Breakfast

Toast Is In Season

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Props, Mr. Dickens, a more accurate turn-of-phrase is difficult to come by.

It’s been Spring in Los Angeles since….three years ago? With the exception of a few days of either rain or blistering humidity. The farmers markets are finally (and when I say finally, I realize I have zero control, which is as it should be) matched with the season. Green things are everywhere. Stone fruit season is the most wonderful time of the year – a description I ordinarily attribute only to March Madness and Champions League Soccer.

It’s also apparently a season of toast? I am hard-pressed to remember a time when I wasn’t thoroughly surrounded by artisanal Wonderbread upgrades. FYI, I’m sure I’m supposed to provide some sort of commentary on the patriarchal cultural norms currently causing me to cluster the letters forming the last name of the woman in the vintage ad below ad into “Barbie” instead of “Barrie.”. Respect for Wendy Barrie being one of the O.G. talk show hosts, but the 84 out of 100 women who participated in the advertised test (see the lower-third of the photo) deserve both better bread and a less vapid iteration of publicity.

Hearing about The Mill in San Francisco clued me into the amount of money individuals are willing to pay for delicious bread, butter, and spread. ($4.00, by the way, in case you’ve got better things to do than click on the links I attach.) I am also guilty of paying $6-8.00 for a tartine at various other establishments. (Btw, those are open-faced sandwiches which have roots in the Middle Ages, when thick slices of bread called “trenchers” were used as edible plates to not waste the juices of whatever was placed on top of them, then given to the poor or fed to animals. I digress. This post is getting way longer than I originally intended it to be.)

Yesterday, Francis Lam, an editor and food columnist, tweeted this brilliance, to which I am countering, “How Many Days can I live on Sourdough Bread with Whatever Spring Shit I have in the Fridge?: An Experiment by Sydney.”

Today’s toast has green onion butter, fava beans, and basil.

Spring Toast

 

Too Much Time with Runny Yolk Folks

Is it possible to remember a time before eggs with varying degrees of runny yolks were put on top of everything?

Okay. It’s not that bad, but you catch my drift, yeah?

The first time I remember seeing an egg added to a dish in the matter-of-fact way tinsel gets added to Christmas trees was in December 2006, on an episode of “Top Chef: Season 2.” Elia Aboumrad, who ended up tying for third place that season and now is a co-owner of Gorge in Los Angeles, won a breakfast challenge after preparing a waffle topped with ham, cheese, and a fried egg.

Sounds delicious, right? I mean, I’m down for that. It’s not like fried eggs are a novelty, though. They’re eaten for breakfast all over the world, and society has coined at least four descriptive phrases for this particular cooking method, making the precision and consistency required a source of anxiety and “reasons we don’t go there for brunch.”

(Informal Survey: Do you take your fried eggs sunny side up? Over easy? Over medium? Over hard? Let me know. If you’re vegan, how do the important people in your life who consume eggs like them to be prepared?)

I’m not trying to morph anyone into a makeshift short-order cook. Believe me, I’ve seen how tough those humans have it, and I know you parents and others with younger nuggets to care for are not up for opening a restaurant kitchen in your home when it’s time for dinner. It’s clear that this trend is going to be around for awhile, and I’d like to advocate bringing it into home kitchens to save you $3-5. Maybe this is just because I’m the loon who buys two-dozen eggs, then stands in my kitchen with a few frying pans and a large pot of boiling water.

Egg Cookery Hacks I’ve Learned from Various Food Sources That Actually Work:

A. If you’re making an omelette, once the eggs look like “curds” in your frying pan (like the fluffy soft scrambled eggs dreams are made of), let the eggs sit for 10 seconds. Seriously. Do nothing. This is what will make your omelet stick together. And FYI, your omelette should be soft in the middle. Don’t burn it, please. For the sake of humanity and the children. (For a complete omelette hack, check out this post.)

B. When poaching eggs, make a “whirlpool” in the pot of simmering water, and slide the egg into the center of the whirlpool. This will prevent the egg white from spreading out in the water, i.e. the difference between failure and success.  (Thanks, Alton Brown.)

