Filtering by Tag: brunch

Rice Pudding, Revisited

My first-ever post on this blog, almost exactly three years ago, was for rice pudding - a recipe I had taken directly from a cookbook and proceeded to ruin. I posted it anyway, imploring my imaginary readers to "not mess it up like I did." Oh, me.  

I suppose I posted it (despite its flaws) because I don't really care for exact science (measuring, temperatures, what have you) when it comes to food, nor do I care when things aren't perfect. I just don't think anyone has time for that, frankly. "Good enough" is actually pretty good.

Part of my philosophy when I coach cooking students is to help them get out of their heads and have FUN, without feeling enslaved by recipes. I do recognize, though, that there's a baseline skill and comfort level that has to be achieved before this can happen. 

One of the biggest building blocks you can understand - something that will help you for the rest of your life - is learning about why balanced foods taste good and how to correct your dish if it's tilted too far one way or another. As chefs, we look for the magic spot where lightness meets dark, where sweetness meets salt, where crunch meets silk, where acid meets fat. It's the slaw brightening the pulled pork, the herbs grazing your meaty stew, the cool yogurt on your spicy daal. It's salt and lemons. 

Anyway - in honor of 3 years of hosting dinner parties under an official moniker, here's another rice pudding recipe. It's a more interesting and healthful version of sticky rice and mango, if you're a fan of that.

Coconut and Persimmon BREAkfast rice with Cashews and Lime


In a small pot, measure 1 cup of white rice (basmati or jasmine are both fine). Add 1 can of coconut milk, one cup of mylk (pick your favorite - I used almond), and a big pinch of salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower your heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Note: feel free to use brown rice, but you'll need an additional cup of liquid and more time to cook. 

Your rice will be wet, but that's good. In fact, you might want to add even more mylk to loosen it up if it gets dry. It's not a pudding, per se, but more like pappy soft breakfast rice. 

While your rice is cooking, dice your fuyu persimmon. Make sure to use the crunchy, squat fuyus - hachiyas are soft and very tannic (I'm not a fan). Squeeze lime over the persimmon generously, tossing to cover. 

Chop ~1/3 cup of cashews roughly. In a 325* oven or in a pan over low heat, toast the cashews until light brown. 

In a bowl, serve a generous scoop of coconut rice and top with limey persimmons and cashews. Drizzle raw honey generously over everything, and sprinkle with finely chopped lemon balm, bee balm, or mint. 

Recipe: Coconut Chia Pudding with Hibiscus Rhubarb Compote

Coconut Chia Pudding with Hibiscus Rhubarb Compote.

Coconut Chia Pudding with Hibiscus Rhubarb Compote.

This is the easiest recipe.

Combine 1 can full-fat coconut milk with 1/4 cup chia seeds and a splash of vanilla extract. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

In a saucepan, gently cook 1/2 lb rhubarb with 1/4-1/2c sugar (to taste) and 1/2 cup very strong hibiscus tea (made by steeping at least a half cup of hibiscus flowers with a full half cup of boiling water; let steep for 5-10 minutes and strain into rhubarb).

Top chia pudding with fruit compote and sprinkle with toasted coconut (if desired).

Weird tip: I actually eat hibiscus flowers after they're steeped. They have a weird seaweed texture that I dig. 

Recipe: Last-Minute Griddle Cakes

Sometimes I wake up on a Sunday morning with every intention of doing all the things one is supposed to do to be a member of the Responsible Grown-ups Club. I'll get to a great start - brushing my teeth and cooking eggs and making my bed. Sometimes, though - as with this last Sunday - my carefully laid plans will be interrupted - in this case, by an 11:30 ping on my phone: "brunch at noon! bring something to share!"

It only took me 2.8 seconds to decide that homemade food with friends was an infinitely better plan for the day than anything else I had on my list (showering and paying bills, for example). I let my fried eggs get cold in favor of scrapping together some last-minute baked (well, griddled) goodness. 

Luckily, brunch items are some of the easiest to throw together. Scones are my personal favorite, but having just discovered the amazing fact that my stove has a large built in grill (!!) and eager to test it out, I turned to a recipe that uses a scone-like dough but cooks it on a grill. I'm excited to report that the grill heated up super evenly and made for perfect little wholesome cakes that cooked up in a flash and were still warm when I arrived at brunch exactly 30 minutes later.

Notes: Like scones, these are infinitely adaptable. Try cardamom and dried apricots, some lemon zest and poppy seeds, or bacon and cheddar as mix-ins.

Whole Grain Welsh Griddle Cakes

(Adapted slightly from

In a large bowl, combine one cup all purpose flour with one cup spelt or whole wheat flour (I'm a huge fan of this brand which supplies sprouted whole grain flours that make tummies happy). Add 1/4-1/2 cup sugar (I like things less sweet), 2 tsp baking powder, a large pinch of salt, and a few shakes each of cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk to blend.

Cut 4 tbs cold diced butter and 4 tbs cold lard (or 8 tbs butter if you don't love lard as I do) into the dry mixture using a pastry cutter or your deft hands. Add a half cup dried fruit (currants, apricots, or cherries would be great) and the zest of one lemon. Stir in one beaten egg and enough whole milk to make the dough come together (about 1/4 cup). 

