Miss Fancy-Pants Brunch idea

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

 

Christmas morning I had a crowd for breakfast. I typically make my Egg Strata (previously posted) with bacon. I knew that I would need a little more to feed my family. I had printed out this recipe a while ago, and thought what better time to try it. I was so right. They were delicious. The pancakes are very light with a great lemon flavor. I had tasted the batter and thought there wasn’t enough lemon, but left it alone. I’m glad I did. Once the grated lemon zest hits the heat, the flavor pops. The ricotta makes the pancakes very light. These might be on the menu for tomorrow too. It’s a perfect “fancy” brunch recipe, or something to nosh on with your kids. The original recipe called for sautéing apples and serving them over the pancakes. I wish I had done this. But, hey it was Christmas and I was tired from a week of cooking. The thought of warm apples and maple syrup makes me tingle. Try this recipe. If you’re nervous, keep that box of Aunt Jemima nearby. I am betting you won’t need it. There are no pictures of these pancakes. They were gone by the time I thought of it.

 

4 large eggs, separated

1 1/3 cups ricotta

1 ½ tablespoons sugar

1 ½ tablespoons grated lemon zest

½ cup all-purpose flour

 

Melted butter for brushing the griddle

Maple syrup, as an accompaniment

In a bowl whisk together the egg yolks, the ricotta, the sugar, and the zest, add the flour, and stir the mixture until it is just combined. In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they hold stiff peaks; whisk about one fourth of them into the ricotta mixture, and fold in the remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Heat a griddle to a medium heat. When drops of water scatter over its surface, brush the griddle with some of the melted butter. Working in batches, pour the batter onto the griddle by ¼ measures and cook the pancakes for about 2 minute on each side, or until they are golden, brushing the griddle with some of the melted butter as necessary. Transfer the pancakes as they are cooked to a heatproof pan and keep them warm in a preheated 200-degree oven. Transfer to a serving platter to serve.

I may be the last one on the planet that has heard of this recipe. The original, original recipe was from Gourmet Magazine 1991. I think I was deep in diapers and trying to stay sane. It is the best excuse I got. I was not reading Gourmet Magazine in 1991. I was reading picture books and watching PBS children’s programs. This trend continued for many years……

Serve the pancakes with maple syrup, and if you’re smart, with sautéed apples. They make about twelve 3-to-4-inch pancakes.

 

Here is the Smitten Kitchen recipe. There are pictures and detailed directions if you need them. If you haven’t visited this website, you should. It is fantastic!

NOTE: I made these pancakes today. I added a tsp. of lemon juice and made the apples. Oh please make the apples. It’s like apple pie on pancakes.photo And, for the love of bacon, please bake your bacon

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Orange you glad I said cranberry

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Orange Glazed Cranberry Bread

 

If you haven’t had your fill of cranberries this holiday season, you will want to make this bread. The original recipe calls for either fresh or frozen cranberries. I decided to use dried sweetened cranberries. I’m not a fan of fresh cranberries. Biting into the bitter little berry is not for me. I love dried cranberries in salads and I make my cranberry sauce with dried cranberries. There are three parts to this bread: streusel, bread, and glaze. Don’t fret. These parts share many of the same ingredients. I also baked this bread in 4 mini-loaves so as to share with some friends. While the bread was still warm I spread the glaze on it and let it absorb into the bread. Heavenly! I do this to lemon bread too. I usually poke small holes in the baked bread to allow the glaze to seep into the warm bread. Try this technique!

 

So, as I always recommend, read the recipe through and make sure you have all the ingredients on hand. If you don’t have buttermilk you can make some by placing a tablespoon of white vinegar in your measuring cup, and then filling the measuring cup with milk to the one cup mark. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. Voila. Buttermilk. The buttermilk and baking soda react to the acid and make a very moist bread.

 

Streusel

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tbsp. granulated sugar

½ tsp. cinnamon

3 tbsp. unsalted butter, cold

 

Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

5 oz. of sweetened dried cranberries, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 large egg, room temperature

½ cup light brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

1 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tbsp. orange zest

 

Glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1-2 tbsp. orange juice

as much orange zest as you want

 

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray either a 9 x 5 loaf pan or 4 mini-loaf pans with non-stick spray.

Make the streusel first: Toss the flour, sugar, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter, your hands or two forks. Some large crumbs are ok. Set aside.

Make the bread: In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking soda, salt, and cranberries together until combined. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until combined. Make sure there are no brown sugar lumps. Whisk in the buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and orange zest. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently whisk until there are no more lumps. Do not use a mixer. Just use a whisk or a fork until it’s all combined. Try very hard to not over mix, which will result in a tough textured bread.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s). Top evenly streusel, pressing the streusel down gently into the batter so it sticks. Bake the bread(s) for about 40 minutes to an hour depending on the pan size and oven. Poke the center of the bread with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the bread is done. Put bread(s) on a wire cooling rack.

