Thursday, December 31, 2009

Orange Honey & Ricotta Cheesecake

"Thank you for being a friend... traveled down the road and back again..."
The Golden Girls had it right. A cheesecake is the perfect accessory for any late night fest... an after dinner dessert... an mid-afternoon pick-me-up... or simply a great breakfast. Cheesecake is my guilty pleasure and I am happy to share this recipe with you!

Inspired by
Giada De Laurentiis and her honey and ricotta cheesecake, I started to experiment, and come up with my own. The texture is smooth, slightly sweet, and the almond and orange burst on your taste buds the moment you take your first bite. A little lighter than a traditional cheesecake, you'll feel a little less guilty about eating that second slice! Enjoy...

12 servings
30 minute prep time
1 hour 20 minute cook time
6 hour set time

1/2 box (8 ounces) honey flavored graham crackers
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 (15 ounce) container of whole milk ricotta, room temperature
2 (8 ounce) packages of Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange blossom honey
1 tablespoon almond extract
Zest of one orange
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the outside of a springform pan with three layers of aluminum foil.

2. In a food processor pulse together graham crackers and brown sugar until no large chunks of cracker remain. Add melted butter and pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press the mixture onto the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared springform pan. Bake for 15 minutes and let cool for 10 minutes.

3. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed mix ricotta until smooth. Add cream cheese and sugar mixing only until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add honey, almond extract, orange zest, and salt. Mix only until combined.

4. Still on low speed, add one egg at a time until combined. Do not over mix. Excess air will cause your cheesecake to crack and bubble.

5. Pour the cheese mixture over the crust. Place the springform pan into a large roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with warm water until it comes halfway up the side of the springform pan. Transfer to oven and bake for roughly 1 hour and 5 minutes until the top is golden and the center of the cake jiggles slightly when the pan is shaken. The cheesecake will firm up when it is chilled.

6. Remove spring form pan from water bath and let cool 1-2 hours. Loosely place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the cheesecake and refrigerate over night or for at least 6 hours.

7. To release from pan, run a butter knife under hot water and then around the edge of the springform pan. Once the cake has been separated from the sides, open the springform. Warm the butter knife again and slide it underneath the crust to separate it from the bottom of the springform pan. Carefully transfer cake to a flat plate, sprinkle with powdered sugar, garnish with an orange rind, and serve!


Quick & Dirty Tips

Preventing cracks and bubbles are key to having your cheesecake look fabulous and not taste dried out. So, here are the three "must never be broken rules" when it comes to making your own.

1. Don't over mix the
ingredients... you don't want to add extra air to the batter.

Use room temperature (68-76 degree) ingredients.... helps ingredients combine easily.

Don't skip the water bath... it helps the cake cook evenly rather then the sides cooking faster then the middle.

Other tips: Use Philadelphia cream cheese... it just tastes better! You can substitute any type of honey for the orange blossom honey. If you use low-fat or no-fat ricotta or cream cheese, expect your cheesecake to taste low-fat or no-fat! Blah...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Breakfast Crepes

Let's put the myth that making crepes are hard to rest. People think crepes are hard to make because the first one ALWAYS comes out looking terrible! The truth is, you need to sacrifice that first crepe to the food Gods (and sometimes the second one too) until they start coming out looking great. No need for a special crepe making pan. Just good eyes, sensible heat, a good nonstick pan, and a little practice.

The good news.... crepes are one of the most inexpensive breakfasts foods you can make and the ingredients are pretty much on-hand in anyone's kitchen. So, get practicing!!!

8 crepes (4 servings)
10 minute prep time
3 minute cook time
15 minute inactive time

4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups flour

Filling Ideas
Strawberries, bananas, nutella, whipped cream, syrup

1. In a food processor, mix together eggs, milk, water, sugar, and salt. Add the melted butter and mix until well blended. Add flour and continue to process until smooth with no lumps. Pour into a mixing bowl, and let sit for 15 minutes to allow the bubbles to rise to the top.

2. Prepare whatever you would like for fillings. Sliced strawberries, bananas, Nutella (a chocolate hazelnut spread), fresh whipped almond cream, and Vermont maple syrup are a few of my favorites. I also like reconsituted raisins and crasins (1/2 cup of each, fill with water till it just covers the fruit, add a couple teaspoons for brown sugar, and boil for 15-25 minutes until the fruit is plump).

3. Heat a non-stick frying pan to medium heat. No need for the pan to be screaming hot. Spray with non-stick spray and pour slightly less then a 1/4 cup of batter into the middle of the pan. Pick-up the pan and rotate slowly to allow the batter to spread out evenly. The goal is to make a perfect circle. Put the pan back down on the burner and allow to cook until the edges are slightly dry. Using any method you like, flip the crepe over and start cooking the other side.

