As the kids head back to school, there's a constant bevy of chaos in the mornings that reminds us summer break is truly over.
Slowly we try to work our way back into the school-time swing. The best way to start the day off right is with breakfast.
Although getting everyone up and dressed is no small feat.
(*by dressed I'm talking about real clothes and not the Spiderman costume my son puts on every morning*)
Getting fed and out of the door before the school bell rings takes an act of congress.
So I have tried to develop a new strategy when it comes to making school mornings great.
This strategy involves a touch of Nutella in the mornings, along with oats, flour, and a little buttermilk.
These ingredients, with a dash of a few others, went into the Nutella Oat pancakes that have become a fast favorite in our breakfast routine.
The kids love them even without syrup and often we add a few slices of bananas to adorn the top.
Pancakes are such a perfect canvas for additional flavors. They give you the ability to add just about anything you desire to jazz them up.
Well my kids desire the tasty flavor of their favorite chocolate hazelnut spread Nutella.
With the breakfast blues solved, my son and I wanted to make our summer fun continue well into the school year.
The best way to keep the summer fun alive, even once school starts back, is eating things that remind you of summer, like ice cream.
So why not turn breakfast into a work of summer-themed art. My five year old did his best rendition of an ice cream cone out of pancakes as well. Which coincidentally looks a lot like the floor around he’s seat at the dinner table, as there always seems to be some abstract display of food art on the floor after he eats. Luckily, this time he managed to keep it on the table.
Nutella Oat Pancakes
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup quick cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons nutella
In a large bowl, whisk together the first 5 ingredients to combine. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk, egg and nutella into the well. Stir to incorporate the wet ingredients to form the batter.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using about ¼ cup for each pancake. When bubbles start to appear around the edges (about 2- 3 minutes), then flip and cook until the other side is golden. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Serve pancakes while warm with sliced bananas or syrup or whatever topping your kids will love.
Notes: Pancakes are great make ahead food, which is wonderful for the weekday morning rush. The best way I’ve found is to wrap the pancakes individually in plastic wrap and then freeze them. In the morning, pop them in the microwave for about 60 seconds for 5 pancakes and just like that you’re in nutella pancake paradise.
*Full Disclosure: The lovely folks at Nutella® sponsed this post. However, the opinions are my own formed over decades of using their products.*
"This little light of mine."
My grandmother sang everyday, the mornings were when she was at her most holy.
No matter what ached, no matter what pained, she sang.
A litany of soprano gospel notes flowed from the kitchen doorway to the back room where the screen door stayed ajar.
"All in my house, I'm gonna let it shine."
I remember asking one day, "Why do you sing this song so much?"
She simply told me, "Because my light will always shine, no matter what darkness may be standing in my way." This was terrifying to me. The last thing anyone wants is to have to stand in the face of darkness. I wanted to have the same strength as my grandmother, so I began to sing too.
"Out in the dark, I'm gonna let it shine."
This particular day as we continued to sing, she was meticulously removing the kernels from several ears of corn. They would eventually go into a mixture of buttermilk and flour to make the creamiest corn pudding. Ever the storyteller, she began to tell me more about why she sang this song. How in 1964, Fannie Lou Hamer stood outside the Democratic National Convention and sang this song. She was fighting for the right to vote.
During the civil rights movement, this song was sang at rallies, protest, sit ins and standouts. Songs of freedom, songs of woe, breathed both a prayer and complaint of the anguish faced by the souls of African Americans. Each note was a testimony.
"Everywhere I go, I'm gonna let it shine."
As we sat down for dinner that evening, my grandmother turned to me and asked what I had learned that day. Her eyes were filled with amusement, her foot tapping to an unknown beat on the floor.
I'd learned to shuck corn, I'd learned to save the cobs and boil them with milk.
I'd learned to let my light shine.
Speaking of shining lights. I was shocked to have been nominated for a Saveur Food Blog Award. Did y'all nominate me? I know one person who did, she also was the one who told me I was even on the list. Cindy, I Love You!
It feels weird asking people to vote for me, clearly some of y'all did. Whoever you were, I THANK YOU! It means a lot, especially when these awards and recognition when it comes to food media are so often limited to who gets to be a part.
So now I'm one of 5 in the running for the Food and Culture category. Would you mind voting again? I've included the link below if you good folks have the time. You can vote once, you can vote often, either way Thank You!!
