Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

8 03 2011

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

March 8th is Pancake Day (a.k.a. Shrove Tuesday)!   It’s a great excuse to whip up some pancakes for breakfast (or have ‘breakfast-for-dinner’ if there’s no time in the morning).  Adding lemon zest and a bit of fresh juice gives these breakfast treats a hint of lemon flavour that is perfect with strawberry sauce. Fresh strawberries aren’t in season in most areas yet but frozen ones work just as well. Of course, maple syrup also pairs well with the pancakes and is seasonally appropriate.

Ricotta is a soft, mild cheese that can be found in the dairy case of most supermarkets. However, it’s also possible to make it at home and doesn’t require any exotic ingredients: Home-Made Ricotta.

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

Makes about 10 pancakes (recipe can be halved or doubled)

The Strawberry Sauce can simmer while you’re preparing the batter and cooking the pancakes (see recipe below).

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Finely grated zest of one medium lemon (about 2 teaspoons of zest)
  • 2 cups milk (1% or 2%)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • Oil for cooking
  • Strawberry Sauce (see below for recipe)
  • Lemon zest, powdered sugar or fresh strawberries as garnish (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, add flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and lemon zest.  Use a fork to stir until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
  2. Pour the milk into a large measuring cup.  Break the eggs into the milk and beat with a fork until combined. Melt the butter in the microwave for 1 minute (or in a saucepan if you don’t have a microwave).  Let cool slightly and stir it into the milk/egg mixture.
  3. Slow pour the milk and egg mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients, stirring as you add the liquid.  Add the lemon juice and whisk until the batter is fairly smooth.
  4. Break up the ricotta with your fingers and add to the batter.  Stir until combined (there may be some small lumps of ricotta but that’s ok).
  5. In a large skillet, add a small amount of oil and heat on medium-high until a bit of batter dropped in sizzles. Working in batches, pour three or four circles of batter into the pan.  Cook until browned on the bottom, about 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat slightly and flip the pancakes over.  Continue to cook until the bottom in browned and they are just cooked through.  Move cooked pancakes to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter.
  6. Top with Strawberry Sauce (below) or maple syrup and garnish with lemon zest, powdered sugar or fresh strawberry slices if desired. For an extra decadent treat, add a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream to each serving.

Strawberry Sauce

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
  1. Add all ingredients to a large sauce pan.  Heat on medium-high, stirring occasionally.  Lower the heat to medium and let the strawberries simmer while the pancakes are cooking (about 15 minutes).  Use a potato masher or fork to crush the cooked strawberries.  Serve over pancakes or waffles.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Christmas Brunch

23 12 2010

Pre-cooked ham makes an easy Christmas brunch dish.

Christmas morning is an exciting time for anyone who celebrates the holiday.  Kids wake up at the crack of dawn to see if Santa has arrived and many adults still feel a tingle of excitement when they see the tree surrounded by gifts in the morning. Once everyone has opened their presents and settled down, why not enjoy a delicious brunch?

I like to make a nice meal on Christmas morning.  However, I don’t like to fuss too much because who wants to be slaving in the kitchen when everyone else is having fun?  (plus, I have a turkey dinner to cook later in the day!).  The key is to do as much as possible the night before so Christmas can be enjoyed with your family.

Here are a few ideas for a relatively simple brunch.  I have included some helpful tips for prepping in advance to make things easier.

Spiced Cranberry-Apple Cider - On Christmas morning, I like to get up before everyone and put on a pot of mulled cider so when everyone wakes up, the house smells wonderful and there is something warm to drink while we’re opening gifts. Prepare the spice packet the night before. To make cranberry-apple cider, mix equal parts non-alcoholic apple cider and unsweetened cranberry juice in a saucepan and add the spice packet. Let simmer for 10 minutes and serve.  Garnish mugs with cinnamon sticks if desired.

Crustless Quiche – Leaving out the crust makes things much simpler. Of course, asparagus isn’t in season during Christmas but you can substitute chopped spinach, sautéed leeks, diced red peppers or sautéed mushrooms.  Bake the pie the night before and serve at room temperature or briefly warmed in the oven.

Spicy Breakfast Potatoes – The potatoes can be peeled and cubed the night before. Place the cubes in a bowl, add enough cold water to just cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  Drain well and pat dry before cooking.  The spices can be pre-mixed in a small bowl so they’re ready to go in the morning.  You can let the potatoes cook while you’re preparing other dishes.

