German Apple Pancakes

These apple pancakes are my favorite Sunday morning breakfast. They look beautiful and have a sort of special occasion air about them. The flavor of the apples and walnuts really shine through and juxtapose the texture of the egg batter that surrounds them.

apples-4

They are delightfully different from everyday pancakes and perfect for a pampered Spring morning. So, thanks to Uncle Steve (who first taught me how to make them!)  I have the perfect breakfast in bed meal for my mom on Mother’s day. Pair them with a cappuccino, vase of fresh flowers and a hug to let mom know how much you love her.

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German Apple Pancakes

From: Chrissy Esposito

Ingredients:

  • 2 apples (pick firm, sweet apples that are a little tart like Honey Crisp, Braeburn, Pink Lady, Gala and Empire)
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • ½ tea cinnamon
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ tea kosher or sea salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk

Directions:

  1. First, prepare the apple filling. Peel and dice the apples and place in a small pan with 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and ½ tea cinnamon. Sautee on medium heat for about 10 minutes (the apples will begin to soften and will develop a sort of cinnamon/sugar syrup)
  2. While the apples are softening, sift together the flour, salt, and remaining tablespoon of sugar.
  3. Add the eggs and milk into the flour mixture, being careful not to over mix (a few lumps are okay).
  4. When the apples are done stir in the walnuts and take off the heat.
  5. Grease two 9 inch cake spans (spring-form pans are ideal) by putting one tablespoon of butter in each pan and placing the pans in the oven for a few minutes until the butter melts. Swirl the butter around so it covers the entire bottom of the pan and goes up the sides of the pan too.
  6. Pour the flour and egg batter into the pan. Spoon on the apples and walnuts so they are evenly dispersed.
  7. Bake for about 25 minutes at 425°until the edges start to become golden brown and curl up. The eggs will fluff and rise in the process.
  8. Now, this part is a bit tricky. If you used the spring-form pans, release the spring and with a spatula transfer the pancakes to a place. If you used a normal pan, trace the edges of the pancake with a knife before transferring it to a plate.
  9. Top with powdered sugar and enjoy!

The Best Way to Wake Up

I wrote about how I earned my first tip by making this breakfast in my blog last week. What I did not say though, was that this breakfast actually came out of desperation — our car battery had been dead for a week, and of course grocery trips were suspended indefinitely.

 

BaconHash-BrownSunny-Side-Up-top-view

 

 

Saturday morning, I woke up to an empty fridge. Well, not entirely empty. There was still a couple eggs left, and that was it. I turned to the freezer, and was so happy to dig out a package of thick-cut bacon and a bag of hash browns. Yay!

 

BaconHash-BrownSunny-Side-potato-2

 

I was too hungry to defrost the bacon in the fridge (didn’t even have the patience to use the cold-water method). I popped the entire package in to the microwave and waited, impatiently, for a whole two minutes. As soon as the bacon is separable, I threw three slices in a pan over medium-high heat. Soon enough they started sizzling, and the kitchen was filled with a wonderful aroma. Hmm, who needs coffee to wake up?

 

BaconHash-BrownSunny-egg

 

The beauty of cooking bacon in the morning is that you get a lot of tasty bacon fat to cook with, which was what I used to transform the frozen hash browns into a tasty side. Even better, crack an egg into bacon fat and your sunny-side-up will be just as good as it can get.

 

BaconHash-BrownSunny-Side-Up-side-view

 

 

I could hardly wait to put everything on a plate and have a bite. Instant gratification! I learned something here: desperation can be the best inspiration sometimes, and that simple food can (and often does) taste great. Now I just wish a fairy would make this breakfast so I could wake up to it every single day!

