Bacalhau à Brás is a Portuguese dish using salted cod (bacalhau), eggs, and potatoes. The Portuguese were one of the first European cultures to fish for cod, making huge harvests and preserving the fish off the coast of Newfoundland shortly after Columbus discovered the New World. Since then, this salted cod has been an integral part of Portuguese culture, and it’s often said that you can cook a new recipe using bacalhau every day of the year (some say there are over 1,000 recipes that include this fish). Advances in fishing technology in the mid 20th century had collapsed the Northwest Atlantic cod market by the 1990s – cod takes a long time to mature, and overfishing had run rampant. Today, bacalhau is most often made using cod harvested from Arctic waters under more strict quotas.
Bacalhau is made by salting and drying the fish in the sun; while it was originally a method of preservation (salted cod keeps a long time even without refrigeration), its unique, strong flavor is unmistakable and delicious, and its popularity endures today. The only downside to eating bacalhau is that it requires a bit of foresight, since it needs to be soaked overnight to reconstitute the fish.
Bacalhau à Brás is one of the most famous Portuguese dishes, and is considered the ultimate comfort meal in Portugal. The dish uses many of the quintessential ingredients found in Portuguese cooking – bacalhau, eggs, potatoes, and black olives.
A while back I stumbled upon this recipe from Tina at Oh Snap! Let’s Eat! and knew that I had to try it for myself. Pancakes made with just eggs and a banana? Too good to be true. Turns out they’re very tasty and an interesting way to enjoy some of my favorite breakfast staples.
Shirred eggs, more commonly known as baked eggs, are eggs that are baked in a flat-bottom dish. Although they are traditionally prepared with minimal ingredients, my variation is a little different in that I like to use cupcake pans and layer a host of ingredients into a cup lined with ham or other form of cured meat. I like the idea of building your whole breakfast at once.
These baked eggs are a great way to treat guests that come over for brunch, or everybody’s favorite meal, “breakfast for dinner.”
NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.
While I usually eat a combination of meat (homemade jerky, smoked salmon, sardines, or uncured deli meat) and fruit (berries, banana) for breakfast during the workweek, on weekends I tend to gravitate towards your typical eggs/bacon breakfasts. Unfortunately, this guy gets tired of eggs fairly quickly, even after trying every just about every egg preparation under the sun. Then last week a friend turned me onto the dish you see above, huevos haminados.
This egg dish is popular in Jewish communities in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, and served at Passover Seders (a ritual feast that marks the beginning of Passover). The dish’s Latin-based name might throw you off, but that’s a reflection of its origin in Medieval Spain. There are several variations online, which include boiling the eggs in onion skins and coffee, or simmering in a crock pot for seven hours. I decided to go with an even easier approach – you just throw the eggs in an oven for five hours.
While the egg shells stay mostly white, the egg whites become a rich brown color and the eggs develop a nutty, roasted taste. There’s even a hint of meatiness in there that’s hard to describe. Either way, it’s a dead-simple dish that is worth a try!
Last week I participated in the first-ever Highbrow Cook Off, hosted by Highbrow Paleo (an online collection of citizen scientists, researchers, nutritionists, exercise physiologists, book readers, comedians, modern homesteaders, political analysts, hunters and huntresses, foragers, eaters of guts – eyeballs – and insects, devoted followers of OakOy and culinary explorers).
The rules were simple:
- only use the ingredients outlined
- use of pre-approved pantry items is unlimited
- only use minimal processing, and minimal kitchen equipment, as outlined
- keep track of how much you spend on the ingredients
- will not use more than 3 kitchen gadgets/utensils, and nothing powered except the oven or stove top
For this first iteration, the incorporated ingredients were kale, mushrooms, onions, eggs, and a tuber. After a little deliberation, I settled on the idea of a baked sweet potato, with the veggies/eggs as toppings. Turned out beautifully! I was so happy with the results I thought that I should share it here as well. Total cost of the meal was about $2.
Have you been to Alex Boake’s blog yet? It’s pretty awesome. She complements each of her unique recipes with beautiful illustrations in place of photos, and each illustration carries a great sense of motion and impeccable placement. After a bit of gushing about her work, she offered to do a recipe swap – wherein she makes one of my dishes and draws it, and I make one of her dishes and take pictures of it. I thought it was a great idea.
I decided to try and tackle her Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict recipe (also known as Eggs Atlantic, Eggs Hemingway, and Eggs Royale). I thought it was a fun gourmet dish to try for a weekend brunch, and I liked the idea of using a portabella mushroom cap to replace the standard english muffin typically found in this dish. The red bell pepper also adds a hint of sweetness not normally found in the dish, which was great. I only made one adjustment to her original recipe, and that was to add a little white vinegar to the water I used to poach my eggs – a trick I learned while working at a breakfast restaurant many years ago – the acidity helps to make sure the eggs don’t break apart during the poaching process.
Although breakfast is my least favorite meal to eat, I definitely like to prepare it. For a couple years I worked at a restaurant that served breakfast, and learned a couple cool dishes. The one you see above we called a “hobo” , which may not be the most politically correct term out there for it. Luckily, the chances of offending a homeless person is pretty low, since I assume that most homeless people a) don’t have access to the internet and b) don’t visit this site when they do get online.
A hobo is probably called that because it’s made by throwing a bunch of ingredients into a single pan. As far as I know, it always contains eggs, cheese, and potatoes, and some sort of meat. I like making this dish because it’s an easy way to get rid of leftover meat, as well as ingesting a good amount of healthy coconut oil.
I don’t write about breakfast much but I thought I should do a real quick post on my typical starting meal.
On weekdays, I generally focus on three items that I take to work: meat, cheese, and fruit. Breakfast is the only time of day that I actively eat fruit, one or two pieces a day. I tend to eat applesauce, berries, plum, or kiwi. The meat is generally four slices of uncured lunchmeat (usually from Applegate Farms), beef jerky, smoked or canned salmon, or a can of sardines. Cheese is usually Kerrygold grass-fed Dubliner or Blarney cheese, or Trader Joe’s grass-fed cheddar.
Weekends is usually the same combination but only one piece of fruit max, with eggs and bacon added. Often I skip the cheese as well. I’m not a big fan of mixing eggs with other ingredients, so I don’t usually make omelets or those crazy Paleo concoctions you’ve probably seen floating around the internet. Sometimes we’ll make something with potatoes, and very rarely we take a stab at gluten-free pancakes (usually to disastrous result). Fried rice for breakfast is pretty tasty, too, and nothing beats spam musubi every once in a while.
That’s basically it. What do you eat for breakfast?
This is a recipe borrowed from my father-in-law, who often uses breakfast foods as the base of his fried rice. I thought I would take it a step further and make this a breakfast-centric dish, while also retaining the bacon grease to fry the rice.
I should mention that although I use the word “wok” in this recipe, we actually use a Calphalon 12″ Chicken Fryer which has a larger bottom and can fry more food at once.