Purple Pancakes! Or Johnny Cakes, If You Prefer

We’re kinda, sorta’ gluten minimalists around my house these days. It just seems like wheat (or the kind of wheat we all mostly eat) is getting a much-deserved hard look, and the picture isn’t pretty.

Cutting out wheat (mainly) also happens to rid us of some, though not all, of the empty, low-value calories in our diet, so that works nicely. In addition to ordering some Einkorn wheat flour (which is a varietal of wheat most folks ate before the new, easier to grow and less healthy, kind became the norm), I’ve been experimenting with alternatives.

I won’t burden you with the details of our experiment gone awry in attempting tempura with chickpea batter, which just has to work, but didn’t despite the implied promise of our favorite late-night Japanese cooking show…

More successful were these wonderfully vibrant sprouted blue corn pancakes, loosely resembling southern Johnny Cakes, and based on this simple pancake recipe. They fluffed up for a breakfast worthy of royalty, in shades almost too purple to eat. We doused them in maple syrup, and then nibbled the leftovers as snacks all day long.

One more thing: most pancakes, at least for me, leave me feeling both overstuffed and under-nourished by the fluff factor. In contrast, these were really filling and provided lots of good energy for the morning.

If your kids are older, these definitely beg for funny Grover or Cookie Monster faces on top, using bananas, blueberries, strawberries or grapes. Blueberries are great inside as well, for maximum purple effect.

For grown-ups, they’d also be nice blini-sized, with creme fraiche, greek yogurt or goat cheese smeared on them (though you’d want to thin the batter out a bit).

I also tried making polenta with this unique sprouted flour, using my stand-by recipe. It took longer to set up, but was delicious that way as well (next time I’d skip the rosemary, as it crowded the flavors a bit). It was worth all the stirring just to have this bubbling, belching purple cauldron on the stove.

This flour also makes awesome speckled purple playdough, per this recipe. I substituted the purple flour for 1/4 of the flour called for in the recipe, and it was still very Tyrian:

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose blue corn flour (I used Flour of Life Raw Sprouted Purple Corn Flour)
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar (optional: you could reduce, eliminate or sub in a natural alternative)
  • 1 1/4 cups (organic, grassfed) milk
  • 1 (organic, pasture-raised) egg
  • 3 tablespoons (organic, grassfed) butter, melted

Directions:

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and add the eggs, melted butter and milk.

This is the fun part, as you watch it turn purple. Really purple. Adjust the consistency with more flour as needed.

Like Julia Child, we’re not afraid of butter ’round here. Melt it up and ladle them in. (These were, notably, too large, but also like Julia, we just went with it.)

Just like regular old brown pancakes, these do bubble. But they brown quickly as well, so check the edges and flip when those have firmed up a bit instead of waiting for bubbles throughout the middle.

Douse in maple syrup (optional: decorate with silly faces), and serve!

Coconut Couscous with Raisins and Nuts (Breakfast or Dinner)

Making very simple food more nourishing is a wonderful trick, when you can figure it out. This is an incredibly easy way to upgrade couscous into something entirely better.

I give it to Maya for breakfast with milk on top, as in the picture, or sometimes serve it under a savory dish from the tagine, like this one. The recipe makes enough you can even do both, over a couple of days. We had this couscous under a fairly basic beef stew from the tagine tonight, and it added the creamy richness the stew needed as a backnote.

For an easy peasy and warmly comforting breakfast, this can’t be beat. Though not pictured, fresh berries are also nice on top.

Ingredients:

2 cups Wholewheat (organic) couscous

1/2 cup Shredded (organic, un-sulphured) coconut

1 (organic) can of coconut milk (Note: Native Forest brand is supposed to be BPA-free; though I’ve asked, I have still not gotten confirmation from them about what they use to line the cans instead and will update if/when I do)

1/2 cup (organic, un-sulphured) raisins; you could also use currents, cranberries or other dried fruits, like diced apricots

1/2 cup (organic) unsalted nuts — cashews are nice, as are slivered almonds

Generous sprinkle of cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract, or even, better, fresh scrapings from a vanilla bean

Optional: a small amount of sweetener (you can also wait to add it at the end to your breakfast dish if you’d like to use the couscous as a base for a more savory meal later) — I used maple syrup, but honey, molasses or sugar would work fine

Directions:

Heat the coconut milk in a pot, plus enough water to make the can come up to an even 2 cups of liquid (conversion reminder: 8 ounces to a cup).

Add cinnamon and vanilla, then dried fruit and nuts. When almost boiling, take off the heat, stir in 2 cups couscous and cover.

Fluff with a fork and serve with milk for a delicious, easy breakfast!

Two Simple, Delicious Breakfasts

1) Passion Fruit Yogurt

If you are ever lucky enough to come across puckered, indented, ripe passion fruit in the store, by all means pick it up. It makes a scrumptious and easy breakfast with a mildly sweet yogurt (I used Pequea Valley Farm lemon yogurt, which is unbelievably good) and slivered almonds. It’s just sour-sweet enough, and very refreshing.

