Monday, August 09, 2010
Waking up to breakfast...
It began with shifting home, which was a very positive move, both personally and professionally, but I felt I was betraying the first home we ever owned by leaving it for a better model. And then the day of the shift, I returned from Delhi with some sort of horrid viral and proceeded to collapse, literally! I think I slept through virtually the entire move and poor Shekhar had to handle everything himself! Then came the biggest blow, the loss of someone I loved so much. This was quickly followed by strife on the work front as well, for me and for someone very dear I work with. And then mE magazine closed down. It just felt like too many endings! I found myself questioning things. I have always believed that life sends us the tests and our measure is in how we get through them but REALLY did it have to be so many at the same time. But I guess that was a test in itself. Letting go doesn't always mean you have failed, sometimes it just means you are strong enough to let go.
All of a sudden, I who cannot sit still without doing SOMETHING did not want to do anything. Meeting people, working, eating, reading about food, felt frivolous in the face of the avalanche threatening me. So I went numb. Dealing half heartedly with things I could not ignore but for the most part I just zoned out. I languished about my new house, bummed around Facebook.
Untill I woke up suddenly one morning while I was making breakfast for my husband.
Natasha, my almost 3 year old daughter was off to school for the first time that day. Where had time flown? It seemed like just yesterday when we brought her home, tiny and curled up in her blanket like a question mark that seemed to ask "what is in store for me?And yet there she was, a tiny little person.A tiny NOISY little person, positively fizzing! Buzzing around the house infecting us with her excitement, instructing her dad to pack her tiffin like he did her Bhaiya's, harrowing me to get her bathed and dressed 3 hours in advance!
And amidst all this as I cooked Shekhar's breakfast, my senses seemed to have awakened from hibernation. I suddenly smelled, REALLY smelled the tomatoes as they hit the hot pan and sizzled, my mouth actually watered watching butter as it melted onto the hot toast. As I plated the breakfast, sliding my new creation - roasted tomatoes topped with a perfectly fried egg sprinkled with grated cheese onto toasted bread, I realized just how much I loved doing this daily activity for my family.
Juggling the kids, home and our work, there really is never any time to go out on 'dates', especially since we have no help after 7:00, having chosen to be hands on parents. BELIEVE me dinner out with two kids would TRYLY defeat the purpose! And although I do cook lots of exciting things through the week they need to account for kids, guests and the ladies that work for us so menus need to be simple and account for everyones likes and dislikes. Besides, inevitably, special dinners just never seem to turn out as planned. Kids sense when you want them out of the way and make it their business to make you REGRET feeling like that. By the time you actually get down to dinner you might want to go to bed more! TO SLEEP!
But breakfasts are different. Breakfasts are the beginning of the day. We are all up, refreshed, hungry for the day full of promise that stretches ahead of us. (On weekdays it also means one kid is out of the way at school!) But most importantly breakfasts are customizable. I can do anything I want, make it as elaborate as I want, just for Shekhar. So most mornings, I will browse through fridge and cupboards and plan a plate for him, picking things he likes and bringing them together into a delicious whole. My biggest reward is the look of bliss he gets when I get things right and the breakfast is perfect!
Most days it will be one sunny side egg over a cheese slice, over hot toasted bread and the cheese will have gotten beautifully melty and gooey. The whole would be sprinkled with salt and freshly ground pepper with a grilled tomato on the side. In fact this is Shekhar's signature breakfast, so much so that Aman (my son) calls it the Papa breakfast.
And often I will vary this, likt that day when I had a brain wave. I thought since S loved of the combination of eggs cheese and tomatoes so much, why not try to combine the tomato and the fried egg by cracking the egg over a layer of tomatoes and laying the whole toast topped with a cheese slice? The logic being that the tomatoes would get beautifully caramelized but would allow the egg to stay soft as opposed to the crispy fried. It worked kind off - the results were delicious, only I have to cook the tomatoes much more.
Some days (usually Sundays when we have Brunch) I will add a couple of sausages to the plate as well (If Aman lets them get there). And when I cook sausages, I always save a few cooked ones to rustle up a sausage omeletfor breakfast the next day. I heat a tbsp of oil, pour add 3-4 beaten eggs seasoned with a little salt and pepper and cook till egg starts to get cloudy. I arrange slices of the sausages with red chillies all around and cook till the omelet is set and sausages are heated through. Great with buttered wholegrain bread.
OR for a truly decadent Sunday omelet, combine 1/2 cup sliced sausage with 1 tbsp each pickled jalapenos and gherkins and 1/2 cup Pecorino cheese, toss well and set aside. Heat oil in a frying pan. Pour in 4 eggs that have been beaten with a little salt. Cook on low flame till egg is almost set. Place filling in the middle. Cook for 2 minutes fold opposite sides over filling and serve.
I will end with this recipe I cooked up or a Me recipe feature a long time ago because it so perfectly garnishes this post.....
Basil scented sunny side ups (Serves 4 , Time 10 mins. plus a little prep time)
If the only thing you do well is a sunny side up, stun your breakfast guests with a couple of these sensational eggs. Add some chilli to the mix and take a bite from in Latin American cuisine by serving a spicy basil scented a single sunny-side-up egg over freshly steamed white rice so the yolk and oils run into the hot rice.... Heaven! Basil with its spicy, mildly peppery flavor complement eggs perfectly but this is what I call a 'template recipe' because by merely changing the herb you use you could vary the entire recipe.
For Basil Scented Oil
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
A handful of basil leaves (or any fresh intensely aromatic herd herb)
½ cup rice bran oil (I use Tandul)
In a small pan heat oil untill hot but not smoking. Add crushed garlic, stir and allow to cook untill fragrant (not more than one minute). Take off flame and add Basil leaves. Stir well, cover and leave to infuse for at least and hour (overnight is better). When completely cool strain into the bottle of the oil spritzer.
4 eggs at room temperature (cold eggs from the fridge will splutter and soil the surface of your sunny side up)
Crushed pepper corns
Salt to sprinkle
Place a non stick frying pan on a low flame and warm up but do not heat too much, place pancake ring on pan. Spray pan and ring well with Basil scented oil using an oil spritzer. Crack an egg carefully into the ring. The egg will sizzle at it hits the pan, using a fork or a toothpick burst any bubbles that might form. Once the egg white has solidified you can remove the pancake ring. Allow egg to cook untill it is done to your taste, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Basil is truly an incredible herb. And its spicy, mildly peppery flavor complement eggs perfectly. Look for fresh leaves, they have he best flavour but frozen and dried leaves are worth the effort also in a pinch. The leaves can be used cooked or eaten raw. Crush, chip or mince the leaves and add to recipes, or add whole leaves to salads. Sprigs of basil make a wonderfully aromatic garnish.Try deep frying them for a decadent topping on Thai dishes. If you end up with too many the best way to preserve them is in a pesto sauce.
Pictures courtesy - Indiasutra.com