Blueberry Pancakes, SummerStyle

JESSIE and I’ve been planning a brunch getaway for a while, and somehow have been continually forced to postpone the adventure.  Either I’m not in town, or she has play rehearsal; one of the dogs she’s dogsitting gets sick, or I’m double booked.  Sigh.  Anyways, we finally made a plan for today and, in honor of Jessie making it all the way out to Philly and devoting a whole morning to brunch and me, I made the executive decision to pick up blueberries at one of yesterday’s farmers’ markets.

We wanted a quick, satisfying, fruity recipe that would both fill us and give us leave to reminisce and invent.  Pancakes, that great childhood equalizer, seemed the prime choice.  I like my pancakes fluffy, D likes hers soaked in maple syrup, and Jessie enjoys hers pungent with the aromas of fresh berries.  The obvious choice was blueberry pancakes, with a summer fluffiness.  And the best option for that, of course, is beaten egg whites.

And so, without further ado, here it is: our summer-style pancakes, fresh from the farmstand and soaked in thick, ropy maple syrup.  Divine!

Blueberry Pancakes, Summer Style

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 cup blueberries

In a small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff; set aside.  In another bowl, beat egg yolks, then mix in milk and butter.

In  medium-sized bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.  Add in the egg mixture; mix until smooth.  (Whisks are particularly useful in taking care of the odd lump or two.)  Stir in blueberries.  Fold in egg whites.

Bake on a hot greased griddle.  Serve with maple syrup, warm laughter, and bright slabs of sunlight.



Baked Blueberry French Toast

I DON’T know if you can call something a tradition after only 2 years, but I’m going to go out on a limb: it’s now a tradition for my friend Marissa to come into Philly on New Year’s Eve and ring in the new year with me.  We top it off by going to the Mummers Parade on January 1st, and it’s also tradition to have freezing toes and to retire before the string bands.

This year, we kicked off our celebration with dinner at Sahara Grill, both because of the meze option but also because we both hold the Lebanese in high regard.  (The cheekbones!  AUB!  Our high school chemistry lab assistant!)  I’m a big fan of the labneh, and you really can’t go wrong with the sampler platter.  And the sandwiches, too, are worth it (I recommend either the lamb or the shish taouk); I’m definitely adding Sahara Grill to the take-out listing in my mental rolodex.

Afterwards, we joined up with friends and headed out to Brie’s South Philly party, whichoffered champagne as we watched the countdown at Times Square, drinking games, and even e-fortunes.  (Sure, the fortunes were a little snarky, but that just encourages us to do better this year than last.  Right?)  As we staggered home, we congratulated each other on ringing in a new year in such a classy fashion.

So this morning, then, not wanting to lose the momentum of last night, I baked the french toast I had prepared yesterday afternoon.  We figured a good meal to start us on our way was exactly what we needed, because if we learned one thing from last year’s Mummers Parade, it’s that we need stamina.  Though the french toast was amazing, we still somehow failed on the stamina thing (could it have been the hangover?  the cold temperatures?  sheer sloth?).  Regardless, we took ourselves off the stands right before the string bands started their performances, giving up prime real estate to go curl up on my couch and watch the live coverage.

I maintain, though, that the french toast served to motivate us and get us out the door.  Armed with hand warmers and hats, we clapped and stamped our feet; Marissa snagged one of the free Turkey Hill Duetto samples, and we cheered for several floats and brigades.  Ultimately, though, we ended up on the couch, wrapped in blankets and snoozing through commercials.

And there you have it.  A new year, a new french toast recipe, and a new appreciation for Mummers.

Happy 2009!

Baked Blueberry French Toast

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 eggs
  • 10 slices bread, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 3 oz package cream cheese, diced (whipped cream cheese works just as well)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Grease a casserole dish (a 13×9″ is recommended, but I used a large Corningware one).  In a large bowl, beat eggs, flour, milk, 2 tbsp sugar, and vanilla until smooth.  Stir in bread cubes until well coated, then pour into prepared dish.

Top evenly with the creame cheese cubes and blueberries.  In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and  tbsp sugar.  Toss to mix.  Sprinkle over the blueberries and cream cheese.  Cover the dish tightly and refrigerate up to 24 hours.

To bake: preheat oven to 400F.  Uncover the casserole and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.  Enjoy with a fruit salad or side of breakfast sausage!


Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

I FEEL hugely accomplished. Mostly because I convinced a friend who never comes into Philadelphia to not only come into Philly, but also to eat here and to make muffins with me. And I also feel accomplished because we did indeed make the muffins, and I was able to have them as dessert last night and as breakfast today. Multi-function muffins! My favorite.

The muffin saga was nearly a farce. We decided what kind of muffins we wanted to make at Sansom Kabob, an Afghani place where we caught dinner, discussed being young college alums, and wondered at the state of a world that is re-imagining the Ninja Turtles as “more muscle, less attitude.” I remembered that I needed milk and butter, so we headed to the nearest Rite Aid to pick that up (Jeff insisted on whole milk for baking), and then it was time to make muffins! Et voilá–we got up to my kitchen and discovered that a) this particular recipe doesn’t call for milk, b) I already had butter, and c) I only had one egg.

