Category Archives: Breakfast

Tales From the Other Side of the Baking Aisle: Gluten-Free Coconut & Banana Muffins

Haven’t you heard? Gluten-free is so hot right now. No, I am not gluten-free. I’m just not hip enough to align myself with Victoria Beckham, Zooey Deschanel, Rachel Weisz, and a whole host of Hollywood glitterati. Rather, I got a whole lotta love for coconut and alternative flours of all-stars and stripes (thank you, Kim Boyce!) My coconut lovin’ kicked into overdrive after a family vacation to sunny Puerto Rico, where coconut is practically the national emblem. Street vendors sell endless varieties of shockingly sweet coconut candies while coconut water, the health craze du jour of the moment, is readily available on most street corners where it is epically served to you by a man with a machete, who lobs off the top of a coconut for you, jams a straw through its spongy flesh, and hands you what must be a gallon of coconut water for a mere dollar or so.
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Quickie Barley Skillet Bread

With a surplus of barley flour haunting the shadowy recesses of my freezer (Kim Boyce’s fabulous Strawberry Barley Scones from Good to the Grain, prompted me to order a whole box of it) I figured it was about time to clear house, what with spring allegedly right around the corner. I was making a divine Smoky Carrot Hummus for dinner and, seeking out a vessel for the aromatic spread, was decidedly uninspired by the “homemade whole wheat bread” at the grocery store that listed upwards of 10 ingredients. Lacking both the time and willpower to bake a traditional loaf of rise/knead/repeat bread, that’s when the idea for a quickie skillet bread bubbled up from the depths of my food subconscious. Done in 40 minutes or less. YES.
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Mark Bittman’s Vegan Coconut Pancakes

These are interesting. In a pleasantly anomalous way. When I think of coconut pancakes, I think of something sickly sweet. Something served on a cruise ship or at a really mortifying resort in Cancun. Negative connotations aside, these are substantial and hearty, humbly anchored in whole wheat flour, enlivened by the addition of nutmeg and allspice, and lightened by the presence of coconut milk and a delectable fruit compote. Consider them an eclectic way to sublimate your cravings for a syrupy stack of buttermilk pancakes into a veritable health food.
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Zen and the Art of Breakfast: Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

For those that love the reassuring ritual of a muffin in the morning, but are feeling rather virtuous. Loaded with oats, whole wheat, and berries, but still sufficiently sweet.
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Dark Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Bread

Consider how admirably convenient this combination of ingredients is – pumpkin, chocolate, and a plethora of intoxicating fall spices. Depending on your dining habits, this can work well for both breakfast and desert. Rather, consider this a convenience food of sorts.

Dark Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Bread
Makes 2 loaves

3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour OR whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
one 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 cup safflower oil
3 cups raw cane sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
three 3 oz bars dark chocolate, chopped

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9×5″ loaf pans. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the first seven ingredients, from the flour through the salt.

2.) In a separate large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, oil, and sugar. Beat eggs, one at a time, into pumpkin mixture, and then the stir in the vanilla. Add 3/4 cup tepid water to pumpkin as well as the chocolate chunks. Stir to combine.

3.) Add dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes; until golden. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Harissa Egg Scramble with Kale & Roasted Eggplant

Two breakfast posts in a row – a sign of lazy, end-of-summer mornings? This egg scramble is hearty, smoky, and immensely satisfying. It’s also a great way to use up stray produce. I made Whole Foods’ Harissa paste before making the eggs and it took only about 30 minutes and was SO worth it. Much better than store-bought. I have a lot of it left over and look forward to all sorts of exciting uses – over veggies, chicken, fish, more eggs…

Harissa Egg Scramble with Kale & Roasted Eggplant

Serves 1

a fourth of a large eggplant, diced
extra-virgin olive oil
fine grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 stalks of Lacinato kale or other kale variety, stemmed and sliced
3 eggs
1/2 tablespoon Harissa

1.) Preheat oven to 350. Toss eggplant with a splash of olive oil and season salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes; until tender and browned. Remove from oven and set aside.

2.) In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until frothy and then season with salt and pepper.

2.) Heat a good glug of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium flame. Add kale, sprinkle with a bit of salt, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or so; until wilted. Remove kale from pan and set aside.

3.) Add another glug of olive oil to the pan and heat over medium flame until swirly and hot. Add eggs and cook, undisturbed, until beginning to set. Add eggplant and kale to eggs and scramble things up a bit with your wooden spoon. Cook until eggs set; 30 seconds more. Serve with a 1/2 tablespoon of Harissa, or to taste. I definitely used much more!

Summer Vegetable Frittata

My very first attempt at a frittata was immensely satisfying. Watching this mess of raw eggs and scraps of veggies transform itself in a mere 3 minutes into a handsomely browned, restaurant-worthy egg pie had me eagerly telling my friends of my feat – but no one seemed too impressed. Am I the only one who’s never made a frittata before?!

