I grew up in the 1970s and ’80s, and so I watched a lot of TV.
Most of that television consisted of reruns like “Gilligan’s Island” and “Bewitched,” both of which were ubiquitous on the dial in the hours between school and dinner time. Looking back with the wisdom of four decades, I’ve come to several startling conclusions.
You can not make a radio from a coconut, even if you are a professor.
Most American households do not have a wacky live-in housekeeper named Alice.
Darrin Stevens was a bigoted jerk. (Sorry, but it needed to be said).
In short, television lied to me. Overall, I’m OK with that.
I may just have a regular old radio, but I’m also not stranded on a desert island like Gilligan. Nor am I married to a witch, though – unlike Darrin – I think that would be pretty cool.
Still, some of television’s lies die harder than others. For one, I am convinced that the best place to cool a pie on a hot day is on a windowsill. No. 2, breakfast in bed is the ultimate way to show your mom that you love them on Mother’s Day.
The latter trope is one that remains popular on television today. The child always appears in the bedroom, tray in hand, with a breakfast complete with toast, juice and hot coffee. Sometimes there’s also a single flower in a vase, but that’s a wild card.
Mom is always thrilled as she munches on toast with jam and sips her juice. In fact, I think she may be happy too happy.
Think about it. Is it possible to eat toast without making a bunch of crumbs? Personally, I can not do it.
In fact, the other Michael has banned me from eating my sesame bagel in the living room each morning. He complains about “butter stains” on the chair and “wayward sesame seeds” on the chair cushions. Personally, I think he’s just being petty.
Still, I would not want toast crumbs in my bed. Nor would it be fun to spill hot coffee on my sheets, let alone my bare legs. As for that flower, if I were to pick a flower from the other Michael’s garden, I would hear about it for days.
Finally, how many households actually have those fancy serving trays that are always featured in any breakfast-in-bed scene? Do they give them away at CostCo?
Thus, I am beginning to suspect that the breakfast-in-bed trope may be a lie just like the Professor’s coconut radio.
What is not a lie, however, is that Sunday is Mother’s Day, and your mom might really enjoy it if you surprise her with breakfast (though not in bed). I’ve got a number of recipes in this week’s column that can help you help make Mom’s day. They vary in complexity, so pick one that fits your skill set (and Mom’s appetite).
Tater Tot Fritatta
I once heard a character from TV describe a frittata as an “egg pizza.” That’s another TV lie, as a pizza has a crust, and fritattas do not. In fact, you might think of it as a crustless quiche. After all, it contains eggs, cheese, veggies and sometimes meat.
I adapted the recipe below from one at The Kitchn.com. I liked including a little bacon, but you could also include cooked sausage or ham. You also could go completely meatless and add a few more veggies like roasted asparagus or chopped tomatoes.
- 8-10 strips of bacon, fried, drained and chopped
- 1 (16-oz.) Bag frozen tater tots
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- Pinch of black pepper
- 10 eggs
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives
- 1¼ cups grated sharp cheddar, divided
- 1 medium bell pepper, diced
- 1 large shallot, diced
- ½ finely grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
Combine the garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon of the kosher salt and the black pepper. Drizzle the frozen Tots with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Sprinkle the garlic mixture over the Tots and stir to combine. Place seasoned Tots on a baking sheet, and bake for roughly 20-25 minutes until crispy. Cool completely. After the Tots are done baking, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Whisk together the eggs, sour cream, chives, 1 cup of the cheddar cheese, 1 teaspoon of the salt and another pinch of black pepper.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and shallot and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Season with the remaining teas-teaspoon salt.
Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables in the skillet. Scatter the Tater Tots over the eggs followed by the cooked bacon. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and the remaining ¼ cup of cheddar cheese.
Bake in the oven for 20-22 minutes or until just set. Turn the oven to the “Broiler” setting, and broil until the top of the frittata is golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Cool for about 5 minutes, and then slice into wedges and serve.
Overnight French Toast
This recipe is from epicurious.com. French toast is my go-to breakfast dish whenever I eat out in the morning. Not only do I love French toast, but it also seems really hard to mess up. There is just not that much to screw up.
But it is hard to get perfect. Typically, the crust is overdone while the center is still mushy. Or sometimes the egg mixture does not penetrate the inside of the bread, leaving a nice soft outside but a dry interior.
This recipe solves some of those problems. The bread soaks in the egg mixture overnight, ensuring that it thoroughly penetrates every nook and cranny. Moreover, it is baked in the oven for about 30 minutes. The slower heat and the longer time will ensure that it is done through and through.
There are a few things you might do to ensure great toast, however. First, use good bread. Sandwich slices are less than ideal. They are thin and they do not soak up much of the egg-y flavor. Instead, use a thick (¾-inch to an inch) slice of Challah, a soft and sweet egg bread. If you do not have any on hand, try some French or Italian bread. Again, be sure and slice it thick.
- ¼ cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 loaf of Challah, sliced into ¾- to 1-inch thick slices
- 6 eggs
- 1½ cups whole milk
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Powdered sugar (optional)
- Maple syrup (optional)
Smear the butter across the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan. Arrange the slices of Challah in the pan. Set aside.
Beat together the eggs, milk, sugar, syrup, vanilla and salt. Pour half of the mixture over the bread slices. Flip the slices over and pour on the remaining egg mixture. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning when you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Remove the pan from the refrigerator while the oven preheats. Bake the pan for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully flip the slices of bread. Return pan to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.
Remove from oven, and serve with maple syrup, butter or fresh fruit.
Serves about 6 people (depending on how many slices they eat).
Note: If your bread does not come out nice and brown, you can cheat a little. Sprinkle on a half-teaspoon of powdered sugar (use a sifter to get an even coating), and then pop the toast under the broiler for about 2 minutes (watch it carefully or it will burn).
This recipe comes from Hell’s Kitchen, a restaurant in Minneapolis. It has become one of our favorite places to stop for breakfast or lunch in the Twin Cities.
These hotcakes are one reason why. Michael says they are a great dessert pancake, and I agree. They are sweeter than regular pancakes with an amazingly bright lemon flavor.
Do not be spooked, however, by the way the batter looks. It is very thin and bright yellow in color thanks to the nine – yes, nine – egg yolks in the recipe.
These cakes taste great with fresh fruit and a little maple syrup.
- 6 egg whites
- 9 egg yolks
- ⅓ cup butter, melted
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 4 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest (about 4 lemons)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅓ cup flour
- Butter to grease the skillet / griddle
Pour the egg whites into the bowl of a mixer and mix until firm peaks form. Reduce the speed to low. Slowly add the egg yolks, and then gradually add the melted butter. Continue whisking at low speed until well incorporated. Stop the mixer and add the sugar, ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Whisk on medium speed for 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the flour. Continue mixing for about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula. Return the mixer to medium speed and mix for about 1 minute.
Refrigerate the batter for an hour (this is optional). When you are ready to cook the hotcakes, heat a skillet or a griddle to medium high. Brush with melted butter. Drop about ¼ cup of the batter onto the hot griddle. Cook until bubbles appear and the bottoms are golden brown (about 5 minutes). Flip the hotcakes and cook another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the skillet.
These taste great garnished with fresh fruit and dusted with a little powdered sugar.