What? Another breakfast recipe–and so soon, you say? Well, you can never have too much breakfast is what I say. I mean, breakfast really is the best repast of the trio of meals, isn’t it?
To begin with, if it’s breakfast time, you’re probably rested. Your belly is primed and ready to accept food (after all, you have been fasting all night). You’re most likely clean (après morning shower), your face is still fresh and mascara-free, and you can feel good about giving your body “the most important meal of the day.” And besides all that–breakfast tastes better than just about any meal I can think of.
I’ve always favored breakfast, but I didn’t really develop my true allegiance to the morning meal until my late teens, when my friend Sterlin and I took our first vacation on our own–across the continent, to California. (Were our parents insane, letting two seventeen year-olds travel alone? Naw–no worries there–we were total nerds). Our first stop was LA, where we stayed with my dad’s aunt.
Let’s call her “Great Aunt Yetta.” (Actually, that was her real name, but let’s still call her that anyway). Even back then, more than 30 years ago, Ms. Yetta was already ancient, in her late 80s. Poor Yetta’s husband had died almost twenty years earlier, and she lived alone in their small bungalow near Beverly Boulevard in the city. The place looked as if nothing had been disturbed (or, by the looks of it, cleaned too often) since her husband’s death.
About four-foot-ten in heels, Yetta greeted us at the door with a heavily teased, upswept ‘do reminiscent of Endora in Bewitched (except Yetta’s hair was entirely white), its outer layer shellacked with Aqua Net. Despite her advanced years, she still took pride in her appearance, and in our honor had donned the full regalia: fuscia and lime green flowered cotton housedress belted at the waist in shiny white vinyl; gold and black sandals revealing painted crimson toenails, the toes themselves bent various unnatural directions. On her wrists and neck she wore four or five strings of multi-colored plastic beads, along with sparkly, dangly earrings; her face was slathered with full theater-worthy makeup, the purple eyeshadow thick enough to glaze pottery, a coat of carmine lipstick (which only partially followed the actual outline of her lips) on her mouth.
Yetta spoke in a sqeaky, slightly sing-song voice that brought to mind a Polish Edith Bunker. Had we been a little less starry-eyed from having just landed in California that day, Sterlin and I might have found Yetta somewhat creepy (that came later); instead, we assumed she was merely “eccentric.”
On our first morning in the city, we bounded out of bed at 5:30 AM (with the time change, this was already 9:30 our time) and emerged ravenous from our room.
“Come, dahlink, eat some breakfast,” Yetta said, grabbing me by the forearm. She led us to the dilapitaded dining room, where the table was laid with a few dishes, cups and a teapot. There was nothing recognizable as food, but as we drew closer, we could make out what was on the table. Without a word, Sterlin and I exchanged meaningful glances and began silently to plot our exit.
“No, you must eat some breakfast!” Yetta insisted. “Here, have some cheese.” She presented me with an amorphous blob of something half covered in soft, green fuzz. “Oh, don’t worry, it is still good,you just do like this–” She grabbed a butter knife and began hacking at the outside of the blob.
“Oh, no, really, thank you so much, but we aren’t hungry,” we piped up in unison.
“Okay, so some juice then,” she declared, handing over a jar of Tang that had clearly first entered her cupboard in the Sixties. I unscrewed the rusty lid and cautiously peered inside. The contents was so old that it had fossilized, one solid mass of crystalline orange rock.
Before I could say anything, Yetta grabbed the jar. “Oh, is okay,” she insisted, brandishing the same trusty butter knife, “You just make like this and you pour it out!” With that, she began to chip away at the ossified Tang.
“No, really, we never eat breakfast in the morning–OR drink anything before lunchtime!” we cried, backing out the door, “But thank you so much, anyway! See you later!” Luckily, we found a Farmer’s Market down the street, rife with fresh fruit, pancakes, waffles, and–a thrilling discovery at the time–frozen yogurt! (It didn’t exist yet in Canada in those days).
For the entire two weeks in LA, each morning we went through the ritual of thanking Yetta for her generosity, insisting that we never ate breakfast, and then running over to the market to gorge on every breakfast food (and several non-breakfast foods) we could find.
And so, my fascination with breakfast was established.
On our last evening in LA, we were asked to dinner at Great Uncle Norman’s house (Yetta’s brother), though Yetta was not invited. After the meal as we sat chatting about our visit, we actually began to feel a little sympathy for Yetta.
“Gee, it’s too bad about her husband,” Sterlin mused.
