Breakfast: Mixing it up six ways from Sunday

by Terry B on March 4, 2009

A host of sources chimes in with ways to keep what is arguably the most important meal of the day interesting. Share your own thoughts on breakfast in the comments below.

Breakfast. Its very name says you should eat it. Literally, it means break the fast. For most of us, the time between our heads hitting the pillow at night and getting up in the morning is the longest time we go without food. And as we face the new day, it’s the time our bodies most need refueling. Studies show that eating a good breakfast helps you concentrate better at work or at school and that skipping breakfast because you’re dieting is a sure way to gain weight, not lose it.

We’re big on breakfast at Blue Kitchen. Not the farmhand affairs that provide enough fuel for you to go milk a dozen cows and plow forty acres, but something simple, quick and reasonably nutritious. During the week, a bowl of some fiberrific cereal, with lowfat milk and maybe some fresh fruit; or a single fried egg with some toast or one of these reduced-guilt English muffins; or in a pinch, even a PBJ sandwich on hearty, multi-grain bread. On weekends, we sometimes get a little fancier and more leisurely—omelets or maybe this French toast with fresh fruit and mint. It all helps to keep this important meal interesting.

So when cool breakfast ideas started popping up everywhere recently, I thought I’d round them up and share them here.

First, Laura over at What I Like likes breakfast so much that she did three consecutive posts on the subject. The first was on poached and soft-boiled eggs. Next, Laura wrote about homemade muesli and the joys of steel cut oats. And she finished up with some delectable baby chocolate brioches that prove once again that eating well is all about balance.

About the same time, Bill Daley at the Chicago Tribune wrote a helpful primer on pancakes, “Perfect pancakes: Strategies to make the hottest hot cakes ever”. It offers up practical tips on everything from pan choice to heat, size and not overmixing the batter. If Marion didn’t make such great pancakes, I might be tempted to try some of the recipes Daley provides.

Who said breakfast has to be “breakfast”?

On the same day the Tribune pancake piece appeared, Mark Bittman at The New York Times weighed in on the unexpected pleasures of savory, non-breakfasty foods with his article “Your Morning Pizza”. The notion that breakfast should come from the rather narrow range of hot or cold cereals, eggy dishes or various breads, cakes and pastries is a decidedly American one. Elsewhere on the planet, as Bittman says, “everything is fair game at breakfast.” Daughter Claire tells the story of a sleepover at her friend Shweta’s house. In the morning, her mother served everyone traditional Indian fare for breakfast. The dish was so fiery that young Claire was barely able to politely pick at it. Meanwhile, Shweta’s little brother shoveled it down like it was a bowl of Cocoa Puffs.

Regarding Bittman’s own non-breakfasty adventures, a year or two ago, he “started eating things at breakfast that you would more likely associate with dinner: black olives, quinoa, miso, dried tomatoes, sesame oil, bok choy, wheat berries, roasted carrots.” All of which is giving me some serious food for thought. Oh, and the pizza of his “Your Morning Pizza”? It’s a polenta-crusted “pizza” with pancetta and spinach. You’ll find a link to the recipe in the article.

Okay, your turn. What’s your favorite breakfast? What’s the most unusual breakfast you’ve eaten?


{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Randi March 4, 2009 at 2:42 pm

I have a love affair with crisp bacon. Everything else to me is secondary. We only do eggs on the weekend and it’s almost always over easy with a nice bread toasted on the side. Hearty steel cut oats is a close second. When there’s lots of kids over it’s homemade pancakes. It’s a sin to make them from a mix. You only save maybe a minute and a half of time and they are never as good. My most unusual breakfast would have to be Welsh Rarebit. Not too exciting but oh so good! Hmmm now I’m thinking about rarebit…

Laura March 4, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Thanks for the shout-out Terry! By the way, those homemade cinnamon rolls look amazing…is the recipe on your site somewhere?

Terry B March 4, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Randi—Bacon really is so amazing it deserves being a food group of its own.

