Posts Tagged ‘breakfast’

a terribly auspicious occasion

With less than 24 hours to go, it’s time for me to admit, with some embarrassment, that I am one of those royal wedding watchers. My name is Natalie, and if I have not sat down and watched every obnoxious TV special on the couple — “William and Kate,” that objectively horrible Lifetime movie, not to be confused with TLC’s “William and Kate: A Royal Love Story,” “Wild About Prince Harry,” “Charles and Di: Once Upon A Time,” and on and on — well, I have probably flipped through them with some passing interest.

Apparently, the upcoming nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton have created much more a frenzy stateside than in England (confirm, anyone?) and on the heels of this realization there’s been a sudden, slightly belated series of articles questioning whether Americans really, actually care about the wedding — or if the constant media coverage has created the illusion of interest where none would have otherwise existed.

To be honest, I find this recent angle of newspaper articles and cable news shows highly irritating. They’re acting a bit above it all, aren’t they? Every time Anderson Cooper or whoever reads a bit about the royal wedding, it’s with both a smirk (“This isn’t real news, our viewers are so silly to care about it”) and wide-eyed ignorance (“Maybe the designer is Vera Wang? Yes, that’s the only designer I know”). Well, listen, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC, CBS, and friends: You’ve sent all your anchors to London. The jig is up. You clearly care, so stop acting like you don’t.

I, on the other hand, am not trying to out-snob the royals, the way some TV reporters seem intent on doing. The earliest televised wedding coverage starts at 2:00 (our time, Central Time, everyone take a deep breath) with MSNBC. CNN and Good Morning America and the rest, total slugs, don’t begin until an hour later. While I am definitely not crazed enough to get up at two in the morning to watch the madness (that’s what four in the morning is for), I will be celebrating in British style when, um, I do get up.

There will be a proper cup of Earl Gray. There will be oat and maple scones, simply because there’s a couple unbaked and frozen rounds just waiting to be baked off for such an auspicious occasion. Since it will be such an early hour, allowing time for second breakfasts, there will probably be cream scones, too, and maybe something wild like strawberry-rosemary scones. We won’t have the traditional English breakfast sides like black pudding, grilled tomatoes, and baked beans, but fried eggs… and sausage… and marmalade and toast, here we come. Silly? Well, perhaps. I admit it. But embrace it!

Are you watching the royal wedding?


breakfast of champions

Last night, I dreamed I had been interviewed by a very friendly student at a graduate program and woke up feeling quite relieved. Then I realized the telephone interview had not yet taken place, and that it would certainly not be conducted by a jovial colleague only three years my senior. So I spent the morning rereading past essays and exhibition catalogs, reviewing college notes, and jotting down answers to potential questions, from the likely (“Why grad school? Why art history?”) to the slightly further out (the infamous “What is your greatest weakness?”).

Of course, because these are the questions I prepared, I wasn’t asked any of them. That’s just the way the world works. Slightly tangential variations on them yes, but also one question that hadn’t even occurred to me and left me grasping wildly for recent museum exhibitions to discuss. (Yves Klein! Marina Abramovic! Chagall at the Art Institute! Sure, now they come easily.) (It’s okay, though, I mentioned a couple in my thank you email. Nothing if not tenacious here, people.)

Otherwise, though, I think the chat went quite smoothly. I think I kept my manic nervous giggle thing to a minimum, a blessing for the both of us. And I talked about a Hans Grundig painting at LACMA and my interest in provenance research and Nazi looting, and probably, you know, not everyone can pontificate chat what something approaching knowledge about those things. So there’s that.

But you want to hear about these turnovers, don’t you? First of all, I am sad to report that they are not what I had for breakfast this morning. (That would be fruit. Law prom’s this weekend, you know, and puff pastry midweek isn’t exactly the wisest choice for me. The beginning of the week is, of course, a different foxhunt altogether.) (Name that TV show!) This is what I made for the morning of Valentine’s Day.

