Category Archives: breakfast

KEEPING BALANCED

If you have even a passing interest of astrology, then you know that the most basic principle that governs Libras is our underlying, yearning desire to keep everything in balance. Subconsciously or not, it’s how I process and consume art, music, literature and food. For every fluffy album that I put on, I’ll eventually need to hear something heavier and more abstract. I’m equal parts Kate Bush and Kevin Drumm. Fleetwood Mac and Ryoji Ikeda. And so on….

But nowhere does this organizational method fling itself onto my cravings more insistently than in the way that I eat. At work, it’s mostly dabs and tastings of sugar, butter, and cream. Mouthfuls of cake and pudding and syrups. Halved scones and milk buns slathered in butter and jam. Spoonfuls of tempered chocolate and licks of glossy Italian meringue. At home, my eating habits adjust to balance out my pastry work, and I’m really seeing the results right here on my blog. Gratuitous snaps of sugary-sweet Queen Elizabeth cake… followed by a hearty breakfast of eggs, asparagus, chickpeas, and a bit of my stale old levain bread. It’s not a “light” meal, but it feels suitably oppositional to what I was eating the night before. There’s been a lot of big breakfasts like this lately… maybe I’ve been eating too much cake at work and I didn’t even realize it.

SIMPLE SWAP

A while back I was complaining about being over that whole avocado-smashed-on-toast thing, but awesome Ashley suggested an easy switch-up: smashed avocado on corn tortillas. No duh. So simple and obvious and delicious! Just different enough that it’s renewed my (formerly waning) interest in avocado on carbs all over again. Especially if they can be eaten outside on the balcony in the sunshine.

PAN CON TOMATE MORNINGS

Pan con tomate is my latest favorite breakfast (i.e., it has temporarily replaced avocado toast). It’s delicious and fast. I halve a big chunk of baguette (right now I love with the tender kamut specimens at Joe la Croûte) and drizzle it with lots of good olive oil, then lightly toast in the oven until golden. While it’s still hot, I rub the toasts with peeled and cut garlic cloves and then quickly grate a halved tomato on a box grater, until pink, thickly covered, and wet. I imagine that this would be a million times better in the summer, when tomatoes are plump and bursting with sweet flavor, but it’s still so, so good. Finish with lots of salt, pepper, and, in some mornings, a filet or two or anchovy. Yum! Perfect accompaniment with a poached egg, wilted greens, and some coffee. Does anyone else make this for breakfast?

MEMORIES OF PALMIERS

In the course of preparing endless amounts of sweet things for the restaurant, I end up with lots of odds and ends — bits of dough, packets of pastry, things we can’t serve to customers. I still am racking my brains over how to use a small lump of marzipan I made almost two months ago! I try never to waste anything, but it can be challenging to find new and interesting ways to use it all. (Right now, I love baking up the scone scraps into mini scone-nubbins for the staff).

We recently made a couple kilos worth of puff pastry for a major charity event (more on that soon!), and had so much puff leftover. I couldn’t bare to throw it away, so it became these tiny, crisp, light-as-air palmiers, some of which we gobbled up at work, and some of which I brought home with me to enjoy with hot coffee.

Palmiers have a special place in my heart. When I was growing up, my parents and I would head down to La Jolla Shores every Sunday morning to hang out on the beach for a few hours. We read the newspaper, walked in the sand, and collected seashells. It was the one time of the week that I was allowed to eat junk food (powdered sugar mini-donuts and orange juice), while my parents opted for more sophisticated choices like croissants and bagels. My mom, however, always went for the gigantic palmier — her favorite cookie. It appealed to me both in its sheer size (they’re called elephant ears, after all), and its impressively high sugar level.

It was really fun to recreate this special pastry at work, and insanely easy, too (if you don’t count the days that go into preparing a bar of puff). You could easily recreate this at home with store-bought frozen puff — just make sure that the list of ingredients only lists butter as the fat used. I roll out the puff very thinly, scatter with sugar, and curl both sides like a book. Cut thinly, brush with egg wash, sprinkle with more sugar, and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, or until the sugar caramelizes and gets sticky. Sprinkle with even more sugar and eat hot. One of the best treats I’ve had in ages — buttery, flaky, and sweet.

