Ginger Cardamom Raspberry Jam with Yogurt and Toasted Hazelnuts

The tried-and-tested yogurt, fruit and nuts breakfast gets an update with this easy ginger cardamom raspberry jam and fragrant, toasted hazelnuts. Happy morning! :)

Ginger Cardamom Raspberry Jam with Yogurt and Toasted Hazelnuts

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

What I love about this breakfast is that all three components can be made ahead of time so unless you’re in the mood, you don’t have to put in any effort in the morning (something that certainly appeals to me).

I’ve already used the jam in several recipes here (namely the baked brie and these Linzer cookies) and it’s so versatile that I’m sure this is not the last time you see it. Instead of sugar I used agave syrup this time just because I really like it, I find it much less harsh than white sugar.

Ginger Cardamom Raspberry Jam with Yogurt and Toasted Hazelnuts
 
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Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
  • ¼ cup whole hazelnuts
  • 6 ounces frozen raspberries
  • 3 tablespoons agave syrup
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread the whole nuts onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven until dark brown (15 to 20 minutes).
  3. While the nuts are in the oven, make the jam.
  4. Add frozen raspberries, agave syrup and cornstarch to a saucepan and start to cook on medium heat, stirring until everything is combined.
  5. Once the raspberries have thawed add the ginger and the cardamom.
  6. Cook until the fruit is completely broken down and the jam thickened (about 10 minutes).
  7. Let cool.
  8. Chop the hazelnuts and serve in jars or bowls along with yogurt and jam.

Food Photography and Styling: I was going for a bright spring morning feel here and used minimal diffusion to get that look. I set a few whole hazelnuts on the “tablecloth” (just a large linen napkin) to tell the viewer that that’s what the chopped nuts are (and also because I find whole hazelnuts to be very pretty). The milk glass and bottle fit with the overall atmosphere and kept the background from looking too empty. To follow the rule of thirds I set the yogurt jar on an intersection point and let the tallest prop (the milk bottle) touch the upper horizontal dividing line.

Nikon D600, 105mm, f/4, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight.

Spicy Breakfast Skillet

Every now and then I’m in the mood for something spicy in the morning but I never knew what to make until I came up with this breakfast skillet a little while ago. It’s a mix of rosemary potatoes, a poached egg, roasted tomatoes and roasted sweet peppers that are spiced with half-sharp Hungarian paprika. Altogether it makes a perfect, hardy breakfast or brunch.

Spicy Breakfast Skillet Recipe

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

What I love about this dish is that it even though it takes about thirty minutes to prepare it’s not a actually a whole lot of work. You can fry the potatoes while the vegetables are in the oven and poach the egg while the potatoes are frying and that way everything is hot and ready at the same time. Bon appetit!

Spicy Breakfast Skillet
 
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Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika, half-sharp
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 small, ripe tomatoes
  • 8 small sweet peppers
  • 2 Russet potatoes, thoroughly cleaned
  • 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Mix olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper together in a bowl, then toss the tomatoes and peppers in it until evenly coated.
  3. Transfer to a baking pan and roast in the oven until the tomatoes burst.
  4. Meanwhile cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat the butter in a pan, then fry the potatoes on medium heat in it. When the potatoes are starting to brown, sprinkle the rosemary over them and continue to fry them until they are golden-brown and crispy.
  6. While the potatoes are frying heat a large pot of water for the eggs.
  7. Poach the eggs in the water.
  8. Transfer everything to two plates and sprinkle with cilantro.

Food Photography and Styling: The most important thing for me here was to create an early morning atmosphere to convey the fact that this is breakfast food. I used my strobe to light the set from the side at a low angle to simulate morning light and set a cup of coffee and a roll in the composition to say “breakfast.” The poached egg was surprisingly kind to me and didn’t change its appearance very much after I poked it open. I had expected the yolk to drain into the bottom of the bowl in a matter of seconds but it stayed put very nicely and I could take my time.
 
