February 9, 2011

Soup to Nuts: Rise & shine
for your Valentine

Breakfast in bed. Now there's a romantic idea that almost never fails to please. Food writer Dana Moos has some tips to help you make it happen.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

click image to enlarge

Dana Moos shows off her chocolate ricotta pancakes, including a version for the kids to help prepare for their parents, and a dish of ricotta, parmesan and asparagus crepes with Maine crab and sherry butter served with candied pepper bacon. Moos is in the dining room of the Danforth Inn on Portland's West End.

Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Dana Moos’ Chocolate Ricotta Pancakes in a family-friendly version with chocolate sauce, raspberry coulis and whipped cream.

Additional Photos Below


Serves 4


1 cup ricotta

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon orange extract (or Fiore Blood Orange Olive Oil)

3 eggs, separated

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

11/2 cups flour

1/4 cup mini chips (optional)


2 cups maple syrup

Juice from 2 oranges

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

Powdered sugar and orange slices for garnish

In mixer, combine ricotta, olive oil, egg yolks, sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt and cocoa, and blend until smooth. Add milk and flour, and mix again until smooth.

In separate bowl, combine egg whites with 1/8 teaspoon salt, and beat until stiff peaks. Fold into batter.

Fry on griddle or non-stick pan, flipping when they begin to bubble. Cook on the other side for 2 minutes, repeat with all pancakes, and place in 300-degree oven for 5 minutes to cook the inside.

Mix maple syrup, orange juice and Grand Marnier. Stack pancakes, dust with powdered sugar and orange zest, and serve with orange slices and candied bacon.



Chocolate sauce (purchased sundae syrup works fine) and raspberry coulis

For the raspberry coulis, puree in a blender 2 cups frozen but thawed raspberries with 1/4 cup powdered sugar and a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, and push through a strainer. The kids will love to paint the plates with the sauces. Garnish the pancakes with raspberries. You can also pour some coulis into a heart-shaped mold and freeze. When ready to plate, place a couple of hearts with each serving.


Lay flat on a lined sheet pan, and coat lightly with light brown sugar and cracked black pepper. Bake at 350 degrees until crispy, about 25 to 30 minutes. Drain on towel or on a wire rack, but not on paper towels, as the sugar may cause the bacon to stick to the paper.


Serves 6



1 1/3 cups milk

4 eggs

1 1/3 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 stick butter, melted

Mix ingredients together. Pour a small amount in the pan, coating the bottom. Cook over medium-high heat until edges are brown, about 2 minutes, then flip and cook another 30 seconds. Remove to wax paper and repeat with remaining batter.


18 spears asparagus (1 standard bunch), cut in half

15 ounces ricotta

1 cup cottage cheese

1 egg yolk

1 cup grated Parmesan

1 cup shredded Parmesan

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup dry sherry

8 ounces fresh, cooked Maine crabmeat

10-ounce package fresh baby spinach

Steam asparagus in microwave for 2 minutes.

Puree ricotta, cottage cheese, egg yolk and grated Parmesan in food processor until smooth.

Place 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each crepe, and top with 3 pieces of asparagus and 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan. Fold into a square pouch.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover and cook 5 more minutes.

While crepes are baking, melt butter in a small saucepan, add 1/8 teaspoon salt and sherry, and cook on low until butter begins to lightly brown. Add crabmeat and heat another minute.

Serve two crepes per person atop a bed of fresh baby spinach, and top with crab butter. Garnish with chopped fresh chives.

Serve with champagne with a dash of St. Germain and a few fresh raspberries.


HERE ARE SOME OTHER simple ways to make breakfast in bed special:

Mix different patterns of plates, or find plates with hearts or some other Valentine's theme.

Add some edible flowers as garnish.

Throw some heart-shaped candies, or candy hearts with personalized messages, on the breakfast tray.

Make a homemade Valentine to set on the breakfast tray, or place a single rose on the tray.

Get a stencil of a heart, or make one of your own with waxed paper, put it on the breakfast plate, and dust the plate with cocoa or powdered sugar.

