I didn’t experiment much in college (well, except in the ways of improvisational comedy and musical theater directing), but as an adult I’ve become a hardcore experimenter, specifically on weekend mornings when Craig’s out of town. That’s when I let my soul run free, tapping into my inner being, and cooking up whatever springs to mind. Sometimes, my ideas are pretty gross (see here); sometimes, though, I hit on something so good, it enters the repertoire. This breakfast, thankfully, falls into the latter category.
Picasso had his blue period; I’m having my “smoked trout, pickled onion and kale” period right now. You may recognize these ingredients from some earlier posts this week–Fun Times with Farro, the very popular Chicken Sausage with White Beans and Kale–and now they’re all reuniting, once again, for a breakfast that had Craig and I leaping from our chairs, we enjoyed it so much.
Is there any dish with more rules attached to it than risotto? Watch any episode of Top Chef where someone tries to make it, and you’re bound to see someone packing their knives and going home. There are rules about the kind of rice you use (Arborio vs. Carnaroli), what kind of stock you use (dark stock, light stock) and the consistency it should have when it’s done (toothsome? pliant? mushy?). These rules matter if you’re cooking on television, but at home these rules go out the window: I’m here to tell you that risotto is a cinch to make–you can even make it with water! (something I learned watching Lidia Bastianich)–and, best of all, you can make a really good one, with bacon and egg and cheese, for breakfast.
It’s a new year, folks, and as the weekend approaches, it’s time to ask yourself some serious questions, specifically about how you start your day: are you tired of eating the same thing over and over again? Is it possible that your boredom reflects a boredom with your life itself? Is it time for a new job? A new spouse? A new child? Well, before you make any hasty decisions, might I suggest that you start with breakfast. Here’s one that I created based on a dish that I love at Ruen Pair (my favorite Thai place in L.A.) and, as nervous as I was to make something that I didn’t fully know how to make, the results were so astonishingly delicious, I nearly toppled my kitchen table over with my enthusiasm. We’re talking, of course, about a salty turnip omelette–a strange concept, yes, but follow my directions, and you’ll be so blissed out, you won’t even realize how much you hate your life.
Beyoncé and I have so much in common. While she was holding tight to her secret album, waiting until last night to release it, I was holding tight to this post, only wanting to share it at the perfect moment. And now, at last, on this Friday before a snowy New York weekend (a weekend in which I’m supposed to fly back to L.A.) I’m ready to share it with you. It’s probably the prettiest thing I’ve made in a long time and, like most of the best things, it was made completely on the fly, using up all of the items in my fridge before I left for three weeks. Now I’ll have to re-buy those items when I get back because clearly I want to make this again.
The first sign was the asparagus. It’s December here in New York and on the breakfast menu at Untitled at the Whitney, a Danny Meyer restaurant which we frequent whenever we’re in the city, there’s an asparagus omelette. “Asparagus in December?” I asked and then Tweeted something about it, prompting a sarcastic response from the very funny Twitter personage BoobsRadley: “Outraged!” Ok, ok, maybe it’s not something to be outraged about, but it is a sign that something’s a little off, especially when a restaurant’s proprietor is at the helm of such season-oriented restaurants as Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe.
Like a dying swan, I came to L.A. and watched as, feather-by-feather, all of my bagel-eating genes fell to the ground. I tried, I really did. I made bagel bombs, which were a nice alternative, but not the real thing. I stood and ate a bagel at Brooklyn Bagel and thought, “Oh man: this doesn’t feel right at all.” I basically gave up. And then, very gradually, a new idea began to hatch in my brain: what if I made my own everything bagels? How hard could that be? On Friday afternoon, I bought bread flour and malt powder and cream cheese and nova and red onions; on Saturday morning, I woke up all set to make Peter Reinhart’s famous recipe.
I’m at the point now where I really think I could make a good omelet, only I’m held back by a cruel and powerful force: a sticky non-stick skillet. David Lebovitz warned me, ages ago, not to flambé in my new non-stick, that it might ruin the coating, and did I listen? I did not. So my punishment is that my omelets, which are beautifully formed, almost always stick when it’s time to roll them up. Take a look.