Ask Peter: What's for breakfast?
What do you like to eat for breakfast? I am collecting simple ideas that go beyond toast and cereal to serve to my B&B guests. Toni
I love breakfast. it is often my favourite meal, alongside a leisurely lunch. Dinner is good, but signals the day is coming to an end, whereas breakfast is just the beginning. We have been serving breakfasts and weekend brunches at The Providores in London for over 16 years, and feel we introduced the concept of a working breakfast with great coffee and juices, away from the stuffy over-priced hotels and greasy spoons that was all there was previously. We celebrated our 16th birthday on August 15. I hate to think how many eggs we have poached, scrambled or fried in those years — probably many more than 350,000. That’s a lot of effort on behalf of the chickens I must say.
But not everyone wants an eggy breakfast. On weekend brunches especially, we get people coming to eat with us at 1pm and they’ve already had eggs on toast. Or we get people who simply just don’t want an egg, no matter how perfectly poached it is with runny yolk and bright white exterior. In summer our seasonal fruit salad is always popular and in winter we poach dried figs with vanilla and star anise and add these to the mix. Dried apricots, poached in a light syrup with citrus juice and zest, is also great.
We’ll bake 10cm lengths of rhubarb with grated ginger and plenty of honey or sugar, and a little apple juice and serve this warm with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and a sprinkling of toasted oats over the top.
Feijoas have finished, of course, but a large spoonful of poached feijoa and chilli compote served with grilled chorizo or another spicy sausage and crispy fried garlic is delicious.
Likewise try serving crispy roast kumara or pumpkin with chorizo or bacon and a dollop of creme fraiche. It’s even better with a poached egg and some freshly grated manchego or parmesan cheese.
In summer, when capsicums, tomatoes and eggplant are plentiful, you can make shakshuka. This is rather like a spicy ratatouille: you create little dips in the mixture in a shallow dish then crack in an egg and bake it in the oven.
In winter you can do the same with a mushroom stew or a pumpkin, parsnip and silverbeet stew. If you don’t like eggs, just serve the stew piping hot on buttered toast with grated cheese on top.
I’m also a fan of spicy breakfasts. One of my all-time favourites is roti canai (pronounced cha-nigh) which I first encountered in Penang, Malaysia, in 1986. I became slightly obsessed with it, a watery spicy lentil curry served with the most delicious roti. This bread is made by flinging a ball of dough in the air and swirling it between the cook’s two hands (rather like a pizza maker from a 70’s cartoon), then folding the thin dough on itself into a small disc, layering the bread up like layers of puff pastry, before cooking it on an oiled griddle. You sit on the pavement or on little crates and dip the flaky hot roti into the dhal (lentil curry) and feel that life couldn’t get any better.
In Bali they make another favourite of mine, black rice pudding, which is simply glutinous black rice cooked in water then finished with coconut cream and often banana slices, sweetened with palm sugar.
You could make a spinach and parmesan risotto and top with smoked kahawai, a fried egg and chilli sauce. Leftover risotto of pretty much any flavour can be rolled into fritter shapes then coated in flour, beaten egg and panko crumbs before being pan-fried until crispy and served with guacamole, tomato chutney and salad greens.
To be honest, the list is endless — it’ll be the time you have and the appetite of your guests that will ultimately decide what you create!
In our Ask Peter series, executive chef Peter Gordon answers your curly culinary questions. If you're stumped over something food-related, send your question to email@example.com and keep checking in for answers. You can read more on Peter on his website, have a read of his Ask Peter articles or check out his recipes on our site.