Breakfast

Fruit salad with plums and berries, including kiwi berry (actinidia arguta)

The full spread. Frittata, scones, fruit salad, orange juice, asparagus...

Frittata closeup. Check out the beautiful crust that develops.

For the first meeting of my Wharton learning team, I decided to make dinner. So I thought that, for the last meeting, it might be fitting to make breakfast. Plus breakfast would give me the chance to make a frittata; an excuse to make a new dish is often an important motivator for me. And I thought it would be a nice thing to do!

I got up early – real early; sunrise in our apartment is beautiful since we have a northern exposure. I made a fruit salad with a lemon/yogurt/honey sauce, I experimented with substituting strawberries for onions in this scone recipe (result fine), roasted some asparagus, and squeezed some orange juice. Oh, and I made this basil-potato frittata, which you can see in closeup on the left.

Fruit salad is kind of cheating, isn’t it? (So is fresh-squeezed orange juice, but it’s a crowd-pleaser). Regardless, people seemed to enjoy it. Since the Trader Joe’s that I live above doesn’t have great produce, I had to make some last-minute decisions about what went in, but the banana/plum/ berry combination seemed to work well.

I also had a chance to include actinidia arguta, also known as the hardy kiwi or kiwi berry. This was a fairly expensive addition, but I always like to try interesting products when I see them. The kiwi berry is basically a miniature kiwi, with a grape-like skin that you don’t need to peel off. Not really worth the extra money, but an interesting eating experience. I should mention, however, that I usually eat kiwis with the skin on, so perhaps I find regular kiwis (actinidia deliciosa) easier to handle than others do.

The frittata came out really well, also, and made great leftovers. I had never eaten one before this – for those who don’t know, a frittata is sort of like a quiche or giant omelette. However, unlike a quiche, there is no pastry shell, and unlike an omelette, the ingredients are cooked within the egg mixture instead of on top. This recipe includes a little baking powder as well, so you get some extra fluffiness, and since it’s baked for about an hour, a delicious and beautiful brown crust develops around the edges.

Not all was successful. I invested a huge amount of time in making this hash browns recipe – peeling 1.5 lbs of potatoes takes forever – and it was a total failure. I have never made hash browns before, so perhaps I did something wrong in making the recipe. Did excluding the lardons make that much of a difference? Did I just not wring the shredded potatoes out enough? Whatever the error, I was left with a disc of shredded potatoes, burned on the outside and soggy and uncooked on the inside, that stuck fast to the pan.

Chai and breakfast

Naan dough.

Completed naan.

Breakfast.

Chai ingredients.

Recently I decided to make an English breakfast. But I had three things on my “to cook” list that I figured I could knock out at the same time – naan, chai tea, and tomato chutney. So I decided to serve these together with mushrooms, asparagus, scrambled eggs, and orange juice.

The naan was incredibly easy to make, using this recipe. The dough is yogurt, flour and a little bit of salt and baking powder – that’s it! The bread magically puffs up in the oven. While the naan fresh out of the oven was quite good, I unfortunately had overworked the dough severely, resulting in an abundance of gluten.  As a result, it became inedibly tough and chewy after a day or so in the fridge. Ah well. It was pretty good for a first try.

For the chutney, I used this recipe. I don’t understand why most chutney recipes I’ve seen call for the addition of raisins, but I have started leaving them out and I think that’s the right thing – their flavor and texture are extremely disruptive after they’ve been cooked for a while. The recipe does not suggest seeding the tomatoes, which I think I will do next time, because otherwise you basically get a tomato juice which you need to boil down in order for it to take on the right consistency.

The chai tea was delicious. The combination of spices is complex and comforting. See diagram to the left. (Note to fastidious readers: I realize that “chai” means “tea”).