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Create a cozy breakfast … that's 'inn'credible

carl plating
Intelligencer Journal
Lancaster New Era
Updated Jan 18, 2011 20:14

By DAINA SAVAGE, Correspondent

 
When the weather outside is frightful, cozy breakfasts are so delightful.

Snow days are great excuses for creating menus to keep your family lingering at the table in celebration.

And who better to help create memorable first meals than local innkeepers who have perfected the art?

"We know that when people are making reservations in an area, what tips the scales is if a place has great food," said Debbie Mosimann, innkeeper of Swiss Woods Bed & Breakfast Inn north of Lititz, who is a contributor to the national bed-and-breakfast food blog "Eight Broads in the Kitchen" (blog.bedandbreakfastfoodie.com).

"We tend to get a lot of foodies," agreed Jan Garrabrandt, innkeeper at the Artist's Inn and Gallery in Terre Hill. "Part of the charm is being pampered."

artist inn breakfast

Carl Kosko, chef and innkeeper at the Harvest Moon Bed and Breakfast in New Holland, who is as well known for his cooking classes as his inventive breakfasts, said the entire food experience — from visiting local farms and markets to source ingredients to coming back and creating a meal to savoring the finished product — is the chief draw for many of his guests.

"So many wonderful, specialty foods come from Lancaster, so it's easy to be creative," he said. "So when I'm going to make something as simple as an omelet, I'll make it out-of-the-ordinary with smoked ham from Shady Maple and Henry Lapp's wonderful gruyere cheese, and then after I saute it, I'll finish it in the oven to give it more height and density, which creates a richer breakfast."

harvestmoontable

These three innkeepers know that creating a memorable breakfast is the key to delighting guests and ensuring repeat business. But they insist that unlike some labor-intensive dinners, a gourmet breakfast can be whipped up relatively easily.

"With a lot of breakfasts, like my muesli pancakes, you can get most of it ready the night before so that in the morning you're not hurried and rushed and you can relax too," Mosimann said.

Mosimann elevates the humble oatmeal into a baked concoction that has become her most requested recipe.

Garrabrandt created a simple souffle that can be mixed up in a blender before baking.

And Kosko uses up leftover brioche to make a marquee French toast that is a sensory delight.

"The key to a great winter breakfast is that it has to be warm and rich and homemade," Kosko said. "And adding chocolate doesn't hurt. The flavonoids in chocolate open up your mouth. It's rich and warm in sweet or savory foods."

But you don't have to go all gourmet to make the meal special, they insist.

"Use your tried-and-true, simple recipes, but serve them in a different way," Garrabrandt suggested. "Dress them up. Get your crystal out of the cupboard. Light lots of candles. Do some simple, inexpensive little splurges like buying berries out of season."

Kosko said the key to creating a cozy, warm breakfast experience is to pay attention to the entire sensory experience, from lighting a fire and candles to music to create the mood to a colorful tablescape to create a setting for the meal to come.

"As a chef, I am always intrigued on ways of pushing meals to be just a little nicer or just a little more. For instance, instead of just dipping strawberries in chocolate, add a bit more charm to make them exceptional with some nonpareils or heart-shaped sprinkles," he said. "Your garnishes can really make the presentation spectacular. Garnish the rim of the glass of fruit juice with a slice of star fruit or blood orange for a bit of drama. Mix your butters with honey and fennel or anise seed to enhance your toast in the morning. Learn a unique way to primp up your napkin."

maple syrup

Mosimann likes to enhance a cozy breakfast experience with touches such as syrup warmers on the tables. And although her guests don't come to the table in pajamas, they're perfectly appropriate in creating a comforting home indulgence.

"My whole philosophy with food is that it's a connector. It pulls people together and gives them time to talk and enjoy each other's company, which can feel indulgent when we're normally too busy to do so," she said.

And a decadent breakfast experience isn't complete without dessert.

Garrabrandt, who is known for her signature four-course breakfasts, said she makes "dessert portable, so that if they're too stuffed, they can take it with them and have it while they're touring the county."

Recipes

BRIOCHE FRENCH TOAST WITH WINTER CHUTNEY AND CARDAMOM CREME FRAICHE

Brioche itself is an indulgence, but after you've had plenty and are looking for something to do with what you have left over, this is a surefire way to bring your brioche to the next phase of splendor. Slice brioche and treat it like you would with any bread for French toast. You may want to embellish the egg mixture with a bit of cardamom. Assemble on plate, top with a smear of winter chutney then a drizzle of creme fraiche that you've enchanced with some cardamom. For a special presentation, you can make colored candy forms to decorate the plate.

