Articles in Breakfast w/recipe

Breakfast noodles are served in Yunnan province, China. Credit: Copyright 2015 Josh Wand

The restaurant was nothing special, just a small room with a couple of low tables and stools. There was no menu, nothing to indicate what was being served. But next to the door was a wide basket piled high with fresh rice noodles, and behind them I could see steam rising from a large soup pot. And in Yunnan province, in southwestern China, that means one thing: breakfast noodles.

I hurried in, took a seat at an empty table and shook off my coat, wet from the heavy morning fog. The proprietress, a young woman whose face was rosy from standing over the steaming pots all morning, asked what I wanted in my soup, and I pointed to some things that looked particularly delicious — some fatty stewed pork, a heap of thin rice noodles, some bright green chives. In just a couple of minutes, the soup was ready. I added a handful of pickled mustard greens and a small spoonful of dried chili flakes in oil and took a sip. The flavor was rich and bright, sour and spicy, and somehow both comforting and exotic all at once.

Starting the day with noodles

A woman and her grandchild eat noodles in China for breakfast. Credit: Copyright 2015 Josh Wand

A Zhuang woman eats noodles for breakfast with her grandson in Puzhehei, Yunnan province, China. Credit: Copyright 2015 Josh Wand

I would say that the noodles were a perfect antidote to the cold, wet weather, but the truth is that those noodles would have been fantastic in any circumstance. In fact, I’ve enjoyed similar noodles for breakfast on hot, muggy days down by the Chinese-Vietnamese border and on a cool, crisp morning near Tibet. And in every case (and every temperature) they were the perfect way to start the day.

Eating noodles for breakfast is common all across East and Southeast Asia. In Japan you can have asa-raa or “morning ramen,” in Vietnam pho is a reliable way to start the day, and in Malaysia there’s stir-fried mee goreng. But there’s something about the combination of meat, pickles and chilies in Yunnan’s noodles — not to mention the wide array of different rice and wheat-based noodles you can choose to put in your soup — that makes it one of the most addictive and satisfying breakfasts I’ve ever had. Everywhere I’ve traveled in Yunnan, I’ve started my mornings with noodles from that town’s busiest stand, hole-in-the-wall or restaurant, and every single time I’ve been blown away by the flavor.

It’s been a few months since I last traveled to Yunnan, but thankfully those morning noodle are not hard to make. Whenever I feel like I need a little help waking up, or I just want something hearty to start the day, I make them for myself. All it takes is a few ingredients and about 15 minutes, and I can have a breakfast that is both a little bit exotic and immensely comforting.

Yunnan-Style Noodle Soup

Yunnan-style noodle soup begins with ground pork, vegetables, noodles and prepared broth. Credit: Copyright 2015 Josh Wand

Yunnan-style noodle soup begins with ground pork, vegetables, noodles and prepared broth. Credit: Copyright 2015 Josh Wand

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Total time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 large portions

Ingredients

4 cups prepared broth (preferably pork or chicken)

6 ounces ground pork (about 3/4 cup)

3 ounces vegetables, like Napa cabbage, sliced crosswise into 1/8 to 1/4-inch strips (approximately 1 1/3 cups’ worth)

1/2 cup Chinese pickled vegetables, ideally mustard greens or daikon pickles

2 1/2 cups fresh or parboiled rice or wheat noodles

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup fresh herbs, ideally flat garlic chives or scallions, cut into inch-long pieces (mint and cilantro also work well, and multiple herbs can be used in combination)

Black Chinese vinegar and dried ground chili in oil, for serving

Directions

Heat the broth in a pot large enough to accommodate all of the ingredients (including the noodles). Meanwhile, in a separate pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil and blanch ground pork for 5 seconds, breaking up the meat with chopsticks or a spoon, then drain it and set it aside. The meat will still be pink, possibly even red in some places.

Beginning the soup

Once the broth boils, add pork, cabbage and pickles to the pot. Credit: Copyright 2015 Josh Wand

Once the broth boils, add pork, cabbage and pickles to the pot. Credit: Copyright 2015 Josh Wand

When the broth is boiling, add the pork, cabbage and half of the pickles to the pot. Return to a boil and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until stem parts of the cabbage begin to soften slightly.

Adding the noodles

Add noodles, and then the remaining pickles and chives or scallions. Credit: Copyright 2015 Josh Wand

Add noodles, and then the remaining pickles and chives or scallions. Credit: Copyright 2015 Josh Wand

Add noodles and cook until semisoft (timing will vary depending on type of noodle being used). When noodles have softened, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and mix into broth, then top noodles with the remaining pickles and chives or scallions, if using. Cook another 30 seconds, and remove the soup from heat.

The finished product

Finish the soup with herbs like mint or cilantro. Credit: Copyright 2015 Josh Wand

Finish the soup with herbs like mint or cilantro. Credit: Copyright 2015 Josh Wand

Divide the soup into deep bowls and top with any delicate herbs, like mint or cilantro. Add vinegar and chili to taste.