I'm thinking I should take my Sunday Suppers on the road so I can start meeting some of y'all.
Chilled Sweet Corn Soup With Red Pepper Puree
Prep Time: 20 mins Cook Time: 40 mins Yields- 4 servings
Adapted from Eating Well Magazine
Sweet Corn Soup
6 ears of corn, husked
3 tablespoons EVOO
1 valdia onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Red Pepper Puree
1 tablespoon EVOO
2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Remove the kernels off of each cob. Place kernels in a large bowl along with 3 of the cobs. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add in the onions stirring until softened but not brown. About 10 minutes.
Add in the corn kernels and cobs, 4 cups of water, bay leaf and about 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and then lower to medium heat and allow to cook for about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the cobs and bay leaf.
Add in 1 cup of ice and stir until melted.
Using a blender, blend the soup until completely smooth and creamy. This works best when you do it in batches. To get a super smooth texture, pass mixture through a fine mesh sieve.
To make red pepper puree, heat oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Stir in the peppers and let cook for about 5 minutes. Add ¾ cups of water and salt to taste. Bring to a boil then let simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in vinegar. Blend red pepper mixture in a blended until smooth. Pass through a fine mesh sieve to remove any red pepper skin.
To serve, ladle the soup into chilled bowls and garnish with spoonfuls of the red pepper puree. In the photos I was testing out how this would look in some chilled glass cups and garnished with drops of red pepper puree, extra corn kernels and herbs.
There's a little bakery here in Atlanta that sells pastries filled with blackberry or fig jam. They are simply exquisite little gems that are baked into a pillow like brioche and are sheer heaven that you can hold in your hand. Over the weekend I went to work on recreating these treats at home using my KitchenAid® Artisan® Mini. My habit of spontaneous baking has increased ten folds now that I have my mixer well within reach, sitting right in the corner of my countertop. So this particular morning baking brioche and blackberries was on the agenda.
Growing up there were wild blackberry bushes that grew not to far from our house. You'd have to dig deep into the brambles to find the glossy black ones that were ripe enough to pick. Your hands would bare the cuts and scraps of your labor and if you weren't careful you would have an unfortunate run in with a snake or two while wading through the bushes. I learned this the hard way. Luckily, this time, I was able to avoid the forging process and picked up some homemade blackberry jam right from a friend who has her own blackberries trailing along vines in her backyard.
Using my KitchenAid® Artisan® Mini and the dough hook, I easily wiped up a batch of brioche for the base of these pastries. Mixing the dough with its high content of egg and butter gives it a rich and buttery crumb. Adding a ricotta custard base help to balance out the sweetness of the jam, making these pastries a delicious morning snack or even an after dinner dessert.
BlackBerry Ricotta Brioche
Makes 12 pastries
For the brioche:
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 pkg instant yeast
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons whole milk
½ cup room temperature butter, unsalted and cut into ½ inch cubes
For the filling:
1 cup ricotta cheese
Zest of one lemon
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
For the brioche, mixer together the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix for about 10 seconds to distribute the yeast evenly. Mix in the sugar, salt and eggs on low speed for about 20 minutes. The dough will begin to stick to the sides. Use a spatula to scrap dough off the bottom and the sides of the bowl. Add in butter pieces a few at a time, making sure to incorporate after each addition.
Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl again and continue to mix the dough for more 10 minutes. Remove dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough (it will be sticky so add a little flour to your hands) by stretching and folding the right side over the center, then the left side over the center. Repeat this process then place dough into a oiled bowl and allow to rest for an hour. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour, or preferably overnight. Roll the dough out to about 1 inch thickness and cut circles using a 2in cutter. Place dough circle onto a baking sheet and allow to rise for about 1-1 ½.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl mix together the ricotta, lemon zest, sugar and egg to combine.
Preheat oven to 350. When the dough has risen, brush the surface of each round with egg wash (one egg whisked together with 1 tablespoon of milk). Using your fingers gently push down in the center of each dough round creating a well. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the center then top with smaller amount of blackberry jam.
Bake at 350 for about 15- 20 minutes or until pastries are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.
