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Thanksgiving Breakfast

Posted Dec 14 2008 9:51pm

Culinarily, holiday emphasis falls on the dinner, but there's an awful lot to like about breakfasts the day after too. Whether you raid the refrigerator for feast leftovers, happily subbing mashed potatoes for toast, or continue riding a wave of inspiration in the kitchen to come up with something special, the breakfast following a holiday always feels a little special, particularly if you're still surrounded by friends and family.

There was an interesting bit on NPR this week about the rather notable amount of waste that Americans produce from their holiday meals. I'd guess that much of that waste probably comes from tossing out dried up turkey, but we can all be more conscious of not creating food waste. Leftover fresh cooked or canned pumpkin that was mostly used for pie can be turned into deliciously fragrant spiced muffins with currants or sultanas and chunks of dark chocolate. And those pumpkin seeds you might have scraped into the compost? Use them as a toasty garnish. Pumpkin puree can also give waffles or pancakes a seasonal makeover, or, cook it down on the stove with spices and a little agave or sugar to create a quick pumpkin butter.

If you've cooked up a little more rice than needed for a stuffing or dressing, plain rice can be quickly transformed into a morning treat for everyone just by adding some coconut milk, sultanas, lightly toasted pistachios and almonds, a hint of agave, rose water and cardamon. Heat the mixture over a gentle flame and serve up steaming bowls with very little effort. This works equally well with any leftover take-out rice.

If you relish thoughts of lazy mornings where breakfast just seems to appear magically for you to enjoy, just think a little bit ahead while cooking for the main event of dinner. Cornbread as a Thanksgiving side or as the primary ingredient for a stuffing offers the opportunity to make a double batch and set some aside for morning muffins. Make them in cast iron for particularly delectable crusts with a little crunch.

Warm the muffins and spread them with cranberry sauce or enjoy with a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt and some of the chopped leftover herbs you bought to make dinner. If you think it's impossible to enjoy muffins properly without butter or margarine, just give it a try with good fruity olive oil. It's common enough to dunk bread in oil, but extending that practice to pastries that are typically served with butter works too.

Those with sweeter teeth can transform a batch of batter for cornbread into a rustic morning cake. I like to use the precious berries in my freezer that were frozen at their peak in summer for use throughout the colder months to spiff up a corncake. Blueberries and lemon zest with a dusting of cane sugar can't really be beat, unless you've got some raspberries in the freezer as well.

Mix a few frozen berries into the batter to spread them evenly through the cake, but just drop some on top of the unbaked cake in the pan as well. The batter rises up around the berries and creates little dimples in the sugar-crusted golden top. Any leftover cranberries or sauteed apple chunks would work well in a cake like this too. More adventurous types might even like to try a bit of leftover diced sweet potato, yams or even squash and a good teaspoon of cinnamon with their corncake.

Or maybe your a.m. tooth is sweeter still and your will to extend the cooking frenzy of the holiday even greater. You then are a candidate for some homemade vegan danishes. Especially when I have guests in the house, it feels great to be able to offer something special like this that extends the celebration of the holiday dinner. With amazing seasonal fall fruit like persimmons, pears and apples, the options for fillings are endless. Apple or pumpkin butter make great choices too and a little spread of vegan cream cheese with some leftover cranberry sauce or maple roasted squash sprinkled with nutmeg and cinnamon don't go amiss either. The tail ends of herbs unused in the Thanksgiving dinner can find a happy home in a sweet cheese filling as well. This is also a good time to break out any jams or preserves you may have made or been given--quince, crab apple, grape--all perfect.

For a light touch at breakfast that is still special, soak some dried apricots in water overnight, split them in the middle and stuff them with a teaspoon of vegan cream cheese, fresh tarragon or mint and some toasted pecans reserved from your pie making ventures. These are a great treat if you're still feeling a little full from the night before.

A more dramatic light and fruity breakfast can also warm up your kitchen if it's anything like mine in these cold New England mornings with the blustery wind at the windows. Fig season has faded, but there are still a few hangers on to be found and the earthy sweetness of these beautiful fruits that is the epitome of fall can be intensified by roasting them with a light drizzle of agave, a tiny bit of olive oil and sprinkle of cardamom.

Serve the figs warm with some unsweetened soy yogurt mixed with rose petal jelly or quince jam.

And if all that fails to please, scoop everyone up some of the rewarmed apple crisp you were too full to finish the night before. I like my apple crisp made with cranberries and crystallized ginger, toasted oats and almonds. A little scoop of ice cream can't hurt either...neither can a good dose of caramel . After all, it is the holidays. Happy breakfasting!
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