 

 

 

 

 

Thick Cut Bacon, Parsley Hash Brown, and a Sunny-Side Up Egg

From: Danti Chen

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices thick cut bacon
  • 1 cup thinly sliced potato sticks (or frozen hash browns)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp crushed pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat up a pan on high, and fry up 3 slices of bacon. Reduce the heat to medium and cook on each side for about 7 minutes.
  2. Take about a table spoon of bacon fat, and put it in another pan on high heat. Throw in a cup of thinly sliced potato.
  3. Add the garlic powder and crushed pepper to the potato. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top. Add the chopped parsley.
  4. In a separate pan, add about 1 teaspoon bacon fat, heat it up till sizzling.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-low and crack an extra large egg into the pan. Crack some pepper and add a pinch of salt on top. Cover, and turn off the heat. Let it sit while the potato and bacon finishes cooking, for about (15 & 14 minutes total). The egg should cook for no more than 6 minutes total with the heat off.

The Better Way to Eat French Toast

Francesca just had surgery yesterday and while it was a pretty low-key procedure, she was supposed to be out of commission for about a week. We had grand plans to lift her spirits and nurse her back to health, so it was a bit unsettling to find her running around the house this morning and having her drag *me* out of bed this morning. She appears to be the healthiest person in the house right now. That said, we had already promised her a special breakfast this morning so even though she’s doing a terrible job proving she deserves it, we’re committed to french toast and bacon, at least for brunch (oh how we suffer).

 

Look at her... so sick...

 

Right before my birthday this past spring, I spent a beautiful weekend in Dingle, Ireland also pretending I needed to get well. I was thoroughly fake-stressed, and wanted a weekend of complete relaxation to welcome my 22nd year in style so, when the impending time came, I’d be ready to face the real world head-on. I spent the weekend biking, listening to traditional Irish music, and chatting with strangers in cozy pubs, but a large portion of the credit for the weekend’s “healing” powers goes to the Goat Street Café’s French Toast with Brie and Maple syrup. I swear that no combination of flavors has ever sung so beautifully and harmoniously together – they resonate through your heart like music from a particularly good traditional music session, and with similarly strong healing powers (as long as you don’t have an actual illness). You would never think to put these musicians together, but boy can they play. So to celebrate the art of pretending to get well, we’re putting an East Coast spin with Challah French Toast with Brie and Maple Syrup – and we’re adding a trad playlist to play while you eat. Whether you’re recovering from the Tired Tuesdays or post-sleep hunger, I assure you this is just the cure you need.

 

French Toast with Brie and Maple Syrup – The best french toast I've ever had (on The Road Home)

 

And we want to know – what makes you feel better when you’re pretending to be sick? Or do you have any fun spins on traditional breakfast foods? We want to hear all about it!

 

Caramelized Shallots

I was a bit of a rebel at cooking school, which was kind of surprising considering I was pretty much a nerd in high school. I was always asking a lot of questions, especially ones that began with “Why do we have to….?” One of the hallmarks of great French cooking, I learned very quickly, was that shortcuts were pretty much a no-no. We learned, for example, how to prepare mayonnaise and whip egg whites stiff by hand instead of using mixers or hand blenders just so we would know how if we needed to in the future.

 

Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

 

For chefs in a commercial kitchen this may come in handy on occasion, but I think every minute home cooks spend in the kitchen should be enjoyable. This means you should take shortcuts and even cheat a little sometimes. Otherwise, I know for a fact you will avoid certain ingredients, like shallots, which are tedious to peel since you need so many more them than onions, and slicing or dicing may them burn your eyes. You should never avoid such a wonderful ingredient such as shallots since they add so much flavor, being a little less bitter than onions and really sweet when caramelized.

 

Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

 

So I’ve come up with a an easy way to caramelize massive amounts of shallots with very little labor after being inspired by a  12-Hour Rabbit Bolognese recipe in Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Great Britain (a book by the way everyone should own). He just puts all the ingredients whole into this rabbit stew and the onions just fall apart and assimilate during braising. So smart. I thought that perhaps I could achieve the same results with shallots if I just peel large shallots, quarter them and slowly cook them in a bit of oil. It works!