And now... and important Quick & Dirty Tip: it takes about 1 minute for each side to cook. When you flip it over, the crepe should still be pale or just starting to develop color. You don't want to brown the crepe as it will be too dry and not fold well. I use a fork and my thumb to flip these suckers over, some people use a spatula, and others use chop sticks. I say, whatever gets the job done without breaking the crepe is the correct way to do it.

4. THROW AWAY THE FIRST CREPE. Spray your pan with non-stick spray and start your second crepe. When it is finished (and this one should look a lot nicer), put on a towel lined cookie sheet and keep in a 180 degree oven until all the crepes are finished. As each one is finished cooking, stack them up right on top of each other.

5. To plate, fold 2 crapes in half, and then in half again. Put all your fillings on the side and let your friends and family stuff the crepes however they like. Enjoy!


Quick & Dirty Tips:
Have fun with the fillings... the possibilities are endless.

If you want to make the process even faster, do two pans at a time! Or you can be crazy like me and trying doing four pans... that makes you a crepe master.

If the crepes are coming out dark, turn down the temperature on the stove. Getting the correct heat in the pan is key for crepes to come out well.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Chocolate Cranberry Almond Biscotti

I won't reveal the name of the person that said this, but recently a person who is very connected to the Pomegranate Inn made the comment, "You can make biscotti?" She wasn't talking about me having the ability but rather, the fact the most Americans find biscotti in a tub or jar individually wrapped for mass consumption.

Yes, the everyday person CAN make
biscotti! But why make mass produced Plain Jane Biscotti when you can throw a bunch of additional flavors into it? This recipe really is so easy to make and I hope it inspires you to head to the kitchen and whip up a batch!

16-20 servings
10 minute prep time
45 minute cook time
10 minutes inactive time

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. In an electric mixer, mix butter and sugar until well combined. Continue mixing adding one egg at a time until mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in almond extract.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until a stiff dough forms. Add cranberries and chocolate chips and mix until well combined.

5. Liberally, flour a work surface and knead dough several times, adding more flour as needed. Keep kneading until dough is only slightly sticky but not stick to the work surface.

6. Divide the dough in half. Take one half and form into a 2 inch wide by 10 inch long rectangle. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Place both rectangles on the parchment lined pan and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

7. Remove biscotti from the oven and let cool on the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and slice diagonally, forming biscotti that are about 4-5 inches in length.

8. Transfer biscotti back to the baking pan and continue cooking for an additional 5-8 on each side until dry and firm on the outside of each biscotti. Remove from oven and let cool. Enjoy!


Quick & Dirty Tips
When slicing the "rectangle" use a bread knife. It works much better and won't crush your creation!

I always add extra chocolate chips when I am making cookies, but DON'T when making biscotti... you'll end up with a lot of melted chocolate everywhere and biscotti that is really just chocolate bread. I've learned from my own mistake....

On the second bake, I lay the cut side down, then turn the biscotti after 5-8 minutes. I've tried to cheat by just putting the bottom down on the pan but it overcooked the bottom leaving a slightly burnt flavor. You just want to get moisture out of the biscotti and crisp up the outside.

Biscotti will last for a week at room temperature in a plastic bag and several months in the freezer. Defrost at room temperature.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Jam & Coconut Thumbprint Cookies

Another great Ina Garten recipe that I have changed just a hair to my liking. I've spiked the dough with a healthy dose of almond extract (my favorite extract) and given the jam a citrus lift.
The cookie dough for this recipe is a cross between a shortcake and biscotti that isn't fully cooked, giving the cookie a dry yet chewy texture. The coconut browns so nicely making the cookies look like edible pieces of art! These quickly became a staff and guest favorite. Enjoy!

16 Servings (2 cookies per serving)
15 minute prep time
1 hour inactive time
25 minute cook time

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Pinch of Kosher salt
2/3 cup raspberry jam
2/3 cup orange marmalade
2 limes, juiced
2 eggs beaten with 2 tablespoons water
1 10 oz. bag of shredded coconut


1. In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until they are well combined. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix until combined.

2. Sift together flour and salt. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture over low speed until well combined and dough starts to come together as a ball. Turn out onto a floured surface, roll into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets ungreased with parchment paper.

4. Mix together raspberry jam and the juice of one lime and set aside. Repeat for the orange marmalade.

5. Prepare a dipping station with two bowls. One with the egg and water mixture. The other with the shredded coconut.

6. Roll dough into 32 even balls, about 1 1/4 inch each or about 1 ounce each, if you have a kitchen scale. Dip each ball into egg wash and then roll in coconut. Place 8 cookies on each baking sheet.

7. Press an indentation on the top of each cookie with your thumb. Drop about 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each cookie. Alternate batches between the two different jams.

8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the coconut is golden brown. Cool and serve!


Quick & Dirty Tips
You can use any kind of jam or preserves that you like for this recipe. Raspberry and orange marmalade just happen to be what I had on hand this time. I would avoid jellies as they are to watery to hold up to the baking process.

