I used to detest breakfast. Weekdays. Weekends. Early mornings or late. No matter what was said about breakfast, and I heard it all. It’s the most important meal of the day. If you skip one meal, don’t let it be breakfast. On and on it went. I never listened. For whatever reason I just never liked having anything on my stomach first thing in the morning. Hot or cold. Small or large. So I didn’t. Almost never. The first sign of my rebellion or foray into adulthood and making my own decisions.
A funny thing happened along the way. I started to pick and choose. If my parents were heading out to some hot spot on a Sunday morning for brunch I’d hop along as well. Just not at first. But after hearing all about what I missed, I couldn’t take it anymore. Slowly the wall I had put up started coming down. I started appreciating starting the day with a morning paper and eggs benny. Something so delicious and decadent that I could have been convinced it wasn’t breakfast at all.
That’s how it started. One meal. One weekend. One long time ago.
Now my weekdays start with some kind of light snack to fuel me through the mornings and the dreaded reality of the cold early mornings and work part of my life. And weekends I lose myself in the absence of pressure and time constraints and indulge. It doesn’t matter what it is more often than not. Bacon and eggs. Eggs Benny. Croque-monsieur. Anything that I have on hand that inspires me. And helps fuel that inspiration.
Those old stolen mornings in bed sleeping away my youthful late night memories have been replaced. For good. I cherish that time in bed first thing in the morning but I cherish my morning ritual more. The first cup of coffee. The dog running around outside. Morning reading material. The smile my wife gives me when she wakes up. No where else to be. And breakfast. For two.
This past weekend was one of the new normal around here with our photography business slowing down for the season. I knew we had most of the day on Sunday to do as we wish before we had to head off to the first of many holiday dinners. This one happened to be for one of my sides of the family. I also knew I had some leftover sweet potato hash that I desperately wanted to incorporate into my lazy morning. That’s just what I did.
There is something unique about the look and feel of a Sunday morning. The tension that comes with weekday mornings is released. When we first wake up we can see it out our back window. And feel in the air outside. The mood is lighter. The bed is warmer. I long for days like this. With the woman I married. And these kinds of mornings.
I gingerly rolled out of bed and whispered to my wife that I was off to start the coffee and then grabbed the dog and went downstairs. I had pre-programmed the coffee maker the night before knowing I’d be waking up somewhere and sometime between my usual weekday and weekend hours. I let the dog run outside and poured my first cup as I opened the fridge to grab yesterday’s breakfast and turn it into another meal. Another breakfast. Just before I made it I went upstairs and woke up my wife with a coffee and saw that beautiful smile.
It’s simple. Perfect. And everything I didn’t know breakfast could be when I was young, foolish, naive. This smashed up breakfast had some of my favourite ingredients with sweet potatoes, crispy pancetta and sage tucked away inside so I didn’t need to do much else. I topped it with a bit of peppery watercress and a silky smooth poached egg. And I ate it with my wife beside me. Pretty much the perfect way for me to start any day.
I used to detest breakfast. Now it’s arguably my favourite meal of the day. For all the right reasons. I can make almost anything and love it and, if I have some leftovers, I can make something like this. One of my favourite Sunday starts. A real sign that I grew up along the way and embraced everything a weekend morning holds. If only I knew then what I know now.
From my kitchen to yours,
Bubble & Squeak
- 2 tbsp. sage, chopped
- 200 grams sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
- 3 tbsp. pancetta, chopped
- 1 tbsp. melted butter
- pinch sea salt & pepper
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 tbsp. oil
- 2 eggs, poached
- small handful watercress
- Mix the first four ingredients together and season well. Form into four small flat cakes or two larger cakes.
- Melt a tablespoon of butter and oil in a saute pan over medium high heat and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.
- Meanwhile, bring a shallow saucepan filled with water to a simmer and add in a splash of vinegar. Crack the eggs into a small cup and slowly transfer to the water. Turn down the heat and cook for about five minutes, until cooked. Drain.
- Place one or two cakes on a plate and top with fresh watercress and a poached egg. Serves 2.