Tag Archives: breakfast

Upside-Down Fig Rosemary Cornmeal Cake

I wish there was still some of this cake in the kitchen. Sadly, it’s long gone. Lee and his sister polished it off with ice cream on Monday night. Oh I got my share. I tasted the sticky corners of the pan after I first inverted the cake onto a plate. I had a nice, big slice the night after our second triathlon. It was exactly what I needed and I was so glad I’d baked the day before. This is the best thing I’ve baked for a long time: it’s fruity, herby, sweet and nutty without being overpowering. It’s dense but still dessert.

I made this for the figs. They practically begged me to do it. I have this problem with figs, you see. When the short-but-sweet fig season finally gets going I have to buy them. I buy them en masse and then remember that I’m the only one in this household that actually likes figs. I vaguely remember giving Lee one once, long ago, and having him say “Is this supposed to taste good?” Ha!

So, we have figs. Then there’s the rosemary and cornmeal, and not just any cornmeal but purple cornmeal. I came across this recipe (the second one) while searching for an upside-down fig cake and the thought of rosemary and walnuts with my gooey fruit was captivating. I also happen to have fresh rosemary from the CSA box in my fridge and walnuts in my pantry. This kind of ingredient alignment almost never happens to me!

I used rosemary and walnuts from the above recipe but found my cornmeal inspiration from Cake Duchess and her Peach and Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake. I almost recruited the peaches from my fruit drawer at the sight of this beauty and went right for the purple cornmeal I’d bought for some other grand plan a while back.

I should have taken a picture while I was mixing the batter. The purple color was incredibly intense. It darkened as the cake baked but I still like the dark purple notes in the finished product. Wouldn’t a yellow and purple swirl be fun?

I promise this is the last thing. There’s two things I learned when baking this cake:

  1. Even though it may seem like the butter-sugar concoction you’re coating your pan with is going to cook itself into a stuck-on mess it really isn’t. Everything is going to be fine. Butter is magical, even in reasonable quantities.
  2. Don’t invert your upside down cake out of the pan until you’re ready to serve it. I couldn’t wait to see mine to I flipped it as soon as it had cooled and I think the glossy topping soaked into the cake by the time I sliced it the next day. It might have soaked in even if I’d left the cake upside down but I’m guessing it would hold up better.
  3. I lied! I learned 3 things! Make a cake with cornmeal and fruit and you can eat it for breakfast without feeling like you’re eating cake for breakfast!

 

Upside-Down Fig Rosemary Cornmeal Cake

Ingredients

  • 8-10 ripe figs, halved and stems removed
  • 1 cup cornmeal, preferably stone ground but only purple if you feel like it. Yellow would be lovely too.
  • 3/4 cup flour of choice. I used barley flour.
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (or another egg)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 teaspoons chopped rosemary
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place butter in a square or circular cake pan or a 10 inch cast-iron skillet and place this in the oven for a few minutes till the butter has melted.
  3. When the butter is melted, add 1/4 cup brown sugar and stir to combine and evenly distribute the mixture.
  4. Place halved figs on top of the sugar/butter layer cut side down so that they cover at least most of the bottom of the pan. Sprinkled rosemary and walnuts over between figs. Set the pan aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, sift/whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer or by hand, beat coconut oil and remaining brown sugar until well blended.
  7. Add eggs to the oil+sugar. Reduce mixer speed to medium, if using, and beat well.
  8. Mix in milk, applesauce, and vanilla.
  9. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet, mixing on low until just combined.
  10. Pour batter into pan/skillet, distributing it evenly over the figs.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  12. Allow cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. To remove it from the pan, run a plastic knife or spatula around the edges of the cake. Place a tray, plate, or cutting board on top of the cake pan. Holding the edges, quickly flip the pan and the tray so that the tray is not on the bottom. You might need to shake the pan a little to get the cake to fall out but it should come out smoothly. You might want to wait till shortly before serving it to invert the cake so it keeps that fresh, glossy look.

Notes

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French toast with strawberries and goat cheese

This post covers a lot of things, all of which revolve around what I ate for lunch today.

First, why I love weekdays off:

  1. I get to take Doc (the dog) for walks up and around Potrero hill and see how happy he is to trot down the sidewalk beside me.
  2. Relaxed oatmeal breakfasts with coffee and the Chronicle on my Kindle
  3. Multitasking laundry with baking, blog-reading, house cleaning and daydreaming.
  4. It doesn’t matter when I forget to brush my teeth until half way through the day.
  5. I can eat French toast for lunch.

