Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe

by Mollie Katzen

Published by Hyperion

302 pages, 2002



In Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe, the author and illustrator of the classic Moosewood Cookbook (one of the top ten best-selling cookbooks of all time), The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and Vegetable Heaven now presents a beautifully-illustrated collection of over 350 surprising recipes for breakfast.

Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Café shows you how to prepare meatless and protein-rich breakfasts of all kinds. Whether you're faced with a sit-down brunch for ten or just want an on-the-go breakfast treat for one, Mollie will have the perfect (and healthful) choice for you. Sunlight Café has sections on yogurt and cheeses, pancakes and waffles, muffins and biscuits, eggs and tofu, coffee cakes and protein bars, puddings and flans -- and much more. In addition to showing you exactly how to make the perfect omelet or the crispiest waffle, Mollie offers mouthwatering recipes for plum-studded morning cake; raspberry-drenched rhubarb; crispy southwest polenta hash; winter frittata with red onions, red potatoes, ruby chard, and goat cheese, honey maple breakfast flan; and gingerbread pancakes. Also included are wonderful recipes for quick and easy morning treats -- basmati almond muffins; giant savory popovers; and peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal protein bars -- with instructions on how to freeze or store them. Gracing the pages are Katzen's luminous paintings, richly evocative of the pleasures of cooking and eating. Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Café will appeal to anyone who loves cooking, and wants to feel energized in the morning and stay focused throughout the day.






The following is an excerpt from the book Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe: Over 350 Easy Recipes for Irresistible Muffins, Glorious Omelets, Tasty Pancakes, Homemade Protein Bars, and Other Delights to Launch and Sustain Your Every Day by Mollie Katzen


Wild Rice with cherries and hazelnuts

Wild rice has been a staple for the Ojibwa, Chippewa, and Algonquin people for thousands of years. Native Americans in the Great Lakes region still use wild rice in just about everything: cakes, breads, omelets, muffins, casseroles, pancakes, and so on. The dark, robust grain (technically an aquatic grass) is complex, nutty, and pleasantly bitter -- and richer in protein, minerals, and B vitamins than wheat, barley, oats, or rye.

When shopping for wild rice, you might notice a light brown "wild rice mix" as well as the more familiar dark variety. This paddy-grown grain is not the same thing as authentic Native American wild rice. It is lighter in color and milder in flavor-and cooks in less time and with less water If you make this recipe with "wild rice mix," cook it as you would any long-grain brown rice.

  • Dried cranberries can be substituted for the cherries.
  • Hazelnuts are also known as filberts.

YIELD: 3 or 4 servings
PREPARATION TIME: 1 1/4 hours (2 minutes of work) 

1 cup wild rice

21/2 cups water

1/4 teaspoon salt

Brown sugar or pure maple syrup

1/2 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts,lightly toasted

Milk, soy milk, or cream

  1. Place the wild rice, water, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. When it reaches a boil, cover the pot, and lower the heat to a bare simmer. Cook for 1 1/4 hours, or until all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender and has "butterflied," or burst open. (If the grain has become tender but there is still water left, drain it off.) 
  2. Remove from the heat, and stir in the sugar or maple syrup and the cherries.
  3. Serve hot, topped with chopped hazelnuts and the milk of your choice.


Why is wild rice so expensive? Amazingly, about 20 percent of the world's crop is still hand-picked by Native Americans in canoes,who retain exclusive harvesting rights on the reservations along the shores of the Great Lakes. The crop is an important part of the tribes' economy.

After it is cut, the precious grain is sun-dried, then hulled through an agitation process in a steel drum. This labor of love has been virtually unchanged throughout the centuries, and to this day, true heirloom wild rice grows solely in the northern Great Lakes region. When buying wild rice, look for a 'hand-harvested" or "lake-harvested" insignia on the package, which verifies the original organic, foraged variety. By purchasing authentic wild rice, you will be supporting both the economic system of the Native American harvesters (enabling them to produce more) and the crop itself, which is ecologically fragile.


