Batter Licker

February 18, 2011

toasted steel-cut oatmeal with dried cherries, apricots and walnuts

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day to celebrate love. But showing loved ones you care needn’t mean showering them with chocolate, roses, and other pink and red items. (Not that I’d object to any of those, so long as those chocolate truffles aren’t Walgreens-quality.) And Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be the only day you tell the loved ones in your life – from family to friends to fiancĂ©es – how much you treasure them.

To me, the most meaningful way to show your appreciation is through little gestures or actions throughout each day. A kiss on the forehead of your still-sleeping significant other on your way out the door to work; a phone call to your grandmother when you know winter weather is keeping her unbearably housebound; bringing Blue Bottle coffee to a friend who is stuck at work on a gorgeous Saturday morning. And taking the time to make steel-cut oatmeal for anyone, even just yourself, for breakfast.

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Jay’s uncle Andy first introduced us to steel-cut oatmeal a couple years ago when we visited Chicago for Jay’s cousin’s bar mitzvah. When Andy heated up the pan to prepare the oatmeal, I had no idea that the breakfast in store for me would be nothing like the gloppy, gluey oatmeal I had grown up with. Rather, these oats had a delightful, slightly chewy texture, and were comfortingly warm and filling on that particularly cold, gray and rainy morning. Yes, the steel-cut oats took a longer time to cook, but the wait was entirely worth it.

While I have enjoyed many bowls since then, it wasn’t until last Spring, when I purchased Kim Boyce’s incredible cookbook on whole grain baking, that I ever thought to toast the oats before submerging them in water. I can’t imagine why I never thought to try this, as I’ve toasted everything else from nuts and spices to rice and farro. But I can now say that if you’re taking the time to make steel-cut oatmeal in the first place, you absolutely must take the couple extra minutes to pre-toast the oat grains. Like many other toasted foods, it lends such a wonderfully nutty, condensed flavor to the oatmeal that you might just eat it without adornments.

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December 25, 2010

pizza dough cinnamon rolls with vanilla-espresso cream cheese glaze

Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 2 6-inch pans (about 12 mini rolls 2 inches in diameter and 1 inch deep)

1 package Whole Foods fresh pizza dough (about the size of a softball)
8 Tbsp. butter, divided and softened
1/4 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
flour for rolling out dough

Remove dough from refrigerator, cover lightly with a towel, and let rise for 60 to 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F, and butter bottom and sides of two 6- or 7-inch round baking pans with 1 Tbsp. softened butter per pan.

Sprinkle counter with flour, and roll out dough into a rectangle until 1/4-inch thick. Spread 4 Tbsp. softened butter over entire surface of dough. Sprinkle sugar and salt evenly over the butter, and then sprinkle cinnamon generously over the sugar.

For mini rolls, tightly roll the long end of the rectangular dough over itself, and pinch end of dough against body of dough to seal, using a little warm water on your fingertips to seal the edges as needed. (If you prefer larger rolls, roll the short end over itself, and seal in the same fashion.)

Using a pastry cutter or very sharp knife, slice cinnamon log into 1-inch thick rolls. Do ahead: cinnamon rolls can wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen at this point; defrost in refrigerator one day prior to baking.

Place rolls in buttered round baking pans, leaving a little space between each roll to give it room to rise. Top each cinnamon roll with a small bit of softened butter, evenly distributing the remaining 2 Tbsp. softened butter between the rolls.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until top of rolls is only slightly golden. Remove from oven, and top warm rolls with Vanilla-Espresso Cream Cheese Glaze (recipe below). Serve immediately.

Vanilla-Espresso Cream Cheese Glaze

4 oz. cream cheese or neufchatel cheese (lower in fat and calories, but works equally well in frosting), softened
1/3 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. finely ground espresso or coffee beans

Mix together all ingredients until combined. Zap in microwave for 15 seconds if needed to further soften the cream cheese and make the mixture more pourable. Spread over warm cinnamon rolls.

April 14, 2010

quick and healthy smoothie with berries, almond milk, and kale

Filed under: breakfast, brunch,fruit,vegan,veggies — Tags: , , , , , — Kristen @ 11:20 pm

If I had known breakfast could taste like a berry-vanilla milkshake, I would never have become a Pop-Tarts fanatic in elementary and middle school or a Cocoa Krispies junkie in high school or a leftover-pizza-for-breakfast snarfer in college.

And that’s not even taking into account how quick and easy this smoothie is, much less the fact that it is incredibly healthy and full of vitamins (thank you, leafy green kale). Check out the nutrition facts listed at the end of this post if you don’t believe me.

But to find out whether this good-for-you, quick-to-make-and-consume smoothie actually tastes like a berry-vanilla milkshake, you’re just going to have to make it yourself. And I’ll tell you a little secret: (more…)

April 5, 2010

strawberry (and chocolate chip!) buttermilk muffin-cake

Filed under: breakfast, brunch,cake,dessert,fruit — Tags: , , , — Kristen @ 8:17 pm

Ripe, fresh farmers market strawberries. Dark chocolate chips. Basic, not-too-sweet buttermilk muffin batter. Put them all together and voilĂ ! You’ve got cake (or a muffin, if you choose that pan) that’s perfectly appropriate for a breakfast or brunch. And did I mention that it’s pretty?

Because it is. Beautiful, in fact. Generally, I’m a taste-over-form kind of gal, but this cake gives me both. And look at these pictures … how amazing would this cake look on your brunch table? It’s a showstopper, that’s for sure. And with the beautiful, deep red strawberry slices on a rounded, slightly browned muffin-like top that, if you so choose, is freckled with delightfully dark chocolate chips, this brunch beauty has me looking forward to summer. Except that this summer brings nonjoyous, uncakelike things, such as full time enrollment in Barbri and the California bar exam. So really, this strawberried treat is allowing me to pretend it’s summer now and enjoy the last month and a half surrounded by bright, juicy berries dancing on a fluffy, doughy hilltop.

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But I don’t just like this cake for its beautiful color, summerly aura, and carefree personality. I also like it for the jam flavor. (more…)

February 28, 2010

brunch: poached egg with truffle salt, scrambled eggs with pancetta, sweet potato hash with caramelized onions, toast with homemade jam, and citrus slices

Filed under: breakfast, brunch,eggs,potatoes — Tags: , , , , , — Kristen @ 3:19 am

Brunch is without a doubt my favorite meal, not just because it offers an array of delicious food but also because it has a certain ad hoc quality that most meals lack. While I love a complicated recipe that requires exact measurements, there’s something almost magical about a meal that comes together without any real need for measuring spoons and cups and without a specific list of ingredients in mind.

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Growing up, I remember my dad opening the refrigerator door on weekend mornings and peering in with him to see what seemingly random assortment of leftovers could be turned into a magnificent spread for brunch. Frequently, this resulted in some sort of scrambled egg surprise, with scrambled eggs being dressed up with staple items that we always had on hand (e.g., onions and potatoes), random leftover veggies (e.g., broccoli, mushrooms, who knows) and meats (e.g., grilled steak or chicken, maybe even deli ham from the week’s sandwiches), and always loads of salsa. These were my first moments in creative culinary thinking.

All awww’s aside, I’ve never really gotten over a good scramble. But poached eggs? Now, those fluffy little pillows are purely ethereal. (more…)

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