Fabulous Fairholme: Breakfasts & Brunches

By Sylvia Main

51LnF-YAhEL._SL160_

Published by Whitecap Books

I am a HUGE fan of breakfast. I love everything about the combination of sweet (fruit, syrups and whipping cream) with salty (bacon, hash and eggs). The condiments alone that go along with breakfast are reason enough for this meal to be my favourite of the day! So when I found this book entirely dedicated to not just breakfast but B&B breakfasts, needless to say I got very excited and couldn’t wait to start testing recipes!

Originally from Vienna, cookbook author Sylvia Main first opened the award winning Fairholme Manor (a European style B&B located in Victoria, British Columbia) in 1999. After repeatedly having guests ask for copies of their recipes, Fabulous Fairholme: Breakfasts & Brunches was published and includes the B&B’s most favoured and requested breakfast items.

This book is beautifully photographed with easy to assemble and simple yet elegant meals. I found Fabulous Fairholme to be full of good ideas and wonderful inspiration for everyday breakfasts as well as for when you have house guests or company for brunch. The overall tone and visual appeal of the book made me feel as if I were on a weekend getaway, and definitely imparted the character of the B&B through its pages.

Despite the fact that two out of three of the tested recipes fell short, I would still recommend this book as it is a good jumping off point for experimenting with your own ideas. The basics are all there, it just needs some tweaking. And while the strata and muffins were disappointing, I have since tried the baked grapefruit (simple yet such a yummy twist on this classic breakfast side dish!) and blueberry pancakes (great tang and freshness which paired well with the lightness of the pancakes). Personally, I am not discouraged but rather inspired to dive back into this book and see what culinary treasures I can cull out of its pages. In particular, I am looking forward to making the crunchy granola, savoury breakfast crêpe, and baked raspberry French toast.

(Before I forget, I promised Grandma Barbie who was with me when I purchased this book to let her know if it’s any good. IT’S GOOD!!!!)


Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

RATING: 4 out of 5

THE TEST: This recipe was very easy and super fast to pull together. In fact, I managed to make it on a weekday with both kids underfoot and no Mr. Spock to help out!

The batter was so fluffy that at first it was a little tricky to flip them, making a bit of a mess in my pan and the surrounding area. But the end result was definitely worth a little mess!

Ricotta

In the directions it warns you not to flip the pancakes more than once. The first batch I made I have to admit that I partook in numerous flips as I was afraid some of the batter wasn’t cooked through. They immediately deflated, but the subsequent batches remained a mile high with only the one flip.

BatterLemons

THE RESULTS: My kids ate these pancakes almost as fast as I could flip them! I was actually worried there wouldn’t be any left for me to test. But I eventually fought them off and managed to scarf some down. Whew.

The texture was reminiscent of a soufflé (an adjective the book itself uses to describe the pancakes) which took my pancake taste buds by surprise. The infusion of lemon zest was very subtle, allowing for an infused freshness that was by no means an overwhelming burst of citrus. Because of the eggy taste, these pancakes reminded me of a cross between a traditional pancake and a crepe. When smothered in butter there was no need for syrup, although my three-year-old looked at me like I was crazy for not adding the sweet sticky stuff!

Finished PancakesLemon Ricotta Pancake

Okay at this point I should let Mr. Spock’s fans know that he was initially exempt from this tasting as he only ever has eyes for my cottage cheese pancakes, deeming all other recipes to be inferior in comparison. I on the other hand, believe that you can never have enough versions of this breakfast staple. I didn’t bother to let him know I was testing this recipe, but as soon as he saw the pictures he was adamant I needed to retest them so he could provide his two cents. So I whipped up another delicious batch. And what was Mr. Spock’s two cents? “Hey these are pretty good! It’s kind of nice to have something different than traditional pancakes. I like them, but not as much as your cottage cheese pancakes.” Thanks honey!

Overall I enjoyed these flap jacks, and will definitely add them to my growing list of pancake recipes. At this rate, my tome of family favourite recipes is going to have a dedicated chapter just on pancakes. Hmmm…nothing wrong with that idea!