 

Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

 

So what, you say?  Shallots cooked this way are a great replacement for onions in stews, or in pureed soups, mixed in with vegetables or mashed potatoes (see Stoemp). You could also add these to a pot pie, fill puff pastry cups with shallots and add a bit of goat cheese for a easy elegant appetizer, or again really use them anywhere you use cooked onions. Today, for example, I used them for a meatloaf. First I added a bit of cognac to the shallots, and let the alcohol burn off. Then I pureed them before adding them to the ground beef and other ingredients (you can also just chop them – fine or coarse – or leave them just the way they are).  There’s really no end on how you can use them.

 

Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

 

Do you have any go-to ingredient or spice that adds pizzazz to everyday meals? Let us know in the comments, below!

 

 

 

 

Caramelized Shallots 1-2-3

From: Heide Lang

Ingredients:

  • 8 large shallots, or 12 smaller ones peeled.
  • 4-5 tablespoons canola or sunflower oil (or another oil with a high smoke point)

Directions:

  1. Cut off the root of the shallots and quarter them
  2. Heat a medium size sauté pan and add 4 tablespoons of oil.
  3. Add the shallots and coat them with the hot oil. Break up the shallots with a firm spatula as they cook until all they have all fallen apart.
  4. Cook over a low-medium heat until the shallots start to brown, about 25 minutes. Add the last tablespoon or more of canola oil if the shallots stick to the pan
  5. Remove the shallots from pan and add to your favorite vegetable, stew, soup, or any place else you would use cooked onions. (You may chop or puree them as well.)

Baking with Oma: Takes the Cake

I know everyone always says their grandmother is the best baker, but mine really is. Really. I think I might actually have a case here because my Oma’s baking isn’t even similar to anybody else’s. Her recipes all come from some undetermined german-hungarian-romanian-austrian place. They’re never too sweet and they always contain a twist ingredient that makes the other ones come alive. The only problem was that up until recently she had a monopoly on her recipes because silly Oma is from the “old country” and Europeans have magical skills and don’t need recipes. But we’ve realized recently that she’s no longer 35 (or 75) and while she shows zero signs of going senile… you never know, and this is not a risk worth taking. So yesterday we had her over for our first Baking with Oma session, where she wrote down the steps as best as she could and we translated them into recipes we (and you) could actually follow.

 

Oma's Incredible Bittersweet Chocolate Yeast Cake – transcribed from memory, like nothing you've ever had | The Road Home

 

We started with two recipes, or Oma cautioned that we would be up until 3am. Mom made an apple tart which went… um… I’ll let her tell you the story. But I made Oma’s So Superbly Perfect We Can Only Have It Twice A Year Because Otherwise We’d Eat It Three Meals A Day And Get Superbly Fat Bittersweet Chocolate Yeast Cake. Which is superbly perfect, no lie. We only get it on Christmas and Easter and it’s more or less the highlight of both holidays. It’s fluffy yet dense, and not at all too sweet – which is why we can get away with eating it for breakfast even though it’s totally cake. It peels apart in flaky, chocolatey layers and shimmers with subtle underlying notes of anise. And mine came out! I think I just got lucky but I’m still bragging like I got skills because I’m really excited and I’m super proud. I urge you to make it for yourself – it’s an amazing flavor, and not one you’ve ever had before. The only thing about it is it’s neither quick nor particularly easy – I would recommend having some experience with yeast before you try this one out (I think they  made it challenging so we wouldn’t make it too often). But I promise it will be worth all your time and effort – there’s no doubt it will rock your world.

