Sunday, 17 February 2013

Prima Mattina

Tortine Salate con Sapori Siciliani
Savory Sicilian Flavored Breakfast Cakes

Sicily, as indeed most of Italy, is not a land famous for its breakfasts- there is not much of a culture of a family sit-down meal there first thing in the morning- people are usually up and out of the house, grabbing an espresso and maybe a brioche or cornetto to start their day quickly. Don't worry too much about them though- they are also usually at home having a family mid-day meal whilst you sit in an office or some lunchtime cafe or eating joint... it's just a different culture!

But there are some things that people may make at the weekend say, when there is more time... simple, wonderful things like egg-dipped fried bread with mint and sun-dried tomatoes- one of my favorite childhood memories! The smell of the egg and mint going through the house was intoxicating! There is no need for an alarm clock when you have those aromas to greet you in the morning!

Traditionally of course, that was just a great way to make use of stale bread- a savory "French toast" if you will... but being as I so rarely buy bread any more as I am constantly cooking so much food myself and need to cut-back in other departments... well... I simply didn't have any bread at all this morning- not even stale bread!

So, obviously I improvised, as I have done on a number of occasions already, to produce something with that typically Sicilian egg and mint flavor- because that is what it is all about- especially in combination with salty, tangy sun-dried tomatoes. So with 2 eggs and a little prep work, I managed to whip up these wonderful little breakfast snacks in just a half an hour or so. And obviously I love them even more because they are baked and not fried! Ready to find out how to make 'em? Ok- here goes!

First of all separate the eggs and whip up the whites until they are nice and fluffy. Then whisk the yolks together with 2 tablespoons of flour for each yolk and 2 egg yolks full of milk- that was the rough measure I used today and they worked wonderfully. I added a teaspoon of baking powder, which I would say is optional- but you know- it's better to be safe and sorry and I didn't want these to not rise to the occasion! ;-)

All I needed to do now was to add all of other flavors straight into the egg-whites- a handful of finely chopped mint, some finely chopped parsley, salt (not too much because of the Feta cheese and bacon which are already salty), pepper, freshly ground nutmeg and a handful of finely crumbled Feta cheese. I then poured the yolk/batter into the egg-whites too and gently folded everything together. Easy!

I lightly greased a muffin tray out with olive oil- keeping things Mediterranean and all ;-) and then spooned in the egg mixture- about a tablespoon and a half per cake was the yield from 2 eggs- and that made 12 little cakes / 1 tray full- which is pretty good going! I finished them off by sprinkling a little more crumbled Feta and the finely chopped bacon on top and setting 1/4 of a cherry tomato in the middle for a flash of color and freshness... then into a hot oven they went, at 400°F for around 20 minutes, with an additional minute or so right at the end under the broiler.

Being as it was Sunday morning, I made a point of leaving onion out of these cakes- nobody wants bad breath that early in the day- and instead, opted to sprinkle them with finely chopped chives at the end, which gave a similar flavor, some good color and a fresher taste in general. And it was all very, very good indeed! But don't take my word for it... get cracking! ;-)

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