kosher kitchen

Child-made breakfast delights dad on his day


June is flying by. Shavuot has passed and the grill is waiting to be called up for active duty, if only the weather would cooperate. Soon it will be Father’s Day.

I remember always being able to find a gift for my mother for Mother’s Day, but my dad was different. He always said he didn’t want anything. So I would make him a card and then buy him something he didn’t need and most likely didn’t want, usually something my mother had chosen.

When I got older, about 9, I made him breakfast — brunch actually — that he would eat after he returned from the golf course. (That he liked.) I would include blueberries (even though the ones on our bushes were not ripe yet) and lots of other fruits that I could easily cut up. I needed a bit of time to master the art of a perfectly cooked “over easy” egg (the yolk always broke) and I burned quite a few bagels in my early cooking years, but his brunch was always greeted with big hugs and then “That is the BEST breakfast I have ever had!”

Later in the day, my dad’s brother and sisters and their families would arrive for the family barbecue. Eleven kids and their parents can put away an awful lot of food, but my dad was prepared with a seemingly endless supply of burgers, hot dogs, chicken, and even shish kebab. On the deck that he built himself (because he needed a place for the grill), he was at the cockpit of the aircraft, the helm of the ship; he was the big kahuna of the grill and he could not have been happier.

He called out orders and maintained a steady stream of food for what seemed like hours. At the end of the night, he would again thank me for the “great” breakfast I had made him that gave him the energy to stand at the grill all evening. He and I would toast some marshmallows when everyone went home and, if we were lucky, we would see a few fireflies in the little bit of woods behind our house.

If the weather was still really warm, we went for a swim in pool while my mother cleaned up the mess that was always left behind. Father’s Day was always a wonderful day for me and taught me the joy of making and doing for others even as a little kid.

So (and this is for the kids) start your dad’s day this Father’s Day with a great breakfast. And make him a card with your own artwork and tell him, in your words, what a great dad he is. That will mean everything to him.

Most of these recipes are fairly simple, but please work with an older sibling or an adult when using the stove or electrical appliances.

Baked French Toast (Dairy or Pareve)

3 cups whole milk (or unsweetened vanilla almond milk)

6 extra-large eggs

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. pure almond extract

6 Tbsp. butter melted and divided (pareve trans-fat-free margarine)

12 slices challah or brioche 

1/2 cup sugar divided

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1 tsp. to 1 Tbsp. cinnamon, to taste

Additional 2 Tbsp. sugar for sprinkling

OPTIONAL: 1/2 to 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Extra sugar for sprinkling before baking

Generously grease a 9x13 glass baking dish. Pour the milk into a large bowl. Add the eggs and beat well with a whisk until smooth and frothy. Add the vanilla and almond extracts. Add half the sugar and mix well. Add half the melted butter and mix well.

Dip six slices of challah into the liquid and place in the glass baking dish side by side. You can “squish” them so they fit.

Mix the remaining sugar and brown sugar together in a small bowl. Add the cinnamon and mix well. Sprinkle the mixture over the bread and then drizzle the rest of the butter over the sugar. Add some chopped walnuts if you like.

Dip the remaining six pieces of bread and place over the sugar mixture. Pour any remaining milk mixture over the top and cover the dish tightly with foil. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Uncover the dish, sprinkle with sugar and bake for about 25 to 35 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve alone or with pure maple syrup. Serves 4 to 8.

Everything in the Fridge Omelets (Dairy or Pareve)

This recipe was born out of frustration during one particularly bad flu season many years ago. My husband and I were too sick to shop or care about food, but the kids were hungry so our oldest child decided to make omelets for her younger brothers. She found enough eggs, but not enough of anything else, so she improvised adding everything from spaghetti to cream cheese to jelly into her omelets. They were delicious!

2 extra-large eggs per omelet OR one egg and 2 egg whites

Pinch of salt and a tiny bit of pepper

1 tsp. cold water

Butter or pareve margarine or non-stick spray for the pan

Anything in the refrigerator that will taste good inside cooked eggs. For example:

Leftover cooked vegetables broccoli, string beans, mushrooms, spinach, zucchini, cauliflower, etc.

Any kind of cheese such as cheddar, American, feta, cream cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta, Parmesan and mozzarella, or a mix of any of them.

Leftover spaghetti and sauce

Leftover macaroni and cheese

Fresh cut up vegetables like mushrooms, onions, peppers, shredded carrots, tomatoes, garlic, etc.

