Whip Smart Kitchen

Recipes, methods & musings for the whip-smart home cook

Breakfast

Brambleberry Lavender Dutch Baby

Breakfast, BakingLeannda CavalierComment

A puffy-centered, crisp-edged oven-baked pancake flavored with soft lavender and filled with bright berry compote. Top with lavender whipped cream for ultimate brunch-master status.

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means I get a small commission if you buy products I recommend at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I believe in from companies I believe in—either I use them myself or I've at least done thorough research and vetting. Please reach out if you have any questions or want more info!

Yeah, got it. Dutch baby good. Jump to the recipe, please!

I don't know if you've been getting the days-long downpour I've been working with this week, but either way, I've got a recipe that never fails to brighten my day: I give you the Brambleberry Lavender Dutch Baby!

Okay, so it's a weird name, but hear me out: it's so, so, SO good. 

A dutch baby is a buttery oven-baked pancake that puffs up with soft, golden-brown splendor in the middle and crispy, browned edges. The classic way to eat it is with powdered sugar and a little lemon, but you can also top it with fruit or even savory toppings like eggs and avocado. 

 Right?

Right?

The first time I heard about a Dutch baby, also known as a puff pancake or German pancake, was watching Alton Brown's Good Eats. He explains that it's basically a big, sweet popover, using pretty much the same ratio of eggs, flour and milk as both those and Yorkshire pudding. 

I've since made them all, and while they're all delicious the Dutch baby has unquestionably been my most-repeated of the three.

You can mix dutch babies with a bowl and a whisk, but lately I've been using my food processor, which is the perfect size for the batter. It makes the batter nice and smooth, and takes up a lot less dishwasher real estate. 

I also recently started letting the batter rest, a tip I gleaned from The Kitchn. It allows the flour to absorb the liquid, PLUS it makes it unnecessary to start out with room temperature eggs, which is an easy and annoying thing to forget. 

Dutch babies are fascinating to me because the way they puff up is like magic, but it's really all smoke and mirrors. Or steam and mirrors, to be precise. As the liquid heats and vaporizes, it expands between the fat and flour for a puff that ages much better than the sleeves in your childhood photos. 

Which brings up an important point. Avoid the temptation to open the oven too early when you make your Brambleberry Lavender Dutch Baby! And it will tempt you.

Trust, my friend. Maybe use it as motivation to clean your oven window, which I may or may not need to do as well.

Back to the name. I did look around internet-land for the reason behind it, and like Alexander Hamilton, I will never be satisfied. 

Basically the prevailing story is that while its roots are in Germany, the name "Dutch baby" originated at Manca's Cafe in Seattle in the 1900's, where they subbed in "Dutch" for "Deutsch" (German for "German"—think the Pennsylvania "Dutch", who are actually German).

The thing is, that's not the part I'm curious about. I want to know why it's called a Dutch baby. When you talk about eating that beautiful Dutch baby and going back for seconds around unwitting strangers, which part is it that gets the stares and questions?

"Ma'am,* I couldn't help but overhear you were going to eat a Dutch baby, which is disturbing, because clearly the baby would be Deutsch, which is German," is never how the conversation goes. If you said the baby-eating, you were correct. Pick up your prize on the way out, it's a Brambleberry Lavender Dutch baby recipe. 

*Please don't call me ma'am. 

 *Please don't call me ma'am. 

*Please don't call me ma'am. 

ANYWAY. 

The Brambleberry Lavender Dutch Baby is a brunch favorite among guests of the Cavalier household, which we've had a LOT of this summer. It works out great for me, because:  

  1. I don't have to get up super early to make it.
  2. It comes together fast, and I can hang out while it bakes.
  3. It all comes out at once, so I can sit at the table before everyone else is on their last bites.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE cooking for other people, and I don't see it as a burden. Plus we have an open kitchen, so I'm technically still in the mix even while I'm cooking. Still, it's nice sometimes to not have to spend breakfast standing at stove or the waffle maker while everyone else takes their coffee to the table. 

Besides, I'm the possibly the slowest eater in history, so I'm pretty sure people get annoyed with waiting for me to finish savoring my last bites.

Dutch babies are great on their own, but I love mine filled with compote and topped with whipped cream, which is how the Brambleberry Lavender Dutch Baby was born. 

Compote has been a breakfast-topping favorite of mine since college when I learned about it on Chopped started making it to put on chocolate protein pancakes—very healthful of me, considering I also added chocolate syrup and whipped cream—so it was a no-brainer . 

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So what exactly is compote?

Compote is a chunky, sweet sauce made of fruit, sugar and citrus simmered together. It's quick and easy to throw together, especially if you keep frozen fruit on hand—amazing for thrown-together breakfasts and last-minute desserts. 

It's tangy and sweet, and as an added bonus, it's Gorgeous. Ain't no question if I want it, I need it. 

So where did the lavender inspiration come from? Two things. 

First was another college comfort. I used to live down the street from and volunteer at The Wild Ramp, a hyper-local farmers' market co-op in Huntington, West Virginia. They sold Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, and I loved trying out all the unique flavors including my favorites, goat cheese and cherries and yup, lavender brambleberry. 

...I also may have put this on the chocolate protein pancakes once or twice. 

Second, I really love lavender and keep a lot of it on hand.

I've had a lot of people ask me:

What do you actually DO with lavender?

