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Add Green to Your Breakfast with This Silky Smoothie


Avocado Pineapple Smoothie

Go green for breakfast! Add a touch of color to your wake-up call with this smoothie that uses avocado mixed with pineapple. It’s simple, which is what most of us want if we’re walking about before our eyes are fully open.

Actually, you can enjoy this refreshing treat any time of day, including dessert.

Avocado Pineapple Smoothie

1 fully ripened avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice
2 cups ice

In blender container, combine avocado, pineapple plus its juice and ice; whirl until smooth.

Makes 4 cups.

From Avocados from Mexico

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Bacon and Lentils with Egg


Red lentils

“Have you ever eaten lentils for breakfast?” Faith Durand asks in “Not Your Mother’s Casseroles” (The Harvard Press, $16.95). “This is one of those breakfast dishes that is really just as good for lunch or dinner. It’s flexible; after you make up a batch of soft, mashed lentils with spices, you can serve them for any meal of the day. Serve this with Indian lime pickle or a spicy chutney.”

Bacon and Lentils with Eggs

4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 shallots or 1/2 red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 cups red or yellow lentils, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
4 cups water
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 eggs

Place the bacon in a 2-quart (or larger) saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Cook the bacon slowly, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until it is crisp.

Turn the heat to medium and add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, then add the garam masala and lentils. Stir so the lentils are coated with the shallots and garlic, then add the cilantro and cook until it is wilted.

Add the water and turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes. if the lentils are too watery at the end, leave the lid off for a few minutes until the liquid is reduced and the lentils are nearly dry. Turn off the heat and taste. Season the lentils with salt and pepper, then lightly mashed them with a fork.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease six 6-ounce ramekins with baking spray or olive oil. Mount a few spoonfuls of the lentils in each (you may have some lentils left over), then make a hollow in the center of the lentils with the back of a spoon and crack in an egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the whites are just set. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

From “Not Your Mother’s Casseroles” by Faith Durand

 

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Give Them Buttermilk and Sour Cherry Pancakes


Who doesn’t like pancakes? And who doesn’t like a new way of making them? Nicola Graimes offers a variation in “New Vegetarian Kitchen” (Duncan Baird, $24.95) that combines the tang of buttermilk with sweet and sour dried cherries. These would make a great eye-opener or even a party dessert.

Buttermilk and Sour Cherry Pancakes

Scant 1 1/2 cups flour
A large pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup dried sour cherries
Sunflower oil, for frying
Blueberries and other berries, to serve
Greek yogurt, to serve
Maple syrup, for drizzling

Sift the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Stir until combined, then make a well in the middle. Add the eggs, buttermilk and milk to the well and gradually work in the dry ingredients, beating to make a smooth, thick batter. Let rest 20 minutes, then stir in the dried cherries.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Heat a little oil over medium heat in a large, nonstick skillet, and wipe away any excess with a acrumpled piece of paper towel. Drop 3 spoonfuls of the batter into the pan, spacing them apart. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook 2 to 3 minutes until bubbles appear  on the surface, then flip over and cook 2 minutes longer. Transfer to an ovenproof plate and keep warm in the oen while you cook the remaining pancakes.

Serve 3 pancakes per person. Top with berries and a generous spoonful of yogurt, then drizzle with maple syrup and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

From “New Vegetarian Kitchen” by Nicola Graimes

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Give Your Breakfast Some BAM!


Bacon-Avocado-Mango Breakfast Sandwich

Every time someone uses the word “bam” near a kitchen, Emeril Lagasse comes to mind. The celebrity chef, who told us all that “pork rules,” would probably love this version of BAM, a breakfast sandwich made with bacon, avocado and mango.

The silky smooth textures of the mango and avocado are a nice contrast with the crisp bacon and the hot buttered bread. If you want to make this more like a Mexican torta, use crema instead of butter.

It’s a great way to get two fruit servings with breakfast, so you can start the day right.

