Articles in Breakfast w/recipe

Fennel granola. Credit: Copyright 2016 Wendy Petty

Granola is a marvelous vehicle for foraged seeds. When I harvested more than a quart of fennel seeds last fall, I never could have imagined that I’d have used them all by spring.

Thanks to the delicate anise cookie-like taste of fennel granola, I believe my demand for fennel seeds will always outreach my supply. Fennel granola is so delightful that even those who don’t have access to wild-harvested seeds will want to make it. Store-bought fennel seeds are slightly less flavorful, but work well in this recipe.

As a forager, I find wild seeds to be fascinating, particularly in fall, when the number of other crops to pick diminishes. Every year, I work hard to collect all manner of wild seeds. Some of these, such as seeds from the mustard family, are very flavorful and can be used as spices. Others, such as lamb’s-quarter (Chenopodium spp.) and its cousin kochia (Kochia spp.), need to be processed to remove bitter components before they can be utilized as food. Other seeds, for example evening primrose, a high source of gamma-linolenic acid, are relatively flavorless but powerfully nutritious.

Seeds such as amaranth (Amaranthus spp.), nettle (Urtica spp.) or evening primrose (Oenothera spp.) are easy to bring into the kitchen, requiring little more to process than simply shaking them off the plant and some minor winnowing. These seeds are a dream to harvest, but because they have little flavor, I often forget about using them over the course of the winter. In theory, they can be ground to better access their nutrition, then used atop or mixed into pretty much anything you could cook, from salad to breadcrumb toppings to dessert. In practice, these flavorless wild seeds sit unused in my kitchen. A foraging friend, Erica Marciniec, mentioned using her seeds in granola. I followed her advice and it worked brilliantly. Finally, with granola, I’ve found a way to use these wild seeds in a way that is convenient for me to cook, and that the whole family will enjoy.

While I really enjoyed eating my wild seeds in a typical cinnamon-flavored granola, I knew I could somehow boost the flavor.

That’s when I rediscovered my quart of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) seeds. Initially, I added only a teaspoon of fennel seeds. I discovered that I loved the taste so much that I omitted cinnamon entirely and increased the fennel to further enhance the flavor of the granola.

I ran nine test batches of fennel granola, tweaking every detail you could imagine. In the end, leaving it in the oven produced the most consistently brown and crunchy granola. The addition of the egg white helps to form clusters. Of course, it could easily be omitted if you are making granola for someone with an egg allergy.

I tried making this granola with honey, but found the flavor competed too much with the fennel. Using brown sugar as a sweetener makes this recipe budget friendly, too. If you’d prefer to use honey, substitute 2/3 cup honey, and omit the brown sugar and water.

Fennel Granola

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 to 12 minutes

Total time: 6 to 8 hours (including cooling time in the oven)

Yield: 5 cups

Ingredients

½ cup butter

¾ cup packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups quick oats

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal

¼ cup fennel seeds, lightly ground in a spice mill

2 tablespoons other wild seeds such as evening primrose (optional)

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup slivered almonds

1 egg white

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.

2. In a small pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the brown sugar and water, raise the heat to medium, and let it bubble for 2 minutes. Remove it from the heat, and stir in the vanilla.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the two kinds of oatmeal, seeds, salt and almonds.

4. Pour the warm liquid ingredients over the dry ones, and make certain that they are mixed very thoroughly, so that all of the oatmeal appears wet.

5. In a small bowl, whisk the egg white with a fork until it is frothy. Add it to the oatmeal mixture, and again, stir very well.

6. Pour the granola mix onto a greased 12×17-inch baking sheet. Use a spatula to press it down and make it evenly thick. This will help to ensure that you will have big chunks once it is cooked.

7. Place the granola in the oven and bake it for 10 to 12 minutes. When that time is up, turn off the oven, and leave the granola inside until it is cool. From the time the granola goes into the oven until the oven is cool, do not open the oven door.

Main photo: Fennel granola. Credit: Copyright 2016 Wendy Petty

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Savory Yogurt Bowl. Credit: Copyright 2016 Brooke Jackson

The recent trend of meals served in bowls continues to show its appeal for so many reasons. Bowls continue to be quite popular on restaurant menus too, with endlessly clever combinations to suit any diet or meal.

As Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold put it, “Avocado toast? That was so last year. We are now in the age of the phenomenon I have come to think of as Things in a Bowl, a culinary invention that may depend on rice, pasta, whole grains or legumes but usually includes a poached egg of one sort or another and always, always comes with kale.”

Well, not always kale. On a recent trip through Santa Barbara, California, I had a delicious quinoa breakfast bowl at Backyard Bowls. The Southern California chain offers a choice of quinoa, acai, oatmeal, yogurt and muesli as the base, then builds on that with fresh fruit, nut milks and butters, nuts, granola, dried fruit and seeds. Diners can choose spirulina, bee pollen, goji berries and other super foods to sprinkle on top for added nutrition. My quinoa bowl with cashew milk, berries and honey was just the ticket, comforting, sweet and rib-sticking.

