This past fall a series of house guests prompted me to re-think what I consume at the start of each and every day. While I may love to greet the morn with a slice of double fiber wheat toast with organic peanut butter and Le Pain Quotidien four-berry preserves slathered over top, I suspected that my friends would expect a little more than a hunk of toast dressed up with PB and J. No doubt about it, I’d have to come up with something more interesting and filling to offer my traveling guests.
One of the fastest yet prettiest ways to kick off the day was with a yogurt-fruit-granola parfait. For this I just dug out some margarita glasses and filled the bottoms with homemade granola. I then covered the granola with a few spoonfuls of organic, Greek yogurt followed by fresh berries and more granola. I topped the parfait off with a handful of berries and then — Voila! — breakfast was ready.
When pressed for time, I spread delicate, coral slices of smoked salmon on a white platter, sprinkled feathery, fresh dill and piquant capers around the edges and presented the dish alongside a slab of cream cheese and wedges of savory pumpernickel bread. The entree looked elegant and tasted delicious. Yet, it took only a few minutes to prepare.
On mornings when I had time to spare, I whipped up a Mediterranean frittata. An Italian version of an omelet, the frittata has its extra ingredients – cheese, tomatoes, etc. – mixed and cooked with the eggs rather than folded inside them as its French cousin does. Finished under a broiler, the frittata, unlike an omelet, keeps its round shape.
Although whisking together eggs, herbs, and cheese at the crack of dawn might seem too onerous to bear, the frittata proved to be yet another easy offering. Since I didn’t have to fiddle with a crust, as I would with a quiche, I could pour the egg mixture into a heated pan and let the stovetop do its work. Likewise, I didn’t have to worry about hovering over the stove, evenly folding over eggs or contending with too much filling slopping out over the sides. This self-contained dish cooked away while I devoted my attention to brewing a much-needed pot of coffee.
While frittatas, smoked salmon platters and yogurt-granola parfaits all had their charms, some mornings the best and simplest way to ease into the day was with breakfast at a local diner. All the comforts of home cooking but without any of the dishes to clean at the end of the meal. And this, ultimately, was my visiting friends’ favorite way to begin their stays.
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
5 egg beaters
1/3 cup tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon dried basil flakes
dash of freshly ground black pepper
Place the oil in an oven-proof, 3-quart saute or other smallish pan and heat it on medium-high. Turn the oven broiler on medium.
As the oil and broiler are heating, whisk together the eggs, egg beaters, tomatoes, cheese, basil flakes and ground pepper. Pour the mixture into the heated pan, reduce the stovetop’s heat to medium and allow the frittata to cook until the bottom is golden and the top begins to firm up.
Remove the frittata from the stovetop and place it beneath the preheated broiler. Watching it closely, allow the frittata to finish cooking and turn a golden brown on top. Depending on the size of your pan and how long it cooked on the stovetop, this will take anywhere from 1 to 4 minutes. Cut the frittata into 4 wedges and serve immediately with a side of fresh fruit or mixed greens salad.