Bacon-Avocado-Mango Breakfast Sandwich

4 thick-cut slices bacon or 6 regular slices bacon
2 bolillos, toasted, or 4 slices Texas toast
Butter or crema (optional)
1 Ataulfo mango
1 large avocado
Salt, to taste (optional)

Over low-heat, fry the bacon, turning frequently, until you reach the desired crispness. Using a paper towel, remove any excess grease.

Meanwhile, cut the bolillos in half and toast. Spread butter or crema, if using.

Peel and slice the mango. Halve the avocado, remove the pit and cut out slices, removing them from the peel.

To assemble: Place one side of the bread down on a plate. Top with bacon, mango and avocado. Sprinkle a little salt on, if desired. Top with other half of bolillo or toast.

Makes 2 sandwiches.

From John Griffin

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Make It Easy on Yourself During Easter Brunch


Give your bacon and eggs a little something different this Easter.

Sunrise services, Easter egg hunts and family get-togethers all in quick succession can be exhausting. But planning and preparing Easter brunch don’t have to be. Most everyone loves the old standbys of scrambled eggs and bacon, but why not add to them with a quick strawberry pancake hot out of the oven or portobello mushrooms on toast with cheese melted on top?

Here are some easy recipes that you can assemble quickly and be able to enjoy your time with friends and family.

Strawberry Pancake

Mushrooms on Toast

Raspberry Lemon Pecan Muffins can be made ahead.

Plus, here are some recipes from our files, several of which you can make ahead:

Sour Cherry-Chocolate Scones

Texas Sweet Onion Pie

Smoked Salmon-stuffed Eggs

Tortitas de Huevo con Chile Verde

Frittata of Ham and Spring Vegetables

Overnight Savory French Toast

Raspberry Lemon Pecan Muffins

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At McDonald’s, New Menu Items Are the Result of Teamwork


McDonald's Fruit and Maple Oatmeal

By Chris Dunn

Earlier this year, McDonald’s introduced a new item to its breakfast menu, Fruit and Maple Oatmeal, which has been designated by San Antonio’s Healthy Restaurants Coalition as an official ¡Por Vida! menu choice. The honor is awarded to dishes that suggest a balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy and lean protein.

We spoke with McDonald’s chef Dan Coudreaut, director of culinary innovation, about the product:

How did the idea to add oatmeal to the McDonald’s breakfast menu come about?

Dan Coudreaut

When I looked at our breakfast menu, I stood back and I said, “Where’s our gap? What do we need at breakfast?”  Back when I worked at a hotel or a restaurant, oatmeal was always on the menu.  So, I saw that as a gap.

So how did you develop the idea?

Very collaboratively. … I work with a lot of chefs … the chefs I’m talking about are the supplier community within McDonald’s that support McDonald’s, such as Price’s, McCormick, GFS (Gordon Food Services), Cargill, Fresh Express, Marilyn Farms.  They have culinary resources that are available to us, and a large part of my job is to make sure I’m networking with them.

What happens when you and the other chefs get together?

It’s a very dynamic environment … as we’re working shoulder to shoulder, banter back and forth, ideas only get better.

What were the results that you came up with?

The apples on top were very visually appealing and pleasantly unexpected; the maple brown sugar had a familiar and very comforting flavor profile.  And then we had to go and test it in our restaurants.

So, how do you test market a new item?

What we’ll do is … we’re asking our guest what he thinks: What do you think of the size? What do you think of the value? What do you think of the appearance? What do you think of the taste? We do that at focus groups, we do it at operation tests (which means four restaurants). Then it might get into an advertised sales test — that’s about 500 restaurants, where you’re actually producing a commercial for it and spending a million dollars on that …

(After further studies are made on profitability and to make sure the item is not taking away from sales of other items, then) if everything feels right, we’re in business.

So how long did this menu item take to develop?

It was probably about three years.  The Smoothie took even longer, 4-5 years, because we had to custom build a machine for McDonald’s.

What is the most important aspect of a new item?

Taste is always going to have to be king. You want to put something healthy on the menu, but if people don’t eat it and it goes in the garbage, it’s not doing anybody any good. … So, the challenge I have is how to make it balanced and have good nutrients but also taste good.

