Chat Leftovers: Breakfast Tea Party, Snap Bean Nibbling

Breakfast tea: If you were hosting a little breakfast get together, for say 10 women, what would you serve? Keep in mind if people are coming over around 9:30 a.m., you would either want something easy to prepare (so you have time for a shower) or it's something that can be done the night before. Do you have recipes for a stuffed baked French toast and/or a German pancake (filled with berries)?

At this time of year, local in-season fruit is a no-brainer, and your guests will love you for having something easy to digest at an early hour. You could cut up cantaloupe the night before, then in the morning toss with an assortment of summer berries. Leave the banana behind (gets brown) and the grapes too. Instead, focus on what you can get from your own neck of the woods. Slice up a few peaches -- or even better, some firmer less fuzzy nectarines -- for even more sunshine. Some fresh mint or basil leaves make lovely garnish, too.

For a group of ten, you probably want a wee bit of variety in the baked goods department (and if anyone has a tried-and-true recipe for stuffed baked French toast or German pancakes, please share in the comments area). To continue the summery theme, I'm thinking something with zucchini -- either in the form of savory muffins or a sweeter, quick bread that you can whip up the night before. I wonder if chocolate zucchini cake would feel too dessert-y? You could reduce the amount of sugar to one cup for a more savory result, no problem.

These corn muffins studded with raspberries are pretty, and of course, the classic addition of blueberries is just as lovely. Now, if you want something kind of homey and old-school, have a look at this Dutch crumb cake from Liberty Tavern chef Liam Lacivita. It's a real classic.

In addition to hot tea, I think some cold tea at this time of year would be appropriate. Anyone with favorite home-spun cold brews to share?

Beans, beans, good for your heart...: Hola Kim, I have the better part of a huge quart of green beans from the farmer's market that I have no idea what to do with. Do you have a good idea for a cold salad that will incorporate them? I'd love to have them in the fridge, ready to fork when I'm browsing... thanks!

I love green beans, too. Two ideas immediately come to mind, but the best part about greens is their versatility; they can take on all kinds of flavorings and seasonings. These Szechuan-style beans are a personal fave, and although a little saucy, they work beautifully cold or at room temperature. You could snack on these babies all week long. I've also had fun nibbling on this ad hoc snap bean salad, just off the skillet or straight out of the fridge. The key is to do a quickie boil, drain, then throw into a skillet -- and that's when you can get creative.

The Last Word

Re: cost comparison shopping at Washington-area farm markets, here's a follow up comment from a local reader:

I've noticed the prices at my farmer's market in Kingstowne are 25 percent cheaper than the market at Del Ray, and almost half the price of the Foggy Bottom/Dupont Circle markets. If the reader can, she should check out the different markets in Fairfax County.

Big thanks to a reader in East Lansing, Mich., who shared the following recipe to add to the thread on how to fall in love with zucchini:

Indian Zucchini Curry

2 medium zucchini (you can make it with yellow summer squash too)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Thai greeen chilies, finely chopped
½-inch piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon chili powder (optional)
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons Olive/Canola/Vegetable oil
¼ cup milk

Peel the skin of zucchini and cut into small pieces. Chop finely the onion and green chilies and fresh ginger.

Heat a pan or skillet on the stove over medium heat. First heat the canola/oil/or vegetable oil. Once the oil heats up, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and turmeric powder and let the seasoning fry for 1-2 minutes. Once the mustard seeds start popping up add the chopped onion, Thai green chilies, and fresh ginger. Fry the mixture till the onion changes color and becomes translucent.

Add zucchini pieces and sauté until tender for about 15 minutes on medium heat. While the zucchini is cooking, add salt to taste, and the turmeric powder. You can also add the chilli powder at this time to the zucchini mixture for a spicier version of the curry.

When the zucchini is cooked, add the milk and thoroughly stir it into the mixture. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, cover the pan and turn of the stove.

The curry tastes good with warm rice or pita, or Indian rotis. Seasonings should be available at any Indian grocery stores or Asian food stores.

For the chat in entirety: What's Cooking transcript

Coming up tomorrow
: ELCers Alison in Dallas, Tex., and Claire in Auburn, Ala., share their experiences eating and cooking locally.

By Kim ODonnel |  July 23, 2008; 9:35 AM ET Chat Leftovers
Previous: ELC Guest Blogger: Kelly from Mass. | Next: ELC Guest Bloggers: Claire from Ala. and Alison from Tex.


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We've had great luck just putting some herbal teas (bags) into a pitcher with warm tap water, then letting it cool. Actually did it once with cold tap water (someone didn't understand the directions). Our favorite is peppermint (we use Celestial Seasonings), four or five bags to a half gallon of water. Very refreshing. And you can add orange slices, or fresh mint, or maybe a few squishy overripe berries to the glass (or to the ice cubes before you freeze them).

Also works nicely with green teas, (straight or flavored).

Posted by: cool teas | July 23, 2008 9:56 AM

This has become a once a month breakfast in my house. The only problem is even with two cast iron skillets serving more than 6 can be a challenge. Having said that the recipe couldn't be any easier:
German Pancake
3 T. Butter
1/3 c. flour
1/3 c. milk
3 eggs
pinch salt
dash vanilla extract (maybe 1 tsp.)

Heat the oven to 425. Place a 10 or 12 inch cast iron skillet in the oven to warm for about 5 minutes. Put the butter in the skillet and start on the batter.

Wisk the eggs, milk, salt, and vanilla together. When the butter has completely melted add the flour to the egg mixture and wisk for 30 seconds. Immediately pour the batter into the skillet. Cook for 20-25 minutes. You know it's done when the edges have crawled up the sides and are evenly golden brown.