Pumpkin Muffins

You don't need to wait for autumn to celebrate the spirit of the harvest. Create your own holiday season any time of year with these golden muffins.

For a touch of texture, and to give more of an intriguing bitter edge to the muffins, coarsely chop the orange rather than grating it. The easiest way to do this is to shave off the outermost peel with a vegetable peeler and then to chop the shavings into smaller pieces with a sharp knife.

  • The range of sugar allows you to make these sweeter or not, according to your taste.
  • Cooked sweet potato or winter squash can be substituted for the pumpkin.
  • For protein powder and whole wheat flour options, see page 68. 
  • Canola oil can be substituted for some or all of the butter.

YIELD: 8 to 10 muffins  
PREPARATION TIME: 15 minutes, plus 20 to 25 minutes to bake

Nonstick spray

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt (rounded measure)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon allspice

3 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon chopped orange zest

1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

1 cup mashed pumpkin

1 large egg

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly spray 8 standard (2 1/2-inch-diameter) muffin cups with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, spices, granulated sugar and orange zest in a medium-sized bowl. Crumble in the brown sugar and mix with a fork or your fingers until thoroughly blended.
  3. Measure the pumpkin into a second medium-sized bowl. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla, and beat with a fork or a whisk until smooth.
  4. Slowly pour this mixture, along with the melted butter, into the dry ingredients. Using a spoon or a rubber spatula, stir from the bottom of the bowl until the dry ingredients are all moistened. Don't overmix; a few lumps are okay.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. For smaller muffins, fill the cups about four-fifths full. For larger muffins, fill them up to the top. If you have extra batter, spray one or two additional muffin cups with non-stick spray and fill with the remaining batter.
  6. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven, then remove the muffins from the pan and place them on a rack to cool. Wait at least 30 minutes before serving



Greek Scramble

A bright green quartet of fresh herbs (mint, scallions, parsley, and oregano) teams up with freshly cooked spinach to infuse scrambled eggs with Mediterranean soul. Laced throughout with crumbled feta--which is as much a seasoning as it is a cheese--this dish needs no salt. Just grind in a generous amount of black pepper and you're good to go.

I like to serve this dish with thin slices of freshly toasted sourdough walnut bread.

  • A mini-food processor makes short work of mincing the herbs.
  • If you can't find fresh oregano, substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano.

YIELD: 4 servings

6 to 8 large eggs

3 tablespoons minced fresh mint

1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano

2 tablespoons minced scallion

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups (packed) spinach

1 cup crumbled feta

1 cup diced ripe tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes

  1. Break the eggs into a medium-sized bowl and beat with a whisk until smooth. Stir in the herbs and scallion, and grind in a good, amount of black pepper.
  2. Place a 10-inch skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. After several minutes, add the olive oil, wait about 10 seconds, then swirl to coat the pan. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the spinach, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted and turned a deep green.
  3. With the heat still at medium-high, pour the eggs into the pan, scrambling them slowly As the eggs begin to set, push the curds from the bottom to one side, allowing uncooked egg to flow into contact with the pan. The spinach will blend into the eggs.
  4. When the eggs are mostly set but still slightly wet, sprinkle in the crumbled feta. Continue scrambling slowly, allowing the cheese to melt slightly into the eggs. After about a minute, stir in the tomatoes.
  5. Cook for just a few seconds longer, or until the eggs are done to your liking. Serve right away.


Gruyére Quiche with golden onion and red pepper

  • You can prepare the sautéed vegetables (steps 1 and 2) up to several days ahead.

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cups sliced onion

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon dried sage

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 unbaked Quiche Crust

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper

1 cup (packed) grated gruyere

3 large eggs

1 cup milk

Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Place a medium-sized skillet over medium heat and wait about 2 minutes. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onion, sauté for 5 minutes, and then add the salt, herbs, and mustard. Cover the pan, lower the heat, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (During this time, preheat the oven to 375°F, and place the unbaked crust on a baking tray.) 
  2. Stir the vinegar and bell pepper into the onions, turn the heat up to medium, and cook, uncovered, for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Sprinkle the cheese into the crust, then spoon the onion-pepper mixture on top of the cheese.
  4. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and black pepper to taste, and slowly pour this over the vegetables and cheese.
  5. Bake on the baking tray in the lower third of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the custard is set. Cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing, and serve at any temperature.


