Now lots of folks prefer breakfast to any other meal. These range from the relative few who pour themselves a bowl of cereal in the evening and call it dinner to the zillions of restaurant-goers who order breakfast no matter what time of day it is. This episode, then, is devoted to stick-to-your-ribs breakfast entrees that anyone might be happy to see at 7pm. Despite the warnings of the food police, all of these dishes feature eggs. The dietary wisdom of the past – don’t eat eggs because they’re too high in fat and cholesterol – is passe. Today we understand that some fat is fine, and that it is mostly saturated fat – not dietary cholesterol – that raises our cholesterol level. So eggs it is.
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Tips. When you are cooking with eggs the fresher they are the better (except when making hard-cooked eggs). So it is very important to keep them well chilled. After you bring them home from the supermarket put them in their closed carton in the back of the fridge. Do not put them in that little open egg container on the door of the fridge (the door is the warmest place in the fridge and should only house high salt/acid/sugar items like jams, hot sauces, and pickles.)
Fresher eggs have more viscous whites and firmer yolks, which means that they will produce more volume, particularly in desserts and souffles. As the egg gets older an air pocket develops between the membrane of the egg and the shell. This is a useful thing when making a hard-boiled egg. It makes them much easier to peel.
If you are not a fan of pork you could substitute smoked salmon for the Canadian bacon in the egg sandwich, but don’t cook it – just put it on top of the softly scrambled eggs.
If you make a big batch of sofrito you can freeze it in ice cube trays or in “food cubers” (see Episode 103, Soup for Supper) and then use it in recipes later on.
You can saute 1/4 cup of it in some olive oil before adding rice and liquid. You can use it as the base of a soup or stew (replacing the usual onion/celery/carrot line up). One of my favorite ways to flavor clams or mussels is to cook some sofrito in olive oil, add wine and then the mollusks and let them steam open.
If you are not a fan of ham you can use smoked turkey as a substitute in the eggs baked in ham cups recipe.
Crackers are a great underutilized ingredient. I love crunch in any recipe and one way to get it without too much work is to incorporate crackers. I don’t just use them for a crust as in the quiche recipe; I also use them as a topping for a gratin or casserole or a coating for fish when I bake it.
For everything you need to know to roast your own peppers, take a look at Roasted Peppers or Chiles, Sara’s Secrets for Weeknight Meals, page 30.
Try my recipe for Bread Crumbs Four Ways from Sara’s Secrets for Weeknight Meals, page 23. It is a great way to make use of excess bread and makes a good topping for casseroles and coating for fried or baked foods as well as the crumb crust in this recipe.
Tools. My absolutely favorite tool, next to my chef’s knife, is a Bench Scraper. A bench scraper is a tool designed to scrape up dough from the counter when you are making pastry or bread. One day after I had chopped a bunch of vegetables and attempted to transport them to a pot on a burner, by shoveling them on to the side of my knife, leaving a trail of vegetables from the cutting board to the stove, I thought, there has got to be a better way. Well a metal bench scraper is the answer. Many kitchenware stores carry them (and they are cheap – good stocking present!)
Ingredients. Canadian bacon (which you can find in any supermarket) is actually just smoked, cooked, pork loin and is not related to the item we usually eat at breakfast. Regular old bacon comes from the belly of the pig and is loaded with fat (probably why we all love it). So when you want that smoky pork taste but don’t want all that fat, reach for Canadian bacon. Pork loin is one of the leanest cuts on the pig.
Organic flour is available by mail order or on line from www.kingarthurflour.com They also sell my favorite tool, the bench scraper as well as many other fun items.