Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An All-American Petit Dejeuner

So I decided that since I’ve been in France for two weeks now, it’s time to start working my way into the kitchen.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been loving my (self-appointed) job as a taste-tester of local cuisine. Paper-thin tare tare, delicate arugula salads, toasty french baguettes perfect for sopping up every last drop of the olive oil/balsamic/salt/pepper/lemon vinaigrette that I swear goes with everything…

I mean, I’ll be honest! I think the French have me beat when it comes to dinner. Don’t get me wrong; I still think my enchiladas are amazing [insert personal opinion here], but they’re admittedly complex. They take time to prepare and more time to cook, they require side-dish staples like guacamole/beans/rice, and by the end of the whole ordeal there’s spicy red sauce dripping from every square inch of the kitchen (well, at least from every square inch of my kitchen).

French dinners, on the other hand? For the most part, they’re simple, clean, streamlined, and quick - things I really can’t compete with, at least not on a regular basis. But when it comes to breakfast, I definitely think I have something to bring to the table (pun intended).

I think I mentioned this before, but just in case you missed it…

CULTURE BULLETIN: it is perfectly acceptable to eat what Americans consider to be “dessert” for breakfast in France. (Um, I’m never leaving). But still; one can only eat a fudgy brownie, or a chocolate croissant, or a bar of chocolate between two slices of bread for so long. Crazy right? Mais pour moi, c’est vrai.

Personally, I’m a big fan of fruit in the morning. But the kids are big on pastries and chocolate (and okay, I’m a fan of that, too). So what’s the perfect compromise?

American style pancakes with chocolate & bananas, bien sur!

How I wish I’d had my camera upstairs this morning to capture the joy of a French family sinking their teeth into beautiful, fluffy pancakes made from Bisquick. 

Je t’adore, Betty Crocker.

A quick note: although there’s nothing wrong with Bisquick, usually I like to make my own batter. But in the interest of time, I decided to cheat a little so that I could skip all the measuring and mixing and get to the good stuff - the chocolate and bananas and blueberries.

Since I’ve always really enjoyed wearing the chef’s hat pour le petit dejeuner, I’ve dedicated a little time to researching easy, healthy breakfast ideas. I tend to think that the better you start the day, the better you finish it - and I’m so excited about the possibility of introducing new flavors to my lovely French friends!

Alors, here are a few quick-fixes I’ve recently come across, lovingly compiled and ready to be entered into my recipe collection and yours: 

BYO Pancakes (that’s build your own, if you were wondering)

image via SkinnyTaste

*Note: if you’re using Bisquick (who does that? ahem), obviously you can skip the dry ingredients. Just follow the the instructions on the box, and add in a little vanilla to the better for some oomph, and sprinkle in fillers to your heart’s delight. Adapted from this recipe.


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon white sugar

  • 1 1/4 cups milk

  • 1 egg

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth.

  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake.

  3. Sprinkle toppings* onto the batter as it begins to brown on the pan. Spoon an additional thin layer of batter until toppings are covered.

  4. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

No-Fail Topping Combos

1. Chocolate pieces (I like roughly chopped dark chocolate) + bananas (freeze overnight, then slice and put into butter while still frozen. It keeps them from getting too mushy as the pancakes cook!)

2. Raspberries + blueberries + chopped unsalted almonds

3. Bananas + walnuts +1/2 tsp cinnamon

4. Apples + 1 TBS peanut butter + oats

5. Pears + yogurt + honey

Fruit Crunchers

Why am I calling what is traditionally known as a “fruit and granola parfait” a Fruit Cruncher? Because it’s cuter, and therefore, it will taste better.

what a beautiful example. merci, Martha Stewart.


1. Your favorite granola or cereal (I’ve been loving muesli with dried fruit already mixed in)

2. Your favorite yogurt (Greek yogurt is a great protein source, and plain yogurt is perfect with just a drizzle of honey added for flavor)

3. Your favorite fruits (hello raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and bananas)


C’est simple: Alternate spooning layers of yogurt, fruit, and granola into a clear glass until it’s full. And enjoy, of course!

Fruit and Cheese, Please

The French love bread, apples, and cheese. This one’s almost too easy!


  • 1 English muffin, split

  • 1/2 apple, thinly sliced

  • 6 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese


  1. Place English muffin cut side up in a toasted oven or on a baking sheet under the broiler, and toast until lightly browned.

  2. Top each muffin half with half of the apple and half of the cheese. Broil until cheese is melted.

Somethin’ Pumpkin (via SkinnyTaste <—love it!)

Just because France has yet to import Starbucks’ pumpkin spice lattes (a tragedy, bien sur) doesn’t mean that they’re immune to the fall-flavor craze.

Gina’s pumpkin banana nut bread. heaven on earth? maybe.

  • Pam baking spray

  • 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

  • 3/4 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves*

  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg*

  • 3 very ripe medium bananas, mashed

  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin

  • 2 tbsp butter, softened

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, unpacked

  • 1 large egg white

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional, 5 pts+ per slice if using)


Preheat oven to 325°. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan with baking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, pumpkin spice and salt with a wire whisk. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add egg whites, egg, bananas, pumpkin and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until thick. Scrape down sides of the bowl.
Add flour mixture and nuts (if using), then blend at low speed until combined. Do not over mix.

Pour batter into loaf pan and bake on the center rack for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the pan cool at least 20 minutes, bread should be room temperature before slicing.

* according to Gina, 1 tsp of pumpkin spice can be substituted for cloves and nutmeg.

There’s really nothing better than getting your day off to a healthy, easy, and most importantly, a delicious start. That being said…

Bon appetit, mes amis!


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