Sunday, December 12, 2010

Breakfast goodness - Part 2


Alright, last post dealt with some of the lighter breakfast options out there (not counting a bowl of oatmeal or Special K). This time we get into the more decadent breakfasts. If Part 1 was meant for a nice romantic "morning after", Part 2 is more in tune with the "must cure hangover with sex and grease" mentality. So, get ready for lots of greasy, sugary, fattening, booze-absorbing goodness!

First up is my take on an old British standard, the "fry-up". A fry-up is pretty self-explanatory: you fry up a bunch of stuff in a pan. Now the Brits do it up separately, basically making it a variation of the 2 egg special you'd get at your local greasy spoon (Ottawa folk, think Mellos).

Here's what a basic version of the English fry-up looks like:

Please note that I got this picture off the Internet, so whomever took it, please don't sue! 

Mmmmm, greasy! Now, in my version, I kind of took a lazy man's way out. As you can see, they keep the ingredients separate in this fry-up, but I hate dirtying dishes, so I threw the lot of ingredients in the same pan!

I shall explain...

Fry-up à la Nick


1 potato (the kind you use for boiling), diced small (about 1/2 centimetre, or 1/4 inch)
2 chorizo sausages, sliced thin
1/4 onion, sliced very thin
6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved (try to keep as much juice as possible)
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated cheddar
fresh ground pepper

other options

- diced red pepper
- sliced mushrooms
- various herbs of your choice


- boil potatoes until you can pierce with fork easily, strain and set aside (this shouldn't take more than 5-8 minutes)
- drizzle a bit of olive oil into a pan and heat
- add sausage and sauté for about 5 minutes
- add rest of ingredients and cook until eggs and veggies are done
- serve with toast and hot sauce

Trust me, it's a thing of greeeeezzzzzzy beauty.

French Toast - basics and variations

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast,
But I'm intercontinental when I eat French toast!"
- Beastie Boys, The Move

I don't about you, but I happen to think that French toast is the best of the "Sweet Three" of breakfast. The "Sweet Three" being French toast, waffles and pancakes, of course.

Most people would probably choose pancakes over French toast. The thing is that unless you have a wunderkind taking care of the pancakes, I find they often taste like sweetened lumps of dough. I am a much bigger fan of the other two.

Now, I will admit that waffles are perhaps the PERFECT (non-oven-baked) breakfast treat, if cooked to the point of nigh-burnt crispy goodness. But, having made and cleaned up the resulting batterstorm of mess in the past, I'm pretty much convinced they're not worth the frigging effort.

Which brings us to the delicious compromise that is French toast. What can be simpler than coating bread in an egg-milk mixture and frying it up?

Now, I have no idea where French toast comes from, but hey! Wikipedia says neat stuff!

"The earliest official mention of French Toast is in the Apicius, a collection of roman recipes dating back to the 4th or 5th century."

We all know that French toast is commonly explained as a excuse to use up stale bread, but I find if you use a nice artisan bread or baguette, it goes from being merely tasty to "Man, that's so good!". The key is to use bread that's a bit stale or started out being fairly hard. Soft bread falls apart when you try coating it in the egg-milk mixture.

Implement-wise, you'll need a mixing bowl for the egg-milk mixture, a frying pan to cook the French toast, a fork and knife and LOTS of maple syrup.

Making French toast - Basics

The simplest way to do up French toast is as follows (I know most of us learned this when we were 7, but you never know):

- Crack an egg into a bowl, pour milk in (not too much) and whisk together with a fork. Add a dash of cinnamon and vanilla if you wish. Add more egg and milk as needed.
- Take a slice of bread and place it in the egg-milk mixture, ensuring that the bread is fully coated.
- Shake off excess mixture (you want just enough to lightly coat the bread and not get it too soggy).
- Repeat previous two steps with as many slices of bread as needed.
- In pan, melt about 1 tbsp butter and coat pan with butter.
- Place coated slices of bread in pan and fry until golden brown, flip and do the same for the other side.
- Serve on a plate with whatever forms of decadence you see fit. I'm a fan of pure maple syrup and sliced fruit

Now that you have the basics, let's fancy things up a bit!

Variation 1 - Bananas Foster French Toast

This was a beauty of a breakfast that my girl Kari found online a few weeks back and, like any chef worth his or her salt, I made a damn sight easier.

Now, no matter how easy I would like to make this recipe, it's still going to require two pans. You'll need a fairly large frying pan and a smaller saucepan of some sort.


- French toast basics (eggs, milk, bread, vanilla, cinnamon, etc.)

- Bananas Foster

- 1-2 ripe bananas, sliced
- 3-4 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- pinch cinnamon
- (tiny) pinch nutmeg
- splash dark rum (optional)
- splash banana liqueur (quite optional, since I don't actually know where you can by the stuff!)

SIDE NOTE: Bananas Foster with booze is how I used to make it back in my line cook days, but when we made it for breakfast, there was no booze at all and it tasted fine. ALSO, I just looked up banana liqueur on the LCBO Web site and it would seem that Malibu sells a banana rum. So, perhaps use a bigger splash of that in place of both the dark rum and banana liqueur. Really it's up to you.


- In a frying pan, cook up French toast as indicated earlier.
- At the same time, in some other sort of pan, melt butter on medium-high heat, add brown sugar and stir until it dissolves. Add cinnamon and nutmeg. Continue stirring, bringing mixture to a boil.
- Add bananas and booze (if using). Stir all ingredients together until liquid is smooth and bananas have softened. Reduce heart to simmer.
- Serve French toast on a plate as normal and top with Bananas Foster sauce.
- Serve with your favourite breakfast pork. I somehow don't see steak working with this one.

2 - French Toast Sammiches with Ham and Chèvre

OK, now we get into possibly(?) more challenging (and untested) territory. This is an idea I want to try for a more savoury French toast dish, but I haven't actually tried it out yet.

The principle is pretty basic though.

First of all, prepare 2 pieces of French toast per sandwich as per the "basic" method. Once ready, put on  a plate and let cool a bit.

Using the same pan, fry up as many slices of ham as you want until it reaches a nice texture (or don't, depends on how you like your ham). Once cooked, put aside as well.

On each slice of French toast, spread about a 1/2 tsp of goat cheese (aka chèvre).

Assemble your sandwich.

Put the pan back onto heat and reheat, until sandwich is warm and chèvre has melted slightly.

Serve topped with chopped green onion (if you wish).

Probably best eaten with a knife and fork, but it's up to you.

I swear to Jebus I'll try this out, take a picture, and post it for you all to see what it is I have in mind.

So, yeah, that's just a few forays into the crazy culinary art known as breakfast. Thing is that there really isn't much to making breakfast when you get right down to it. The basics of a tasty morning are simple: eggs, pig, some sort of bread or bagel, some kind of plant matter, and cheese. Assemble as you see fit!

And, if all else fails, there's always Corn Flakes.


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