Really only use 1/4 teaspoon of jam on each cookie. It doesn't look like much, but as it cooks, it bubbles and spreads. To much jam results in a cookie with jam all over the top and sides. Still tastes great... but doesn't look as nice!

Don't melt the butter in the microwave. Let it get to room temperature on it's own. It really makes a difference in how it bakes off later.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lemon Curd Tassie Cups

I love tart-yet-sweet-treats that make your mouth pucker. A few weeks ago while watching Paula Deen on the Food Network, I was amazed at the look of her creation: mini pastry cups filled with a tart lemon curd. So, I whipped up a batch the next day at The Pomegranate Inn, and now, a few weeks later, I am ready to post my own recipe for these delicious treats.

I've added a bit more pucker to the curd and sweetened up the tassie cup just a little bit... Enjoy!!!

24 cups (12 servings)
15 minutes prep time
60 minutes inactive time
10 minutes cook time

Tassie Cups
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Lemon Curd
4 large lemons, zested & juiced
1/8 cup bottled or fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted


1. Place all ingredients for the tassie cups into food processor and process on low until a single pastry ball forms. Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap, press into a disk, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. Using 2 ungreased 12-cup mini-muffin pans, divide pastry into 24 even balls, and press into the bottom and sides of each cup. Bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned. Cool and remove from pans.

4. Heat a large sauce pan filled about a 1/3 of the way with water until it is boiling. Reduce to a simmer. Meanwhile...

5. In food processor, place lemon zest and sugar and process until well combined. Add the squeezed lemon juice, the fresh or bottle lemon juice, lemon extract, and eggs to the sugar mixture and process till smooth. Slowly add the butter through the feed tube until well combined.

6. Place mixture in a metal bowl and place over the simmering water creating a double boiler. Whisk the mixture until and the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened; about 5-10 minutes.

7. Spoon the warm lemon curd into each tassie cup. Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Don't throw away any extra lemon curd... eat it by the spoonful yourself!


Quick & Dirty Tips
If you are in a rush while making the curd, whisk in the double boiler until the mixture does not seem to thicken anymore. Transfer the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice. Continue to whisk mixture to cool it and it should thicken a great deal more.

When panning up the tassie cups, really press the pastry onto the sides of the muffin tin. It may seem very thin, but it expends a great deal while cooking.

If you want the powdered sugar, wait for everything to cool down... otherwise, it just melts!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Butter, honey, sugar, butter, dough, nuts, butter, spices, and more butter.... what could be more delicious? Being caught between layers of baklava could possibly be Paula Dean's and my own personal heaven.

Baklava has been claimed by many ethnic groups as their own, but since this is my blog, I am going to claim it officially for Greece.... even if the origin of the word came to English via Turkish. Regardless of where this lovely treat originated, it is delicious, sweet, a bit time consuming, but well worth the effort. Enjoy!

24 Servings
60 minutes prep time
45 minutes cook time

1/2 lb. walnuts
1/2 lb. almonds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 lb. phyllo dough

1 1/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
Juice of one lemon
Rind of 1/2 a lemon
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
Pinch of coriander


1. Thaw phyllo dough according to the package directions. Leave wrapped until ready to use.

2. In a food processor, combine walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse about 15 to 20 times until finely chopped.

3. Melt butter over low heat in a sauce pan. Do not allow to brown.

4. Spray the bottoms and sides a 9 x 13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

6. Assemble nut mixture, butter, and baking dish on your work surface. Open the phyllo dough and immediately cover with a slightly damp kitchen towel. The sheets dry out extremely quickly and need to have the cover. If the phyllo dough is larger then the dish you are using, trim to size with a knife.

7. Lay one sheet of phyllo dough on the bottom of the pan and cover remaining phyllo with damp towel. Using a pastry brush, brush phyllo sheet with melted butter. Repeat this process seven times, buttering each new sheet of phyllo dough.

8. Spread evenly 1/3 of the nut mixture atop the last layer of buttered phyllo dough.

9. Atop the nut layer, lay one sheet of phyllo dough, brush with butter, and continue process until 7 more layers have been added. Spread 1/2 of the remaining nut mixture atop the last layer of buttered phyllo dough.

10. Atop the nut layer, lay one sheet of phyllo dough, brush with butter, and continue process until 7 more layers have been added. Spread the remaining nut mixture atop the last layer of buttered phyllo dough.

11. Atop the nut layer, lay one sheet of phyllo dough, brush with butter, and continue process until 7 layers have been added. Butter the top of the final sheet of phyllo dough.

12. Using a sharp knife, make a cut lengthwise through the center of the layered phyllo. Now, cut each one of those "halves" in half, creating 4 even lengthwise rows. Now, turn your pan and cut down the center to form a column. Make two cuts on each side of the center cut, creating 6 even columns. In the end, you should have 24 squares. Make sure to cut all the way through the bottom layer.

