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Posts Tagged ‘brunch’

Here I go with the quiche again. It must have something to do with the spring vegetables, fresh eggs sitting on the kitchen counter, and occasions constantly arising where I need to feed a bunch of people easily (i.e. potlucks, people visiting for brunch, a busy week needing several meals prepped at once). Perhaps quiche is the spring garden version of the ever-utilitarian casserole: a vehicle for quickly tossing together a medley of fresh produce that’s easy but looks and tastes like it was a serious effort.

In any case, this is basically a variation on the theme that I started with the very popular Swiss Chard and Onion Quiche last year. It’s so easy to just substitute any other tasty pairing of vegetables and other garnishes, but this one came out well enough that it merited writing up.

Essentially, use the same recipe as for the Swiss Chard quiche (use this ratio of eggs, milk and cream for any quiche actually) but instead of the onions, chard, cheese and nutmeg, add instead:

  • two good-sized handfuls fresh-picked asparagus (washed, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces and sauteed for several minutes in olive oil until bright green and just beginning to be tender with slightly browned edges)
  • several forkfuls of honey goat cheese (I found this beautifully flavored goat cheese at Costco, but you can also use regular goat cheese or, if you’re enterprising enough, mash in some honey with a fork before dropping it into the quiche in small clumps)
  • a handful (I’d say about 2 Tbsp) sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Prepare a single crust and chill for at least 30 minutes or more. Once you’ve taken it out, rolled it flat and arranged it in your pie plate, assemble your quiche. Pour the sauteed asparagus into the bottom of the crust and season liberally with salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne.  Sprinkle most of the almonds over the asparagus, reserving one small portion for the final garnish. Dot the honey goat cheese on top of this until well distributed. Pour the egg and cream mixture (explained here) over it all carefully. Dot a few more bits of goat cheese on top, sprinkle with the last few almonds, and bake as directed here.

This will, as all quiches do, keep very nicely in the fridge for quick lunches and snacks throughout the week. The honey goat cheese really makes it – it’s worth either tracking it down or improvising some of your own!

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Three grain pancakes, puffing up in the pan.

Three grain pancakes, puffing up in the pan.

It’s Sunday, and as I was sitting here at the computer plotting out my new blog, Tomas shuffled in from the bedroom to greet me. “Did you say you were making pancakes this morning?” (I had, of course, said nothing of the sort). We agreed that since it was Sunday and we were both home for once, it really would be a shame NOT to make pancakes. As I was getting out my bowls and ingredients, I remembered that I was on this new, wholesome, anti-cancer diet as of last week (more on that later!). What could I make that would satisfy the pancake craving but minimize the guilt? After a lifetime of turning up my nose at whole grain pancakes in favor of the true greasy-spoon diner variety, it was time to try something new. After just 2 minutes of searching in the first book I picked up, I found the perfect recipe. 

Three Grain Pancakes

(adapted from Country Living’s ‘The Breakfast Cookbook,’ Hearst Books, 2004)

Note from the cookbook:

Mixing cornmeal, which is a little gritty, in the batter gives these pancakes just a little crunch. Adding a measure of rye flour fills them with robust flavor. Warm syrup – maple of perhaps blueberry – makes them awfully good.

Makes 4 servings.

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1¼ to 1½ cups milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup rye flour
  • (note: I did not have rye flour at the moment, so I used 1 cup all-purpose unbleached and ¾ cups whole wheat; it turned out great!)
  • ¼ cup stone ground cornmeal
  • 1½ Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder (yeah, that’s a lot; I did a double take here when I read it.)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup maple syrup, warmed (I mixed some blueberry syrup in, and a pat of butter; it turned a sickly shade of gray, but was goooooood!!)

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter; set aside to cool. In a small bowl, combine 1¼ cups milk and the eggs.

In a medium-size bowl, mix the flours, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture just until well mixed. Stir in the melted butter. The batter should be slightly lumpy. Let the batter stand 20 to 30 minutes.

Lightly oil a griddle or large skillet; heat over medium-high heat until a drop of water will dance across the surface. Stir the batter and drop a test cake on the griddle, using ¼ cup batter.

Cook the pancake until several bubbles burst on the top and the bottom is light brown. Turn and cook the other side 1 to 2 minutes, until browned.

Add a bit more milk to the batter if the first cake does not spread well and adjust the heat if necessary.

Serve the pancakes with warm syrup.

Notes!

I always put a plate in the oven at a very low temperature (250 or so) to keep extra pancakes warm while I’m cooking, although I always have people eating before I’m finished – they’re just much better straight off the stove!

On the pesky subject of high altitude…

As can be expected, things don’t turn out the way the instructions say they will here in the Mile High city. The outsides of things will burn before the insides are done, for example. True to form, by the time the bottoms of my pancakes were “light brown” (to me, that’s the color that makes me go “damn, that looks good!!!”) – there were definitely NOT “several bubbles bursting on top”. I think I saw one, and it was a small and rather tentative one. Nevertheless, the perfectly browned bottom was crying out to be turned at once, so I flipped the pancakes, and when the other side was the same color, I swiped them off the griddle and we ate. They were perfect.

The 20 minutes of rest really lets the flours and the baking powder start to do their thing; you can literally watch the batter rising in the bowl, and you should have seen these pancakes puff up once they were on the heat. At first, I was really worried they wouldn’t turn out at all – the batter just sat there on the skillet in a lumpy heap and didn’t spread at all. Yet magically, they gradually became gorgeous, glowingly brown, thick circles of goodness. I think one of them was literally an inch high! (I ate two, and was stuffed). The cornmeal gives it the perfect little bit of crunch. These are wholesome without that dreaded “health food” taste; they have a very pancake-y soul underneath the subtle wheat façade.

I served these with a generous side of unsweetened applesauce and my mixed syrup concoction (I learned to melt a little butter into the maple syrup when I was a child. My mom did it on special occasions – and it is really just that extra-indulgent little touch that puts the whole meal over the top). Since there are only two of us, we naturally had leftovers, and I suspect these will be delightful to snack on even when they’re cold. I’m pretty thrilled to have found a new idea for a breakfast that is both compliant with my new rules (must…use…whole…grains…) and makes for a warm, filling and splurge-y (is that a word? If not, it should be) winter Sunday brunch.

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