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/3.5, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

Pumpkin Spice Banana Bread – Perfect for Breakfast

Banana and pumpkin spice are a wonderful combo. The warm fall flavors of the spice complement the fruitiness perfectly and work really well in this breakfast banana loaf. The bread is very light, not very sweet at all and full of comforting flavors. I suggest toasting it and serving it with a little bit of butter. Makes for a great start into the day. :)

Pumpkin Spice Banana Bread – Perfect for Breakfast

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Pumpkin Spice Banana Bread
 
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Recipe type: Breakfast
Ingredients:
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons pumpkin spice
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed up with a fork
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans or almonds)
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9–inch by 5–inch by 3–inch loaf pan. Set aside.
  3. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin spice and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. Beat butter and sugar in a bowl until creamy.
  5. Beat in the eggs.
  6. Beat in the dry ingredients.
  7. Beat in the bananas.
  8. Beat in the nuts.
  9. Fill the batter into the pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Food Photography and Styling: I used a slate cheeseboard as the surface for this bread because I liked the contrast of the dark blue with the brown of the bread. As usual, I used flags to keep most of the photo dark and let the light fall only onto the food to make it look as if it were sitting in a spotlight. Since my serving suggestion is to toast this bread I wanted to show the butter partially melting and I used a little torch to do that. This loaf wasn’t entirely symmetric, one side was slumping a bit and that distracted me so I lifted it up a bit with Photoshop’s liquify filter. As usual, I lit the photo with my strobe.
 
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight.

Homemade Spiced Granola

Homemade Spiced Granola

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Are you as ready for fall as I am? Enough with the thunderstorms and the mosquito bites, I want to hike through golden aspen forests and drink salted caramel mochas. So it won’t surprise you that I simply couldn’t wait any longer to perfume my kitchen with baked cinnamon, clove, ginger and cardamom and made this crunchy and sweet spiced granola. It is delicious with berries, apples, pears and plain yogurt, or even by itself.

If you think homemade granola is too much work I can assure you that’s not the case. This recipe couldn’t be any easier, you just mix rolled oats, pumpkin seeds and coconut flakes with a bit of maple syrup, vegetable oil and the spices and bake it. The mix doesn’t stick to the baking sheet so the cleanup is a breeze too. Simple and delicious – enjoy!

Homemade Spiced Granola
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground clove
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1½ tablespoons maple syrup
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Mix pumpkin seeds, oats, coconut flakes, cinnamon, clove, ginger, cardamom and salt together in a bowl.
  3. Add the oil and the maple syrup and mix well.
  4. Spread the mix out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
  5. Let cool.

Food Photography and Styling: I relied heavily on the three pretty raspberries to make this photograph interesting; brown, uniform granola by itself is incredibly boring… My trusty Heath Ceramics bowl and plate worked well as crockery here and I lit the photo from the side with my strobe.
 
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/8, 1/125 sec., ISO 50. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

Homemade Yogurt

Homemade Yogurt

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

This post is for those of you who, like me last week, want to start making their own yogurt and are looking for instructions. I’m publishing it mainly because I want to save you from making the same mistakes I made. :)

So, I learned that there seem to be two main ways to make your own yogurt: 1) the wonderfully pleasant way and 2) the huge pain in the ass way. (Needless to say I started with 2).

A while ago Food & Wine published instructions for making yogurt using a pot, a bowl and an oven. Since I had all three of these items I forged ahead, bought some freeze-dried yogurt culture and non-ultra-pasteurized milk and started cooking. I stood at the stovetop forever, watched the temperature, turned the heat ever so slightly up and down constantly and battled with the dangling thermometer, the bell whisk and the bowl over the water bath. Then, when everything was finally getting ready to incubate I found out that my oven doesn’t go down to 110 degrees F. (If you’re planning to go the oven route I recommend that you do this in a smarter way than I did and check your oven before starting the whole mess).

