The recipe for romance blends many ingredients.

Stir in a candlelight dinner in front of a fire.Mix a surprise delivery of flowers, or cut in a weekend get-away.

Add the ecstasy of breakfast in bed.

As John Hadamuscin wrote in his book, "Special Occasions," "There is nothing more luxurious than breakfast in bed, but you don't have to stay in a hotel to enjoy it."

The message is equally meaningful if the meal is delivered at home.

And what better time to indulge in luxury and a touch of romantic chivalry than the holiday for lovers, Valentine's Day.

But that's not to say that adults claim an exclusive on such a romantic rite of passage. Kids, too, relish the bedside meal ritual.

Anyone faced with a slice of Chocolate-Marbled Sour Cream Cake or a Raspberry Streusel Muffin appreciates the beginning of a new day. Gourmet goodies aside, even a piece of whole-wheat toast and a glass of juice convey a loving morning message.

Crumbs may collect in the covers from breakfast in bed, but the enjoyment that evolves from the extra-mile effort compensates for the untidiness.

Cookbook author Maida Heatter confesses, "Eating in bed is my favorite pastime."

The hourly sight of a new baby led to an innovative level of bedside service in the family of Wolfgang Puck, famed chef from the Spago Restaurant in Los Angeles. Puck's wife, Barbara, said that the chef abhorred the thought of eating in bed but the arrival of the baby revised his opinion. "I get such service from Wolf now," the new mother said. "He brings me an omelet with cheese and onions in the morning and some entree, like ginger-coated salmon, home to tuck me in at night. At this rate, I might have 10 children."

Whether 10 or two kids or a romantic gesture between couples, the Valentine bedside meal conveys a measure of loving concern. And if your kids are like mine, they probably add to the breakfast tray from the stockpile of goodies they have stashed under their beds.

Food writer M.K.F. Fisher recalls that when she was a child, "my sister and I loved to eat in bed in the dark. We'd take bonbons, make pinholes at the bottom and drain out the chocolate. When you put it back in the box, your mother wouldn't know that you'd already eaten most of it."

Much of what we eat is shoveled into our system as we run past a counter. Why not try a new recipe for Valentine's Day?

A leisurely breakfast in bed, if not on Thursday, Feb. 14, then the Saturday or Sunday that follows.

Both simple and complicated breakfast recipes gloss the pages of several recent cookbooks. Try some of the possibilities as you experiment with new morning menu directions:

BREAKFAST IN BED COOKBOOK. Carol Frieberg; Sasquatch Books; paperback; 273 pages; $14.95.

A rousing collection of morning specialties garnered from bed-and-breakfast inns from northern California to British Columbia. Featured recipes include scones and muffins, coffee cakes, pancakes and waffles, loaf breads as well as egg dishes and breakfast casseroles. The recipes are presented in a straightforward format but with no illustrations. Emphasis is on ease of preparation, fresh ingredients and innovation in recipes - the kind that bring guests back. Many of the dishes can be made ahead of time, and several can be prepared and frozen for future use.

Native Northwest ingredients like berries, hazelnuts, fresh seafood or mushrooms appear throughout the collection.

TEA BREADS AND COFFEECAKES. Elizabeth Alston; Harper Collins; 87 pages; $10.95.

Alston, the food editor of Women's Day magazine, spreads a wealth of breakfast goodness through the pages of her new book. Following on the heels of other recent morning meal collections, "Muffins, Biscuits and Scones," and "Breakfast With Friends," the book adds a brunchy dimension to eating early.

Main course entrees include such hearty fare as Spicy Upside-Down Sausage Cornbread or Breakfast Fruit and Nut Bread, a blend of farmer cheese, dried fruits and pecans. Specialty brunch recipes include Chocolate-Marbled Sour Cream Cake With Cinnamon-Almond Topping or Swedish Apple-Almond Kuchen.

Forget the carry-out boxes of doughnuts or Danish with the innovative new tastes found in Alston's recipes.

SMART BREAKFASTS: 101 Delicious Healthy Ways to Start the Day. Jane Kinderlehrer; Newmarket Press; 187 pages; paperback; $11.95.

Beginning the day with a smart, healthful breakfast brings a wealth of energy and enthusiasm to each day, according to Kinderlehrer.

Long touted as the most important meal of the day, breakfast should contain about 500 calories, a little less than one-third of the day's intake, but also contain a balance of nutrients.

Healthful food, in this collection, means culinary adventures like Stuffed French Toast, Apple Cinnamon Walnut Pancakes or Eggs a la Pizza, or enjoying an update on regular breakfast fare like omelets or a variety of different bran muffins.

One chapter is devoted to breakfasts designed with kids in mind. Recipes for Funny Face Fluffy Pancakes or Goldenrod Eggs With a Happy Face entice kids of all ages to start the day with a healthful breakfast.

Recipes contain clear and precise instructions, but the text is not illustrated. Nutritional analysis is also included for each recipe.

MORNING FOOD FROM CAFE BEAUJOLAIS. Margaret S. Fox and John Bear; Ten Speed Press; 208 pages; $19.95.

"Morning Food" is designed for leisurely mornings when great food becomes a priority - a collection of gourmet goodies to start the day.

Pulled from the files of the Cafe Beaujolais, a cozy, quaint get-away in Mendocino, south of San Francisco, the recipe collection is diverse and fascinating.

Based on the restaurant philosophy that "you don't have to rationalize anything you choose to put into your mouth before noon," you may find some surprising recipe ingredients offered as breakfast fare. Instead of cornflakes and toast, you discover the corn and the bread combined with a few spices and come up with Tex-Mex Cornbread Pudding.

Some of the recipes may be a bit beyond your wildest imagination as morning food, but on the whole, the group motivated me to book a round trip to California - just for a morning meal.



