A Simple Breakfast::Creamy Polenta with Maple Syrup

"Why is it called creamy polenta, mama?", asks my 5-year old daughter. "Is it because it has cream in it?"

Cinnamon was most likely wondering why this morning's polenta was more creamy than usual. Most of the time I add more cornmeal to the milk and a splash of cream and/or butter at the end of the cooking time. This morning it was simply whole milk, a pinch of sea salt, and coarsely ground yellow cornmeal. A simple and delicious alternative for a nutritious breakfast that my kids love and often request. Of course they don't let me forget the pure maple syrup that always accompanies this cereal.

The recipe, although not as simple as toast with almond butter and honey, is not as complicated and time consuming as making pancakes - which is almost always a weekend ordeal, unless breakfast becomes dinner. It's also not one requiring you to stand by the stove, whisk in hand, during every second of the 25-30 minute cooking time. An occasional stir with the whisk is all that's required. In fact, you can prepare the kids' school lunches in the meantime and still have time to set the table and make coffee.

 

Creamy polenta with maple syrup

makes enough to feed 4 for breakfast although my children always seem to want more – increase as desired, using 40 grams of cornmeal per 250 ml of milk

 

INGREDIENTS

1 liter whole milk

¼ teaspoon sea salt

160 grams coarse yellow cornmeal

 

INSTRUCTIONS

In a 3 or 4-quart pot set over medium heat, warm the milk with salt until almost boiling. Keep an eye on this step so you avoid the milk spilling over.

As the milk starts to bubble, slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce heat to a medium low and, leaving the pot uncovered, whisk every 5 minutes or so for a total of 25-30 minutes. Although constant whisking is not necessary, do not wander too far from the stove. I’m usually making Turkish coffee at this time which requires my being by the stove.

Spoon polenta into bowls and top with pure maple syrup.

 

 

Dinner of Poppy Seeds and Lemon

The mention of "dinner", "poppy seeds", and "lemon" in the title might lead on to believe that I made some pasta or rice dish accompanied by a sauce of poppy seeds with lemon juice and zest. Or a salad with lemon poppyseed dressing. None of those was on the menu. In this case, dinner was breakfast.

Lemon poppy seed scones, to be exact.

These were made with a combination of all-purpose flour and King Arthur's cake flour blend, baking powder, the zest of two lemons, 40g of Dutch blue poppy seeds, an egg, cream, salt, and sugar.

At times, I tend to use bread flour instead of the KA cake flour blend for my scones. That will be my next experiment for a new version of these lemon poppy seed scones.

Close up using manual focus on macro lensAnd another version will be using all-purpose flour as the only flour. Whoever said you shouldn't play with food clearly did not know how to have fun.

 

Skillet Breakfast::Greens and Eggs

How did March sneak up on us so quickly? It seemed as if it was a mere two weeks ago that we were celebrating Christmas. Now Spring Break is finally upon us and we have a chance to slow down once more. The frantic early morning schedule, accompanied by "hurry!" and "5 more minutes or you'll miss the bus", won't be heard for another week. It's a perfect chance to make something other than the usual hurried breakfast of bread with butter and sour cherry jam.

It doesn't take much time or a long list of ingredients to make a healthy breakfast. A pat of butter, one chopped shallot and two diced cloves of garlic cooked for a minute or two in an oven-safe skillet lays the foundation for two handfuls of chopped Swiss chard and spinach. Add some salt and pepper and cook greens until slightly wilted. Turn off heat, add a splash of cream, two eggs, and bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes.

Top with crushed Aleppo red peppers and enjoy with a piece of toast and freshly squeezed orange grapefruit juice.