C. Heat the plate you are serving eggs on. Eggs get cold obscenely quickly. Pop them in the oven on the lowest temperature. If your plates aren’t oven-safe, keep them ready in hot water. Cold eggs suck almost as much as flimsy bacon. If you serve me cold eggs, I will stare at you until laser beams come out of my eyes and damage your soul.

D. Use a rubber spatula for all endeavors in which you are cooking eggs in a frying pan. Respect the eggs. You’re not Christian Grey in his BDSM playroom.

E. If you’re looking for a runny yolk or soft scrambled eggs, your eggs are done the instant there is no excess liquid running around the pan. Stare at it and you’ll see what I mean. Thank me later, enjoy your eggs first.

My latest experiments are with half-boiled eggs. I (like most home cooks) do not have the ability to sous vide my eggs at 63, 62, or 61-degrees, (although I’m thinking about asking for the appropriate equipment from Santa in eleven months), so my eggs are less-than-aesthetically-stunning, but still taste delicious.

When I up my consistency level, you’ll be the first to know. In the meantime, what are you waiting for? Get your oeuf on. (It sounds so much sexier in French.)

Soft-Boiled

C’est Bien!: The Time I Discovered the Joy of French Omelettes

As everybody knows, there is only one infallible recipe for the perfect omelette: your own.”          – Elizabeth David

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m willing to eat eggs with every meal. Me encanta mis huevos. Real talk. I’m writing this post while watching a breakfast challenge from Top Chef: Season 2.

What’s not to love? During a more frivolous time in my life in which I had……(ahem)……more than a few gentlemen and lady callers, I was always willing to scramble some fridge extras together or slide an over-easy egg onto a piece of toast before gently guiding them out the door…..What? I had class to attend.

No shame. Not even a twinge.

Aside from Dad’s hangover-curing scrambled “junk eggs,” I usually prefer eggs with any iteration of runny yolk: poached, soft-boiled, over-easy…..as long as I can use the yolk to sauce up whatever is underneath, I’m a happy girl.

Let’s return to the matter at hand: I’ve found an alternative to the runny-yolked egg in the French omelette. I feel as though I’ve been banging my head against a wall for the past two decades. Um, what makes a French omelette different from a regular omelette? I’m so glad you asked.

When cooking eggs in the French style, any form of color on the eggs besides fluffy yellow-white goodness means the eggs are burned. How true that statement is comes down to opinion, but French eggs should put one in mind of custard, and fluffy white unicorn clouds – simple, soft, and buttery.

French omelettes are stupid simple to make. It will take me way longer to write out the steps to make a French omelette than it will take you to make one yourself. This is the lightest and fluffiest egg dish I’ve ever paid for or made. Try it. Make it for your lovers. Use leftover fresh herbs that are about to go bad. Make it when you’re hungover. Make it when you’re not sure what to make. I really don’t care what your reasoning is….I can eat eggs at any time, and you should start doing so if you haven’t already.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs – room temperature, if you’ve got the time to leave them out for a bit
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter – half cut into cubes, half for greasing the pan
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped mixed fresh herbs – use whatever is leftover. In this case, I used basil and chives.
  • A large pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and add the teaspoon of water (it will help break down the butter later on). Whisk with a fork and STOP WHISKING when the eggs drop cohesively as a weird congealed conglomerate unit from the fork.

Seriously, don’t over-whisk the eggs. It’ll create drama in the pan later. And you don’t need a whisk. Whisks add way too much air and means the eggs will be runny and awkward.

Whisk in the butter and herbs while heating whatever pan you’re using over Medium-High heat for 30 seconds.

Place half of the butter (1/2 tablespoon) in the pan and swirl to coat. Pour in the egg mixture and LET IT SIT FOR TEN SECONDS.

We’re having a lot of serious moments in this post.

But seriously, don’t touch those damn eggs. Count to ten by Mississippis while the edges of the omelette set.

