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Breakfast in Bed – Lemon Cake

Lemon Cake 2

Post by Alison Hein.

If I close my eyes, I can smell tangy citrus mingling with the aroma of warm butterscotch. A feathery light, golden yellow cake appears in my mind, glistening with a sweet drizzly glaze, sparkling with lemon zest – my mother’s unique and lovely Lemon Bundt Cake.

My mother, Evelyn, cooked with the hands of her mother before her, and her mother’s mother before that. Flavors, methods, timing so ingrained, memories and tradition moving seamlessly from generation to generation. No written recipes required.

Lemon Cake 1

So, while I like to imagine I am the kind of baker who can exactly replicate flavors from memory, my cake is a second runner up to Mom’s. Nevertheless, this cake is permeated with pure, fresh lemon juice and intriguing bits of tangy rind. Nothing more than a dusting of powdered sugar is needed to finish this moist, golden bundt. If you like, a sweet confectionary glaze with just-squeezed lemon juice is also lovely sometimes.

To make the glaze, pour some powdered sugar into a bowl (start with ½ cup and make more as needed) and add just enough lemon juice to make a thick but pourable substance. Pour the liquid on top of the cake, and allow it to drizzle down the sides a little without touching the plate. When set (wait at least 30 minutes), the sweet, drippy patterns are nearly irresistible and add a touch of elegance to this simple cake.

In the morning, delicately toast a slice or two and serve them with hot tea or coffee for a memorable breakfast in bed.

Lemon Cake 5

Ingredients

½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
Juice and grated rind on one lemon
1½ teaspoons lemon oil or lemon flavoring
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Lemon Cake 7

Preparation

In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in lemon juice, rind and oil. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to batter, alternating with milk, stirring gently after each addition until batter is thick and creamy. Pour batter into greased tube pan. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in pan before inverting. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, or cover with lemon glaze.

Lemon Cake 12

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Breakfast in Bed –Artichoke Eggs

Artichoke Eggs

Post by Alison Hein.

Artichokes, whose dusty green sharp-leaved plants protect their tender succulent centers, are actually a species of thistle. They are native to the Mediterranean area, and have been cultivated as food since at least the ancient Greek and Roman periods. Somehow, they made their way through Spain into France, then to the US in the 19th century – to California by Spanish immigrants and to Louisiana by the French.

If you’ve every painstakingly worked your way through dozens and dozens of spiky outer leaves to reveal the thistly choke-protected base of an artichoke, then diligently scraped away the tiny, splintery bracts to reach the exquisite, savory heart, and nibbled your way through that delicious, delicate orb, you’ll know why these thistles are beloved the world over.

Artichoke Eggs

These days, artichoke rounds can be purchased already cleaned and stacked neatly in cans making it simple to indulge in this delicacy on a daily basis. Artichokes are rich in antioxidants and low in calories. Gently warmed, topped with a poached egg and a sprinkling of buttered bread crumbs, Artichoke eggs make a tender, succulent breakfast in bed.

Ingredients

2 artichoke bottoms
2 eggs
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

Artichoke Eggs

Preparation

Heat artichoke bottoms in a slow oven and keep warm while preparing eggs and breadcrumbs.

Melt butter in heavy saucepan and continue to cook until browned. Add breadcrumbs and continue to cook until crispy, another minute or two. Set aside.

Artichoke Eggs

Eggs should be as fresh as possible for perfect poaching. To poach eggs, fill a heavy saucepan with enough water to cover eggs (3 to 4 inches) and heat until very hot and simmering, but not boiling. Break eggs into individual small dishes. Or you can use an egg poacher. Carefully pour the first egg into the simmering water. Immediately use a wooden spoon to wrap the cooking white around the egg yolk to prevent the white from feathering. Repeat the process with the second egg, and cook for about four minutes, until the white is firm but the yolk is still soft. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain. Trim edges if necessary.

Place each egg on top of an artichoke bottom. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with buttered breadcrumbs and serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings.

Artichoke Eggs

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Breakfast in Bed –Mrs. O’Callaghan’s Irish Scones

Mrs. O'Callaghan's Irish Scones 11

Post by Alison Hein.

My mother-in-law, Jeannie, obtained this traditional Irish scone recipe from Mrs. O’Callaghan herself in 1961. Jeannie began baking Mrs. O’Callaghan’s delicious scones as a young newlywed, and has continued to do so for the past 50 years! My husband and his siblings still clamor for them whenever they visit their mother.

Who was Mrs. O’Callaghan? She was my mother-in-law’s sister-in-law’s mother-in-law. Funny, I know, but true. Jeannie has modified Mrs. O’Callaghan’s recipe slightly over the years – she adds 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds instead of the original teaspoon, bakes the scones in round cake pans instead of an old-fashioned cast iron frying pan, and skips the buttermilk brushed on top after baking.

Mrs. O'Callaghan's Irish Scones 2

I decided to keep Jeannie’s extra caraway seeds, use Mrs. O’Callaghan’s frying pan, and add my own twist of golden raisins. Even with variations, this is a remarkably easy and wonderful recipe. It takes only minutes to mix up the butterless batter, and the long baking time is made easier by the heavenly, wafting aroma that emanates from the kitchen. The scones rise high in the oven, and finish with a consistency light and even, and a flavor balanced by sweet raisins and savory caraway.

While I never had the good fortune to meet Mrs. O’Callaghan, I recently came to know some of her grandchildren. They too have slightly modified their Nan’s recipe over the years, but all still continue to bake, infusing their homes with delightful aromas and making wonderful memories for the next generation. A breakfast in bed to remember.

