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Published: Tuesday, 1/20/2009

Winter Breakfast: Start mornings with warm food

BY KATHIE SMITH
BLADE FOOD EDITOR
Serve Golden Waffles with pecans and maple syrup. Serve Golden Waffles with pecans and maple syrup.
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Even though economic problems have consumers spending less and cutting back, there is one luxury they can a afford: Take time to make a breakfast or brunch at home. It can be one of the bright spots on a cold winter morning.

A good breakfast can help you stay satisfied and resist tempting treats throughout the day. It helps people of all ages, including children, concentrate at work and school and have more energy.

For many recipes, you don t have to buy special ingredients.

It s simple as making an omelet or a batch of waffles.

There are so many ways to make eggs in the morning, including scrambled, poached, fried, and soft-boiled. Some of us may not take time to make our own omelets. But at home, you can control the amount of fat and salt you put in an omelet. When The Blade tested the recipe for Cheddar Cheese & Green Onion Omelet from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook, with general editor Chuck Williams (Free Press, $34.95), we followed the technique in the recipe. The result, a fluffy omelet, was great.

The recipe is made with one tablespoon of butter for two servings. The egg mixture is poured into the hot, foamy butter in a nonstick frying pan. After 30 seconds the edge of a nonstick spatula was used to push the cooked edges carefully a little toward the center while keeping the eggs in an even layer. The uncooked eggs flow toward the edges and the omelet cooks evenly.

Almost any shredded cheese can be used in an omelet, but the cookbook advises to balance the cheese with complementary flavors such as chopped feta with diced avocado; soft mild goat cheese with chervil; aged Monterey jack with cilantro. You can also omit the cheese and use vegetables such as diced avocado and tomatoes or chopped shallot sauteed with sliced mushrooms.

Waffles or pancakes are another inexpensive breakfast that most of us don t take time to make.

If you don t have a box of waffle mix, you can easily make your own with a few key ingredients: flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, eggs, milk, butter or vegetable oil. Of course you need a waffle iron and butter and syrup for the cooked waffles.

Golden Waffles from The Good Home Cookbook by Richard J. Perry (Collector s Press, $29.95) has a twist on the technique.

The eggs are separated, with the yolks beaten with milk and melted butter. The egg whites are beaten with a mixer and added after the milk mixture has been added to the flour mixture.

For variety, the author suggests bits of bacon in the batter or even one cup of fresh or frozen blueberries. I ve seen recipes that add pumpkin puree to the batter, and also waffles that are made with a chocolate or chocolate chip batter. You can also serve waffles with flavored butters or specialty butters such as Irish Kerrygold Butter.

Refrigerated biscuits

Stock your refrigerator with canned buttermilk biscuits. If you have an apple in the fruit bin, make Apple-Praline Bubble Bread for a weekend morning or a day when school is on a two-hour delay. The pull-apart bread is made with Pillsbury Grands refrigerated biscuit dough dredged in cinnamon and sugar and baked in a 12-cup tube pan (an angel food- style pan).

When Kay Lynne Schaller tested this recipe for The Blade, it was a hit! she said, with fabulous flavor. Her kids loved it.

Pull-apart breads can also be made from sweet yeast bread dough. Arrange small clumps of dough (which are usually dipped in melted butter) in three or four overlapping layers in a pan. The pan can be round, oblong, or tube-shaped. After baking, the clumps cling together to form a solid loaf. These breads can be sweet (flavored with raisins, nuts, cinnamon, and sugar) or savory (made with grated cheese).

For breakfast, the bread or refrigerated biscuits also can be sprinkled with pecans, raisins, or dried cherries.

Homemade beignets

Make your own batch of classic Beignets, the classic New Orleans yeast pastry that is deep-fried and served with a dusting of powdered sugar. Beignet is the French word for fritter .

Serve with your favorite brew of coffee or even Cafe du Monde, the traditional chicory laced coffee. It will get you in the mood for Mardi Gras carnival season, which begins each year on Jan. 6 with the Feast of the Epiphany - for Christians that s the day that commemorates the Three Wisemens visit to the baby Jesus. Mardi Gras Day is Feb. 24 this year.

To make classic beignets I turned to Cooking Up A story: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, edited by Marcelle Bienvenu and Judy Walker (Chronicle, $24.95). You will need a deep fryer or deep pot with a cooking thermometer, and a good supply of vegetable oil. Be sure to heat the oil to the required temperature before cooking the beignets.

In New Orleans, the classic traditional beignet is square sweet doughnuts dusted with confectioners sugar. In the country, the old-time cooks make beignets that resemble fritters, according to the authors. They advise that you make the batter and add whatever you like from fruit to savory ingredients.

For breakfast, make the recipe plain. With a hot beverage, enjoy a quiet winter morning.

Kathie Smith is The Blade s Food Editor.

Contact her at: food@theblade.com or 419-724-6155.



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