Month: October 2012

Pumpkin Pancakes

I’m declaring today the Pumpkin Trifecta.That’s right: one day, three amazing recipes. Pumpkin is my favorite thing about fall, and I’m always looking for new ways to incorporate it into my diet.

Let’s start with breakfast: pumpkin pancakes. Simple, quick, and great with eggs, bacon, sausage, or just on their own. Pancakes also keep well, so one batch sets me up for several breakfasts for the week.

I’ve played around with several different recipes and settled on this amalgamation. It has a fair amount of pumpkin, and it’s not too sweet so the spices shine through. Serve it with a touch of real maple syrup, or a little butter and cinnamon.

P.S. No, I didn’t eat all of this. It’s not that I didn’t want to… but I had two more pumpkin recipes to tackle. :)

Pumpkin Pancakes

Adapted from several sources

Yield: about 15 pancakes

1 1/4 c flour

1/4 c brown sugar

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp salt

1 c whole milk

3/4 c canned pumpkin

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  In a medium bowl, whisk milk, pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla to blend well.  Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients; whisk just until smooth (batter will be thick).

Heat a pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Brush surface with butter or oil, or use cooking spray. Pour batter in 1/4-cup portions onto hot surface. Cook until bubbles form on surface of pancakes and bottoms are brown, about 1 minute per side.  Flip over and cook for another 30 seconds or until they are cooked and nicely browned.  Repeat with the remaining batter.


French Silk Pie

This semester, I’m teaching a course on campaigns & elections for college students interning in DC for the semester. Less than halfway through the semester, I have a new-found respect for teachers and professors — this takes a *lot* more time than I realized. But, it’s been a rewarding experience so far.

Of my eight students, two had birthdays early in the semester. For the first one, a classmate brought in cupcakes, so I offered to bring in dessert for the second. When I asked what he wanted, he requested pie. What kind?

“Surprise me.”

Challenge accepted! I pulled out this favorite from my files — it’s hard to go wrong with chocolate. :)

Some people prefer a traditional pie crust, but I like graham for this. I don’t own a food processor right now, so I just picked up a pre-made crust. The disposable pan also meant I didn’t have to worry about tracking down my pan later. Win-win.

French Silk Pie

Adapted from Gourmet

2/3 c sugar

1/4 c cornstarch

1/2 tsp salt

4 large egg yolks

3 c whole milk

5 oz high-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

2 Tbs unsalted butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla

Prepared 9″ graham cracker pie crust

3/4 c heavy cream, chilled

1 Tbs sugar

Cocoa, for dusting

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolks until combined. Add milk in a stream, whisking. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, continuing to whisk, for 1 minute  (filling will be thick). Force filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then whisk in chocolates, butter, and vanilla, stirring until the chocolate and butter have melted.

Coat a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap with butter or cooking spray; press onto the surface of the filling. Cool the filling completely, about 2 hours. Spoon filling into prepared pie crust. Chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours. Make ahead: Pie can be chilled (without topping) up to 1 day.

Just before serving, beat cream and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Spoon on top of pie. Dust with cocoa. Serve chilled.

Ranchero Breakfast Tostadas


That’s the best word I can think of when the fine folks at Bon Appetit asked its readers which recipe it should reveal from Sara Forte’s new cookbook, The Sprouted Kitchen.

Regular readers of Bon Appetit’s blog know the magazine regularly promotes new cookbooks through this hybrid recipe reveal-cookbook giveaway model. I’ve bought more than one cookbook because of this blog feature, and once I even won the giveaway contest myself (thanks, BA!)

At any rate, when I saw the picture of her ranchero breakfast tacos, I was in instant lust. Hearty black beans, velvety avocado, and a golden, runny egg yolk, all  presumably with a Mexican flavor kick… where do I sign up for this kind of breakfast on a daily basis?

Less than two weeks after BA’s post, I happened to come across the cookbook while shopping during a girls’ weekend in Nashville. It took persuading for me to pick up a copy.

My first field experiment, of course, was the ranchero breakfast tostadas. They lived up to the hype, and then some.

Sara Forte’s lovely new cookbook, The Sprouted Kitchen

By making the bean mash and shredding the cheese the day before, I had breakfast on the table in under 30 minutes. At first glance, that’s more time than I typically like to spend on breakfast during the week — yes, I’m that girl who rolls out of bed at the last possible moment every day — but half that time is the oven heating, and actual cooking takes less than 15 minutes. That’s absolutely doable and worth the investment.

(Note: don’t try to cut corners and skip browning the tortillas, or throwing them in the oven before it’s finished preheating. You want the tortillas to get nice and crisp so that they’ll crack easily when you slice your fork through them. Trust me: it will taste better and be easier to eat this way.)

Best of all, it’s a healthy and satisfying breakfast. A serving is two tostadas, and I couldn’t clean my plate. It offers enough fiber and protein to ward off the mid-morning munchies (I actually didn’t eat again until lunch 5 hours later!), as well as good fat from the avocados. If you prefer your eggs scrambled or poached, go for it, and adjust the spices to suit your taste.

Is this what love tastes like? At 7am, I think so.

Eggs, beans, avocado and cheese make for a hearty breakfast

October 18 Update: I’m officially in love. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve eaten this in the last 2 1/2 weeks… if I could fry an egg at the office I think I might eat this three meals a day when I can get access to good avocados. It’s that good.

Ranchero Breakfast Tostadas

Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods, by Sara Forte (Ten Speed Press, 2012)

For every 2 servings:
1 cup cooked black beans, drained (canned or from scratch)
2 Tablespoons tepid water
2-4 Tablespoons sour cream or Greek yogurt
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, to taste
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Optional: 2 slices cooked bacon, chopped
4 small corn tortillas
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
1 avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Hot sauce and lime wedges for serving (optional)

Place beans in a  small saucepan over low heat. Warm through. Add water and 2 Tablespoons yogurt or sour cream, onions, cumin, salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher or a large fork until coarsely mashed but not entirely smooth. Stir in bacon, if desired. Taste for salt and pepper, and add the remaining sour cream if you’d like the beans to be creamier. Turn off the heat and keep covered until needed. Make ahead: black bean mash can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. When reheating, add a small amount of water.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the tops of the tortillas with a bit of olive oil and lay on a rimmed baking sheet (it’s fine for them to overlap). Bake until just lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Heat a large frying pan with the butter or oil over medium heat. Working in batches as necessary, gently break the eggs in the pan and cook sunny-side up or to your desired doneness, covering the pan if you like your yolks more cooked through.

Build each tostada: top a tortilla with about 1/4 cup of bean bash, 1 egg, 1-2 Tablespoons cheese, 1/4 of an avocado, and a sprinkle of cilantro. Serve with hot sauce and a wedge of lime.