I think it's one of those ingredients people want to buy because they like the smell and it just sounds special, but putting it into use is more difficult. It is becoming more prevalent though, so there is inspiration around if you're reading menus (one of my favorite things to do, as a food-obsessed person).

You can simmer a little of it with equal proportions of sugar and water to make lavender syrup for coffee or lemonade, sprinkle a pinch into whipped cream (which you should put on top of this recipe), or add it to your tea for a floral touch. My favorite thing to do with it, though, is sprinkle it into batter. Waffles, pancakes, cakes—you name it!

Which is why it was a natural fit for a Dutch baby. 

If you saw my recent Instagram post with the recipe for Brambleberry Lavender Compote, you may have seen that a lot of the comments were people asking where to get dried lavender. I've seen it at some specialty stores like Whole Foods, but my personal favorite place to get it is on Amazon, where you can buy it in bulk for much less than the smaller portions you might find at the store. 

Above is the specific kind I like to buy, but it comes with a lot. I keep it in a mason jar and use it to double as a decoration on my bookshelf. You can shop around and see what works for you, but wherever you get it make sure it's culinary grade! Other types might be contaminated as they're not processed with food safety in mind.

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Don't forget the lavender whipped cream. It's so easy to make, and it's so worth it. 

 Sam gets it. 

Sam gets it. 

I mean look at this. Look at these. Keep the daisy home for the day, because you brought dollops of LAVENDER WHIPPED CREAM to the party. 

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If you make the Brambleberry Lavender Dutch Baby, let me know by sharing a photo with the hashtag #whipsmartkitchen and tagging me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.You can also upload them using the "tried it" feature on Pinterest to help out others looking for brunch recipes. I LOVE to see your photos, really. It makes my day. 

If you're into this recipe, you may want to subscribe to my newsletter so you'll always be notified of my latest recipes! You'll even get a freebie I put together to help make cooking a little smoother even for beginners. 

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Let's get mixing!

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Blackberry Blood Orange Breakfast Cake

Baking, Breakfast, Dessert, Italian, Recipe, SummerLeannda CavalierComment

This Blackberry Blood Orange Breakfast Cake is a summery twist on an Italian classic. Juicy blackberries and hints of tangy blood orange give this lightly sweet yogurt cake plenty of personality to accompany your morning coffee.

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Feeling the cake, but not feeling the chat? Click here to jump to the recipe.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means I get a small commission if you buy products I recommend at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I believe in from companies I believe in—either I use them myself or I've at least done thorough research and vetting. Please reach out if you have any questions or want more info!

I'm so excited about this recipe for so many reasons.

In 2016, I traveled with my husband, bonus parents and bonus sister to Italy. It was incredible, and I'm pretty sure I belong there. Yes, I know it's one of the most overly-romanticized places on Earth. Yes, I know there are problems there too—I watch Last Week Tonight. But really, I've spent so much time since trying to replicate the feeling of being there at home.

This cake feels like Tuscany. The flavor and texture. The ingredients. The simplicity. Everything.

It was inspired by a traditional yogurt and olive oil cake made in the medieval hill town of San Gimignano in the Siena, Tuscany region of Italy. Torta allo yogurt is a classic. Don't be afraid of the olive oil. You won't taste it in this recipe any more than you would taste the flavor of canola oil, and it's incredibly common in Italian baking, which is all about what's available locally.

Part of the reason this dessert caught my eye is that the first variation of this recipe I saw in A Family Farm In Tuscany: Recipes and Stories from Fattoria Poggio Alloro by Sarah Fioroni (about a farm near where we took an agrotourism excursion) is so simple that it uses a yogurt cup as a form of measurement for the flour, oil and sugar. I just love that.

I chose not to do that here because packaging can be so different here in the U.S. and I personally buy it in bulk, but the sentiment is pretty beautiful. It honors the idea that baking is about ratios, but it's also rustic. It's the kind of thing my Ya-ya would teach me to do.

Making it seasonal

Yogurt and olive oil cake is also practical because it uses ingredients most people who cook regularly will already have on hand, and you can add any seasonal touches you may have. In winter you could totally make it a cranberry or rosemary orange cake. Spring? Hello, lavender and honey. Fall? Cinnamon spice sounds good!

My version, blackberry blood orange breakfast cake, plays up some of my favorite fresh flavors of summer. I've been very into blood oranges lately. Partially because they have folate in them which is good for pregnancy, and partially because they are DELICIOUS. They're a little more tart than regular oranges, and I personally think they're more flavorful in general.

It doesn't hurt that they're gorgeous, either.  

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As for the blackberries, I have never not been into those juicy little summer candies. They're wild and beautiful, tart then sweet. A little seedy, but in a good way. Blackberry is one of my go-to flavors, whether for preserves, compote, flavored water or sweets—but honestly none of that can compare to a gooey, just overripe blackberry baked into this cake. 

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Perfection.

Blackberries are also rich in polyphenol antioxidants, which give them their dark, jammy color. The science on just how beneficial those phytochemicals are is a little shaky, but loading up can't hurt right? They're also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and too many blackberries is probably better than other foods that tout polyphenols like olive oil and red wine, right? 

This cake isn't super fluffy like your typical dessert cake. It's on the firmer side and light, like so many great Italian treats. Think about crunchy biscotti soaking up your cappuccino, or chewy ciabatta drenched in olive oil and dried herbs. It's incredible with coffee or tea in the morning, but don’t rule it out for dessert. 

