breakfast

Buttermilk Weekend Waffles

by Caroline

waffle-strawberry sunshine close-up

I was lucky to become a mom surrounded by a group of neighborhood friends who were also new moms, and before Ben turned one our frequent casual playdates and regular Monday playgroup generated a babysitting co-op that saved my family, at least, from paying for babysitting until Eli was a baby. These days, with the kids all in school, we don’t use the co-op much anymore, but we do a regular sleepover swap with one of the families which we all look forward to every month.

I’ve been realizing lately that part of what the kids love, aside from the big block of playtime with their friends, is the food. Their friends’ house always has a particular Kashi cereal that I can never remember to buy; their mom cooks chard somehow differently than I do (I need to ask her about it!), and Ben and Eli can’t get enough of it. Over here, their friends love my buttermilk waffles. In the morning, we’ve fallen into a good routine of cereal breakfast (which the kids serve themselves independently) followed, a couple hours later, by waffle breakfast. The recipe is nothing revolutionary — straight out of the Joy of Cooking — but it’s delicious and feeds a crowd of hungry, LEGO-building, spy-sneaking children.

Preheat your waffle iron.
Whisk together in a large bowl:
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Whisk together in another large bowl:
6 eggs
1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsp) melted butter
3 c buttermilk

Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together with a few swift strokes. Spoon 1/2 cup of batter (or whatever is recommended by your waffle iron’s manufacturer) into the hot iron, close the lid and cook until golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter until the children are full. (Leftover waffles make excellent snacks.)

Triple Citrus Cream Cheese & Poppy Seed Coffeecake

by Caroline

Before my mom went back to work full-time, when I was in elementary school, she cooked dinner every night and baked bread every Saturday. She made birthday cakes for all four of us kids and thousands (I’m not exaggerating) cookies at Christmas. But the one thing I don’t recall her making on any regular basis, if at all, was coffeecake. We bought Entenmann’s. Most New Yorkers I know will sigh with happiness when they think of Entemann’s, the grocery store coffeecake in the windowed box. There were strudels and crumb-topped cakes, but my favorite was the cheese-filled danish.

I don’t make coffecake very often myself — pancakes and waffles are much more common — but for New Year’s Day and other brunch parties, this is the one I make, which is like a fresh update of those classic Entenmann’s cheese coffeecakes of my childhood. I found the recipe first in a Martha Stewart Living and noticed it also on Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks blog, so those are great bona fides if you don’t quite trust me: this is a delicious, moist, and easy to make ahead treat.

Note: you can leave out all the citrus zests, or just use one (orange or lemon) if you don’t have all 3. Zests keep well in the freezer (I have little waxed paper bags to store each kind) so you can always have a supply on hand.

For the dough:
½ c warm water
2 T active dry yeast (2 envelopes)
1 t sugar

½ c butter, melted and cooled (plus some more to grease the bowl)
2/3 c sugar
1 c orange juice
2 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lime
zest of 1 orange
1 t salt
5-6 c flour

For the filling:
1 pound cream cheese (room temperature)
1 c confectioner’s sugar
2 egg yolks
2 t vanilla
1 c dried cranberries, dried blueberries, dried currants (or a mix)
2/3 c poppy seeds

For the egg wash:
1 lightly beaten egg

Stir together the water, yeast and 1 t sugar in a large bowl until yeast dissolves. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Now whisk in juice, eggs, remaining 2/3 c sugar, melted butter, zests and salt. Stir in flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough pulls away from sides of bowl and forms a ball.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until just slightly sticky, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a buttered bowl and turn so that the dough is lightly coated with butter. Loosely cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, either at room temperature (about 1 ½ hours) or in the refrigerator overnight.

Meanwhile, stir together cream cheese, egg yolks, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add poppy seeds and dried berries. Set aside (at room temp or in the fridge, wherever your dough is).

When you’re ready to shape and bake the coffee cakes, butter 2 baking sheets and set aside. If you’ve refrigerated the dough, let it come to room temperature before proceeding (usually an hour or so, depending on your fridge and kitchen!)

Punch down dough and divide in half. Roll out one half into an 11 x 15” rectangle. Spread half the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a 1” border. Beginning at one long side, tightly roll dough into a log, encasing the filling. Carefully transfer log to baking sheet, seam side down. With a sharp knife, make cuts about 2” apart along one long side of the log, cutting just three-quarters of the way across, like this:

Lift the first segment, turn it cut side up, and lay it flat on the baking sheet. Repeat with the next segment, twisting it so it sits on the opposite side of the roll. In my picture, the dough wasn’t quite laying flat, but you get the idea:

Continue down the log, alternating sides.