After ten seconds of tweedling your thumbs have passed, use a rubber spatula to stir the egg mixture in a figure-8 motion. In other words, keep moving the set edges into the runny edges. Do this for 25-30 ish seconds, or until the eggs are mostly cooked. When curds start to form, don’t stress about your eggs being scrambled – these suckers need to get fluffy, and these soft curds are making that happen.

If/when you see color starting to form, or there is only a small amount of uncooked egg in the middle, flip the omelette over and remove the pan from the heat. Have a plate ready, because by the time you slide the omelette onto the plate, those uncooked parts will be ready.

To make the prettiest omelette possible, tilt the pan away from you until the omelette slides to the edge, and pull to the center of the plate with the fork. Attempt to make a tri-fold, but don’t stress if it just falls onto the plate.

Add whatever you normally put on top of your eggs. Steal one last kiss from whoever you’re cooking for and wiggle your eyebrows in a provocative manner to suggest going back to bed after the meal is over.

Also perfect for a snack break in between rounds. Use your imagination.

And in the morning, I’m making waffles

Breakfast for dinner was one of my favorite family traditions when I was growing up. In our house, it always meant waffles. One of my earliest food memories is of my Mother hovering behind me while I perched precariously on her signature step-stool (like many Japanese-American women, my mother and I are of less-than-average height), not comprehending for the upteenth time that melted butter straight out of the microwave was hot.

Dedicated to Mommy for not getting visibly upset when six-year-old me put egg shells in the waffle batter because I thought they were “egg whites.”

A typical breakfast for me in my formative years was either miso soup – yes, what you get in Japanese restaurants before your meal arrives – or cheese toast. While cheese toast remains my favorite snack to this day, imagine my shock after moving into the UCLA dorms and discovering humans eating all the awesome breakfast breads (pancakes, french toast, waffles, etc.) in the morning….

So I became a functional bruncher. A runny egg on everything, bacon in the morning, bagel sandwich with-extra-bacon-please bruncher. Thank you, UCLA dorms – especially De Neve – for saving my soul during so many Saturday morning recoveries. You brought me back to ground-level more often than Tylenol and whimpering into my pillow at dawn ever did.

By the way, is anyone still at UCLA? Holler at your girl if you’ve got extra swipes.

Building blocks of bliss in my parents’ kitchen.

For the record, these waffles should be made in a standard square waffle iron, not a round Belgian one. Thin and crispy. Soft and buttery. Vegan, in the case of the second version below. Whatever your preference, sally forth and cure hangovers, impress significant others, and don’t forget to warm up the maple syrup for extra deliciousness.

(from the 1970s version of the Pillsbury Cookbook on my parents’ kitchen counter in all its batter-stained, yellow-paged glory that now costs $100-something on EBay)

Breakfast for Dinner Waffles

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs – separated – yolks in a large bowl, whites in a small bowl
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup melted margarine or butter

Pre-heat waffle iron to desired setting.

Whisk egg yolks and milk together in large bowl until the yolks are broken up and mixed together. Then add all dry ingredients and whisk some more until smooth. Slowly pour in the melted margarine/butter and stir to combine.

Whisk/beat egg whites until soft peaks form. If they’re not foamy-looking? They’re not done. If there’s still some liquid at the bottom of the bowl? Still not done. It’s all in the wrist.

Don’t haphazardly scroll past this in search of the next step in the recipe yet! I’m emphasizing this because I care about the look of happiness on your face as a light, buttery, waffle temporarily alleviates whatever ails you. The egg whites step I mentioned above is the key to a magical waffle. I’m serious. This is profound stuff.

Fold the soft egg white peaks into the batter. For those new to the game, deposit the whipped up whites on top of the batter, then flip a spoon or spatula to gradually envelop the whipped egg whites into the batter. The batter should and will increase significantly in size. Stir regularly a few times to finish combining.

Pour into waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer’s directions. (Most-likely but not-necessarily until the light turns off.)

And never fear vegans! I promise I didn’t forget about you.

Vegan Waffle Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk (almond, soy, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

Put all of these things into a bowl. Mix it up. Pour into waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer’s directions