Plus, it's beautiful. I didn't even work all that hard to arrange the fruit on top and look at it. I know this is almost the same as the main shot above, but seriously. STRIKE A POSE, CAKE. 

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Just like that. STRIKE IT. 

Baking the cake

Making it is simple too. Totally beginner-level. If you are a true beginner, there's one place I really want you to pay attention, and that's when you're beating the eggs and sugar. If you just do it quickly like with a lot of typical cake recipes, you're not going to get the volume you need. You really do want to let it go about five minutes or until it doubles in and looks creamy-yellow and foamy, like the photo below.

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Sweetening the deal

I love serving this cake with whipped cream. Even better? Blood orange whipped cream! It only takes a few minutes and one extra ingredient to whip up, and you're already zesting oranges, so it's honestly crazy not to. Besides, if you've never made whipped cream, learning how allows you to level-up approximately 1,000 desserts. 

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Just do it, okay?

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Seriously, I hope you make this and I hope you love it as much as we do over here! If you do, let me know by sharing a photo with the hashtag #whipsmartkitchen and tagging me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. You can also use the "tried it" feature on Pinterest to help out others looking for a tasty seasonal cake!

Let's get baking!

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Blood Orange Blackberry Breakfast Cake Nutrition Info

Blood Orange Whipped Cream Nutrition Info

Pumpkin Spice Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Breakfast, Fall, Make-ahead, Recipe, Slow Food, Winter, Vegetarian, Comfort FoodLeannda CavalierComment

Hearty steel-cut oats toasted in browned butter get the full pumpkin spice treatment with real pumpkin puree, serious spice and less sugar than your average PS treat. A batch can feed a brunch bunch, or be stored in the refrigerator for a week of healthy breakfasts.

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means I get a small commission if you buy products I recommend at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I believe in from companies I believe in—either I use them myself or I've at least done thorough research and vetting. Please reach out if you have any questions!

Too early to read the whole post: gimme that breakfast recipe already.

Two vital seasonal truths in my world right now: 1. Though we have left fall behind, I'm not yet finished with the pumpkin. 2. Though it's a new year and blah blah blah, it's TOO COLD for smoothie bowls. I need my breakfast to warm me up right now, thanks. 

One of my absolute favorite things to make for breakfast is steel-cut oats, and there are so many options out there. In fact, here's another recipe for apple-cinnamon steel-cut oats in case this one doesn't tickle your fancy.

Never made them? Nervous? Let me break it down for you:

How to cook steel-cut oats:

  1. Toast the oats in some butter or coconut oil over medium heat for a few minutes.
  2. Add about 3 cups boiling water for every 1 cup oats. 
  3. Cook on low for about half an hour.
  4. Add any flavorings and toppings you want.
  5. That's IT. 

The rest is playing with flavors, which is my spe-ci-al-i-ty.

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Steel-cut oats have a lot of advantages over your typical rolled oats, some of them health-related. They retain more of their nutrients through being less processed. They take longer for you to digest, keeping you full longer. You know what else? They're chewier, roastier and nuttier--all things I'll take over "faster" 99 percent of the time.

Besides, you can just make these ahead and reheat them. I'd much rather make one big batch of hearty, flavorful steel-cut oatmeal at the beginning of the week than spend 5 minutes making decent quick oats every morning anyway.

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P.S. I actually do like rolled oats... meal planning my breakfasts with blueberry rolled oats I could microwave every morning kept me sane at my last full-time job, plus they're great for pancakes and cookies. But steel-cut oats? Pumpkin ones? Those are the approachable but aspirational mornings I'm generally going for.

They also keep me full for more than 15 minutes without seconds, which is honestly pretty impressive.

As for the pumpkin, surprise! Pumpkins are still in season for the winter! 

We tend to attach pumpkins to fall, which is when they come into season, but the favorite among squashes really shouldn’t disappear the moment you take your jack-o-lantern off your doorstep. (You did remember to do that, right? It’s okay, this is a safe space.)

I wavered a little on whether to call this recipe “pumpkin steel-cut oats” or “pumpkin spice steel-cut oats”. Isn’t that stupid? Well in terms of search engine optimization it’s not, but I’m not even talking about that. I’m talking about all the crap women (and men brave enough to admit it) get for loving pumpkin spice.

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My thoughts? Pumpkin spice is delicious and a little over-hyped. Yes, both can be true. 

I shamelessly love a good pumpkin spice latte, especially homemade or one from Starbucks (gasp!). Pumpkin pie? Definitely. Pumpkin spice bread? Yeah! Pumpkin spice bagel? Double yeah. Pumpkin spice muffin? Why not? 

I don’t tend to like PSLs from many other places because the syrup often tastes nothing like pumpkin, but ultra-sugary fireballs (the candy, not the drink). Specifically fireballs that have already had most of the coating worn off.

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Other DOA pumpkin spice items for me include: gum, store-bought coffee creamers (actually those get a big no from me in general) and yogurt. No thank you, please. 

Anyway, maybe it's the seasonality, but pumpkin just feels like a special treat for me. There are plenty of reasons to use real pumpkin in your breakfast well past November. First, it’s delicious with said pumpkin spices. Second, you can easily store cans of it in your freezer. Third, lots of recipes call for a cup of pumpkin, and most cans come with 2.5 cups.

And hey, pumpkin is a great source of vitamin A, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. 