Hot-From-The-Oven-Morning Muffins

3/4 cup raisins or currants

1/3 cup orange juice

1/2 cup oat bran

1/2 cup wheat germ

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup white flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 tesspoon salt

1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup melted butter

1/4 cup light molasses

1 Tablespoon honey

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

2 Tablespoons orange zest, grated

Gently simmer currants or raisins in orange juice for 5 minutes; set aside.

Combine bran, wheat germ, cornmeal, flours, baking powder, soda, salt; add pecans.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and the currant or raisin/juice mixture. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and stir just enough to combine. Spoon batter into greased or paper-lined muffin cups, filling them about three-fourths full. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes about 15 muffins.

- From Morning Food at Cafe Beaujolais

Honey Granola

5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup coconut

1 cup wheat germ

1 cup raw almonds, chopped

1/2 cup sesame seed

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup honey

1 cup corn oil

2 teaspoons vanilla\

In a large bowl, combine oats, coconut, wheat germ, almonds, sesame seed, and sunflower seed; set aside. Warm honey with oil and vanilla over medium heat. Add to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Spread mixture evenly in a greased 10-by-15-inch jelly roll pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes at 300 degrees, stirring every 10 minutes, until cereal is lightly browned. Makes 9 cups.

Stuffed French Toast

1 cup low-fat cottage or ricotta cheese, drained

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Day-old challah or French bread

4 eggs

1 cup skim milk

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup strawberry or apricot preserves

1/2 cup orange juice, optional

In food processor, blend cheese with vanilla; stir in nuts and set aside.

Cut bread in 1-inch thick slices. Cutting horizontally along the top, make a pocket in each slice about 2 inches deep and 3 inches wide. Fill each pocket with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture.

Beat eggs, milk, vanilla and nutmeg. Spread the sesame seeds on another plate. Using tongs, dip the filled bread slices in egg mixture, then in sesame seeds, being careful not to squeeze out the filling. Cook on lightly greased griddle until both sides are golden brown. Place cooked slices on cookie sheet and serve hot.

Garnish with strawberry preserves and fresh strawberries or blend apricot preserves with orange juice, heat together and drizzle hot sauce over toast. Makes 8-10 slices.- From Smart Breakfasts

Almond-Sour Cream Coffee Cake

1/2 cup butter or margarine

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

2 cups flour

1 cup sour cream

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon almond extract


1/2 cup almonds, chopped

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon cinnamon

For topping, combine almonds, brown sugar and cinnamon; set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Lightly beat in flour, sour cream, eggs, baking powder, baking soda, and almond extract; beat until fluffy. Spread half the batter into a greased 10-inch springform pan. Sprinkle with half the topping. Spoon dollops of the remaining batter on top and spread evenly with spatula. Sprinkle with remaining topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until cake tests done. Makes 12 servings.- From Breakfast in Bed

Carrot-Coconut Bread

3 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups carrots, finely grated

2 cups coconut

1 cup raisins

1 cup walnuts, chopped

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt\

Beat eggs until light; stir in oil and vanilla. Add carrots, coconuts, raisins and nuts; mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; add to egg mixture. Stir just until blended. Spoon into a greased 5-by-9-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until bread tests done. (Can be baked in 4 small loaf pans for 30-35 minutes.) Remove from pan while warm and cool thoroughly. Note: Flavor and texture improve if loaf is wrapped and refrigerated for several days.

Raspberry Streusel Muffins


1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg, beaten lightly

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup milk

1 1/4 cups fresh raspberries or 1 package (10 oz.) frozen raspberries, thawed and drained

1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated

Streusel Topping:

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated

2 tablespoons butter, melted


1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice Sift flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together and make a well in the center. Place the egg, melted butter and milk in the well. Stir with a wooden spoon just until ingredients are combined. Gently stir in raspberries and lemon zest. Fill each paper-lined muffin cup three-fourths full.

To make streusel topping, combine the pecans, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and lemon zest in a small bowl. Pour in the melted butter and stir to combine. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the top of each muffin. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. To make the glaze, mix sugar and lemon juice. Drizzle over warm muffins. Makes 1 dozen.- From The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook

Swedish Apple-Almond Kuchen

Cookie Crust:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon cardamom or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

7 tablespoons butter

1 egg


1/2 cup almonds, chopped or slivered

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1 egg

2 tablespoons butter

1/8 teaspoon cardamom or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apples

Powdered sugar

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and cardamom in food processor; process to mix. Blend in butter, then egg. Spread or pat dough over bottom and about 1 1/2 inches up sides of a 9-inch ungreased springform pan; chill.

For filling, put almonds, sugar and flour in processor. Process about 1 minute until almonds are ground fine; add egg, butter and cardamom or vanilla.

Peel, core and slice apples. Pour the almond mixture into the cookie crust. Arrange apple slices side by side, slightly overlapping. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown. Loosen edges of kuchen and remove sides of pan; cool 1 hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve. Makes 10 servings.

Chocolate Marbled Sour-Cream Cake

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup low-fat or regular sour cream

2/3 cup almonds, chopped and toasted

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream butter and 1 cup sugar; add eggs, then vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together, then add alternately with sour cream; mix until blended. Spread half the batter in a greased tube pan with removable bottom. Drop melted chocolate in spoonfuls over the batter and spread gently. Sprinkle with half the nuts. Drop remaining batter on top of the nuts and spread gently. Mix remaining nuts with cinnamon and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar; sprinkle over batter. Use a knife to swirl or marble the bake. Bake at 350 for 1 hour; cool 20 minutes and cut around edge of pan to loosen. Remove the pan sides; cool completely before removing from pan bottom. Makes 10-12 servings.