“What do you mean?” asked Great Uncle Norman.
“Well, you know. . . that he died,” Sterlin said.
Great Uncle Norman’s mouth dropped open. I think he may have even lost a few crumbs of his coffee cake. “Died?” he repeated. “Are you kidding me?! He didn’t die! He left her–he couldn’t stand to be in the same house as her for one more minute! He’s remarried and lives in Burbank.”
Maybe she’d fed him the green-cheese-and-Tang breakfast, too; who knows? In any case, my own interactions with breakfast have remained consistently pleasant since that time.
The HH and I enjoyed these sausage patties and biscuits with gravy for brunch last weekend. After celebrating my birthday in a very low-key fashion (stupid flu! stupid virus! stupid germs!), the HH and I decided to aim for a special brunch instead. (I did receive a truly beautiful, totally indulgent and indescribably warm and cozy cashmere scarf as a gift from the HH, however).
With leftover cooked rice in the fridge, as well as some nearly-dried sage left over from the roasted plum and spinach salad I’d made the week before, I developed a vague idea of wanting “sausages” and so devised this recipe for super-simple and quick savory patties. I baked mine, but they can be pan-fried just as easily. The patties crisp up on the outside (even baked), retaining a moist yet firm interior. The coupling of walnuts and sage here mimics a meaty flavor exceedingly well, I think.
After reading Lindsay’s post a while back about Southern biscuits smothered in gravy, I knew I had to try this pairing out myself! Of course, my choices for both biscuits and gravy are currently limited, but I revised my coconut flour biscuit recipe as a savory round*, and topped it with a slightly altered version of Isa’s brilliant Smoked Almond Gravy (since I can’t eat smoked almonds–the ACD forbids pre-roasted nuts, as they tend to harbor molds–I simply roasted my own natural almonds, then added smoked paprika and some caramelized onions to the mix for an irresistible alternative).
This delicious, thick and chunky gravy, once ladled atop the savory biscuits, transported the dish from merely a “Jennifer Aniston good” to a stellar, “Meryl Streep good.” They’re that good!
If you’re looking for a fairly quick and easy brunch that will encourage seconds, here it is. Add a green salad, and you’ve got a perfect meal.
The inclusion of Tang is optional.
Easy “Sausage” Patties
These are great to use up leftover cooked rice. I used walnuts, but you could substitute other nuts if you prefer.
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, preferably organic
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1-1/4 cups ( g) lightly toasted walnuts
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) cooked brown rice (I used basmati)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) finely ground flax seeds
1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable broth or water
2 Tbsp (30 ml) chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh sage (about 10-12 leaves), or use 1 tsp (5 ml) dried sage
1/2 tsp (5 ml) smoked paprika
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.
Heat the oil in a frypan over medium heat and add the onions and garlic. Sauté until the onions are golden, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until well mixed and almost smooth. Add the cooked onion/garlic mixture and process until combined. The mixture should be moist and sticky, but firm enough to hold a shape.
Using a large ice cream scoop or your hands (be sure to remove the processor blade first!), scoop about 1/3 cup (80 ml) of the mixture at a time and place on the cookie sheet. Flatten the patties to about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick. If desired, spray or brush with a little olive oil (this will help the patties to brown up on the outside). Bake in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, until crisp and dry on the outside. Patties may also be pan-fried for 5-7 minutes per side. Makes 8 patties. May be frozen.
Smoky Almond Gravy
adapted from the Vegan Brunch recipe
Thick, smoky, chunky, and creamy–this is everything gravy should be!
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp (15 ml) coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1 cup natural raw almonds, baked at 350F (180C) until toasted, 10-15 minutes, and then cooled
1-1/4 cups (300 ml) water
2 Tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce, Tamari, or Bragg’s
3/4-1 tsp (3.5–5 ml) smoked paprika, as you like
2-4 Tbsp (30-60 ml) brown rice flour (depending on how thick you want it)
fine sea salt, to taste
In a large frypan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is soft and golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, process the almonds in a food processor until they are the texture of a fine meal (like a coarse cornmeal). Add the cooked onion and garlic and process to blend well. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth.
Transfer the mixture to a medium pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the gravy bubbles and thickens. Serve immediately. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Makes 4-6 servings.
* For savory Coconut Flour Biscuits: omit stevia and vanilla; use bean flour instead of buckwheat flour; and add 1 Tbsp (15 ml) each of dried tarragon, oregano, and basil.
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