A universal truth about pancakes is that they are always better made at home than ordered at a restaurant. Maybe it's because brunch cooks have enough going on juggling egg orders to pay attention to pancakes. I get it. But it's also probably why brunch pancakes are almost always big and leaden, which makes me feel as if I need a nap after eating them. When you make them at home, you can control the variables, adding spices (or not), using better forms of flour, and adding fruit to use up what's in the fridge (or freezer).Read More
I love tropical breakfasts. The day hasn’t become too hot yet, the birds are making a racket, and there is coffee. When in Costa Rica in 2014 at a surf camp, I took surf lessons every morning and ate gallo pinto soon after. The dish usually consisted of black beans and rice, but the surf camp also routinely added scrambled eggs.
A surf camp is by no means a culinary destination, but that was OK: I had just turned in the first draft of the manuscript for what would become Mindy Segal's book Cookie Love, and I needed a break from indulgence. Yet even though I was under no illusions that I was in Costa Rica for the food, I always looked forward to gallo pinto. Packed with protein from the beans, it satisfied me nearly until dinner. (This also may have had to do with the blazing heat and humidity, which also helped curb the appetite.)
At the table, there was always a bottle of Lizano, Costa Rica's all-purpose seasoner. I'm convinced that Americans like the slightly sweet, mild brown sauce for the vacation-nostalgia factor, but I'm not the biggest fan--Mexican salsa works so much better. When I make gallo pinto at home, though, I'm under no restrictions. So this recipe isn't quite a traditional gallo pinto—I like mine packed with minced chiles for a bit of heat and sliced cherry tomatoes for brightness. I also like to keep it simple so it pairs well with eggs for breakfast or with tortillas at lunch. It is easy to make when you have leftover cooked rice and cooked beans.
Serves 4 to 6
If cooking the beans from scratch, 1 cup of black beans makes approximately 3 cups of cooked beans. I soak them overnight, drain them the next morning, cover them with an inch of water, and then cook them until tender, adding salt to taste in the last 10 or so minutes of cooking time. You also can use canned beans. You can scale the recipe up or down; just keep the ratio of beans to rice at approximately 1:1.
- 1-2 tablespoons vegetable or coconut oil
- 1 poblano chile, seeded, stemmed, and finely diced (about 3/4 cup)
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1-2 tablespoons minced serrano chile
- 2 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
- 2 cups cooked black beans with about 1/2 cup cooking liquid
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- A handful of picked cilantro, minced
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- hot sauce (optional)
- Heat the oil in a 10 or 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Stir in the poblano, onion, and serrano, season with a pinch or two of salt, and sweat until the onions softened but not colored, about 2 minutes. If the onion starts to brown, turn down the heat.
- Stir in the rice, using a wooden spoon to break up any chunks. It is okay if some of the rice starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Pour in the beans and stir to dislodge any of the sticking rice. Sir in the tomatoes and cilantro and simmer until the ingredients are thoroughly hot and the rice is evenly coated with the bean liquid. Taste, seasoning with more salt if needed.
- Serve with eggs or alone. Offer lime wedges and hot sauce for seasoning at the table.
It is not too difficult to swap out all-purpose flour in exchange for whole-wheat, oat, sorghum, millet or brown rice flour. If you have a digital scale, it is easy to pour in flour ingredients, mixing and matching as you go. So use these gram measurements in this recipe as a guide. Oat flour is terrific in place of the wheat germ, for instance. I've also used oat flour with 5 grams/ a heaping spoonful of toasted wheat germ. Or try a gluten-free flour blend. Some flours do absorb more liquid, so be prepared to add more buttermilk if the batter is too thick. It should look similar to pancake batter. A final note: I use a small waffle iron—not a Belgian waffle iron—to make these waffles. Expect the yield to change with various waffle irons.
Whole Grain Waffles
- 80 g / 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
- 20 g / 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
- 30 g / 1/4 cup cornmeal
- 30 g / 1/4 cup brown rice flour
- 15 grams / 2 tablespoons light muscovado sugar or brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Pinch of ginger
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 220 grams / 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature, more as needed
- 57 grams / 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- Warm maple syrup and fresh fruit, for serving (optional)
Fire up a waffle iron. If it is sticky with old fat or oil, whipe with a paper towel or a clean, dry kitchen towel. If planning to keep waffles warm until all the waffles are made, heat an oven to the warm setting.
In a bowl, whisk together the wheat flour, wheat germ, cornmeal, rice flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. In a second bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, and egg. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until evenly combined. Let sit 5 minutes.
If after 5 minutes the batter is too thick to spoon into the waffle iron, stir on a tablespoon at a time of buttermilk until the batter is still thick but spoonable.
Ladle the batter evenly into the iron, using the back of the ladle to distribute the batter into the corners of the iron. If using a small iron, pour the batter into the center to start. If using a large Belgian-style waffle iron, pour patter into the center of each square. Close the waffle iron and cook until the iron’s light indicates the waffle is done. If batter overflows on the side, you’ve overfilled the iron; use less for the next waffle.
Using a fork or your fingers (if they are as desensitized as mine), remove the waffle from the iron and serve immediately or keep in a warm oven in a single layer (stacking waffles will cause them to steam and get soft). If the waffle won’t release from the iron, close the iron and let it cook for another minute.
The secret of what makes this granola so good is two things: peanut butter and brown butter. The peanut flavor in this granola is subtle, but for an even subtler flavor, use 1/4 cup peanut butter. For a more assertive peanut flavor, add peanuts in addition to pecans or almonds. This is just a start.
Peanut Butter and Honey Granola
Makes about 5 cups
- 3 tablespoons / 45 g unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup / 100 g honey
- 1/3 cup / 85 g peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
- 2 tablespoons / 25 g coconut or vegetable oil
- 2 1/4 cups / 200 g old-fashioned oats
- 1/4 cup / 20 g ground flax seed (optional)
- 1/4 cup / 45 g brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt (optional)
- 1 cup / 60 g dried, unsweetened coconut (large flakes or small shreds are fine)
- 1/2 cup / 75 g slivered almonds or pecan pieces
- 1/2 cup / 75 g dried fruit, like cranberries or raisins (optional)
Heat the oven to 325ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until it begins to brown. Stir in the honey, peanut butter, and oil.
In a large bowl mix together the oats, flax seed, sugar, spices, and salt. Pour in the butter/honey blend and stir well with your hands.
Spread the oats onto the baking sheet and bake the granola for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.
Add the nuts and coconut and bake 10 – 15 more minutes, stirring once or twice, or until the edges are deep brown and the center is golden brown.
Stir in the dried fruit and let cool completely. Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.
How to make it your own:
For a leaner, less crunchy granola, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more oats.
Use any kind of nut you like. I’ve tried pecans and almonds, but walnuts work, too.
Almond butter or cashew butter can be used in place of peanut butter.
Coconut oil, walnut oil, or plain old vegetable oil also can be used interchangeably.
Maple syrup can take the place of honey. (When measuring either, coat the liquid measuring cup with nonstick spray.)
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat it with nonstick spray for easier clean-up.
Lower the temperature if you notice the edges of the granola browning too fast.
Add dried fruit (if using any) at the end.
To make granola with larger clusters, don’t stir it as it cools