Write your loved one a note telling him/her why you love them.

Have children make a list of all the reasons they are grateful for their parents.

In today's world of grab-and-go foods, breakfast in bed seems almost quaint, like the old rotary phones that take a few extra seconds to dial.

It's all about time.

Monday is Valentine's Day, and what better way to show your love than with the gift of time? Back away from the Pop-Tarts and pick up the saute pan. Breakfast in bed is all about taking the time to do breakfast right.

It's about spouses spending a leisurely morning together over a lovingly created special menu instead of inhaling microwaved foods as they run out the door. It's about kids doing something special with their parents and actually communicating with each other face to face instead of sending a text message.

But in this era of instant gratification, does anyone even know how to do breakfast in bed anymore?

Dana Moos, a food blogger and former innkeeper who has written a new cookbook, "The Art of Breakfast: How to Bring B&B Entertaining Home" (Down East, $28.95), thinks Americans have lost touch with the first meal of the day.

"And I think they don't think beyond pancakes and bacon and eggs," she said. "It doesn't have to be difficult, really."

Moos, now a lodging broker based in Bar Harbor, learned how to make great breakfasts when she and her husband owned the Kingsleigh Inn in Southwest Harbor. She found she never had the time to serve her guests the amazing breakfasts she really wanted to, so she developed her own recipes where she could do most of the prep work the night before.

She learned how to take simple food and make it a little more sophisticated just by using fresh vegetables and unique combinations of ingredients.

We met Moos in the kitchen of the Danforth Inn on Portland's West End to get some ideas for a Valentine's Day breakfast in bed that won't take hours to prepare but will still impress your sweetie. All of these recipes are in her new book, which will be published in June and is available for pre-order on Amazon.com.


We started with a savory dish: Ricotta, Parmesan and Asparagus Crepes topped with Maine Crab and Sherry Butter.

Crepes scream Valentine's Day, and the crepes used in this dish can be made well ahead. Moos mixes her crepe batter in a blender.

"It's just milk, eggs, flour and melted butter," she said. "The consistency comes out sort of like heavy cream. It takes three minutes to make each crepe. Stack them up, and then you can keep them in the refrigerator ready."

The batter should be brought to room temperature before cooking. You don't need a special crepe pan; any 8- or 9-inch nonstick frying pan will do.

Moos spooned 2 tablespoons of the ricotta filling into each crepe, followed by three to four steamed asparagus spears. "In this batch, I actually used a little bit of mascarpone, just for richness," she said. "Why not? It's Valentine's Day."

If you don't like asparagus, you can use other vegetables – zucchini, Vidalia onions – but cook off some of the moisture first so you don't end up with messy crepes.

When the crepes came out of the oven, Moos plated them on a bed of greens, then added crab and sherry butter, a little black pepper and chives.

To go with the crepes, Moos made a batch of candied peppered bacon. This is so easy that children could do it, and the bacon dresses up any breakfast plate. Let your kids scramble some eggs or make some waffles instead of doing crepes, add this bacon, and mom (or whoever is being served breakfast) will still feel like royalty.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Dana Moos Chocolate Ricotta Pancakes are the little black dress of breakfast foods. They can be dressed up into an adult version with Grand Marnier syrup.

click image to enlarge

Dana Moos

click image to enlarge

Ricotta, Parmesan and Asparagus Crepes topped with Maine Crab and Sherry Butter. The recipe is included in Dana Moos' new cookbook, "The Art of Breakfast: How to Bring B&B Entertaining Home," due out in June.

click image to enlarge

Dana Moos whips up a batch of her Chocolate Ricotta Pancakes."It's not really a very sweet batter, because there's not much sugar," Moos said. "And the cocoa itself, of course, has no sugar, so adding a few mini chocolate chips is actually pretty good."

click image to enlarge

Dana Moos’ Chocolate Ricotta Pancakes with chocolate sauce, raspberry coulis and whipped cream.


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