Luckily, we only needed one egg. But we’d been considering making double the fun, and the single egg posed a problem. So we made do with what is becoming my joke of a muffin tray–it makes giant muffins, but oh! Too few of them.

After our shopping venture, I am now well-stocked with milk. However, I am eggless and my fridge is positively swimming in butter. Butter is my curse. I seem to always think I’m out of it and buy more, and it isn’t till I’m at home that I discover that, all along, I’ve been blessed with four untouched sticks. It’d be gross if it wasn’t so funny.

But I digress. The importance of last night being muffin night was that So You Think You Can Dance was having its first round of choreographed dances! The Top 20 were introduced en masse, and the show was on. Cat Deeley gets my vote every week, though I missed Nigel’s feathery Farrah Fawcett hair. Now that’s a do worthy of the hot tamale train.


Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

  • 1 1/4 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup white sugar (if you like your muffins über-sweet, add more sugar)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup blueberries, rinsed and dried

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease or line your muffin tray.

Combine oats, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix in milk, egg, vegetable oil. Mix until dry ingredients are moistened, then fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake at 425 F for 20 to 25 minutes. Enjoy alone, or with butter!


PS: Thanks to our guest photographer!


Simple, Succulent Scones

BLUEBERRIES are, to me, the West’s most exotic fruit. After a childhood filled with papayas, jackfruit, starfruit and durian but not blueberries, I refuse to believe that they are anything short of miraculous. While others may wax poetic over the properties of lychees, mangoes, persimmons and kumquats, I find myself in absolute raptures over the prospect of blueberries.

I’ve had a small container of blueberries sitting in my new fridge now for about a week. I bought them, not because I had specific plans for the little buggers, but because I like the implicit promise that they carry. Simply knowing they were waiting in the fridge meant that one day they would be used–that I would pluck them out of the fresh produce drawer and batter them up and serve them as dessert, or breakfast, or both. Tempting and chipper, they reminded me of the possibilities of my newly-minted oven, just aching to be put to the test.


Last night, trolling through a growing archive of music and movie blogs, I stumbled across a review of the new Wong Kar Wai film, My Blueberry Nights. Sure, the film is notable for its director and its stars (who include Norah Jones, Jude Law, and smaller roles by Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz, and Cat Power). But it also has “blueberry” in the title, and I have to confess–galling as it is–that that’s what really caught my attention.

So when Emily and I started planning breakfast this morning (we needed a filling meal before heading out to Manayunk for the afternoon), all I could think of was that little plastic basket of blueberries sitting in the fridge, whispering sweet nothings to my appetite. We needed a meal to set us on the right path as we considered Emily’s potential move to the Philadelphia area (yay!), contingent on her finding a neighborhood she likes and a reasonably-priced apartment. (Hence, the daytrip to Manayunk.)


At Emily’s suggestion, we decided to make scones. Blueberry yoghurt scones. Trolling through the google archives, we found a fabulous recipe that called strictly for organic vanilla yoghurt and seemed pretty fool-proof. Armed with a grocery list (which included, among other things, more blueberries), we set out to build our dream breakfast.

What began as a simple trip to the grocery store for milk and eggs turned into an epic quest for parchment paper. Trying to find alternates for the paper, Emily called her chef uncle, only to spend a good 20 minutes learning more than she ever wanted to know about scabies before finally finding out that wax paper is not, in fact, an acceptable substitute. Aluminum foil can be used, but be wary: the foil heats up very quickly in the oven, and the bottoms of your scones will therefore be burnt. Parchment paper is the best option, if you can find it. (Hint: Rite Aid and CVS don’t carry it.)

We finally gave up and returned to the grocery store we had just left, and bought a single roll of parchment paper. My hope is that I will be making many more of these scones (and possibly even cookies!), and so will make good use of that elusive paper!

Blueberry Yoghurt Scones

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter, diced
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup organic vanilla yoghurt
  • handful blueberries

Scones!Preheat oven to 400F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Mix flour, sugar and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add in the diced butter and blend with a fork until there are no lumps of butter. Add in the yoghurt, vanilla extract and milk; mix until the batter begins to ball up. Stop when the dough begins to form a ball! (If you keep mixing, the scones won’t rise as much.) Fold in the berries.

Divide the dough into 8 balls. Brush with milk and sprinkle lightly with brown sugar; place on the baking sheet. Bake for about 15-17 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve with butter, honey, or fruit preserve. (I ate mine with both raspberry preserve and fig preserve…Either is delicious, though the scones are also marvelous alone!)

The great thing about this recipe is that it is incredibly simple, and you can substitute a variety of fruits for the blueberries. Strawberries, cranberries, orange zest, apricots… Take a free hand with it and see what you can come up with. I’ll look forward to hearing about your creations!