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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Breakthrough Breakfast Bake - Breakfast 1 - American - Gay Brunch

Brace yourself. I'm going to disclose something that usually makes people gasp...

My fiancé does not like breakfast food. (I can just picture the blank stares of disbelief)

I know I know, it's hard to believe, and makes you feel kind of uneasy right? Like something is wrong with him...

How can you not love the familiar smells and savory taste of eggs, sausage, pancakes or waffles?

None-the-less, Mark does not like them, in fact it's more than dislike, I would call it categoric aversion and active avoidance. As if that weren't enough, the most unbelievable aspect of his breakfast loathing is his distaste for bacon. It's not simply a passive prejudice, but mention the word and his face crinkles up and out of his mouth spews a flood of bitter vitriol that would leave any bacon lover scarred for life. Despite this character flaw, and the general distrust it engenders, I love him and generally try to make him happy. As you might expect, this makes cooking breakfast a particular challenge, one that I am often reluctant to undertake. That is until last Monday...

A few weeks ago we were in DC for a conference and were invited to a Gay Brunch (see previous post for definition) to close out the weekend festivities. Knowing our tastes and habits I expected to down several bloodies and mimosas and end up with an overloaded plate trying to eat in a corner and avoid being seen while I stuffed my face. I pictured Mark doing much the same but maintaining a level of composure through his typical avoidance of brunch food.

The host waited an hour, allowing the beverages to take hold while guests picked at a light display of cheeses and fruit. So far so good, I didn't have to hide yet. Then he brought out the Breakfast Bake. I could see my composure going out the window as I watched him make his way across the dining room with the cheesy, golden and bubbly casserole in hand. I thought my fate was sealed as I instinctively picked up a plate and made my way to be first in line for the breakfast grail. I thought it was the mimosas making me fuzzy, but before I knew it there was another body in line ahead of me. To my utter surprise it was Mark. My initial annoyance instantly gave way to incredulity as I struggled to intervene and explain he "could not possible enjoy it" it just looked"too breakfasty". My mimosa goggles cleared (and my appetite in check) from the shock, I watched in awe as he cut himself a piece of eggy, potatoey, sausagey goodness and took his first bite.

He liked it! He more than liked it. He 4 servings and eating alone in the corner liked it! I'll spare you and he the embarrassing detail of the face-stuffing that ensued, but needless to say this was an unexpected potential turning point in our epicurean relationship. I took note of the ingredients, complimented the chef, and enjoyed the rest of the brunch.

I let the idea of a breakfast breakthrough simmer in the back of my head for a while before finally deciding on holiday Monday at the tail end of a 3 day weekend to try my own luck at facing the breakfast hating beast. I altered the ingredients, substituting for what I think was spinach with Brussels Sprouts (Mark's favorite) and changing out the cheddar cheese for Pepper jack (another go-to). I didn't dare consider the B word (bacon for those with no short term memory) and chose a mild sage sausage from the local grocer as the protein. The result was delicious, in my opinion, and ended up being lunch for a few days this week. Marks response? After repeated prodding for more feedback, after what I took as a dismissive initial "very good" I finally got him to admit "It was very...sausagey"...womp

Back to the breakfast drawing board...

I have a feeling any non-breakfast-hater will thoroughly enjoy!

  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 large Russet or Yukon Gold potato (peeled)
  • 1 medium white onion (peeled)
  • ½ lb bulk chicken or pork breakfast sausage
  • 12 Brussels sprouts (trimmed and sliced very thing – slaw like pieces)
  • ½ lb pepper jack cheese (grated)
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
  • Olive oil for sautéing

Preheat the oven to 400F. In a medium sauté pan, cook the sausage until browned. Be sure to use a firm spatula so you can break up the larger pieces evenly. When nearly cooked, add the shaves Brussels sprouts to wilt them slightly (otherwise they may end up too crunchy for your liking). In a large bowl, beat the eggs together. Grate in the white onion and the potato. Fold in half of the pepper jack cheese, cooked sausage and sprouts, mix well and season with garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Pour mixture into a small baking dish or casserole, mine is 6 x 9 with 3” high sides. Bake for 30-40 minutes until bubbly, and the cheese is browned and melted. Allow to sit at least 5 minutes before cutting and serving so it has a chance to set.

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