Main photo: Breakfast noodles are served in Yunnan province, China. Credit: Copyright 2015 Josh Wand

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The Belgian waffle was introduced in the United States at the 1964/1965 World's Fair in Queens, New York. Credit: Copyright 2015 Thinkstock

Stars of the big American breakfast, waffles hold a dear place in the culinary canon of griddle breads and cakes. Chief among these is the Belgian waffle — introduced in the United States at the 1964/1965 World’s Fair in Queens, New York, by Maurice Vermersch, a Brussels native.

That original Belgian waffle was eaten simply — by hand and typically topped only with powdered sugar. Sometimes an embellishment of whipped cream and strawberries were added, but never maple syrup or anything else.

In the 50 years since, the Belgian waffle has taken on an American persona, becoming a vehicle for everything from salted caramel to eggs to foie gras to bacon and so much more.

And why not? What are waffles but a light quick bread with the benefit of a crispy exterior and an airy interior? You might as well be describing an excellent baguette or boule.

And waffles need not be limited to sweet. Savory waffle batters lend themselves well to herbs, cheeses and cured meats both in the batter and as a topping. Like the dessert variety, savory waffles can stand alone as the foundation for a larger dish or serve quite well as a side starch in place of potatoes, pasta or bread.

Of course, the most notable use of waffles as savory side dish — fried chicken and waffles — is an American classic. I recommend trying them at Lincoln’s Waffle Shop, in Washington, D.C.

Waffles 101

The perfect waffle should have a crunchy but not hard exterior and an airy interior. Credit: Copyright 2015 courtesy of Kitchen Aid

The perfect waffle should have a crunchy but not hard exterior and an airy interior. Credit: Copyright 2015 courtesy of Kitchen Aid

As versatile as waffles can be, you still need to follow some hard and fast rules to make them perfectly. For one thing, the outside has to be crunchy but not hard, and when broken it should reveal an airy, slightly sweet interior. As it cools, the waffle should not become soggy or petrify into a something as hard as a hockey puck.

How to achieve this model of breakfast perfection? Obviously, a lot has to do with the batter. It should be neither too heavy nor too loose or you won’t get the proper rise. A good amount of baking powder is par for the course, but the real key is folding stiffly whipped egg whites into the finished batter.

Once you’ve gotten your batter straight, the waffle maker itself is equally as important. Indeed, professional waffle makers for restaurants and food trucks can cost thousands of dollars, but there are some excellent versions for home cooks that do the job quite nicely as well.

I found some similarities in all the waffle makers I tried, such as a nonstick surface that made spraying or oiling the waffle iron unnecessary, but some had more bells and whistles than others. Regardless of the machine you use, there are few basics to keep in mind.

First, you want a waffle iron that can get hot fairly quickly and stay hot throughout the waffle-making process but still cool down in a reasonable amount of time once it’s turned off. Next, you’ll want to check out the well or overflow technology employed by the machine — is there a tidy way to catch any drips or runover of batter? Last but equally important is clean up — are there too many nooks, crannies and seams to keep the machine clean? Remember, you can’t submerge the machine in water, so cleanup has to be done with a damp sponge or dishcloth and water alone.

Cuisinart

A Cuisinart waffle maker. Credit: Copyright 2015 courtesy of Cuisinart

A Cuisinart waffle maker. Credit: Copyright 2015 courtesy of Cuisinart

Cost: $50. While inexpensive and attainable, the Cuisinart produced waffles that were thin and flabby.

This is the most economical home waffle maker I tried. The machine has simple on-and-off settings with an indicator light to let you know when it is ready to use and a sliding browning control. However, be forewarned: What you get with this machine is not a hearty Belgian-style waffle but something more akin to a flaccid Eggo. I didn’t find the browning control made much of a difference, and the end product turned rubbery almost as soon as it was out of the iron. One thing it is good for, however, is making waffle cones.

Kitchen Aid Double Waffle Maker

A Kitchen Aid Double Waffle Maker. Credit: Copyright 2015 courtesy of Kitchen Aid

A Kitchen Aid Double Waffle Maker. Credit: Copyright 2015 courtesy of Kitchen Aid

Cost: $300. The only high-end round waffle maker in the repertoire, its flip technology is easy to use and is a more convenient method to make double the waffles in the same amount of time.

Anyone who has ever stayed at a hotel with a DIY full breakfast will recognize this flip waffle maker. However, this version from Kitchen Aid is sleek and beautiful enough for any high-end kitchen — although its large profile and weight might make storing an issue. Definitely for the waffle aficionado, this machine produces two large (7 1/2-inch) round Belgian waffles with deep wells to catch syrup or any other toppings. Featuring a surface thermometer to let you know the exact stage of heating or cooking, the machine also has an adjustment dial to add time. One of the best features of this waffle maker is the “Overbake” timer, which sounds off and begins to count down when your waffle goes past the perfect stage. Unlike the All-Clad, the Kitchen Aid Double Waffle Maker didn’t have too many seams or crannies to keep clean.

Breville Pro 4 Slice Waffle Maker

A Breville Pro 4 Slice Waffle Maker. Credit: Copyright 2015 courtesy of Breville

A Breville Pro 4 Slice Waffle Maker. Credit: Copyright 2015 courtesy of Breville

Cost: $250. This was my hands-down favorite, making a perfect waffle. It has a wide variety of digital settings. The downside is that it takes up a lot of storage space.