American Potato Cutlets

For an unusual skillet breakfast, serve these mashed potato cakes with Fried Green Tomatoes (page 169). The timing is good, because you can prepare the tomatoes first and then let them cool while you fry the potato cakes. (The tomatoes need time to cool anyway.) 

  • Why russets? Because they are a dry, meaty variety that mashes well. Other, waxier types can turn gluey when mashed.
  • You can use leftover mashed potatoes for this. If they've been salted, adjust the amount of salt accordingly.
  • If you're cooking the potatoes just for this recipe, use 1 pound. Peel them, cut them into chunks, and boil until soft. Drain very well, and mash until smooth.
  • You can make and coat the patties up to a day in advance, storing them on a plate, tightly covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator. Dredge them again in bread crumbs just before frying.

YIELD: About 4 servings (2 patties each) 

1 1/2 cups cooked, mashed russet potatoes

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 cup finely minced scallion

1 hard-boiled egg, minced or grated

3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 large egg, beaten

1/3 to 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

A little butter (optional) 


Sour cream or Chipotle Cream (page 256) 

Fire-Roasted Pepper Salsa (page 254) 

Smoky Tomato Salsa (page 253) 

Caramelized Onion and Lemon Marmalade (page 258) 

  1. Place the mashed potatoes in a medium-sized bowl. Add the mustard, dill, garlic, scallion, hard-boiled egg, salt, and pepper. Mix until everything is thoroughly blended.
  2. Break the egg onto a dinner plate, and beat it with a fork until smooth. Place the bread crumbs on another plate.
  3. Use your hands (wet them if you like, for easier handling) to form the mixture into 3-inch patties, using about 1/4 cup for each.
  4. Carefully dip both sides of each patty in egg and dredge them lightly in the bread crumbs to coat on all sides.
  5. Place a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. After a minute or two, add the olive oil, wait for about 10 seconds, then swirl to coat the pan. If you like, you can also melt in some butter.
  6. When the pan is hot enough to sizzle a bread crumb, fry the cutlets about 5 minutes on each side, or until golden and crisp. Remove the cutlets from the pan, and transfer them to a wire rack over a tray to cool. (This retains their crispy texture.) 
  7. Serve hot or warm, with any of the suggested toppings.



Follow the main recipe with these adjustments. Add to the potato mixture:

  • 1 1/2 cups finely minced broccoli (florets and peeled stems) 

For a touch of color, replace the scallion with:

  • 1/2 cup finely minced red onion


Fried Green Tomatoes

Tart, crunchy, and dripping with juice, fried green tomatoes are rarely considered a breakfast food. But picture a few slices -- coated with golden cornmeal -- on the plate next to your scrambled eggs or tofu, and I think you'll reconsider. They're also a perfect partner for American Potato Cutlets (page 152) and among my favorite quiche fillings (page 139). 

Serve these warm, not hot, as the insides of the tomatoes retain a lot of heat and could burn your mouth.

  • The tomatoes don't have to literally be green, as long as they're unripe and really hard. They soften up so much during the cooking process that if they're at all ripe to begin with, you'll have mush when you're done.
  • Use a metal spatula for turning the tomatoes, and scrape the surface of the pan when you lift them. This ensures that you won't accidentally separate the cornmeal coating from the tomato.

