Tag Archives: brunch

Blueberry Kolaches – From Austin and D.C. with Love

Blueberry Kolache_2Yes, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it, friends?  I know Emilie and I have fallen far from the regular postings you used to get, but please know that we haven’t forgotten any of you.  In fact, we talk, text, and e-mail about you and Cork and Spoon quite often.  That is why today’s post is dedicated to all our friends/readers that have stuck with us all this time.

The last you heard from Emilie, she had moved from D.C. to Austin, TX (For the record, I’m still working on my abandonment issues…).  Well, before she and Tom left, in fact while I was helping them transfer their home into a rented PODS container, Emilie and I decided that I should run a half-marathon in Austin.  Since I had already planned on the “Real Girls Run” November half-marathon in Charlottesville, (injuries down the road put a stop to that) and because Emilie wouldn’t have accrued annual leave before Christmas, we found the perfect sweet spot: the Austin Marathon and Half-marathon, which takes place in February.

Now fast forward to New Years 2015.

I find out that after hearing I was coming to Austin and running a race, another Blueberry Kolache_4dear friend of ours, Gill, was coming to Austin, too.  Yay, reunion time! It had been years since the three of us were in the same place at the same time.  As we started coordinating our itineraries, Emilie sent Gill and I the following:

Tuesday: Ruth arrives around 8 PM

Wednesday: Gill arrives around 4 PM

Thursday-Saturday: FUN

Sunday: Ruth runs a marathon while Gill and I eat kolaches and cheer her on.

Yay, fun! Hey, wait.  “What’s a kolache?”  Neither Gil nor I had heard of such a thing before.

Emilie responded with this article from the NY Times.  It is a Czech, yeasted sweet bread filled with deliciousness like fruit, sweetened cheese, or sausage.  Due to a large amount of Czech immigrants that settled in Texas during the 19th century, these dollops of yumminess have become part of the Texan culinary culture.  Now that I was more informed about kolaches, I reminded the girls that I needed to begin refueling around mile 5 or 6 and hinted at how cool it would be for them to toss me a kolache as I ran by them.  (Don’t you agree?)

Blueberry Kolache_Luckenbach

Well, population 3 unless you count the rooster…

After a fun filled couple of days of hunting down BBQ, tasting Texas wines, exploring the faceted city of Austin, enjoying Deep Eddy cocktails,  and eating lots of bacon (Tom kept it comin’!), tacos, and avocados,  race day finally arrived.  In the dark early hours, Tom graciously drove me downtown and dropped me off while the girls got in an extra couple of hours of sleep.  I walked up and down Congress Ave between the State Capital and the starting line at 2nd St. thinking of how lucky I was to have friends who would get up this early or travel half way across the country to cheer me on.  I told my injured IT band that we could not disappoint them now.

Blueberry Kolache_Hope Outdoor Gallery

At the Hope Outdoor Gallery

Em, Gill, and Tom actually made it to three different points along the course, which took me by total surprise.  If you have ever run a long distance race, you know how much energy seeing your friends/family can pull out of you (Right, Sue?).  Emilie and I also learned about the SNL, “More cowbell!” skit from Gill, because Em had bought a cowbell to clang and cheer with for race day.  (Hey, we’re not the only ones.  I shouted “More cowbell!” at some spectators at a recent race…I don’t think they understood, but they did clang louder!).

Blueberry Kolache_mile 12

Mile 12…the biiig hill. Look at how encouraging Emilie is trying to be as I whine about wanting to walk not run.

Sadly, there were no kolaches for me on the course.  When Emilie accompanied me up the big hill at mile 12, I asked where my kolache was.  She told me to keep running up the hill.  Waaaah, I’m not done yet?

Then there was the finish line.  Yay!  I crossed right at my goal time.  Double yay!

Emilie, Gill, and Tom found me at our pre-determined meeting point.  Between great jobs and proud of yous, Gill mentioned they had had kolaches for breakfast.  Before my face fell too much, she also mentioned mine were waiting for me in the car.  Now how about a triple, yay!

Blueberry Kolache_3Now the kolache recipe I am sharing with you today is a “clean eating” version.  More about that in another post, but basically it’s a style of eating that keeps processed and artificial foods to a minimum.  For example, the typical sweet dough is made with all-purpose flour and granulated sugar.  I swapped these ingredients out for white whole wheat flour and sucanat.  For the blueberry filling, I swapped the sugar for honey.

As you probably know, working with whole wheat flour, even the finer white whole wheat kind, can be tricky business.  Whole wheat bread tends to be denser than bread made with its airier all-purpose cousin.  While the kolaches I had in Austin had a tender, pastry-like texture, these whole wheat versions are denser and more like a breakfast biscuit than a pastry.

Feel free to use whichever flour you like, both versions taste delicious and will compliment your morning coffee or tea quite nicely.