Another large-scale machine (although slightly easier to manage than the Kitchen Aid), the Breville has lots of features that make it worth its price tag.  Twelve precise heat settings — for traditional waffles, Belgian, stuffed, buttermilk and more — make timing a cinch while a well surrounding the cooking surface makes it virtually impossible to overflow the waffle maker — even if it didn’t come with a measuring cup that holds the right amount. The Breville is powerful enough to make a well-crisped waffle without getting overheated, and the cool-down time is far less than that of the All-Clad Belgian Waffle Maker. Like the Kitchen Aid maker, the Breville takes up a lot of counter space, so it’s best for those who make waffles often.

All-Clad 2 Square Classic Belgian Waffle Maker

An All-Clad 2 Square Classic Belgian Waffle Maker. Credit: Copyright 2015 courtesy of All-Clad

An All-Clad 2 Square Classic Belgian Waffle Maker. Credit: Copyright 2015 courtesy of All-Clad

Cost: $175 to $200. While making a great crispy-on-the-outside waffle, this machine ran extremely hot to the touch and the batter often oozed into the catch bowl in the back.

Like the Kitchen Aid and Breville machines, the All-Clad produced a professional-quality waffle, but this machine consistently produced the crispest-on-the-outside waffle. This, no doubt, is in part thanks to the high heat the machine gives off, but it should be noted it also takes an extremely long time to cool down, so be prepared to set up this waffle maker well out of reach of children or away from an area where you might brush against it during its cool down time — half an hour or more in my tests.  The All-Clad machine also had a consistent “ooze” issue — that is the batter always made its way out the back of the maker regardless of the volume of batter. Other than using so little batter as to produce a skimpy waffle, it was frustrating to try to find the perfect amount so as to avoid leakage, and in the end I didn’t. Be prepared to always use the catch tray and to have a little extra cleanup.

Classic Belgian Waffles

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

Yield: 12 to 14 waffles, depending on the machine

Substituting buttermilk for the milk in this recipe adds a little extra height and air to the waffles.  If you choose the buttermilk option, consider reducing the sugar to ½ tablespoon for a simple, savory waffle to accompany fried chicken, country fried steak or fried fish.

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs, separated

2 ounces butter, melted

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups milk or buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

For serving:

Powdered sugar

Maple syrup

Whipped cream

Sliced strawberries

Directions

1. Preheat your waffle maker per manufacturer directions.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Set aside.

3. In another large bowl, beat together the egg yolks, butter, vegetable oil, milk or buttermilk and vanilla. Beat well.

4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, whisking the whole time so there are no lumps.

5. Whip the egg whites to a stiff peak and gently fold them into the batter.

6. Cook the batter in the waffle iron, following the manufacturer directions for volume.

7. Dust finished waffles with powdered sugar. Serve with maple syrup or whipped cream and strawberries if desired.

Gluten-free Waffles

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

Yield: 12 to 14 waffles, depending on the machine

This gluten-free waffle recipe is close enough to the wheat flour varieties that you won’t miss a thing. Adding additional whipped egg whites to the batter gives this otherwise dense batter some lift. To create a savory version of this waffle, reduce the sugar to 2 teaspoons and add 1 tablespoon of your favorite herbs, cheese or other savory flavoring.

Ingredients

2 cups gluten-free flour

1 1/2 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 ounces butter melted

1 1/2 cups milk, plus more as needed

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 egg whites

For serving:

Powdered sugar

Maple syrup

Whipped cream

Sliced strawberries

Directions

1. Preheat your waffle maker per manufacturer directions.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Set aside.

3. In another large bowl, beat together the two eggs, butter, milk, vanilla and vegetable oil. Beat well.

4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, whisking the whole time so there are no lumps.

5. Whip the egg whites to a stiff peak and gently fold them into the batter.

6. Cook in waffle iron, following the manufacturer directions for volume.

7. Dust finished waffles with powdered sugar. Serve with maple syrup or whipped cream and strawberries if desired.

Herbed Prosciutto Waffles

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Yield: 12 to 14 waffles, depending on the machine

Ingredients

1 cup flour

1 cup corn meal

1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste

2 ounces butter melted and cooled

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs, separated

2 ounces prosciutto, minced finely

For serving:

Butter

Maple syrup

Directions

1. Preheat your waffle maker per manufacturer directions.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, corn meal, baking powder, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. In another large bowl, beat together the butter, vegetable oil, buttermilk and egg yolks until thoroughly combined and set aside.

4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, whisking the whole time so there are no lumps.

5. Stir in the minced prosciutto.

6. Whip the egg whites to a stiff peak and gently fold them into the batter.

7. Cook in waffle iron, following manufacturer directions for volume.

Spicy Cheddar Corn Waffles

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Yield: 12 to 14 waffles, depending on the machine

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup flour

1 1/2 cup corn meal

1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper, or to taste

2 ounces butter, melted and cooled

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs, separated

2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions

1. Preheat your waffle maker per manufacturer directions.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, corn meal, baking powder, salt and chipotle pepper. Set aside.

3. In another large bowl, beat together the butter, vegetable oil, buttermilk and egg yolks. Beat well until thoroughly combined and set aside.

