Most days, a cup of coffee or a bowl of oatmeal may suffice. But for special days, overnight guests or a twist at dinnertime, a more bountiful breakfast is in order. This loaded egg casserole is a meal by itself and can be prepared the night before. For a sweet treat, try quick-and-easy fruit pinwheels. And red velvet waffles pair nicely with maple-glazed ham.
red velvet pecan waffles
Photo by Karen Hermann
RED VELVET PECAN WAFFLES
MAKES 6 8-INCH WAFFLES
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons cardamom (or cinnamon)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 whole eggs, beaten
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup chopped pecans
Mascarpone frosting (recipe below)
Fresh berries (optional)
Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, melted butter, buttermilk, food coloring and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until combined. Allow to rest 15 minutes.
Ladle waffle batter onto the iron, in the amount recommended for your model. If you do not have a waffle iron, use batter to make pancakes. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons pecans onto batter. Close lid, and cook until waffle is golden on both sides and is easily removed, about 4 minutes.
Keep warm in a 200 F oven until ready to serve.
Spoon mascarpone frosting into a zippered plastic bag. Snip off one of the bottom corners of the bag to form a piping tip. Pipe desired amount onto the top of waffles. Serve with berries and maple syrup.
Makes 2 cups
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted (more, if needed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until smooth. Beat in cheese. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, and mix on low for a few minutes. Increase speed to medium, and beat until smooth. Leftover frosting will last up to a week in the refrigerator.
Working with waffle irons
If you are new to using a waffle iron, it may take some trial and error to perfect your technique. First, read the manufacturer’s recommendations for your appliance. Each brand will have its own unique guidelines. You need to be proficient with three things: heat setting and management; cooking time; and amount of batter to use for each waffle. (Too much batter will overspill onto your counter; not enough batter will make an unattractive and lopsided waffle.) Waffle making takes time, practice and patience! However, once perfected, you will enjoy many hours of perfect waffle making and enjoyment.
Mascarpone vs. cream cheese
Though similar, these two products are not exactly the same. Mascarpone is an Italian, triple-cream cheese made from cow’s milk. Cream cheese is an American cheese made with raw cow’s milk. Mascarpone and cream cheese can sometimes be used interchangeably—but not always! The fat content is not the same, so it’s not a direct substitute. If you substitute cream cheese for mascarpone, be sure to use high-fat cream cheese, not low-fat. Be sure to carefully research beforehand whether this is a good substitute for your recipe. Be aware that the final taste and texture of your dish may vary by using the substitution.
EGG CASSEROLE WITH POTATOES, SAUSAGE AND PEPPERS
Photo by Iuliia Nedrygailova
1½ pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed or sliced
1 pound spicy bulk sausage
2–3 large green onions, sliced, whites separated from green tops
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
6 large eggs
½ cup heavy cream or milk
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large pot over medium-high heat, boil potatoes 5 minutes in salted water. Drain, and let cool. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook sausage until browned, breaking into bite-size pieces. Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper-towel-lined platter. Reserve one tablespoon grease in skillet; discard the rest.
Cook white parts of the onion with bell pepper in skillet about 3 minutes. Add garlic, and cook an additional minute. In a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish, mix potatoes, sausage, onion and bell pepper. Cover with cheese.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, cream, thyme, salt and pepper; pour over mixture in baking dish. Bake 30 minutes or until eggs are fully cooked. Let rest 5 minutes. Garnish with green onion slices.
To make ahead, prepare casserole, but don’t bake. Cover, and store in refrigerator. Before baking, bring casserole to room temperature. Bake as directed above.
Note: Use any kind of pork-mix breakfast sausage for this recipe; the spicier the sausage, the better the flavor. Don’t worry about it being too spicy—the potatoes and eggs will absorb most of the heat.
Photo by Gina Moore
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
½ cup cream cheese, softened
½ cup jam, any flavor
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
Fresh berries, for garnish
½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons cream
Preheat oven to 375 F. Roll out each sheet of puff pastry on lightly floured work surface until it is a 10-inch square. Cut each into four 5-inch squares, and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon a tablespoon of cream cheese in the center of each square, smoothing and flattening with back of spoon into a 1½-inch circle. Top with a dollop of jam.
With a knife, make a 1½- to 2-inch cut at each corner of the dough, diagonally toward the center. (Do not cut underneath cream cheese.) Each square will now have 8 points. Gather every second point, bringing them to the center of the pastry. Press these 4 corners together slightly. Brush pastry with melted butter; sprinkle with sugar. If desired, add fresh berries. Bake 25 minutes or until puffed up and golden brown. Cool completely before applying glaze.
To make glaze, in a small bowl, combine powdered sugar and cream, stirring or whisking until smooth. Use a fork to drizzle glaze over pastries
MAPLE-GLAZED HAM STEAK
maple-glazed ham steak
Photo by Karen Hermann
¼ cup peach preserves
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
Pinch of cinnamon
1¼-pound smoked ham steak,
In a small bowl, combine preserves, maple syrup, chili powder and cinnamon.
Make diagonal cuts, 1 inch apart, on outer edges of ham steak to prevent it from curling up. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, place ham steak, and brush top with peach glaze. Cook 4–5 minutes, then turn over. Brush cooked side with glaze, and cook another 4–5 minutes. Remove to a platter, brush once more with the glaze, and let rest 5 minutes.
What are ancho chilies?
Ancho chilies are dried poblano peppers. They add a spicy sweetness to food dishes and are very low on the Scoville heat index—not too hot. Don’t be afraid to experiment with this ingredient, as it adds an interesting flavor element to your food without contributing too much spiciness.
BELINDA SMITH-SULLIVAN is a chef and food writer who lives in Trenton, where she is a member of Aiken Electric Cooperative. She has a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University and is certified in wine studies from the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, Calif. Her articles have been published in several regional magazines and in her blog, “The Flying Foodie.”