02 May 2010

Rainy morning breakfast

I know there are those of you who are saying to yourselves after reading this, "D, haven't you had enough of the breakfast foods already?"

The answer would be "no".

I love breakfast. I love breakfast foods. I love getting up in the morning and cooking. It's all so very throwback to an earlier time before I became an academic and before life was so busy that I felt like I was on a dead run all the time. So I cook breakfast and, when I can, I take the time to sit at the table and enjoy it. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I am usually up for 5 hours before I can make it to work.

In any event, I would have blogged about the cinnamon roll instruction class I held yesterday, but I was too busy demonstrating the finer art of gaining weight to take pictures. Besides, my own personal photographer had shown up to document the whole thing. Although I think she may have overemphasized the contributions of a 3-month old baby and a brand new rescue dog. Alas, I have learned not to criticize the artsy types and just let them do their thing. It all works out in the end and micromanaging takes more energy than I have. I consider it a personal achievement that not one of the pictures she posted showed me shoving a cinnamon roll into my mouth.

The class was not my idea. One of my Colombian friends begged me to show her how to make these goodies and, because my receipe is supposed to feed 8 people (but only if those 8 people are big, fat piggies), I invited any interested grad students to join us. I thought maybe 4 people would come. Imagine my surprise when ten people arrived! Wow! Alas, this is the lure of the cinnamon roll. Because these are yeast rolls and yeast needs time to rise, I made a batch of dough ahead of time and we rolled it out to get ourselves started, and while the rolls were baking, I showed them how to make a batch of dough from the start. They had all gone home about the time THAT batch of dough was ready for rolling. In all, we made about 50 rolls. D-friend Bek made a caramel-pecan icing and I made an espresso icing. The original recipe calls for maple icing. I tried it once and it wasn't my thing. I have also made a vanilla icing and I've made the rolls with orange marmalade filling (instead of cinnamon) and used an orange icing. But just a different icing on the plain cinnamon roll creates vastly different flavors. The caramel-pecan roll was more like a sticky bun. The espresso roll was lots of flavorful fun. Both great! I think there were about 10 rolls left after we had stuffed ourselves silly, so maybe this is a recipe for 8 people or maybe the lure of the cinnamon rolls turns people into big, fat piggies!

And no, I didn't eat those 10 extra cinnamon rolls myself. I sent folks home with the baked goods that remained, and I prepared two trays and took them over to D-bro D who is fishing at the local lake this weekend. He and 10 of his Chicago-style buddies enjoyed 23 giant cinnamon rolls with espresso icing this morning. Am I a good sister or what?

Unfortunately, I still have a half a recipe of dough in my fridge. Looks like Tuesday will be cinnamon roll day in the department.

So cooking in general and cooking breakfast especially is a sort of hobby for me. And I like to experiment in the kitchen. Mostly I try to recreate great recipes I've had in restaurants or at people's houses. I think I have a rather refined sense of taste and can detect ingredients in foods fairly well. Other times I just experiment or want to try out an interesting recipe I've seen on the internet. That's how I came to make my first batch of Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls.

Yes, the recipe I taught isn't my own. Although I hardly think that Pioneer Woman thought it up herself. The best recipes are passed down and passed along and this is part of the joy of cooking. I really don't understand people who hoard great recipes like some secret. And I actually work with one person who does this. *Massive eye roll*. Selfish people suck. But to me, it's just a challenge. I'll figure out how to do it better myself.

So when my Colombian friend asked me to show her how to make the rolls, I was pleased to oblige. And cinnamon rolls are a great breakfast food, but I'm an ovavore. I could (and do) eat eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I slide eggs into salads. I add them to my soups. Yummo. Oh, I have FINALLY found a reliable source for local eggs, too. Yay! And I love eggs just about any way, but my favorite way is poached.

Have you ever tried to poach an egg? It's not as easy as it sounds. Some tell you to swirl the water like a tornado before you put in the egg. Some tell you to add vinegar. Some tell you to just drop it in and hope for the best. I've never met anyone who claims to make a perfect poached egg. Even chefs fail at poached eggs. My poached eggs generally turned out looking a whole lot like egg drop soup. Without the soup part. Yes, you can buy a fairly expensive egg poaching pan, but then you have to store that bad boy in your kitchen and who has room for a special pan just for eggs? I've tried using various glass cups but they are difficult to remove from boiling water without burning yourself.

Then, I heard about these silicone Poachpods. Silicone poached egg holders that don't require a special pan and best of all are collapsible! Yes, I could have ordered them off the internets and waited a week and saved myself a few pennies, but I don't have that kind of patience. So I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond and found them for $9.99 for a set of 2, which is like 3X the price they are on the internets, but what the heck. And they are such a lovely matching set of avocado green. Reminds me of my childhood. Deep, wistful sigh.

Ok, back to the eggs.

First you have to grease the inside of the pods with something. I chose this.

Then you put a pan of shallow water on to boil. Crack the eggs inside the pods and float them in the water.

Cover the pan and wait 4-6 minutes.

I waited 6 minutes. Now we're talking!

Then you pluck out your poachpod and slide your perfect poached egg onto your plate. Then the other. Mmmmm.

And look! They are perfect. Add a little pepper and dig in!

Goes well with grapefruit, bagel and cream cheese, and coffee.

Breakfast on a rainy, soggy Sundays is great! Even if you don't have any cellulite-producing cinnamon rolls left. And you can always count on me to SHARE my recipes and great finds!

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