4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, whisking the whole time so there are no lumps.

5. Stir in the cheddar cheese and mix well.

6. Whip the egg whites to a stiff peak and gently fold them into the batter.

7. Cook in waffle iron, following manufacturer directions for volume.

Main photo: The Belgian waffle was introduced in the United States at the 1964/1965 World’s Fair in Queens, New York. Credit: Copyright 2015 Thinkstock

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Teenage chickens rule the roost. Credit: Copyright Carole Murko

Chickens came into my life in an unexpected way. I am a city girl. I was raised in the suburbs of New York City and later lived in the city and in Boston. I neither thought of nor envisioned raising backyard chickens. But my move to the Berkshires of western Massachusetts — Stockbridge, to be exact — and the little boy, Matthew, who would become my stepson, changed all that.

On a trip to Bozeman, Montana, we took a day off from skiing at Big Sky Resort. We thought a trip to a giant farm store would be entertaining as well as educational. When we arrived, Matthew leaped out of the car. As we neared the store, he proclaimed, “I hear them! I hear them!” In a flash, Matthew was cuddling a fluff ball of a baby chick. I could tell he was in love as he lifted it to his face to feel its soft down. You can imagine our surprise when Matthew belted out, “Dad, give me my $3. I’m buying these chicks!”

We didn’t buy those chicks that day, but I did promise that we’d get some when we returned home. Being a new stepmom, I had no idea — let me say that again, no idea — my seemingly clever solution to not buying the chicks in Montana, an intended false promise that I was sure Matthew would soon forget, would result in my love affair with chickens and an amazing bond with my stepson.

Raising backyard chickens has increased in popularity in recent years. An online survey of backyard chicken owners, by the Poultry Science Association in 2014, found that nearly three-quarters of the nearly 1,500 respondents owned fewer than 10 chickens. And the major reasons for raising backyard chickens were as food for home use (95%), gardening partners (63%), pets (57%) or a combination of all three.

Here are my “top fives” — breeds to own and reasons to raise backyard chickens.

Top breeds to own

I have bought my chickens from a variety of sources, from the local Agway or Tractor Supply to mail-ordering them from Murray McMurray’s. Storey Publishing has a great book about breeds and raising chickens. Here are my favorite five:

Easy to care for

Free-range chickens feed inside a protective fence. Credit: Copyright Thinkstock/ands456

Free-range chickens feed inside a protective fence. Credit: Copyright Thinkstock/ands456

Chickens need a safe roosting spot at night to protect them from land and air predators such as coyote or owls. They need an area to peck around outside. Our chickens are free to roam, but you can build a caged area or get movable solar-electric fencing. The chickens need fresh water and chicken food. Local nursery or tractor supply stores carry chicken feed.

Entertaining antics

Our chickens enjoying a drink from our backyard spring. Credit: Copyright Carole Murko

Our chickens enjoying a drink from our backyard spring. Credit: Copyright Carole Murko

Our backyard chickens’ antics immediately melt away any negative feelings or issues I might be carrying from my daily activities. With a side-eye glance, the chickens quickly communicate to me how they love seeing the hand that feeds them. And, of course, what do I do? I feed them. I would be an excellent Pavlovian subject. Chickens have great personalities. They are playful and social. Last summer, one of our chickens, Honey Bunny, was in love with my husband. He was working on the barn and would hear rustling and out would pop Honey Bunny. She was so present during the project that she even managed to imprint her feet in the concrete footing. If that doesn’t provide a good giggle, I don’t know what will.

They become family pets

Matthew and one of his girls. Credit: Copyright Carole Murko

Matthew and one of his girls. Credit: Copyright Carole Murko

Many days when I arrive home, I am greeted by the joyful explosion of rapid wing-fluttering, running chickens. Who knew they could bond so strongly with human caretakers and be so excited to see us? The bonding happens at the human level as well. For me, chickens, like most pets, become family members. Adults and kids alike fall in love with the spirited personalities, joyful antics and the wonderful communicative noises of the chickens. While we all recognize the cock-a-doodle-doo of a rooster, the hens trill, purr and cluck — each in her own voice. I have learned to discern sounds of contentedness versus fear.

Builds community

The best part of raising backyard chickens: eggs. Credit: Copyright Thinkstock/Stigar

The best part of raising backyard chickens: eggs. Credit: Copyright Thinkstock/Stigar

When you’ve got chickens, you’ve got eggs. And that means your neighbors quickly become your friends as there is nothing better than fresh eggs! The eggs also make great hostess gifts. My stepson had a great egg business for a while — he sold eggs to many neighbors and friends who both loved seeing this proud little boy but also enjoyed the rich eggs.

Who doesn’t love fresh eggs?

Poached eggs on toast. Credit: Copyright Thinkstock/Joe Gough

Poached eggs on toast. Credit: Copyright Thinkstock/Joe Gough

This may be the most obvious of all … but the eggs are perfection. Once you have had an egg from pasture-raised chickens that eat bugs, grass and the like, you will find store-bought eggs tasteless and anemic.

