Perfect for a Sunday Brunch
-Francine Segan, food+home editor
B&Bs – Bed & Breakfasts – are a charming, cozy alternative to impersonal hotels and motels. For me, the second part of the name – BREAKFAST – holds all the appeal! Here are my favorite recipes from a few of the B&Bs in the lovely Berkshires in the western section of Massachusetts, which is home to lots of summer fun, including the Tanglewood music festival.
Best-Ever French Toast
This is absolutely, positively the very best breakfast dish I’ve ever tasted. The fluffy, flavorful cream cheese center is celestial. So good, it’s worth staying a night at Applegate Inn even if you live across the street!
24 slices of cinnamon raisin bread, crusts trimmed
4 cups of Half & Half
3 cups sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
16 ounces cream cheese
Lightly butter a 3-quart baking pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with half the bread slices. In a medium bowl combine 6 of the eggs with all the Half & Half, 1 cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Pour half the egg mixture over the bread.
In a separate bowl whisk the cream cheese, remaining 2 eggs, teaspoon of vanilla, and 2 cups of sugar until smooth and creamy.
Spread the cream cheese mixture over the bread layer. Arrange the rest of the bread over the filling and top with the remaining egg mixture.
Sprinkle with nutmeg. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 60 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with warmed maple syrup, if desired.
Crunchy Homemade Granola
Guests rave about the healthy, crunchy granola at Stonover Farm in Lenox, MA, which is easy-to-make and keeps for weeks in an airtight container. Suky, the innkeeper, snips the dried fruit into odd size bits with kitchen scissors for a whimsical and unique effect.
3 pounds organic rolled oats
1 pound hulled sunflower seeds
2 cups pure maple syrup
2 cups honey
1 -1/2 cup black sesame seeds (available in health food stores)
2 cups raisins (if you have a dehydrator you can make your own, as does innkeeper Suky)
1 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1 cup finely chopped dried mango or other dried fruits to taste
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Mix the oats, sunflower seeds, maple syrup and honey in large bowl. Spread the mixture onto a cookie sheet and bake for 4 hours or until golden brown. Remove from the oven; allow to cool.
Meanwhile, to release their full flavor, place the black sesame seeds in a sauté pan and heat on low until they start to pop. Allow to cool. Once all the ingredients have cooled, combine the oat mixture, sesame seeds and dried fruits in an airtight container.
Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes
Makes 1 dozen hotcakes
These hotcakes from the Inn at Green River are so light and fluffy; they’re like mini soufflés. They are great served with maple syrup or raspberry jam.
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of one lemon (or 1/2 teaspoon Baldwin’s lemon extract)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Separate the eggs, putting the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. Beat the egg whites with a whisk or electric mixer until they hold stiff peaks. Reserve.
In the bowl with the egg yolks combine the ricotta, flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest, and melted butter until well blended and smooth.
Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture gently stirring until there are no white streaks.
Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Grease lightly and drop a heaping tablespoon of the batter onto the griddle. Cook for about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Watch for bubbles to burst on top.
Turn and cook the other side for about 30 seconds. Repeat with remaining batter. Keep warm on a baking sheet in a 250º F oven until ready to serve.
Apple Baked Bread Pudding
Brook Farm‘s owner, Phil Halpern, loves to experiment until he gets a recipe just right. This make-Saturday-night-enjoy Sunday-morning dish is absolute perfection.
8 ounces butter, 1 stick
6-8 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1 unsliced English muffin bread or French baguette, ends cut off, cut into 10 slices
5 large eggs
1-3/4 cups Half & Half
1/4 cup vanilla
Grease a 9×12 glass-baking pan. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the apples until tender, then add the syrup and brown sugar and cook slowly until blended and bubbly. Pour into the baking dish.
Arrange the sliced bread over the apple mixture, overlapping slightly. In a large bowl, blend the eggs, Half & Half, and vanilla and pour over the bread. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar to taste. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Cut into squares and serve with additional syrup, if desired.
The Inn at Stockbridge’s Goat Cheese and Vegetable Frittata
Len, who owns The Inn at Stockbridge with his wife Alice, loves to cook. This is one of Len’s favorite easy-to-make but sure-to-impress brunch recipes. Almost all of the prep work can be done the night before.
2 medium zucchini, diced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon chives, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 large potato, peeled, diced and parboiled
6 large eggs
4 ounces chevre (goat cheese)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Toss the zucchini with salt and place in a colander over a bowl for 30 minutes. Squeeze gently to remove all the liquid. Rinse the zucchini and dry well. Combine the basil, garlic, shallot and chives in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the scallions for one minute then add the red pepper and sauté another minute. Add the zucchini and potatoes and sauté about 4 to 6 minutes until golden. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Beat the eggs in a medium bowl and add the cheese and herb mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 350.
Melt the butter in a 10-inch non-stick ovenproof skillet and add the eggs, cook over low heat about 5 minutes until they are slightly set. Add vegetables; cook another 5 minutes, pulling edges in to make room for uncooked egg. Bake about 15 to 20 minutes until set. Remove from oven and invert onto round serving plate. Cut in wedges and serve.
B&B Tips on how to brew a perfect cup of coffee:
1. Never leave the coffee pot on the heating coil, or it can get a burned taste. Take it off the heat immediately and put it into a thermal carafe.
2. For a perfect cup of coffee, you have to spend money. Buy the best fresh roasted coffee bean you can afford.
3. If your town or well water isn’t wonderful, use bottled water to brew coffee.
4. Buy only whole coffee beans and grind them just before brewing.