Jam or jelly

Cut up lox or leftover fish (salmon is best)

Salsa or spaghetti sauce

Jam or jelly with some cream cheese or cottage cheese

Cottage cheese with dried chives and finely shredded carrots 

Mixed cheeses with tomatoes or salsa

Ricotta cheese with cinnamon and sugar 

Sautéed onions, mushrooms, peppers with or without mixed cheeses 

NOTE: You need about 1/2 to 1 cup of veggies per omelet. About 1/4 to 1/3 cup of hard cheeses and about 1/4 cup of soft cheese. You only need a few tablespoons of jam and less of fresh herbs. 

Basic Cooking Directions:

Break two eggs into a bowl. Break the yolks and add the cold water. Beat the eggs until evenly mixed and add the salt and pepper.

Heat a non-stick skillet, if you have one, over medium heat, and add the butter or margarine. If you are using cooking spray, spray the pan before putting it on the heat. 

Pour the eggs into the pan and let them cook for about 30-40 seconds or until the eggs start to bubble. Lift an edge with a spatula and allow the uncooked egg to run under the cooked part. When the eggs seem almost cooked, add the filling ingredients to one half of the egg, gently lift the other half and fold it over the filling. Let cook through until the cheese is melted or until the ingredients are heated through. Covering the pan for a minute is helpful.

Slide the omelet onto a plate and repeat the process if you are making more than one omelet.

Baked in the Oven Pancakes with Fruit (Dairy or Pareve)

3 extra-large eggs

1/2 cup unbleached flour

1/2 cup milk or almond milk

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

OPTIONAL: 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup instead of the sugar

1-1/2 cups blueberries or mixed berries

Grease 2 (9-inch) glass pie pans (metal doesn’t work as well for this recipe). Set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Break the eggs into a medium bowl. Whisk. Add the flour in four additions, whisking smooth after each addition. Add the milk inn two additions, whisking until smooth after each addition. Add the salt, sugar and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add the berries and mix with a fork to blend. 

Pour half the batter into each pan. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake another 10 minutes or until the pancakes puff up. Remove from the pan and slide onto a plate. Top with sliced berries and drizzle of Fresh Berry Syrup. Serves 2.

Fresh Berry Syrup (Pareve)

2 cups juice from fresh berries from 1 to 1-1/2 quarts of berries

1-1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup corn syrup

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, pulp removed

NOTE: My favorites are blackberries and raspberries, but any berries will work.

Place the berries in a heavy medium saucepan and mash them with a fork or potato masher. Bring to a boil over medium heat and mash the berries frequently to soften them and release the juice. If you are concerned that the berries are a bit dry, add some pomegranate juice to the pan. Once the berries boil, turn off the heat and continue to mash until all the juice is released.

Let cool. When cool, place a fine mesh strainer over a large deep bowl and slowly pour the berries through the strainer in batches. Press with a spoon to get out all the liquid and discard the solids. Repeat until all of the berries have been strained.

Measure the juice and place about 2 cups back in the pot. Bring to a simmer and reduce to 1-1/2 cups. 

Add the sugar, the corn syrup and lemon juice to the pot. Stir constantly and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for exactly one minute and remove the pot from the heat. Let cool. Pour into an airtight container and refrigerate. Use within one week on pancakes, ice cream, in milkshakes, over fruit, even to flavor iced tea. Makes about 2 cups.

Simple Oat Bran Muffins (Dairy or Parve)

These are easy to make and really healthful. Serve warm with a drizzle of pure maple syrup or softened butter.

2 cups oat bran

1 cup unbleached flour

4 tsp. baking powder

1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

2 extra-large eggs

1/3 cup canola oil

1-1/4 cups milk or almond milk

2 to 3 Tbsp. molasses or honey

1 cup raisins or chopped dates 

Oatmeal and brown sugar for sprinkling on top.

OPTIONAL: Pinch cloves or ground ginger

Place 15 paper muffin cups in two 12 cup muffin tins. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk the oat bran, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, optional spices and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, mix the sugars, eggs, oil and milk. Add the molasses or honey and whisk until smooth.

Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until just blended. Add the raisins and gently mix.

Divide into the 15 muffin cups. Top with a bit of oatmeal and brown sugar. Press very gently into the batter.

Bake until the tops are golden and a tester comes out clean, about 15 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and then take the muffins out and transfer to a wire rack to cool more. Makes 15 muffins.