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This pumpkin spice steel-cut oats recipe is a great way to use leftover pumpkin puree if you’re anything like me and put it in the fridge with the best of intentions, but no solid plan. Wasted pumpkin is a sad sight (and a bad smell).

These steel-cut oats are so easy to put together, and most of the cook time only requires stirring every so often so the bottom doesn’t burn. Also know it’s okay if some oats do stick—I typically get a thin layer of them on the bottom of my dutch oven. 

I can usually get any stuck oats off pretty easily with a plastic scraper, but you can also put the empty pan back on the stove with some water and bring it to a boil to soften it up. The dutch oven pictured above is a 5.5 qt enameled cast-iron dutch oven from the Food Network. You don't have to use a dutch oven, but I like them for things that cook slowly like this. I also use mine almost daily anyway, so...

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Usually I prefer my oatmeal a little lumpy with milk poured over, of course I know lots of people like creamier oats. If that's you, no problema! Just add more water or milk. You can add another cup in the beginning, or you could stir it in at the end if you decide it's too thick for you.

Sometimes if I'm reaaaaally hungry I'll make creamier just so the water the oats absorb will make me feel full faster—and sometimes I just do it because I'm in a creamy oatmeal mood. It's a thing, just go with it.  

You can top these with whatever you want, but I really love a pat of butter, pepitas (extra protein, extra crunch), maple syrup and a splash of milk. I put some suggestions down in the recipe itself. 

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If you like this recipe, you may want to sign up for my email list for more. Everyone who signs up gets a freebie guide to getting organized in the kitchen, which is one of the biggest commonalities I see when people say they're not good at cooking—and one of the easiest things to fix! Just click on the graphic below to sign up and download. 

P.S. If you ever need help with a recipe or have a question, please reach out. I'd love to help!

Let's get simmering!

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Did you make this recipe? Take a picture and let me know! You can always tag me and hashtag #whipsmartkitchen on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook (links below), or use the tried it feature on Pinterest.

High-rise buttermilk biscuits supreme

Breakfast, Method, Baking, Recipe, Slow FoodLeannda CavalierComment

Flaky, buttery biscuits in a golden crust that rise like champs. They're perfect solo with some butter and jam, or with my personal favorite comfort food—creamed turkey.

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means I get a small commission if you buy products I recommend. I only recommend products I believe in. That means I've used it myself in most cases, and at the very least I've researched it thoroughly and find it trustworthy—I would never recommend anything I wouldn't use myself. Please reach out if you have any questions!

I'm just here for the biscuits and I've already scrolled through 106 photos. Jump to the recipe.

I'm not quite sure how we got to December, but here we are. It's probably a little tired to talk about how the years whir by faster the older you get, but it always seems to surprise me regardless. This is about the time my work starts to slow down and I get to relax and spend time doing the things I love.

JUST KIDDING. I'm panicking about how much baking I can get finished, trying to finish Christmas shopping (I'll start in September next year... is probably a lie), packing frantically and trying to get some recipes photographed last-minute. Oh, and telling everybody else in my life not to sweat the small stuff I'm sweating. 

Despite being hopelessly overcommitted (re: nutso), I have been trying to find ways to tie in reflection and gratefulness into my work here. Which is how we landed on biscuits. 

Biscuits supreme is a recipe I grew up on. It’s a favorite in my Ya-ya’s recipe box, given to her by her mother, my Nee-nee. If you search "biscuits supreme”, you’ll get a good number of similar biscuit recipes with slight variations. As far as I can tell, the original came from a midcentury Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, and like so many other recipes, was passed down through countless families like a delicious game of telephone. 

On a Christmas visit, shortly after I moved to Tennessee, my Ya-ya gave me the recipe printed on an index card in her angular handwriting—one of the few family recipes we have that's actually written down with measurements and full instructions.

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I wish my handwriting was half as interesting as hers, or my great aunt’s whimsical swooping letters. Both should be fonts. I've tried for years to copy them from sticky notes and birthday cards to make my own version, but it's never quite right.

I'm better at emulating their cooking skills, which brings us back to biscuits. To round out the connection, I do like to experiment with things to put my own spin on them. Millennials, amirite?

Why mess with a good thing? Because butter.

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I reaaaaally wanted to use butter. The original recipe calls for shortening, which I’m not opposed to using, but I do try to keep use of heavily processed ingredients to a minimum. It was a product of it's time and it makes total sense here, but butter brings the flakiness in a way shortening can't. 

 

The first time I tried to make biscuits (not my family’s recipe, a random one I found online), I ended up with a crunchy disc. Pretty tasty… but more like a cookie than a biscuit. English biscuit? Um, maybe (no). Definitely not making the cut in Tennessee or West Virginia. 

These biscuits on the other hand. These. Biscuits. Tall and tan and flaky and buttery. These are the biscuits from Ipanema.

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Butter makes a difference because as it cooks, it turns to steam and leaves pockets. That’s why the best biscuits have streaks around the middle like the dough is stacked in layers—it is! The thing is, using butter isn’t enough.

If you just mix the butter in any way you want, those pockets won’t form. If you want flaky, pull-apart layers, you need the right technique. Conventional advice I’ve always heard says to cut cold butter in, then mix it in with your fingers until you have pea-sized chunks.

 The misshapen one with the arrowhead-shaped top is the last cut, made of scraps. If you're worried about presentation, just skip it (or make it and scarf it down directly out of the oven before anyone sees it). 

The misshapen one with the arrowhead-shaped top is the last cut, made of scraps. If you're worried about presentation, just skip it (or make it and scarf it down directly out of the oven before anyone sees it). 