YIELD: 2 to 3 servings (2 to 3 thick slices per serving)
PREPARATION TIME: 5 minutes, plus 20 minutes to cook

2 large unripe tomatoes (about 1 pound) 

1/3 cup cornmeal or polenta (rounded measure) 

1/4 teaspoon salt

Nonstick spray and a little butter for the pan


Coarse salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Chipotle Cream (page 256) 

  1. Core the tomatoes, and thinly slice off the ends. Cut the tomatoes into half- inch-thick slices (you'll get about 3 or 4 slices per tomato) and set aside.
  2. Combine the cornmeal and salt on a dinner plate. Mix until uniformly blended.
  3. Dredge the tomato slices in the cornmeal mixture, pressing it into the cut surfaces of the tomatoes to create a thick coating.
  4. Place a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat for several minutes. Spray the hot pan with nonstick spray, and melt in a little butter. After a few seconds, tilt the pan to distribute the butter, then add the coated tomatoes.
  5. Fry the tomatoes on each side for 8 to 10 minutes, or until crisp and golden. You might need to add a little more butter at some point to keep them from sticking.
  6. Remove the tomatoes from the pan, and transfer them to a wire rack over a tray to cool. (This retains their crispy texture.) Wait at least 5 minutes before serving, as the insides of the tomatoes will have become very hot and will need to cool down a little.
  7. Serve warm, and pass some coarse salt, a pepper mill, and if you like, some Chipotle Cream to spoon on top.


Follow the main recipe with this adjustment.

Preheat the broiler. Place the fried tomatoes in a baking dish and sprinkle with:

  • 1/2 cup (packed) grated sharp cheddar

Broil just long enough to melt the cheese. Serve right away.


Polenta Waffles with berries

An extra benefit from making these delicious waffles is that the berries emit an amazing aroma when they hit the hot waffle iron. It will fill your kitchen with the best of breakfast smells! I use polenta instead of regular cornmeal for these waffles because its coarse grind gives them a slightly crunchy texture.

You can use any kind of berry--and frozen ones work beautifully--so you can have these any time of year. I like to use a mixture of different types. You can buy an unsweetened frozen berry mix in most supermarkets. Don't defrost them before adding them to the batter, but do cut larger berries into smaller pieces. (You can do this while they are still frozen.) 

  • To keep the waffles warm, transfer them to a rack on a baking tray, and place the tray in a 200°F oven until serving time. (The rack keeps them crisp.) 
  • Canola oil can be substituted for some or all of the butter.

YIELD: 4 servings (8 standard waffles, or 4 Belgian waffles) 

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup polenta 

1/4 teaspoon salt (rounded measure) 

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon sugar

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

4 tablespoons (half a stick) unsalted butter, melted

2 cups berries (any kind) 

Nonstick spray

Butter for the waffle iron

  1. Preheat the waffle iron.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Break the eggs into a second medium-sized bowl and beat with a whisk until frothy. Drizzle in the milk.
  4. Add the egg-milk mixture to the dry ingredients, along with the melted butter and the berries. Mix with decisive strokes from the bottom of the bowl until all the dry ingredients have been moistened. Try not to over-mix, and also try to avoid breaking the berries. You'll break some anyway, but just do your best.
  5. Lightly spray the hot waffle iron on both the top and bottom surfaces with nonstick spray, and rub on a little butter. (This is most easily accomplished by generously buttering a chunk of bread and using it as an edible utensil to butter the waffle iron.) Add just enough batter to cover the cooking surface--approximately 1/2 cup for a standard waffle (1 cup for a Belgian waffle). 
  6. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, depending on your waffle iron. Don't overbake-- you want it crisp and brown but not too dark. It's okay to peek.
  7. Serve hot with your chosen toppings.



Breaded Sautéed Goat Cheese Patties

Crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, these patties are a luxurious treat. Eat them plain or accompanied by little toasts and some vegetables and olives. They also fit perfectly on an English muffin or tucked inside a cooked portobello mushroom. (See page 176 for the "Mushroom Treatment.") 

  • You can make these ahead of time and store them in an airtight wrapper or container in the refrigerator for up to a week. They reheat very quickly (about 20 seconds on High) in a microwave. You can also keep the patties warm in a 300°F oven just after cooking them.

