a more pancake-like texture. Be sure to use a generous hand when seasoning, and place a large pat of butter on top of the pancake before serving. It can be a little tricky to flip this thick concoction. Go easy on yourself if you’re having trouble, and turn the half-cooked pancake into a second heated and buttered pan. Then slice it up into quarters (farls in Irish) and strew with some additional fresh thyme leaves for a savory breakfast in bed that I hope you find inspiring.

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Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup plain, fresh breadcrumbs (use day old bread to make your own)
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Additional herbs for garnish (optional)

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Preparation

Melt half the butter in a heavy 6-inch pan over medium low heat.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Stir in the milk, breadcrumbs, parsley, chives and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

When the butter is hot, pour the egg / breadcrumb mixture into the pan, evening out to cover the bottom. Continue to cook over medium low to low heat until eggs begin to set and bottom is lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Carefully flip the pancake and cook on the other side until firm and browned, another 5 or 6 minutes. Cut in quarters and top each with a dab of remaining butter. Garnish with additional fresh herbs, if you like.

Makes 2 servings.

Recipe adapted from The Art of Irish Cooking by Monica Sheridan

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