It's a good start, but there’s a better way if you want a next-level biscuit. I looked to one of my favorite books, Cooks Illustrated's The Science of Good Cooking for some sage advice. 

I think the biggest help the book offers is the idea of fraisage and lamination—stay with me here, we’re not talking about covering it with plastic. We’re talking flattening the butter and folding it into the dough in layers in this form of lamination, meanwhile fraisage is a French technique where you smear butter into a dough with the heel of your hand. Think about the buttery strips when you tear into a croissant, or a pie crust falling apart and melting in your mouth. Mmmm. 

The book suggests flattening the butter rather than breaking it up into pea-sized chunks, keeping it nice and cold until baking time and folding the dough over onto itself several times. 

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We'll do a rustic version, because as much as I love learning about food science, most people probably don’t want cooking to feel like lab work. I’d personally love to work in a test kitchen, but I’m pretty short on time most days in real life. 

Besides, sometimes I just want to feel more artist than scientist, you know? We’ll riff on it. 

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My family’s recipe already used two of the book’s tips. First, a little shortening is actually a good thing. I’ve always seen shortening as a) one of those supposedly healthy fats that turned out to be worse than butter, and b) a foolproof way to make dough come together. Butter is difficult to work with, but shortening is hard to mess up. 

That is true, but it’s also a hasty generalization. I teach public speaking, so we can't have that. Turns out it serves a separate purpose too—it helps keep the biscuits tender by reducing the moisture content and forming a weaker gluten structure. Weak gluten = tender. Who knew?

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Our family recipe also features two leaveners, which the book recommends, in the form of baking powder and cream of tartar. I left the leaveners the same, but I changed the milk to buttermilk, which changes the acidity and reacts to them a little differently. I think it balanced out pretty well. 

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It's fun looking at how these recipes handed down through the years stand up to science-based techniques. Possibly one of the most fun things is that you don't have to care if you like it the way you already do it. There's rarely only one "right" way to do something. 

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I love my family's classic biscuit recipe, and I love that my Ya-ya makes them for me with creamed turkey when I come home. I love how simple the recipe is to put together. I love that it tastes like what her family sat down to eat during a time I can only imagine. I love reading it in her handwriting and hearing the instructions the way my Nee-nee must have taught her. 

It's also incredible that knowing the concepts of lamination and fraisage help me understand croissants, pie crust, puff pastry, certain breads, other biscuits, scones... and they get me thinking about how I can play with other recipes for a similar effect. Is it possible to make a biscuit or croissant cookie hybrid? Is that already a thing people are standing in line for in Brooklyn? What would you call it? I just googled what I thought it would be called, and that is a different thing. Don't worry about it.

Allow me to distract you with an action shot: 

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This week is super-fun because I'll be posting TWO recipes. I've been pretty inconsistent lately, I know. I doubt anyone is visiting daily to see if I've updated (though, please tell me if you do, because I will die), but I do want to at least follow my own content calendar. I have this anxiety that my strategic communications students will find my blog and berate me for not sticking to the standards I hold them to.

"Mrs. Cavalier, you're not posting consistently enough," they say, in my anxiety-fueled nightmares. "Did you even set objectives? No one is going to stick around if you don't give them content to come back for and serve them. That's what you said."

YES I SAID IT. And it's true. Class, if you're here, it takes SO long to grade your stuff. I love you all anyway. And to anyone who does come here regularly, I really am sorry. I'm working on it. Did I mention I'm also a football sideline reporter and caterer on the weekends? Because this has been a long, rough semester. 

Anyway, I submitted final grades at about 3 a.m. Saturday, and I'm ready to get back to work. That's why later this week I'm posting a recipe for one of my favorite recipes ever: creamed turkey.

Yuuuup Brooke County (West Virginia) people, get ready.  

If that sounds a little suspect to you, I get it. But I promise, creamed turkey is legendary. It is the comfort food of comfort foods. 

While you're here, I'd love to hear what your favorite family recipes are! Let me know in the comments at the end of this post what recipe is most treasured in your family, and whether you've tried it out for yourself. 

If you make this biscuit recipe, I'd love to hear about it! Just comment below, or post a photo to Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #whipsmartkitchen and tag me! You could also use the "tried it" feature on Pinterest. I'm always happy to answer questions as well. 

Let's make some biscuits!

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Southwest-style sweet potato frittata

Breakfast, Recipe, Slow FoodLeannda CavalierComment

A silky blend of eggs, ricotta and gruyere top hearty sweet potatoes, black beans and smoky vegetables. Flavorful and filling, this frittata can feed your brunch crowd or be stored in the refrigerator for days of healthy breakfasts.

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means I get a small commission if you buy products I recommend. I only recommend products I believe in. That means I've used it myself in most cases, and at the very least I've researched it thoroughly and find the company trustworthy—I would never recommend anything I wouldn't buy and use myself. Please reach out if you have any questions!

Stomach... rumbles... uncontrollable... gimme that southwest style sweet potato frittata—skip to the recipe, please!

I've always thought frittatas were so-so. Pretty good. Nothing special. 

Breaking news: I was WRONG. 

The frittata conversion

This summer while Adam and I were visiting his parents in West Virginia, they made us an incredible brunch. It featured biscuits (duh, I said "West Virginia"), a selection of gourmet jams (new playlist name?!) to try and the star of the show: a cheesy, tender frittata. 

