posted by Neil Myers
In our 19th year of innkeeping here at The Inn at Vaucluse Spring, we are re-thinking the idea of what it means to serve an indulgent B&B breakfast. More and more of our guests are looking for a healthier breakfast. The problem is that many health claims are diametrically opposed and there is no one menu which would strictly meet everyone’s idea of health. The Paleo/Gluten-Free crowd is not going to be happy with what the Whole-Grain/Low Fat/Vegetarian folks want and vice versa. Plus, we still have a lot of guests who just want to take a small vacation from these concerns and indulge themselves with their old way of eating for a couple of days. Without becoming a short-order cook, what’s an innkeeper to do?
Our evolving approach is to follow The Middle Way (with apologies to the Buddha) and encourage our guests to relax a little bit about food. In a world of Extreme-Everything, our choice is to be Extremely Balanced (can there can be such a thing?). Our goal, as ever, is to serve delicious food, beautifully presented, that delightfully nourishes body and soul. We will continue to accommodate allergies, food intolerances, and medically-imposed restrictions (as well as personal food preferences as best we can).
With the new Middle Way approach, we are considering calling our first course our Breakfast Appetizer or Starter so we have the leeway to serve something other that a breakfast bread. The Appetizer/Starter may well be one of our traditional breakfast breads or muffins, or it might be a miniature version of one of our “sweet-day” breakfasts. We just noticed the other morning how a breakfast strata filled with apples looked remarkably like an apple strudel; a smaller portion of this would make a lovely appetizer. Last winter we got rave reviews on our Apple, Blueberry, and Carrot Muffins which (behind the scenes) we called the “stealth health” muffins because they contain a large portion of flaxseed meal and oat bran in addition to the goodness of apples, dried blueberries, carrots and walnuts. We will be tinkering with the Breakfast Appetizer/Starter idea and getting guest feedback as we go.
The second course, Fruit for the Day, will continue to feature fruit, whether fresh or roasted. We still believe perfectly ripe fruit, simply prepared, is an indulgence of which we don’t partake often enough. It’s fun to try different combinations of fruits and sauces, and although there’s never been a lot of sugar in our sauces, there will now be even less.
The entre will be full of vegetables and protein, mostly in the form of eggs. We’re still looking for a snappy name for this, so would love to hear your ideas. We agree with Jefferson that meat is an excellent “condiment”, not the star of the show. Eggs can be prepared in an infinite number of ways and they no longer seem to be considered the bad boys of the dietary world (after all those years of bad press!). Fresh vegetables are as much an indulgence as fruit – in our daily rush we don’t always take the time to prepare them with care and imagination. One of our favorite entrees right now is a Quinoa and Greens Breakfast Pie which we serve with a Prosciutto Crisp for a little crunch and ping of salt. You might think there would be some hesitancy about the pie, but we’ve found that the overwhelming majority of guests really, really enjoy it. Maybe it’s all those onions, leeks, red pepper flakes, and a great white cheddar.
So, we are looking to our guests for reactions, whether positive, negative, or indifferent. Do you have an all-time favorite Vaucluse breakfast dish that you believe we should never abandon? Any recipes of your own you would you like to share? (We’ve gotten some fantastic recipes from guests over the years.) Tell us about any new foods you have tried that you recommend. Let’s hear from the silent majority who may think things should stay exactly the same. Please email your thoughts directly to Neil. I would love to hear from you.
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VAUCLUSE SPRING MIDDLE WAY RECIPES
Apple, Blueberry, and Carrot Muffins
aka The A-B-C “Stealth Health” Muffins
This is a substantial muffin with lots of super-food ingredients. We like to serve them with cinnamon-sugar butter, but you could serve them plain. They are good “keepers”, but the sooner you serve them after they come out of the oven, the better they will taste. Ours come out just minutes before breakfast starts.
Whisk together dry ingredients and set aside:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup flaxseed meal
½ cup oat bran
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
Whisk together and then add to the dry ingredients:
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup milk
2/3 cup brown sugar
¾ tsp. vanilla
2 cups shredded carrots
1 large Granny Smith apple (unpeeled), shredded
1/3 cup dried blueberries
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Scoop batter with 1/3 cup measure into muffin tins that have been sprayed with vegetable oil spray. Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until muffins spring back when poked or toothpick comes out clean.
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Quinoa and Greens Breakfast Pie
We have experimented with several versions of this. This is the current favorite, but you could certainly try other greens and cheeses depending on what you have available. After nibbling on all the greens in the market, mustard greens are our current favorite for that extra zing of flavor. Sharp/tart cheeses are preferable; just think what a little splash of vinegar does for greens and you get the idea. Go heavier on the red pepper if you like – we need to follow The Middle Way here at the inn.
½ cup quinoa (a mix of red and white looks especially nice)
1 cup water
1 small sweet onion, chopped medium fine
1 bunch leeks, white and light green parts, halved longways and cut into 1/8” semi-circles
1 bunch mustard greens, stemmed and coarse chopped
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ cup grated Cabot White 3-Year Cheddar
5 oz. goat cheese, softened
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
4 eggs, room temp.
Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Dump into large mixing bowl to cool.
Sauté onion in a little olive oil until soft. Add leeks (make sure they are well washed) to the pan and continue until they are soft as well. Dump into the quinoa bowl. Sauté greens with red pepper flakes until wilted. Add to the big bowl and toss until evenly distributed. Add white cheddar to the bowl mixture and toss again.
Beat goat cheese until soft and fluffy. Mix salt and pepper together with each other before adding to goat cheese. Beat until blended. Continue beating, adding eggs, and mix well. Pour goat cheese mixture over the big-bowl ingredients and mix well. Put into a 9” pie pan that has been sprayed with vegetable oil spray.
Bake in 350 degree oven about 45 minutes until edges begin to brown and eggs are set (knife comes out clean). Allow to cool 10-15 minutes before serving.