Summer breakfast al fresco

Breakfast in the summertime is special. Whether it’s strolling to the dock with a cup of coffee or sitting on the deck with a bowl of berries, it’s relaxed and happy. Yes, happy. How often can we enjoy a casual meal outside in the tranquillity of morning light? Part of the joy is the light and part is the anticipation of a bright summer’s day stretching before you with only good things to anticipate. Part of it is the warmth. You don’t have to bundle up before eating breakfast, T-shirt and shorts will do. Some of the ‘happy’ is the relaxed atmosphere. Of course, pleasure comes from the food itself,  seasonal food with all the flavour of just picked.

One of my summer’s pleasures is to have friends over for breakfast exemplified by this simple menu:
Mango slices with fresh lime
Mixed pepper frittata
Fresh breads with assorted jams and marmalade
Blueberry lemon muffins

Enjoy at least one summer breakfast before the bustle of fall.

Mixed Pepper Frittata
The ingredients may be assembled ahead and refrigerated overnight to bake fresh in the morning. However, it is a simple dish and takes only minutes to prepare. It may be served hot, or at room temperature; ideal for a picnic too.
1 slice whole-grain bread, made into breadcrumbs
6 eggs
1/2 cup (125 mL) milk
1 cup (250 mL) shredded old cheddar cheese
3 peppers, assorted colours, cut into cubes
1/4 cup (50 mL) dry sherry
1 tsp (5 mL) dry tarragon or other favourite herb such as thyme
1/4 tsp (1 mL) black pepper
Preheat oven to 350˚F(180˚C). Spray a 9-inch pie plate with baking spray. To make breadcrumbs, tear bread into pieces and add to food processor or blender; combine until crumbs form. Sprinkle half crumbs in bottom of pie dish and add remaining crumbs to mixing bowl with eggs, milk and grated cheddar cheese. Whisk well. In frying pan over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add cubed peppers: red, yellow and orange and cook, stirring until softened, about five minutes. Add sherry, tarragon and pepper to cubed peppers and cook, stirring until sherry has been absorbed. Add pepper mixture to egg mixture, beating to combine. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake 20 to 30 minutes or until egg mixture is set. Cool on rack at least 15 minutes before cutting into six wedges.

Very Berry French Toast
This delicious creation is my friend Becky O’Reilly’s inspiration for breakfast at the cottage. Served with the summer fruit, it has all the taste of summer on a plate. Although Becky assembled the French toast and cooked it immediately on a griddle, if you prefer, it could be assembled the night before and arranged in a 13×9 inch (3 L) baking dish then baked in the oven in the morning. Serve it with a dollop of vanilla yogurt on top and an assortment of summer berries. Yum!!
8 slices cinnamon raisin bread
6 eggs
1/2 cup (125 mL) milk
6 cups (11/2 L) assorted berries: blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries
2 cups (500 ML) vanilla yogurt
In a mixing bowl whisk together eggs and milk; dip the bread into the mixture and let it soak in. Arrange the soaked bread on a heated griddle sprayed with baking spray. Cook the French toast until golden brown on one side and turn to other side. Repeat with all pieces. Place cooked French toast in a covered dish to keep warm then serve immediately with yogurt and fruit. If preparing the night before, arrange the soaked bread in a single layer in 13×9 inch (3 L) baking dish sprayed with baking spray; cover and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, pre-heat oven to 350˚F (180˚C); uncover French toast and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve immediately with yogurt and fruit.

Blueberry Lemon Muffins
These muffins are popular with everyone who tastes them. In the autumn, my friend Marcia makes a variation with cranberries and poppy seeds.
1/2 cup (125 ml) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (300 mL) granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup (125 mL) milk
1 tbsp (15 mL) grated lemon rind
2 cups (500 mL) all purpose flour
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
2 cups (1 pt) blueberries
granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. In a mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy; beat in eggs until creamy then beat in milk and lemon rind until well combined. In separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in blueberries just to combine. Spoon batter to almost full into 12 large muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin top with about 1/2 tsp (2 mL) granulated sugar. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until puffed and firm to the touch. Serve hot or at room temperature. May be stored for one day or frozen for longer storage. Makes 12 muffins.

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