Archive for the ‘Breakfasts’ Category
Pain perdu is a great dish to make on a lazy weekend morning when you have a loaf of slightly stale, rustic bread leftover from the night before. Pain perdu is another way of saying French toast, but I tend to associate it with French toast made with a more rustic, French-style bread than French toast made from ordinary sandwich bread. The bread is soaked in a mixture of eggs and milk before being cooked until golden brown in a skillet, and it is one of the very best ways that you can use leftover bread.
I often use challah or soft sandwich bread to make french toast. More rustic loaves make french toast – or pain perdu – with a heartier overall texture, although they still have a soft and tender center. You’ll have to soak the slices of bread in the egg mixture quite a bit longer than you would with a more delicate bread, partly to ensure that the thick slices get soaked all the way through and partly to ensure that the dense crust on rustic loaves softens enough. If you’re working with a particularly dense bread, use a fork to poke small holes in it as it soaks to ensure that the custard really gets into the bread.
Country-style loaves and even sourdough breads can make fantastic pain perdu and you’ll get great flavor in the finished dish. My basic batter is flavored with vanilla and a little cinnamon, but you can incorporate all kinds of spices to give your breakfast an even more complex (and tasty) flavor.
Thick, fluffy pancakes are always a good way to start any morning. I will sometimes squeeze a batch into a weekday morning, but I usually reserve them for the weekends when I have time to sit around and savor my pancakes. The weekends also give me time to play around with the flavors and ingredients in my pancakes a little bit, and these Fluffy Lemon Yogurt Pancakes are the result of a little (very successful) experimentation in the kitchen.
The Lemon Yogurt Pancakes are made with thick, greek-style yogurt in the pancake batter. The yogurt gives a very subtle tanginess to the pancakes and adds a nice thickness to the batter, which makes the finished pancakes that much taller. I prefer to use a plain yogurt when I cook or bake with it, so that I can add in sugar and other flavorings, like vanilla, myself. The tanginess of the yogurt was the perfect backdrop for a little citrus and so I flavored these pancakes with fresh lemon juice and zest. The lemon zest gives them a subtle, but delicious, lemon flavor that is a great change of pace from your average buttermilk pancakes.
You could top these pancakes off with maple syrup, honey or even with lemon curd if you want to highlight the lemon flavor even more.
One of my favorite waffle recipes is my recipe for Blender Waffles. The batter for them is made entirely in the blender, so it takes almost no time to put together – and you can pour it easily straight from the blender onto your waffle iron with no mess. These Honey Whole Wheat Waffles are a variation on this basic recipe that is a little bit healthier than the classic recipe, but just as tasty. The waffles are light, with a hint of butter and honey to them that makes them almost sweet enough that you can skip the syrup and eat them plain, hot out of the waffle iron.
The waffle batter uses white whole wheat flour in it, instead of regular all purpose flour. This gives you a good dose of whole grain in your waffles. I prefer the white whole wheat over regular whole wheat flour because it still gives you a nutty whole grain flavor, but keeps the waffles light and fluffy. Regular whole wheat flour can make waffles a little bit dense, so if you don’t have white whole wheat flour, I would cut regular whole wheat with a little bit (25-30%) of all purpose flour to keep the waffles light and tender.
I sometimes add a little bit of ground flaxseed to these waffles to give them a little nutritional edge, but you can skip that if you don’t have any on hand. You can also add a little bit more, if you are a fan of flax. And, if you don’t have a blender, you can make this batter in the food processor or with a whisk and a large bowl – but the blender will really help fluff up the batter and give you a great, easy finished product. Any way you make them, serve them with honey, maple syrup and a touch of butter.
The waffles can be made in a traditional waffle iron or a deep Belgian-style iron. The recipe can also be doubled to serve a crowd. Leftover waffles can be cooled to room temperature, stacked with pieces of wax or parchment paper and stored in an airtight back in the freezer for future breakfasts, too.
French toast is one of those breakfasts that is usually reserved for the weekends, but often makes appearances on my weekday mornings if I have a nice loaf of bread in the kitchen. It’s fast and easy to make french toast, and the warm, custardy dish is like having dessert for breakfast. This Amaretto French Toast is a new favorite twist on french toast that has a slightly more grown up flavor to it thanks to a little amaretto in the mix.
Amaretto is sweet, almond-flavored liqueur. You don’t usually see it in breakfast recipes all that often, but it works exceptionally well in the case of french toast. The almond flavor adds a really nice element to the eggy custard that bread is dipped in for french toast, and it adds just the right amount of sweetness to the mix. I used a fairly soft white bread for this french toast, which was a relatively plain background for the amaretto. The liqueur is strong enough that you will still get a nice flavor using a whole wheat bread, if you prefer, but it will seem a little more indulgent with white bread.
If you want a similar effect without any alcohol, you can use almond extract in your custard base recipe. Amaretto has a distinct flavor and almond extract is a bit more aggressive, so you will probably only want a small splash of it in the mix – about 1/2 teaspoon – instead of two full tablespoons. This recipe can easily be doubled, and it can also be halved if you are making breakfast for just one or two. I usually serve this with a drizzle of maple syrup, but powdered sugar and sliced, toasted almonds are a nice finishing touch, too. You should get four servings with this recipe, though you may be able to dip more than four slices of bread depending on how large the bread you’re working with is.
If you have a waffle iron, the odds are good that you don’t take it out and use it nearly often enough. For most people, waffle making is a weekend activity that involves making a mess and spending a lot of time in the kitchen. For some waffle recipes – especially yeast waffles – this is true, but waffle making doesn’t have to be difficult. A streamlined recipe like these Blender Waffles lets you make waffles in less then five minutes, which means that you can have them any time and get a lot more use out of that waffle iron.
The waffle batter is mixed up entirely in a blender. It’s a simple recipe make with flour, milk, butter and flavored with a hint of vanilla. The waffles are crisp and tender, and while you can taste a hint of vanilla, they’re plain enough that you can top them with syrup, fresh fruit, whipped cream or just about anything else you can think of. The batter makes excellent waffles in regular waffle irons and in Belgian-style waffle irons (which I used here), that make waffles with very deep, syrup-catching squares.
This waffle recipe also makes a good base for other flavors. Cinnamon, cloves and other spices can be added to give these waffles a warm and wintry flavor. Fresh lemon or orange zest can be added to give them a light flavor, perfect for a spring or summer brunch. The recipe makes 4 large waffles and can easily be doubled to serve a bigger crowd – although you might need to do two batches if you don’t have a large blender.
When making waffles, preheat your oven to about 200F and store the waffles in there as you’re cooking to keep them crispy until you’re ready to serve them. Leftovers freeze well and can be reheated in the toaster or in the oven.