Brunch: Tiramisu Pancakes and Kale and Egg Scramble

Weeks ago, I got an email from VegNews containing a recipe for Vegan Tiramisu Pancakes.  I immediately forwarded the email to Lindsey and a few girlfriends, and started planning when I could justify making such a decadent breakfast.  I ended up scheduling two brunches, since, unsurprisingly, a lot of my friends were intrigued.  The first of the two was last weekend.  I can’t wait for round 2, scheduled for Cinco de Mayo!

Brunch.  My favorite meal!

Brunch. My favorite meal!

Obviously, I have a bit of a brunch obsession.  My friend and I went all out.  We poured some mimosas, mixed up a colorful fruit salad with pears, clementines, blueberries, and rasperries, and made eggs with some of the vegetables I had on hand.  The resulting kale, onion, thyme, and egg scramble was delicious!  It was a great, savory dish to balance out the sweet pancakes.

Fruit salad

Fruit salad

Now about those pancakes…

I didn’t read the instructions thoroughly, so I overlooked the chill time in the whipped cream instructions.  Our coconut cream ended up as more of a syrup replacement than whipped cream.  While I recommend following the original instructions, our resulting cream tasted awesome, and added a bit of extra moisture to the pancakes.  We made a few other modifications, just based on the ingredients we had.  Some of them I will be repeating!

Pancakes and Eggs

Pancakes and Eggs

Vegan Tiramisu Pancakes

Recipe by Chloe Coscarelli, slightly modified

For the Coconut Whipped Cream

  • 13.5 ounce can full-fat coconut milk, chilled
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting

For the Pancakes

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground hazelnut coffee*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Malibu coconut rum**
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips (dairy-free), plus more for garnish
  • Canola oil, for greasing

*Original recipe: instant espresso powder

**Original recipe: dark rum

For the whipped cream, chill the bowl and whisk of a hand mixer in freezer for 10 minutes.  Skim the solidified cream from the can of coconut milk, and transfer solids to the bowl.  Do not include the coconut water.  Add powdered sugar and whip until cream begins to stiffen.  Chill whipped cream in an airtight container for 3 hours to 1 day before serving.

For the pancakes, whisk flour, baking powder, coffee/espresso, and salt in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk water, maple syrup, and rum.  Add the wet mixture into the dry and mix until just combined.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.  Do not overmix.

Lightly oil a large, nonstick skillet, and heat over medium-high heat.  Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto skillet, and cook until bubbles appear in center.  Flip with a spatula, and cook other side for about 1 minute, until golden-brown.  Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil when needed.  If batter becomes too thick, add 1 tablespoon of water.

To serve, top pancakes with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of powdered sugar and chocolate chips.

So much to love

So much to love

We ended up with a lot of leftover coconut cream.  I threw some of it into the blender with fruit the next day for a tasty dessert smoothie.  Yum!

While I’m not a vegan, I enjoy vegan recipes.  I generally avoid dairy products, so vegan baking is usually safer for me.  After making (and devouring) these pancakes, I can’t wait to pick up a copy of Chloe’s book, Chloe’s Vegan Desserts!

What are your favorite brunch recipes?

New favorites

My new favorites

Happy eating!

-C

WIAW — A Modified Food Lover’s Cleanse

Late in December, I received an email from Bon Appetit about a New Year’s Foodie Cleanse.  I bookmarked the details, but was unable to do the “cleanse” at the time.  Lately, I have not been listening to what my body needs, and instead have made unintelligent and unhealthy food decisions.  I decided to jump-start my return to conscious eating by doing a modified Food Lover’s Cleanse.  Based on my schedule, tastes, and single status, I have edited the meal plan.

I started on Sunday, and have enjoyed it so far! For today’s WIAW Party, hosted by Jenn, I’ll be showing you my meals from the first three days of the plan.

WIAW GOES GREEN

Day 1: Sunday

Oatmeal and tea

Oatmeal and tea

Sunday morning I topped a bowl of oatmeal with half a banana, berries, and chopped walnuts.  I’m cutting back to just 1 cup of coffee while on the cleanse, so I paired my oatmeal with a cup of tea.

I indulged in my one cup of coffee for the day before heading into the grocery store.  Limiting my coffee intake makes me savor it so much more!

Kale Salad

Kale Salad

For lunch, I had a kale salad with tuna, white beans, and homemade sherry vinaigrette.

Apple-Blackberry Smoothie

Apple-Blackberry Smoothie

I had an apple-blackberry smoothie, modified to use soy yogurt instead of normal Greek yogurt, as an afternoon snack.  Yum!

Butternut Squash-Shiitake Ragout with Bulgur

Butternut Squash-Shiitake Ragout with Bulgur

Dinner the first night was delicious!  I made butternut squash-shiitake ragout and bulgur with parsley and lemon zest.  I ended the night with a dessert of fresh fruit.

Day 2: Monday

Raspberry Muesli

Raspberry Muesli

I had an early morning shift Monday, so I packed up breakfast and lunch the night before.  Breakfast was a tasty bowl of muesli, made with oats, raspberries, half an apple, soy yogurt, fresh squeezed orange juice, and walnuts.

