Pat’s Sydney Sider Breakfast

Yesterday morning, I was lucky enough to witness an Aussie in his natural kitchen habitat. Doing what, you ask? Creating the most intricate breakfast feast I’ve seen since I had an Ulster Fry (and figured out what black pudding was– the hard way). While I often get to reap the culinary benefits of having this food wizard as a flatmate, Pat’s “Sydney Sider Breakfast” was out of this world! Forced on principal to grab my camera before chowing down like a madwoman, this breakfast is as delicious as it looks! Thanks Pat!!!

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Pat’s Sydney Sider Breakfast.

Serves about 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of sourdough bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 12 truss tomatoes, on the vine
  • 8 large brown mushrooms
  • 3 avocados
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • pepper
  • salt

Directions

1.Peel avocados and mash in a large bowl. Add lemon juice, a large pinch of salt, a dash of pepper and olive oil and mix together to taste. Set aside

2.In a large skillet, cook tomatoes and mushrooms over medium high heat with a dash of oil, stirring occasionally until lightly crisp.

3. Meanwhile, begin to poach eggs using your preferred method (for me, I like to use the old measuring-cup-in-water-bath-method [you can read about it here!] but the old trick of cracking them in boiling water with vinegar works just as well!)

4.While eggs are poaching, slice bread into thick slices and toast ’em.

5. When ready to serve, spread toast generously with the avocado. Top the toast with a poached egg and add a few tomatoes and mushrooms on the side. Enjoy!

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Home is where the French Toast is.

Sometimes we all feel out of place even if we go somewhere of which we’re sure we’ll fit in this time. That people will totally “get” you, understand you, like the same mélange of music, think it’s cool you take your coffee with a bit of cinnamon sugar rather than cream and totally get the fact that you rarely finish a book because you’d rather learn something new than finish something for good.

Unfortunately, I’ve come to conclude that while this place sounds real good on paper, it might not exist all of the time

Even if you’ve found it, this dream place might not last either because the people could change or you may change or maybe a little bit of both or, you know, the place gets hit by a random space rock that destroys most of the town and even though the people are fine everyone has to move away anyways for fear of space bugs. It could happen.

Coming to Switzerland did a little of this for me I think. While not in a bad way, all I wanted to do was leave the States for a long, long while. Maybe I read too much and didn’t finish enough books to realize that adventure doesn’t necessarily mean, well, permanence.  I thought in coming here I would leave my weird American roots behind for good, I’d learn to pronounce a few things correctly and drop my occasional Texan drawl, I’d escape past events I wasn’t proud of or people I still hadn’t fully forgiven, and most importantly, I’d cook all these new crazy, beautiful dishes with my spare time because of my new “European” way of living. So posh and pensive, right?

All of this is actually hilarious because since I’ve been here, the only thing that’s been on my mind more than some great ribeye with a side of mashed potatoes or someone that’ll talk about baseball with me is my mom’s French Toast.

Growing up, this was my personal breakfast of champions. I could take on anything with a belly full of French Toast­– tests over fractions and decimals, piano recitals, soccer games. I could go to a friend’s house and have their mom’s French Toast or try to order it in a restaurant but of course it wouldn’t be the same because it wasn’t my mamas.

Don’t get me wrong– I absolutely love it here. I love that great skiing is just a train ride away, the history, the cool cobblestoned streets and window shutters, the fact that people in their cars actually stop for pedestrians at cross walks and that freshly baked bread is a stone’s throw away.

But sometimes it takes leaving home to figure out exactly where it is and the people that make it up. And while the French Toast I make over here is pretty good, it’ll never compare to that delicious breakfast dripping with maple syrup and cinnamon that can only be found in my mama’s kitchen.

Mama Smith’s French Toast

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk (non-dariy works fine!)
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 8 thick slices of whole wheat bread
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • butter, maple syrup, powdered sugar, and extra cinnamon to serve

Directions

1. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon and sugar in a medium sized bowl. When finished, pour the mixture into a shallow bowl or container (my mom always used long, rectangular Tupperware for better bread coverage)

2. Melt butter over a large skillet on medium high heat. Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture, for a few seconds on each side and add to the skillet. Cook until lightly brown on both sides, flipping the bread when necessary.

3. Serve with ample amount of maple syrup, powdered sugar, cinnamon and, of course, love!

Yield: Serves 4-6

If Your Cake Burns, Eat It Anyways

When things don’t exactly meet your expectations in just about any way, shape, or form, what do you do?

Are you the type that just lets it roll of your back while singing, “no worries” or some other words of super chill wisdom while gazing at an invisible Bob Marley poster OR are you the type that lets it brood and fester and rot for two days while muttering like Gollum, developing an odd case of scoliosis from being hunched over, and vowing that you’ll just never again have expectations?

I know this will probably come as shock to the eeeeeeeveryone (the sarcasm here is bounding) but yes, my name is Sarah Smith and I’m totally a 100% expectation lover.  I don’t count on just anything to meet my expectation- I like to count on ALL the things. ALL the pieces. And then, when things don’t work out as usual, comme d’habitude if you will, you can find me hunched over in my room muttering in my really horrible Gollum voice counting the ways how the situation isn’t my fault even though, well, it kinda is for my outrageous expectations.

Let me provide an example.

Yesterday I was invited to this dinner party hosted by (get ready for it this it’s a bit complicated) a work colleague of the father of my friend Drew. Being a lover of food, I asked my friend if I should bring anything, he said “aw of course”, and after some thought I decided to make a cake I heard about in one of my classes. Charlotte aux Pommes (aka the weirdest cake ever).