13. Transfer your baking dish to the preheated oven and cook about 45 minutes until golden brown. Meanwhile...

14. In a medium sauce pan, combine the honey, sugar, water, lemon juice, lemon rind, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom, and coriander over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the syrup has thicken slightly; about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the pan so that it does not boil over.

15. Remove lemon rind and cinnamon sticks and let syrup sit to cool.

16. Remove baklava from oven and let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes. Pour the syrup mixture over the top and allow to cool for several hours at room temperature uncovered. It will look like a lot of liquid, but it will be soaked up by the baklava.

Baklava will remain fresh for 10 days at room temperature. Like it will even last that long...


Quick & Dirty Tips
Replace the damp towel on top of the unused phyllo dough immediately have using a sheet of it. You'll be amazed at how quickly it dries out and turn to paper... and sticks together... and gets you mad... and angry...

Buy 2 boxes of phyllo dough in case it starts to dry out or gets to damp. Helps to have an "emergency" box on hand.

I cut the lemon in half to juice it and then just throw one of the halves in for the syrup rather then zesting it or anything fancy... the flavor will be drawn out either way.

You can use any type of nuts... but always keep at least 1/2 the nuts walnuts. When I made this yesterday, I used a combination of walnuts, almonds, pecans, and a handful of pistachios leftover in the pantry.

I double this recipe and use what is called a 1/2 sheet pan. It takes two sheets of phyllo to cover the surface area and makes 48 squares. I love it.... simply double everything!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Banana Bread

I love sweet breads and especially ones that make your whole house smell good when they are baking. Every time I make banana bread, I swear guests come flocking to the kitchen with curiosity on their face and only one question on their mind, "What 'cha making?"

I have a friend who sells houses and when she is showing, she always puts something in the oven that will take a while to bake, like a banana bread. She swears that when she does this, clients visualize themselves in the house, it makes them fall in love with the house, and they buy the house. She gets paid for doing her job and gets a nice loaf of banana bread to boot!

One bowl, one spoon, and only a handful of ingredients that you already have in your cupboards. Double it, triple it, quadruple it... You can't go wrong with this recipe! Enjoy....

8 Servings
10 minute prep time
65 minute cook time

4 large ripe bananas
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 cups all-purpose flour


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 4x8 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

2. With peels on, heat bananas in the microwave just to warm them up; about 45 seconds. Peel and mash in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. Add melted butter and mix until well combined.

3. Mix in both sugars, eggs, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

4. Sprinkle in the baking powder and baking soda and mix.

5. Add the flour and mix until well combined.

6. Pour mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 65 minutes until a knife comes out clean from the center of the loaf. Cool in pan for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Serve warm or cold.


Quick & Dirty Tips
If you don't have ripe bananas, microwave until warm and then transfer to the refrigerator for several hours. This alters the bananas just enough to bring out the sweetness and tenderness needed.

Don't omit the salt... it is a flavor enhancer!

Resist the urge to open the oven to check on the bread. Let it bake for the 65 minutes, then check on it.

Instead of spreading butter on your slice of bread, try cream cheese or peanut butter!

I make a bunch of loaves at a time. This break freezes really well. Just heat back up in a warm oven or the microwave.

I use this bread to make Banana Bread French Toast... recipe coming soon!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Marmalade-Stuffed French Toast with Orange Syrup

Found this recipe in an old Bon Appetit magazine a long time ago and have made my own little changes to it. It is a great twist on French Toast and easy to make! As much as I would love to eat it each and every time I make it, I know I should really only have it once a year. Great for a holiday breakfast when calories don't count!

4 servings
10 minute prep time
20 minute cook time


1 8oz brick of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup marmalade
1/4 cup powdered sugar

French Toast

1 French loaf bread
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 cup orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup butter
1 cup simply syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Zest of 1 orange


1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees and prepare a baking sheet.

2. Combine orange juice concentrate, butter, and simple syrup in a small sauce pan. Stir over low heat until butter melts. Keep mixture on low heat until it reduces by 25%. Add cinnamon and orange zest, mix, and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat or keep warm.

3. In a kitchen mixer, cream together cream cheese, marmalade, and powdered sugar. Set aside.

4. Cut French loaf bread into 8 equal parts, at least 1 inch thick. Cutting through the top crust of each slice, make a pocked in each slice of bread. Spoon a generous tablespoon of the cream cheese and marmelade mixture into the center of each slice.

5. In a large kitchen bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

6. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Dip 4 stuffed bread slices into egg mixture and place in hot skillet. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer French toast to baking sheet and place in preheated oven. Repeat dipping and cooking until all bread slices are cooked.

7. Serve 2 French toasts to a plate and top with warm orange syrup. Enjoy!


Quick & Dirty Tips

Stuffing the toast can be a bit messy. I suggest putting the bread in the fridge over night and slicing it cold with a bread knife. I then use a paring knive to make the pocket. Instead of spooning the filling in, I put all the filling into a piping bag and pipe it into the pocket.