Spinach salad

Spinach salad

Lunch was a spinach salad with lemon tahini dressing, topped with a hard boiled egg and some leftover grains.  I love the lemon tahini dressing!

Leftovers

Leftovers

For dinner, I had a bowl of leftover ragout and bulgur.  It was just as tasty the second time around.  I enjoyed another dessert of fresh fruit before hitting the hay.

Day 3: Tuesday

Smoked Salmon and Avocado

Smoked Salmon and Avocado

I normally go for sweet breakfasts, rather than savory, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the breakfast for day 3!  Mashed avocado and smoked salmon atop rye crackers made a very tasty meal.

I snacked on a hard boiled egg before a noon ballet class.  Hard boiled eggs are another simple food that I often forget, but always enjoy!

Butter lettuce salad with ragout and radishes

Butter lettuce salad with ragout and radishes

I opted to combine the butternut squash ragout and butter lettuce salad in one big bowl, rather than serving them side by side.  Topped with sliced radishes and lemon tahini dressing, this salad was filling and full of flavor.

I “cheated” on the cleanse for dinner, and instead went out with a friend to discuss her wedding plans!  I’m thinking of this cleanse as the start to some permanent changes in my diet and lifestyle, so I am not being too rigid with the rules.  I am eating mindfully, avoiding processed carbohydrates, cutting back on sugar, and decreasing my alcohol and caffeine intake.  That sounds pretty clean to me!

Happy eating!

-C

Further Lessons Learned in the Kitchen – Patience

Spending hours in the kitchen not only results in food that nourishes the body, but it is a process that nourishes my soul. It is time that allows me to disconnect from technology, from other concerns, and to focus on the task at hand.

Kale, Cabbage, and Quinoa Salad

Kale, Cabbage, and Quinoa Salad

It is also a time for me to experience powerful learning moments. In the kitchen, I have learned the value of process, as well as the value of failure. Most recently, I have been reminded of the value of patience.

Weeks ago, I picked up a bag of hazelnuts at the store, thinking about how incredible it would be to make hazelnut butter. Hazelnut butter soon turned into Nutella. So, last Saturday, after breakfast and crosswords with my husband, I placed 2 cups of hazelnuts into the oven for a quick 10 minute roast in order to loosen the skins.

I slowly and painfully** rubbed the skins off of the nuts, and placed them into the food processor.

Roasted hazelnuts

Roasted hazelnuts

**Do not do as I did and use your bare fingers…it will create a slight blister. Use the “kitchen towel” technique!

Once the hazelnuts were pulsed into a coarse meal, I added a few teaspoons of raw cacao, and kept on blending…. and blending… and blending…

Pulsed hazelnuts

Pulsed hazelnuts

But unlike when I have made other nut butters, that magic moment when things get creamy kept illuding me. Getting frustrated, I figured that I must need to add some moisture, so I added one, and then two, tablespoons of almond milk. The mixture became moist, but not smooth and creamy. Deciding that Nutella was no longer an option, I threw some dates into the mix and made “Nutella Bites.”

They aren’t great, but they are edible. I need to tweak some things before this recipe is “shareable.”

Nutella Bites

Nutella Bites

Curious to learn where I went wrong, I sat down and started to research (something that would have served me well before my experiment began…). I learned from Oh She Glows that I lacked the necessary patience. Getting the mixture to that creamy place can take a full 15 – 20 minutes of constant processing.

So, my failed attempt at making Nutella, just like my failed attempt at making yogurt, was due to a lack of patience… And yet, the next day, I sliced, roasted, peeled, chopped, and simmered ingredient after ingredient to make a delicious, healthy, and hearty quinoa, cabbage, and kale salad, inspired by Ashley’s quinoa salad and Sarah B’s braised cabbage.

I documented the process with my iPhone, and the finished result was so beautiful, I just had to take some “real” photos to share this creation. On a slow Sunday afternoon, creating this colorful salad was a labor of love.

Sliced Cabbage

Sliced Cabbage

A 3 pound head of cabbage (the smallest I could find) is a LOT. I braised the whole head, but used only about half in this salad.

Cut in half and roasted for 10 minutes, then seeded, peeled, and cubed

Butternut Squash – Cut in half and roasted for 10 minutes, then seeded, peeled, and cubed, and roasted for an additional 15 – 20 minutes.

Squash is easier to deal with once it is softened.

Peeling a blood orange

Peeling a blood orange

Blood oranges are so beautiful – one of nature’s many delights!

Combine sliced kale, chopped orange, and chickpeas

Combine sliced kale, chopped orange, chickpeas, and dressing

I took at least an hour preparing this hearty salad that provided me with meals all week long. It occurred to me after the fact that while I continue to procrastinate my experiments in bread making because “it takes too long,” the active time to make bread is far less than the time I spent making this “easy” salad.

Add ~2 cups cooked quinoa

Add ~2 cups cooked quinoa

It’s all a matter of perception, I guess. Something about working with vegetables relaxes me. I love chopping them. Fresh herbs, however, often intimidate me with their “laborious” preparation process (i.e. washing, drying, and chopping). Clearly, my mental perception is slightly skewed.

