Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I'm a Morning Person so How About Breakfast. Oh and Merry Christmas, too!!!

First of all, Merry Christmas.

Now -I just don’t understand people who aren’t morning people. A true optimist HAS to be a morning person. I wake up excited about the potential of most days with little hint that I could be disappointed (which can happen). After the usual get the coffee on and freshen up chores, I sit at the computer and make a little mental checklist of the day. If it’s particularly busy, I consult my calendar gods. Also, as a family man, this is that time of day where there is tranquility. What I really wait for though is that hint of color in the sky through the back sunroom (yes, I’m always up before the sun no matter where in the world I happen to be). Then it’s time to move to the back patio to watch the sunrise over the lake with laptop in tow. How could anyone not be a morning person under these circumstances?

It would also make sense then that I take great pride in Breakfast. While they say it’s the most important meal of the day, for me it’s just the one I enjoy the most. From Crepes to eggs to frittatas to sausages, I love the traditional as well as the avant-garde like the black pudding that I enjoyed in England. Prosciutto wrapped melon is a great snack any time of day and fresh berries in yogurt are little sweet energy boosts.

Now I will share a couple of recipes here with you but this post isn’t really about some great new breakfast recipe but more about the inspiration behind breakfast. Many folks this time of year are either a houseguest or are having houseguests and everyone appreciates being presented a delicious breakfast. When I have a guest over, I make sure I have some simple ingredients around. Bacon or sausage, fresh potatoes, a good loaf of bread from the bakery, some fresh herbs, a good cheese and eggs will do the trick. If I’m making pancakes or crepes, fresh berries or citrus bring a little zing. The key is to put your stamp on it that says more than a couple of eggs and toast (although that would be appreciated, I’m sure).

Lisa really likes my potatoes. There’s nothing special about them, really. They are thinly sliced Yukon Golds made with onions and peppers done on a large griddle. What you see below are just on the griddle. When done they are a rich golden color.

Do you have one of these? If not, I highly recommend you add one of these super inexpensive items to your repertoire. A flat top grill cannot be beat for breakfast for more than 2 people. I can do a couple of orders of eggs at once, about 6 pancakes or a pound of bacon. Very convenient.

Another personal favorite are poached eggs on some kind of toast. The pic at the top of this post is a version with a bit of cheese toast. YUM!!!

If you really want to impress, try a home made hollandaise sauce. This is a combination of egg yolks with melted butter and lemon juice or vinegar spiced with a dash of cayenne pepper. With a few possible twists the recipe is fairly strict and consistent. Here is one version (I disagree with this author's distaste for a double boiler for several reasons but this website has tricks for fixing broken sauces). There is a touch required for this that takes a bit of practice to keep from breaking the sauce or scrambling the egg yolk but once proven, it is a rich and powerful addition to eggs, ham and toast (or English muffin) to serve a traditional eggs Benedict. Add some spinach for a delicious Florentine twist. I learned this in my early days of cooking and hollandaise is a staple for me.

So with all of the blogs helping you with perfectly prepared Christmas Prime Rib or Turkey, I thought I’d go another direction. Below are a few ideas for breakfast that are delicious and easy (especially with a flat top griddle) and clean up in quick order so you can get down to the meal that everyone REALLY is looking forward to. Make any of these and you will be a rock star with your guests, I promise.

Potatoes, with onions, peppers and smoked paprika

Approx 2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly slices preferably with a mandolin or food processor blade
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
Approx 3 tbsp canola oil, divided
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste (I have to say I think this needs generous salting)

Combine about 1 tbsp oil and all of the other ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss to evenly distribute and coat with oil and paprika. Place on hot 400 degree preheated and oiled griddle. Allow to sit about 5 minutes before checking or moving. Lift the corner of some potatoes to see that they are turning golden. If they are, gently turn. I babysit these to see that all are getting “bottom time” against the griddle. Be patient and do NOT turn frequently. Cooking these takes about 20-30 minutes so that all are done. You may also need to re-oil

Poached eggs on cheese toast

My first successfully poached egg was a cooking nirvana. I’d made it. I could cook. Like all things, this is pretty simple once you know the rules and some tricks. Get a pot of water to a light boil. A rolling boil will break up the egg. A tablespoon of vinegar will keep the egg congealed. And lifting the egg gently out of the water with a big slotted spoon allows you to jiggle it a little to see if it is set through the whites. Don’t make more than 2 at a time. I usually pat the bottom dry with a paper towel to keep the water from making my toast soggy. OK now you know the tricks. Try this:

2 poached eggs
2 sliced favorite cheese, I used Havarti
2 slices rye bread
1 tbsp butter

Butter the bread and top with the cheese slices. Place under a broiled until the edges brown and the cheese melts. Top with 2 poached eggs, add some chives for garnish and serve.

1 serving by itself or 2 if there are other accompaniments.

Savory grits with green onion and parsley

Grits. YUM!!! Unbelievable that my northern colleagues have no appreciation for these. I’ve eaten these for breakfast since I was a little boy but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I had a dinner with Grits. In Savannah, GA I enjoyed my first shrimp and grits and my love affair was solidified. This version is super fast, super easy and flat out delicious. Any time I can say Lisa liked something, I feel I’ve struck gold. She liked these. Sorry for no pic but when I made these, I was not intending to blog about it.

3 tbsp butter
2 cups cooked Grits (or polenta) a little on the creamy side (I buy quick cooking grits but whatever you have, follow the recipe on the package but lean on the side of moisture by adding a couple of tablespoons more water that called for)
1 scallion chopped on a bias
Handful of fresh Italian or flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main

Links to a couple of other recipes I’ve posted:

Crepes with Orange Bourbon Butter syrup

Eggs fried in Olive Oil with Creamy Parmesan Grits

Merry Christmas!!!!!

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