*Full Disclosure: The lovely folks at KitchenAid® sponsed this post. However, the opinions are my own formed over decades of using their products.*
Hot- look that word up on your phone's dictionary app and there's a picture of Atlanta I promise you. Hot Mess- look that word up and you'll likely see a picture of me trying my best not to melt in this heat. It's been about 156 degrees with a little cool down in the evenings to about 105, so that's just 6 degrees cooler than hell I'm sure. Finding dinner meals that work with this weather, outside the realm of salads, is tough because for one it's hot and for two it's hot. I'd be completely content to consume nothing but ice cream but someone told me that would be a bad idea, although they probably have no idea what they're talking about.
A month or so ago, Haley over at Brewing Happiness hosted the most delightful Summer Solstice party to usher in the season. It was a great way to kick off the summer as well as meet some lovely ladies that I've admired via social media but had not met in person. We were treated to a delicious array of vegetarian and vegan delights thanks to the co host of the party, Amy's Kitchen. I'd seen their products but never tried any up until that point. I'd seriously been missing out, why didn't anyone tell me I was being so basic?
Honestly, when I see "health food" products sometimes I tend to cringe because they are often targeted to people who have the resources to spend the equivalent to someone's monthly rent on food. This continues to shed light on the issue of food accessibility when it comes to eating "right". Well, for a lot of people "right" is not in the budget.
This is what I love about Amy's, you can find them at numerous grocery stores around the city and in the burbs (at least where I live) So my kids and I hopped in the car and went to Kroger. Here we bought a few pizzas and these black bean burritos that I've been eating way too much of. Later that day we set about creating some summer pizzas with fresh produce I'd purchased at the farmers market. Green Pizza was decidedly the theme because we ended up with fresh green tomato and corn covering our cheese pizza and some lemony arugula and grated parmesan topping the other.
Super quick and easy but so delicious.
Quick summer green pizza two ways.. That's what's up!
Summer With Amy's Pizza Two Ways.
One Amy's Kitchen Cheese Pizza
1 large green tomato, sliced
1 cup fresh corn kernels (this took 2 ears for me)
One Amy's Kitchen Margherita Pizza
2 cups fresh arugula
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons EVOO
Fresh ground black pepper
For the Green Tomato Pizza, preheat the oven to 350. Place green tomato slices on the pizza, then sprinkle the corn kernels all over the pizza. Place pizza on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven, slice and serve while still warm.
For the the Margherita Pizza, preheat the oven to 350.In a medium bowl, mix together the lemon juice and olive oil, toss in the arugula. Add black pepper to taste. Set aside. Place pizza on baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with lemon arugula mixture. Then grate some parmesan cheese over the top. Slice and serve will still warm. !
Blueberry by the hand with a bucket and a bush, was a song that Ms. Mattie used to sing to my daughter as an infant. I'm not sure how it goes and perhaps it was something she came up with. Yet, sometimes I hear my daughter humming that same tune and I'll ask her what she's singing, "I don't know it's just always been stuck in my head." She'll say.
Blueberry by the hand with a bucket and a bush was Ms. Matties way of singing the story of African American berry pickers. She had a painting on her wall, one that showed 3 black woman dressed in white with large straw hats upon their heads, blue stained hands and large buckets at their bare feet. They are surrounded by fields of berry studded bushes that appear to be blowing in the wind. It was mesmerizing and spoke without words of a story often untold. How important the role African Americans played in the agricultural history as well as the economic progress of the United States.
Blueberry by the hand with a bucket and a bush.
As a child in the early 1900's, Ms. Mattie found herself working in the fields picking berries. I've heard stories of buses coming (In North Carolina) and picking up people as early as 3 am back in the 1930's. They would be paid at the end of the day after working from Sunup to Sundown. In some cases, there was housing right on the farm where they would work, housing meaning shacks with several people living in one. Sheets with hues of blues and reds hung out to dry showing the stains of their labor.
Blueberry by the hand with a bucket and a bush.
This weekend, my daughter and I went online in search of that same painting that hung in Ms. Mattie's front room. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful in finding that one in particular. However the one we did find currently hangs on the walls in the African American Museum of Art in Los Angeles. Needless to say we need to keep looking, although my daughter is excited about a trip we are planning to California in search of colleges (even though I would never let her go that far) hopefully we can fit in a visit to see this painting. We talked of this and history and blueberries while she snapchatted my process of making blueberry dumplings, which is the most delightful summer dessert. These dumplings can be adapted to fit the fruit of the season, like strawberry dumplings or apple dumplings. You start with a simple dumpling dough that can be a bit bland without a kick of something, like lemon zest which I added here. Then you make a syrupy sauce out of the blueberries. I always have trouble not pouring the sauce in a glass and just drinking as is because I'm weird like that. Once the sauce starts bubbling you drop in scoops of dough that reminds me of drop biscuits. The results are blueberry covered dumplings that Violet Beauregard would love.
