Archive for the ‘ Brunch ’ Category


I love chilaquiles.  In fact, I crave them so often that I drag myself out of bed early on a Saturday morning at least once a month to feast on one of my favorite versions from Primavera at the San Francisco Ferry Terminal Farmers Market.  That’s what you have to do if you’re going to try to beat the hordes of people that line up for this delicious Mexican breakfast dish every weekend.

We’ve all had huevos rancheros at one crappy diner or another at some point in our lives, but for those that have never tried authentic chilaquiles, it’s understandable how the concept could sound a bit bizarre.  Admittedly, the idea of crispy tortilla chips drowned in a sea of flavorful red chile sauce seems a bit unorthodox.  I mean who likes soggy nachos anyways? But for those that simply can’t wrap their head around the idea of a somewhat soggy nacho, I’d encourage you to think outside of Latin American cuisine to another ethnic group that also marries sauce and carbohydrates so beautifully — the Italians.

I an effort to convey the craveable aspects of this dish, I’d encourage you think of chilaquiles as you would the perfect bowl of pasta.  Here, the thick-cut (preferably homemade) tortilla chips play the role of al dente pasta that has a bit of soft crunch and resiliency left to it, but has also absorbed some of the delicious sauce that surrounds it.  Topped with spicy chorizo, tangy Mexican crema, crumbled cotija cheese and ripe avocado and you have a breakfast dish that will set you up for a whole days worth of activities…or an early afternoon nap.

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This past Sunday, I set out to put together the mother of all Mother’s Day brunches for the woman who is largely responsible for my undying passion for food.  In an effort to pull out all the stops for this year’s celebration, I decided to cure my own gravlax for an over-the-top meal that would show my appreciation for all that she has done for me. Convinced my offering would exhibit a bit of advanced culinary know-how and finesse, I was certain that such a meal would surely outdo any boring old Benedict.

Having never cured salmon before, I was completely caught off guard by how simple and hands-off the whole curing process was going to be.  Here I was planning an elaborate, intricate and involved meal, and I was nearly done with all of the “advanced” prep work three days before the big event.  Flash forward to Sunday and a few careful, paper-thin slices later and we were sitting down to an elegant brunch that went down as “one of the best in years.”  Placed atop a toasted bagel with rich cream cheese, crisp red onions, juicy tomato and briny capers, the lox stood out as a true hero with its subtle essence of dill and lemon on a delicate backdrop of sweet, salty salmon.   There might not have been pillowy poached eggs and velvety hollandaise this time around, but served alongside fresh seasonal fruit, soft scrambled eggs and refreshing mimosas, it was as elegant a meal as any.

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Pecan Honey Sticky Buns 1

To me, there’s no item in the pastry case sexier than the sticky bun.  Cloaked in a caramel and studded with candied pecans, the cinnamon bun seems downright dowdy when compared with these breakfast beauties.  Like I said in my post for Ham and Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches, I’m not big on sweet starts to my morning.  But there is something I find irresistible about the chewy-crisp texture and sweet cinnamon aroma of a good sticky bun.  And man are these things sweet!

The perfect treat for a large breakfast gathering, few can turn down such a stunning and decadent offering.  With Christmas just around the corner, I can’t imagine a more ideal match than a cup of coffee and one of these warm-from-the-oven buns while opening up presents by the tree.

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Ham and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

With a surplus of homemade English muffins lying around just waiting to go stale, I started to wonder if there was another use for them that I’d yet to consider.  Enter the breakfast sandwich.  Like spicy fried chicken sandwiches, I ate my fair-share of these hand-held wonders growing up.  Today, sadly, I don’t make it down to the old Micky-D’s as often as I once did.  Not as keen on eating battery-farmed eggs and sub-par pork products, I’ve been at a loss in my search for a breakfast sandwich made with good, quality ingredients.  Believe me, I’ve checked.  So, armed with a fresh package of organic American cheese slices, a carton of pasture-raised, organic eggs and some preservative-free Canadian bacon, I set out to recreate a more wholesome version of the iconic breakfast sandwich of my youth.

I’m not much of a sweets guy when it comes to breakfast.  In fact, I’ll pass on the french toast, Belgium waffles and pancakes just about any day of the week.  Instead, this is what I crave.  A warm, lightly toasted English muffin slathered with butter, topped with gooey cheese, salty meat and a perfectly seasoned egg.  It might not be brain-food, but with one of these in your belly, I guarantee you’ll be well-equipped to deal with any of the day’s challenges.  So, if you’re like me and love a great breakfast sandwich but are less than inclined to patronize the local fast-food mega-chain, do what I did and make one for yourself.  I think it goes without saying that they were OUTSTANDING.  I’d like to think of them as another perfect example of a fast-food favorite cooked with slow food sensibilities.

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Homemade English Muffins

Nooks and crannies.  These three words became my mantra as I set out to bake one of my all-time favorite breakfast staples from scratch.  Afterall, it’s an English muffin’s series of nooks and crannies that really sets it apart from the other breads in the breakfast lineup.  If I was going to replicate anything close to my childhood favorite Thomas’, I was going to have to ensure the development of enough peaks and valleys to adequately support my preferred topping of butter and a little of  my mom’s homemade strawberry jam.

You might be wondering why anyone would set out to make their own English muffins at home when there are perfectly fine specimens available at the supermarket.  To be completely honest, I don’t have a very good answer to that question.  You see, my sister just gave me a copy of the new Momofuku cookbook for my birthday, and while all the recipes looks fantastic, it was the recipe and photo for their signature English muffins that first popped out at me.  As I’ve pointed out in previous posts, I by no means consider myself an expert baker, but it has been in the production of this blog that I’ve developed a renewed sense of adventure in the kitchen.  These days I’m eager to go outside of my comfort zone and share my experiences in the cooking of recipes that I might have shied away from in the past.

It took a couple of days, but the oftentimes finicky process was well worth the effort in the end.  After clumsily navigating the pitfalls involved in working with an extremely delicate dough and the laborious task of religiously flipping the puffy, implant-like balloons of dough as they slowly baked on the cast iron griddle, I found that I was left with a new appreciation for the very makeup of these humble muffins.

So, are they worth making at home?  I’d say yes, if only for the personal satisfaction of watching a pad of butter slowly melt and ooze into all those nooks and crannies of your own creation.

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