A new year is an invitation to do things differently. In that spirit, I am trying some new breakfast foods instead of the ones I’ve been used to. If they don’t work for me, I can go back to what I was doing before.
My routine was to have a slice of toast, usually with jelly, plus a few nuts or a piece of cheese and some fruit for breakfast.
However, I was intrigued by a family member’s description of a breakfast salad that she enjoys from time to time. She tops a serving of mixed salad greens, the ones labelled field greens, with a medium soft cooked egg and drizzles a mixture of equal parts butter-flavoured olive oil and blackberry ginger balsamic vinegar. I tried it, loved it and was inspired to seek out other unconventional breakfasts.
In researching other breakfast options, I found plenty of recipes for muffins, omelettes, French toast, rolled oat porridge, and pancakes — variations of familiar North American/Western European style breakfast foods. I also found that many cultures do breakfast differently.
For example, it seems that in some Asian cultures, savoury dishes that I would expect to see at lunch or dinner are served for breakfast. For example, this Chicken Noodle Soup was inspired by the hot noodle soups that are served for breakfast in Korea.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Adapted from Pasternak, Harley, with Laura Moser: “The 5-Factor World Diet.” Penguin Group, Toronto, 2010.
85 g (3 ounces) cellophane or soba noodles
750 mL (3 cups) reduced-sodium chicken broth
15 mL (1 tbsp) reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 mL (1/2 tsp) Chinese five-spice powder
175 mL (3/4 cup) shredded carrots
375 mL (1 1/2 cups) shredded cooked chicken breast
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Cook the noodles according to the package directions; drain.
Place a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the broth, soy sauce, and five-spice powder; stir to combine. Add the carrots; cook for 3 minutes. Add the cooked noodles and chicken; cook until warmed through.
Serve in deep bowls, garnished with the scallions.
Makes 2 servings.
Having talked with several North Americans who have travelled extensively, I had heard of the rice-based porridge that is widely served in some Asian countries, either for breakfast or as a snack. Opinions vary: some love it, and others find it just too different from their idea of breakfast food.
Called congee, or jook, the porridge has a soup-like consistency, and is made by cooking rice in stock or water until the grains become very soft and start to break up. It is sometimes flavoured with the addition of fish, tiny salted shrimp or chicken, and is often served with an array of toppings such as chopped cilantro leaves or green onions, sliced pickled ginger, roasted peanuts, pork meatballs, or toasted sesame seeds.
Far from being the quick meal that cold cereal is, congee is usually simmered for 1 ¾ - 2 hours. This westernized version is cooked overnight in a slow cooker.
Adapted from Hensperger, Beth and Julie Kaufmann: Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook, The Harvard Common Press, Boston, 2005.
175 mL (3/4 cup) Calrose rice (medium grain) or a premium Japanese-style
rice such as Nishiki or Tamaki Gold
2 L (8 cups) water or vegetable broth
5 mL (1 tsp) salt
Hot pepper sauce such as Tabasco
Wash the rice in a colander until the water runs clear. Soak in water to cover about 30 minutes.
Drain rice. Place the rice, water or broth and salt in a medium round slow cooker. Stir well, cover and cook on High 30 minutes-1 hour to bring to a boil.
Turn cooker to Low and cook for 7-8 hours, or overnight.
Stir the congee well. If the rice is not thick and creamy, turn the cooker back to High, stir well because the liquid and rice may have separated, cover, and cook for another 30 minutes.
The soup will become thick and white. Serve with soy sauce and hot sauce.
Makes 4 servings.
Another savoury dish that makes a satisfying breakfast on a winter morning is rösti, served on its own or with breakfast sausage. Here’s the recipe I followed. After following the recipe guidelines once, you will be able to make it without referring to a recipe again.
I used undercooked boiled potatoes, so that it would be easier to grate without crumbling them.
From Ehman, Amy Jo: Prairie Feast: a writer’s journey home for dinner, Coteau Books, Regina, 2010.
A few leftover boiled potatoes
A couple of green onions, chopped
Salt and pepper
Canola or olive oil
A small bit of grated cheese
Peel and grate the potatoes. Mix them with the green onions and season with salt and pepper.
Pour a thin sheen of oil into a heavy frying pan and bring to medium-high heat. Scoop the potatoes into the pan, pressing them into a flat circle.
Fry until the bottom is brown and crisp, then flip the potatoes over and fry the other side. (Don’t expect to flip the whole thing at once like a pancake; it will fall apart. Just press it back into place.)
When the rösti is nice and brown on both sides, sprinkle the top with grated cheese.
Cover and turn off the heat. Serve when the cheese is melted.
Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writing her at RR#2, North Wiltshire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at email@example.com.