Orange syrup can be made several days in advance. Just reheat when ready to use.

If you don't want to use French bread, you can use two slices of white bread. Make a sandwich with the filling and then cut in half. Dip in the egg mixture and serve one "full sandwich" to a plate.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Coconut & Ricotta Pancakes with Ginger Syrup

I found this recipe on and made just a few changes. The pancakes turnout nice and moist without a cheesy flavor. The syrup completely complements the deliciousness of the pancake. "An exotic new spin on a breakfast classic."

I could eat a heaping stack of these divine little cakes of amazingness...

6 servings
10 minute prep time
20 minute cook time

Ginger Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
Zest of 1 lemon

4 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup whole milk
2/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
2/3 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut


1. Combine all the ingredients for Ginger Syrup in a small sauce pan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Boil until mixture reduces to about 1 cup. Meanwhile...

2. In an electric mixer, beat egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Meanwhile...

3. In another large bowl, whisk together egg yokes, milk, ricotta, flour, sugar, baking powder, vanilla extract, and salt. Once combined, stir in coconut.

4. Fold egg whites into prepared batter while being careful not to over mix.

5. Heat oven to 170 degrees.

6. Melt a teaspoon of butter on a griddle or large fry pan over medium heat. Working in batches, drop 1/4 cup of batter into the pan. Cook until bubbles form in the middle of the pancake and evenly browned, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook 2 minutes longer. Transfer pancakes to a baking sheet and keep in a 170 degree oven until all the batter is cooked. Add butter to the pan after each batch.

7. Arrange 3 or 4 pancakes on a plate. Garnish with fresh fruit and pour warm ginger syrup over the top. Enjoy!


Quick & Dirty Tips
Syrup can be made up to two weeks in advance. Just keep covered in the refrigerator.

Batter can be made ahead up to 12 hours in advance without the egg whites folded in. Cover bowl with plastic wrap touching the top of the batter. This will prevent a skin from forming. Whip the egg whites and fold into the batter when ready to cook.

I wanted to do grilled bananas sliced on the diagonal but just didn't have the time to do it... next time!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pumpkin Sliver Dollars

Pancakes are the first real "food" that I remember cooking when I was a kid. Dense and rich, pancakes were a favorite all around my house growing up. Pancakes are delicious... but why not try something a little different? Nothing tastes better than pumpkin pie so, lets combine the two!

6 servings
10 minute prep time
15 minute cooking time

1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin (not canned pumpkin pie)
4 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/3 cup flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sliced almonds, chopped
Butter or non-stick spray


1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or tin foil.

2. Whisk together buttermilk, pumpkin, eggs, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and almond extract until well blended. Add melted butter and whisk again. Whisk in flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until combined. Stir in sliced and chopped almonds.

3. Lightly butter or spray a large skillet and place over medium heat. Working in batches of four, pour 2 tablespoons of batter into heated skillet. Cook until bubbles form on the top and the sides are dry; about 2 minutes. Turn silver dollars over and cook until the second side is browned; about 1 minute. Transfer to the baking sheet and keep warm in the oven until all the batter is cooked.

4. Serve four or five silver dollars to a plate with warm Vermont maple syrup and whipped cream. Garnish with almond slices.


Quick & Dirty Tips
If you prefer regular sized pancakes, just make them that big! They are a bit moist and maybe harder to flip which is why I choose to make the recipe a silver dollar one instead.

I like a little whipped cream. Check out the whipped cream recipe that I posted under Peach & Berry Ginger Shortcakes. I would halve the recipe.

Keep the heat low or the silver dollars will burn and not cook through. The oven will keep them nice and warm so there is no rush.

If all you can find in canned pumpkin pie, omit the sugars or sugar to taste.

Always use real maple syrup. People who don't have sold their soul to the devil.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Caramelized Onion & Apple Quiche with Swiss Cheeses

Real men eat quiche!

At least I do... and I love it. Especially when it is filled with delicious cheeses from Switzerland. While living there, I learned about all the great cheeses that Switzerland produces and was introduced to my greatest of all love affairs.... Gruyere. Though hard, pungently stinky, you'll be surprised at how creamy, sweet, nutty, and slightly salty this cheese is when melted. No other cheese compares! In most fondue recipes, Gruyere is the first cheese that is called for and is always melted with other complementing cheeses. I stuck to the traditional and used Emmenthal, which here is America we simply call, "Swiss Cheese." This quiche is jam-packed with the good stuff and you'll love how light and fluffy it comes out...