 

Oma's Incredible Bittersweet Chocolate Yeast Cake – transcribed from memory, like nothing you've ever had | The Road Home

 

Do you have any special recipes handed down through the generations in your family? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Oma's Incredible Bittersweet Chocolate Yeast Cake – transcribed from memory, like nothing you've ever had | The Road Home

German Chocolate Chip Yeast Cake

From: Oma (Edith Lang), recorded by Gabrielle Siegel

Ingredients:

  • 4 – 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar (you can add 2-3 tbsp more if you like it a little sweeter)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 packet yeast (I think active dry, but I actually need to get back to you on that)
  • 1/2 tsp anise seed
  • 1 package of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips (or same amount of whatever kind you want)
  • Stand Mixer
  • Bundt Pan

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 2 1/2 cups of the flour with all of the sugar, yeast and salt.
  2. Place the butter and milk together in a small saucepan and heat until the butter is just melted. The temperature should be about 130° F, or lukewarm to the touch, but if it’s not, heat or cool accordingly.
  3. Add this to the bowl with the flour, and mix on low with the paddle attachment until just blended.
  4. Add the eggs, yolks, vanilla and anise to the mixing bowl, and blend with a paddle attachment on speed 4 for about 10 minutes, and then on speed 6 for about 30 seconds – 1 minute, until a soft dough has formed.
  5. Take off the paddle attachment and replace with a dough hook, and add 1 1/2 cups more flour. Blend on speed 2, until flour is incorporated, and a stiff dough has formed, about 5 minutes. Feel dough – it should be moist, but not too sticky, workable, but not too dry. If you need to, add up to 1/2 a cup more flour, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached. 
  6. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, and kneed vigorously for 2-3 minutes, to make sure the texture is correct.
  7. Place the dough in a large oiled or buttered bowl, and place in a warm, moist area to rise, until doubled in size. Be patient – this could take anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 hours. For best results, cover the bowl in a moist tea towel.
  8. When the dough has risen, punch it down, and turn it out onto a floured surface.
  9. Using a piece of string, measure about how big around your bundt pan is. Roll out the dough to about that width, and as long as it takes to make it about 1/3-inch thick.
  10. Evenly distribute the chocolate chips over the dough, and tightly roll up the dough.
  11. Butter the bundt pan, and place the dough inside, and set it to rise in the same warm place, covered with a moist towel, until doubled in size. Heat the oven to 350° F while you’re doing this.
  12. If desired, brush the top of the dough with an egg-wash made of a beaten egg with about a tablespoon of water (does not need to be precise at all) and bake in the oven for about 50 minutes to an hour, until cake is a deep brown, and not too squishy when you poke it (not scientific I know, but it’s the best litmus test Oma could give me).
  13. Cool for about 15 minutes in the pan and turn out onto a cooling rack until completely cool. Eat immediately, or cover very tightly until you’re ready. Try to eat it within 1-2 days, though if you cover it tightly it will keep a little longer. It’s a really good excuse to have people for tea.
  14. Enjoy the heck out of this cake – eat it for breakfast, etc. You worked hard for this, so make it worth it!

Morning Has Broken

I’ve been struck with a love so strong it’s allowed me to return to blogging without a hint of shame after… wow, has it been a year? It’s been a year. Ok, a little shame, but not enough to keep me away. Because, on to more important things, have you ever realized how great breakfast is?

 

 

Think for a moment. Think about pancakes and parfaits and sausages and runny fried eggs and toast melting with peanut butter and sunny strawberry jam or scones with butter and marmelade and fresh squeezed orange juice and omelets with bacon tomato and cheese and croissants and pumpkin muffins and banana bread french toast… What do they all have in common? Well primarily that they’re the best, but what else? That it is most socially acceptable to eat them in the morning. Think some more. What other reason do you have to wake up every morning? Or go to bed at night, for that matter? Sometimes the only reason I can get myself to turn off the lights is the image of tomorrow morning’s banana with peanut butter.

 

This is not peanut butter toast, but it is equally great.

 

You know I’m crazy but you also know I’m right. Because after conferring with a whole bunch of German people (my amazing roommate, Elli, and a large portion of Berlin), it turns out that it really is the best meal of the day. And it is actually relevant that these people are German because I had this epiphany in Germany, where they do breakfasts like none other.