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently a few times to ensure it sticks together. Roll it out until it's about a quarter inch thick and use a cookie cutter or water glass to cut it into tennis-ball-width rounds.

If you're a lucky duck like me with a griddle, heat it to 350° F. Otherwise, heat a heavy skillet over medium low. Add a little butter or lard to the surface and cook the cakes 3-5 minutes on each side or until dark golden brown. Remove and eat right away, burning your mouth with deliciousness, or wrap loosely in a towel and quickly ride across town to deliver to your hungry friends. 

(Non) Recipe: How to make shortbread without a recipe

Yours in 20 minutes - spelt and whole wheat shortbread with cumin, lemon zest, and himalayan sea salt

I have the bad habit of alienating non-cooks who compliment my food by exclaiming things like "it's so easy to make! You just make a choux paste, and you'll need some piping bags, but after that blah blah..." at which point they either feel put to shame or their eyes have turned into glacé cherries in disinterest. Social grace, where art thou?

But shortbread! It really is very easy. I mean, really. I swear. If a friend says he's dropping by in 30 minutes, you can blithely say "ok, I'll make some cookies!" and mean it because it's 1) super likely you have all the ingredients and 2) easy to scale up or down (if you just wanted 4 cookies you could do that!) and 3) they only take 20 minutes - total. Here, I've broken it down into a simple ratio that you can memorize and apply to whatever you have on hand:


  • 1 part sugar/sweetener
  • 2 parts butter - room temperature
  • 4 parts flour
  • salt to taste (more if butter is unsalted)
  • flavorings/spices

By flour, I mean any type of flour! Whole wheat, spelt, pastry - a blend of any of these - all will taste great. There are two exceptions: almond flour, which is a great GF alternative but will only need half as much butter, and bread flour, which will make a tough cookie and should be avoided. 

By sugar, I mean any sweetener - white sugar, brown sugar, sucanat, powdered sugar (which make for extra delicate cookies), or even honey will work. 

By butter, I mean any fat that's solid at room temperature: salted butter (use less salt), unsalted, lard, duck fat, or coconut oil.

By flavorings, I mean any assortment of the following (which is by no means an exhaustive list): vanilla, almond, or lemon extract, citrus zest, lavender, cinnamon, nutmeg, rosemary, sage, black pepper, chopped nuts - either folded in to the dough with the flour or sprinkled on top of the cookies before baking.


Preheat your oven to 350.

In a big bowl, cream butter, sugar, and any wet add-ins. Really cream them. Cream them like you're a sixth grader who wants their 4th-grade lunch. The more you whip them, the lighter your cookies will be.

In a smaller bowl, combine flour, salt, and any dry add-ins. Slowly incorporate into wet ingredients, stirring only enough to combine. Don't overwork the dough! If you have a flour sifter, you can use it here - it will make your cookie extra tender.

With a gentle touch, gather the dough in the bowl until it's all one mass and set on a floured surface. Roll out to a cylinder as fat as you want your cookies wide.

If the dough's too soft to handle, wrap the cylinder and stick it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up.

Slice the dough into thin (1/2 in) slices and arrange on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with any additional toppings and bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.

Rocket Fuel Breakfast (backpacking recipe)

Bound to get you movin' ...

Oatmeal! It's the gloppiest. When it's bad, it's so bad. 

The following is my way to make it not bad, even when it's instant oatmeal and you're out in the middle of nowhere with no fresh fruit or pats of butter to smear it with.

I developed this "recipe" (if you can call it that) to feed our group breakfast on a short backpacking trip last weekend (see: previous post). 22 miles of undulating terrain under the weight of heavy packs calls for some serious sustenance that's (in order of priority) lightweight, instant (just add water), filling, and delicious. 

I'm not much of a breakfast person (too lazy - toast is about as far as I go), but when I got home I had some leftovers of this stuff. I ate it every day this week (making more when I ran out) because - seriously - it's like rocket fuel. It's in no way low-calorie, but it's instant, delicious, and will get you through the day (whether you're hiking 10 miles or just have back-to-back meetings until 3pm). 

Rocket Fuel Oatmeal

(serves four, or one over four days!)

  • 2 cups instant oatmeal
  • 1/2c hemp hearts
  • 1/4c dehydrated milk powder
  • 1/4c coconut butter (if you can't find it, use coconut oil)
  • 1/4c dried sour cherries (or other dried fruit)
  • 1 scant tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon or ginger (optional)

Optional toppings: brown sugar, cacao nibs, roasted almonds, granola, fresh fruit


Melt your coconut butter or oil in the microwave or on the stovetop until liquid.

If you're backpacking, combine all non-topping ingredients in a ziploc gallon bag and shake. If you're pre-making breakfasts for home, combine ingredients in a bowl and portion into ziplocs (less eco-friendly) or small Tupperware containers. 

When you're ready to eat, mix oatmeal and boiling water in about equal parts and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Add toppings and enjoy!

Note: I like my oatmeal unsweetened except for fruit and love the textural contrast of topping it with crunchy granola. Try it.

Relaxing in the hot pools before hitting the trail again

Relaxing in the hot pools before hitting the trail again