6-8 servings
30 minute prep time
50-60 minute cooking time

1 unbaked 10 inch pie crust (sold in two-packs in the dairy section)
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 Fuji apple or any flavorful apple of your choice, diced
6 large eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk (avoid reduced fat if you can)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 lb Gruyere, shredded
1/4 lb Emmenthal (Swiss Cheese), shredded
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a 10-inch pie dish with pie crust, press into sides, crimp the edges, and poke the bottom and sides with a fork. Line with parchment paper and fill with pastry weights (uncooked rice or beans... this prevents the crust from rising while baking). Transfer to oven and bake 12-15 minutes until edges turn golden brown. Meanwhile...

2. In a skillet with a bit of olive oil and butter, saute onions and apples over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until caramelized and avoid browning or burning. Meanwhile...

3. In a large mixing blow, whisk together eggs, heavy cream, whole milk, salt, and pepper. Add cheeses and mix until well combined.

4. Once the pie crust is baked, discard pastry weights and immediately transfer onions and apples to the pie crust. Pour egg and cheese mixture over the top. The liquid may overflow over the crust, but there is no worries about that. Spread the cheese so that it is even throughout the pie shell. Sprinkle the top with nutmeg.

5. Bake quiche at 375 degrees until completely cooked through, about 40-50 minutes. To test for doneness, shake the quiche--a cooked quiche will not wiggle. Double check by sticking a knife in the center--if it comes out clean, your quiche is done! The top should be golden and the egg should be firm. Serve warm... enjoy!


Quick & Dirty Tips
I once cooked this at 350 degrees on accident. It took longer to cook by almost 20 minutes but came out a little fluffier. If you like that... do it!

You can add just about anything you want to this dish. Just saute it with the onions and apples. Bacon crumbles are always tasty!

I don't measure out the nutmeg. I just use a microplane, a whole nutmeg nut, and put on as much as I like... and I like it a lot. Microplanes are a must have for a modern kitchen in my opinion...

Ketchup is always a nice dipping sauce... even if you are eating fancy cheese! Try warming it in the microwave instead of having it cold. Or, spice it up with a few shakes of Tobasco!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sweet & Spicy Bacon

When I found this recipe I nearly had a heart attack. Bacon is so good on its own and this recipe just makes it fabulous, ridiculous, down right naughty, and delicious. I paired this with Peach & Berry Ginger Shortcakes and the flavors complement each other quite well! You be the judge...
6 Servings
5 minute prep time
25-35 minute cooking time

1 lb thick-cut or extra-thick cut bacon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
Pinch of red pepper flakes


1. Move oven rack to the center and preheat to 400 degrees. Line two baking pans with parchment paper.

2. Arrange bacon slices on baking pans making sure that no pieces are overlapping. Bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile...

3. Stir together cayenne pepper, black pepper, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes.

4. After 15 minutes of baking, remove bacon from oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees. Sprinkle half the pepper and sugar mixture over bacon, turn, and sprinkle remaining mixture on the other side.

5. Transfer bacon back to oven and bake and additional 15-20 minutes until bacon is crispy and a rich golden brown color. Drain on paper towels and serve hot or cold.


Quick & Dirty Tips
Try to use thick-cut bacon. If you can only get regular thin cut bacon, reduce the cooking time and cook at 350 degrees for the whole time. Keep an eye on the bacon so that it doesn't burn. Believe me... you'll want the good stuff! If you want less spice reduce the cayenne pepper and omit the red pepper flakes. If you like it hot... just add some more! This pairs well with a slightly sweet dish but will definitely stand out on its own!

Peach & Berry Ginger Shortcakes

It seemed like every other day in the summer, my grandmother would make homemade shortcakes and whipped cream for strawberry shortcakes in the summer. The strawberries she used were always fresh! We use to go in the woods around our house and pick all kinds of berries... blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and occasionally we would find the random strawberry. Needless to say, we always had enough berries in our house... and bags and bags frozen in the deep freezer for use throughout the winter. Although not my grandmother's recipe, I thought this was a way to give honor to the traditional with a modern twist. I'm sure she would have loved it and I hope you do too!

6 servings
30 minute prep time
20-25 minute cooking time

2 cups flour
6 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon flour
Dash of salt
1/2 cup chilled butter
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 cup ginger ale
2 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
3 peaches (white peaches if available)
2 cups mixed berries (i.e. blackberries & raspberries)

Whipped Cream
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line two baking pans with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together flour, 6 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add butter and rub in with your fingers until a very coarse meal forms. Or, prepare in a food processor, giving several pulses until the butter is pea-sized. Add chopped ginger and stir to coat. Add ginger ale and mix until mixture is moist.

3. Gather dough and roll into a uniform log. Cut 6 equal rounds and reshape as needed into 2 1/2 inch rounds. Place three shortcakes on each baking pan, spaced well apart.

4. Mix together 2 tablespoons whipping cream with 2 tablespoons sugar. Brush mixture over the tops and sides of shortcakes.