The problem with frittata for me has always been that it's either too rubbery or too slimy, and/or that it's just too eggy. Yes, I know its supposed to taste like eggs. Yes, I love eggs. No, I have no desire to eat a wet scrambled egg pie. Sorry.

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But this frittata. THIS frittata was spongey in a buttery way, had plenty of texture to break up any monotony, and had as much flavor as any savory dish at my favorite brunch spots. It was filled with sausage, potatoes, kale, spinach, onions, and lots of cheese. 

One of the reasons it was so incredible is because my parents-in-law broke the rules of the recipe they were using, and brilliantly so. It said to drop ricotta in by the spoonful before cooking, but they went ahead and mixed it right in to the eggs with the gruyere. I think that made all the difference in terms of texture. They also threw in some browned sausage into the mix, which was pro play-calling. 

I've been a frittata fiend since. I've made one nearly every week—really. It's such a great breakfast, and I just have to work for it Sunday to reap the benefits throughout the workweek. To switch it up I've been rotating versions, including the one I'm sharing today: southwest-style sweet potato frittata. 

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This frittata has the same incredible texture, but a slightly different vibe. Namely, smoky-sweet. Onions, cherry tomatoes, jalapeños and black beans form the smoky base, while crispy-edged sweet potatoes add meatiness and mellow things out. It's topped with... you guessed it an egg mixture enhanced with ricotta and gruyere.

I know, it doesn't sound like either of those cheeses should go in anything invoking the southwest, but I swear it works. If you really have a problem with the gruyere, you can always go for some sharp cheddar, but DO NOT skip the ricotta. 

Ricotta is essential to the experience I'm trying to give you. Don't question it. I'm more Lucille Bluth than David S. Pumpkins on this one. 

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I truly don't know that I'll ever make another frittata without it.  

A fatty hypothesis with some steam to carry it

If I had to guess why the ricotta-egg mix is so magical, I'd chalk it up to the fat versus liquid content. Ricotta a whey protein, which is essentially cream or milk quickly curdled with an acid in order to thicken it and intensify the flavor. That means the fat and protein stick around without all the liquid.

When you cook eggs mixed with dairy products or other liquids, too much steam can become a problem. With a short cooking time it's not such a big deal, but the longer the cooking time, the more tightly the proteins in the eggs bond, the more liquid they push out, and the tougher your eggs get.

On the other hand, if you reduce the liquid and up the fat, your eggs are going to steam less, and your eggs should stay tender. Furthermore, the added fat will coat the proteins and slow down their coagulation even more.

TL;DR: You get to have your cake and eat it too, as the liquid from the milk will steam the proteins enough to make the eggs fluffy, but the fat in the milk and the ricotta will coat the proteins to help keep it from getting tough and rubbery. 

Why mess with a frittata that isn't broken?

I believe in moderation, so some sausage is perfectly okay in my diet. On the other hand, moderation probably doesn't include eating it nearly every day. Besides, sometimes you've just got to switch things up!

A big benefit of this southwest-style sweet potato frittata is that it puts a little healthy twist on things. Swapping out sausage for black beans and potatoes for sweet potatoes lowers the sodium a bit, adds some more vitamins and fiber and lightens things up overall without sacrificing flavor. It's probably not the recipe you're looking for if you're overly concerned about cholesterol, but hey, it's also not the 90s. 

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A few months after our trip, Adam's parents came to visit us on their way to visit family in Alabama. I was able to serve them my version of their frittata on their way down, and this southwest-style sweet potato frittata on their way back home. I might have gushed a little over how they've inspired my new obsession and made my mornings before work so much easier.

This southwest-style sweet potato frittata is perfect if you have company coming over, especially if you prep the vegetables ahead. I personally like to make this on a Sunday so I don’t have to worry about breakfast throughout the week.

It refrigerates beautifully, and can be reheated in the microwave without altering the texture dramatically, unlike many egg dishes. That's saying something, because generally I ha-ha-haaaate microwaved eggs. The ahem RICOTTA keeps the microwave from turning the eggs into smelly rubber. I just pop in a slice for 45 seconds to a minute and savor it with some coffee and maybe a side of fruit.

Are you a frittata fan? What's the best one you've ever had? As always, I want to hear from you! Whether you make this one, think it sounds good, or just have strong feelings on egg-dishes, let me know in the comments!

Got a question or something you're struggling with in the kitchen? I'd love to help you out if I can, but I won't know until you ask.

If you make this recipe, make sure you come back and let me know how it was, or you can post a photo on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #whipsmartkitchen & tag me!

One more thing—bloggers, Instagram enthusiasts and influence aficionados: stick around until the end of this post. I've got something fun for you!

Anyway, let's get cooking!

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Hey, are you a blogger too?

Maybe even a food blogger? I'm attending a live Q&A Thursday (11/9) with Pinch of Yum and Food Blogger Pro's Lindsay and Bjork Ostrom on how they've grown their Instagram following to 500K.

I'd love to see you there too! It's mainly for food bloggers, but I can easily see anybody interested in Instagram getting value out of this. It's super-easy to register, just click this link—Instagram Live Q&A with Food Blogger Pro—or the graphic below. 

Full disclosure, this is an affiliate link. That means that if you end up enrolling in Food Blogger Pro after clicking my link, I'll get a small portion of anything you pay. 