Their yolks are the color of the setting sun, their texture and fresh extraordinary taste are unparalleled. Poached eggs on toast are perhaps the best way to relish the perfection of the egg and its taste, while a frittata, in any flavor, offers a perfect simple lunch or dinner entrée.

Perfect Poached Eggs

Prep time: 1 to 2 minute

Cook time: 3 to 8 minutes

Total time: 4 to 10 minutes

Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

2 eggs

Toast of your choice

Butter

Salt and pepper

Directions

1. Boil water in a sauté pan with white wine vinegar.

2. Crack egg and boil until preferred doneness.

3. Placed on buttered toast.

4. Add salt and pepper, and savor each bite.

Potato frittata. Credit: Copyright iStock/Olha_Afanasieva

Potato frittata. Credit: Copyright iStock/Olha_Afanasieva

Potato Frittata

Prep time: 10 to 15

Cook time: 35 to 40

Total time: 45 to 55 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 potatoes, boiled and sliced

1 onion, chopped

Salt and pepper

6 eggs, well-beaten

1/2 cup cheddar

Chives, chopped for garnish

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan, making sure the sides are well coated.

3. Add the potatoes and onion and sauté until nicely browned. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Add the eggs and sauté over medium heat for a minute or two until the eggs set up, remove from heat.

4. Sprinkle cheddar on top and place in oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven. Take a spatula around the edges and slide frittata onto a plate.

5. Slice and garnish with chopped chives.

Main photo: Teenage chickens rule the roost. Credit: Copyright Carole Murko

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Stir-fried Tofu and Beans. Credit: 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

Every summer I go to a farmhouse in Provence with friends. We do one major supermarket shop on the first day to stock up on all the staples we will need for the week. We know we’ll eat well with just fun trips to the farmers market for produce and fish. The best news: This quick and easy trick works just as well when I’m home.

You, too, can shop once and then forget those dreary checkout lines. I’ve organized my staples into eight categories and suggest a dish or two for each. There is a lot of room to hack the formula.

With summer’s produce bounty at its peak, the farmers market is the only place you want to shop.

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Main photo: Stir-fried Tofu and Beans. Credit: 2015 Martha Rose Shulman

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A bowl of muesli with fresh fruit and yogurt. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

May’s massive avian flu outbreak and the resulting egg shortage have many of us scrambling for breakfast alternatives. Those who don’t eat meat yet rely on eggs for protein are particularly hard-hit by this deficit. So, too, are fans of the fast and nutritious simplicity of cracking open a soft- or hard-boiled egg first thing in the morning.

To them and anyone wondering how to keep protein in their breakfasts without the use of eggs or meat, I suggest trying these global dishes.

Rugbrød

Hearty rugbrød. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

Hearty rugbrød. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

A staple of Danish cuisine, rugbrød is a hearty, rectangular-shaped, oat- and seed-flecked brown bread. Although usually featured in smorrebrød or an open-faced sandwich, it also makes an appearance on the breakfast table. When served with cheese, smoked fish, fruit preserves or even on its own, rugbrød offers a filling and protein- and fiber-rich start to any day. It contains as much as 9 grams of protein in each slice.

Cheese

Many types of cheese work well for a protein-filled breakfast. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

Many types of cheese work well for a protein-filled breakfast. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

Imagine you’re in continental Europe and do as the Europeans do: Indulge in some cheese with your dawn coffee or tea. High-protein cheeses include such familiar favorites as Parmesan, goat, mozzarella, Gruyere and cheddar. One ounce of these cheeses provides between 8 grams and 11 grams of protein. Pair your morning cheese with slices of rugbrød for an especially lavish treat.

Kippers

Kippers. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

Kippers. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

If you’re fond of either the United Kingdom or seafood, you may want to start your day with a plate of savory, protein-filled, omega-3-rich kippers. Known as the king of the English breakfast, the kipper is the mildest of all smoked herring. It has starred in British breakfasts since the mid 19th century. Cooked and then served on buttered toast, kippers are an inexpensive yet nutritious way to kick off the day. A 2-ounce serving has 14 grams of protein.

Gravlax

Gravlax. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

Gravlax. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

Not of fan of smoked foods but still crave a flavorful protein for your morning meal? Reach for Scandinavian gravlax. Similar to smoked fish, this salt-cured salmon was born from the need to store seafood in a time when refrigeration did not exist. Thanks to 24 to 48 hours of macerating in salt, sugar and dill, gravlax possesses a velvety texture and luxurious taste. It also has a long history of feeding the hungry in the wee hours of the day. A 2-ounce serving of gravlax contains 10 grams of protein.

Muesli

Muesli and fresh fruit. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

Muesli and fresh fruit. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

Less common but no less delicious than granola, muesli consists of rolled oats, sliced nuts such as almonds and hazelnuts, dried apricots, raisins and bran, wheat germ or seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower. With 8 grams of protein in a 3-ounce serving, this Swiss creation provides a wholesome, protein-packed breakfast with every bite. If you want a bit more complexity, add fresh fruit or honey to your muesli. You can also replace the usual milk on your cereal with yogurt.

