Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category
I’ve never been a huge pancake fan personally. It’s not that I don’t like pancakes; they are a great excuse to break out the maple syrup on a Saturday morning, and they blend brilliantly with fresh blueberries or strawberries. I suppose my disinterest stemmed from the fact that given the choice between a pancake or a waffle, who in their right mind would rather have a pancake? Waffles with they’re compartmentalized pockets perfect for holding ingredients, firm crispy texture and toaster friendly nature just seemed like the superior product. Not to mention growing up going to the local Waffle House in the wee hours had a more than a little impact on my preferences.
But growing older, I suppose my tastes are evolving. Not so much for pancakes, but for similar doughy breakfast substitutes. I wasn’t planning on toying around with what I didn’t consider to be broken, but a friend of mine turned me onto Orangette’s new cookbookfeaturing Dutch Baby pancakes. A baked pancake that required the use of one of my beloved cast iron skillets? There was simply no way this wasn’t going to get tried out. So enjoy, they reminded vaguely of the New Orleans’ beignets I still love to this day.
No, that’s not a pizza, although I certainly don’t mind the occasional leftover pizza for breakfast. The frittata is just one more out of a thousand things you can do with some eggs and a few leftovers. Have a bunch of mushrooms that are about to turn? A sausage link you don’t know what to do with? Any assortment of leftover veggie and you my friend can make yourself an tasty breakfast that can easily be split into slices to serve company.
Unlike the omelette the frittata doesn’t require a lot of technique. The only thing you’re really worried about is getting the added ingredients cooked just through and then setting the egg base. Another item that is key is a pan that can go into the oven without the handle melting or catching on fire. A small cast iron skillet is best, or any pan with rounded edges will work well. This may not be the most traditional frittata, but it’s great in a pinch or when you’re too hung over to leave the house to pick up breakfast.
I must say I do enjoy starting the week with a breakfast post. Typing up a lazy sunday’s brunch for Monday helps take the edge off of the stinging reminder of the impending hours spent in front of my computer in my office. Nothing like a few hours on the couch on my laptop to offset that sentiment. But while I was dreding the work week, I got to thinking. What could I make on Sunday that would be good left overs for Monday? Or even Tuesday. Yeah sure, lots of dinner leftovers would work fine, but I’d like to have something a bit more versatile, something I could tweek to suite what ever mood I was in the next day. What could possibly be so easy, versatile, and preserve well in the fridge? Oh right, crepes!
The recipes for crepe batter vary depending on what you’re reading, but the general recipe is pretty standard: flour, milk, eggs, salt, rest, pour, serve. The only trick I’ve ever discovered was shown to me by a roommate born and raised in Paris (I only had to bug her 37 times to teach me something “French”). Maybe it’s more obvious to some, but her “trick” of melting a little butter and whiping the pan with a paper towel to coat was brilliant to me. Doing this seasons your pan so the crepe won’t stick, no butter clumps up or burns and the crepe cooks quickly and evenly.
So who’s recipe did i end up going with? Home French cooking simply equals Julia. Period. And not surprisingly, it’s the most common sense way to mix the batter in my opinion. Plus this is a master recipe, adding a little vanilla extract or sugar can sweeten up the mix for dessert crepes easily.
I’m a bipolar cook. When I’m putting something together in the kitchen I either want it to be something that’s is really challenging and involves multiple steps and stages or I want something earth shatteringly easy and beautifully simplistic. Now I say easy, but not Rachel Dogfood Ray easy. I mean learning how to cook things efficiently and perfectly easily. Eggs, pasta dough, soup, these are all things that tend to be pretty easy and really difficult at the same time. For me, the omelet has always been a sticking point. Sure I could bust out a pan of properly cooked eggs and drop in a few ingredients, fold the eggs over and serve. Problem was, the bottom would always be overcooked and leathery, or the insides wouldn’t be cooked enough, or the whole thing would taste like styrofoam. Any number of issues would arise to make a intuitively simple breakfast into a god damn lackluster meal.
So deciding that I had had enough of trying to figure out this egg dish on my own, I turned to who everyone should turn to when they can’t figure something out in the kitchen, Ms. Childs. Within a minute of opening Julia Childs’ The Way to Cook I found the technique for 20 second omelets. Brilliant. About 5 minutes after reading the method I was on my way to pick up fresh eggs despite the fact it was almost 10:00 at night.
Who ever said that making a hollandaise sauce was easy is full of shit. I don’t know anyone that actually said that, but if anyone ever does, I want to be there to tell them to fuck off. I’m exaggerating obviously, but I will caution that rolling out of bed one Saturday morning and deciding to surprise the BF/GF with the genuine article hollandaise, you may be be biting off more than you can chew. I’m not saying don’t learn this sauce. It’s one of the five mother sauces after all, but I’m just saying be prepared and if possible practice getting the yolks the right consistency. It took me three attempts to get this sauce right and I’ve learned there are a few things you really, really need.