A Lesson in the Art of Making Breakfast

Nothing takes the chill off a cold morning like hot foods for breakfast. Looking for some historical tidbits to accompany today's breakfast recipes, I pulled up the Internet browser and found myself engrossed in a fascinating Web site - www.mrbreakfast.com.

Mr. Breakfast claims to be the No. 1 expert on breakfast. His alter ego, Eddy Chavey, is a freelance author, speaker and graduate of the Los Angeles New School of Cooking. He's currently at work on a new cookbook, "The Big Book of Breakfast."

I was quickly side-tracked by a list of articles. Mr. Breakfast suggests "94 Ways to Eat Toast." I liked No. 50: "topped with Marscapone cheese, covered with fresh raspberries and drizzled with honey."

Hot porridge has been a diet staple for thousands of years. According to Mr. Breakfast, cold breakfast cereal debuted in America in 1863. A sanitarium administrator, Dr. James Caleb Jackson, developed bran nuggets for his patients in Dansville, N.Y. He called the nuggets, which were so tough they had to be soaked overnight, granula.

Years later in Battle Creek, Mich., another spa/sanitarium operator, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, invented a wheat and corn meal biscuit. Dr. Jackson sued Dr. Kellogg for infringing on the name

"granula." Dr. Kellogg changed his version to "granola."

Dr. Kellogg's brother, Will, worked as a bookkeeper at the spa. The two men experimented with grains, concocting cracker bread from wheat berries. One evening the wheat was left out overnight. In the morning, the brothers ran it through the roller machine to see if it was still usable. It cracked into flakes - one for each wheat berry. They tried the wheat flakes out on their spa guests who liked it so well that they ordered packages to be sent to them after they returned home.

The wheat cereal was called Granose. Two years later, Will created Corn Flakes. In 1906, Will bought out his brother's portion of the cereal patents and became the founder of the Kellogg cereal empire.

Dr. Kellogg's cereal innovations were noticed by Charles Post when he came to the Battle Creek sanitarium to recover from a nervous breakdown. Post was also interested in coffee substitutes. He developed Postum, a chicory-based morning drink. Later he, too, developed breakfast cereals. His version of Dr. Jackson's bran-based granula was so well liked that it's still in grocery stores today. We know it as Grapenuts. His brand of cornflakes was first called Elijah's Mannah. With a name change to Post Toasties, the cornflakes sold well, too.

While cold cereals are convenient and some brands have excellent nutritional value, nothing quite hits the spot on a cold morning like a steaming bowl of hot cereal. If you're already an aficionado of oatmeal, you may not feel a need to pep it up beyond a sprinkle of raisins or brown sugar.

When I was a little girl, the texture of oatmeal made me gag. I'd almost rather starve than eat a bowl of oatmeal - until now. One of my favorite recipe creators, Dana Jacobi, has found a way to retain the hearty flavor of oatmeal, while removing what I'd call "the slime factor." The secret ingredient is a puree of pears. You must try it, especially if you don't like oatmeal. It's a great way to start the day.

Along with the smell of fresh coffee, the yeasty aroma of something special baking in the oven will perk up the spirits on a gray morning. No professional baker ever uses the dry yeast that confronts home bakers at the grocery store. Dry yeast is preferred by the grocer because it travels well and has a longer shelf life than its counterpart, cake yeast. Dry yeast is far more volatile than cake yeast; it's much stronger. The unpleasant smell and taste of dry yeast lingers in the finished flavor of baked goods. Seek out cake yeast if you're going to take the time to bake from scratch.

If you'd like to save time, Bridgford products make baking so easy. I'm including two of their newest recipes. One of them is referred to as empanadas. We used to call them turnovers. Whatever you want to call them, they'll send a tempting smell throughout the house to the sleepyheads in their beds, who'll soon be popping into the kitchen to ask, "Hey, what's for breakfast?"

Cinnamon pear oatmeal

1 cup quick cooking oats (not instant)

1 cup pear nectar

1 Bartlett pear, peeled and grated

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

3 tablespoons golden raisins

1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt

1. In a dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast the oats, stirring frequently, until fragrant and slightly colored, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the oats into a bowl to avoid their burning.

2. In a deep medium saucepan, combine pear nectar with 3/4 cups water. Over medium heat, cook slowly until bubbles appear around the edges. Do not let liquid boil. Immediately stir in oats. Add pear, cinnamon and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the oats are tender, about 15 minutes. Mix in the raisins.

3. Divide the oatmeal among four bowls. Stir the yogurt until creamy, then add a dollop to the top of the oatmeal. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Orange caramel overnight sticky buns

1 package Bridgford Frozen Rolls

(Parkerhouse or Ranch)

1 cup caramel sundae syrup

Zest of two oranges

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, melted

1. Lightly grease a 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan. In a small saucepan heat caramel syrup and add zest of one orange. Stir and remove from heat. Pour orange/caramel sauce in prepared pan. Sprinkle almonds over sauce; set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine the granulated sugar with the cinnamon and zest of second orange. Dip each frozen roll in melted butter and roll in orange sugar mixture. Place coated rolls on top of syrup in pan. Make sure the rolls are evenly spaced.

3. Cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap and allow to thaw at room temperature until soft (30 to 40 minutes). Place in refrigerator overnight. In the morning, remove rolls from refrigerator and let rise for 15 to 20 minutes. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Pemove from oven and let sit 1 minute. Place a large platter or large sheet of foil on a heat-safe surface. Turn rolls over and out of pan. Enjoy. Yields 12 servings

Whole-wheat raisin sciscuits

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut in pieces

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon, divided

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3/4 cup whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine both flours, baking powder and salt. Work in butter, starting with a fork, then using your fingers in a quick pinching/rubbing motion. Mix in raisins and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Add egg and milk, mixing with a fork until a soft dough forms.

3. Turn dough out onto a work surface. Knead it briefly to work in loose bits of flour. Pat out dough until it is 1/2 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out rounds. (Gather up excess dough with your hands and pat out again if you want to maximize the quantity.) With a metal spatula, transfer rounds to the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle tops with remaining sugar.

4. Bake 20 minutes, or until sciscuits are lightly colored. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Serve these scones warm or at room temperature. If desired, reheat split scones, individually wrapped in foil, in a 350 degree oven until hot. Makes 12-15 sciscuits, depending on the size of the biscuit cutter.

Apple empanadas

1 package Bridgford Frozen Rolls

(Parkerhouse or Ranch)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 (20 ounce) can prepares apple and

cinnamon pie filling

1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 to 1 cup caramel sundae topping, melted

Remove rolls from bag and let thaw. Combine sugar with cinnamon; set aside. Lightly grease 2 large sheet pans. On a lightly floured surface, roll each thawed piece of dough into a 2-3 inch circle. Place 1-2 teaspoons of apple filling in the center of each circle. Fold dough over and seal ends. Brush topside of empanada with butter. Dip buttered side in cinnamon sugar. Place the empanadas sugar-side up on prepared pans. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter and let cool on wire rack. Drizzle with heated caramel topping.

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