I hate when people say a complicated (at least, complicated-looking) dish just “fell together,” but I promise that this one did. I had some leftover dough from the rolling out the quiche crust and I had some unused puff pastry and cranberries hanging around the freezer. From there, I just had to buy a couple apples, slice an orange and dig the cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg out of my pantry. I filled and sealed the turnovers on Sunday, refrigerated them overnight, and had only to bake them on Monday. They puffed up nice and golden (especially the puff pastry; who knew!?) and the piping hot filling was sticky and rich, sweet with a tart edge. Hey, it’s breakfast: it couldn’t be a total apple pie rip-off.

Apple-Cranberry Turnovers
(Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa, who serves them as dessert and is erroneously overlooking their beautiful function as breakfast food)

For 8 turnovers

  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/4 pounds tart apples, such as Granny Smith (about 3 apples)
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 handful fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 egg, beaten

Combine the orange juice and zest in a bowl. Peel, quarter, and core the apples, then cut into bite-sized pieces, less than an inch all around. Immediately toss apples with the orange to prevent browning. Add sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and toss well.

Flour your work surface and roll each puff pastry sheet to a 12″ by 12″ square. Turn the pastry frequently to prevent sticking. Cut each square into quarters and keep cool until ready to use.

Brush the edge of each square with the beaten egg (or, if you’re like me, forget this step) and spoon about 1/3 cup of apple mixture into the center of the square. Top with several cranberries. (N.B. I added them last because I didn’t want their juices to run and make the entire turnover super tart.) Fold the pastry diagonally, over the filling, and seal by pressing the edges with a fork. At this point, you can refrigerate them overnight, or even freeze them for longer than that.

To bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange turnovers on a baking sheet and brush tops with beaten egg. Sprinkle each with a couple teaspoons sugar and cut two small slits in the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Enjoy!

though the weather outside is frightful

{David Lebowitz’s Chocolate Chip Cookies}


{Granola Bars, the best I have ever had}


{Meyer Lemon + Fresh Cranberry Scones}

a sunday person

Because this is the sort of person I am, I stayed in bathrobe until two o’clock. I had a bowl of leftover Chinese take-out for lunch. I am on my second replay of Candy Crowley’s “State of the Union” on CNN. It is dreary outside, but rather warm, and I should probably go for a run, or at least a little mosey around the block, but I think I will make bretzels instead.

A bretzel, you adorably inquiring minds, is a pretzel roll. It’s like a dinner roll, but a pretzel. Obviously, it is better. We’re not having a particularly pretzely — I guess that would be German? — meal tonight but I will confess that, when I found this recipe yesterday, I had a fleeting but persistent vision of listening to my German recitation tapes, pouring over textbooks, and committing the sixty-one-and-a-half cases/tenses to memory (again) this afternoon. I was wearing glasses in this vision, thank you for asking, and one inescapable detail rose to the top, like cream in a milk jug: a warm bretzel slathered with cream cheese. Inauthentic cream cheese and all. Don’t ask questions.

I will give you one guess as to which of the three — German studying, glasses wearing, or bretzel noshing — actually happened.

If you get this wrong, you are not allowed to read this blog anymore.

Or maybe that means you need to read it more.

this is your first clue

and this is your second

These are good. Oh, these are very good. Unbelievably good. Pillow soft on the inside, with a crackly, crusty exterior. I was a little skeptical on the “pretzel taste” front — flour, salt, sugar, water, yeast, how does this a pretzel make? This is the ingredient list for all bread products. The secret, friends, lies in the boiling water bath. Which is not just any water (which would make it a bagel, in case you’re interested), but water with a couple tablespoons of sugar and a healthy dump of baking soda. Baking soda + sugar + a roiling, boiling pot of water = pretzel! Now you know. Go make these.