 

 

The typical German breakfast is actually sausage, cheese and some kind of classy bread, or perhaps a dip egg (see below). But I was blown away by the way they seemed to be able to blend Power-For-The-Day with Light-Don’t-Weigh-You-Down. One example was the Fitness Breakfast at Spreegold in Berlin (pictured #1, above). You begin by getting some super whole grainy bread (try Panera Whole Grain) and spreading it with some kind of tomato-herb spread. I recommend mixing pre-made sundried tomato pesto with quark or greek yogurt. Then accompany that with strawberry or raspberry yogurt mixed with muesli or really crunchy granola. And then finally have a half a grapefruit with some demarara sugar sprinkled on top to add crunch and take off the edge. Congrats! You’ve covered all your nutrition and happiness needs for more or less the entire week.

 

 

If that doesn’t strike your fancy. I invite you to take a look at this pretty pretty Pinterest board (full disclosure – I haven’t tried a single one of those recipes). I’m sure I’ll be back tomorrow or so to wax some more. But I have an exam and it’s after midnight and… well frankly if I don’t go to bed I can’t have breakfast.

 

 

 

Batter Up

Pancakes!

 

You may have been wondering whatever happened to the mommy part of Fig Test Kitchen? Did teaching a full load of cooking classes, several appearances/fundraisers a month, raising six, fifteen and nineteen year olds (oh yes, Gabrielle still needs me!) (note from GOS – Oh puh-lease… Also I’m 20 now 😉 Happy Birthday to Me!), and singlehandedly taking care of a house finally, you ask, just put me over the edge? Well obviously, but that’s nothing new. But I talked to all of my super-organized friends who are, in fact, the opposite of me… methodical tall, athletic and sometimes blond. I’ve taken a lot of their advice, and gotten my life at least somewhat in order. As you may know from the first two videos posted recently we’re starting with the basics – salt, equipment, spices, and moving toward easy recipes before we’ll finally move on to stuff like seared duck breasts or Persian jeweled rice. What all this means is, I’m back on the blog.

 

Don't you want to make these?

 

But you want recipes.  And I made pancakes! We’ve had an unusually early and beautiful spring here in New Haven, and I’ve been thinking about flowers. I was making creme fraiche pancakes during a cooking demo at the Elm City Market in New Haven and lavender just hit me. And a recipe was born. Creme fraiche is rich and creamy like sour cream (it actually has a higher fat content), but a bit more tart. Perfect for pancakes. Combine it with chocolate and lavender, you get pancakes that are fragrant, sweet and irresistible. Here’s what you need to do:

First, you will need to gather the ingredients and make sure your ingredients are in place, measured and ready to go. Believe me it pays to do, especially when baking. It seems like an extra step, but it saves so much time in the long run, and keeps you organized. You don’t want to add the baking powder twice. Not that we’ve ever done that…

 

GOS says: And yes, you absolutely must arrange your ingredients like this or the recipe will not come out.

 

Chop the dark chocolate to any size you like. I wasn’t done chopping when I took this photo, I’m just posting it because I like it. They were eventually the size of the chocolate in vanilla chocolate chip ice cream. Obviously you can use store-bought chocolate chips if you want.

 

Chop chop!

 

Once you have all your ingredients measured and ready, add all the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl and whisk well.

 

Whisk these...

 

Then add all of the wet ingredients in a separate bowl

 

 

And blend with a hand mixer or immersion blender or whisk. Then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix once again. Do not overmix or your pancakes will be tough. Then add the chocolate chunks and stir gently with a  spatula until just combined.

 

So close you can (and should) taste it

 

After melting unsalted butter in a large skillet, pour about a ¼ cup of batter per pancake, and cook on the first side for about two minutes, until light brown. Turn over to cook the second side for about another minute until light brown.

 

GOS says: Ahhhhhhh!! (I haven't even had these yet. I'm dying right now)

 

Find some plates, and serve with or without syrup.

 

They're done!

 

Here is the full recipe. Enjoy your breakfast, enjoy the birds chirping, and welcome spring in style.

 

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