Blueberry Lemon Dumplings
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
Zest of one lemon
½ cup cold butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
¾ cup cold milk
3 cups fresh blueberries
2 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Grate the lemon zest into the flour mixture. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until dough resembles coarse crumbles. Stir in the milk gently until soft dough forms. Place the bowl with the dough in the fridge while making the blueberry sauce.
Add blueberries, water and sugar to a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stir together mixture and allow to boil until sugar dissolves. Drop the chilled dough into the hot boiling blueberries by the spoonful. Using an ice cream scoop will give you nice round dumplings. Reduce heat to low and cover saucepan allowing the dumplings to cook slowly for about 20 minutes. It's important not stir the dumplings while they cook, also let the cover remain on the saucepan, letting them steam.
Serve dumplings while still warm with a little extra syrup from the pot poured over the top. Add a little whipped cream or ice cream if that's your fancy.
There was immense excitement as we tore open a large brown box. My son had no idea what it housed, just that it looked like a present and most presents are for him. As I pulled out another box, he gave me an odd look, one of slight disappointment as this boxes showed no sign of it contents containing Legos. After wiping off our new KitchenAid® Artisan® Mini and placing it up on the table alongside my other mixers. A table that clearly shows my love for both KitchenAid® Classic™ Artisan® mixers and baking, as it's often covered in flour as both mixers churn together. My son's face lit up in a mini moment of sheer joy. "This one is for me, because it's little like me" he said this with the largest smile on his face, so I didn't feel the need to correct him. Instead we went about thinking of all the wonderful things we could bring to delicious life.
KitchenAid® Classic™ Artisan® stand mixers are one of the most iconic kitchen appliances. It has transcended generations, passed down like heirloom cake recipes. My next door neighbor makes the best cakes in her avocado green KitchenAid® that she inherited from her grandmother in the 1970's. In my pantry on the top shelf, sits my grandmothers 1950's KitchenAid® Classic™ Artisan® , white with black knobs with the original Pyrex bowl that it came with. My grandmothers favorite cake to prepare was a classic pineapple upside down cake, one she often allowed me to help with. So this weekend, my son and I made our own cake baking mini moments and swapped out pineapples for some of the Georgia peaches that are overflowing in the local farmers markets.
At first glance, especially standing beside my professional stand mixer, you can't help but wonder how in the world can this KitchenAid® Artisan® Mini stand up to the others. It's bowl has 3.5 qt capacity and it's almost 2 inches shorter than the other artisan models. However this Mini is small but mighty, churning out a cake and 3 batches of cookies with ease. It's 10 optimizing speeds make the KitchenAid® Artisan® Mini powerful enough for any task and it's compatible with all your attachments. We're already planning to make pasta from scratch using the our pasta roller attachment. As for our cake, we smoothly whipped the butter and sugar, along with the sour cream. Finally incorporating the flour to make a silky smooth batter to pour over our brown sugar and peach lined skillet. The results were incredible and delicious, marrying a tender buttery cake topped with bubbling sweet brown sugar peach goodness.
Summer Peach Upside Down Cake
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
4 medium peaches (about 1 ½ lb), peeled and cut into ⅓ inch wedges
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature and divided
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup cake flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup sour cream
Sweetened Whipped Cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large shallow bowl, toss peaches with lemon juice. Melt ¼ cup of the unsalted butter in a 10in cast iron skillet over medium high heat (you make also use a regular 9in cake pan, just melt the butter in microwave, then pour into cake pan). Once the butter has melted remove from heat and evenly spread the brown sugar to cover the bottom of the skillet. Arrange prepared peaches on top of the brown sugar.
In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using the KitchenAid® Artisan® Mini, cream together the remaining butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until blended after each addition. Add in the vanilla and sour cream. Gradually add in flour mixture, beating just until incorporated and stopping to scrape the bowl as needed.
Pour batter over peaches in prepared skillet, place skillet onto baking pan. Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in skillet for about 10 minutes. Run knife around the edges to loosen. Carefully invert cake onto serving platter and drizzle with any reserve liquid remaining in the skillet. Top with sweetened whipped cream if desired.
