Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Brunch Favorites !

Some of my all time favorite breakfasts are perfect to make for brunch during the holidays - Crepe Suzette's, Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes, or Sourdough French Toast.

Crepe Suzette's are often served as a dessert, but they are a real treat for breakfast. I like to serve them with homemade jelly or jam spread on the crepe, rolled up, and then sprinkled with a dash of powdered sugar. I happen to like orange marmalade on mine. I once ate at The Magic Pan in San Francisco which served all different types of crepes for lunch, dessert or just a snack. If you have lots of guests, you can make the crepes and put them on a warmed ceramic dish and cover the dish with a lid to keep them warm. Oh boy - another ceramic idea for me - a covered Crepe Suzette warming dish - I better get busy designing this one.

I first had buckwheat pancakes at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas called The Pancake House. They serve great breakfasts but you have to wait in line to get in. Later I adapted the pancake recipe by adding blueberries or blackberries. Be sure to serve the pancakes with real maple syrup. There is something hearty and tangy about buckwheat. You'll find the pancakes will stick with you for a good part of the day giving you the energy to cook the main meal, do the shopping, shovel the snow, or whatever you need to do.

Last but not least sourdough french toast is so good. Using day-old or stale sourdough french bread is best for this recipe. If you don't like sourdough, you can use sweet french bread. I learned to make french toast with sourdough bread from the Starlight Cafe in Foresthill, California. The cafe was originally started by the NFL football player, Ola Murchison. Of course, you are going to serve your sourdough french toast with real maple syrup just like you would with the buckwheat pancakes.

I know you're all busy, so here's the recipes.

Crepe Suzette's

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups cake flour
pinch of salt
4 eggs - room temperature
2 cups milk - room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon or orange zest
2 tablespoons of triple sec, orange liqueur, or vanilla extract
condiments or fillings of your choice

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until butter just starts to turn brown, but don't burn the butter. Remove from heat and pour into a small bowl to cool. In the meantime, in a large mixing bowl add the flour, sugar salt and zest and stir to mix. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs lightly, then add the milk and blend together. Slowly add the egg and milk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk (you can blend on low, but don't over blend), continue adding the egg and milk mixture till the end, then slowly drizzle in the cooled butter and last the liqueur.

Cover the bowl and let it sit for about half an hour. This is a good time to have a holiday candy, preferably chocolate, and visit with your guests, teasing them about waiting for their Crepe Suzette.

Get your 8 inch crepe pan out. I have a favorite crepe pan and no one is allowed to use it for anything else. Why? The crepe pan gets seasoned and you don't want it to loose that perfect surface for cooking the crepes.

Put your crepe pan on medium heat and add a bit of clarified butter till melted, pour about half a cup of batter into the pan and immediately tilt the pan so the batter covers the bottom of the pan all the way around. Cook the crepe for about minute till till it starts to curl up on the sides and is dry in the center, then use a thin spatula to turn the crepe over and cook on the other side for 15 seconds, then move to the warming platter and cover, do this over and over again till you have the batter all used up. After the first few crepes you shouldn't have to add more butter to the pan. This is how the pan gets it's seasoning. Bring to the table and serve them slathered with all your favorite condiments, roll or fold the crepes up, and eat to your heart's content.

Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes

1-1/2 cups sifted buckwheat flour
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon oil
butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients with wire whisk. In a small bowl, with an electric mixer, combine buttermilk, molasses and oil. Slowly add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Hand mix only until large lumps are gone.

You can add some blueberries to the batter if you want. If they are canned, make sure you drain the berries very well before adding them.

Heat griddle or frying pan. Grease pan lightly. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup to form each pancake in pan. Bake until bubbles appear and edges are brown. Flip pancakes and cook for a minute or so longer. Serve hot with butter and maple syrup. (See how my maple syrup shown above is almost empty, um good). Makes about 16 4-inch pancakes.

Sourdough French Toast

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
4 eggs
8 stale sourdough bread slices

Crack eggs into a bowl or dish deep enough to submerge your bread slices. Whisk the eggs until well beaten, add milk and mix, add vanilla. Submerge each slice of bread in the egg mixture, ensuring proper coating of all sides of the bread as well as some absorption of the mixture inside the bread. Do not over saturate. 3-5 seconds per side should suffice. Place wet bread on hot griddle or frying pan and sprinkle with cinnamon. Flip when bottom side of bread is cooked. Do not flip more than necessary (ideally once only). The side should take no more than 5 minutes to cook. Look at the centre of the bread to determine if the absorbed mixture is being cooked. If not, consider a hotter pan or longer cooking time. Serve with fresh fruit or real maple syrup and butter.


  1. Great, now I'm hungry! We love homemade pancakes, so we'll have to give the buckwheats a try. We made some cornmeal pancakes a few weeks ago and they were so good!

  2. Hi Jerry, I am sure the buckwheat is good for you in some way, but I just like the earthy flavor. I got hungry just posting the photos too. Happy holidays to you and your family.

  3. Thanks for putting these up Linda. I've never made Suzettes but these look so good I think I 'm going to try them.

  4. Hi Deborah, crepe suzettes are so good and really quite easy to make. I guess if you made them the real French dessert way, you would flambe them - I have yet to try that - but I have tried Cherries Jubilee a couple of times and it's kind of fun catching the liquer on fire.


I love suggestions, questions, critiques, thanks for your comment