Have you ever had an idea for a new item that didn’t work out?

When I was trying to figure out the idea for the Snack Wrap, one of the ideas all the chefs were very excited about was the Tacodilla.  We made a quesadilla, and then we put a piece of chicken in it, then we added some sauce, and we wrapped it up so that you had quesadilla in a taco. And the guests didn’t get it. They hated it.

But I don’t look at them as failures — you build upon them to get you to an answer that you might not have known.

Chris Dunn is a San Antonio-based food writer.

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Start Your Day with a Serrano Omelet


Serrano peppers

“This breakfast will open your eyes and get you going in the morning,” writes Gloria Chadwick in “Foods and Flavors of San Antonio.” “Roasting the peppers gives them added depth and flavor.”

So enjoy this dish on 16 de Septiembre, Mexican Independence Day, or any other day of the year that calls for a little something extra for breakfast.

Serrano Omelet

4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons chopped onion
2 large eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons milk
1 to 2 serrano peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
1/4 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

Melt half the butter in an 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and onion. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion is tender. remove and set aside. Drain any juices from the skillet and add them to the tomato-onion mixture.

Place the remaining butter in the same skillet. When the butter has melted and begun to sizzle, add the eggs and cook on the first side for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the top is set and the bottom is lightly golden.

Using a spatula, carefully flip the omelet over. Sprinkle the serrano peppers and cheese over the top. Add half of the tomato-onion mixture. Cook for 1 to 2 more minutes, then fold the omelet in half.

Serve the omelet topped with the remaining tomatoes and onion.

Note: There are two ways to roast peppers. Either char them under the broiler or place them in a skillet and dry roast them. Peel off the charred skin and you’re good to go.

Makes 1 serving.

From “Foods and Flavors of San Antonio” by Gloria Chadwick

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Eggs, Brunch and Easter Traditions


Smoked Salmon-stuffed Eggs

Eggs are a symbol of spring and fertility.  Early Christians adopted eggs to symbolize the resurrection of Jesus Christ, celebrated at Easter. But centuries before that, Wikipedia tells us, the ancient Zoroastrians used eggs in their New Year celebration, which falls on the spring equinox.

It may be an ancient tradition, but don’t tell that to kids. They love the traditional Sunday morning Easter egg hunt. Adults, meanwhile, take more pleasure in a few well-prepared egg dishes — and a sumptuous brunch is a great time to serve them.

We’ll share three recipes linked to this article, but if you generally just eat eggs in your breakfast tacos, think again. Here are a few suggestions for thinking outside the carton:

  • Breakfast for dinner: When you can’t think of anything to make for dinner, don’t automatically send someone out for a bag of burgers. Scramble some eggs, make toast, make pancakes, waffles or bacon. It’s satisfying and kids like it.
  • Eggs are appearing more and more as toppers to sandwiches, salads or hot dishes. Put a fried egg on top of cheese enchiladas, a burger, a rice and vegetable stir fry.  Stir a raw egg into steaming hot pasta, add chopped bacon, cream and Parmesan cheese and you have a classic pasta alla carbonara. (So rich, but so good.)
  • Deviled eggs will never go out of style. But we offer a recipe, Smoked Salmon-stuffed Eggs, from the ever -stylish Martha Stewart. Smoked salmon and sour cream make the difference.
  • You might never buy an egg salad sandwich from a vending machine, but made fresh at home this is a short route to a good meal. Hard cook two eggs, let them cool, peel them and chop them up finely. Add mayo, a dash of Tabasco, a half-teaspoon of Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Dill is good in egg salad, too. Use it in a sandwich filling for lunch or put a mound of egg salad on top of lightly dressed greens, sliced tomatoes, avocado and other veggies.
  • Frittata of Ham and Spring Vegetables is colorful, easy to make and delicious.  You can’t go wrong here (unless someone just doesn’t like eggs).  If it’s good as an omelet (ham, cheese, spinach, etc.) it’ll be good in a frittata.
  • Finally, here’s an egg dish from Mexico that doesn’t use any exotic ingredients (at least not to us in San Antonio). But the Tortitas de Huevo con Chile Verde has a difference — find out why.

