Breakfast Is Served, Never Mind the Hour
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
It's growing dark, and there's a hungry person on the sofa. He's got the look: "Come up with something interesting for dinner."
The fridge opens on the ever-present carton of large eggs, usually overlooked at this time of day. The sight of jalapeno corn muffins reminds me of an eggs Benedict I once had, in which corn muffins stood in for the English kind. I can't find bacon, but there's prosciutto. And there's spinach, fresh and frozen.
Thirty minutes later, I put a meal on the table. The formerly hungry person is sated and files his review: "Really good breakfast. What made you decide to do it for dinner?"
For me, the meal is a reminder that morning foods should make their way to the nighttime table more often than they do. They're fast, they're filling, they have universal appeal (including that occasional bowl of cereal eaten over the sink). They're also indulgent for those tired of counting carbs and calories every night. Making savory waffle sandwiches, or creating side dishes that incorporate morning foods, can add to a cook's weeknight repertoire.
Kitchen and restaurant staffers, who account for a lot of my friends, know breakfast is the stuff of dinner. "I used to think that was the only time to eat it," Scott Boswell, executive chef and owner of Stella! and Stanley restaurants in New Orleans, says by phone. "What two things are better in the world than bacon and eggs?"
As he describes the glories of that combination, I realize why breakfast may be best in the evening.
"The flavor of bacon and eggs -- with the yolk -- is one of the most magical creations of the culinary world," he says. "It's like a natural sedative and puts you to sleep. It's like a warm glass of milk but a whole lot more."
Gus Silivos, executive chef-owner of Skopelos on the Bay and Scenic 90 Cafe, in Pensacola, Fla., where I live, says breakfast-for-dinner provides comforting food that's not heavy: "You can have it light at night by putting protein on the plate with eggs and without the heavy food items of a regular meal," he says.
Silivos and his wife, Nancy, a caterer, enjoy a breakfast-for-dinner dish regularly: poached eggs mixed with toasted bread and butter in a bowl. "In fact, the kids call it 'Eggs With Bread and Butter Cereal,' " Silivos jokes.
At his diner, Silivos makes Nassau Grits, a popular local specialty. He says it was inspired by Florida's early Spanish settlers, combining chopped ham, bacon, tomatoes and seasonings with cooked grits to create a hearty, quick-stewed side dish.
Those same Spanish-influenced grits also inspire thoughts of another creation: a light tomato sauce teamed with eggs, toasted bread and cheese, baked in a casserole. It could serve six to eight people, meaning that once that hungry person on the sofa is satisfied for dinner, we'd have enough left over to serve it the next morning. For breakfast.
Lou Elliott Jones is a food writer based in Pensacola, Fla.