Category Archives: Breakfast

Oven-Baked Apple Pancakes

Today marked the end of my short-lived backyard apple season as the last apple plopped to the soggy grass. My two, now bare, apple trees remind me of autumn family trips as a child to an orchard in Oka, Quebec. I remember climbing up the trunk of each apple tree, like a simian, and entangling myself in the upper branches elatedly. I loved the pull and twist of the fruit, with arms outstretched. I loved the quick polish of fruit on my grubby shirt sleeve, back before washing one’s fruit came in style, and the ultimate, mouth-watering crunch that followed. My brother and I would leave the orchard with belly aches from having gorged ourselves greedily on fruit, and would sneak past the gates with bulging pockets bursting at the seams, like those pirates in movies who stuff gold doubloons in every orifice as the ship is sinking.

I’ve been trying to find a use for the late-fallen apples from my two apple trees that didn’t fall early enough to make it into the now-fermenting batch of cider. This year’s harvest has been used in a couple of pies, a recent fruit crumble and enough homemade apple sauce to supply my local Costco.

I also stumbled upon a variation of traditional stove-top apple flapjacks which I had to try. Apparently German in its roots, this “oven pancake” gives the pancake a puffy, shell-like appearance that is both filling and slightly reminiscent of a distant Canadian cousin, the Beaver Tail – my favourite Quebec export after Maple Syrup, Poutine and Blanche de Chambly beer. Enjoy!

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Homemade Strawberry-Raspberry Jam

Jam is so easy and pleasurable to make that it’s a wonder why everyone doesn’t do it. The smell of strawberries cooking can transform a kitchen and for me it is reminiscent of childhood. It brings back a stream of happy, unrelated summertime memories: of lying listlessly in the dusty baseball field, knees scraped after a game; of running barefoot through an un-mowed lawn chasing my brother; of brachiating through tree branches like a simian; or of trading baseball cards, marbles and double-dare handshakes after spitting into our palms, which is really the only way this kind of handshake can be considered legit.

Store-bought jam is just jam; it is devoid of sentiment and symbolism. It is the one-night-stand of preserves. Homemade jam, on the other hand, carries with it a sort of precious timelessness. In this world of racy politics, recessions, earthquakes and grey hair, there is something almost medicinal in taking twenty minutes to stoop over the rolling boil of cooking berries and be swept back in time.

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Buttermilk Pancakes with Raspberry Syrup

I’ve never understood people who can start their day with nothing more in their bellies than a banana or slice of toast. I would be irritable from low blood sugar by 9 am and fainting by noon. Although typical Lumberjack breakfasts are too much for me, I do enjoy sitting down to a hearty breakfast washed down with a cup or two of coffee. Sunday breakfasts are sublime when the sun is shining warmly through the kitchen windows and the meal is accompanied by a crossword puzzle and a CBC broadcast in the background. My usual breakfast fare for the past few months has been blueberries, yogourt and granola, though occasionally on weekends – and in particular after a long run – I’ll risk messying the kitchen for a plateful of pancakes.

Pancakes remind me of childhood breakfasts, where my parents would whip together flapjacks from a box of Bisquick dry mix. Even now, when I visit my parents, my step dad will bring out blueberry or banana pancakes drizzled in maple syrup with a side of crispy bacon. At Christmas, we were allowed to open stockings first thing in the morning, though the holiday tradition required us to sit down for pancakes before we could actually start shredding through gift wrapping. Needless to say, we ate very quickly and our legs twitched with anticipation throughout the meal.

Pancakes are delicious when slathered in butter and syrup, but for something different try it with a homemade fruit syrup, such as raspberry or strawberry. Continue reading


French Toast with Pecans and Creamy Orange Syrup

French toast with orange and pecans

This is a variation of the traditional french toast breakfast that most of us have grown up with: maple syrup-soaked, golden french toast. I’ve replaced the maple syrup with a fairly thick sauce made from butter, cream cheese, a reduction of freshly-squeezed orange juice and confectioner’s sugar. Admittedly the sauce looks like mustard and doesn’t appear appetizing, but I guarantee you may not go back to eating french toast the old way once you’ve had a bite of this. The sweet citrus flavours of both the egg/milk mixture and the sauce is a pleasant surprise and also results in less soggy toast than if using syrup (which is part of the fun, though, I know).

I’ve been on an orange kick lately, mostly because they and their sweet cousin, the clementine, have been on sale over the past month. I picked up a box this morning from the grocery store that will probably last me 3 days at the rate I’ve been eating them. I also purchased a small hand juicer a few months ago that I’ve recently started using to squeeze my own orange juice as well, which has been a treat. Continue reading


How to Make Perfect Muffins

For the longest time none of the muffins I made ever looked like the ones sold by a baker or handed to me by the local barista at Starbucks. Mine were the Ugly Betty of baked goods. Growing up, as well, I didn’t live in a house of positive muffin role models; we used to buy the Quaker muffin mix where all that was needed was water, like sea monkeys, and voila….a runt, mini-me version of a muffin would emerge.

I’ve since come across a muffin recipe in the March 2006 issue of Fine Cooking that makes bountifully large, delicious muffins every time. I’ve included it below with a few minor  tweaks of my own. Continue reading


Rice Pudding

When I found out that my step dad liked rice pudding, I believe I gave him a look of disbelief. This didn’t sound like something he would eat: he comes from an old-school British background and relies on typically bland food staples, like butter on toast or boiled vegetables – rice pudding seemed too far out of his comfort zone. Apparently though, rice pudding has a long-standing place on British dinner (or breakfast) plates from as far back as the Tudor period. In fact, a little Googling revealed that nearly every culture in the world has some variation of rice pudding in their diet. I had tasted the black rice porridge version in Thailand a few years ago, called Khao Niao Dam, without realizing what it was – and it was delicious. I’ve included this “worldly” rice pudding recipe for my step dad, who in my regard has now moved slightly up the foodie rungs.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup uncooked white rice

2 cups milk, divided, or cream

1/3 cup white sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg, beaten

2/3 cup raisins

1 tbsp butter

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1. In a medium saucepan bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

2. In another saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups cooked rice, 1 1/2 cups milk or cream, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until thick and creamy, 15-20 minutes.

3. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk, beaten egg and raisins. Cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly.

4. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Serve warm.


Mediterranean Omelette with Pesto

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I tend to get cranky by 8:30 am if I haven’t eaten. This wholesome and delicious omelette can normally get me by until noon, easily. This has been my weekend special for years now and it is still the best way I know to way up on a Sunday, coffee in hand, before sitting down to tackle a crossword. Pure bliss.

Ingredients:

2-3 eggs, beaten

2 tbsp water

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

1/2 of an onion, diced

4-5 Kalamata olives, chopped

1/3 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms, any kind

1/4 cup soft cheese (I use La Vache qui Rit)

1-2 Tbsp pre-made pesto sauce

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Shredded Parmesan, to taste

Directions:

1. Heat oil in frying pan on medium heat until hot, then add onions and olives and stir for 2 minutes.

2. Add mushrooms and tomatoes and cook together for 2 more minutes.

3. Whisk together the eggs and 2 tbsp water for fluffiness, then pour into frying pan. In a circular motion, swirl the egg thinly and evenly to coat the contents of the frying pan. As eggs begin to firm (1 minute or so), drizzle with half of the pesto and then place cut up cheese onto the cooking omelette. Add salt and pepper.

4. When the eggs are firm enough, flip the omelette in half, folded, with the spatula (you may need to use 2 utensils at the same time, to make sure it stays together). When the egg is no longer runny, the omelette is ready.

5. Drizzle with remaining pesto and sprinkle with parmesan.