Toss in squash

Toss in squash

Awareness is the first step, though, so fresh herb chopping and bread making loom on the horizon.

Braised cabbage

Braised cabbage

Perhaps because of the time and attention it took to prepare this salad, I delighted in eating it for lunch or dinner each day last week.

Last but not least, toasted pecans

Last but not least, toasted pecans

My patience was rewarded! With so many textures and flavors, this salad was great. I look forward to repeating it with variations here and there.

What lessons have you learned in the kitchen?

-L

Creamy Polenta with Crispy Kale and Poached Egg

Over the weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some quality time with one of my dearest friends. It was so nice to sit with her in person and share the latest about love, friendship, family, and our mutual infatuation with Ashtanga yoga.

Brunch is served

Brunch is served

Driving home on Sunday after a terrific brunch at Green Pig Bistro, my friend’s favorite jaunt for brunch, dinner, or drinks, I felt absolutely full and nourished.

But I don’t mean full and nourished by the food.

Brunch was delicious, don’t get me wrong, but I was filled and nourished by so much more…

Our friendship has reached a point of such ease and comfort, it amazes me. What’s mine is hers, and vice versa. So much has changed since we first met, on move-in day –our first day of college – 7.5 years ago. We have seen each other through the highs and lows of college life and the ups and downs of life in our 20s. Even though our visits are always too short, they leave me full of joy, and immensely thankful.

Weekend brunch is truly one of life’s greatest little pleasures. Whether it’s spent catching up with friends or doing crossword puzzles with my husband, I love lingering over a delicious meal with a cup of tea in hand. This recent brunch creation was a winner that will be repeated again soon.

Runny yolk, crispy kale, tomato sauce with a slight "kick"

Runny yolk, crispy kale, tomato sauce with a slight “kick”

Creamy Polenta with Crispy Kale and Poached Egg

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 3/4 cup polenta
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ~3 kale leaves, torn into bite sized pieces
  • olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • marinara sauce
  • parmesan cheese

savory brunch closeup

Method

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss kale with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake kale until crispy, about 10 minutes.

Bring vegetable broth and water to boil in a saucepan. Add garlic, salt and pepper; whisk in polenta until smooth. Add almond meal and whisk until mixture thickens; add butter and whisk until melted and combined.

Poach eggs, 1 or 2 at a time. Divide polenta among 4 bowls. Top with crispy kale, poaches egg, marinara sauce, and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

egg porn

Gorgeous egg yolk, creamy polenta

The almond meal adds variety of texture and flavor, while the crispy kale perfectly contrasts the smooth and creamy polenta. I chose marinara sauce for flavor, but I imagine that other sauces (hollandaise, tahini, honey mustard, to name a few) would work well, too.

I hope this brunch nourishes you and your closest friends and family, as my brunches have nourished me.

-L

Massaged Kale Salad with Carrots, Raisins, and Walnuts

Back home in Charlottesville, but not yet back to work, I took advantage of my afternoon at home and planned a lovely lunch recipe to share.

Love my kale!

Love my kale!

This simple salad featured kale, carrots, walnuts, and raisins. The dressing included (among other things) turmeric and Himalayan pink sea salt. As part of my New Year’s resolution to really learn about the foods I eat, today I decided to focus on walnuts, turmeric, and salt.

I perused The New Food Lover’s Companion for basic information on each of these ingredients, and then turned to Google for additional information.

pink salt

Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

Himalayan Pink Sea Salt contains 84 minerals and trace elements (including magnesium, calcium and potassium). “It is an unrefined, unprocessed “raw” salt that’s hand-mined from abundant salt caves that were formed 250 million years ago as ocean salt settled in certain geologic pockets around the earth.” (Source)

Ground Turmeric

Ground Turmeric

Turmeric comes from a tropical root that is similar to ginger. Ayurvedic science hails this spice for its natural antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and blood cleansing properties. It is used to give American-style mustard its distinctive yellow color.

Walnuts

Walnuts

Walnuts are the fruit of the walnut tree. Among all nuts, walnuts pack significantly higher amount omega-3 fatty acids, and are also rich in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants such as Vitamin E (Source). Black walnuts and American walnuts are the most common varieties. Once shelled, walnuts keep best in the refrigerator, for up to 6 months.

These ingredients gave my salad a lovely flavor, as well as added nutrition.

Yum!

Yum!

Massaged Kale Salad with Carrot, Raisins, and Walnuts

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • ~5 leaves of curly kale, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled into ribbons
  • 1 Tablespoon raisins
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon agave
  • 1/8 teaspoon Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

Method

Combine kale and carrot in a large bowl; set aside. Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Massage about 3 Tablespoons of the dressing into the  kale and carrot, until the kale leaves soften and turn a darker green, about 2 minutes. Add more dressing if desired. Top with raisins and walnuts.

Lunch is served!

Lunch is served!

The tanginess of the dressing is off-set but the sweet raisins, and the walnuts provide a nice “crunch”. While I enjoyed this salad for lunch with some pita chips, it would also be great as a side dish for dinner, perhaps with some grilled chicken (I’m making myself hungry just imagining this meal…).

Enjoy!

-L