Another Santa Barbara outpost, Buddha Bowls, makes savory concoctions then stuffs them in hollowed-out bread bowls. Some of the fillings include chili, macaroni and cheese with bacon, Hawaiian barbecue and Mediterranean flavors with hummus and veggies — recipes designed to appeal to the mostly student population in that area.

Another restaurant just up the coast from Santa Barbara — Calafia Café in Palo Alto, California — uses noodles, lentils, brown rice and roasted yams for the base of its bowls then adds vegetables and proteins for either vegan or carnivore eaters. One of my favorites is the Fiery Bottom BBQ Pork Bowl with braised pork, barbecue sauce, sautéed spinach, fried quail egg, roasted yams and brown rice.

The Plant Café, another small California chain, has a dynamite bowl featuring wild salmon with ginger lime sauce and seasonal vegetables over soba noodles.

Even some yogurt purveyors have waded in – after all, yogurt was the base for some of the first bowls ever, usually served with granola and fruit. Putting a new twist on that mixture, Pinkberry added a line of savory Greek yogurt bowls to its offerings a few years back. Cucumbers, olive oil, sunflower crackers, toasted quinoa and pumpkin seeds were among the toppings. Pinkberry has since taken these items off its menu, but I like the idea for its versatility and for how easily it translates to the home cook.

Heck, when you have your pantry and fridge to choose from, many iterations of grain, noodle, vegetable, herb, bean, spice, seed or oil could work for a nutritious bowl, making a snappy lunch, snack or even appetizer to share in a jiffy.

Besides being a fantastic way to get food on the table quickly, bowls present a handy opportunity for using up leftovers. Think of the rice you cooked two nights ago, the leftover roasted chicken from Sunday and the asparagus and carrots that need to get used up. Steam the asparagus until tender/crisp and layer baby salad greens, then rice and then chicken in bowls. Top with coarsely grated carrots, the asparagus and some sesame seeds then drizzle with teriyaki sauce.

Or you could take the salad greens-chicken-rice combination a different direction with the addition of cilantro, pinto beans and avocado or use leftover noodles instead of rice and change up the vegetables. Heat up the ingredients or serve at room temperature depending on personal preference. To add spark and versatility, have on hand a few sauces such as salsa, chimichurri, Thai curry, peanut or lemon vinaigrette for drizzling on top.

So whether you’re a trendsetter or not, making bowls at home is easy, fun and quick. Here are a couple recipes to chew on:

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Quinoa breakfast bowl. Credit: Copyright 2016 Brooke Jackson

Quinoa breakfast bowl. Credit: Copyright 2016 Brooke Jackson

Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients

1 cup water

1/2 cup quinoa

2 tablespoons golden raisins

1/4 cup almond milk

4 strawberries, stemmed and quartered

1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted

2 tablespoon slivered almonds, toasted

1 teaspoon agave syrup

Directions

1. Bring water and quinoa to a boil then lower heat and cover. After 10 minutes, stir in the raisins and continue to cook until the grains open up into translucent flat disks and liquid is absorbed, about 5 to 10 minutes longer.

2. Stir in almond milk and pour into a bowl. Arrange berries on top then sprinkle with coconut and almonds and drizzle with agave syrup. Eat while still warm.

Mexican-style Pinto Bean Bowl

Mexican-style Pinto Bean Bowl. Credit: Copyright 2016 Brooke Jackson

Mexican-style Pinto Bean Bowl. Credit: Copyright 2016 Brooke Jackson

Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients

1/4 cup shredded red cabbage

Juice of 1/2 lime

Butter, enough to grease frying pan

1 egg

1/2 cup whole pinto beans, warmed

1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 teaspoon chopped cilantro

1/4 avocado

Directions

1. Toss the cabbage with the lime juice and set aside.

2. Heat a small frying pan and add a little butter. Fry the egg to a perfect sunny side up. While the egg is cooking, layer the beans in a bowl, then top with the cooked egg then cabbage salad.

3. Scatter the tomatoes over the top and sprinkle with the cilantro, then perch the avocado on top. Serve immediately.

Savory Yogurt Bowl

Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, whipped with a whisk to enhance silken texture

1/2 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut in small dice

1/4 cup sesame sticks, broken into small pieces

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon gray Maldon sea salt

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pure New Mexico chile powder

Directions

1. Layer yogurt in a bowl. Top with cucumber, then sesame sticks. Drizzle oil over all then sprinkle with salt and chile powder to taste.

Main photo: Savory Yogurt Bowl. Credit: Copyright 2016 Brooke Jackson

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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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