Cheddar-Herb Biscuits – The biscuits can be rolled, cut and placed in the baking dish the night before.  Refrigerate overnight and let them come to room temperature before baking.

Ham with Spicy Maple-Dijon Glaze – I buy a ham that has been pre-cooked, which makes things much simpler.  It can be sliced and served cold or heated briefly in the oven while other things are baking. Prepare the mustard glaze the night before and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Baked French Toast - This entire dish can be assembled the night before and baked in the morning.

Morning Glory (Orange and Pomegranate Mimosas) – In a pitcher, add orange and pomegranate juices the night before and refrigerate.  Add the sparkling wine just before serving (the wine can be added to the pitcher or to individual glasses.)  Use club soda for guests who don’t drink.

Pancakes – Mix all of the dry ingredients the night before in a large bowl.  Measure out the wet ingredients (except the egg) into small bowls and refrigerate.  In the morning, combine everything and cook the pancakes.  Serve with pre-made fruit syrup or maple syrup.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins – Like pancakes, the dry ingredients can all be measured and added to a large bowl the night before.  Measure the wet ingredients into small bowls and refrigerate.  In the morning, you can mix and bake everything quickly.

Banana-Rum Bread – Banana bread and other sweet breads can be made in advance and frozen.  Remove from the freezer the night before to defrost in time for brunch.

Yogurt, cereal, bagels with cream cheese, smoked salmon, granola and fruit don’t require much prep work!

Coffee and Tea – Set up the coffee maker/espresso machine/french press with coffee and water the night before.  Fill a kettle with water for tea.

A Final Tip: You will be very happy in the morning if you take the time to set the table before you go to bed (and tell Santa not to mess it up with crumbs while he’s enjoying his milk and cookies on Christmas Eve!)

Bon Appétit and Happy Holidays!





Pumpkin Spice Muffins

26 09 2010

A bin of pumpkins at Jean Talon Market, Montreal

If there is one flavour that really says ‘autumn’ it’s pumpkin.  Pumpkin pie is a staple at Thanksgiving and in the past few years I’ve seen everything from pumpkin fudge to ice cream once fall arrives. Some coffee shops even make pumpkin lattes. Combined with warming spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, pumpkin is a delicious seasonal treat.

To make things easy, I use canned pumpkin puree instead of fresh pumpkin for this recipe.  While fresh pie pumpkins can certainly be used, the quality of the finished product can vary due to the water content of different pumpkins (for a guideline on how to prepare puree from pie pumpkins, check out How to Prepare Fresh Pumpkins for Baking).  If you’re using canned pumpkin, make sure it’s labelled as pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling, which already has spices added.

To make big, puffy bakery-style muffins, fill the muffin tins up almost to the top. Make sure you grease the top of the tin so that the muffin tops don’t stick.  If the muffins ‘grow’ together during baking, just cut them apart with a knife.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Makes about 8 large muffins

  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh or canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil, such as canola or safflower
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • Oil or cooking spray to grease muffin tin

Topping:

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease muffin tin (including top of tin) and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and spices. Stir with a fork until thoroughly combined.
  3. Add pumpkin puree, oil and eggs, and stir into the dry ingredients until smooth. Gently fold in nuts until distributed throughout batter.
  4. To make topping: In a small bowl, stir together sugar and cinnamon. Reserve chopped nuts in a separate bowl.
  5. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups, filling them to about ½” from the top of the cups. Sprinkle the batter of each muffin with cinnamon/sugar mixture and a spoonful of chopped nuts.
  6. Bake muffins for 25 to 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove muffin tin from the oven and let cool at least 15 minutes before removing the muffins.

This recipe first appeared on Suite 101.com.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Muffins





Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

3 04 2010

 

A bouquet of tulips is a simple way to dress up your Easter table.

 

This weekend is Easter and it’s a great opportunity to gather with family and friends for a meal.  While many will be enjoying an Easter dinner of ham, potatoes or lamb, I think brunch is a fun meal for entertaining.  Why not make a spring-inspired menu and invite your friends over for a casual morning of mimosas and delicious food?

