Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Working with a mango

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Mangoes aren’t cheap.  At least not usually.  And so when we do indulge and bring one home it’s good to know how to cut into it to maximize the yield.  So… here’s the procedure.

Give the mango a good rinse and make sure your hands are clean.  Take a paring knife and remove all the skin, working from top to bottom in  strips.  Try not to go to deeply while doing this.

Once the fruit is peeled take your paring knife, again, and starting at the top (which is the narrower end) insert your blade along the  width of the fruit.  The mango bears a flat seed in its center and the idea is to  start the knife at the top and allow the blade to follow the flat side and contour of the pit.  When one side is done repeat that step on the second side.

That leaves you two oval and somewhat flat pieces.  Then take your paring knife and again, starting at the top slice the two remaining side ends and allowing the blade to flow the contour of the seed, slice off the rounded strip.  So now you have two large ovals and two narrower strips.

Lay the ovals on a cutting board or plate, flat side down and from there you can cut them into strips as wide or as thin as you like and if you need them diced cut them again, crosswise, into squares.  Use as needed.

Caramelized fruit pancakes with cinnamon-sugar and oats (as good as they sound!)

Monday, April 11th, 2011

gourmet pancakes

Here’s what I think is a most innovative way of preparing pancakes.  At the restaurant these were a signature item for our Saturday brunch.

This technique for making pancakes produces a light, fluffy cake that has a sweet fruity caramelized crust on one side.  Let’s walk through the procedure and ingredients.  You’ll need a few teaspoons of cinnamon-sugar (1/4 cup sugar to 2 teaspoons cinnamon), some rolled oats (the quick cooking kind), a fruit of your choice and a batch a buttermilk pancake batter.

Prepare your batter and spoon it onto the hot griddle as you would normally.  As soon as the batter is down and cooking on the first side dot it with some small pieces of chopped fruit, fresh, frozen or canned.  You can use apples, pears, peaches, pineapple, all kinds of berries.  Dot enough fruit over the batter so you get a piece in every bite.  Then sprinkle some rolled oats over the fruit (about a tablespoon per cake) and finally sprinkle a generous amount of cinnamon-sugar over the fruit and oats.  You need to use a lot to develop the caramelized crust we are after.

When the pancake is cooked on the first side, flip it over and cook the second side which is the side with the fruit, oats and sugar.  Let it cook long enough, on the second side, so that the sugar begins to melt and form a sweet crust.  It takes longer than usual and the underside of the pancake will develop spots that are a deep golden color.  When the pancakes are done take them to the table and serve them with your favorite syrup.  They are out of this world.

Granola bars – true granola bars

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011


A true granola bar recipe is hard to find.  This is the real thing, reminiscent of the ones they sell in the stores.  After all…isn’t that our goal –  to duplicate store bought products?  I was given this recipe years ago by a young woman who helped us at the restaurant.  She got it from a niece who got it from a seventh grade home economics teacher.  I will ever be grateful.

The recipe and instructions follow.  It is very easy and allows for any variations you care to make.  The recipe is not at all difficult but there are three techniques involved that will insure your success. 

1) For the full recipe, use the pan size designated

2) Make sure the mixture is spread perfectly even in the pan

3) Do not overbake

Bear those three things in mind and you will have great results.  Here we go…

Basic Granola Bar Recipe:

1 cup sugar

5 ounces butter or real margarine

3 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons karo syrup

2 tablespoons peanut butter (optional)

4 3/4 cups rolled oats (quick not old-fashioned)

4 cups added ingredients (total)- this can be a combination of different nuts, chocolate chips, other baking chips, coconut, raisins and other dried fruits, anything you care to try.


In large bowl combine first five ingredients.


Cream together well.


Add oats and your choice of 4 cups of personalized ingredients.


Mix well and then spread evenly in greased baking sheet.


This recipe is perfectly suited to what is known as a half pan or a pan 12×18.  If you decide to make a half recipe, then adjust the pan size accordingly.


Press the dough with fingers making sure the granola is perfectly even all across and not thinner of thicker in any part.


Bake in 350 oven between 15-20 minutes.  You want the granola to be set but not brown around the edges.  Believe it or not the picture above is baked.  Notice that the edges have not begun to turn brown.  This is the tricky part and might take some guesswork the first time or two.


When the granola has cooled slightly but not completely, cut in half using a folded sheet of parchment of paper as a guide.


Then quarter the pan, again using the paper as guide…


and from there cut as many portions as you like in whatever shape you prefer.  Once the granola is cut, allow to cool completely and then store in heavy ziploc bags or nice airtight containers.  This truly is the best recipe I have ever worked with.  My favorite combination of ingredients is 1 cup chocolate chips, 1 cup coconut, 1 cup pecans and one cup raisins…but honestly…any combination tastes great!

Preassembling ingredients for later baking

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

I look forward to breakfast every day.  I’m always hungry for it and even the night before, as I’m getting ready for bed I’m thinking about what I need to use from the fridge for breakfast.  Menu options for breakfast are vast but because we are working under constraints of time some of those options are only available on weekends or days when we are less pressured to run, run, run…


Last week I was really craving coffee cake with my breakfast but I was reluctant to even consider it because it seems that most mornings I’m doing well just to get myself ready and out the door on time.  No way would I be able to throw together a “cake” recipe, bake it and eat it in one quick morning.  And I wasn’t willing to wake up early to do that.  But I had an idea.  What if, the night before I were to throw together the ingredients and get it all set up to bake?  Would it bake and rise properly the next morning?  I was willing to give it a try.


The night before I assembled all the ingredients in the pan.  BTW – I typically dimple the top with my fingers just to give it a rough look rather than a smooth surface (I like it when the streusel sinks into the holes, and gets in the middle and bottom).  I covered it with film and set it in the fridge overnight. 


The next morning as I rolled out of bed I turned on the oven.  Once it was preheated I put the pan with the ready batter and streusel inside, set the timer, went about my other preparations and 20 minutes later was enjoying the smell and taste of freshly baked cake.  It was great.  Nothing was compromised.  In fact, since then I have begun using other breakfast baking recipes and once again, doing a preassemble the night before with little finishing touches the next morning. 


If you know that is an option available to you, it might help diversify your breakfast menus.  It’s also a great option when you have company and want something special but can’t afford the time.   Another thing to remember is that baked products usually freeze beautifully. Simply double wrap individual pieces, toss them in the freezer and enjoy them later.   Just an afterthought…and I will try this…Why not take this a step further and do what manufacturers do and preassemble the batter in a pan, cover, FREEZE and then thaw the night before baking and see what happens!  That way you can make it days ahead, when you have more time.  I’ll bet it will work.

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