Category: breakfast

Chocolate Granola (Vegan, Nut-Free & Gluten-Free)

Ah, mornings. While many of you may groan at the thought of getting out of a warm cozy bed, mornings are actually my most productive time of day. My predicament? Mornings are just not long enough! No matter how early I set that alarm, I can never seem to find enough time to do all of the things that I’d like to get done before heading off to work. While I have good, healthy intentions, my breakfast ritual often involves me standing over the kitchen sink, scoffing down handfuls of Mini Wheats & drinking almond milk out of the jug. That is, until recently.

My Pinterest addiction inspired me to create grab-and-go breakfasts, packed into mason jars, prepared the night before. These often involve yoghurt or a smoothie, and a little bit of homemade granola. If you haven’t made your own granola yet, this is definitely the recipe to try. Sweet cherries, a hint of chocolate, and a tart, tangy cherries, with a wonderful buckwheat crunch.

I am a big fan of honey in my granola, but if you’re looking for a vegan alternative, maple syrup or agave both work equally well.

Chocolate Cherry Granola
gluten free, vegan

2 cups rolled oats*
1/2 cup buckwheat groats
1 cup unsulphured unsweetened shredded coconut**
2 tbsp brown sugar
70g agave nectar OR maple syrup OR honey
70g coconut oil
1/2 cup dried cherries

Combine all dry ingredients except cherries. Melt coconut oil and syrup/honey together in a microwave-safe bowl. Toss with dry ingredients. Lay out on parchment sheet and bake at 300F for about 15 minutes. Mix, add cherries, and return to oven for another 10 minutes. Let cool completely before breaking into pieces. Enjoy!

*If you’re in the U.S., most commercial oats are naturally GF. In Canada however, if you are cooking for someone with celiac and you need to be certain, look for the GF certification. Bob’s Red Mill sells certified GF oats, usually found in the organic section of most grocery chains.

** I get mine from Bulk Barn – the size of the shreds work perfectly for this recipe!

Overnight Breakfast (vegan & gluten-free!)

This breakfast is everything that you’ve been wanting in a meal: easy to make, delicious, healthy, hearty, and convenient! Mason jars help create a no-spill, grab-and-go breakfast for those mornings where you just don’t have the time to cook, a.k.a. every morning. Mason-jar meals have been quite the trend on Pinterest lately, I figured it was time that I hop on the bandwagon. A girl’s gotta stay on fleek! (Never let me say that again.) Oh, P.S., it’s naturally vegan and gluten free.

What’s extra-awesome about this recipe is it allows you to change the ingredients based on the season. Summer? Strawberries and peaches! Autumn? Plums and pears! Winter? Dried fruits! Cinnamon is delicious with all of the above, so I highly recommend using it.

Mason Jar Breakfast
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients

2 tbsp steel-cut oats
2 tbsp quinoa (or kaniwa)
2 tbsp buckwheat groats
1 tsp chia seeds
pinch cinnamon
pinch salt
3/4 cup boiling water

1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup chopped seasonal fruits or 2 tbsp dried fruits

Combine all dry ingredients in medium mason jar (if using dried fruits, add them now!) Pour boiling water over the top & stir lightly. (Do not shake, as the contents will stick to the sides!) Cover and let sit for about 30 minutes (until the jar comes to room temperature) then transfer to the fridge overnight. In the morning, add the milk and fresh fruits. Heat in the microwave in 30 second intervals if desired.

Stir, and serve!

Panettone French Toast

Sometimes, I procrastinate.

This recipe is something that I’ve wanted to make for years. YEARS. Why have I never done it? Procrastination, my friends. Well, that, and severe lack of Panettone. Now that I live in Little, Little Italy (Lasalle), there is an abundance of this fluffy Italian treat – at all times of year! So many varieties to choose from in fact, that I found it slightly overwhelming. Do I want currant Panettone? Chocolate Panettone? Coffee Panettone? Mixed Fruits? Original? Yellow? White? Which brand do I choose? (Italians and Panettone lovers, please weigh in on this – I still don’t know!)
Once my choice was made (chocolate-filled!), I decided to go ahead and let it sit on my counter for weeks. You see, I’m SO good at procrastinating, that I also procrastinate eating things. How does someone NOT consume an entire pannetone all by themselves? Self-control, people. Self. Control.  I knew that this particular panettone was destined for great things. This particular panettone was born to be transformed. This particular panettone would soon become a marvelously chocolatey, marvelously boozy breakfast miracle. Five months and mucho procrastination later, I share with you the one and only way that you’ll ever want to eat panettone again.
Panettone French Toast with Chocolate
an original recipe by allison sklar

