Savory to Sweet: My Travels with Breakfast

World on breakfast

In my casual observation, there are two kinds of breakfasts: sweet and savory. Sometimes
I crave one, sometimes the other. Certain culinary traditions do one or the other better—the French with their strong, highly sweetened coffee served with buttery croissants and a generous pot of strawberry jam fall into the sweet category. In Japan, expect fish and pickled vegetables for breakfast. In New York City, you’ll find the best bagels and lox, while no trip to New Orleans is complete without a plate of fresh beignets dusted with powdered sugar.

In an earlier blog, I described shakshuka, a spicy tomato, onion and pepper stew topped with poached eggs popular in Israel and the Mideast. It’s having a moment on American breakfast and brunch menus. Try it and you’ll see why.

Moroccan semolina bread

Moroccan Semolina Bread

This recipe can be made sweet or savory. My recipe is the slightly sweeter version. Semolina is the same flour that is used to make pasta and cous-cous, so the bread is a little chewy.

Makes 4 to 6 Servings

Ingredients

1 egg
5 oz. neutral oil, such as avocado oil
½ cup super fine sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 lb. 2oz. medium semolina flour (plus extra for dusting)
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cardamom
2 Tbs. melted butter
1 Tbs. ground almonds
2 Tbs. honey
2 Tbs. argan oil

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch round baking pan or cast-iron skillet with oil and dust with semolina.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, oil and sugar. Whisk in the milk and baking powder. Beat in the semolina, cardamom and salt and set aside for 15-20 minutes to let the batter thicken.

3. Transfer batter into the baking pan (or skillet) and bake for 20 minutes until just golden brown. Brush the warm bread with the melted butter and let it cool slightly in the pan.

4. Mix together the ground almonds, honey and argan oil. Drizzle over the bread, cut into wedges and serve.

Huevos Rancheros Tostadas, Mexican breakfast consisting of toasted tortilla, chopped tomato and onion, jalapeno and beans, topped with fried egg, served with avocado slices and sour cream

Mexican Breakfast Tostadas

You’ve probably had (or heard of) huevos rancheros, a Tex-Mex breakfast specialty that is delicious, but quite heavy. Tostadas are lighter and you can improvise the ingredients. The combination of flavors and textures is terrific and there’s great nutrition in this dish—high quality protein from the eggs, fiber and more protein from the black beans, good healthy fats from the avocado and vitamins from the spinach and cilantro.

Makes 4 small tostadas

Ingredients

4 5 ½-inch corn tortillas
1 16 oz. can vegetarian black refried beans
4 large eggs
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 avocado, sliced
1 cup baby spinach, divided
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup chunky salsa or pico de gallo
½ cup cotija cheese

Directions

1. Spread each tortilla with the refried black beans, about 1 ½ Tbs. each.

2. Heat a griddle or large skillet on medium heat; place the tortillas on the griddle to warm.

3. Meanwhile, in another large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat; fry the eggs sunny side-up till the yolks just start to get firm, but still a little runny.

4. On a large platter, place the warmed tortillas with refried bean topping; place ¼ of the spinach on each tostada, place a fried egg on each, then the sliced avocado, salsa (or pico de gallo) and top with the cilantro leaves and sprinkle the cotija cheese.

5. Serve immediately.

Congee or rice porridge minced pork and egg served with cup of hot chocolate. Breakfast meal

Chinese Congee or Rice Porridge

This simple breakfast food is very comforting — sort of a Chinese version of Cream of Wheat. The way it’s eaten in Asian countries is almost always savory with toppings like soft boiled eggs, shredded chicken, or pork, bok choy or peanuts. This is another breakfast item where you can unleash some creativity—drizzled with melted butter and soy sauce, topped with sautéed mushrooms or cooked with some cinnamon and raisins thrown in.

Makes about six 1-cup servings

Ingredients

3/4 cup long-grain rice
8 cups water (or chicken, vegetable, or beef stock)
1 tsp. mild vegetable oil (sunflower, avocado or canola)

Topping options: minced ginger, minced garlic, shredded chicken or pork, bok choy, soft-boiled egg, crushed peanuts, raisins, sautéed vegetables, scallions, etc.

Directions

1. Rinse the rice and soak the rice in water for 30 minutes; then drain the water.

2. Add 1 tsp. of oil to the rice and mix evenly (adding oil can help the rice cook quicker and makes the congee smoother and softer in texture).

3. In a large pot or Dutch oven, boil the water (or stock) and add the rice.

4. Turn the heat down to medium and stir the rice for 5 minutes.

5. Turn the heat to medium-low, put on the lid, and simmer for 45 minutes. Tip: put two wooden chopsticks across the rim of the pot and put the lid on top to allow the steam to escape. Season to taste and add your choice of toppings.

Raspberry Dutch baby pancake

Fluffy Pancakes from Germany

This stunning pancake is commonly known as a Dutch Baby. It turns out that it’s actually of German origin, and was known as Deutch, which was corrupted into ‘Dutch’. No matter. It’s delicious, easy to make and makes a stunning brunch presentation. It generally falls into the sweet breakfast category when it’s topped with berries, sautéed apples, powdered sugar or maple syrup, but if you’re in the mood for a savory start to the day sautéed mushrooms and onions would be tasty. If you’re going the savory route, try a teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary or thyme in the batter.

This basic pancake recipe is fairly low in carbohydrates and contains a healthy dose of high-protein eggs. The addition of fresh berries or vegetables makes this a substantial breakfast or brunch.

Ingredients

3 eggs
½ cup flour
½ cup milk
1 Tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. baking powder
4 Tbs. unsalted butter

Sweet variations: Syrup, preserves, fresh berries, confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon sugar

Savory variations: Fresh herbs (in the batter), sautéed mushrooms, sautéed spinach or other vegetables

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Combine eggs, flour, milk, sugar and in a blender or use a hand mixer. Mix until smooth.

3. Place butter in a heavy 10-inch skillet or baking dish and place in the oven. When the butter has just melted, add the batter to the pan. Return pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the pancake is puffed and golden. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake five minutes longer.

4. Remove pancake from oven, top with the sweet or savory toppings, cut into wedges and serve.

About FoodTrients

Combining her passion for food and a lifelong commitment to promoting a healthy lifestyle, Grace O has created FoodTrients®, a unique program for optimizing wellness. Grace O is a fusion chef with a mission: to cook up recipes for sustaining a long and joyful life that are built on a foundation of anti-aging science and her work in the health care industry. Mixing foods and unique flavors culled from a lifetime of travels from Asia to Europe and America, Grace O encourages young and old to celebrate a full life that embraces diversity. Lifestyle tips, age-defying recipes, and secrets of the healing properties of food are the centerpiece of FoodTrients™–all available through cookbooks, e-newsletters, and FoodTrients.com. foodtrients.com
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