As empire builders, the British took their first meal very seriously. You cannot create an empire squirreling in bed, nibbling rolls and sipping coffee. You need sustenance, you need beef, porridge, fish and hot bread. Crunchy fried eggs fragrant with the grease of salty bacon, large cold hams and grilled tomatoes, fried toast, broiled kippers (smoked herring), sausage and mushrooms, and spicy kedgeree (a flaked, smoked fish and rice dish from India) are all a must to take the chill off a cold morning and to build dynamic strength.
This notorious "English Breakfast," which the French viewed as barbaric (fish for breakfast?), derived many of its staples from the Scots. Scottish kippers, Dundee marmalades and Aberdeen sausages were in demand at tables throughout the British Isles. To brace themselves against their dank weather, Scots also consumed enormous quantities of hardy oatmeal porridge, wholemeal bread and scalding tea, often laced with whiskey on extra cold mornings. They frequently devoured Scotch eggs, hard-cooked eggs neatly enveloped with sausage-meat and deep-fried to a crisp juiciness.
As our own mornings start to have a chill, we need a little more encouragement to coax us from under our cozy covers. Something warm, hardy and entertaining would do the trick. A Scottish breakfast to accompany our fashionable plaids and kilts should be enough to turn the most frigid from his bed.
Below are recipes for the Scotch eggs and drop scones. The drop scones are thick pancakes, about 3/8-inches thick and 3 inches across. Fill your teapot with good strong tea and serve the eggs and scones with grilled tomato slices for a color and textural contrast. If you have salt, pepper, sugar and oil in your cupboard for deep frying, your trip through the express lane will take but a short minute.
Express Lane List: Self-rising flour, light corn syrup, milk, eggs, pork sausage-meat, bread crumbs and tomatoes. DROP SCONES (Makes 24 scones)
Traditionally cooked on a griddle, they can be successfully made in a heavy frying pan or the covered-in top of an electric grill. "Scone" comes from the Gaelic sgonn, and rhymes with gone. Mostly eaten at tea time, they have been included for breakfast, as they are similar to thick pancakes and are delicious with butter, honey or jam.
4 cups self-rising flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons light corn syrup, warmed
1 to 1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
Put flour, sugar, salt and warmed syrup into a mixing bowl, then add milk and eggs until the mixture forms a thick dropping consistency (like a thick cream). Heat a griddle or a pan and very lightly grease it. Drop mixture by rounded tablespoons, seeing that they do not overlap and are even. Turn over when little bubbles appear on top and the bottom is golden brown, then cook the other side. Cool in a clean tea-towel or napkin, keeping them wrapped unless they are to be eaten from the pan. Serve them warm or cold with butter, honey or jam. They will keep for some time in a tin, and can be heated either in a warm oven or under a slow grill. SCOTCH EGGS (4 servings)
Slice widthwise to reveal the circular pattern of crispy sausage, egg white and yellow egg yolk. These are also perfect as a picnic dish, served with mayonnaise and a salad.
10 eggs (8 hard-cooked)
2 pounds pork sausage-meat
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup bread crumbs, approximately
Oil for deep frying
Boil 8 of the eggs for 10 minutes in boiling water, then drain and let them run under the cold tap; when cool, shell them. Beat one of the remaining eggs and add 1 tablespoon cold water. Season the sausage-meat with salt and pepper. Dip the hard-cooked eggs into the beaten egg and cover each one entirely with the sausage-meat, pressing it on with the hands. Beat up the remaining egg and gently roll the sausage-covered eggs in this, then dip them in the bread crumbs (you may need slightly more than the amount given, depending on the size of the eggs), again pressing the bread crumbs into the sausage-meat. Heat the oil until it spatters when a drop of water is added and deep-fry the eggs until the outside is quite brown. Check to make sure the sausage is cooked through. Drain well before serving.
Both recipes adapted from "A Taste of Scotland," by Theodora FitzGibbon (Houghton Mifflin Co., 1970)