Roll out, fill and cut remaining dough.

Preheat oven to 350. Loosely cover dough and let rise until almost doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes. Brush dough with egg wash, avoiding the filling. Bake until cooked through and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Carefully slide coffee cakes onto wire racks, and let cool completely before slicing.

Snack Pancakes

by Caroline

Using up leftovers is a rarely an issue in my house, and yet sometimes a recipe looks so good that — even if it’s billed as a way to use up leftovers — I try it out. That’s how I discovered our new favorite winter holiday cookie (the cranberry thumbprint), for which I made an extra batch of cranberry sauce, and now so it is with my new favorite snack pancake.

I don’t know about you, but in our house, pancakes are definitely not just for breakfast. In fact, we frequently rely on extra (or leftover) pancakes as a quick after school snack. This recipe is perfect for that, since it makes a sturdy little pancake that holds up well to snack bags and backpacks, plain or layered with peanut butter and apple slices.

The original recipe calls for cooked quinoa; I regularly cook rice and quinoa together for our dinners, so I used that leftover combination. I expect a cup of plain brown rice would work nicely, too. Also, the original recipe calls for an egg + an egg white, but a single egg yolk is not a leftover I generally use efficiently (egg wash, anyone?) so two whole eggs works just fine, too.

Quinoa Pancakes

1 cup cooked quinoa
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon course salt
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg white (or 2 eggs)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus more for skillet
1/4 cup lowfat milk
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, plus more for serving
fresh fruit or fruit preserves (optional) for serving

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa, flour, baking powder, and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, egg white, butter, milk, and syrup until smooth. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and whisk to combine.
2. Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with butter and heat over medium-high. Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into skillet. Cook until bubbles appear on top, 2 minutes. Flip cakes and cook until golden brown on underside, 2 minutes. Wipe skillet clean and repeat with more melted butter and remaining batter (reduce heat to medium if overbrowning). Serve with maple syrup and fresh fruit or preserves if desired.

Lemony Pancakes

by Caroline

On the one hand, we don’t really need to offer another pancake recipe; we’ve posted two (one for pumpkin pancakes, one for a classic griddle cake). But on the other hand, I’m always interested in trying new things, and I’m wanting to put lemons in everything since re-reading Laurie Colwin last week, and these lemon pancakes just sounded delicious. And they are. If you separate the eggs (beating the yolks with the milk and ricotta, then whisking in the dry ingredients, and then folding in the beaten egg whites), they will be especially light and fluffy. But if, like me, you find pancakes enough of an accomplishment in the morning, save yourself the trouble and just bask in the lemony goodness.

Breakfast in Bed

by Caroline

This is not about the kids bringing me breakfast in bed — that’s a story for another day — but about the kids getting their own breakfast, independently, while I remain in bed. It hasn’t always been easy to stay put while the boys crash around downstairs, but you can’t learn to eat, to make good choices about the food you put in your body, without some independent moments, so I’m doing all I can to foster those moments.

It turns out to have as much to do with the kitchen lay-out as the food we keep there. They’ve been able to reach the snack foods (in low pantry shelves) and fill their own water cups (my younger son still needs to pull a stool up to the sink) for some time now, but we didn’t quite have it all set up for them to get their own breakfasts until this fall.

It meant finally moving most of the plastic dishes and cups out of the low kitchen drawers and replacing them with proper dishware. My kids are eight and five and, perhaps more to the point, they’re careful; using the “real” dishes is a point of pride with them. On the other hand, we’ve had these dishes over ten years and they didn’t cost much then, so if an accident happens, the only problem is the mess.

We moved proper glasses (mostly cheapies from Ikea) into a drawer, too:


The next step was getting all the cereal into easy open (and close) containers. The homemade granola lives in a container the kids can scoop from; the rest of the cereal goes into these tubs, which are somehow so much easier to pour from than boxes (and you can buy cereal in bulk to save money and decant into them):

Sometimes breakfast includes frozen berries — reachable in the low freezer — and sometimes a sprinkle of dried cranberries from the basket next to the cereal. Ben went through a brief phase, years ago, when breakfast was graham crackers and sun dried tomatoes; both kids’ choices are a bit more traditional these days.

The last step was the milk, because pulling a stool to the fridge and hauling the milk down (and back up) was just not going to work:

And so I went shopping for one small jug…


…which now happens to live next to the chocolate syrup: a quiet challenge? Perhaps, though it’s unintentional. More importantly, it’s a choice, which they are learning to make every morning.