Mrs. O'Callaghan's Irish Scones 3

Ingredients

3 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups buttermilk
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup raisins (or golden raisins)
1 tablespoon caraway seeds

Mrs. O'Callaghan's Irish Scones 5

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°. In large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir baking soda into buttermilk. Pour buttermilk mixture and lightly beaten egg into dry ingredients and mix just to combine. Batter should be thick but spreadable. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds.

Grease and flour a 10-inch cast iron frying pan. Spread batter evenly in pan. Place in oven and bake until scones are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in top comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. Alternatively, grease and flour two round 8-inch cake pans. Divide batter evenly between the two pans and reduce baking time to about 45 minutes.

Remove scone from pan and brush top with a little buttermilk, if you like. Wrap immediately in a tea towel so scones remain warm and soft. When ready to serve, cut scone in wedges. Serve warm with good Irish butter.

Makes 12 to 14 scones.

Mrs. O'Callaghan's Irish Scones 8

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Breakfast in Bed – New Year’s Day Hearts

New Years Hearts 8

Post by Alison Hein.

Through a perfectly advantageous alignment of the stars (or perhaps the contents of my pantry), and the great generosity of my sweet niece Rebecca, I’ve come up with a New Year’s Day breakfast to start the year off right.

New Years Hearts 1

Rebecca presented me with a rustic slate board / serving tray that she knew I would enjoy using and photographing for the blog. Right you are, Rebecca – look how cute it looks with a mélange of makings artfully arranged upon its smooth surface! Playing a little game of mix and match, I ended with a grouping of powerful yet balanced flavors – sweet, salted Black Forest ham; pungent, creamy chèvre;
and foresty, aromatic rosemary.

Use a heart-shaped ring for cooking if you have one. Make this dish for a loved one. Start the new year off with a great and generous breakfast in bed.

I wish you a very Happy New Year in which the stars are perfectly aligned!

New Years Hearts 3

Equipment

Heart-shaped egg rings

Goat Cheese Rosemary Hearts

2 slices of bread suitable for toasting, such as brioche or Texas toast
2 thin slices Black Forest ham
1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) goat cheese
½ to 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

Use the heart-shaped egg ring to cut out two hearts from the bread and ham slices. Set aside while cooking eggs.

Heat a heavy frying pan over low heat. Add butter, continuing to heat until butter is melted. Crack eggs into a small bowl and whisk until thick and yellow. Add goat cheese, mixing together with a fork. The mixture does not need to be perfectly smooth as cheese will melt during cooking. Stir in chopped rosemary and season with salt and pepper.

New Years Hearts 4

Place two heart-shaped rings in the frying pan, then carefully pour half of the egg mixture into each ring. Cover, and continue to cook over low heat until eggs are set and lightly crisped on the bottom, about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can cook the eggs in the oven at 350° for about the same amount of time.

While eggs are cooking, toast bread. Place toasted hearts on a warmed plate, then top each with a slice of ham and one egg heart. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings.

NOTE: You can find heart-shaped egg rings in local kitchen specialty stores, or on many popular websites, such as Amazon.com. You can also make this recipe without the rings, cooking the eggs in two smaller pans and placing on top of regular toast.

New Years Hearts 9

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Breakfast in Bed: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 10

Post by Alison Hein.

Remember those Lemon Ricotta Pancakes I was talking about recently? A friendly stranger told me about the most divine lemon ricotta pancakes she had enjoyed at the Stoneacre Pantry in Newport, Rhode Island, and I used that info as inspiration to make Lemon Ricotta Egg Cups . This past week, I decided to give the pancakes a shot. At issue? I hadn’t exactly seen or tasted these illustrious flapjacks. No matter. I just made something up. :-)

There is something about the combination of tart and tangy citrus with fresh, creamy ricotta that is almost impossible to get wrong (that was my hope at any rate). I decided to make my batter a little sweeter than usual, to offset the sharp lemon flavor. And, because the ricotta tends to make the batter a little thinner than regular pancakes, so that it spreads, crêpe-like, in the pan, I cooked them a bit longer at a slightly lower flame height. Since these were special hotcakes, I made a simple syrup, substituting lemon juice for water. Just a touch goes a long way due to the intense, concentrated citrus flavor of the syrup. (Use any extra to sweeten and lemonize hot or iced tea in one fell swoop!)

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 6

The result? Aerated, fluffy hotcakes infused with a little zing for a zesty breakfast in bed. Someday I’ll have to go to Stoneacre Pantry for a tasting and to see if I’ve come anywhere close to the original. ;-)

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 

1 lemon
2 cups flour
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups milk
2 eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese
4 tablespoons (one half stick) butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus additional for cooking

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 1

Preparation

Zest and juice the lemon. Set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Gradually whisk in milk, then the eggs one at a time, then the lemon juice and zest, mixing well after each addition. Gently stir in ricotta cheese. Slowly add melted butter to batter. The batter should be thick, smooth and creamy.

Place a pan or griddle on the stove over medium heat. Melt a small amount of butter in the pan for the first pancake and reduce heat to medium low. Ladle batter into pan and cook until small bubbles appear throughout pancake, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip once with spatula and continue cooking until golden brown, another minute or two. Adjust heat and add butter as needed while cooking. Serve hot with lemon syrup.

Makes 8 to 10 4-inch pancakes.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 7

Lemon Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice

Preparation

Pour sugar into a small heavy saucepan. Add lemon juice and mix well. Place over medium-high to high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until syrup is thickened. Set aside to cool.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 12

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