Makes 8 bretzels

  • 2 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup hot water, more as needed
  • cornmeal, for sprinkling
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • coarse salt

Combine bread flour, yeast, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp sugar in a food processor and blend to combine. Slowly add 1 cup of hot water through the feed tube, more as needed, to create a smooth, elastic dough. Process a couple seconds more to knead. Oil a medium-sized bowl, dump the dough into it, and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a tea towel. Set in a warm, draft-free area to rise until doubled in size. This took me about an hour.

Flour a counter space. Gently deflate the dough and knead lightly until smooth. Divide into eight pieces of equal weight. Form each piece into a ball and flatten slightly. Cut an X into the top of each dough ball. Cover with a towel and let dough balls rise until almost doubled again, about half an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust with cornmeal. Bring eight cups of water to a brisk boil and add baking powder and sugar. Water will foam up! Add four rolls and cook 30 seconds per side. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer rolls to prepared sheet. Continue with four remaining rolls.

Brush rolls with egg white glaze. Sprinkle generously with coarse salt. Bake until brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer racks and cool ten minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

* Best eaten the day of, rolls will keep at room temperature for up to two days. Do not store in a covered container, or they will become soggy.

croissants, redux

Yes, you CAN make croissants at home! You just need three days. More precisely, you need thirty minutes one night, ten the next morning and night, and an hour the following morning for shaping and baking. It is clearly best suited to a free weekend, HOWEVER I am fairly positive that an extra day of fridge-sitting wouldn’t hurt ’em. In other words, you can mix the dough on a Thursday night, ignore it until Saturday, and have oven-fresh croissants on Sunday.

If it sounds like I’m shelling for croissants, it’s because I have THE BEST RECIPE, but the whole extended time line throws some people off. This saddens me! It takes a couple day, but practically no labor. No kneading, I promise.

And the other thing holding you back, I’ve heard, is the assembly. We’re going to talk about that today. But first, please visit the original recipe to refresh your memory. As you remember, we start, of course, with flour, yeast, sugar, salt and milk and let this dough hang out in the fridge overnight. But the next day?

Dump it all out on a well-floured counter and roll it into a 6″ x 15″ rectangle. Smear some butter and flour on the top two-thirds.

Fold up the bottom third.

Then fold the top third over. Just like a letter! We do remember letters, right?

Rotate it counter-clockwise. The fold is now facing right.

Now roll it back out to 6″ x 15″ and repeat the letter-folding technique. To refresh your memory, this is half-way through:

No sweat, right? Shove it back in the fridge for the day. That night, take it back out and fold it, letter style, twice more. Refrigerate it for the night. The following morning . . .

Slap it down on a well-floured counter.

Roll it into a large circle, about a 16″ diameter — but hey, no need to break out the rulers.

Quarter it.

Cut each quarters into thirds.

Ta-da! Now grab whatever totally optional fillings you choose. You can ALWAYS roll them plain, and they will be incredibly buttery, flakey, and delicious. But it’s hard for me to say no when there’s a jar of Nutella in the cupboard.

Roll the triangle a little thinner. If you’re adding filling, whether it be a streak of jam, a spoonful of Nutella, or a row of chocolate chips, shmear it along the base.

Then, filling or not, just roll it to the point! Arrange your finished croissants on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and preheat that oven to 400 degrees.

Brush them all with a little milk, a little egg, and let them rise another forty minutes. Then pop them in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until you pass out from how delicious they look. Eat warm! Enjoy! And never let a lack of time or know-how stop you again!

my morning in pictures

It’s just the big house and me. And I make that big a mess of sheets on my own. That brown thing’s the sleepy shirt I am “leasing” for the next . . . well, one night, actually. It smells nice. Tomorrow I’m going to New York. But that’s not part of the story.

When I was little, I thought it was so silly that people put pillows on their bed with the express purpose of removing them at night. I still sort of do. But ours look like blue marshmallows, so I let it slide. (Also, they make the bed kinda purty.)