5. Bake shortcakes 20-25 minutes until a knife comes out clean from the center. They will be a bit flat... don't worry! Remove baking sheets from oven and let shortcakes cool on the sheet. While they are baking...

6. Slice peaches into wedges, removing the core. Toss with additional berries and 3 tablespoons sugar. Set aside.

7. Combine whipping cream, powdered sugar, almond extract, and vanilla extract and whip on high speed until mixture comes to peaks that hold themselves up.

8. Place one shortcake on a plate, spoon a big dollop of whipped cream, and top with peach and berry mixture. Garnish with matchstick sliced crystallized ginger, sit back, and enjoy!


Quick & Dirty Tips
Shortcakes can be made a day ahead of time and kept in a ziplock bag. Place an apple wedge or a slice of bread in the bag to keep them moist. Also, the shortcake freeze quite well and only need a few seconds in the microwave to come back to life! Make sure to make the whipped cream within a few hours of serving it. It holds up nicely if kept in the refrigerator.

For the shortcakes to come out well, the butter must be chilled. Work fast so that the butter is as cold as possible when putting in the oven. I use white peaches when they are available, usually in late May and early June. They have a unique flavor that is lighter then a regular ripe peach. The shortcakes will come out a bit flat. You are welcome to cut them in half horizontally, like the traditional serving, but I don't cut through mine. If you don't like ginger, just take it out!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sausage & Potatoe Breakfast Casserole

This is a savory breakfast treat that is both meaty and cheesy! I use the 1 pound sausage rolls that you find in the freezer section of the grocery store but you can use breakfast links... just take off the casings.

Although it doesn't look like the prettiest dish try it and you won't regret it! I will admit to having some guests send this back... but they later regret that they didn't try it. It just doesn't look like breakfast food. The people who brave it's looks, fall in love with it's taste! As Charelle told me this morning, "Everyone eats with their eyes first."

At least everyone in the kitchen and the housekeeping staff is excited to have some delicious breakfast...

6 servings
10-20 minute prep time
30 minute cooking time

1 lb russet potatoes, shredded and drained
Salt & Pepper
1 lb breakfast sausage, casings removed
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk or half & half (do not use reduced fat milk)
1 medium red onion
3/4 cups shredded Gouda
3/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar
Dried parsley flakes
Grated Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray a 2 inch deep 8x8 baking dish.

2. In a skillet with a bit of olive oil, cook shredded potatoes till they just start to turn brown. Salt and pepper lightly. Transfer to your prepared baking dish. At the same time...

3. In a skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat until brown, breaking into small pieces. Mix in flour and then add the milk. Cook until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, stirring occasionally. At the same time...

4. Chop red onion as fine as you like. Transfer to the baking dish on top of the potatoes. Top onions with 1/2 the Gouda and 1/2 the sharp cheddar.

5. Transfer the sausage mixture to the baking dish on top of the cheese. Top with the remaining cheese and sprinkle with dried parsley flakes.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve hot.


Quick & Dirty Tips
I grate the potatoes and cheese using a food processor with the grating blade attached. It works so fast and you know the ingredients are fresh. You can also buy frozen grated potatoes or "hash browns" from the freezer section and skip the grating altogether. If you do grate the potatoes, make sure to drain as much liquid from them as possible. This helps speed up the cooking time.

Experiment with the cheeses. Just make sure that there is a 1 1/2 cups total in there. I bet this would taste good with a good imported Gruyere with fontina or emmental.

Use only a little bit of salt with the potatoes. The sausage is pretty salty to begin with but I do think it is important to season the potatoes a bit. Otherwise, they taste a bit bland on the bottom...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Eggs Benedict with Orange Mock Hollandaise

This recipe is actually a little healthier over real hollandaise sauce and tastes so good! Why a mock hollandaise? Well, when people are eating over a course of an hour or two, it is so easy for real hollandaise to separate and/or over-cook. The mock sauce is much more forgiving and only needs a stir every 15 minutes or so. The less I have to remember, the better!

You'll be amazed when you try the orangey-citrus flavor on top of eggs... it blew my mind! Who knew those flavors went so well together? I like my yokes runny so under poach if I'm at your breakfast table...

6 Servings
10 minute prep time
15 minute cooking time

6-12 slices of 1/4-inch thick deli ham (Black Forrest or maple)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Zest of 1 large orange
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Few drops of your favorite hot sauce, i.e. Tabasco
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 English muffins, split, and toasted
Softened butter
12 eggs
Chopped fresh basil


1. First, zest orange and then juice it. In the top pan of a double-boiler or small metal mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, and hot sauce until well blended. Set aside or cover and refrigerate.

2. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Fill bottom half of a double boiler with water and set over medium-high heat. Fill a skillet with 2 inches of water, add vinegar and salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. While waiting...

3. Using a biscuit cutter, cut ham slices into 12 rounds or trim into pieces big enough to cover the size English muffin you are using. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ham rounds and cook on both sides until they begin to brown; about 2 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and transfer to oven to keep warm.