BRIOCHE
For starter:
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm milk or water (105 degrees)
1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)

For dough:
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon hot milk or water
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch slices and well softened

Make starter by stirring together sugar and milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over mixture and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir flour into yeast mixture, forming a soft dough, and cut a deep X across top. Let starter rise, covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature, 1 hour.

Make dough by combining salt, sugar and hot milk in a small bowl and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Fit mixer with whisk attachment, then beat 2 eggs at medium-low speed until fluffy. Add sugar mixture and beat until combined well. With motor running, add in order, beating after each addition: 1/2 cup flour, remaining egg, 1/2 cup flour, about one fourth of butter, and remaining 1/2 cup flour.

Beat mixture 1 minute. Remove bowl from mixer and fit mixer with dough-hook attachment. Spread starter onto dough with a rubber spatula and return bowl to mixer. Beat dough at medium-high speed 6 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Add remaining butter and beat 1 minute, or until butter is incorporated. Lightly butter a large bowl and scrape dough into bowl with rubber spatula. Lightly dust dough with flour to prevent a crust from forming. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature until more than doubled in bulk, 2 to 3 hours.

Punch down dough and lightly dust with flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill dough, punching down after first hour, at least 12 hours. Dough may be chilled up to 3 days. Punch down dough each day.

Butter brioche molds. Form into balls and place in molds. Create a dimple in the top. Form a piece of reserved dough into a ball and place in the dimple. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover with kitchen towel and allow to rise until tripled, about 2 1/2 hours.

Beat together egg and a large pinch of salt and brush loaf with egg wash. Bake in 400 degree oven until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

From Gourmet, May 2000

brioche french toast.

WINTER CHUTNEY

Saute small bite-size pieces of pears, apples and dried figs in butter. Deglaze pan with a touch of water and add a bit of sugar to taste. Next add a pinch of nutmeg, clove, and two pinches of cardamom. Simmer for about five minutes.

 

THE ARTIST'S INN ROASTED CORN SOUFFLE

I had fun making this one up. This is a very friendly souffle; You don't have to tiptoe on the floor to keep it from falling. In the summer I freeze fresh corn so I have it on hand for this recipe in the winter. It's a nice taste of summer when it's cold out. Roasting it in the pan brings out a nutty flavor.

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 Tablespoon garlic flavored oil
1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, chopped
9 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
salt and pepper to taste
6 ounces cheddar cheese
6 ounces cream cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray six ramekins with non-stick spray. Pour corn into a non-stick pan and toss occasionally over medium heat until "browned." Pour corn in blender. In same pan, pour the oil and cook the onion until tender. Pour into the blender. Add all other ingredients to the blender and pulse until all contents are completely incorporated. Pour mixture into the ramekins and bake for about 35 minutes, but keep an eye on them. They will poof up pretty nicely. Recipe will serve six.

From Jan Garrabrandt, innkeeper at The Artist's Inn & Gallery.

artist inn corn souffle

DRIED BLUEBERRY AND WHITE CHOCOLATE SCONES

These scones are so yummy that you won't need any jam or cream with them.

2/3 cup butter
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup dried blueberries
1 c white chocolate chips
2 eggs
2/3 cup half-and-half

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In food processor, process butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until mixture is crumbly. (I just use a pastry cutter and do this by hand.) Stir in blueberries and white chocolate chips. By hand, add eggs and just enough half-and-half so dough forms a ball. Turn dough onto floured surface. Knead lightly 10 times. Pat into a form about an inch high and cut in small triangles. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Bake on Silpats on cookie sheet about 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.

Note: Halve this recipe and it still serves six people. Also cut the scones into small and larger sizes so people have a choice. They will also keep their shape if cut into hearts for Valentine's Day, stars for the Fourth and trees for Christmas. This recipe will not get hard, even if the scones are eaten the next day. They also freeze well.

From Jan Garrabrandt, innkeeper at The Artist's Inn & Gallery.

 

ALMOND CREPES WITH MANGOES AND NUTMEG WHIPPED CREAM

Basic Sweet Crepes: (Any crepe can be used in this recipe). Crepes can be made the night before, laying wax paper between each crepe. Wrap them in plastic and store in the fridge overnight. The filling takes just a few minutes the next morning.

1 cup flour, measure first and then put through sifter
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 cup milk
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt the butter in a pan and then combine all ingredients in bowl. Whisk until thoroughly blended, scraping down sides often. Using the pan that you melted the butter in, with a large serving spoon, place enough batter on pan and quickly swirl with left hand to spread the batter to a thin layer over bottom of pan. If you have a gas stove, this will take about half the time than on electric. Do not walk away — they will cook very quickly. Cook until they look just dry or slightly browned; flip, brown other side and layer crepes on dish with wax paper between them to keep them from sticking. Should make about 16 crepes.