Well, it was 6 p.m. and I frantically tried to think up other ways to keep the milk at 110 degrees for 18 hours. (Turning the oven continuously on and off? No way, I sacrifice sleep for nothing. Putting the milk in the closet where our furnace is? Can’t control the temperature. Slow cooker? Same problem. Heating blanket? Shuts off automatically, plus kitty sleeps on it).

So after tossing the milk and cleaning up I was so frustrated that I hopped onto amazon and ordered a 22-dollar yogurt maker. That was the first crucial step toward the wonderfully pleasant way of making yogurt. The second step was to get my friend P.J.’s recipe for how to make deliciously thick and creamy yogurt. I followed that recipe and it is genius. Super easy, no water bath, and best of all you have perfectly rich and creamy yogurt without the need to strain or do anything else. So with huge thanks to P.J. here is the ultimate recipe for homemade yogurt!

Homemade Yogurt
 
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Serves: 4 cups
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • 4 cups whole or 2 percent pasteurized milk (not ultra-pasteurized!)
  • freeze-dried yogurt culture (follow package instructions, I used 5 grams of yogourmet)*
  • freshly ground cardamom (optional)
Instructions:
  1. Stir powdered milk into milk in a saucepan.
  2. Heat the mix to 180 degrees F, stirring throughout the process.
  3. Take off the heat and let cool to 117 degrees F.
  4. Sprinkle yogurt culture over the milk and stir in until it's well mixed.
  5. Fill the mix into yogurt glasses and put in the yogurt maker for 8 hours or until the yogurt has set.
  6. Sprinkle cardamom on the yogurt (optional).
Notes:
*Once you've got the first batch of yogurt you can reserve one of the yogurt jars and use its contents instead of yogurt culture for the next batch. Just stir in the yogurt like you would the culture.

Food Photography and Styling: I swirled the yogurt a good dozen times until I had this cute, off-center circular pattern that I really liked. To keep the attention on the yogurt and not distract with anything colorful I kept the whole set white and just added the milk bottle and glass. I sprinkled some cardamom on the yogurt but it looked like dirt so I decided to publish the photo with just the yogurt. I lit the set from the side with my strobe to make it look like a breakfast table next to a window.
 
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/3.2, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

Cranberry Scones

Cranberry Scones

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Whenever I have fresh cranberries left over I bake them into scones. Cranberries add a nice juiciness and a tart flavor that I really like. The recipe I use is an adaptation from America’s Test Kitchen’s blueberry scones and my ingredient list matches that of America’s Test Kitchen very closely, except that I use cranberries instead of blueberries, of course. I changed the method of preparation a bit as well. ATK uses a technique that resembles making puff pastry by rolling and folding the dough multiple times. I cut that whole process short and just pat the dough together into a disc immediately after mixing all the ingredients together. That makes the scones just a tiny bit denser than the puff pastry method, but they are still nicely light and flaky.

Cranberry Scones
 
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Recipe type: Dessert/Breakfast
Serves: 8
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons ice-cold unsalted butter, cut into small pea-size chunks
  • 1½ cups roughly chopped fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • powdered sugar to sprinkle over the baked scones
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl.
  3. Add the butter and quickly work it into the flour mix using your hands. (Just smear the butter pieces between your fingers to get them coated with the flour).
  4. Add the cranberries to the flour mix.
  5. Whisk milk and sour cream together in another bowl, then add to the dry ingredients.
  6. Mix briefly with a rubber spatula just until the dough comes together. (It will be very sticky).
  7. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, sprinkle flour onto the dough and pat it into a 7-inch disc.
  8. Cut the disc into 8 wedges and bake them on a parchment-lined baking sheet until they are golden-brown on the surface and crusty on the bottom (18 – 28 min.).
  9. Let the scones cool, then sprinkle them with powdered sugar.