*Click here for a copy of the recipe for Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Orange Yogurt Muffins

RATING: 3 out of 5

THE TEST: For a number of years I have been on a personal mission to compile a list of recipes for the ideal muffin. Variety is essential. I love whipping up a batch of fresh muffins in the morning, the comforting and homey smell wafting from my oven as I sip my coffee to the sounds of Treehouse in the background. (Come on people, I have kids! How else do you think I manage to be able to enjoy an uninterrupted cup of coffee let alone make muffins. Geesh).

In the name of honesty, I should let you know that I substituted craisins for raisins. (As a side note, you will rarely see me incorporate the use of raisins in any of my cooking. Unless it is in the form of toast). But aside from my aversion to the original dried fruit called for in the recipe, I tend to think that orange flavoured muffins beg for the tartness offered by cranberries.

Oranges cut

Dried CranberriesTHE RESULTS: While both of my kids gobbled the entire batch of muffins up as fast as they could shove them into their little mouths, I have to admit I was disappointed in how they turned out. While incredibly moist (achieved no doubt by the inclusion of French vanilla yogurt into the batter), they were crying out for spices. Any spices at all! I would have loved to see how the addition of cinnamon or nutmeg would have livened up these muffins. I also found the orange flavour was virtually nonexistent, which surprised me given the fact that an entire orange (blended) was called for in the recipe. Overall, Mr. Spock and I found them rather plain, disappearing into the graveyard of unremarkable muffins.

OYM UnOYM B

Nonetheless, I am not ready to cast this recipe aside! In my opinion, this recipe has loads of potential and I would definitely make these muffins again albeit with some minor adjustments. For example, next time around I would be sure to include some cinnamon and/or nutmeg, along with the zest of the orange (not just the juice and pulp). I liked the cranberries, but found that by using dried ones the tartness I was hoping for was lost. This would probably be remedied by using fresh or frozen cranberries. I’m thinking that these changes along with the level of moistness the recipe managed to achieve, would vastly improve the results.

Tomato and Spinach Strata with Asiago

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

French Bread

THE TEST: If there is anything I love more than breakfast food, it is breakfast food you can prepare the night before. The fact that you can pop a yummy and fully satisfying breakie into the oven and have it ready in an hour, makes the mornings that you find yourself crazed and harried (or simply hung over!) that more bearable. After finishing the dinner dishes there’s nothing better than knowing that the next day’s breakfast is already done. Long live the preassembled breakfast!

As far as strata’s go, I find they satisfy all of my morning cravings for savory or sweet (depending on my mood), carbohydrates and dairy…all in one dish! For those of you new to the world of stratas, these are breakfast casseroles typically incorporating bread or potatoes with eggs, cheese and sometimes a meat such as sausage or ham and various vegetables. They can also come in a sweet form, for example mixing cubed brioche bread with dollops of cream cheese, egg mixture and fresh fruit. Basically all you do is layer the ingredients and chill overnight before baking in the oven for an hour. The possibilities are endless and oh so delicious!

Like most stratas I’ve made, this one took no time to throw together and looked like it would be absolutely heavenly in the morning. The tomatoes and spinach gave it such a wonderful fresh appeal I couldn’t wait to taste it!

lAsagio

THE RESULTS: Mr. Spock and I were in agreement on this dish, deeming it to be good but nothing spectacular. At the end of the meal we were left a little unsatisfied. The welcome kick from the cayenne notwithstanding, the flavour of the overall dish was rather bland and the Asiago cheese a little too bitter for our tastes. The ricotta gave the strata a wonderful creamy texture, and I liked the combination of the spinach and tomatoes but would rather have had a sharper tasting cheese like a feta which in my mind would pair well with the two vegetables.

In closing, would I make this recipe again? Probably not. As far as breakfasts made the night before go, this didn’t even come close to my baked French toast or my sister-in-law’s Christmas Wifesaver.

Strata UnbakedStrata Baked