Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The perfect birthday breakfast

For years and years now - certainly as long as I've been with D - I have always had the same breakfast on my birthday.  Smoked salmon, scrambled eggs.  D shreds some of the salmon through the eggs so that it lightly cooks, then drapes the rest over a toasted bread product (which for preference would be an English muffin) and tops with the golden, buttery scramble.  Mimosas and fresh Yorkshire tea on the side - utter bliss.

This year, D decided that it was time for him to find his birthday breakfast.  A traditionalist, previously he has tended towards the bacon or bacon and egg sandwich, but felt that this was not quite celebratory enough. And so began a quest.  We made a list of potential contenders and for the last few Sundays I have cooked my way through it in order that he could make an informed decision.

We started simple with a deconstructed sausage and egg McMuffin - now, come on, you know they're delicious really.  Toasted English muffin topped with cheesy scrambled eggs and grilled sausages.  V tasty.  V high in points (obviously, points do not count on birthdays, but they do count on most other days of the year.)  The key is to go for quality ingredients.  If you don't have a good local butcher, Waitrose sausages emerged victorious in a recent supermarket taste test that I came across.

Photo from www.nigella.com
Next up, something completely different that I adored, although D was less enamoured - French toast.  I used Nigella's recipe which suggests sprinkling the hot fried bread with granulated sugar to give it a doughnut quality.  With berries on the side I thought this was a real contender.  One tip - slice the bread and leave it out the night before you intend to make it - this will dry it out which in turn means it absorbs the milk and egg mixture better.

omelette arnold bennett
Photo from www.theguardian.com 
Omelette Arnold Bennett was another completely new one on me - had heard of it, never cooked it.  It basically consists of omelette topped with a smoked haddock bechamel and cheese and then grilled until bubbling.  I stuck pretty closely to Nigel Slater's recipe although subbed out Parmesan for Gruyere which I thought would have a meltier texture (and on reflection, strong Cheddar would work well too).  I made the fish sauce element the night before so that it was relatively quick and easy to assemble in the morning.  Another one that was utterly delicious although I need to make it again to perfect it - my sauce was not quite thick enough which meant the resulting dish was a little sloppy.

No search for the perfect breakfast dish could ignore that brunch menu staple, Eggs Benedict.  I cheated and bought a jar of Hollandaise rather than attempt to whip it up first thing (I am never at my best in the mornings).  Now I love Eggs Benedict, but this is a dish that I would rather have cooked for me than produce it myself - it's a bit of a pain to try and juggle the grilling of the muffins and the poaching of the eggs all at the same time.  This scored high on D's list, but I suggested that next time we divide and conquer - he will be in charge of the eggs and I'll assemble the toasted muffin and ham base for them.

You may have already seen my smoked salmon kedgeree post so you'll know that this was a great success.  I loved it, and again has the advantage that much of it can be done the night before.  Another serious contender - I thought it might edge it.

We discussed the possibility of a Full English - as with the Eggs Benedict, I tend to think this is one to have out rather than try and cook at home.  D made himself a bacon, egg and black pudding bap while I was in London as a nod - good, he said, but not quite celebratory enough.

We also tried out a Welsh Rarebit for something a bit...left field.  Or as left field as breakfast ever gets.  I stuck pretty much to the Hairy Bikers' recipe, swapping Cheddar for Lancashire, and thought it was delicious but even I, devotee of melted cheese in all its forms, conceded that this was better as a supper than a breakfast. What a supper though - I need to get it on the meal planner soon.  

And so to the final choice - which surprised me, although as D says he reserves the right to change it year on year.  It turns out that the perfect birthday breakfast is....

...Pancakes with grilled bacon, maple syrup and chilli!  This is an April Bloomfield recipe from her excellent book, "A Girl and Her Pig".  It is kind of fusion cooking in the sense that the bacon and maple syrup combo, classic American diner food, is served with crepes rather than the more traditional buttermilk pancakes.  Sterling stuff.

So go on, I'm intrigued - did we miss out on anything good?  Does anyone else "do" birthday breakfasts?  And having done them, am I the only person who promptly requires a digestive nap?  Answers on a postcard please.


  1. I love this! The quest for the perfect birthday breakfast. I am not a lover of breakfast but mine would probably be pancakes. Although I did have an amazing recipe for baked blueberry French toast which was delicious. Alas for the loss of that recipe.


    1. Baked blueberry French toast does sound rather special...I feel French toast in general is an area deserving of more experimentation on my part since it tastes an awful lot more indulgent and calorie heavy than it is...

  2. I don't really do birthday breakfasts, but I may have to start it as A Thing on my next birthday and force a friend to come over and cook for me! One of my favourite indulgences is smoked salmon and scrambled egg in a croissant. Utterly ridiculous.
    I'm currently very into scrambled egg cooked with chorizo, served with fresh spinach and cherry tomatoes in a wrap. Such a good brunch (and not horrifically pointy).