Going out for breakfast? Just don't order scrambled eggs.
Thu, 15 September, 2016
How nice is it to get out of the house on a nice morning and walk to town for a bit of breakfast? We’re having an unseasonably wonderful September which, the Weather Man claims, is the warmest since the early 1900s. Considering my present state of affairs at home (demolition of the old kitchen imminent), I happily saunter down to one of the many (VERY MANY; clearly it’s the business to be in, that or a craft brewery) local cafés, buzzing and bustling with layabouts like me: also known as people working at home.
The coffee shops leave you spoilt for choice if you’re after a spot of breakfast: porridge, granola, viennoiserie, toast and jam (£0.90 for a slice of toast - why am I not running a caff?), cakes and muffins. Pancakes. Avocado toast.
Full English, of course, though it has to be said the latter is becoming a lesser spotted option - I hope it won’t get killed off by the hipster cold brew and amaranth muesli… Omelettes, likewise, seem to have completely gone out of fashion which is a thorough shame - there’s so much you can do with a basic egg mix and a non-stick pan! Cheese, mushrooms, ham, spinach, salmon, jam, curd! Much more varieties than of pancakes, however fluffy they might be.
I’m not that keen on sweet options although a couple of places locally do a carrot cake that matches mine, and very, very decent flapjacks. But my brekkie in town is usually simple, scrambled egg on toast, with mushrooms if possible - and I always thought it was really hard to get such a simple dish wrong.
Cook the mushrooms with a little oil or butter until well scorched and crisp - there’s nothing worse than limpid, black, miserable mushrooms. Keep warm, but they are also happy to be reheated. Toast the bread, preferably sourdough, but a plain slice of something granary or whole wheat will do nicely too. Steer clear from brioche and save it for jam - or fois gras. Toast the bread quite dark - otherwise the egg will make it soggy on its way to the table. Now for the eggs - break into a bowl, melt the butter in a pan over moderate heat and scramble vigorously with a spatula, the key tool in egg-scrambling. You MAY add a small spoonful of cream to the eggs when ready - I prefer them without it, lots of butter will make them creamy and still let them taste of eggs. Do NOT add milk at any rate - you’re not making custard.
Now, just pile the egg onto the bread, top or side with mushrooms and serve with salt and pepper. How hard is all that?
Very hard, it seems. I’m researching my way through bad and very bad scrambled eggs served at various places; microwaving them is obviously the cardinal sin number one. Number two is cooking them so hard they need to be cut with a knife. Adding so much milk it tastes like a failed custard. Or worse: adding cream and cooking with it - that produces an unbelievably foul concoction that I have recently had the misfortune to be served.
I have my firm local favourite for eggs on toast, unsurprisingly, the same place that does the ace carrot cake. Another place or two are just about all right, but it does so puzzle me why it must be such a hit and miss. But then perhaps the simplest things are the difficult ones.