Democrat & Chronicle Article
Magnificent menu treats guests to breakfast at its best
by Karen Miltner
May 13, 2008
Maybe faraway friends are making an overnight pit stop at your home en route to someplace else. Or perhaps distant relatives are flying in for the weekend.
In either case, you want to make them feel special each morning with a five-star breakfast they will remember long after they leave.
"It's just a great way to start the day. It makes (guests) feel really good. I try to do things people don't do at home to give them that special feeling," says Pat Haines of Adams Basin Inn in Adams Basin.
She and other area bed-and-breakfast owners have perfected the art of pampering guests at the morning meal with great food and creative presentation. They also know a few tricks to help hosts pull it off with a minimal amount of stress.
For example, Haines is a big believer in not letting the fancy china, crystal and linen collect dust. Her frequently requested chilled fruit soups are served in ornate goblets, and fresh flowers are a must at the table.
Similarly, Ellie Klein of Dartmouth House Bed & Breakfast in Rochester's Park Avenue neighborhood always lights candles at breakfast and serves Italian ices in apritif glasses, a practice that illustrates two signature practices: dessert at breakfast and finding nontraditional uses for dishware and other household objects in your cupboards.
"The more creative you can be with what you already own, the better," says Klein. "It's OK to serve fruit on a saucer, or to put a baked apple in a cup."
When guests are staying more than one night, Irene "Reen" Zaremski-Saltrelli of Reen's Bed & Breakfast in Rochester's Maplewood neighborhood surprises them each morning with different dishware. "Now is the time to break out the stuff you don't use that often," she says.
Zaremski-Saltrelli also changes the location. The dining room table is always nice, but in the winter, breakfast in front of the fireplace is even cozier. When the weather is warm, guests eat on the front porch. Later this season, they will also dine in Zaremski-Saltrelli's newly built backyard gazebo.
Knowing what your guests will be doing after breakfast is helpful in planning the menu, says Gary Ross of Sutherland House in Canandaigua. If they are hitting the wine or hiking trails, they'll appreciate more substantial fare. But if they have lunch reservations, they'll want to save their appetites for then.
"We try to make sure you leave the table full but not bloated. You could miss lunch if you had to," says Ross.
He always asks for dietary restrictions up front to avoid surprises or disappointments. Ross, like many B&B owners, is also open to special requests.
Eileen Cash of Springdale Farm Bed & Breakfast in Victor says the last thing she wants to do is turn off a guest by putting them on the spot with an ingredient they have never tried or don't like. Because vegetarians are now so common, she always keeps meat out of the main dishes and relegates them to a side dish.
"I try to keep it to simple dishes that are universally loved, such as French toast, pancakes and eggs. Then I do variations on those things," she says.
One of Cash's favorite recipes is an egg soufflé. "People think I've worked for hours when I haven't. It always surprised them," she says.
Most innkeepers agree that houseguests should not be guinea pigs for new, untested recipes. Save those for close friends and family. It's also a good idea to have a backup (such as pre-made waffles or quiche in the freezer that can be quickly defrosted and reheated) in case your Plan A is burned or spoiled, says Patti Fitzgerald of The Vagabond Inn in Naples, Ontario County.
Fitzgerald leaves the real kitchen wizardry up to daughter Caitlin Jones, but she has enough kitchen savvy to toast muffins and heat up hollandaise sauce on the mornings when Jones can't be there. "The guests have no idea. They think I'm a good cook and I'm awful," laughs Fitzgerald, who says hosting households can make the same arrangements when the designated chef is not home.
The Vagabond is fortunate to have a ready source of organic free-range eggs from a nearby farm. Those eggs — along with other local foods such as maple syrup and seasonal berries — have become a signature ingredient at breakfast, and Fitzgerald often sends guests home with a dozen.
"They are so much nicer. Even I can recognize the difference."
From Springdale Farm Bed & Breakfast.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
9 large eggs
½ cup sour cream
½ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put butter in the bottom of an 8-inch-round soufflé dish that is at least 4 inches tall. Place dish in preheating oven for a few minutes, until butter is melted. Remove from oven.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat eggs, sour cream, milk and salt together until eggs are light in color, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour egg mixture into dish.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the soufflé is full, high and fluffy. Serve immediate.
Makes 4 servings.