2.02.2010

the best meal of the day



Oh breakfast, how I love thee. You of the softly-set yolks, seeping aureolin happiness across my plate. Of crispy edges and fluffy centers studded with wild blueberries. Of potatoes prepared every way imaginable, hopefully with a good measure of bacon or duck fat thrown in. And of course, the way harmony and clarity enter my day through your flagship infusion, coffee. Darling breakfast, I am hurried to sleep each night by the sweet anticipation of your impending arrival, and reluctant to leave the table each morn when you conclude. You are perfection.

So. Would you believe I am not a morning person? It's true. I hate getting up, especially if it's dark and/or cold, which it is a lot around here. Trying to wake up my eyes, force my seemingly-ten-pound eyelids into the upright position, clear away my dreams so that I can talk coherently; none of it is fun. It sounds decadent to say that I haven't used an alarm clock in years, but the very un-luxurious reality is that I haven't needed one, since my children are guaranteed to wake me long before I would ever have reason to be up. It would be so easy to enter each day in a cloud of grumpiness.

Instead, I have discovered my saving grace: breakfast. The initial push out of bed is still a bit of a struggle, but as soon as I'm lucid, I get excited about breakfast. Really, what other meal is so inclusive? Whether you're craving spicy sausage and uber-garlicky home fries, or a warm bowl of holiday-scented oatmeal, they're both welcome at the breakfast table. Hearty grains, cold pizza, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink hash, apple pie, roasted vegetables - it all seems acceptable for that first meal. It's a food-lover's dream. And it really sets the tone, don't you think? Beginning the day with great food starts you down a path of pleasantries, simple joys, and happy satisfaction. And if by chance you end up having one of those truly horrible days? Well, you can remember, you did have a good breakfast. There's that, at least.

And mornings, I have noticed, are my favorite time to cook. The kitchen is still clean, I am not in the middle of a million projects, the kids are (usually) happy to play together, and the rest of the world hasn't quite gotten up to speed yet. There's an openness about mornings, especially early ones, that makes cooking and baking and filling the house with deliciousness feel like the right thing to do. (I have a tendency to like doing things right. A habit that's only sometimes healthy. Ahem.)

Mornings around here have gotten even better, if possible, since I discovered my new favorite breakfast. Broccoli. And not just any ol' broccoli, but Nancy Silverton's long-cooked broccoli. This is broccoli like I've never had it before. This is broccoli with a depth and unctuousness that I never knew the vegetable possessed. This should be a craze sweeping the nation. Really, people, make this now. Feed it to everyone you love. And make a big batch so you can have the leftovers for lunch.



We've been eating this the way Ms. Silverton presents it in Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book - spooned over grilled bread (the crusty boule from the previous post), topped with creamy scrambled eggs and salty feta. It is divine. But I'm really hoping that soon we'll be able to tear ourselves away from that breakfast so that we can enjoy this broccoli later in the day on pizza. And pasta. And rice. And chicken. And fish. Because I truly want to eat this all day, with everything. I just haven't had enough leftovers yet! Also, if you want this for breakfast, you should make it the night before, while you're making dinner. That way, you're good to go in the morning. Just warm and serve.


Long-Cooked Broccoli
from Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book


1 to 2 heads broccoli (about 1 3/4 pounds), 1-inch end of stalk trimmed off
1/4 cup plus 2 tsp kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced (I've been known to increase this to 6)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 whole dried red chile

Cut the head of the broccoli off the stalk, leaving about 1 inch of the stalk still attached. Slice the outer layers of the fibrous peel off the main stalk, and cut it vertically into long, flat slices, about 1/4 inch thick and 1 inch wide. (If the broccoli seems extra tough and fibrous, slice the stalk on the extreme diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick pieces.) Slice all the way through the broccoli top, cutting it vertically into 1-inch-thick pieces, cutting through the florets when necessary. You should have several long pieces of broccoli.

In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water and 1/4 cup of the salt to a boil. Cook all of the cut-up broccoli in the boiling water for about 2 minutes, until it turns bright green. Drain the pieces and put them in a large bowl of ice water to chill. Drain them well, and pat dry with a kitchen towel.

In a large heavy-duty skillet, combine the pieces of broccoli, garlic, onion, olive oil, chile, and 2 tsp salt. Over very low heat, cook the broccoli, stirring occasionally, for about 1 1/2 hours, until it's very soft and tender. Season with salt, to taste.

2 comments:

  1. Yum! Next time I think ahead and have more than twenty minutes for dinner prep, I am absolutely making this!

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  2. It is so, so good! The kids have been eating it by the spoonful! I think it would be excellent over fresh pasta with pine nuts or walnuts. Tell Shane to get his pasta machine out!

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