That being said, the webinar is totally free and you don't have to buy anything to get a ton of incredible info (seriously, just listen to their FREE Podcast—I'm obsessed). I really believe in Food Blogger Pro, and Pinch of Yum is the delicious proof that they know what they're doing. Bjork and Lindsay and their whole team are so knowledgable and generous, and they've helped WhipSmart Kitchen become what it is today (and what I hope it will grow into!). 

How we grew our instagram following to 500k

Game-changing buttermilk drop scones

Breakfast, Recipe, VegetarianLeannda Cavalier3 Comments

A lightly sweet griddle cake perfect for butter and jam. Buttermilk and sour cream add tangy flavor and a tender, fluffy middle to this cousin of pancakes.

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I'm famished, drop the story and give me the scones.

A few months ago I learned about a griddle cake, and it's changed my life.

Okay, maybe that's hyperbolic—but only a little. I've truly made a batch nearly every week since then. 

They're called drop scones, but they're really not like scones at all. When you make drop biscuits, you start with a similar batter and get a biscuit-like dumpling hybrid. These are more like pancakes than anything else. In fact, these beauties are also called Scotch pancakes. 

So are drop scones the same thing as silver dollar pancakes?

Not really. For one, they're much thicker and they can hold their own and then some. Traditional pancakes are fork and knife food. If you hold one by the edge it's going to droop. Do the same to a drop scone and it will hold its shape. That makes them ideal for jam and butter, and for leftovers.

They're also sweeter, with sugar right in the batter. At the same time, they feel less like a dessert breakfast than pancakes depending on how you dress them up, which makes sense as drop scones are generally served over tea in the UK. Whenever you eat them, they're small and un-syrupy enough to work for everyday meals. 

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Drop scones, while new to me, are a time-tested recipe. They appeared to me in a vision, and by vision I mean in my Google Cards after binge-watching Netflix's "The Crown". I found this article which gives a recipe that it claims Queen Elizabeth II herself used, once making them for President Dwight D. Eisenhower. I'm a sucker for food history, so I took the bait.

The recipe features some ingredients measured in teacups, which is just fantastic. It's always fascinating to me when handed-down recipes incorporate non-standard measures like teacups, cans and yogurt containers. 

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The first time, I made them almost exactly the way the recipe describes for the first batch, and they were delicious. The second time I added some orange zest, and that was pretty nice too! The third time, I realized I had run out of cream of tartar, and that stuff is... expensive. Also, fun fact, baking powder is made of baking soda mixed with dry acid, typically cream of tartar. Hmmm. 

 Drop Scones version 1.0 cooked in plenty of buttah. A little spongier, little thinner, little less rich. Still delicious. 

Drop Scones version 1.0 cooked in plenty of buttah. A little spongier, little thinner, little less rich. Still delicious. 

(Imprecise) Chemistry for non-chemists 

I decided to go with two teaspoons baking powder and one teaspoon baking soda. That doesn't exactly add up—technically the ratio would be somewhere between 6 and 8 teaspoons of baking powder 😳—but the thing with leaveners is that less is often more. Have you ever doubled a batch of leavened waffles? You increase the amount of everything but the yeast. Plenty of breads and other leavened goods behave the same way.

Sooooo, I guessed. 

Besides, I wanted to add some acid in the form of buttermilk and sour cream, which meant I could cut down on the dry acid. Buttermilk makes the end product more tender, and plus it reacts with the baking powder to help these little delights rise higher. I only added the sour cream to give the batter a little zip (think sour cream doughnuts). 

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One more change: I put the batter in time out for 10 minutes. Resting the batter makes certain the flour absorbs the liquid. The batter expands a bit too, filling up with tiny bubbles that will stay as you cook the drop scones. 

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Results

These tiny changes created puffier, ultra-tender drop scones with more flavor. More even browning with slightly crispier crust. Bliss? Pretty much. 

 Those dark spots are what happens when the pan is a liiiiittle too hot. Whaddayagunnado? Besides, you know, turn the heat down. 

Those dark spots are what happens when the pan is a liiiiittle too hot. Whaddayagunnado? Besides, you know, turn the heat down. 

 

One of the things I love about drop scones is how versatile they can be. 

Typically I'll grab one out of the refrigerator, toast it (!!!), spread on some butter and jam and have it for breakfast. Preferably with scrambled eggs. Perfetto.

 A gnawed cross section. For scientific purposes. 

A gnawed cross section. For scientific purposes. 

I'm also a big fan of snacking on them when I want something sweet after dinner. Toasted with little PB&J on top? Yes, please. Nutella? Let me think about that.

 I mean, was there ever really a question?

I mean, was there ever really a question?

Next experiment is drop scone sandwiches, but I'm saving that one for a rainy day.

There's something else. 

Right after you take drop scones off the stove. They're still steaming and you can smell the butter on them. They're a bit crisp on the outside, a little gooey in the middle. They're pretty much BEGGING for butter and maple syrup.

HOLD UP. Understand that if you do this, you'll be breaking a rule. Maybe even a cardinal rule? Now that you know that, also know that rule is the same kind that says not to put pesto on a sandwich or dip fries in your Frosty. BREAK IT, with zeal, ASAP.

So, what's your favorite breakfast food? Let me know in the comments! I'm always developing recipes, so I'd love to know what you like. 

As always, I want to hear from you! If you make this recipe, make sure you come back and let me know how it was, or you can post a photo on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #whipsmartkitchen & tag me! 

So let's drop some scones!