4. Start preparing English muffins. Toast, butter each half, and then transfer to the oven to keep warm. Cover loosely with aluminum foil.

5. Stir mock hollandaise sauce over bottom double-boiler until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. At the same time...

6. Reduce heat of poaching water to simmer. Crack one egg into a cup. Using a spoon, stir in one direction to create a "whirlpool" in the skillet. Remove spoon and quickly drop the egg in the middle. This will create a perfectly shaped poached egg. Cook until the whites are set and yoke is to desired doneness, about 3 minutes for a medium-set yoke. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate and then to the oven to keep warm.

7. The Build: 2 English muffin halves on each plate. 1 slice of ham on each half of English muffin. 1 tablespoon mock hollandaise. 1 egg atop each half and drown it all with more mock hollandaise. Sprinkle with freshly chopped basil and serve immediately.


Quick & Dirty Tips
I don't usually put the eggs in the oven since I am serving usually only two at a time. To make up for this, I use two saute pans so that I can make two poached eggs at the same time. I then transfer them with a slotted spoon right on to the ham and English muffin.

Roasted sweet potatoes go great with this dish!

Baked Sourdough French Toast with Caramel Glaze

Bar-none my favorite breakfast dish! Surprising, because I didn't like french toast much growing up. However, once I discovered Baked French Toast, my taste buds said, "we want more!" Make sure to use almond extract... it makes all the difference! This recipe doubles and triples very easily. Of course, no calories and no carbs... yeah right!

6 servings
20 minute prep time
40-45 minute cooking time

1 loaf sourdough bread
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup half & half
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
softened butter
cinnamon sugar

Caramel Glaze
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray a 9x13 inch baking pan.

2. Cut sourdough loaf into 1 inch thick slices. Cut larger slices in half to make 12 semi-equal sized pieces. Lightly butter each side of bread and lay in baking pan. Pieces will be snug together.... squeeze it all in.

3. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, half & half, sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg. When well combined, pour over bread slices. Turn bread slices to help absorb the liquid. Set aside.

4. In a sauce pan combine butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, and corn syrup over medium-high heat. Once butter if fully melted, keep stirring until mixture starts to bubble. Keep on heat an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly, but do not let the mixture come to a heavy boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

5. Turn bread over one more time and drain off any excess liquid that has not been absorbed from the pan. Spread 1-2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce over the top of each slice of bread. Immediately place in preheated oven.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes until brown and bubbly. Serve two slices to a plate. Dust with cinnamon sugar if you like!


Quick & Dirty Tips
You can partially make this the night before. Pour the liquid over the bread, cover, and refrigerate overnight. You'll be amazed when you wake-up in the morning and there is no more liquid in the pan! Make and apply the glaze in the morning and bake. In my opinion, both ways taste the same!

Use day old (or a few days old) sourdough bread. If you use fresh baked sourdough, reduce the liquid a bit otherwise it will come out a tad mushy for my taste. I usually leave the loaves of sourdough in the refrigerator a few days.

You're welcome to use maple syrup (real Vermont only please), but I think that this comes out sweet enough. I serve warm maple syrup on the side but very little is ever used.

If you overcook the caramel, it will be like taffy when it is done baking. Okay if you like that but if you don't, toss it and start it over.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Welcome to the Breakfast Table...

and welcome to my blog!

Why did I start a blog? I often post on Facebook what I am cooking at The Pomegranate. Most days, someone usually comments back, "that sounds delicious" or my personal favorite, "can you cook that for me?" Also, when I check in the dining room, guests want to know, "how did you make that?" I've been called countless times for a good breakfast recipe or for advice on a sweet treat for the morning or afternoon snack. So, I'm creating this blog for you and all my guests! Not only will you find mouth-watering breakfast fare but sweet and savory afternoon tea treats!

I hope you find my recipes to be unique and delicious! Without leaving your home, you'll be able to enjoy the great breakfast and teas that guests at The Pomegrante Inn enjoy each and every day. And, I promise to be honest in my opinions of them! Right off the bat.... I'll take a sweet breakfast over a savory one any day!

Why breakfast? It is my favorite meal and reminds me of my grandparent's Richard and Shirley. Growing up, the three of us prefered going out to breakfast over dinner any day. Vermont maple syrup, fresh eggs, and breakfast sausage were staples in our home. Buttermilk pancakes or golden waffles were always served on the weekends and it was always a treat to have "breakfast for dinner." So, in a way this blog is a little tribute to them...

As a bonus, I'll be able to keep track of all my recipes and instantly make changes to them as I perfect them each week. Check in often and I'm sure you'll find something mouth watering. Comment with your variations on the recipes and let me know what worked and what didn't. I'd love to read your stories...

So grab your whisk, make sure your knives are sharp, preheat the oven, and belly up to the table! Bon Appetit...