That last one is the kicker. There are several things that I can only make for lunch when I’m at home. Smoothies have been my specialty of late but there was a time when I made French toast for lunch all the time. Why did I ever stop? True, French toast is something normal people eat for breakfast on weekends and may seem too fancy, complicated, or rich for an every-day lunch. My counterargument goes something like this: bread+egg+milk=French toast.

I know, I know. I’m glossing over all kinds of key components like (for some) sugar, butter and rivers of syrup. There is a time and place for that breakfast. For me, a simpler version is a perfect vehicle for fresh fruit at lunch time.

This is where the strawberries come in. I’m kind of a strawberry snob. I don’t think I could have turned out any other way after growing up in Southern California where dreamily fresh, delicious strawberries grew right down the road. I remember early summer as a time for gorging on half flats of strawberries from roadside stands. My mom knew the best places to buy them. We would pick some up on the way home from somewhere, rush to the kitchen and plunge berries into cold water before devouring as many as it took to decide whether or not they were the best strawberries we’d ever tasted. Sometimes they weren’t that great. Often enough, they were spectacularly sweet and luscious: not too soft but never crunchy and always tasting like summer.

I don’t know how we ate as many berries as we did. I know they went on cereal, ice cream, waffles, and salads. I think my brother and I mostly ate them whole and unaccompanied off of moist paper towels by the sink. My dad dipped strawberries in sour cream and brown sugar for dessert.

Yesterday I brought home this week’s CSA box and immediately dug the little container of strawberries out from underneath the greens. I ran cold water over one, bit into it and closed my eyes. I must have done the same with two or three more. Yum. This is what a strawberry is supposed to taste like.

This morning I had strawberries on my oatmeal. They melted into the hot bowl while I read the paper and drank my coffee – my day-off morning ritual. Afterwards, while walking Doc up and around the hill, I thought of French toast and knew I had to have it for lunch. There was goat cheese in the fridge…and strawberries.

French toast with strawberries and goat cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 slices whole grain bread
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 4 medium-sized strawberries, more or less
  • 1-2 oz. fresh chevre

Instructions

  1. Beat the egg and milk in a bowl.
  2. Add the nutmeg and vanilla, blending completely
  3. Pour the egg mixture into a flat pan or dish.
  4. Place both slices of bread in the dish, allowing one side of each slice absorb the liquid.
  5. Carefully flip bread slices after a few minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Spread a little oil or butter in the skillet.
  7. When the bread has absorbed most or all of the egg mixture, place it on the skillet and cook until browned to your liking, then flip and cook the other side. (I like to cover my toast while the first side is cooking. This helps the middle cook more fully.)
  8. While the toast cooks, wash your strawberries in cool water (Simply placing them in a bowl full of water is the gentlest way). Cut out the green tops and slice the berries.
  9. When the toast is done, place one slice on a plate, cover with sliced strawberries and a couple dabs of chevre. Layer the second slice of bread on top of the first (trust me, this helps melt the cheese and warm up the berries). Top this slice with the rest of the berries and a few more smears of chevre.
  10. Sit down with your meal and relax.
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Roasted Banana Breakfast Cookies

I was lolling around the house this afternoon, trying to talk myself into productivity, when I realized it was time for a cookie. True, I call these gems “Breakfast Cookies” in the title of this post but what’s to keep me from eating them at all hours of the day? It’s not like I respect food-related social norms when it comes to regular breakfast (I like toast for lunch and pancakes for dinner).

I made these cookies yesterday and was disappointed in them as soon as I started mixing the batter…or rather dough. Truthfully, this started as a banana bread recipe. I’ve made the recipe before and remember it being on the bready side for my banana bread taste. It was good, though, and I like the recipe’s simplicity. It seemed like a good testing around for my roasted bananas.

Did I say bananas? I meant apple bananas. You can see from the picture that these short, stubby fruit don’t look like normal bananas. That’s because they came from a little grocery store down the street that sells Latin American products. I used to buy bananas like these when we were sailing in the Bahamas. Apparently they’re called apple bananas and their flavor can resemble that of apple or strawberries when they are very ripe, which they pretty much have to be to be sweet enough.

