Climb out of your breakfast rut and turn the day’s first meal into an event

La Crosse — New year, fresh start.

Begin your culinary do-over for 2018 at the dawn of day, by turning breakfast into a marquee meal instead of a hasty afterthought.

Imagine sitting down to this plate: poached eggs with red pepper sauce, oven-roasted garlic-herb bacon and a galette (rustic tart) of summer squash, tomato and goat cheese. This is the dream breakfast of Dee Nierzwicki, who operates Pedal’rs Inn , a bed & breakfast in Wales.

If such an elaborate menu sounds exhausting to prepare, no worries. Getting out of your grab-and-go or sit-down breakfast rut can be more fun than difficult.

Creative thinking and little touches of elegance matter. Timesavers in the kitchen ease the effort needed. Two examples: Freeze muffin batter for a head start later in the week. Make quiche a day ahead.

Dealing with dietary restrictions? Breakfast is one meal with an abundance of easy substitutions. For example: For a gluten-free quiche, simply skip the crust, suggests Marie Cimino of Westby House Inn in Westby.

These two innkeepers and others shared tips at a recent Wisconsin Bed & Breakfast Association conference. No group, arguably, thinks more about the first meal of the day. Nobody does breakfast like a B&B. And when it comes to tips to creating a special morning meal, they’ve got the goods. (Photo: Honeybee Inn Photo) Standards, surprises

Envision breakfast as an all-senses experience, Nierzwicki advises. Family and guests will “smell your cooking and perhaps hear breakfast being made before coming to the table,” she says. “It builds up anticipation for the meal,” as does the touch of soft table linens and the sheen of silverware.

Simple but nifty twists can refresh traditional fare, says Kevin Greenlee of Historic District Bed and Breakfast in St. Paul, Minn. Serve a savory waffle made with cornmeal, and arrange it in chunks instead of the predictable, linear square. Serving waffles in chunks instead of the predictable way can spruce up a breakfast favorite. (Photo: John Jiang) To enhance a bread, pastry or entrée, blend honey, herbs, cheese, citrus or other ingredients into butter. Experiment with syrup variations (one idea from Greenlee is for lemongrass-blueberry syrup) or top pancakes with a peach-strawberry glaze.

An herb or spice enriches a quiche crust, as long as the extra ingredient complements the filling.

But quiche is just one egg dish to make. Greenlee likes the classy look of egg roulade. Scramble eggs with cream or milk and pour onto a buttered jellyroll pan that is lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees until golden and firm. Spread the thin layer of baked egg with your choice of fillings, roll it up (as you would a jellyroll) and cut into serving portions that show the swirl of layers.

“It holds well for 10 to 15 minutes in a 200-degree oven,” Greenlee told her Wisconsin colleagues. Special needs

Barbara Ruka of Honeybee Inn in Horicon knows that it’s increasingly important to adjust recipes for guests with restrictive diets.

“Thank goodness there are more choices out there compared to when I started my bed and breakfast inn back in 2002,” she says. “It was very difficult then to make a good gluten-free breakfast for guests. Now there are a ton of good-quality, gluten-free products on the market.”

Her goal is “to make a breakfast that is so special and delicious that guests have a hard time believing it is keto (low-carb), vegan, gluten-free or whatever.”

When a recipe adaptation works well, it simplifies life in the kitchen. As Greenlee notes: “If you’re doing a gluten-free muffin for one person, do them for everybody because it’ll be a really good muffin anyway, right?” Food bling

A meal appears most tantalizing when accompanied by artsy little garnishes or other finishing touches that are known to innkeepers as food bling. But think beyond adding a standard sliver of cantaloupe or handful of grapes to an entrée.

It takes little time to dust a plate with a bit of paprika before adding a savory course. Serve lemon ricotta pancakes on a black plate, and top the stack with a shaving of lemon zest.

Invest in a kitchen torch to quickly and expertly caramelize brown sugar that is sprinkled onto a grapefruit half. Slice off a little off the bottom peeling, so the grapefruit sits flat when served and is easier to eat.

When serving a sauce or syrup, provide each guest with a mini pitcher, making it easier for them to “interact with their meal,” Nierzwicki says.

