Category Archives: Breakfast

herb-parmesan dutch baby recipe


Brunch on Sunday is my favorite meal of the week. Unless someone is craving dim sum, we rarely go out. Instead, I scour the fridge for anything edible and create a gleeful explosion of pots and pans in our own kitchen.

This morning, I was inspired by my Smitten Kitchen cookbook, which features a recipe for a gingerbread dutch baby. That was an adventure in itself. We’re not really sweet-breakfast people. Sometimes we eat pancakes, but mostly our brunches are eggs and bacon and toast. But I pulled out my cookbook, which hasn’t yet failed to impress us, and 25 minutes later my oven gave birth to a gingerbread dutch baby.

Gingerbread Dutch Baby

Gingerbread Dutch Baby

As promised, it was tasty. We loved the texture – a little crispy, a little custardy – and it was a perfect cross between a pancake and crepe. Not bad. But I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if I took that sweet little baby and made it savory. There are so many options because it’s spring. Just last night while walking my dog, I swiped a few branches of rosemary from a neighbor’s giant front-yard bush. Fresh herbs would be the perfect addition to the dutch baby. Parmesan would help it grow up a little.

So I riffed on the book recipe. I omitted the molasses, brown sugar, and spices. Instead, I used herbs and grated Parmesan cheese. And during the butter-melting stage, during which the pan and its sides are coated in the stuff, I sauteed a little minced shallot for flavor and texture. The pancake came out of the oven puffy, with high crispy edges.


Almost immediately, though, it sank into submission on the plate. I sprinkled it with a little bit of grated cheese and minced herb.


Then we dug in. It was everything that I’d dreamed of. That perfect crunchy-custardy texture was enhanced by little nuggets of crispy shallot. And the flavor was everything I’d hoped it would be: bright from the herbs, deep from the cheese. I will absolutely be making this again and I hope you give it a shot, too.


Herb-Parmesan Dutch Baby

(adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman)

2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup milk
40 grams flour
3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, etc) or 1 tablespoon dried herbs
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat your oven to 400.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the salt, pepper, Parmesan, milk, and flour. Whisk until well-combined, then stir in the herbs. (Alternatively, you can do this in a blender).

In a 9-inch sauté pan, melt the butter over high heat. While it’s melting, add the shallot. Be sure to brush the sides of the pan with melted butter. When the butter is fully liquid and the shallot is beginning to sizzle, add the batter.

Pop the whole thing in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve hot, garnished with fresh herb and a little more Parmesan. I thought the pancake was custardy enough that it didn’t need sauce, but you could also serve it with a little bit of whipped cream cheese or creme fraiche.

strawberry-olive oil muffins recipe

By the time I remembered to go strawberry picking in 2012, it was almost too late. We spent two hours scouring a picked-over field to collect a basket of microscopic berries. This year, I vowed, I would go early. We did, and it was so worth it.

Xavier picking berries

Xavier picking berries

There were so many ripe red strawberries in that field! You can see them in the photo. Our challenge this year wasn’t finding enough berries to fill a bucket. It was stopping! After we’d picked enough, we had to walk back through the rows towards the farm stand. It was literally impossible not to pause, lean over, and pluck a perfect ripe berry.


Strawberries in various stages

We managed to stop after each of us had filled much of a large bucket.


Buckets of strawberries

photo 4

Fifteen pounds of strawberries

We picked about fifteen pounds total, and that left me with a dilemma: what to do with three people and fifteen pounds of fruit?

Well, quite a few were eaten plain. The rest were rinsed, hulled, and put to good use.

cleaned strawberries

There was a strawberry tart (with chocolate ganache and creme patisserie). There was jam. And then there were muffins.

You may remember from my last post that 37 Cooks is doing a challenge with Sciabica Oil of the Olive this month: I wrote about the awesome hash browns that I made with their jalapeno oil. Well, flavored oils aren’t all that this company makes. They have some awesome seasonal varietals of “plain” olive oils – and I use quotations because their oil is anything but plain. Although their fall-harvest selections were intriguing and promised bold flavors, I chose their buttery spring variety because… well, it’s spring right now. Since strawberries are almost the official fruit of spring, and the oil is mild, I thought it would be perfect to bake with these two ingredients. And what’s better than muffins?

The olive oil really adds an incredible flavor to these, so I’d recommend using it if you can. I made a batch on Sunday. They were delicious and gone almost immediately – a rarity in my household, because we’re usually very slow to eat baked goods. I made another batch on Monday using canola oil in place of the olive. Big mistake. The difference in taste is obvious and disappointing.

Strawberry-Olive Oil Muffins

Strawberry-Olive Oil Muffins

Strawberry-Olive Oil Muffins

8 ounces flour
4 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 ounces Sciabica Mission Spring Harvest olive oil
2 large eggs
8 ounces milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries, chopped
Small handful coarse sugar (such as Turbinado), to taste (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In another bowl, whisk together the olive oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and whisk until just barely moistened. Stir in the strawberries. Dollop the batter into a greased muffin tin. If you’re using coarse sugar, sprinkle it on now. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

triple-pepper hash browns recipe

As I realize that I haven’t blogged here in over a month, I can’t help but wish there were more hours in a day. There just isn’t enough time to do all the things I want! I wake up, go to work, and get home between 5 and 6. If I try to sleep by midnight, that gives me six hours to do… well, everything. It’s just not enough. I’d like four hours to study for the GRE, three to cook something awesome and clean up afterwards, two for practicing guitar, two for a workout and shower, and maybe another few to spend hanging out with my boyfriend.