I thought some roasting might do these three some good and I was right! It was all I could do to keep from eating the hot, gooey banana goodness before baking the bread, er, I mean cookies.

Back to my disappointment upon mixing my ingredients. The intended bread batter was more like a dough – thick and threatening to dry out upon baking. I thought I struck out with yet another recipe (I’ve been doing that a lot lately) but I decided to shape the dough into giant cookies and bake it anyway. The smell while the cookies baked alone was worth it and the result was a huge surprise.

These babies stayed moist and soft after baking and the roasted banana flavor did not disappoint. Even with only a scant amount of honey these cookies, as I’ve become more and more comfortable calling them, are perfectly sweet. The nuts seem to have roasted as the cookies baked and taste better than any nut I’ve ever had in a cookie before.

Since yesterday I’ve staved off evening munchies with a cookie, refueled after a run with yet another cookie, and will probably quell my dessert cravings with another cookie tonight.

This recipe is adapted from the Banana Bread in The Yoga Cookbook

Roasted Banana Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 very ripe apple bananas or regular bananas
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup barley flour (or another flour of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/ teaspoon each nutmeg and cardamom
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted, or oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts and pecans)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil (this could get messy) and place bananas, peel on, onto the foil.
  3. Prick peels with a knife to avoid explosions.
  4. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.
  5. Remove bananas from oven and allow to cool.
  6. Meanwhile, combine flours, oat bran, salt, baking soda, and spices in medium bowl.
  7. Place butter in a heatproof dish and put it in the oven to melt.
  8. When bananas are cool, peel them and mash them in a large bowl.
  9. Add honey and mash thoroughly to combine.
  10. Add dry ingredients and butter, mixing completely.
  11. Divide mixture into 8-12 equal pieces, depending on how large you would like your cookies to be.
  12. Arrange them on an oiled or otherwise nonstick baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until golden brown
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Vegan Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

It’s raining in San Francisco today. We’ve been mourning the lack of moisture all over the West this winter, which is nothing like past winters I’ve spent in the bay area. I remember walking the length of campus in the pouring rain to get to a midterm. The class was held in a frigid basement room of the old women’s gymnasium, next door to the anthropology collection, and I thought I was going to freeze to death before finishing that midterm. My pants and feet were soaking wet and I’m sure my toes turned blue. I remember not really caring about the test any more. I just wanted to finish it and get out of there! Ah, those were the days.

The fool in me thinks You should go back to school! You’re certainly not getting a job so you don’t have anything better to do! Ha. No way. The smarter part of me remembers that I promised to never repeat the thesis-writing experience.

What can I do instead, now that I’m without employment, internships, or medical crises to keep me occupied? I’m thinking about learning to sing or dance (I’ve been watching way too much Glee on Netflix). Or maybe I’ll through myself headlong into organizing and decorating the house, something that might never get done otherwise.

Before I get to whiny, let me get to the point: These muffins are bright sunny spots on this grey day and on my recent dark mood. The solutions to my boredom and idleness are of cooking and blogging, of course. A job would help too. I have at least one really, really incredible prospect in my sights.

Meanwhile, I’ll be making these muffins over and over again until I get tired of them. They are undoubtedly the best thing I’ve made in a long time. I knew they would be as soon as the idea hit me. What about lemon poppy seed muffins but with chia seeds instead! They could be vegan!

Lemon poppy seed muffins have always struck me as the most dainty, sophisticated muffin. They don’t have much substance and often toe the line between cupcake and muffin. With chia seeds, though, and whole wheat pastry flour, these muffins are like undercover spies in the world of frivolous pastries. A modest amount of honey adds the perfect sweetness and the lemon flavor is surprisingly strong, in a good way.

If you have not tried chia seeds I encourage you to get some. As gross as this may sound, their coagulating abilities are just so…cool. I mostly use them in hot cereal and overnight oats but now that I’ve baked with them once I think they will join flax seed meal as an essential part of my vegan baking.

Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds + 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sour non-dairy milk + juice from half a lemon
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a muffin tin with silicone or paper cups.
  3. Combine chia seeds with water, whisking them together. Allow them to sit for 5-10 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, blend flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine lemon zest, soy milk, and lemon juice.
  6. Add honey and chia gel to soy milk mixture, stirring until honey dissolves and is thoroughly blended.
  7. Stir in vanilla extract.
  8. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir gently till barely combined.
  9. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin and bake for approximately 20 minutes.
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