Food Photography and Styling: I picked three nice-looking scones that had a lot of cranberries peeking out along the edges and placed them on the strip of brown packing paper. That was a nice shot but it looked very static so to imply some action I ate one of the scones almost entirely and put only the last piece, along with some crumbs, back into the composition. The scone had left some nice grease stains on the paper that showed how buttery these guys are.
 
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/11, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

Huevos Rancheros Con Carne

Huevos Rancheros Con CarneTo license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

This recipe is for those of you who like super-substantial, hardy breakfasts that will get you through 3/4 of the day. I am not in that group, I eat tiny, light breakfasts but I’m up for huevos rancheros for lunch or dinner anytime!

I put my homemade chili powder to use in this recipe, added some jalapeño, onion, garlic, canned tomatoes and some ground beef for extra substance. I finished the sauce with cilantro and scallions and then poached eggs directly in the sauce in the oven. I found that this technique works really well, you just have to make sure that the sauce is nice and hot right before you put the raw eggs on it and cover the whole thing loosely with aluminum foil while in the oven to keep the eggs from drying out.

You can easily make the sauce ahead of time as long as you heat it up again before poaching the eggs. Eat these huevos straight, with a tortilla, with rice or even with roasted or fried potatoes. I tried all these options and they were all very tasty!

Huevos Rancheros Con Carne
 
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Recipe type: Breakfast/Main
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons homemade chili powder (get the recipe here)
  • 2 jalapeños, diced (seeds and ribs removed)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ~1.3 pounds ground beef (90 percent lean)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • one 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • one 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes (whole, not drained), processed into a puree in the food processor
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 – 6 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
  • a few drops lime juice
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven until shimmering.
  2. Add onion, chili powder and jalapeños and cook on medium-low heat for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, cook until fragrant.
  4. Add the beef and cook on medium heat until it's no longer red (about 8 minutes).
  5. Add tomato paste, all tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Use right away or store in the fridge until the next day.
  8. When you're ready to poach the eggs, stir the cilantro and the scallions into the sauce and then fill the sauce into a casserole pan (or into individual casserole pans).
  9. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  10. Heat the casserole pan/s up until the sauce is hot and place the pan/s on a baking sheet.
  11. Using the back of a spoon, make a few little "holes" in the sauce for the eggs to sit in.
  12. Put raw eggs on top of the sauce and cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  13. Put the pan in the oven and bake until the eggs have the desired consistency (about 9 - 12 minutes for a runny egg).
  14. Sprinkle a few drops of lime juice over the sauce and serve with tortillas, rice or roasted potatoes.

Food Photography and Styling: From my experience eggs are by far the most difficult food to style and photograph. You have little control over what an egg will do once you put it in the oven or the pan and even if it behaves well and looks nice the yolk will start to shrivel up so quickly that you have no more than a few minutes until you have to start over. So I had the set ready when the dish came out of the oven and was going for a rustic, early morning look. I had placed the spent lime wedge in the frame beforehand because I thought its color went well with the red of the sauce. I sprinkled some ground black pepper over the egg, mainly to break up the fairly large and pure white area around the yolk, and took the shot right before the yolk started to seize up.
 
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/8, 1/160 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.

Extra-Crispy Granola

This yummy granola is made extra crispy by the addition of panko. You know panko, the Japanese-style breadcrumbs that are so crunchy that you reach for your earplugs when someone next to you chews them. I usually use the little guys to bread seafood and poultry but they come in handy in a range of other applications as well. Here they add crispiness, substance and a great addition to the coconut flakes, pecans, sesame and pumpkin seeds and the obligatory oats. As any granola recipe, this one is easy and requires very little work.

Extra-Crispy Granola Recipe

 

To license this image please contact me at nicole@thespicetrain.com.

Extra-Crispy Granola
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 6
Ingredients:
  • 1½ tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup panko
  • 3 tablespoons sweetened coconut flakes
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
  • 1½ tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Add the syrup and the oil to the bowl and mix well.
  4. Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 60 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes.
  5. Let cool and serve with yogurt or milk and fresh fruit of your choice.