You’re welcome, Laura. The cinnamon rolls were an experiment by Marion to duplicate those of her childhood memories. They were quite good, but she wants to experiment and tweak some more. I suspect they will eventually turn up here.

Elizabeth March 4, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Unfortunately, I don’t give breakfast enough attention. It’s usually rushed, which means smoothie. When I do take the time I love a poached egg on toast, simple, a bit plain, but delicious. My fondest breakfast memories are of Hotel breakfasts when I traveled to Sweden, Denmark and Norway – each morning it was black bread, smoked fish, and a stinky Danish Tilsit cheese. (With strong coffee of course.)

Teri March 5, 2009 at 12:19 am

I love my morning coffee and breakfast, and during the week I usually make waffles with blueberries or strawberries. I sometimes look for an excuse to visit a regular diner on 6th Ave. to enjoy the blowout of eggs, toast, sausages, and NY home fries. Here in NYC, we take our weekend brunch seriously, and even in this economy, securing a table can be a contact sport. Still, as a native Texan, all I ever really want is a plate of migas, hot sauce and some good homemade tortillas.

dani March 5, 2009 at 2:53 am

My favorite breakfast is pancakes made by my 11-year-old granddaughter when she and her brother sleep over. We also love scrambled eggs with chopped onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, grated cheese, and dill weed. Every holiday includes brunch with spinach and 3-cheese quiche, baked bacon (on crumpled foil so that it doesn’t lay in the grease), fruit salad, and blueberry coffeecake. We love breakfast for dinner, too. My most unusual breakfast was probably while growing up in Texas – grits, but with milk and sugar instead of butter. Oh, and rolled oats (when you can find them) are superior even to the steel-cut oatmeal.

Terry B March 5, 2009 at 4:07 am

Elizabeth—Your Scandinavian breakfasts would make Mr. Bittman proud!

Teri—You’re precisely describing one thing that puts me off most brunches. To me, it’s standing in line too long to pay too much money for more food than I really want to eat. Personally, the migas sounds like a far better bet. I can’t imagine that no enterprising chef in New York has gotten around to turning this into the next cool thing.

dani—What a lovely way to enjoy pancakes! And if you grew up in Texas, you’re probably familiar with one of the coolest, if not strangest, things I’ve enjoyed for breakfast [albeit sometimes at two or three in the morning]: Scrambled eggs and chili, with the side of chili cozied right up next to the eggs on the same plate. Delicious and messy and not a far cry from Teri’s migas, in a stripped down sort of way.

Carolyn March 5, 2009 at 7:34 pm

I LOVE breakfast. Any time of the day. And this week’s photo reminds me of one of my favorite scenes in the movie Moonstruck, where an egg is frying inside a scooped out piece of bread, and at the last minute a piece of pimento or a slice of roasted red pepper is added. Heaven!

dani March 5, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Terry B – Add some warm flour tortillas with the scrambled eggs & chili, and you have good reason to defend the Alamo!

Carolyn – That is a great scene in Moonstruck.

Dee March 6, 2009 at 7:17 pm

For several years, I have been eating dinner foods for breakfast. Salmon with rice/veggies are a favorite. This morning, I wrapped sauteed tofu inside a flax tortilla and it was delicious. I find if I eat cereal, I’m hungry in an hour. If I eat protein/something more substantial, I’m not looking to snack all morning. Great post!

brilynn March 7, 2009 at 2:48 am

I eat a lot of leftovers for breakfast, lots of savoury stuff… And bacon goes with pretty much everything.

KT March 7, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Thanks for giving coverage to the most important AND most oft-neglected meal of the day! I love breakfast sandwiches – a soft warm bun with scrambled egg whites, sharp cheddar cheese, crisp bacon, a few slices of avocado, a schmear of mayo (ah, and a slice of an heirloom tomato when they are in season!). If I’m in a sweeter mood, there’s nothing better than challah french toast (I make it with vanilla yogurt) and strawberries in their own juices over top.