The afternoon went a little like this:

Stage one: chopping apples (the recipe seems quite normal at this point)

food a la fac

 

Stage two: sauté the apples with a bit of cane sugar and cinnamon (also quite normal)

 

Stage three: get 15 slices of bread and cut the crusts off (uhhhhh what?)

 

Stage four: slice the bread in thirds and use two thirds of them to line a deep baking dish (ummm okay…)

 

Stage five: put the sautéed apples atop the bread slices, top with remaining third of sliced bread, drizzle with melted butter, and bake (… but won’t my bread get soggy?)

 

So I put it in the oven and things were looking weird but good. Until of course I began to smell something like burnt toast igniting on fire and ran to the oven while forming some kind of recovery plan (can you give a cake CPR?).

I take out the “cake” or whatever it’s supposed to be and this thing is nasty looking. Nasty. The bread on top is covered in what seems to be asphalt or black paint but that’s really just the burnt bits laughing at me. After I take it out there’s complete silence in my apartment I really hope my friends aren’t thinking, “…if you have a food blog doesn’t that mean you know how to NOT burn things” or really just “…ewwwww”.

I think my friends either saw a hint of my disappointment or maybe my back hunching over and the whole Gollum bit coming out to whine and so they told me everything would be okay, to put some powdered super on the top to cover the burnt bits, and not to worry about it. But of course I worried about it.

I worried about it on the metro.

I worried about it at the door when I handed our host the cake and thought surely “He’s gonna throw this in my face I mean I’ve basically disgraced his native cuisine”.

I worried about it during delicious raclette and then when our host announced “time for Sarah’s dessert!” my heart was pounding with fear.

But that was the silliest thing because everything ended up being…well…perfect.

Once plated, you couldn’t even see the burnt bits the powdered sugar didn’t catch. The apples looked and tasted perfect and the bread had this really nice “bread pudding” effect that really made everything come together deliciously. Even the burnt bits added a nice crunch that no one would have anticipated.

 

Needless to say, I happily brought home an empty dish.

So the moral of the story is, the next time you come across something that really didn’t meet any of your expectations, do what I should have in the first place:  dust it with a little powdered sugar, hope for the best, and dig in anyways.

 

Charlotte Aux Pommes 

Ingredients:

6 apples

1 loaf rustic bread

4 tablespoons butter, melted

6 tablespoons cane sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

 

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Peel and slice apples and then place in a large bowl. Add cinnamon and sugar, mixing until all apples are evenly coated.

2. Sauté the apple mixture over medium high head for about 4 minutes. Set aside.

3. Cut the crusts from the bread and then cut each slice into thirds.

4. Coat the bottom and sides of a deep baking dish with about half the melted butter. Line the bottom with roughly 2/3 of the bread slices.

5. Add the apple mixture and then top with the remaining 1/3 of the bread.

6. Drizzle the remaining butter over the bread and place in the oven for about 30 minutes, checking regularly to ensure the bread doesn’t burn.

Checking Off the List

When you were a kid, did you ever make lists in class or with your parents or friends about things you wanted to do when you were big and strong and just more…. grown up? Sometimes it’s things like “swim in a sea filled with whipped cream” but there are also those hints of goals and accomplishments thrown into the mix such as “perform at Madison Square Garden” or “graduate from university” – things of a more “realistic” nature (although I still wouldn’t mind swimming in a sea of whipped cream).

 It’s funny for me to think about those lists now because, as it turns out, I’m actually checking things off. Which is crazy to think about- that all those things a poofy blonde-haired 8-year-old me dreamed about. It never really occurred to me how much I’ve checked off until recently when I returned from a trip around Italy.

It felt like I had been gone 2 months in the 10 days where I saw Bologna, San Marino, Rimini and Rome with Kylea, one of my flat mates. It’s funny because one of my dreams was exactly that- travel around on trains with a best friend. Trains are few and far between in Texas and the thought of being able to hop around with only a backpack in Europe with a gal pal was almost as imaginary and unattainable as Peter Pan or a sea of whipped cream to swim in. But i did it! And I even have some great pictures to prove it 🙂

San Marino!

At the Colosseum!

Roma!

Me!

After thinking about this particular trip, I realized just exactly how much I’ve checked off my list. And it’s a pretty good amount of things!

Sometimes it’s difficult to see that you’ve achieved goals because life just gets complicated and filled with other stuff- we get caught in a riptide of tasks and forget to celebrate our dreams and victories and the fact that we worked so hard to get to this place. For me, I can get so focused on the future, the next goal to achieve, the next ladder to climb, that I forget to take time in the present to pat myself on the back and say “Look at everything you’ve done in the past twenty-one years! You’ve ran races, you’ve been a featured artist on the radio, you’ve swam in oceans, you’ve lived 5,210 miles away from home, you’ve worked at a travel magazine, you’ve earned enough funds to buy an awesome camera, you’ve performed in a nightclub in Barbados and the oldest bar in Belfast, you’ve overcome destructive friendships and venomous relationships, you’ve hiked mountains, you’ve traveled, you’ve loved deeply…. and there’s still so much more.”

 They say that “you are your own worst enemy” but I think along with that there’s a hidden meaning- that you can also be your own best friend. While it’s easy to get caught up in a destructive downward spiral imagining all of ways that people are better or have accomplished more that we have, it’s important to realize that the list we made years ago wasn’t for those people and it wasn’t the same as theirs either.

That list is ours!