Archive for the 'breakfast' Category


Bran Muffins


Well hello there.

The last time I posted I didn’t intend to go two years without blogging. Life has gotten in the way, big time. I had a second baby after an exhausting pregnancy. My job as a reporter became even more intense. Cooking and baking remained an outlet, but there was less time to do it, let alone write about it.

But today, as the four of us hunkered down during a snowstorm in St. Louis, I took the two littles into the kitchen. It felt like the perfect time to come out of our cocoon a bit more and return to Garlic Shoots. Much of the credit goes to my friend Kim McGuire, who linked to Turkish Lentil Soup the other day on Facebook. It made me miss doing this. So I got out the flour, the buttermilk, the honey, the bowls and the spatula. I changed the lens on my camera. I turned toward an old favorite — these bran muffins by Heidi Swanson. They come from her second cookbook — Super Natural Every Day, which I love love love. These muffins have become a winter staple for us. They’re perfect for January — stark and simple, but soulful. As they bake, they make the house smell like butter and honey. They smell like warmth.

During a blizzard, that’s exactly what we needed. And despite their name, these muffins aren’t boring. They hold their own. The fact that they’re made up of whole wheat flour, the wheat bran and flakes make them a nice antidote to the holidays. The other major plus is that they’re easy and quick. When you’ve these two as sous chefs, that’s pretty important.



Bran Muffins

barley modified from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt

1/2 cup barely melted unsalted butter

1/4 cup maple syrup or honey

1/2 cup unprocessed wheat bran or oat bran

1 1/2 cups pain, unsweetened bran cereal

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with rack in the middle of the oven. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and maple syrup (or honey). Sprinkle the bran and cereal across the top, stir, and allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes.

In a separate small bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the top of the wet and stir until just combined. Immediately fill each muffin cup three-quarters full.

Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the edges of the muffins begin to brown and the tops have set. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn the muffins out of the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.


Yeasted Waffles

Last year, I took a picture of Jeff on his first Father’s Day holding Gabi by the staircase. She was smiling and squirming, he was beaming. This year, as the two of them cuddled on the couch and read Tumble Bumble, I took pictures and made breakfast.

Jeff loves waffles. So this is what I made him.

Appropriately, this recipe comes from Hungry Monkey, a hilarious book about a Dad trying to raise an adventurous eater. How good are are these waffles?  “…yeasted waffles are better than waffles with bacon in them,” Matthew Amster-Burton, writes.

Agreed. There are a million and one ways to make waffles. But if you haven’t tried yeasted ones you’re missing out. The texture is much better than regular waffles. They brown better and they’re crispier. And you do most of the work before bed. You let the batter get all bubbly on the kitchen counter over night. The next morning, just separate two eggs. Stir the yolks into the batter. With a hand mixer, whip the whites until they hold peaks. The whites then get folded into the batter.

The yeast and whites makes the waffles nice and airy. Jeff shared his waffles with Gabi as I made more. They loved every bite.

This batch made around 14 waffles. Leftovers can be frozen and reheated in a toaster.

Yeasted Waffles
Hungry Monkey

10 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
2 cups warm milk (any kind)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated

The night before, mix the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and stir until well combined. Stir in the milk and vanilla, leaving a few lumps. Cover with foil, plastic wrap or a loose fitting lid and leave overnight at room temperature.

The next morning, the batter should be a bit frothy. Stir in the yolks. Whip the whites to stiff peaks and fold gently into the batter using a spatula.

Pour an appropriate amount of batter onto a preheated waffle iron. Cook five minutes or so, depending on the strength of the iron.


Spinach and Feta Strata

I’ve begun cooking my way through Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day. I LOVE this cookbook. I’m determined to make everything in it, from the little quinoa patties to the honey and rose water tapioca. Like most of Heidi’s recipes, this spinach and feta strata makes you feel full of energy. It’s chock full of good things. It tastes great. On top of that, it’s quick and easy.