Beans on toast

Beans on toast. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

Beans on toast. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

The British Council reports that the United Kingdom consumes more than 90 percent of the world’s canned baked bean supply. Thus, it’s not surprising that another quintessential English offering consists of baked beans spooned over toasted bread. Warm, tartly sweet and with 7 grams of protein per half-cup, beans on toast is a delectable and decidedly British breakfast dish.

Tofu

A quiche made from tofu and scallions with tapenade and greens. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

A quiche made from tofu and scallions with tapenade and greens. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

With 10 grams of protein per half-cup, the low-calorie soybean curd known as tofu affords not only healthful eating but also versatile cooking. Its benign, mildly nutty taste goes with countless ingredients, plus it performs well with a variety of cooking techniques. It can be scrambled; baked in a quiche; sautéed with vegetables, herbs or spices and served in a wrap; made into a spread; or puréed in a smoothie. The uses of tofu are almost limitless.

Nuts and nut spreads

Nuts and nut spread are a protein-filled breakfast choice. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

Nuts and nut spread are a protein-filled breakfast choice. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

People around the globe consume nuts and nut spreads as part of their morning routines. At 6 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving, almonds and pistachios rank the highest in protein, followed by walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews and Brazil nuts. As you may know, the familiar peanut is a legume and not a nut. Nonetheless, at 7 grams per 1-ounce serving, peanuts beat the aforementioned nuts for greatest protein content in a nut spread.

Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

Cottage cheese. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

Part of both British and North American cuisines, cottage cheese is unripened and unpressed cow’s milk cheese. While mild in flavor, it is surprisingly rich in protein. A mere 4 ounces of cottage cheese contains 13 grams of protein. Pair this subtle food with pumpkin seeds or chopped dried apricots for an especially tasty and nourishing repast.

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Main photo: A bowl of muesli with fresh fruit and yogurt. Credit: Copyright 2015 Kathy Hunt

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Matzo pizzas are a great quick snack to eat warm out of the oven. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rose Winer

If you celebrate Passover, you’re familiar with this scene: The closing prayers are sung, the last bite of seder brisket is a distant memory, and here you are facing the holiday’s inevitable final ritual:

piles of leftover matzo. This unleavened Passover staple never fails to divide the closest of kin — some claim it’s the best thing before sliced bread, while others dismiss it as gastronomically inferior to sawdust.

But whether you detest the stuff or eat it straight out of the box, by the time Passover ends, you’re probably less than thrilled at the idea of force-feeding yourself bland iterations of the same matzo sandwiches you’ve eaten for a week. Don’t let the “bread of affliction” bring you down! With a little creativity, matzo can be as refreshingly versatile in the kitchen as it is divisive at the dinner table. Here are five easy and delicious ways you can enjoy (or dispense with) your matzo leftovers.

Spiced matzo chips pair nicely with dips and spreads for an easy hors d'oeuvre. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rose Winer

Spiced matzo chips pair nicely with dips and spreads for an easy hors d’oeuvre. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rose Winer

1. Matzo is technically already a “cracker,” but let’s be honest, it could get much more adventurous with the term. Coat small matzo pieces in olive oil and sprinkle with any spice combination you prefer: za’atar and cumin; coriander, turmeric and paprika; dried parsley and garlic powder; or rosemary and salt are all good options. Bake in the oven until browned, then serve the newly transformed (read: yummy) chips with your favorite spreads, dips and toppings for an easy snack or hors d’oeuvre.  Alternatively, skip the herbs and just add cheese for Passover-friendly “matchos” (I had to).

Crumbled matzo can serve as a bread crumbs substitute. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rose Winer

Crumbled matzo can serve as a bread crumbs substitute. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rose Winer

2. Sneak leftover matzo into your dinner and get the added bonus of releasing stress by crushing the crackers with a food processor, mortar and pestle, or your bare hands. With that you have a ready-made bread crumbs substitute. Or take it one step further and combine the crumbs with flour and egg to provide a crispy matzo crust for proteins and veggies. That cardboard-esque matzo crunchiness really comes in handy here.

Matzo pizzas are a great quick snack to eat warm out of the oven. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rose Winer

Matzo pizzas are a great quick snack to eat warm out of the oven. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rose Winer

3. You know what they say … when not in Rome but wishing you could be, make matzo pizza! Place matzo on a foil-lined baking sheet, using full crackers for a “pie” or small bite-sized portions for snacking. Spread a thin layer of sauce, sprinkle with your choice of cheese and toppings, and bake at 400 F until the cheese melts and the toppings are cooked. If you’re willing to go the extra mile to avoid “crust” sogginess — remember, matzo is more permeable to sauce than normal pizza dough — melt a thin layer of cheese onto the matzo before adding the other ingredients on top.

Sweet and salty chocolate toffee bark is an addictive dessert, with matzo as the perfect crunchy base. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rose Winer

Sweet and salty chocolate toffee bark is an addictive dessert, with matzo as the perfect crunchy base. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rose Winer

4. Want to avoid being the empty-handed seder guest or need a quick treat to serve last-minute visitors? Chocolate toffee matzo bark is a quick and scrumptious solution. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and matzo, mix butter or margarine with brown sugar until boiling, spread the toffee over the matzo and bake at 350 F until the coating bubbles. Take it out, dump chocolate chips on top, spread the melting chocolate evenly and sprinkle with your favorite toppings (mine are sea salt and chopped pecans). Refrigerate, and voila! Your extra matzo is now the perfectly flaky, crunchy base for an addictive bite-sized dessert.

