Inspiration for what I cook, and ultimately write about here, comes in many forms: cookbooks, blogs, meals out, farmers market visits, and glossy magazines all play an important role. Hotel breakfast buffets, not so much. One exception: this simple but much-loved-as-of-late breakfast. Last year, my boyfriend Andrew and I spent a stretch of our trip to Japan at Tokyo’s Park Hyatt. Best known as the backdrop of Lost in Translation, the Park Hyatt also serves up a truly-superlative breakfast buffet. Each morning, I’d find myself piling my plate high with a variety of pristine tropical fruit and a bite-size pastry or two, but the real draw came from the spread of roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes, sausages, and eggs. Typical components of a full English breakfast, this combination is nothing new, but the Park Hyatt’s version was spot-on, and made a critical swap: Japanese beech mushrooms for the standard sliced button.
Since returning, I’ve started many a day with a combination of my favorite parts: tomatoes, sautéed beech mushrooms — I usually buy these at an Asian supermarket, where they’re a steal — a couple poached or fried eggs, and some sliced avocado (I am a California girl, after all). This time of year, tomatoes are hardly inspiring, so I stick with sweeter cherry tomatoes and slowly roast them at a low temperature until concentrated into flavor bombs (about half way in between a raw and a sun-dried tomato in texture). Beech mushrooms are a favorite both for their flavor and for their ease of cooking. Meatier in texture than most mushrooms, they cook quickly, and require almost no prep: just trim away the cluster’s root end.
A long-time poached egg loyalist, I’ve been on a fried egg kick recently, and I owe it all to Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman. Her technique for frying ridiculously-crisp-edged eggs is pretty darn genius. Not only is it foolproof, but it also skips with fussy tricks like separating the white and yolk or steam-frying the eggs. It’s as simple as cracking an egg into a bowl (no straining off the loose white), heating a small stainless-steel (nope, not nonstick) skillet over high heat with a generous glug of high-smoke-point oil (don’t even think of using olive oil here) until it begins to smoke, and turning the egg out into the pan. What comes next is a messy affair — don’t say I didn’t warn you to wear an apron — as the extremely-hot oil will sputter as the egg white bubbles and soufflés, but it’s pretty much impossible to screw up. The whites are cooked until deep-brown and crisp around the edges, while the yolks aren’t in contact with the pan long enough to overcook. It’s a fried egg to actually get excited over. Combined with the aforementioned veggies, it’s a breakfast that’s far greater than the sum of it’s (already excellent) parts.
- For the slow-roasted tomatoes:
- 2 pints (about 1 pound) cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- For the sautéed mushrooms:
- 1 tablespoon high-smoke-point oil, such as rice bran or grapeseed
- 2 (150 gram) containers beech mushrooms, trimmed
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- For the fried eggs:
- High-smoke-point oil, such as rice bran or grapeseed
- 1-2 large eggs per person
- 1/2 an avocado, sliced, per person
- Flaky sea salt
- Hot sauce, for serving
- Roast the tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- Add the halved cherry tomatoes to a half-sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast for about 1 hour, or until they've reduced in volume by about half.
- Sauté the mushrooms: In a large skillet, heat the neutral oil over medium-high heat until it just begins to shimmer. Add the mushrooms and salt, and stir to evenly coat the mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes or until deeply-browned.
- Divide the tomatoes and mushrooms evenly between 4 plates (or save half of each for the next day's breakfast, if making breakfast for 2).
- Fry the eggs: Heat a generous glug of neutral oil in a small skillet over high heat until beginning to smoke. Carefully add 2 eggs to the skillet, then step aside as the oil will sputter. Cook until the white is set and the edges are brown and crisp, about 1 minute. Wipe out the skillet before repeating the same procedure to fry the next batch.
- Add 1 or 2 fried eggs to each plate. Add half a sliced avocado to each plate. Sprinkle the avocado and fried eggs with flaky sea salt; serve with hot sauce.
Both the tomatoes and mushrooms can be made ahead of time; reheat them in a hot skillet.
While I don't usually bother with an apron, I recommend wearing one while frying the eggs as the oil will sputter once the eggs are added and may stain your clothes if you're standing too close.