I usually just squeeze lemon juice on them and sprinkle with powered sugar, but berries, other fruit (or skip the vanilla batter and used sauteed veggies like broccoli, mushrooms, and a little onion and garlic).

Having said that, if I were you I would mix up a big batch of stuffed french toast made with cream cheese and berries. Use a brioche or French/Italian bread, slice it thick, open a crevice in the bread and spread the cream cheese and fill with berries. Lay the bread out in a buttered dish (it will stick if you don't grease it). Use a simple custard base with eggs and milk (or cream), vanilla, and maybe a little lemon zest. You can put it together the night before and bake it in the morning. It turns out more like a bread pudding, but as far as I'm concerned that isn't a bad thing. Plus, you can make a warm berry puree to go along with it.

Posted by: mmmmm German Pancake | July 23, 2008 10:38 AM

Is non-baked stuffed french toast that much of a hardship? You can make sandwiches the night before (nutella is my favorite filling) and then french-toast-ify them the next morning--they don't take that much attention so you could do 2 (or 3 or 4) pans on the stove at once.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 23, 2008 12:07 PM

I saw some variation of this recipe on Rachael Ray's show. It's great for breakfast and it adds some protein to all the cakes, breads and muffins.

I am not giving too many specifics -just ingredients and techniques because I vary this every time I make it.

Thaw one box chopped spinach and sauté with a little butter or olive oil and tarragon (fresh or dried works fine - just so the spinach has some flavor; also you can sub basil if you prefer). Be sure to season w/ salt & pepper.

Next, place 1 slice of prosciutto in each spot in a muffin tin. You'll want to fold the prosciutto but leave some of it a little higher than the cups - it looks pretty when it's baked.

Divide the spinach among each of the muffin/prosciutto cups. Break one egg over each cup and season with salt & pepper.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes - until the egg is done to your liking - you may want to leave the yoke runny or you may choose to cook it fully.

Let cool but serve warm or at room temp. The prosciutto will become crispy and taste better than bacon, the spinach makes this taste healthy and breaking a soft egg over the whole serving is delicious!

Posted by: shelly522 | July 23, 2008 12:27 PM

Someone asked yesterday how to know if the person selling the product at the farmer's market is the one who grew it. Fairfax County markets are producer only markets, so everything is homegrown!

Also I have found prices keep dropping as the produce gets more plentiful.

Posted by: Jenn | July 23, 2008 12:58 PM

We love fresh green beans prepared Turkish-style with olive oil & tomatos. The olive oil and a bit of sugar really bring out the flavor of the beans and the beans really hold up to the braising.

This recipe is pretty similar to one I've used. Canned stewed or diced tomatos work just as well. And, it should definitely be eaten cold, or, if necessary at room temp.

Posted by: Re: Green Beans | July 23, 2008 1:34 PM

Re: list making and meal planning when shopping at farmers markets. Look for a market newsletter, e.g. DC's FreshFarms (, that will give you a preview of what's at the market that week. Also for those in DC, I put together a round-up of local food bloggers last week with lots of recipe ideas:

Posted by: Colleen/FoodieTots | July 23, 2008 1:39 PM

Everybody should know how to make Southern-style sweet tea.

Bring 3-qt saucepan full of water to a rolling boil. Add 6 tea bags (tie the strings together for ease of removal), put the lid on, and turn the heat to the lowest setting. Simmer about 20-25 minutes, pour into a pitcher with 1-2 cups of sugar. Rinse the tea bags into the pitcher and fill to the top with cold water. Shake or stir, chill, and serve.

Posted by: Karen | July 23, 2008 2:01 PM

I just whipped this up for a brunch last weekend--it's cheating a little, but it took no more than 5 minutes to put together plus baking time. You could make it before showering and then just leave it in the oven to bake.

Follow the Blueberry Coffee Cake recipe from the side of Trader Joe's Multigrain pancake mix, but "doctor" it up by increasing the amount of blueberries to 2 cups, adding 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and top it with Kim's revised topping for her blueberry crumble (it's in the blog entries of the past week or so). Bake according to directions on package.

You get an easy morning bread that's not too sweet, has whole grains, and tastes delicious warm from the oven, plus, you get the kudos for baking something with very little effort.

At my brunch, I also served Trader Joe's Unsweetened Green/White Tea with a hint of mint, garnished with fresh mint leaves, and it too was a big hit (no, I don't work for TJ's, just like their stuff!)

For the fruit, nothing is easier than to cube cantaloupe and watermelon (or use a melon baller if you want to be fancy), adding some more blueberries, or other berries, and garnish with either mint or basil as Kim suggests, or with wedges of lime. This can be made the night before and garnished just before serving (or forget about the garnishes).

Posted by: Bethesda Mom | July 23, 2008 2:46 PM

I think Greek watermelon and feta salad - w/ a little olive oil, basil, and black pepper - would be really nice for brunch alongside any kind of pancakes, muffins, or french toast.

Posted by: Reine de Saba | July 23, 2008 4:17 PM

Re: Breakfast suggestion
How about an upside down cake of sorts using fresh fruit, peaches, nectarines or blueberries or combination thereof. Can be done the day before and it's simple.

Or if you rather have something savory instead of sweet, strata, put together the night before and baked that morning. Smells heavenly too when the guests come in. Use less bread and less cheese than the traditional recipe but add some freshly sauteed zucchinis, peppers, lots of fresh herbs and a little sausage meat if wanted.

Posted by: Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener | July 23, 2008 4:36 PM

For breakfast guests I often make bread pudding (assemble night before, stick in oven an hour ahead of serving). It would be delicious with blueberries and lemon zest this time of year.

Posted by: m | July 23, 2008 7:09 PM

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