Spice Up Your Morning
Want to enhance your day from the get go? Take the time to eat a breakfast that nourishes your health and indulges your senses. No more plain toast, unadorned oats or simple salt and peppered eggs. With spices you can turn standard morning fare into breakfast that gets everyone off on the right foot!
Talk about starting your day on the right foot— this dish is not only healthful, it’s cheering to look at and luscious, too! Use whatever fruit’s in season, and be sure to make extra to pack in lunch boxes.
Indulge yourself with something both sweet and healthful. These delicate, tasty pancakes make a great special-occasion breakfast or brunch dish.
Millet is a nutritious, versatile African grain. Its nutty flavor makes a delightful main-dish dinner grain, though here its sweet, light personality is also a perfect welcome to the day! Serve it with herbal tea or a roasted chicory beverage.
Easier to master than a perfectly turned omelet, a frittata is a hearty, Italian version of the classic egg dish. Substitute any cooked vegetables for the tomatoes and mushrooms.
Enliven Everyday Breakfasts
Make your standard morning fare special, just by adding a few key flavors. For example:
- Enliven your hot cereal (oatmeal, cream of wheat, other grains) with nuts, raisins and other dried or fresh fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and vanilla.
- Whether you scramble your eggs or delicately French-fold them, try a sprinkling of tarragon, basil, marjoram, oregano, dill, parsley, saffron, and/or rosemary, or — if you prefer a more robust breakfast — some curry, cilantro, cayenne, cumin, garlic and/or chives.
- Make muffins, sweet rolls, or quick breads over the weekend for a healthful breakfast on-the-go all week. But don’t settle for plain oat or corn breads. It takes just a minute more to make apple oat with walnuts and ginger; blueberry with lemon and cardamom; banana with dates, nutmeg and cinnamon; corn with cheese and cumin. Likewise with coffee cakes, scones, or biscotti (try almond with orange peel and ginger, or chocolate or carob chip with cinnamon and vanilla).
- French toast looks as if it’s time consuming, but it’s actually pretty quick to prepare and quicker to make special. An added drop or two of vanilla or almond extract and some cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, mace, allspice, cardamom, orange peel or lemon peel will greatly enhance the flavor. These same spices do a great job boosting your batter when you’re whipping up a batch of homemade or box-mix pancakes or waffles, too.
Ask the Experts
I know cream of tartar is a common cooking ingredient, but what, exactly, is it?
Cream of tartar is a fine white acidic powder. It’s refined from the tartar (argol) that forms on casks during the fermentation of grape juice into wine. The chemical name for cream of tartar is potassium hydrogen tartrate (KC4H5O6.) Most often cream of tartar is used to stabilize and give more volume to beaten egg whites. (Add 1/8 teaspoon per egg white before you begin beating). You’ll often find it in recipes for meringues, angel food cakes, or other dishes that call for beaten egg whites. It’s also often combined with baking soda to make double-acting baking powder, used for baking. (One teaspoon baking powder equals 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar.)
How do I reconstitute dried vegetables? Is it always necessary?
Reconstituting (or rehydrating) dried vegetables is very easy. Simply soak them in enough water to cover until they’re plump and soft. How long? That depends on the particular vegetable or fruit. Some vegetables require overnight soaking (best done in the refrigerator), while most fruits will take no longer than two hours. Mushrooms and tomatoes, though, take only 20 to 30 minutes if you soak them in hot water. Some cooks believe that longer soaking of mushrooms (2 hours in cold water) yields a more flavorful result. Save the liquid you drain off for use in stocks, stews, and for cooking grains.
Reconstitute dried fruits or vegetables before adding them to your stir-fry, omelet or casserole. Otherwise they’ll stay a bit dry and chewy, and they’ll absorb liquid from your recipe when they reconstitute. If your dish has plenty of liquid—you’re making soup or stew, for example—then you can add the dried vegetables directly to the pot and let them reconstitute while the dish simmers. This method almost always works for smaller pieces of dried ingredients, like onion or garlic flakes. Keep in mind that most dried vegetables will double in volume once they’re reconstituted; dried fruits will yield about half again as much as you started with.