Blueberry Kolache_5

Whole Wheat Blueberry Kolaches

Ingredients

Blueberry Kolache_Ingredients

Sweet Dough
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 3/4 cups whole wheat flower
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup sucanat  (may substitute granulated sugar)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • Egg Wash (beat 1 egg with 2 tablespoons heavy cream or buttermilk)

Blueberry Filling

  • ¼ cup raw honey
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch or tapioca starch
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Directions
Sweet Dough
  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sucanat in ¼ cup of milk.Blueberry Kolache_Yeast
  2. Allow yeast to bloom, about 10 minutes.
  3. Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment.
  4. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine yeast mixture with the remaining milk and sugar along with the butter, eggs, and salt.Blueberry Kolache_Dough Mixing
  5. Turn mixer speed to low and gradually blend in 1 ½ cups of the flour.
  6. Change out the paddle for the dough hook attachment.
  7. Turn mixer speed to medium and begin kneading the dough.  Gradually add remaining flour mixture.
  8. Once all dough ingredients are combined in the mixer bowl, knead dough for about 5 to 7 minutes.Blueberry Kolache_Dough Kneaded
  9. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap.Blueberry Kolache_Dough Rest
  10. Allow dough to rise until doubled in size, about 60 minutes.
  11. Punch dough down.  Knead by hand briefly then divide dough in half. Blueberry Kolache_Dough Risen
  12. Form into balls, and let stand for 10 minutes
  13. Flour your work surface.  Roll out one dough ball to ½ inch thick.
  14. Cut dough rounds using a 2½-inch cookie or biscuit cutter.  Combine remaining scraps, re-rolling and cutting additional rounds.  Repeat with the second dough ball.Blueberry Kolache_Dough Cutting
  15. Place cut out rounds on a parchment lined or greased baking sheet(s) about 1 inch apart.  Cover with a towel and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.Blueberry Kolache_Dough Rounds Rest
  16. During this final rise, prepare Blueberry Filling (instructions below).
  17. Pre-heat oven 400°F.
  18. Use your thumb or the back of a spoon to press a deep indentation into the center of each round.  Blueberry Kolache_Indent
  19. Brush kolache edges with egg wash.
  20. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling into the indentation.Blueberry Kolache_Filling Kolaches
  21. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.Blueberry Kolache_Baking Time
  22. Allow to cool then store for up to three days in an airtight container.Blueberry Kolache_Baking Done
Blueberry Filling
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the honey, cornstarch, salt, and cinnamon.  Stir to combine.  Blueberry Kolache_Filling Syrup
  2. Add the blueberries and lemon juice. Blueberry Kolache_Filling Add Berries
  3. Place saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring, until filling comes to a low boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Blueberry Kolache_Filling Simmering
  5. Set aside and let cool.

Blueberry Kolache_1

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Hominy and Egg Scramble

A few weekends ago, after waking up on a lazy Saturday and spending the first hour of my “morning” (ok it was closer to 11am than 8am) knitting and watching Funny Face for the gazillionth time, I realized I was starving. My first inclination was to whip up my typical weekend breakfast of scrambled eggs, veggie sausage, and toast with raspberry jam – but that was boring. I mentally ran through a list of breakfast foods, dismissing all of them: pancakes – no syrup in the house, omelet – too much work, french toast – see pancakes, and so on. Then I remembered that I always have a can of hominy in the cupboard.

Egg and hominy scramble 1

Growing up, hominy was inexpensive and, as a result, a frequent feature at the dinner table. Typically we cooked it with onions, garlic, and plenty of pepper and I loved it, mostly because of loved the firm dense texture of the kernels and the peppery bite of the seasoning. It was from this childhood sidedish that I got the inspiration to combine the hominy and scrambled eggs for a delicious breakfast. It wasn’t until yesterday, while doing some quick research for this post that I learned the hominy-egg scramble is a pretty common dish in parts Central and South America called mote pillo.

Hominy and Egg Scramble

1 can white hominy
1 green pepper
3 cloves of garlic
avacado oil
salt & pepper
cayenne pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons whole milk
shredded Mexican style or cheddar cheese

1)     Drain and rinse the hominy in cold water. Dice the green pepper into  pieces about a quarter to a half inch in size and finely dice the garlic cloves.

2)     Heat the oil over medium-low heat and saute the garlic and green pepper for about 2 minutes. Add hominy and season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cook until hominy is heated through, about 8 minutes.

Egg and hominy scramble - sautee the garlic and peppers

Egg and Hominy Scramble - season and sautee the hominy

3)      While the hominy is heating up on the stove, crack 4 eggs into a small bowl and add milk. Whisk together. Pour the egg mixture into the pan with the vegetables.

Egg and Hominy Scramble - pour the egg into the pan

4)    Continue to stir and fold the egg mixture with a rubber spatula until the eggs are no longer liquidy, but are not browning.

Egg and hominy scramble - cook the egg

5)     Sprinkle the scramble with cheese, cover with a lid, and reduce the heat to its lowest setting. Let the cheese melt and then serve hot.