2) Perfectly Soft-Boiled Eggs

Marion Nestle‘s tome, What to Eat, sufficiently convinced me that runny eggs, although once perhaps far safer, are no longer to be trusted given modern farming methods. I do source eggs with care — picking organic and pasteured eggs whenever I can. Still, for some these will be past perfection.

I boiled these for 8 minutes. They were delicious on buttered toast.

Easy Herb Popovers

This is one of my few go-to recipes. I make these deliciously unctuous popovers probably once a week (enough so that my husband’s really over them!). But I like it because Maya helps to mix the batter, and then we have 25 minutes to hang out, or for me to get dressed, before breakfast is ready.

If we only have 3 eggs in the house, it’s still a good breakfast for 3 adults plus a child, and they are terrific with smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, or goat cheese. I add whatever fresh herbs we have handy — chives, parsley, cilantro and tarragon all work well — a mix of these or others is also tasty.

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3/4 cup (organic) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

3 large (organic, pastured) eggs (2 will do in a pinch)

1 cup whole (organic, grassfed) milk (skim or 2 percent milk will not work)

1 Tbl (organic, grassfed) butter

2-3 Tbls mixed chopped fresh herbs

Butter a 12-cup muffin tin (avoid non-stick if you can). Sift flour and celery salt into bowl, add the eggs, milk, butter and beat until mixed well. Stir in herbs and pour into the muffin tin (I usually need a spoon to divide the batter evenly when done). Place in COLD oven, and set the temperature for 425F and bake for 26 minutes without opening the oven door.

Turn on the oven light and watch them puff up! They should be done after 26 minutes — and will continue to cook in the tin after you take them out. Do not overcook, as they will get chewy and tough.

Modified from “The Book of Breakfasts and Brunches,” by Kerenza Harries. 

Two BPA-free Weekend Breakfasts

Yup, still ticked off about the FDA’s truly egregious decision to allow food companies to continue experimenting on all of us with BPA in our food. A post is a-brewing on that particular bit of ludicrousness.

In the meantime, living well is the best revenge. And so Maya and I hit the kitchen to make a couple breakfasts this weekend worth posting about.

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A Massive FDA Fail Frittata

This recipe delivers a rich mix of vegetables in the morning, and Maya ate it up.

Generous pat of (grass-fed, organic) butter

12 stalks or so of (organic) asparagus, broken into 1 inch sections

2 large handfuls of (organic) cauliflower florets

2 handfuls (organic) baby spinach

Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary, Salt & Pepper

5 (pasture-raised, organic) eggs

2 Tablespoons (grassfed, organic) whole milk

2 Tablespoons fresh herbs as you may have available (we used chives that survived the neglect in my backyard)

Melt the butter in a frying pan capable of going under the broiler (a non-stick pan is not necessary; nor is it a good idea). Toss the asparagus and cauliflower in the butter on medium high heat and let it sit until roasted on one side. Stir and add the spinach. Cook until wilted and most of the moisture is gone, stirring minimally to get a nice roast.

Add the dried herbs with two generous and firm shakes of each, as well as salt and pepper. Beat the eggs and milk and add to the pan. Lower the heat and let the eggs set on the bottom of the pan, until the sides are cooked but not the top. Add the cheese and fresh herbs, and place under the broiler on low for three minutes until bubbly and browned on top. Serve in wedges with a sense of injustice.

The FDA’s-So-Cheesy Bread

We ate it with some farmer’s market sausage, sliced and boiled beets, and fresh-made chevre. It makes a lot, so this is good for a crowd. I love the easy impressiveness of a quick bread.

3 cups (organic) unbleached all-purpose flour

4 tsps baking powder (ours was aluminum-free and double-acting; I haven’t looked into the aluminum issue, if you have, please tell me if aluminum-free is best and why)

1 tsp sugar

1 Tablespoon (organic, grassfed) butter

2 (organic, pastured) eggs

1/4 tsp sea salt

2 tsps prepared (dry) mustard

1 cup grated cheese (we used old gouda and a “green onion” grassfed cheddar — just keep an eye on the salt, as some cheeses will add a lot)

Preheat over to 425F. Dust a baking sheet (not non-stick if you have one) with flour, and sift flour, sugar, salt, mustard and baking powder. Combine with milk and 2 eggs, as well as 1/2 the cheese, stir until just combined. It may be helpful to use your hands to knead just a bit, which is great fun for a toddler (just clean well after the eggs!).

Shape dough into a circle on the baking pan and use your hands to cup the edges. Run a knife over the surface to create sections if desired. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then bake 20 minutes more until risen and golden. Cool slightly.

Modified substantially from a recipe in “The Book of Breakfasts and Brunches,” by Kerenza Harries.