Chef Tom – Breakfast Anytime, Anywhere

They call it comfort food for good reason. Anything you put in your mouth by way of inducing serenity, damping pesky feelings of fear, or as a temporary distraction from the day’s anxiety, qualifies. Be it sweet or savory. What is your favorite sensation? Creamy? Fatty? Crunchy? Sweet? An enticingly satisfactory, calming combination of all of it?

Depending on the mood that has me in its grip, I like savory. Something unctuous. Filling. Sinful, even. I’ll whip up an omelet with cream, eggs, and a sharp cheese. Or sweet, like toasting a big slab of multigrain, then slathering it with plenty of full-fat butter PLUS a schmear of crunchy peanut butter PLUS a generous dollop of tangy marmalade (or one of my favorites, a lavish drizzle of Lyle’s Golden Syrup).

You catch my drift. Following are three indulgent recipes for (technically) breakfast that can be eaten at any time of the day or night, especially when there is a need for solace; for luxury; for ease.

Turkish Eggs

Serves 2

(adapted from Nigella Lawson)

Ingredients:
½ cup Greek-style yogurt

1 clove garlic (peeled and minced)

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper / Turkish red pepper flakes**

2 large eggs (fridge-cold)

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

a few fronds fresh dill (chopped)

Directions:
Fill a saucepan with water to come halfway up the sides of the pan. Put it on the heat and cover so that it heats up faster. Line a large plate with a doubled paper towel, get out a slotted spoon, and put both near the pan.

Fill another pan – on which a heatproof bowl can sit comfortably – again with water to come a couple inches up the sides, and bring this pan to the boil.

Put the yogurt in the heatproof bowl, stir in the garlic and salt, and sit it on top of this pan, making sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir it until it gets to body temperature and has the consistency of lightly whipped double cream. Turn off the heat and leave the bowl as it is, over the pan.

Melt the butter very gently in a small frying pan until it is just beginning to turn a hazelnutty brown (this is why, in classic French cuisine, it’s known as beurre noisette), but make sure it’s not actually burning. Turn the heat off under the pan, then stir in the olive oil, followed by the beautiful red pepper flakes; it will foam up fierily. Leave to one side while you poach the eggs. And this is when you should be thinking of putting the toast on.

When you are ready to poach the eggs, crack the first egg into a fine mesh strainer suspended over a small bowl, then lift it up a little and swirl gently for about 30 seconds, letting the watery part of the white drip into the bowl. Gently tip the egg into a small cup or ramekin and, aiming for the white, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice; I know everyone else says vinegar, but I just don’t like the taste of it on the egg, and the lemon does the trick just the same. Proceed as above with the second egg.

When the poaching water is just starting to simmer, take a cup with an egg in each hand and gently slide in the eggs, one on each side of the pan. Turn the heat right down so there is no movement in the water whatsoever, and poach the eggs for 3–4 minutes until the whites are set and the yolks still runny.

Transfer the eggs with your slotted spoon to the paper-lined plate to remove any excess water. Remember to switch off the heat.

Divide the warm creamy yogurt between two shallow bowls, top each with a poached egg, pour the peppery butter around and slightly over the yogurt, scatter the chopped dill on top, and eat (you can close your eyes at this point), dipping in some thick well-toasted bread as you do so.

** If you can’t get Aleppo pepper, also known as pul biber or Turkish red pepper flakes, which has a mild, almost sweet heat and a distinctive lemoniness, you could substitute paprika, adding a pinch of dried chilli flakes. But nowadays you can get pretty much anything online. Find some for your pantry. You will find many good uses.

Changua (Colombian Egg and Milk Soup)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 cups whole milk (if you dare, use 1 or 2 cups half n half)

2 cups water (sometimes I’ll use chicken or beef bone broth)

4 eggs

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving

3 scallions chopped

Salt and pepper

Bread with butter to serve

Directions:
Place the milk and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add the scallions, salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium and carefully add the eggs, without breaking the yolks.

Poach the eggs for 3 minutes or longer if you like it cooked well in the center; add the cilantro.

To serve, gently place an egg in four shallow bowls, then ladle in the soup, about 1 1/2 cups each. Serve warm with toasted bread on the side and garnish with more fresh cilantro.

BLT Casserole

Ingredients:

1/4 cup mayonnaise

5 slices whole grain bread, toasted

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar

12 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 cup whole milk

4 large eggs

1 medium tomato, halved and sliced

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 green onions, thinly sliced

Shredded Romaine

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°.

Spread mayonnaise on one side of each slice of toast and cut into small pieces.

Arrange toast, mayonnaise side up, in a greased 8-in. square baking dish. Top with shredded cheese and bacon.

In a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, 2 minutes. Pour over bacon.

In a large skillet, fry eggs over medium heat until they reach desired doneness; place over bacon. Top with tomato slices; sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese and onions.

Bake, uncovered, 10 minutes. Cut in squares; serve with lettuce.

ON THAT NOTE

Lest we forget. (how could we ever)

Lady Gaga sings ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ at Joe Biden’s inauguration

Jennifer Lopez performs at Joe Biden’s inauguration

BONUS TRACK

Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman delivers a poem at Joe Biden’s inauguration

=CTH=

Chef Tom is currently transitioning from Personal Chef to Private Chef. He also teaches cooking classes, caters small parties and leads overseas culinary tours. His specialty for the last twelve years has been cooking for people with food allergies and sensitivities. His motto is “Food should give you pleasure, not pressure.”

Check him out at www.hippkitchen.com

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