Every now and then, an occasion arises when an impressive breakfast is needed, something that’s pre-made but also fresh from the oven. It’s been nice these past two weeks NOT having one of those occasions. It was just Jeff, Gabi and me pattering around the house. But because I consider the two of them worthy of above-average breakfasts, I popped this in the oven over Memorial Day weekend and it fed us for two days .

Another thing I love about this is you make it the night before. As you sleep, the bread soaks up the eggy milk mixture. I love the spinach in this, but you could also use chard. The feta blends in nicely, adding a bit of saltiness. To top it off, I snipped some fresh herbs growing outside and crumbled them on top.

Absolutely delish.

Spinach and Feta Strata
slightly adapted from Super Natural Every Day

Zest from 1 lemon, grated
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups milk
6 large eggs
3 cups day-old whole wheat bread cubes (1/2-inch)
2 cups finely chopped spinach or chard
3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped

Drizzle a little olive oil in a 9 x 9-inch baking dish (or equivalent). Sprinkle the pan with the lemon zest.

In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper with a splash of the milk. Whisk in the rest of the milk and eggs.

Put the bread in the prepared baking dish and top with the spinach and half of the feta. Gently toss this with your hands so that the spinach and feta mix with the bread. Slowly pour the egg mixture over the bread mixture and sprinkle with the remaining feta. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the top third of the oven.

Bake the strata uncovered for 45 to 55 minutes, until the egg is set in the middle and the sides are browned. You may need to cut into the middle for a test to see that it’s done. (Optional: put the strata under the broiler on low setting before removing from the oven just to brown the top a bit more.)

Serve warm, drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkling of chopped fresh oregano.

Serves 6.


Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes

OK then. It’s been about a month since I’ve posted much. And for good reason. Last week we drove across Missouri and into central Kansas to see my grandmother, who is 94 and doing quite well. Then we drove across eastern Kansas to St. Joseph, Missouri to spend Mother’s Day weekend with my parents. Gabi had a rollicking good time in their yard, swinging on the red swing hung from a tree branch and having tea parties.

It was a wonderful week. In the process, we had our hardwood floors refinished. Getting everything out of our house to do this was a quite a production.  It took weeks.

Now that we’re back, with furniture and almost everything else back in place, I’m dying to cook. The first order of business is to make these pancakes again. We tried them last month and they were incredible. Lingonberry preserves give them a nice Scandinavian twist. Lingonberries are a staple in Sweden, and commonly served on pancakes. I found a jar at Whole Foods. Strawberry preserves would be great, too.

The oats and buttermilk make these pancakes extra special. They will easily burn, so watch the heat on your griddle or skillet. The batter can be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator.

Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes
Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups buttermilk, shaken
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra butter for brushing skillet
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Serve with: Lingonberry preserves

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, eggs, 1/4 cup melted butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Add to dry ingredients. Whisk until blended but some small lumps remain. Let batter stand to thicken about two hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Heat heavy large skillet over medium heat. Brush skillet with melted butter. Working in batches, ladle batter by 1/4 cupfuls into skillet. Cook pancakes until bottoms are golden brown and bubbles form on top, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to baking sheet. Keep warm in oven. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with more butter as necessary. Serve with lingonberry preserves.


Cheddar buttermilk biscuits

This is the kind of baking you tend to do when you’ve got a 1-year-old who likes cheese with every meal. She eats what we eat, but all too often that includes things I know she’ll love.

I baked these last weekend to go with a chicken and sausage jambalaya — a belated birthday meal for Jeff. Rather than cornbread or French bread, I chose these biscuits due to the cheese. Gabi was most grateful.

About a year ago, I blogged about cheddar and thyme muffins. I must say that these are far better. They’re flaky, moist, the cheese is a dominate flavor. And how could you go wrong with buttermilk? If you have fresh herbs, like thyme, chives or rosemary, chop up a handful and add them when you mix in the cheese. I have two pots of chives growing like gangbusters outside, so I added about one bunch.

Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits
slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
2 cold extra-large eggs
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 handful fresh herbs, such as chives, rosemary or thyme, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Place 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn mixer on low, add butter and mix until butter is the size of peas.