GRECIAN BREAKFAST

I recently came upon a trove of Grecian goodies: honey, chestnuts, dried thyme (it has thorns and tiny purple flowers!), and liters and liters of olive oil. What better way to begin delving into their untold yumminess than with a simple breakfast — steamed spinach, a fried egg sprinkled with feta and parsley, and tomato salad, all drenched in the most gorgeous, supple olive oil I’ve eaten in a while.

P.S. The voyeur in me LOVED this food diary by Sam Sifton. Charming, honest, and delicious. There’s nothing I love more than reading a long list of dishes or ingredients (bedside reading is usually a cookbook), so stories like this are totally my internet catnip. [via Shoko]

A BIRTHDAY ZONE

So, yesterday was my birthday — which, of course, has prompted an undue amount of self-reflection. I worked a long 10-hour shift, but Adam made me a sweet, perfectly-me birthday breakfast of roasted brussels sprouts over eggs and some good, sour cheddar with toast.

If you had told me ten years ago, or even five years ago, that at age 28 I would be happily living in Montreal and working as a pastry chef, I would have stared at you in disbelief. When I graduated from college (was it already seven years ago?), I remember thinking that I would definitely be a music journalist, traveling the world and writing every day. I might still return to that, in fact I hope that I do. I often get anxious thinking that I haven’t done enough or accomplished that much. But where I am right now — I’m learning to see how it’s exactly right. Pastry may be a recent passion, but it already feels like it’s been a part of me forever.

My sweet friend Katherine gave me this book, written by an astrology-loving Jungian scholar, for my birthday, and I have been devouring it alive. Here’s to another year of Relating.

BREAKFAST IN SANARY

Breakfast in Provence. Sigh. Earlier this summer, we were toying around with the idea of going back to Sanary for a month — that’s how cheap the apartment that we rented was — so Adam could finish his book in solitude, but it’s so impossible with my new job. Still, so grateful for the handful of sunny mornings we spent there, one egg for me, two for him, some wilted greens and peeled asparagus.

MARKET SPLURGING

If you live in Montreal, then you already know that the markets are ridiculous. Like, jaw-droppingly, achingly spectacular. It’s my favorite time of year around these parts — early summer vegetables are still kicking around, and early fall produce is starting to make its first appearance. (I saw pears yesterday!) Basically it means that you can eat whatever you want and in incredible abundance. Yesterday morning, we went for the corn, tomatoes, amaranth, carrots, kale, and fresh eggs. Tomorrow, I’m going back for eggplant — we’re finally upon ratatouille season!

CHILAQUILES BRUNCH

Not much has changed in two years… I still have a faint loathing of the brunch ritual, unless it’s chilaquiles. In which case, yes, yes, yes. Chilaquiles for breakfast, that I can give a thumbs up. This batch was topped with not just guacamole but also my famous tomatillo salsa, made extra spicy with a habenero or two, and served warm. And also: refried black beans with salsa fresca, pan-fried breakfast potatoes with chorizo, pineapple in lime juice, and Sasha’s amazing sauerkraut.

As if it weren’t already a brunch that demanded a post-meal nap, there was dulce de leche-filled churros, too. (Thank you, Sabor Latino.)

Carlo, framed by two bunches of peonies, makes me sad that peonies here are gone so fast. When they were in season, we were picking big bunches from bushes every morning. You couldn’t keep up — the bushes would hang so heavy with the blossoms and be destroyed in an hour of rain or a day or two of sunshine. But while they were here, our apartment was full of magic.

MY KIND OF BUFFET

A luscious, lengthy breakfast at Hôtel du Castellet, in Provence, France. As extraordinary as the pastry and cheeses were, I was most amazed by the butter, which seems to be appreciated in a way I’ve never seen in North America. Tiny single-sized portions of butter, carefully held in a beautiful foil wrapper, were everywhere we went. When I was little, I used to collect the tiny jars of Bonne Maman preserves they’d give out at pancake restaurants in La Jolla. Guess my affection for adorable mini-sized things hasn’t changed at all.