Saturday, June 9, 2012

Breakfast Tips

Judging from my Recipes page, it is clear that breakfast is king. I could eat breakfast every day for every meal for quite a while without getting tired of it. Perhaps you're like that, too. But even if you're NOT a breakfast person (perish the thought!), sooner or later you'll have house guests over that will wake up hungry and you really want to deal with grumpy people in your casa? You'll need to make breakfast at some point (and avoid the brunch wait time at nearby restaurants). 

I think it's safe to say that I've made pancakes more than any other "dish" ever, and I still have not mastered the art of pancake making and flipping. Sometimes they're thin and runny or thick and cake-y; but now I have a bit of a routine for CONSISTENCY. 

  • Turn the heat to medium or medium high on the stove. As you cook the pancakes (in rounds, like a boxing match), the pan will actually get hotter as you go. Keep that in mind...too high heat = pancakes that burn on the outside and are still raw batter in the middle. You want nice, even heat.
  • Sticking is always a problem, as are those little crispy bits and old oil left in the pan after a couple of "rounds" of pancake making. To avoid problems, initially heat the pan, THEN add the oil, let the oil (or cooking spray or butter) heat up, THEN add the batter. If you add batter with cold oil, no good. In between "rounds," I use a paper towel to quickly wipe down the pan and remove the excess oil and crispy bits left behind. This gives you a clean slate to work with before each round.
  • Flipping: Oo, this one's not as hard as we make it. DO NOT FLIP until the pancake is bubbling in the CENTER and appears to be 75% cooked overall. Then........flip. You just can't rush it. 
  • Consistent pancakes: This is much easier to do when your batter is filled with oil, butter, milk, eggs, and lots of other artery-clogging indulgences. However, when you're using wheat, spels, oat or any other heartier flour, little or no fats or oils, this gets a little harder. As the batter sits out (while you're cooking), it tends to get thicker over time (even in a matter of 5 or 10 minutes). To thin out the batter, add 2 or 3 TB milk and stir well. Also, I use a measuring cup--1/4 or 1/3 cup--to scoop out the batter and pour it into the hot pan in a circular motion (to form a nice circular pancake). This gives you consistently sized pancakes each time, which stack up quite nicely.
  • Thin or thick? Your choice, but be aware of how much baking powder you use if you prefer thinner cakes.
  • Toppings: If you're using berries of any kinds, stick them in the freezer for at least 20 minutes before adding them to the batter. This will keep them from oozing and burning while cooking in the pancakes. If I am adding nuts, I like to toast them first for that added crunch. 
  • Syrup: Of course, maple is wonderful but we never can keep it in the house (and it's pricey). So boiling some apples, pears, berries, or even bananas with sugar or honey and water can make really lovely, bubbly syrups. Much better than the fake butter syrup in the bottle.

Don't ask me anything about sausage because I don't eat it (unless it's veggie). But bacon? Oh yes, I know this. I have burned too many bacon slices to count, even when I use my dad's "fail-proof" method--he ALWAYS makes great bacon in the microwave, but it tends to come out burnt or soggy and greasy in the microwave for me.
  • THE OVEN. That's the secret. It takes 20 minutes but it's WELL WORTH IT. Preheat the oven to 325. Line the bacon (I prefer lower sodium with little fat) on a cooling rack and place that on a rimmed baking sheet. This will allow the grease to drip off. Bake for 15--20 minutes, rotating halfway through to ensure even baking. You will have delicious, crispy, wonderful bacon. Easy, right? (I learned this from my mother-in-law, Pat, but I'm seeing more people use this method lately.)

That's enough info for now. Do you have any suggestions? Would LOVE to hear them, and I'll add them onto the Breakfast Tips.

Happy Saturday!

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