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Eggnog Gives French Toast a Welcome Kick


French ToastIf you have any leftover eggnog in the punch bowl, you can make this treat on Christmas morning.

Eggnog French Toast

2 cups homemade eggnog (see note)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons rum or 1 teaspoon rum extract
12 slices day-old cinnamon raisin bread
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
Nutmeg, for garnish
Cinnamon, for garnish
Maple syrup, for serving (optional)

In a medium bowl, beat eggnog with the eggs and rum.  Put mixture in a  flat pan. Soak bread in eggnog mixture about 5 minutes, turning to be sure all of the bread is soaked.

In a skillet, melt some of the butter until it begins to sizzle. Then add 2 slices of bread, cooking on both sides until toasted. Sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon on top before serving. Pass the maple syrup.

Note:  If using store-bought eggnog, use 2 cups eggnog. Whisk in 3 eggs and add rum and/or bourbon (or rum extract) to taste.

Makes 6-8 servings.

From John Griffin and Bonnie Walker

(Photo: Mathilda Tan)

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Griffin to Go: Slipping into an Elegant Christmas Breakfast


Eggs1

For some, the Christmas dinner is the family meal of the year. For the past few years, the breakfast on that day has become the main event.

Chalk it up to people’s schedules, which extend late into Christmas Eve. By the time I get to my colleague Bonnie’s house, it’s late in the morning. No one has any church services left to play for (Bonnie and her husband are organists, I play in a bell choir), and no one has anything on their minds but a strong cup of coffee and a desire to relax as late as possible. The work of the holiday is done. Now comes the time to snuggle up with a cat (there are enough to go around) and let the ease of the day envelop you.

French Toast

Recipe: Eggnog Gives French Toast a Welcome Kick

It’s the perfect setting to make a meal in as leisurely a manner as possible.

It’s also a great time to experiment. So, one year we made Eggnog French Toast, in which the cinnamon-raisin bread was drenched in an eggy sauce before being fried. A touch of rum, a sprinkle of nutmeg, a little more cinnamon, and we were all set. A few jalapeño-cheddar links from our favorite Texas sausage maker completed the meal in style.

Another Christmas morning was planned to within an inch of its life because of the time it took to prepare. That was the year of the Truffled Eggs. I had never cooked with an actual truffle before (my wallet had a little more elasticity then), but I had tasted a dish in which you flavored the eggs for a week with the black truffle. You just place eggs and truffle shavings in an air-tight jar and let them set for a week; the aroma of the truffle is so strong it will permeate the shell.

When it’s time to scramble the eggs, you chop up a bit of the truffle and add a touch of truffle oil to make sure your lily has been appropriately gilded. Serve with copious amounts of Champagne to cut through the richness of the dish.

Beignets

Recipe: Beignets Bring the Flavor of New Orleans to Your Kitchen

I had also made a flourless chocolate cake with grappa-soaked dried cherries and toasted pine nuts as a dessert. It, too, was so rich that we waited awhile before giving it the full attention it deserved.

Last year, it was pancakes, but with a subtle lift from applesauce. Perfect, of course, with sausage or bacon or any other pork product you have on hand.

How should we expand the repertoire this year? Bonnie has suggested something with a New Orleans touch this year, specifically beignets and Eggs Sardou. Sounds perfect. You shouldn’t be rushed when making a hollandaise sauce. And those in the kitchen can munch on the beignets along with the rest of the gathering while preparing the eggs.

Just the right unhurried feel before settling into the thrill of exchanging presents, another part of the schedule that’s been shuffled about a bit, and no one seems to mind.

Being together is what matters. If you keep that mind, your holiday meal, no matter what you serve, will be special.

Poached Eggs

Recipe: Eggs Sardou Offer a Taste of New Orleans

Pancake

Recipe: Sweeten Your Pancakes With Applesauce

Black Truffle

Recipe: Truffled Eggs Make for an Extravagant Breakfast

(Top photo: Kasey Albano)

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