Notes:  Leftover panettone freezes very well, and is easier to cut into cubes when frozen. Don’t use more than half of your panettone at a time, or you’ll end up with an overflowing pan, soggy toast, and unhappy tastebuds.

ingredients

1/2 packaged panettone, cut into cubes
1/4 cup chocolate chips

2 tbsp Nutella

2 tbsp milk


6 eggs

1/4 cup 15% cream
1/4 cup Bailey’s or chocolate liqueur 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp brown sugar



method
Line a 9×13″ baking tray with parchment paper. Place cubes evenly into tray. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.

In a microwave safe bowl, heat milk and nutella for about 20 seconds, until soft. Whisk together and drizzle over toast.

Whisk together eggs,  cream, liqueur, vanilla and sugar until very frothy. Pour over panettone mixture.

Bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until set and golden. 

Serve hot, sprinkled with icing sugar if desired.




Buckwheat Pancakes – Gluten Free!

I’d like to introduce to you a humble little superfood that may already be hiding in your pantry. It’s a little seed that is often mistaken as a grain, and goes by a few different names. Soba. Kasha. Groats. Yes, as you may have already guessed, I’m talking about buckwheat.

I call it a superfood, as it’s got quite an impressive nutritional profile. Low glycemic, high in protein, rich in amino acids, naturally gluten-free, this little seed is super versatile and can easily be prepared in many different ways. With a slightly nutty flavour that is enhanced when roasted, you can grind it into a flour and incorporate it into your desserts. You can sprinkle the raw groats over ice cream for a delicious little crunch. You can enjoy buckwheat in smoothies, as a breakfast cereal, as noodles (known as soba), or, my personal favourite, as a stack of delicious pancakes. Even Oprah praises buckwheat for it’s unique health-promoting properties. 
Buckwheat is the new quinoa. 
(People just don’t know it yet.)

I now present to you easy-peasy flourless buckwheat pancakes, made with few ingredients and a whole lot of love. I served them with a scoop of chai-chia pudding for an added protein and flavour boost, and garnished with some fieldberries for a little pop of colour. I used coconut oil in the pan (a little goes a long way), which added a touch of extra sweetness. All in all, these babies were absolutely delish, and the two of us ate every last bite!

Gluten-Free, Flourless, High Protein
Buckwheat Pancakes
an original recipe by allison sklar

Ingredients
3/4 cup buckwheat groats
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch fine sea salt
1 egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp agave or real maple syrup
1 tbsp coconut oil

Method
In a high powered blender, food processor, or coffee grinder, grind groats into a fine flour.
Mix flour with baking powder & salt. Whisk in buttermilk, syrup & egg. Mixture will be bubbly!

Heat oil over medium heat in large frying pan.

Scoop about 2 tbsp of batter at a time into the pan, more or less depending on the size of the pancakes that you prefer. Flip when pancake starts to bubble – these cook quickly, so do not leave them unattended! You may have to lower the heat to med-low after a couple of batches.

Serve with fruit, maple syrup & chia pudding.

Find my chia pudding recipe here!

Stellar Brunch (Oven-baked french toast with caramel sauce)

Springtime peeked it’s shy little head out to say hello to us Montrealers this week, and I instantly felt excited & inspired. There’s just something about warm weather and sunshine that get me into a crafty mood. Quite a good time to be feeling creative, as I’ve had a lot of decorating to do recently: we’ve officially moved into our new apartment! The perfect way to settle in? A good old-fashioned Sunday Brunch!

Though bagels and lox are generally my choice brunch food, I decided to make something a little more decadent this time. Introducing Oven Baked French Toast, and her bff, Caramel Sauce. Make this for your next brunch if you’re looking for a dish that is surprisingly quick & easy, and as eye-catching as it is tasty. Bonus: the air will fill with a warm, sweet aroma as your guests arrive.

