Breakfast on Christmas morning should not only fit the occasion, it also should keep the family going until Christmas dinner is served, no matter how late in the day that may be. That bill may be filled by these apple pancakes with whole-wheat flour, this variation of French toast or the cream tart with leeks, ham and cheese.


(5 servings)

These wheaty, yet light, hot cakes, scented with spices and vanilla, are the contribution of Lisa Yockelson and are especially wonderful with warmed maple or apple syrup. The batter, without the addition of fruit and beaten egg white, can be made up a day in advance and refrigerated in a tightly sealed container; just before cooking, thin out the batter with a little more buttermilk, then fold through the apple and egg white.

1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsifted cake flour

1/2 cup unsifted whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

6 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, melted and cooled

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup shredded tart cooking apple

1 extra-large egg white, at room temperature

Whisk all three flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a large mixing bowl. Beat the buttermilk, butter, vanilla and whole eggs in a bowl. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients, add the grated apple, and combine everything with a few quick strokes. Let stand while you beat the egg white until firm peaks are formed. Fold the white into the pancake batter. Drop 2 tablespoons of batter onto a lightly greased, hot (300 to 325 degree) griddle, let cook for 30 to 45 seconds. Flip over and cook 20 seconds longer, or until cooked through.

Per serving: 391 calories, 11 gm protein, 45 gm carbohydrates, 18 gm fat, 10 gm saturated fat, 153 mg cholesterol, 521 mg sodium.


(4 servings)

Poor Knights is a Scandinavian and German dessert that doubles as a festive winter breakfast dish. It resembles French toast but is distinguished by its sumptuous presentation. Here, Gail Forman has adapted a recipe from the "Dinah Shore Cookbook" (Doubleday, 1983), cutting back somewhat on fat.


4 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

2 cups hot low-fat milk

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon water

1/4 cup Mandarine Napoleon, Grand Marnier or Cointreau


2 eggs

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon sugar

Grated rind of 1 orange

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 slices stale challah or white bread


2 cups whole-berry cranberry sauce

Confectioners' sugar

To make custard: Beat yolks with sugar until light and thick. Gradually stir in milk. Cook in a double boiler over boiling water, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard is slightly thick and coats the back of the spoon. Dissolve cornstarch in water and add 3 tablespoons of hot custard. Stir mixture into custard in pan and cook until thickened. Do not allow custard to boil or it will curdle. Remove from heat, strain into a bowl and continue stirring until cool. Stir in orange liqueur.

To make Poor Knights: beat eggs and add milk, sugar, orange rind, cinnamon and vanilla. Lightly soak bread slices in mixture. Heat a nonstick griddle. Grill bread slices until lightly browned on both slices. Place 2 slices of toast on each serving dish. Put a thick ribbon of cranberry sauce down center of each piece. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Spoon custard around bread.

Per serving: 653 calories, 18 gm protein, 104 gm carbohydrates, 16 gm fat, 7 gm saturated fat, 435 mg cholesterol, 411 mg sodium.


(6 servings)

For those who have to have ham and eggs for breakfast, Nina Simonds works those traditional staples into this elegant presentation.


1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces

1 egg, lightly beaten

4 to 5 tablespoons ice water


1 pound leeks

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup lean ham, cut into matchstick-size shreds

1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the crust in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the flour and the salt and pulse the machine, turning it on and off to mix the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse, turning the machine on and off, until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Mix the egg with the water and slowly add through the feed tube while the machine is running. When the mixture starts to forms a ball, remove and turn out onto a lightly floured surface and smooth into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

For the filling: trim the stem and half of the green tops from the leeks, keeping the white part and the half of the green closest to the white part of the leeks. Rinse under cold, running water, then drain and chop finely. Melt the butter in a skillet or saute' pan, and saute' the leeks over medium-low heat until transparent. Remove and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 12-inch circle. Place the dough in a 9- to 10-inch quiche pan. Trim the edges and crimp into a decorative pattern using your fingers or a fork. Chill 30 minutes.

Line the dough with parchment or wax paper and fill with beans. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden in a preheated 425-degree oven. Remove the beans and bake another 7 to 9 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Arrange the leeks, ham and cheese in the bottom of the crust. Mix the eggs, cream, salt and pepper, and pour into the crust. Bake the tart another 30 to 40 minutes, or until the custard is set. Remove, cool until warm, and cut into wedges to serve.

Per serving: 711 calories, 17 gm protein, 40 gm carbohydrates, 54 gm fat, 32 gm saturated fat, 346 mg cholesterol, 580 mg sodium.