One last thing!

Thanks for reading this far! I'm so happy you're here. I really want you to get the most possible out of WhipSmart Kitchen—and really anything kitchen related in general. That's why I created The WhipSmart Kitchen Guide to Mise en Place: How to Get the Recipe Right Every Time. 

I know so many people struggle with cooking, and I truly believe most people could be better cooks with just a few adjustments, and maybe a shift in focus. This guide is designed to help you figure out what's holding you back, and build your confidence by dipping your toes in. 

I really hope you enjoy it!

Apple cinnamon porridge

Breakfast, Make-ahead, Fall, Recipe, VegetarianLeannda CavalierComment

I'm worthless if I don't eat breakfast. You laugh, but I mean it. Without a quality, nutritious breakfast, I'm tired, unfocused, grumpy, unmotivated and a little dazed. Not fun for me, not fun for anybody else. 

 Actual video of me around 10 a.m. sans-breakfast. 

Actual video of me around 10 a.m. sans-breakfast. 

So each morning priority #1 is breakfast.

My schedule is all over the place, so I have time to make breakfast most mornings, but that wasn't always the case. For busier times, I love make-ahead or pre-prepped breakfasts I can just it heat up and enjoy with my coffee. Apple cinnamon porridge is one of my latest favorites.

When you look at this recipe, you might think, "whoa, this recipe makes WAY too much! Why would I make this for one or two people?"

Hold up. Hear me out. If you are regularly struggling to eat breakfast, one of the biggest tips I can give you is to plan ahead. You can make this Sunday, portion it out into containers and have breakfast for days. You can even freeze it for breakfast emergencies. You don't have to eat it every day, but it's nice to have options.

Why steel-cut oats?

Steel-cut oats are minimally processed, so they fill you up and keep you full. Complex carbohydrates are best for lasting energy and fullness, and that's where steel-cut oats deliver. Your body can't digest the sugars as quickly, so you don't burn through it all at once and get that gross sugar crash. 

Rolled oats (probably the most common form of oatmeal you see) are actually steel cut oats steamed and then rolled thin and flat. They cook quickly... but they also don't take much time or energy to digest. That sounds great, but what it really means is that the sugars break down faster and you get hungry faster.

Instant oatmeal is even more processed. It's rolled oats shredded up and steamed again, then dried–broken so the carbs are so simple they're basically sugar by the time you chew them.

Beyond that, I just love the texture of steel cut oats—soft but a bit chewy. They take a little longer to cook, but it's worth it. 

Uh, porridge? Okay, fancy-pants. 

Mind blowing statement ahead: technically, oatmeal is porridge. But that's not why I call it that.

I call this particular recipe porridge because I like to use a mix of two grains. One of those is amaranth. I first had amaranth in Mexico, but it's becoming more popular around the world. You might see it marketed as an "ancient grain" or "superfood." I take those buzzwords with a grain of salt, but it is true that amaranth is a good source of protein, lysine and more. 

Amaranth is usually considered a cereal grain, but technically it's a seed. It's a little bit like a finer version of quinoa, but with a nuttier flavor. When you cook them up they give a nice little pop-crunch that I really enjoy to breakup the texture of  

Warm and cozy

I use two forms of cinnamon at different stages in this recipe because they have different purposes. Cinnamon sticks have a higher concentration of oil than ground. They slowly release their flavor during the cooking process, infusing the liquid and oats with a warm aroma. The ground form packs the classic punch we expect cinnamon to bring to the party.

Another perk of using cinnamon sticks is eating the oats stuck on them. The sticks keep a great flavor throughout the cooking process, and the little bits of oats that get trapped in the center are truly a delight. 

Recipe after the jump!

Breakfast before bed: Cherry Almond Chia Seed Pudding

Breakfast, VegetarianLeannda CavalierComment
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This post was originally published on my old blog. This version may contain minor edits and updates. The original is preserved at Recipe Repository

Not eating breakfast is the worst. Don’t do that.

Instead, check out this video for serial breakfast-skippers—a little breakfast before bed, if you will. 

Fresh, fruity and filling, this super-easy way to get breakfast ready before you even hit the pillow is a tangy energy-booster. 

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Cherry Almond Chia Seed Pudding

Special equipment: 
Two 1-pint mason jars
Immersion (stick) blender (a regular blender will work too*)

Ingredients:

  • 14-oz can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup chia seeds, divided in half
  • 2 TBSPs honey, divided in half
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract, divided in half
  • 2 tsps almond extract, divided in half
  • 12-16 pitted sweet cherries (I use frozen)

Instructions

  1. Split the can of coconut milk evenly between two 1-pint mason jars (this doesn’t need to be perfect).
  2. Add half of all the remaining ingredients to each jar.
  3. Place your immersion blender into the jar, and cover the mouth of the jar with paper towels to prevent splatter. Pulse several times until your mixture is dark pink/purple and cherries are well blended. This should only take a few seconds.
  4. Carefully remove the blender, pushing the mixture off of it and back into the jar with the paper towel as you go.
  5. Screw on the lids, shake for good measure, and leave in the refrigerator overnight or at least two hours.

*If you don’t have an immersion blender, just pour all ingredients in a regular blender and pulse for a few seconds until smooth, then pour into jars. I prefer the immersion blender because this method leaves a lot of valuable liquid and seeds on the sides of the blender (okay, also because it looks cooler). Just be certain to scrape as much as possible out of the blender when you pour.