Fresh locally grown blueberries won’t be available for a couple of months in most areas but frozen ones work perfectly for the sauce.  No need to defrost them – just put them in a pot with a little bit of water and they will cook down in no time.  Of course the pancakes are also great topped with maple syrup as well.  These pancakes are not the thin ‘flap jack’ kind – they puff up and are are quite substantial.

To round out your Easter brunch if you’re feeding a crowd, I suggest some baked ham with Maple-Dijon Glaze, Crustless Asparagus Quiche and Spicy Breakfast Potatoes

Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

Makes about 8 thick pancakes

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups milk, as needed
  • 3 Tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or safflower OR melted unsalted butter
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Additional oil for cooking pancakes
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Stir to combine.
  2. Add egg, 1-1/2 cups milk and 3 Tablespoons oil or melted butter to the dry ingredients. Gently stir until just combined. If the batter is very thick, add a bit more milk (however, it should still be quite thick and not runny).
  3. In a separate glass or stainless steel bowl, combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg whites until they form stiff white peaks. Fold egg whites into pancake batter until just combined.
  4. In a large skillet on medium-high, heat enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Working in batches of 3 or 4, drop large spoonfuls of batter into the skillet. Cook until the bottom of the pancakes are set. Turn over with a spatula and cook until both sides are golden brown and the centre is cooked through (insert a knife in the centre of the pancake to check for doneness). Pancakes can be kept warm in a low oven until all batches are cooked and are ready to serve.
  5. Serve with maple syrup or blueberry sauce (see below).

Blueberry Sauce

Makes about 1-1/2 cups sauce

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  1. In a large saucepan, combine ingredients. Heat until simmering. Gently mash berries with a potato masher and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes.
  2. Serve sauce with pancakes, waffles or biscuits (it’s also tasty poured over vanilla ice cream!)

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.

Bon Appétit and Happy Easter!

Thick fluffy pancakes topped with blueberry sauce.





Spiced Apple Walnut Bread

30 11 2009

 

A bin of apples at the farmer's market

 

It’s a cool November morning and I’m sitting here staring at my bowl of Special K with low-fat milk feeling uninspired.  I’m craving something sweet and comforting and I’m afraid my healthy option just isn’t cutting it (little wonder, since I don’t really like cereal that much).  I’m tempted to make a run for the cafe near my house because they sell fantastic pastries including almond croissants, chocolate croissants and fruit danishes.  However, I don’t need to develop a daily pastry habit so perhaps I can whip up something that fits the criteria of being (relatively) healthy yet comforting. Apple Walnut Bread is the perfect solution.  It’s also a great idea for those of you who overindulged this past weekend and are looking for lighter options while recovering from turkey and pumpkin pie overload.

Using apple sauce in place of some of the fat keeps the bread moist and flavourful while whole wheat flour and oatmeal add fibre. Serve with a cup of coffee or tea for a great breakfast option that suits these grey days.

Spiced Apple Walnut Bread

Makes one loaf

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup quick cooking oats, such as Quaker brand
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or safflower oil
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and grated (about 1-1/3 cups grated apple)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Topping:

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a standard sized loaf pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add dry ingredients (flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg). Stir until thoroughly combined, making sure spices are evenly distributed.
  3. Add eggs, applesauce, oil, and vanilla. Mix to combine. Add grated apple and stir until well distributed through batter. Gently fold in walnuts but do not over mix batter. Pour into greased loaf pan.
  4. Prepare topping: in a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon until evenly combined. Sprinkle sugar mix and nuts over batter.
  5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool. Run a knife around the perimeter of the loaf before unmolding it from the pan. Slice and serve.

 

Spiced Apple Walnut Bread

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com





Pumpkin Breakfast Treats

24 11 2009

Pumpkin: it's not just for pie!

With pumpkin pie on the Thanksgiving menu this week in millions of homes, there will likely be some leftover pumpkin purée. Why not put it to good use by whipping up some delicious breakfast treats for a house full of guests?  Try these delicious recipes I wrote for Suite 101.com:

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Pumpkin Spice Muffins – Pumpkin purée helps keep these muffins nice and moist. Filling the muffin cups almost to the top will make large, puffy bakery-style muffins. The recipe can easily be doubled to serve a crowd.

Pumpkin French Toast - French toast is always popular for breakfast but adding pumpkin and spices makes it even better. It’s also a great way to use up leftover bread. Serve with real maple syrup.