Guests want a breakfast experience that “reflects the style of their stay,” she asserts. “They all want a twist from what they’ve seen on every menu and buffet,” regardless if they’re away from home for skiing, business, romance or a special occasion.

That may as well apply to the homefront too, as the folks you love most prepare for another school day, workday or weekend. Four topsy-turvy breakfast trends

Cereal — especially super-sugary varieties — is moving beyond the bowl from Los Angeles to New York City. French toast with a cornflakes crust is one tame example. Sweeter: Lucky Charms mixed into milkshakes, Fruity Pebbles as a crunchy topping for pancakes.

Bakers and others are paying attention to cereal milk , what’s left in the bowl after no more, say, Cocoa Puffs are swimming in it. Cereal milk shows up in Georgia as an icing for doughnuts that are then sprinkled with Count Chocula or Froot Loops. Mixologists in Chicago blend booze with cereal milk (Cinnamon Toast Crunch with spiced rum has fans).

The purported therapeutic properties of cannabidol , also known as CBD, are turning the cannabis chemical into a hot cooking ingredient and coffee additive in Los Angeles and beyond, as more states legalized its use. The extract reportedly eases inflammation and anxiety.

Salad for breakfast, not unusual in Asian and Middle Eastern nations, is catching on as an option at some California restaurants. That’s especially helpful for vegetarian and vegan diets.

Sources: GetFlavor.com, Forbes.com

***** 10 secrets for scrumptious scones

Technique matters as much as the recipe, experts say. Proper technique is the difference between gummy and light, fluffy scones.

To that end, some scone tips: Technique is key to producing the best scones, including these apricot-orange gluten-free scones from Honeybee Inn. Use cold or partly frozen butter. Cut into pieces to make it more manageable.

Avoid the food processor, which makes it too easy to overmix the dough.

Use your hands to blend the firm butter into the flour. Do this for three or four minutes, until the mixture resembles small peas in size.

Use a fork when gradually adding the liquid (your preference: heavy cream to buttermilk). If it looks like cake batter, you’ve gone overboard.

If adding fruit, frozen versions work best. They hold their shape better.

Consider fun flavor combos. Examples: strawberry-ginger, rosemary-lemon. Jen Barney shares her secrets to making perfect scones. Brush scones with heavy cream or crème fraiche before putting them into the oven.

Make scones in small batches. Don’t freeze the batter or the baked scones.

To get a jump start on scone preparation: Blend and bag, by the batch, the dry ingredients.

(The same advice applies for making fluffy biscuits, which resembles scone dough but requires less sugar.) Source: Jen Barney, Meringue Bakery, Stoddard ***** Six kitchen magician tricks A kitchen torch is used on a dusting of brown sugar that tops a blueberry-granola-yogurt breakfast treat. Add vegetable oil spray to the outer ring of a Mason jar lid, then place in a frying pan to make perfectly round eggs or pancakes. Shred frozen butter so that it’s easier to keep cold when incorporating into recipes. Keep peeling back the paper wrapper as you work a stick of butter through a hand-held grater. Use taut dental floss to cut everything from cornbread to cheese. Buy a set of ramekin dishes to make individual quiches or custards. Invest in a small kitchen blowtorch to better control the melting and browning of cheese or caramelizing of sugar. Add artsy drizzles or designs by using a squeeze bottle to dress up a plated meal in any course. Source: Marie Cimino, Westby House Inn ***** Burritos, and more, for breakfast Barbara Ruka at Honeybee Inn Bed and Breakfast in Horicon likes the versatility of this protein-rich, vegetarian recipes, which she serves often.Make the burritos vegan by omitting the cheese. Make them gluten-free by using gluten-free wraps. To freeze burritos, wrap individually in foil and place in a single layer for up to three months. Reheat at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.When testing this recipe, one tablespoon of canned jalapeño pepper was substituted for a fresh jalapeño. Keto Breakfast Burritos are served with gluten-free white chocolate peppermint scones and Nueske’s bacon. (Photo: Honeybee Inn Photo) Black Bean and Quinoa Burritos Makes 6 servings 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 large yellow onion, diced 4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (optional) 1 large red bell pepper, diced 1 large tomato, diced 2 cans (14 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained 1 tablespoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika […]

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