Recently in Breakfast Category
What to serve? We were hosting 12 of our family for brunch to celebrate the visit of our Philadelphia cousins and their 2-year-old daughter. Some of the guests were vegetarians, some gluten-free, everyone loves to eat, and I wanted lots of time with the relatives. I decided to make 2 big frittatas as the centerpiece of the occasion.
Eggs are my favorite morning food, but scrambling, frying, and poaching are challenging for a crowd. Frittatas, however, are easygoing because eggs and flavorings are cooked together in one pan without much attention. Added bonuses: they don’t demand toast as an accompaniment- an important consideration for those of us who are gluten free- and they can be prepared ahead and served at room temperature.
After lots of experiments at Bon Appetit magazine’s test kitchen, I favor the following technique to avoid dry or rubbery eggs: I sauté onions and other flavorings in a heavy nonstick skillet, pour in eggs beaten with cheese, stir the mixture a couple of times to mingle the ingredients, cover the pan and cook over a medium-low heat just until the eggs are mostly set with areas that are still runny. I like to sprinkle on a little more cheese before setting the skillet under the broiler to finish cooking the top. The result: a lightly browned beauty with a tender texture.
This quick and easy gluten-free breakfast recipe is also satisfying for dinner. I like to make it at the end of a busy day when I don’t have time to shop or plan and don’t have much energy left for cooking. The polenta cooks to steaming creaminess in the microwave while I melt a heap of greens until almost tender and then fry eggs in the same skillet until crispy on the edges. For a burst of freshness, serve it with a zesty salsa fresca—herbs and shallot mixed with olive oil.
Last Sunday morning was ideal. After our Pilates class, I whipped up these tender pancakes, fragrant with fall spices and topped with sautéed apples and warm maple syrup. Steve and I devoured them after our workout, satisfied I’d finally created the perfect weekend breakfast treat—for anyone, on a gluten-free diet or not.
When I first had to give up gluten, I missed Sunday morning pancakes. However, I didn’t want to make disappointing copies of something that I thought needed wheat flour to be good, plus I had no interest in relying on the white starches generally used in gluten-free baked goodies. I don’t like the bland flavor and dry texture they impart, or that they are devoid of nutrients.
Then I started playing around with the many whole grain gluten-free flours that are now available. The first pancakes I came up with were pretty dense, but at least they looked like a weekend breakfast and they soaked up maple syrup. I persevered, and now I have a recipe that we both love!
These gluten-free pancakes are light and packed with the toasty-sweet flavors of oats and whole grain corn flour. Topped with peaches and blueberries that have been gently simmered in Vermont maple syrup, they are especially suitable for breakfast on a summer weekend. They also happen to contain a good amount of bone strengthening calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D too.
In October, when the hot, dry, Santa Ana winds blow here in Los Angeles, I long for cool, crisp fall days, colorful foliage, and farm stands adorned with apple and pumpkin displays—spectacles I came to love during the years I lived in New England. We may not have many chilly days or crimson and gold leafed maples in Southern California, but I can get a taste of Vermont by placing several large pumpkins by our front door and cooking with pumpkin and other winter squash.
While the Santa Anas were gusting last week, I was inspired to create a pumpkin cornbread for my friend Kelly, a California girl who doesn’t crave New England autumnal pleasures but fancies anything made with pumpkin. The first loaf I baked was a little bland, begging for molasses and spices, so I stirred up a spiced molasses butter to spread on big squares of the bread. Delicious, but this triggered the idea to combine all the flavors in one, easy-to-make loaf.
Doesn’t this photo send you straight to the kitchen? It's from my latest book, Gluten-Free Baking
. If you are missing artisanal style breads, try your hand at this whole-grain soda bread. Soda breads translate well to gluten-free baking, and are easy to make. No yeast or kneading or rising time, just cut in some butter and then mix, shape and bake.
The cold, windy weekend weather drove me into the kitchen to bake something comforting. In less than 15 minutes I had mixed together a cornbread batter, and in 10 more minutes enticing aromas accompanied the welcome heat radiating from the oven. It was only minutes longer and a golden, crusty loaf was ready to serve with the maple-molasses butter I had whipped together.
The bread is sweetened with maple syrup and flavored with sage leaves. Whole grain cornmeal offers crunch, and buttermilk imparts tenderness. This recipe makes a reliable starting point, but I have fun changing it around. For a healthier version, I replace the butter with light olive oil or vegetable oil, and use whole wheat flour rather than all purpose. Sometimes I season it with rosemary instead of sage, or use honey as an alternative to maple syrup. I have added generous quantities of freshly ground black pepper, and folded in corn kernels.
Here’s a super tasty, delightfully crunchy, and exceptionally nutritious granola to start off the day. One more selling point: amaranth
, an ancient, gluten-free grain, will keep you feeling satisfied much longer than other cereals. I like to fill a bowl with fresh fruit (berries and peaches in summer, apples or bananas in winter), milk, soy milk, kefir, or yogurt and about ⅓ cup of this granola. And when I need a quick pick-me-up, like right now, I eat a big spoonful of the granola directly from its container.
I spent an entire day filming a video announcing the new Williams-Sonoma cookbook: Cooking at Home
. This volume offers classic recipes, with modern flavor twists, and is packed with helpful cooking tips. It features over 1000 recipes, including many dishes from the 5 Williams-Sonoma books I have written.
The filming took place in my kitchen, and the crew of 7 people began arriving in the early morning. I am not capable of welcoming people into my home without serving good food, so I laid out a nourishing breakfast that I had designed during the week. Video preparations were demanding, leaving little time to devote to the meal; the breakfast was easy, partially homemade, and entirely delicious.
I like to feast on domestic white truffles a couple of times during the holiday season. These gems may come in small nuggets, but are compellingly aromatic and are easy to find at several Los Angeles county farmers’ markets. For breakfast or brunch, I slice them over farmers’ market eggs softly scrambled with Parmesan cheese, shallots, and chives. For lunch or dinner, they top a simple risotto. The heat of the warm creamy scramble or rice releases the truffles’ mysteriously earthy aroma, transforming the simple dishes into luxurious holiday meals.
The truffles are sold at the Clearwater Farms’ table at three LA county farmers’ markets: Santa Monica
at Arizona and 3rd
Street on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and Hollywood
on Sundays. (Please note, the Santa Monica market will be closed on New Year’s Day.) At $15 an ounce, they are much more reasonable than Italian white truffles. I find ½ ounce per serving makes a good once-a-year treat. When I get my treasures home, I seal them in a glass jar atop arborio
rice for the risotto, and with farmers’ market eggs for our breakfast. Both the eggs and the rice absorb the truffles' fragrance, adding depth of flavor to the final dish.