YIELD: About 4 servings (2 patties each); easily multiplied

1 cup soft goat cheese

1/4 cup fine bread crumbs

Freshly ground black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil


English muffins or little toasts


Thinly sliced radishes

Thinly sliced cucumber

Tiny cherry tomatoes

  1. Place about 2 tablespoons of the cheese on a piece of plastic wrap. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap, and gently pat and "massage" the cheese into a patty 2 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch thick. (You can also skip the plastic wrap, and just use your hands. Dampen them first, so the cheese won't stick.) Repeat with the rest of the cheese. You should have 8 patties.
  2. Place the bread crumbs on a plate, grind in some fresh black pepper, and stir to mix. Press the cheese patties into the crumbs until coated on both sides and around the edges.
  3. Place a heavy, nonstick skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, wait about 30 seconds, then swirl to coat the pan. When the skillet is very hot, add the coated cheese patties and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown, adding more oil if necessary. When they are done to your liking, transfer the sautéed patties to a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels.
  4. Serve hot or very warm, sprinkled with more freshly ground black pepper,along with your choice of accompaniments.


Homemade Protein Bars

Making your own granola bars is much easier than you may think, and it's really fun. These homemade bars are very economical, and you get to select all the ingredients according to your own standards, needs, and taste. Try adding some or all of the protein boosters that follow the recipe. You may never make these the same way twice.

  • For nondairy bars, replace the yogurt with unsweetened applesauce, canned pumpkin, or mashed banana (Or try the silken tofu option in the Protein Boosters box.) Add an extra pinch of salt if using pumpkin or silken tofu.
  • The range of sugar allows you to make these bars sweeter or not, according to your taste.
  • For information about protein powder, see page xv.

YIELD: About 20 medium-sized bars
PREPARATION TIME: 10 minutes, plus at least 30 minutes to bake

Nonstick spray

1 cup soy protein powder

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup oat bran

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 to 2/3 cup (packed) brown sugar

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups plain or vanilla yogurt

1/4 cup canola oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350'F (325'F for a glass pan). Lightly spray a 9- by 13- inch baking pan and a baking tray with nonstick spray.
  2. Mix together the protein powder, flour, oats, oat bran, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Crumble in the brown sugar, rubbing it with your fingers to break up any clumps. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  3. Measure the yogurt, oil, and vanilla into a second bowl, stirring until well combined. Add the wet mixture to the dry, and mix patiently until thoroughly blended. (You may have to use your hands--it will be a thick batter, verging on a dough.)
  4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, patting it evenly into place with your hands. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and cut into bars of any size or shape. Place the bars on the prepared baking tray and bake for another 15 minutes, or until golden around the edges. (For extra-crunchy bars, turn off the oven and leave them in there for up to 45 minutes longer.) Remove the bars from the oven, and place them on a rack to cool.
  5. Eat the bars within a few hours, or seal them in a heavy zip-style plastic bag and store in the freezer. For maximum crispness, "refresh" them in a toaster oven after defrosting.

You can make the main recipe with any combination of the following adjustments:

  • Replace the canola oil with 1/2 cup peanut butter or almond butter (softened in a microwave). 
  • Replace the flour with quinoa, ground to a powder in a blender or an electric spice grinder.
  • Replace the yogurt with mashed silken tofu (soft or firm). Add an extra pinch of salt.
  • Add 2 to 3 tablespoons powdered egg whites (see page 187). 
  • Add up to 1 cup chopped nuts and/or sunflower seeds. | November 2002


Copyright © 2002 Tante Malka, Inc. All rights reserved.


Mollie Katzen, with nearly 5 million books in print, is listed by the New York Times as one of the best-selling cookbook authors of all time. Recently named by Health magazine as one of the five "Women Who Changed the Way We Eat," and a charter member of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Roundtable and the new Natural Health Hall of Fame, Ms. Katzen is largely credited with moving healthful vegetarian food from the "fringe" to the center of American dinner plates. She is best-known as the author/illustrator of the groundbreaking classic, Moosewood Cookbook. You can learn more about her at