Egg and hominy scramble 2

Pumpkin Oat Pancakes

It’s no secret that I love breakfast – especially eggs. In fact when given the choice, I always stray to the savory egg and veggie options on a brunch menu. As tempting as the french toast and waffles are, I can’t justify starting my day with a plate full of sugar any more than I can justify eating a bowl of Lucky Charms for breakfast. So I am always trying to figure out ways to make tempting but slightly healthier versions of some of the sweeter breakfast staples so that when I feel the need to indulge, I can do it without adding 6 more miles to my daily run. So I was really excited when my attempt at a pancake pumped full of fiber and nutrients succeeded on the first try. One thing I will say, no matter how excited you are for these pancakes, do not skip the 10 minute waiting period, otherwise the oats will be dry and create a weird consistency in the pancakes.

Pumpkin Oat Pancakes

½ cup old fashioned oats
1 cup flour (white or whole wheat)
2 tablespoons honey
2 ¾ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup milk
½ cup pureed pumpkin
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ tablespoon neutral oil
1 large egg

1) Pulse oats in a small food processor until coarsely ground.

2) Whisk together flour, oats, spices, baking soda, and salt.

3) In a small bowl combine milk, pumpkin, vanilla, oil, and egg.

4) Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients and stir until combined. Let sit for 10 minutes.

5) Pour about a quarter cup of batter into a lightly oiled fry pan preheated over medium-low heat.

6) Cook until bubble start to form in the middle of the pancake and the edges look dry. Cook on the second side for another 2-3 minutes.

What’s for Brunch? – Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

A month ago, I shared with you a dish I made for my mom’s birthday brunch. Well now it’s my dad’s turn. This time my sister was the hostess for breakfast, which took place at the parentals’ , but she did ask if there was anything I would like to contribute. After some going back and forth,  it was finally decided I would make the biscuits for one of my dad’s favorite breakfast dishes: biscuits and gravy! Yup, he is definitely a southern boy, despite being from Indiana. My southern belle grandma (who is from Kentucky) raised her kids on good ol’ southern fixin’s.

As I was gathering the ingredients the night before, I ran into a snafu .  I forgot to buy the gosh darn buttermilk! Don’t ask me how I could forget the key ingredient to buttermilk biscuits, but I did. Luckily, there is a handy dandy substitute readily available using items already in your kitchen: regular milk and white vinegar. I actually use this substitute a lot when I get a sudden craving for red velvet cake, another recipe for which buttermilk is a key ingredient. Disaster successfully diverted! Phew!

No sooner said than done, my kitchen was smelling of fresh baking biscuits. The little darlings were so cute. When I pulled them out of the oven I couldn’t resist grabbing a couple and smothering them in butter and jam. After all,  I had to make sure they were perfect for my dad’s birthday. So, sooooo goood!

Buttermilk Biscuit Minis

makes 20-24 mini biscuits
Ingredients
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 ½  teaspoons baking powder
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl
  3. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or with two forks until mixture resembles coarse meal. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine milk and vinegar, stir and let set for about five minutes.
  5.  Add honey to your newly made buttermilk, stirring with a whisk until well blended.
  6. Add buttermilk mixture to your dry ingredients and combine until just moist.
  7. Flour your workspace and turn dough out onto it. Knead lightly, about five times.
  8. Roll dough into a 9”x5” rectangle. Dust top with flour.
  9. Fold dough into thirds, just like you would a letter to fit into an envelope. Repeat two more times.
  10. Roll dough to ¾” thickness then cut with a 1 ¾” round biscuit cutter (Or a shot glass like I did! It gave me biscuits about an inch in diameter)). You should be able to get about 20 -24 rounds.
  11. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, keeping about an inch in between rounds.
  12. Bake 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Brush tops with butter if desired and serve piping hot.

~Ruth

Zucchini Potato Fritters

My family isn’t one for celebrations. When holidays roll about, our celebration is  sitting down together for dinner, because we never have dinner together on normal days. Same thing with birthdays, except dinner is usually out at a restaurant so no one has to cook or clean. Well, for my mother’s birthday this year, I decided I would host a birthday dinner at my place to help save my dad some money, but to also save them from the same ol’ same ol’ chain restaurant fare …until I found out that neither my father or sister were available for dinner that night! After some calls and text messages, it was decided we would instead have a brunch the day before.

Breakfast for myself is easy: oatmeal, pancakes, or an omelet…but this was a birthday celebration! What to make?  I wanted something visually appealing and definitely special so my mother would feel special. Since one of her favorite foods is sauteed zucchini, I thought I would do a twist on hash browns by adding in grated zucchini and making little fritters out of them. She LOVED them! Yippee! Happy birthday, mommy!

Zucchini Potato Fritters

Ingredients
  • 1 cup grated potatoes
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
Directions
  1. In a medium bowl, add the flour, milk, and egg and whisk together to create a batter.
  2. Add grated potatoes and zucchini to the batter and mix well. Add parsley and season with salt and pepper and mix well again.                                   
  3. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.
  4. When oil is hot enough for frying, start scooping the zucchini potato mixture in 1/3 cup schools and carefully add to the pan.
  5. Cook each fritter until golden brown and crispy on each side, appx. 4-5 minutes. When finished, place on a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  6. Serve fritters as a side with your favorite brunch dishes.