Each Thursday, Emily Vikre (a.k.a fiveandspice) will be sharing a new way to love breakfast -- because breakfast isn't just the most important meal of the day. It's also the most awesome.
Do not cry little one, The Piglet is not really over. For you see, The Piglet lives within each one of us, in our hearts, and now it is up to you to live out the spirit of The Piglet all year long.
Yeah, ok, not really. But, there is one more face-off: a breakfast face-off. You see, when I was given the two finalists of The Piglet over which to pass my judgment, it was suggested by the fair editors of this site that I also feature recipes from the finalists in this column. Who was I to say no? And so, as I began to cook my way through the books, I kept my eye out for potential breakfast candidates.
There was one minor problem with the scheme. Neither Roberta’s nor The New Persian Kitchen is a breakfast-oriented book. Test-dishes piled up on our dinner table. We sampled Bay Scallops with Poppy Seeds, Celery Root with Pomegranate Seeds, Pasta with Citrus, Chicken with Turmeric, Beets with Bottarga, Carrots with Sesame...As a “breakfast professional” (my new favorite meaningless credential to trot out at parties) I would consider eating any of these things for breakfast, but they didn’t seem appropriate for a breakfast column. I dug a little deeper and finally found what I was looking for. From The New Persian Kitchen: a date-banana shake made with yogurt, which in Shafia’s own words, makes it healthy enough for breakfast. And from Roberta’s: a pizza with guanciale and an egg. It had an egg on it! It was breakfast!
The date shake was icy, frothy, sweet, and spiced. It reminded me a bit of the filling in the apple-cinnamon Nutrigrain bars I used to snack on in high school, and I don’t mean that as a bad thing. The shake is a smoothie, really. Simple, speedy, easy to drink. The best part were the rows of toasted chopped nuts that Shafia has you sprinkle on top. They add a wonderfully contrasting crunchy, savory element.
The pizza with guanciale and egg is something you might consider for a lazy weekend brunch. Well, lazy for everyone else, while you do a little sweating over the pizza. Like all the pizzas from Roberta’s, the crust is perfect and chewy, the toppings administered with a light hand. It’s a breakfast of bacon and eggs on a pizza! The authors recognize that this isn’t a novel thing per se, but they say they are sharing the recipe so they can explain their technique for putting an egg on a pizza. Their special technique, it turns out, is to make the pizza, fry the egg separately, and then set the finished egg on the finished pizza. I thought this was a total let-down of a special technique, until I realized that it is also an ingenious technique for making breakfast pizzas accessible for a weekday morning: heat a slice of leftover pizza, fry up an egg, and put it on top. Breakfast.
And now, because I foolishly set this up as a breakfast smack-down, I guess I should declare a winner. But, isn’t everyone a winner when they eat breakfast? Yes. They are. Perhaps the winningest option is to eat the two together -- a pizza plus a shake for breakfast? Live on Spirit of The Piglet, live on.
Serves 2 to 4
1 banana, peeled and frozen
8 Medjool dates, pitted
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch sea salt
2 cups ice cubes
3/4 to 1 cup water
1 tablespoon each: toasted coconut flakes, toasted chopped almonds, toasted chopped walnuts, toasted chopped pistachios, and toasted sesame seeds
Makes one 12-inch pizza
306 grams (2 1/2 cups) 50-50 blend of 00 flour and King Arthur all-purpose flour
8 grams (scant 2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
2 grams (scant 1/2 teaspoon) active dry yeast
4 grams (scant 1 teaspoon) olive oil
202 grams (1 cup minus 1 tablespoon) lukewarm water
Pizza with Guanciale and Egg
One 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
Good olive oil
Fine sea salt
1 round of pizza dough
80 grams fresh mozzarella
20 grams guanciale, very thinly sliced (sub pancetta or bacon if you can't find guanciale -- they wouldn't want me to give a substitute, but guanciale is not exactly easy to find everywhere)
1 large egg
Photos by Emily Vikre