If you know anything about my life, you know that I am routinely awake by 6 a.m. - or earlier. Not only awake, but usually doing something relatively productive, like getting my kids ready for their day, making breakfast, working out with my girlfriends in the park near our house, or squeezing in a few emails before heading into the office. By the time most of my friends and co-workers see me, I've been up for a couple of hours, and am fairly wide-eyed and cheery. But here's the thing: I am not a morning person by nature. Not remotely. And definitely not on weekends. On weekends, I tend to long for the days of my distant past when I could sleep in as late and as long as my little heart desired, and the most pressing item on my Saturday/Sunday agenda was choosing where to eat brunch.
When that longing hits me, there are a few things that help me get over my (self-pitying) crankiness: Waking up to hugs and kisses from my sweet little boy and 4-year-old twins. Grabbing a few precious extra minutes of sleep while my husband - who is totally a morning person - attempts to keep our wide-awake kids quiet. And a big, satisfying, restaurant-style breakfast.
Holiday weekends are great for breakfast at home. While I still enjoy a restaurant brunch on occasion, to be perfectly honest, it's just not as relaxing with three little ones in tow. The best places are always mobbed, and by the time we get out of the house, wait in the inevitable line for a table, order, and finally start to eat, the kids - and their mommy - are ravenous and testy. (Not a morning person, remember?) Plus, since my husband and I worked in the industry for many years, we suffer from restaurant snobbery. This doesn't mean we prefer expensive, high-brow places. On the contrary, some of our all-time favorite restaurants walk the line between "homey" and "dive." No, what it means is that we have little patience for places with poor service or mediocre food. Especially breakfast food. Hello? Restaurants of America, are you listening? If you can't serve a properly poached egg, fresh orange juice, and real maple syrup, perhaps you should just hold off opening until lunch.
When we eat breakfast at home, on the other hand, we can tackle the morning meal at our own pace. There's always a bowl of cereal or a Z Bar or a piece of bacon to hold the kids over if they get hungry before breakfast is ready. We can grab more hot coffee, tea or cold juice whenever we like, without waiting for a harried waitress to notice us. And, most importantly, we're pretty much guaranteed a great meal.
I'm a fan of breakfast foods that can be at least partially done ahead. Like my favorite biscuits. Or stratas, like this one from Smitten Kitchen - one of my favorite food blogs. Or these Crash Hot Potatoes, which I've been wanting to try since I first discovered them a few months ago, while poking around The Pioneer Woman's site (another of my faves). She served them with a steak dinner, but I thought from the get-go that these would be great with poached eggs for breakfast. And they are. You can boil the potatoes the night before, pull them out of the fridge the next morning, and then smash (crash?) 'em up while the oven heats. Imagine the best restaurant home fries you've ever had, only taken to a higher plane of breakfast-y goodness. Crispier on the outside. Creamier on the inside. And altogether more enjoyable since you don't have to battle the hungry masses before you sit down to eat them.
Crash Hot Potatoes
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
The original recipe calls for olive oil, which is fine and dandy. But if you're making bacon - and seriously, why wouldn't you? - you can up the ante by drizzling the baking sheet with some of the bacon drippings before adding the potatoes. Oh. Yeah. And is anyone else thinking a dollop of Hollandaise on top of these would be heaven? I'll just have to make them again. Soon.
Salted Water for boiling
18 whole Red Potatoes (or other small, new potatoes)
4-5 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Kosher Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Fresh Rosemary to taste (or substitute your favorite herb)
Preheat oven to 450° F. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. (How much salt, you ask? Not sure, I've never measured. Maybe 1 or 2 teaspoons.) You should have enough water to cover the potatoes by at least an inch. Add the potatoes, return to the boil, and cook until the potatoes are tender and a knife point slides in with no resistance (10-20 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes). Drain the potatoes.
Generously drizzle some of the olive oil onto a sheet pan to keep the potatoes from sticking. Place potatoes on the pan, leaving a couple inches between each potato. Using a potato masher, large meat fork, or the bottom of a heavy glass, gently press down each potato until it is mashed to about a 1/2 inch thickness. (The potato masher or fork will result in a little more of the crispy deliciousness I love so much.) Drizzle and brush the tops of each potato generously with the rest of the olive oil. Don't be shy - the oil is what gives the tops crunch. Liberally sprinkle with Kosher salt, a bit more than you think you'll need. Give 'em a few good grinds of pepper, and sprinkle with chopped fresh rosemary. (You could also just lay a few sprigs over the tops, for a more subtle flavor.)
Bake on the top rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Place a few on each plate, and top with a poached egg (scroll down for instructions on poaching eggs). Best eaten right away.
Perfectly Poached Eggs
I've tried all sorts of suggested tricks over the years for poaching eggs, from creating a whirlpool in the water and cooking them one at a time, to adding vinegar or baking soda to the cooking water. This method, sans crazy tricks, seems to work best for me.
Water for Boiling
Fill a medium, heavy-bottomed pot with water, about 5 inches deep. Bring water to a full boil. One at a time, crack each egg into a small bowl and slide gently into the water, one next to the other. Return water to the boil, watching carefully so it doesn't boil over. Cook 2-3 minutes (2 minutes = whites fully cooked, yolks very runny; 3 minutes = whites fully cooked, yolks slightly runny). Working quickly, gently remove the eggs one at a time with a large slotted spoon. You can either place the eggs directly on the Crash Hot Potatoes, or if the potatoes are not yet ready, remove to a shallow bowl and then reheat briefly in hot water just before serving.
Makes 6 eggs (duh).
P.S.- In case anyone out there is reading this, I'm sorry it's been so long since my last post. Not that I haven't had anything to say. Oh, I've been cooking and baking and photographing and thinking up all sorts of yummy things to write about. And I was all set to do so, until... I sat down to get started and found that a really nasty Trojan/virus/malware thingy-ma-jig decided it would be a great idea to take over my computer while I was away at work, and effectively put me in lock-down mode. *sigh* So all those yummy posts have just been bumping around in my head for the last few weeks, driving me a little batty, if you want to know the truth.
But, happily, my computer woes have been resolved. I hope.