Matzo brie is a warm and comforting brunch option that's delicious with sweet sides like jam. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rose Winer

Matzo brie is a warm and comforting brunch option that’s delicious with sweet sides like jam. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rose Winer

5. Brunch is a beloved meal all year round, so why neglect it at Passover just because you can’t eat the leavened stuff? Matzo brei is a simple, crowd-pleasing comfort food that’s perfect for any brunch table. Break the matzo into small pieces and run under hot water until it begins to soften (avoid mushiness). Beat some eggs in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and stir the matzo into the eggs. Heat oil or butter in a skillet, pour in the mixture and fry over high heat until golden. Serve with jam, cinnamon-sugar or whatever other sides you fancy and prepare yourself for that warm fuzzy feeling.

Main photo: Matzo pizzas are a great quick snack to eat warm out of the oven. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rose Winer

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Beluga Lentil, Roasted Vegetable Gluten-Free Breakfast. Credit: David Latt

The pursuit of a healthy diet is frequently lamented as an exercise in deprivation. Often the ingredients that must be given up are ones that delight the palate and excite the soul. Chef Paul Fields saw no such deprivation when he signed on to be the chef at the upscale, gluten-free Inn on Randolph in Napa, California. He serves a breakfast of Beluga lentils with roasted vegetables, sausage and a poached egg.

The Napa Valley is renowned for quality vineyards and award-winning restaurants. The city of Napa is less well-known. Recently in the news because of an earthquake that caused considerable damage in the downtown commercial district, the city is reviving and becoming a locus for inventive chefs and quality accommodations.

Fields is one of those chefs drawn to the valley’s bounty of agricultural products. He prides himself on being a good purveyor. He collaborates with local farmers and has a garden on the property so the produce he cooks comes fresh and organic to his kitchen. For him, no matter what a guest’s dietary restrictions might be, his goal is to create nutritious, well-plated delicious meals.

In search of a breakfast that would do just that, Fields turned to an old favorite: lentils.

Hungry guests about to begin a day of wine tasting, cycling or hiking in the valley need a hearty meal. Often regarded as low on the culinary totem pole, lentils are a heritage legume, mentioned in the Bible and served around the globe as a source of low-cost protein that is rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. It is cultivated in a rainbow of colors and sizes including the Red Chief, the brown Pardina, the Crimson and the French Green. For his signature breakfast dish, Fields uses the glossy black Beluga lentil.

Fields accomplishes a bit of magic with what some might call the most prosaic of ingredients — a handful of lentils, a carrot, a piece of squash and an egg. A combination of contrasting flavors and textures, the dish is delicious and visually beautiful, a good way to begin the day.

Beluga Lentil, Roasted Vegetable Gluten-Free Breakfast

In addition to being gluten-free, the dish can be vegetarian-vegan when the butter, sausage and egg are omitted.

The organic Beluga lentils that Fields uses come from the Timeless Food company based in Conrad, Montana. To add heat without spiciness, dried cayenne peppers cook along with the lentils and charred onion.

Adding to the convenience of the dish, the lentils, roasted vegetables and sausages may be cooked beforehand and reheated just before serving. Only the poached egg should be prepared at the last minute.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 medium yellow onion, washed, peeled, root and stem removed, roughly chopped

1 whole dried cayenne pepper

1 cup black Beluga lentils

2 1/2 cups water

4 carrots, washed, peeled, root and stem removed, cut on the bias or into rounds

1 cup squash (butternut or acorn), washed, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch chunks or long slabs

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 sausage links, chicken apple sausage or use what you like from your local market

1 tablespoon sweet butter

5 tablespoons sherry vinegar, divided

4 large eggs

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, heated over a low flame, reduced to 1 tablespoon

2 tablespoons micro-greens (kale, chives, pea shoots), washed, dried and Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped

1/2 cup parsley leaves, washed, dried, roughly chopped

Directions

1. In a large saucepan or small pot, heat ½ tablespoon olive oil. Sauté the onion over medium heat until lightly charred. Add dried cayenne pepper and continue sautéing 5 to 6 minutes. Add lentils and water. Stir well.

2. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25 to 35 minutes uncovered or until the lentils are a little softer than al dente. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 450 F. Toss carrots and squash with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, season with sea salt and black pepper.

4. Place on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat sheet or parchment paper. Using tongs, turn after 10 minutes and cook about a total of 15 to 20 minutes or until al dente. Remove and reserve.

5. Large sausages can be prepared whole, in which case the skin should be punctured all over with a sharp paring knife so the sausages do not swell during cooking, or cut into 1/2-inch rounds or 2-inch bias-cut pieces. Heat a sauté pan over a medium flame. Place the sausages into the pan and sear on all sides, using tongs to turn them frequently. When the sausages are cooked, remove from the pan, drain on a paper-towel-lined plate and reserve.

6. Heat a large sauté pan. Transfer the lentils from the pot to the sauté pan. Simmer to reduce the liquid by half. Add butter and combine with the lentils’ broth to create a sauce. Stir well.