With everything going on right now, it’s really nice to be a member of 37 Cooks. In the midst of mayhem, I can schedule a little time to do what I love: cook, photograph, and eat. Right now, we’re doing an olive oil challenge. It’s sponsored by Sciabica’s. We’re crazy for flavored oils in my household, so it was tough to decide on jalapeno (they also had lemon! garlic! basil!) – but I’m glad I did. If you try this recipe, you’ll see why.

The jalapeno oil was a perfect addition to hash browns – my favorite! I wouldn’t use it in the pan during the actual cooking process. Olive oil has a low smoke point to begin with, and this particular oil has a very delicate flavor because it is cold-pressed. But as a finishing drizzle on top of crispy potatoes, it cannot be beaten. I usually enjoy my hash browns with an equivalent volume of ketchup. But with a sunny-side up egg lending its yolk to the plate, no additional condiment was needed.

Triple-Pepper Hash Browns

Triple-Pepper Hash Browns
2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil, such as canola
1 shallot, sliced
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
3 cups shredded potato (fresh or frozen will work)
Fresh-ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Sciabica Jalapeno Olive Oil

Heat a well-seasoned cast-iron pan, or a large nonstick one, over medium-high heat. When hot, add the neutral oil and shallot. Let it cook without stirring for a couple of minutes, until just beginning to brown, and then add the chopped pepper. Stir everything together and sprinkle with salt and pepper. After the peppers are beginning to soften, add the shredded potato and stir everything together again.

Now, leave the mixture alone and let it cook for a few minutes. You’re looking for the bottom to achieve a crispy crust. When it’s starting to brown, sprinkle a little more canola oil on the top side and use a large spatula to flip it over in as few pieces as possible. Let the other side brown. Remove from the heat and sprinkle liberally with jalapeno olive oil.

I would recommend serving this with a sunny-side-up egg on top. It’s even better when the yolk breaks over everything!

pancake bread pudding

pancake bread pudding

For whatever reason, over the years, I’ve never abided by the taboo about only eating eggs, bacon, or cereal for breakfast. I wake up starving, and if there’s curry in the fridge, I’d much rather grab that then make an omelet. During the week, I sleep until the last possible second and usually wind up eating last night’s leftovers for breakfast. It gives my coworkers great pleasure to tease me about our office smelling like stuffed peppers at 8:30am.

On the weekends, there’s time to eat and prepare a real breakfast – or brunch. But weekends are also when there’s time to polish off random leftovers that have accumulated in the fridge over the week. That’s when things can get creative. Thrifty chefs will often advise you to repurpose those tidbits into a frittata or hash. That can result in an unexpectedly delicious brunch, sweetened by the success of transforming leftovers into a wonderful, good-as-new meal.

But what happens when you don’t have meats and veggies to fold into your eggs? What should you do when your only leftovers are a giant Tupperware full of past-their-prime pancakes?

When faced with that challenge recently, I didn’t want to serve leftover pancakes. As delicious as they’d been on their day of birth, I knew that a trip down Reheat Lane would only dry them out. They’d be picked at, not eaten.

Then it hit me. When you have an old, stale loaf of bread, what’s the best way to deal with it? Bread pudding. Why couldn’t I do the same thing with these pancakes?

If you follow the recipe below, you will remove from your oven a delicious treat. Whoever finds it on their plate will eat happily. You can, however, jazz it up with just a little creativity. Check out my ideas below. Oh yeah, one last thing – use a shallow, wide baking dish if you’ve got one; you’ll love the contrast between the pudding’s crunchy top and creamy interior.

Recipe: Pancake Bread Pudding
6 cups leftover pancakes, torn into chunks
1 1/2 cups half and half (substitute milk if you don’t have it)
3 eggs
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325F. Butter the bottom and sides of a baking dish (I used an 8″ round one).

In a large bowl, beat half and half, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add pancake chunks and allow to soak in mixture for about ten minutes.

Pour pancake mix into baking dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until set and browned on top.

Spoon onto individual plates and serve with maple syrup.

Creative options:
– Make maple syrup whipped cream by mixing a few tablespoons of maple syrup with a cup of heavy cream. Beat until firm, and serve with the pudding.
– Fold a few tablespoons of maple syrup into creme fraiche and serve alongside.
– Add crumbled cooked bacon or sausage to the pancakes after the soaking time and before baking.
– Top pudding with crumbled bacon or sausage before baking.
– Bake in ramekins or individual serving dishes (just decrease the baking time by 10-20 minutes). Add a raw egg to the top about 5 minutes before finished. Bake until whites are set.
– Mix in chocolate chips, bananas, strawberries, blueberries: anything you like on your pancakes!
– Substitute or supplement smoky ancho chile powder for cinnamon and top with chocolate sauce for a Mexican chocolate-inspired breakfast.

Any more ideas? Please feel free to share.