This is a decadent, salty-meets-sweet, stick-to-your-ribs kind of breakfast – definitely weekend food! Tip: to make it extra yummy, you can prepare it the night before so the bread really gets some time to soak up the eggy goodness. This is also a perfect way to use up some stale bread you have lying around – once it soaks up the egg mixture, it’ll come right back to life!

Oven Baked French Toast
an original recipe by allison sklar

NOTE: I’ve included two versions of caramel sauce here. One is a shortcut (no-fail) caramel, and the other is the traditional method that we were taught in pastry school. They yield slightly different flavours, and the shortcut method is a little more rich. If you’ve never made caramel before, I suggest you try the shortcut method first!

what you’ll need

french toast
1 small loaf of your favourite bread, sliced or cubed
(challah bread, or other fluffy, soft bread works best)
6 eggs (8 if using a large amount of bread)*
1/4 cup icing sugar*
4 tbsp milk or cream
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tbsp cinnamon sugar **
1 to 2 tbsp butter, melted

caramel sauce (traditional method)
460g granulated sugar
160ml water
240g light/white corn syrup
125ml heavy (35%) cream
2 tbsp butter
pinch sea salt

OR 

caramel sauce (shortcut method)
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch sea salt

how to do it

french toast
Place all of your bread in a large mixing bowl.
Beat eggs with icing sugar until colour turns light yellow and mixture becomes fluffy.
Whisk in milk (or cream) and vanilla. Pour over bread and toss to coat. Allow to sit until mixture is absorbed, about 10 minutes. This mixture can also be prepared overnight.*

Grease a shallow, oven-safe dish with butter. Preheat oven to 325F. Lay bread mixture evenly into dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until bread is golden brown. Meanwhile, prepare caramel sauce.

caramel sauce (traditional method)
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, bring granulated sugar and water to a boil, while stirring with a heatproof spatula. Once mixture boils, stop stirring and reduce heat to medium. Continue cooking, brushing down the insides of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in water to avoid the formation of sugar crystals. Use a candy thermometer to bring the mixture up to 140C(285F). Carefully add in butter, cream and salt, stirring constantly. If mixture feels too thick, add more cream, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

caramel sauce (shortcut method – no thermometer needed!)
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, warm butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and cream. Stir with a heatproof spatula in figure 8 motion, until sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking, stirring slowly but constantly, until mixture begins to thicken, about 6 minutes. Voila! Caramel!

Pour sauce over hot french toast. Sprinkle with icing sugar or more cinnamon sugar just before serving.

Eat & enjoy!

notes
*If doing this overnight, increase the egg quantity to 8 to 10 eggs and the sugar to 1/3 cup.
** If you cannot find cinnamon sugar, make your own using equal parts of cinnamon to sugar.

Semi-Guilty Pleasures (Baked Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar Glaze)

And so, it begins.

Pastry school, that is!

Courses began this week, and so far we’ve learned some introductory basics on health and safety measures, as well as basic sanitation practices. Many of the unsettling facts made me happy to be vegetarian – a life choice that made me feel almost safe, until I learned that one of the worst outbreaks of botulism came from an infected jar of mushrooms, of all things. Still, the majority of contaminated food items are ones of animal origin, (poultry, beef, dairy, eggs) so vegans, you’re generally in the clear. I say generally, because there are still certain precautions that should be taken, especially when dealing with low-acidity canned foods, and unwashed fresh produce. I’ll be posting more about good hygiene practices in the weeks to come, once I’ve obtained my MAPAQ certification. 

I’m quite excited for today, as we get to go into the Pastry Lab (the name itself excites me!) where we will be learning about basic ingredients, measurement and weight. Every ingredient in classic French pastry is measured by weight (grams and millilitres), instead of measured by volume (teaspoons and cups). This allows for the most accurate reproductions of recipes, as measurement by volume is often skewed due to air pockets. In the future, as I blog certain pastry recipes, I’ll offer approximate conversions from volume to weight, for those of you who prefer one method over the other.