Our house dates from the late nineteenth century. There is no insulation, some windows have been painted shut, and when I say the stairs creak, I mean they CRRREEEAAAAKKKK. There is an unopened wooden trunk in the garage rafters that I really want bring down and unlock, but is too creepy heavy to do so. On the plus side: we have the best doorknobs.

This is my apron. It matches the kitchen floor. I’m kind of obsessed with it.

My mommy brought us coffee. It is very fancy.

This is our coffee grinder. We have that. I’m embarrassed to tell you how many coffee-related apparatuses (apparati?) we have.

There’s just no use asking.

Okay. Five.

Come back!

I ground my nice Peruvian coffee beans in my nice Jersey-manufactured grinder. I spooned one scoop into the espresso thingy. And then I spilled the rest all over the sink.


Guess who’ll be bleaching the sink later today?

(And I took a picture of my mess, how embarrassing. Does this count as overshare? Don’t answer that.)

But at last, I had my cappuccino with cinnamon. In a day that will include dry cleaning, laundry, the library, soup making, packing, babysitting, and class: here’s a moment of zen.

suckers for sweet

Hello? Are you still there? Great. Listen, I may have buried the lede with that last cobbler directive. It is delicious; but this is better. It is, ostensibly, a Breakfast Food. And if you go with the recipe’s original title (“Sunday Supper Waffles”), it’s only appropriate for the Sabbath. While limiting advice, and often ignored in these parts, this should give you an idea of how delicious the waffles are: good enough for sainthood.

I hope you don’t let the name stop you. These are the best waffles I’ve ever had, Sunday or not. The inside is all soft, melt-in-your-mouth goodness, but they have a satisfying, delicate crunch on the outside. They’re also incredibly light and airy: an important consideration when one waffle inevitably becomes two (or three). AND: I love that there’s no sugar in the ingredients list, since I regularly drown mine in maple syrup.

Full disclosure: I’m a bit biased. I have been making these waffles since I was . . . six? Maybe since I was six and Alex, my bestie in the ‘burg, was four. Every time she slept over, we would make these waffles. And we had a LOT of slumber parties. (Yet Alex will tell you this weekend was the first time I trusted her to separate the eggs. The worst, right?) My copy of Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook — the canonical source for Sunday Supper Waffles — falls open to page 225 on its own, so frequently has that recipe been turned to, traced with floury fingers, and stained with egg whites.

So when I decided to drive down to Williamsburg on Friday, I knew the waffle iron was coming with. It’s old, old, old, and decidedly unglamorous, but so saturated with Butter Of The Ages that it requires no pre-waffling spritz of Pam of brush of grease. I don’t think I will ever part with it. And you know, Alex and I even tried a different waffle recipe on Saturday in the interest of fairness and Shaking Things Up: one promisingly called “Rich Buttermilk Waffles.” Friends, these words do not equal delicious. Not as fluffy, less crispy on the outside, too dense.

None of this nonsense on Sunday. I called my house for the recipe at 8:45, (for those keeping track of pantry supplies: we made a grocery run for baking powder), the egg whites were peaked at 9:15, and by 9:30 we had forsworn all other waffles. We even had a blueberry brain wave. So, to recap: if you have some extra blueberries lying around, no objections to real butter (and frankly, if you do, leave), and a fierce hunger for fluffy waffles, then do yourself a favor, and circle your wagon here for your fix.

Any Time At All Waffles

(Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook, always)

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

Start heating the waffle iron.

Combine the dry ingredients. Separate the eggs into separate bowls. Add the milk to the yolks. Beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.

Stir together the dry ingredients and the milk mixture. Add the butter. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the egg whites, leaving little tufts showing in the batter.

Ladle the batter onto the waffle iron until it spreads about 1 inch from the edge. Gently close the lid. Cook a few minutes, checking periodically for doneness. Loosen waffle with a fork, transfer to plate, douse with syrup and forswear all others.

Makes 10 waffles