*Full Disclosure: The lovely folks at KitchenAid® sponsed this post. However, the opinions are my own formed over decades of using their products.*
"You have to cook the grits first" she'd say as she bent down, reaching for the cabinet by the stove to hand me a pot. "Use this one"
I'd stare at the small pot quizzically, a bit unsure of how to correctly proceed at "cooking the grits first". After about 10 seconds of inaction, she'd say- without turning around-
"They're not going to cook themselves with you just standing there."
Put the stock in the pot and boil it.
"This one" I'd ask, pointing to the glass jar that used to be full of pickles but has now found new purpose in the afterlife, as a stock jar.
"Boil the stock with some butter then whisk in the grits a little bit at a time. And don't forget the cream." Got it. But not really
Slowly I begin to whisk in the grits using a wooden spoon instead of the whisk beside me.. I correct this before she notices. As large bubbles begin to form, it's almost like watching a volcano erupt and the drops that splatter on my hand burn like lava. I drop the whisk on the floor and stand back.
"You need to turn the heat down and add some cream to it"
She must be crazy, my skin will never recover if I stand close to that pot.
"Just give it to me" she takes the whisk and starts turning the pot while slowly adding in cream. I watch in silence, noticing two things, 1.) She doesn't get any spatters on her hands 2.) she sticks her finger in to "test" how done they are without flinching.
After about 10 minutes she'd declare the grits done and me a strange bird for being afraid of grits.
"One day it'll come easy to you, you'll show your kids like I'm showing you and continue on the legacy"
The legacy of how to proceed to cook the grits first.? At 10 years old this sounded ridiculous.
The only legacy I'd carry on would be my Lisa Frank folders and my walkman. How my grandmother could think anything else would take precedence over those things was beyond me.
So this weekend as my daughter and I made a quiche for breakfast. She trudged down the stairs with as much enthusiasm as I have when I walk into the dentist office. I reach down in the cabinet by the stove and handed her a pot and told her
"You have to make the grits first"
Caramelized Onion and Grits Crusted Quiche
Prep Time: 50 mins Cook Time: 25 mins + 1 hr 20mins Yield: 6 servings
Adapted from Southern Living Magazine
*A quiche can be dressed up using whatever you have on hand. From fresh herbs to potatoes and ham, you can adapt this recipe to your liking. Make this meatless by removing the country ham. *
*Make ahead- this is a prefect make ahead brunch staple. Mostly I bake this the night before and reheat at 350 for about 10-15 minutes. Or I'll prepare all the ingredients and wait to assemble and cook in the morning. To do this, it's best to keep the egg/milk mixture well covered and separate until ready to pour.*
* Carmelizing onions and the time it takes for them to brown will vary from stove top to stove top. My directions are the times that worked for me however the onions may take long (or not as long) to carmelize on your stove. *
Olive Oil (to coat the bottom of the pan)
2 large Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the grits and filling:
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup stone ground grits
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons black pepper
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 ½ cups half &half
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chopped country ham
To caramelize the onions: Using a wide, thick bottom sauté pan. Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil (EVOO), I used about 2 tablespoons for my pan, and butter. Heat oil and butter over medium high heat until oil is simmering. Add in thinly sliced onions and toss to coat. Allow onions to cook stirring occasionally. At this point you want to allow the onions to cook, checking every 5 to 10 mins and only stirring occasionally to keep the onions from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The key is to leave them to cook not stirring too often as this will delay the caramelization process. For golden brown color it took about 45 minutes for my onions after I turned down the heat to medium after 30 mins.
Set onions aside and prepare the grits crust:
Preheat oven to 350.
In a saucepan over medium high heat bring chicken stock to a boil. Slowly whisk in grits, salt and pepper. Pour in cream and butter, whisking to incorporate. Continue to whisk constantly until very thick, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of the shredded cheese, let stand for about 10 minutes. Now whisk in 1 egg. Spread grits mixture on the bottom of 9 x 13 in baking dish and bake at 350 for 20 –25 minutes or until browned. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over baked grits.
Reduce oven to 325.
In a large bowl, combine the half and half, cream, caramelized onions, and remaining 5 eggs, with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of ground pepper. Sprinkle country ham over baked grits, then pour egg/milk mixture over the top.
Bake at 325 for 1 hour and 20 mins or until lightly browned. Let stand for 20 minutes Slice and serve with biscuits of course.