Alright, time for the sweet stuff… Drum roll please…
I introduce to you, the deliciously moist, sweet on the outside, fluffy on the inside, ultimate home baked donut! I won’t go as far as to say that these little babies are healthy, because, well, they are coated in sugar and then rolled in even more of the powdery white delight, but they are healthier than your average donut shop donut, as they’re baked instead of fried. They’re also far tastier, more wholesome, and it doesn’t get fresher than straight out of the oven! You can opt out of the sugar dusting part, though personally, I found that the sugar coating kept them fresher longer, and added a mighty fine taste to them.

Baked Doughnuts (& donut holes!)
recipe adapted from Châtelaine magazine, February 2014 issue.

Note: the original recipe calls for regular milk and butter, but I’ve replaced them with equal quantities soy milk and vegetable shortening (I used Crisco brand). If you want to make this completely vegan, simply substitute the egg with egg replacer. Voila! Doughnuts for everyone. Mmm.

Side Note: There are two spellings of donut (doughnut), and I’ll use both, as you’ll notice, throughout this post. They’re both correct. I’m just really indecisive over which one I prefer.

what you’ll need
1 cup soy milk
8g packet instant yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, melted
1 egg (or equal amount egg replacer)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

4 cups icing sugar
3 tbsp ground cinnamon
5 tbsp water

vegetable or olive oil (cooking spray works fine)
stand mixer with dough hook attachment

how to do it
warm soy milk on stovetop or in microwave. Do not boil! Add yeast and whisk. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Let stand about 10 minutes. Add granulated sugar, shortening, egg, vanilla and salt to yeast mixture and beat until combined. Remove paddle and affix dough hook to stand mixer. Gradually add flour, increasing speed until dough forms a ball and pulls cleanly away from the bowl.

Transfer dough into oiled bowl. Lightly oil top of dough and cover with damp tea towel. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.

Roll dough onto floured surface until 1/2 inch thick. Do not roll any thinner than this, or your doughnuts will become cookies, as I discovered in my first batch! Use a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut rounds out of dough, and a 1 inch cookie cutter to cut holes out of the middles. Pat together excess dough and roll into 1 inch balls, to make doughnut holes. Place on parchment-paper lined baking sheets and cover with damp tea towels. Allow to rise for another 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1 cup icing sugar and 2 tbsp cinnamon.

Once 45 minutes has passed, Preheat oven to 350F.
Dip donuts and roll donut holes in sugar & cinnamon mixture.

Bake in preheated oven at 350F for about 10 minutes, or until centers are golden.
Remove from oven and cool immediately on cooling rack.

GLAZE AND POWDER TIME!
Give your donuts a delicious glaze by mixing 1/4 cup water with 2 cups icing sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon. Dunk cooled donuts into glaze mixture. Reserve last cup of icing sugar in separate bowl, and roll sticky donuts in powdered sugar until fully coated. Donuts are best eaten immediately, but keep well at room temperature for about 2 days.

Final Note: this recipe looks lengthy, but it’s totally worth the time, and it’s not difficult at all, just requires a wee bit of patience. Give it a go – impress your friends and family! Or, just make them and then eat them all to yourself while watching the entire 3rd season of Community… whatever works for you.

Classy Lassi (Vegan Mango Chai Lassi)

One of my favourite little sandwich shops in Montreal, the Green Panther, makes this undeniably addictive smoothie called a Mango Chai Lassi. 
They blend tangy mangoes with coconut milk and chai spices, sweetening the whole thing with dates, for a creamy, dreamy mango experience. The addition of chai spices take an otherwise summery drink and turn it into something robust enough for a nippy winter morning. Inspired by this, as well as by my brand new toy (my Vitamix pro 350 blender), I decided to test out m own take on this newly found fave. 
Vegan Mango Chai Lassi
Inspired by Green Panther, Montreal
what you’ll need
1 cup fresh or frozen mangoes, cubed
1 cup soy or almond or coconut milk
1/2 cup mango (or other tropical) juice
4 pitted medjool dates
1 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp grated ginger (use fresh ginger if you like a little zing, or dried if you prefer a more mellow taste)
how to do it
Place all items in a blender. Blend until smooth. Stores well in the fridge for up to 3 days.