Make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice together. Add more orange juice depending on how thick you like it. Whisk in orange zest. I like to poke some holes in the warm bread with a toothpick and spread the glaze on it while it’s still warm. The glaze becomes a little transparent and then hardens when it cools. It gets absorbed a little into the bread, adding more moisture.

Store the glazed bread in the refrigerator. You can keep unglazed bread covered tightly on the counter for several days. You can always add the glaze later when you serve it if you’d like.

Happy Holidays!

 

Original recipe here

 

Nuts to you

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Sugar and Spice Nuts

 

 

If you are looking for a great gift that is quick and tasty, try these nuts. They’re addicting. The great thing about this recipe is that it’s not a recipe. I used the nuts and spices that I like. You can use what you like. You don’t have to use the same spices or amounts. The nuts can be just candied using only sugar and a bit of salt. I suggest when you mix the salt and spices in a bowl that you also taste them. Put them on your tongue and wait a few minutes. You can adjust the spices and sugar as you like. Keep in mind that when you bake the nuts, the flavors will intensify.

 

1 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp. Kosher salt

1 tsp. chili powder

¼ cayenne pepper

¼ tsp. paprika

2 tsp. cinnamon

3 egg whites

9 oz. container of almonds (just over two cups)

9 oz. container of cashews (just over two cups)

7 oz. container pecans (just over two cups)

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. I wouldn’t try this without parchment. The sugars and spices get dark and very sticky. Parchment is a gift from the baking gods. The cooled nuts come right off the parchment with minimal cleanup. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar, salt, chili powder, cinnamon, paprika, and cayenne. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy, not firm. Egg whites are the glue to the spices and sugar. My trick is to use powdered egg whites. I hate wasting egg yokes. The powdered egg whites are great to use for meringue also. They last a long time in a cool, dry place. You can absolutely use a regular egg white. Add the nuts and spiced sugar mixture to the egg whites and mix completely. Spread out the nuts on the parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes. I stirred the nuts every 15 minutes. Let the nuts cool on the baking sheet. Break up the nuts as they harden.

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Store nuts in an airtight container for several days.

Mud Hen Bars

 

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I found this recipe last week online. Let me tell you, these are the best cookies I’ve made in a long time, if not ever. Truly. We devoured the pan in one day. Well, I brought a few over to a friend’s house, but mainly we ate most of the pan. They are like a drug. You have a little and you just want more. I just made another batch. I’ll divide them for home and work. Then I will hide both containers! If you are going to a holiday party and what to win points with your friends. Bring these cookies. They are amazing.
These cookies are simple, but you have to be organized. I suggest having two mixing bowls, beaters, spatulas, and offset spatulas. Read the recipe through. You have to separate the yokes from the whites in two of the three eggs. You use the whole third egg. The whites are whipped up and then the brown sugar is folded into the egg white meringue. I forgot to mention there are two sugars being used: white granulated and light brown sugar. Don’t mix them up. I also used parchment paper in the pan. It makes lifting it out the pan easier. I thought there was potential for a gooey mess if I just greased the pan. I’m pretty sure I’m right.
You first make a cookie-like layer, topping it with mini-marshmallows and chocolate chips. The last step is covering this bad boy with the meringue and brown sugar mixture.
The name of these cookies is very odd. The website I got this recipe from discusses the origin of the cookie name. I think they are named after hens that got muddy. First they are a light brown, and then they become brown with specs. The name will definitely stimulate a conversation.

½ cup of butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, divided (1 egg, 2 yolks, and 2 egg whites)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper, cutting the corners to fit into pan.

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In a bowl, beat together butter and granulated sugar until creamy. Beat in 1 whole egg and 2 egg yokes. (Put the egg whites in another bowl to be made into meringue later.) Beat in the vanilla extract.
Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the butter mixture. Blended until just combined. This will be a thick batter. Place dollops of the mixture in the pan.photo This makes it easier to spread the dough. Spread evenly with a spatula or a knife. You may have to hold the parchment paper as you spread the batter. photoSprinkle with marshmallows and chocolate chips.

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Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl, with clean beaters until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the brown sugar. Make sure you fold it and not stir it. You don’t want to deflate the egg whites. Try to contain your bliss at this point. Spread mixture evenly over marshmallows and chocolate chips. photoBake for 30 minutes or until bars are a deep golden brown. If you can, let the bars cool completely. I find this to be rather a test of patience, but do try. Cut into squares and squeal with delight.
Store them in airtight container if there are any left. You will thank me later. The meringue will fall a little and crackle when you cut it. That means you did a great job and they are perfect.

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Here is the original recipe. This is a fabulous website. Please visit it!