7. Add 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar to brighten the flavors. Taste and adjust the flavors using sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a bit more butter and vinegar. The sauce should be thick, so, if needed, simmer a few minutes longer to reduce excess liquid.

8. Fill a medium-sized sauce pan or a small pot with a quart of water. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons vinegar, which will help coagulate the egg white around the yolk. Bring to a simmer.

9. If the lentils, roasted vegetables and sausage have been prepared ahead, reheat.

10. Open an egg, being careful not to break the yolk. Stir the hot vinegar water before sliding in the egg. The gentle vortex helps shape the egg.

Cook 3 1/2 minutes for a loose yolk and 4 1/2 to 5 minutes for a medium yolk. Fields suggests using a kitchen timer so the eggs do not overcook.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the poached egg from the water and drain on a paper towel for 2 to 3 seconds.

11. If possible, heat the plates. Drizzle or use the back of a spoon to mark each plate with a small amount of the reduced balsamic vinegar, which is not only decorative but adds another layer of sweet-acidic flavor.

12. Put the carrots into the pan with the lentils and toss well to coat with the sauce. Place the squash on each plate. Spoon the lentils and carrots onto the squash. Add the sausage and top with the poached egg.

13. Dust with sea salt and black pepper. To add color and a little crunch, sprinkle micro-greens and chopped Italian parsley leaves on top. Finish with sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil.

Serve hot.

Main photo: Beluga Lentil, Roasted Vegetable Gluten-Free Breakfast. Credit: David Latt

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Toad in the hole. Credit: Sue Style

The British like to mock what they love best. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the irreverent names they give to favorite foods — think bubble and squeak (fried cabbage and potatoes), stargazy pie (a pie with sardines poking their heads out through the pastry), bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes) or even (dare we mention) spotted dick (a steamed pudding made with dried fruit).

My personal favorite is toad in the hole. This epic dish of sausages baked in batter — the same as used for Yorkshire puddings — is a kind of distant cousin of pigs in a blanket. The crucial difference is that the sausages, instead of being tightly swathed in a blanket of pastry, are reclining in a delicious duvet of batter, which billows up agreeably around them. A good toad (as it’s familiarly known) is perfect comfort food for the depths of winter.

The original from my childhood had only sausages, which from memory were a sickly pallid pink, suspiciously straight, very smoothly textured and terminally bland. For a properly tasty toad, I prefer a seriously meaty pork sausage, quite coarsely ground. I like to add bacon chunks too. You could think of it as a way to get the full English breakfast, but for brunch or supper and served with chutney and salad.

Here are a couple of hints to help you arrive at the perfect toad in the hole. First off, make the batter a little ahead — an hour is enough to allow the starch molecules in the flour to relax and absorb the milk and water, which gives a lighter result. Secondly, give the bacon and sausages a bit of a fry-up first so they take on a little color. You can do this in a skillet or in a roasting pan in the oven — the same one in which you will bake the dish. Thirdly, use a metal roasting pan, never a ceramic or glass dish, which is the surest way to a soggy toad. Finally, heat is of the essence. The oven and the roasting pan should be preheated, so that when you pour in the batter it makes a satisfying sizzle and starts to set lightly in the bottom, providing a base for the sausages and bacon to be embraced by the billowing batter.

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Sausage slices before being fried for toad in the hole. Credit: Sue Style

Toad in the Hole

Round out toad in the hole with salad and chutney for a complete brunch or supper meal. Credit: Sue Style

Round out toad in the hole with salad and chutney for a complete brunch or supper meal. Credit: Sue Style

Prep time: 15 minutes, plus 1 hour to rest the batter

Cook time: 45 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Yield: Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

For the batter:

1/2 cup (125 milliliters) water

1/2 cup (125 milliliters) milk

4 ounces all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil

4 eggs

A pinch of salt

For the sausages and bacon:

10 ounces (300 grams) cured or smoked slab bacon

4 coarse-cut pork sausages, about 12 ounces (350 grams)

Directions

1. Place all the batter ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Scrape down the sides and blend again. Refrigerate the batter for about one hour.

2. Cut rind off the slab bacon and excise any gristly bits. Slice the bacon thickly and cut each slice in squares.

3. Cut the sausages in 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) thick slices.

4. Put the bacon in a frying pan and fry gently till the fat runs and the bacon begins to take a little color, turning the slices once. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and tip excess fat into a side dish.

5. Add the sausage slices to the pan and fry till lightly colored, turning them until evenly browned.

6. Pour about 1 tablespoon of reserved bacon fat into a roasting pan about 10 inches by 12 inches (25 centimeters by 30 centimeters).

7. Heat the oven to 425 F (220 C).

8. When the oven is good and hot, put the roasting pan inside to heat the bacon fat. Remove pan from the oven and roll the fat around to coat the bottom of the pan — adding a little more fat if necessary.

9. Pour in the batter, then add the fried bacon and sausages, distributing them evenly around the pan.

10. Return the pan to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the batter is a beautifully burnished brown and nicely risen. Serve with chutney and salad.

Main image: Toad in the hole. Credit: Sue Style

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