Breakfast may be my favorite meal to cook because there’s nothing fussy or formal about it. You just wake up, roll out of bed, head to the kitchen, put the coffee on, see what you’ve got in the fridge and the pantry and get going. Most of the time, I improvise with what I have on hand; but sometimes, if I want breakfast to be special, I turn to one of these ten recipes and start my day in style. Now that it’s almost the weekend, consider this a prompt to start your Saturday or Sunday with style too.
My Top 10 Favorite Breakfast Recipes
[Click the titles to go to the recipes.]
Let’s get the healthy out of the way first (well there’s one more healthy thing, but this is even healthier). When I’m feeling sluggish or bloated from a huge dinner on Friday or Saturday nights, this is the smoothie I make to restore myself in the morning. It comes from Mad Hungry (the book) and features a key ingredient that you should always have on hand to make killer smoothies: frozen berries instead of ice. Keep your freezer stocked and you can have nourishing, restorative smoothies whenever you want them.
I’m not much of a pancake guy (in fact, when making this list, I consciously used this formula: waffle > French toast > pancake) but these pancakes, from the Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, are the exception. They’re made with cornmeal so they have a terrific texture that’s almost a bit rough, making them sturdy enough to stand up to the syrup, avoiding that dreaded “spongy” factor which makes pancake-haters squirm. These won’t make you squirm, they’ll make you squeal in delight.
If you’re going to make French toast, you’ve gotta do it with Challah (or Brioche) because of all the eggs and butter that are in there already. You’re basically coating eggs and butter in more eggs and butter and then frying it all in butter. Bad for you? Of course. But amazing to eat? Oh yes.
This is a legendary recipe, one that I first read about in Kim Severson’s memoir, SpoonFed. They’re a funky sort of waffle, tangy from an overnight fermentation that may freak you out at first because you’re basically leaving yeast and water and flour on the counter overnight to get all active and alive. But the results are pretty profound: not only is there a wonderful undercurrent of acidity to these waffles, but they’re the lightest and crispest I’ve ever made. It’s pretty much a mandatory waffle recipe for those who own waffle makers.
Certain recipes become like family members: they’re tied to you forever. That’s how I feel about this potato recipe which also comes from Marion Cunningham; even though I only discovered it recently, I can’t imagine my breakfast life without it. It’s so easy and makes so much sense. Get a Russet potato, cut it into cubes, heat oil or bacon fat in a cast iron skillet and fry those potatoes like mad. You can dress them up, at the end, with garlic or onion or parsley, but just by themselves, these are the platonic ideal of Sunday Morning Potatoes.
Ok, call me a hipster for serving this parfait in a Mason Jar, that’s not the point. The point is that every so often, when I’m feeling a little virtuous, I make my favorite granola recipe–the salty one from Baked–then stir Greek yogurt together with vanilla and a little orange juice (like The Barefoot Contessa does). I pile it all up with fresh fruit and make a breakfast parfait that tastes like dessert but is much better for you than dessert. Mason jars optional.
April Bloomfield’s cookbook is one of the most flawless cookbooks I’ve ever encountered. It won The Piglet, last year, and deservedly so; every recipe I’ve made from it, so far (and I’ve made a lot) has been the best version of that thing I’ve yet experienced. And that’s definitely the case with Bloomfield’s oatmeal (or “English Porridge”) which is saltier than it should be but then balanced out by sweet brown sugar. It’s a wild experience, eating this oatmeal, because the steel-cut oats stay firm while the rolled oats grow soft. You get all of those textures plus all of the salt and then the sugar and your mouth just has a party and can’t believe what’s happening. It’s the best.
My first year in L.A., deeply homesick for New York, I turned to a recipe in the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook for Everything Bagel Bombs and thought: “I wonder if this’ll taste like the bagel I’ve missed so much?” After having bad bagel experience upon bad bagel experience here, I’d given up. Then these came out of the oven and I almost wanted to cry when I bit into one. The warm dough, the explosive cream cheese center, the familiar everything bagel spices on the crust: this was the Bagel Bomb of my dreams and I could make them whenever I wanted. BLISS. Dorothy can keep her ruby slippers, I’m stocking my freezer with bagel bombs.
If I’m going to bake at all, on a weekend, it’s almost always going to be biscuits. I love biscuits. Maybe it’s because I lived in Atlanta for 7 years, I’m not sure. The biscuits you see above are Lynn’s Paradise Biscuits, which are incredibly decadent and enjoyable, but my favorite biscuit recipe is this one which I’ve been making now for almost ten years. Really you just work cold butter into a flour mixture, add buttermilk, use an ice cream scoop, plop ’em into flour and then drop them into a sprayed cake pan. Into a hot oven they go and out they come, 15 minutes later, fluffy and light and just begging for you to eat them. Man, I’m making myself hungry.
Am I a narcissist for making this my #1 recipe? Maybe, but hear me out: I really make these eggs almost every weekend. They’re basically just scrambled eggs with caramelized onions, pickled jalapeños and cheese. But somehow that combination always hits the spot; it’s tangy, it’s bright, and it’s rich with all of that cheese. You can serve it up on toast, with biscuits, or really go for it and serve them on homemade corn tortillas. Doesn’t matter. More than the album that I made when I was 16 called “The Bus With My Initials,” more than the play I wrote in graduate school about Hitler’s brain being planted in the child of a Jamaican housekeeper, this recipe is my greatest legacy. May it live on forever.