Combine the buttermilk and egg in a small bowl and beat lightly with a fork. With the mixer still on low, quickly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix only until moistened. In a small bowl, mix the cheddar with a small handful of flour and, with the mixer on low, add the cheese to the dough. Also add herbs if using. Mix ONLY until roughly combined.

Dump out onto a well-floured board and knead lightly about six times. Roll the dough out to a rectangle 5 x 10 inches. With a sharp, floured knife, cut the dough lengthwise in half and then across in quarters, making 8 rough rectangles. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make egg wash by beating 1 egg with 1 tablespoon water or milk.  Brush the tops with the egg wash, sprinkle with salt, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the biscuits are cooked through.

Serve hot or warm.


Coconut and Macadamia Banana Bread

I baked this with the intent of giving it to our new neighbors. They moved into the house at the bend of the street sometime in January, so I’ve been feeling incredibly guilty about not getting over there sooner. But when this bread came out of the oven, I quickly got over it. It had been about a year since I’d baked this particular banana bread, one of my all-time favorites. The coconut and macadamia nuts give it a tropical twist. Lemon zest adds brightness. The sour cream makes it extra moist.

I’d forgotten how difficult it is to be charitable with something that smells this wonderful when it comes out of the oven. Their banana bread will have to come later, I decided.

Before Gabi came along, I’d make this bread or a different version by Martha Stewart almost once a month. I was a banana bread fiend and always had extra loaves in the freezer for when we had company. These days, I don’t have time to bake like that. Not to mention, we rarely have leftover bananas. This little one is very much into them.

They only drawback to this bread is the macadamia nuts. They aren’t cheap. Walnuts are a less expensive substitute and just as good.

During baking, the smell of coconut, banana and vanilla fill the house. It’s hard to resist. After allowing the bread to cool, I immediately cut a piece off of one for myself and put the other in the freezer for next week. This weekend, I’ll bake another two loaves: one for work, and the other for our new neighbors.

Coconut and Macadamia Banana Bread
slightly adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
3 large overripe bananas, mashed
3 tablespoons sour cream
3/4 cup (6 ounces) chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350° F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Generously butter two loaf pans — about 8-inch by 4-inch.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat together butter and sugars into a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, zest, bananas and sour cream, beating until just combined. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Stir in nuts and coconut by hand.

Divide batter between buttered loaf pans and smooth tops. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in the center of bread comes out clean. Remove bread from pans and cool completely, right side up. on cooling rack.

Bread can be kept wrapped at room temperature for two days, refrigerated for up to one week, or frozen (double wrapped) for up to three months.


Crispy Fingerling Potatoes with Rosemary

All right. It’s been two weeks, or more maybe longer, since my last post. During that time, Jeff’s parents were here for a week. After they left, we drove across Missouri, Jeff ran a marathon in Kansas City, and Gabi and I stayed with my parents for a few days. The days I was in St. Louis, I was swamped at work.

But there has been time to cook a few things, including these breakfast potatoes. I made them for my parents one morning.  They’re crispy and infused with onion, rosemary and a bit of heat. They’re awesome with sausage, turkey bacon or scrambled eggs. Yum.

Fingerling potatoes are long and knobby, often mistaken for baby potatoes. They’re more flavorful, however. You’ll find fingerlings this time of year at farmers’ markets and at some grocery stores.  Use small, white-fleshed potatoes if fingerlings aren’t available.

Crispy Fingerling Potatoes with Rosemary
adapted from Anne Burrell, via

1 pound fingerling potatoes
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Place the potatoes in a pot, cover them with water and season the water abundantly with salt. Bring to a boil and cook the potatoes until a fork slides in and out of them easily. Drain potatoes and cool.

Coat a large saute pan generously with olive oil. Add the onions, season with salt and bring the pan to a medium high heat. Add the crushed red pepper flakes and saute for 7 to 8 minutes or until the onions are soft and wilted but do not have any color.

Using the heel of your hand, smash the boiled potatoes to flatten and to break apart. Add to the pan, toss with onions and then flatten them against the bottom of the pan so they begin to form a crust. Repeat this process a few times so a lot of crust forms. Season with salt and toss with the chopped rosemary.


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