Sunday, May 29, 2016

eat this for breakfast, soon

Stephen has one of those jobs where about three times a year he just has to go to some "work conference" in some boring location like Portland, Baltimore, or Scotland.  His direct flight is paid for, and he usually has to stay in a swanky hotel with giant bathrooms or beaches on the roof.  Lame.  And if that weren't enough, he eats at all these local hot spots all in the name of "networking." What a drag.

Teachers go to conferences, too.  The past two summers I attended the All Write Conference at Warsaw High School in Warsaw, Indiana.  My favorite session was the one in the band room.  I also went to the Indiana First Grade Teachers' Conference a few times.  That one is usually at the Holiday Inn Express.  Nice continental breakfast.  The best part is that we get a whole hour for lunch, AND we get to leave "campus" to enjoy a local hot spot like Cracker Barrel or Applebee's.  A whole hour!!!  No students to drop off, no parents to call, papers to copy, and no line at the teacher's bathroom.  Oh, and the school does pays gas mileage, but only for one car, so we all have to cram in.

I like my conferences, but they are a little different than Stephen's.

Every once in awhile, the stars align in my favor and life just works out that I get to tag along.  (I wonder why Stephen has never tagged along to any of my conferences.)  Two years ago, we called on the grandparents for babysitting duty and spent Memorial Day weekend in San Fransisco.  Stephen spent the better part of the day at his conference while I'll explored the city, and then we met up in the evening for amazing food.  Not too shabby.

Our last morning there, we walked through Little Italy and had breakfast outside at Caffe DeLucchi.  Stephen ordered a polenta, gorgonzola, and egg breakfast that was so simple but so delicious we've been talking about it for two years.  It was so easy to recreate, I wonder why it took us so long!

He's so cool.

Let me first talk about polenta. 

Polenta is ground cornmeal, and can be served creamy, like a porridge, or can solidify and be baked or fried.  It is a staple in Italian cooking, and as general rule of thumb in our house - if the Italians eat it, we're gonna eat it, too.  Similar to most grains, the cornmeal cooks low and slow until the texture is creamy and the grains are tender.  

Good news - this is a simple recipe.  Make polenta, an egg, and bacon.  Pile it in a bowl with blue cheese and honey.  Done.  (And that is why I'll never write a cook book.)

If that is too vague, here are a few more details.  

Serves 4
  • 4 cups water
  • teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 strips of really good bacon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (gorgonzola is perfect)
  • a drizzle or two of honey

Fill a medium size pot with the 4 cups of water and bring to a boil.

While you wait for it to boil, start cooking your bacon in a frying pan.  Set bacon aside to drain on a paper towel-covered plate, but don't get rid of all the bacon grease yet!

Once the water boils, add salt.  Slowly pour in the polenta, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and there are no lumps, 1-2 minutes.

Turn the heat to low and continue cooking the polenta about 20-30 minutes.  Stir often.  If the polenta becomes too thick to stir, add a small amount of water. 

While the polenta is cooking, empty most of the bacon grease from your pan but leave just enough to cook your eggs.  I like a runny, sunny-side up egg, so I usually cook it for 3-4 minutes and throw a lid on the pan for the last minute.  Poached eggs would be lovely as well (and in looking back at Caffe DeLucchi's menu, that's how they prepare their eggs).

Just about this time, the polenta should be creamy.  Take it off the heat and stir in butter until melted.   Season with salt and pepper, and be ready to serve the immediately.

Assemble your plate with a good size scoop of polenta, your egg and crumbled blue cheese.  Top it off with a good drizzle of honey, salt, pepper, and bacon.

Yum!  You will not be disappointed.

Have a great weekend! 

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