Summer Vegetable Frittata
Serves 4

9 large FRESH eggs
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 cup zucchini or any other summer squash you have hanging out in your fridge
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
4 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup tomato, diced

1.) Combine eggs, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl and whisk until frothy. Set aside.

2.) Heat olive oil in a large, broiler-proof skillet (10-12 inches is fine). Add onions and saute for 1 minute. Add zucchini, bell pepper, thyme, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and garlic. Cover and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally; until vegetables are tender. Stir in tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid cooks off; 5 minutes or so.

2.) Preheat broiler to high heat. Pour eggs into skillet and stir gently to combine. Cover reduce heat, and cook for 15 minutes, until the center is about to set.

3.) Broil frittata for 3-8 minutes; until cooked through. Serve with hot sauces, if desired.

Strawberry Barley Scones

Barley’s natural affinity for fruit lends itself swimmingly to these strawberry jam scones. I used a jar of strawberry preserves from Seedling over at Chicago’s Green City Market. I imagine that any fruit jam or preserves would be equally as delectable in this recipe.

Strawberry Barley Scones
Makes 8

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons barley flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
1 egg

1/2 cup strawberry jam
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar or turbinado sugar

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift flours, baking powder, and baking soda together into a large bowl. Whisk in sugars and salt. In a separate small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg.

2.) Place flour mixture in the bed of a food processor. Cut 1/2″ chunks of the butter into the flour mixture. Pulse until the size of peas. Dump flour and butter mixture into a large bowl. Using a spatula, mix in buttermilk and egg until just barely combined.

3.) Transfer dough to a well-floured surface with floured hands. Divide dough into two equal pieces. Pat each piece into a disk about 3/4″ thick.

4.) Generously spread jam over the entire surface of one disk. Take the other disk and press it down on top of the jam. Cut eight triangles out of the circle.

5.) Place on prepared baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 22-27 minutes; until golden on top and the jam has begun to caramelize. Quickly transfer to a cooling rack.

This recipe was very slightly adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce. Published by Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, New York; 2010.

Pear & Buckwheat Pancakes

In one word: incredible. Sometimes, the traditional buttermilk pancake just won’t do. I often find myself ravenous mere hours after eating them. These pancakes are significantly more substantial, and kept me full for a good 6 hours. Savory buckwheat is balanced by the sweetness of ripe pears, and doused in maple syrup and sprinkled with blackberries – a morning of pure bliss awaits.

This recipe was adapted from Kim Boyce’s wondrous Good to the Grain – my cookbook of the moment. Each one of her recipes is a delicious adventure into the world of whole-grain flours. Unlike other books focusing on whole-grain baking, Kim never forgoes flavor for nutrition. Rather, she utilizes alternative flours as a way to add depth of flavor to familiar preparations. After experimenting with teff flour, oat flour, and buckwheat flour since purchasing this book, I am stunned that these flours aren’t more popular! Delicious!

Savory Pear & Buckwheat Pancakes

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 egg
2 ripe but firm pears, peeled

butter for the pan

1.) Preheat oven to 200 degrees (to keep finished pancakes warm while you cook the rest.) Sift the flours, sugar, baking powder, and sea salt together in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk together butter, milk, and egg in a separate bowl. Grate pears on the large holes of a grater into the milk mixture. Make sure you get all of the yummy pear juice to drip into the bowl!

2.) Using a spatula, add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir briskly and gently, leaving plenty of big clumps in the batter. Overmixing makes for a flat, dull pancake.

3.) Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add plenty of butter and swirl to help it melt quickly. Working in batches, add pancakes by the 1/4 cup to the skillet, careful not to overcrowd the pan. When bubbles rise to the top, flip and finish cooking the other side. 5-8 minutes total. Place finished pancakes on a plate and place in the oven while you make the rest. No one likes a cold pancake! Serve with maple syrup and blackberries, if desired.

This recipe was adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce. Published by Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, New York; 2010.

Wholesome Blueberry Muffins

This recipe came about after I became a bit tired of baking the same old muffins for cowboy. The white whole wheat flour makes these muffins more substantial and significantly more complex in flavor, while the olive oil makes for an incredibly moist muffin. Evidence that the smallest changes in ingredients can easily up the nutritional profile of a recipe.

Wholesome Blueberry Muffins
Makes 9 muffins

1 egg
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup mild-flavored olive oil
1/4 cup safflower oil
1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup organic sugar
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
oil or butter, for greasing muffins trays
organic turbinado sugar, for muffin tops

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tin. Beat egg, then stir in milk, oils, and blueberries. Stir in remaining ingredients until just mixed.

2.) Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar, if desired. Bake for 20 minutes; until golden. Remove from tin immediately to cool.