MANGO FILLING
2 Tablespoons butter
8 ounces mascarpone (or cream cheese if you can't find it)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 mangoes
Brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place butter in a 13x9 pan. Place pan in oven for a few minutes to melt the butter and cover the bottom. Remove pan and set aside. Beat the cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Cut the mangoes in half and discard the pit. Thinly slice each half into about eight slices. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture over the middle part of a crepe, top it with 4 slices of mango, fold the left side over and roll up. Place seam-side down in the pan. Repeat with remaining crepes, saving a few of the mangos for garnish. Sprinkle the crepes with brown sugar.

When pan is full, place it in the oven and cook until heated through, about 15 minutes. Serve warm, garnished with 3 mango slices and whipped cream.

NUTMEG WHIPPED CREAM

Pour 1 cup cold heavy cream into mixing bowl. Using whisk attachment, beat on high until soft peaks form. Add 2 teaspoons sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Grate fresh nutmeg (about five strokes on the microplane) over the whipped cream and blend in.

Serves 7 to 8

From Jan Garrabrandt, innkeeper at The Artist's Inn & Gallery.

 

MUESLI PANCAKES

This was one of the first recipes we served here at Swiss Woods. It never fails to get rave reviews and is so very simple. We use our homemade granola that has bits of dried fruit in it, but any variety will work well. Just remember to soak the granola so that it softens some.

I love freshly grated nutmeg and use my microplane to grate it directly into the mixture. Regular ground nutmeg works equally well. These are particularly good served with Lemon Brandied Apples and whipped cream.

2 cups milk
1 cup granola
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably Saigon or Vietnamese
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine milk, granola and rolled oats the night before you want to make the pancakes. Cover and refrigerate. Next morning, combine the remaining ingredients and stir into the granola mixture. Combine until smooth, but do no overmix. Preheat a griddle until hot. Spoon mixture and bake until bubbles appear. Flip the pancakes.

From Swiss Woods Bed & Breakfast innkeeper Debbie Mosimann.

 

LEMON BRANDIED APPLES

In the '60s, my parents took their first trip to Germany. Traveling through the Black Forest area, they stopped for dinner in one of the old farmhouses typical to the area. For dessert, the chef wheeled out a cart and prepared these apples tableside. They are a favorite here at the inn. We use our own honey from our hives.

5 large apples, cored and thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons honey, good quality, preferably raw
1 lemon, juice and zest
1/4 cup brandy (rum works as well)

Peel, core and slice apples directly into a small, flat pan. Add lemon zest and juice. Drizzle honey over the apples. Cook over medium heat, cover and steam until soft. In a separate metal saucepan, gently heat the brandy just until you see steam. Carefully touch with flame and pour over the apples, stirring until the flame goes out. Serve hot.

From Swiss Woods Bed & Breakfast innkeeper Debbie Mosimann.

 

ALMOND-FILLED BAKED PLUMS

Winter and warm fruit seem to go hand-in-hand with snowy winter and these plums just hit the spot. I love plums, fresh from the tree or baked in tarts, or, as in this recipe, baked on their own with a sweet almond filling. Finish with a bit of creme anglaise, sweetened whipped cream, or vanilla bean ice cream.

8 ripe deep purple plums
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup butter
2 Tablespoons dark rum
1 large egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey

Cut the plums in half and remove the seeds. Place the remaining ingredients, except the honey, into a food processor and blend until it is smooth. Place the plums cut-side up in a baking dish. With a spoon, fill the center of each plum with the almond filling. Drizzle all the plums with honey. Bake at 350 degrees until the almond filling is lightly browned. Serve warm. Serves 8.

From Swiss Woods Bed & Breakfast innkeeper Debbie Mosimann.

 

BAKED OATMEAL

This is our most requested recipe. We just change the middle layer with whatever is in season.

1/3 c oil (canola or corn, not olive)
1/2 cup sugar (white or brown)
1 egg
3/4 cup quick oats
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (more if you use a layer of apples)
Chopped apples, pears, dried cranberries, nuts, or other fruit (optional)

Cream oil, sugar, and egg together in a small bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix. Pour into greased 8-inch square baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with milk.

At the inn, we do double and triple batches of this, always putting in a layer of fruit. My all-time favorite is leftover lemon brandied apples. Put half the batter into your greased baking dish, layer the fruit on top and then put the rest of the batter on top and bake.

From Swiss Woods Bed & Breakfast innkeeper Debbie Mosimann.