Pumpkin French Toast with maple syrup

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





Easter Brunch

11 04 2009

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Happy Easter to everyone who is celebrating it!  Many families get together for the holidays and what better way to mark the occasion than with a tasty brunch after church or a morning of egg hunting?  

To make things easier, the tarts, jam and maple-dijon glaze can be made in advance. Prep the dry ingredients for the biscuits the night before and mix in the butter and milk just before baking them.  Frozen strawberries can be used for the jam – fresh berries are not quite in season yet in most areas.  However, mangoes are in season right now and make a refreshing addition to the table.

 

Easter Morning Menu Suggestions

 Leek and Ham Tart OR Swiss Chard Tart

Thick sliced bacon or ham with Spicy Maple-Dijon Glaze

Fluffy Pancakes with Maple Syrup

Easy Drop Biscuits with Quick Strawberry Jam

Diced fresh Mango

Coffee & Tea

Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

Bon Appétit and Happy Easter!

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Ham is a traditional Easter dish - try it with a Spicy Maple-Dijon Glaze!

 





Maple Nut Oatmeal

14 01 2009

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When it comes to breakfast a lot of people just eat the same thing every morning: maybe some cereal or toast, a piece of fruit or an egg and some coffee.  However, breakfasts can be seasonal meals, reflecting the weather and what’s available at the markets.  In the summer, an omelette with fresh herbs and tomatoes served outdoors hits the mark while in winter we might prefer something a bit heartier on cold mornings.

This morning it is -22 degrees Celsius here so clearly something warming is in order. A bowl of hearty oatmeal with toasted nuts and a hint of maple fits the bill perfectly. By using quick cooking oatmeal, you can have breakfast on the table in minutes without a lot of fuss.  While oatmeal is often sold in single-serve, flavoured packets, I prefer to add my own seasonings.  It allows you to control the ingredients so you’re not eating a lot of weird additives and you can sweeten it to your taste (it’s much more economical as well!).  You can adjust the maple syrup in this recipe depending on how sweet you prefer your oatmeal.

Maple Nut Oatmeal

Makes 1 serving (can easily be multiplied)

(VEGETARIAN)

  • 1/3 cup quick cooking oats
  • 2/3 cup water
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts OR pecans
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • Whole nuts for garnish (optional)
  1. In a saucepan, add oats, water, salt, brown sugar, nuts and 1 teaspoon maple syrup.  Stir to combine.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil and cover.  
  3. Turn heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes.  
  4. Remove from heat, stir and drizzle remaining 1 teaspoon of maple syrup over oatmeal. Garnish with whole nuts and serve.

 

Maple Pecan Oatmeal on a cold winter morning

Maple Pecan Oatmeal on a cold winter morning

Bon Appétit and Stay Warm!





Baked French Toast

26 12 2008

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When cooking for a crowd around the holidays, it’s helpful to have a few recipes that can be prepared in advance so you can enjoy the festivities with your guests.  This is the perfect dish for Christmas morning or New Year’s Day but it can be made any time you want something fuss-free and delicious for breakfast.  All the prep work is done the night before so all you have to do is bake it and serve in the morning.

This recipe was developed by me and my sister-in-law Jenn this year so we could minimize kitchen time on Christmas morning.  It works best with bread that is slightly stale.  Use a whole loaf (instead of pre-sliced bread) so you can slice it thickly yourself.

Baked French Toast

Makes about 12 thick slices

  • 1 whole loaf unsliced challah or other white bread
  • 1 can (370 ml / 12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk (equals 1-1/2 cups)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest (finely grated orange peel)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • Butter, to grease baking pan

 

  1. Grease a large baking pan (at least 12″ X 16″).  Slice bread into slices about 1″ thick and lay flat in pan. Make sure all pieces are laying flat and not overlapping or they won’t brown properly.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine evaporated milk, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla, orange zest, nutmeg and salt.  Whisk until smooth and thoroughly mixed.
  3. Pour mixture evenly over bread slices.  Once it has soaked in a bit, turn slices over so they are completely soaked in egg mixture. 
  4. Cover pan and place in the fridge overnight.
  5. To bake: heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake french toast for 20 to 25 minutes or until the bread is browned on top and beginning to puff.
  6. Serve with maple syrup or your favourite topping.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!








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