Carolyn – I’ve never seen that movie but the description of the dish sounds fantastic! I’ll have to check into this :)

Wendy C March 8, 2009 at 2:09 pm

I was reading your post and decided to respond ( my first time) but thought I would go through the comments first. What a nice surprise when I read about the Scandanavian breakfasts, as these too, were my favourite of all time when vacationing in Norway. Their food was refreshing and satisfying and my favourite thing was fish roe paste in a tube. Wow, now that was addicting!!
Give me good bread and cheese and I am good to go.

dick March 10, 2009 at 5:45 am

One of my favorite breakfasts was at a little restaurant in New Hampshire that is no longer there (they retired). They made a wonderful home made cinnamon raisin whole wheat bread which was used for French Toast with maple syrup from the maple syrup place in town. Absolutely delicious. My friends used to come up to New Hampshire for the weekend and we always had to go to Linda’s for this French toast every morning they were there. I don’t know what they did to the bread to make it so good but it was just wonderful.

Now I usually make the steel cut oatmeal in the microwave on half power for about 18 minutes, then add fresh banana slices and blueberries to it. Just wonderful. I also got a couple of those silicone egg poachers so I like to make toast soldiers with poached eggs and crumbled bacon all mixed up with lots of freshly ground pepper. Wonderful!

Carolyn March 10, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Okay. Dick, you HAVE to tell me what a “toast soldier” is.

Terry B March 11, 2009 at 12:05 am

Carolyn—Thanks for reminding me of the great movie—and now that I think of it, one with a fair amount of food stuff going on in it. Next time I’m at the video store, I may have to seek it out again.

dani—I’ll try the tortillas next time the eggs and chili mood strikes.

Thanks, Dee! Even when I have cereal for breakfast, I generally augment it with some kind of proteins, even if it’s a handful of almonds.

brilynn—I am totally craving some bacon. Right now.

KT—As luck would have it, houseguests have just shown up with a huge loaf of homemade challah [thus ensuring being welcomed back anytime]. If it lasts ’til the weekend, some of it will certainly become French toast. And do see Moonstruck. It features a charming Cher, from when she was really acting, and Nicholas Cage before he went full time creepy roles.

Wendy C—Thanks for commenting! And now that’s two strong votes for Scandinavian breakfasts—we may have to visit some day.

Dick—An interesting tip on the steel cut oatmeal. I’ll have to try it. The 45 minutes or so needed to cook it otherwise has always sounded like too much work or time at breakfast for me.

Carolyn—Dick responded via email. Here’s what he said: “You butter the toast and cut in strips. The strips are called soldiers,
ergo toast soldiers.” And if you made French toast with them, I suppose you could call them French toast soldiers.

Chef Chip March 24, 2009 at 7:42 am

I have not one but two favorite breakfasts. One traditional (Louisiana, anyway) and one inspired.

Traditionally in Louisiana we take leftover white rice and saute it up with butter/bacon fat, S&P, and green onions and serve topped with a couple sunny fried eggs. You’re supposed to cut up the eggs over your rice so the yolk bleeds through and flavors the rice. Sounds humble but it’s so satisfying! We serve a version of it in our cafe and call it Southern Fried Rice. We sub in brown rice and olive oil and it’s still delicious! My Guatemalan cooked took it a little further south by adding chorizo–now that’s REALLY good!

My other favorite came from mid-morning munchies and a need to do something with some leftover crabmeat before it went bad. I happen to make the best pimiento cheese in the South. So I made a sauce of the pimiento cheese by adding some heavy cream to a pan and melting some pimiento cheese into it. At the last moment I stirred in some lump crab meat and served this over lightly scramble eggs. OMG! Y’all have no idea!

Terry B March 25, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Chef Chip—This is totally unfair. I just finished lunch, and I’m hungry for both of these breakfast dishes.

Ana May 10, 2009 at 1:15 am

I have a love affair with warm oats, fruit and seeds. :)

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