Yesterday I had come across a particularly fetching photograph of a Strammer Max (if you’re fond of eggs, there are actually many fetching photographs), so today I decided to essay this German breakfast classic for the first time, substituting its ham and eggs approach for our usual Sunday bacon and eggs (which always boasts a number of extras, both rotating and new). Both versions include toast, but the German tradition is much more straightforward (or ‘plain’? I promised myself not to say more bland) than my own embellishment of the classic American formula, meaning it eschews almost all of the varying herbs, spices, and seasonings that I usually add to the basic bacon and eggs thing, to keep it exciting week after week.
I still couldn’t just leave it alone, so today I added some chopped Frühlings-Knoblauch (Eng. spring garlic), and wilder Löwenzahn (Eng. wild dandelion), neither unknown in German lands, but perhaps not normally a part of Strammer Max, in addition to the very German Petersilien (Eng. parsley).
Even though I expect to be manipulating this simple Rezept beyond recognition on future Sundays, when it’s likely to evolve into something neither German nor American, but certainly at least a little ‘brown’, I’m going to remember the original inspiration.
Note: this Sunday mid-day meal is almost always both breakfast and lunch for us, and it’s followed only by dinner.
- four thick slices of Twelve Grain & Seed bread from Bread Alone, fried on both sides in several tablespoons of butter inside a large (13 1/4″) seasoned, cast iron pan and removed to a warm oven, a little more butter added to the pan and 6 Americauna chicken eggs from Millport Dairy Farm cracked into it and fried until their whites had almost not set, while at the same time 6 thin slices of smoked Whole Foods Market ham, that had first been brought to room temperature, were placed on top of the browned bread (2 ham slices on 2 of the bread slices, and one laid across half of each of the 2 other pieces), some torn wild cress arranged on top of the other halves of those pieces, the cooked eggs arranged on top of the ham, 2 eggs on each of 2 of the pieces, one on each of the other 2
- there were small cups of horseradish pickles from Millport Dairy Farm at the sides of the plates, a touch that was definitely more German than American – or even Wagnerian.
- the music was Francesco Feo’s 1734 (ca.) oratorio, ‘San Francesco di Sales’, Fabio Biondi conducting the Stuttgarter Kammerorchester
The Mediterranean, host to so many Alliums and Fennels: what a blessed world.
This breakfast was something of a hodgepodge. It was also more easily prepared than most described on this blog, because several of the extras were just sitting by, having already been prepared while I was assembling dinners in the last few days (to wit: the end of a batch of washed and dried lovage; sauté-softened spring garlic; and both the stems and fronds of some bronze fennel)
- the ingredients were 4 slices of Flying Pigs smoked bacon; Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’; Whole Foods Market house brand Portuguese olive oil; Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’, also from Whole Foods Market; chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge on the tomatoes; Americauna chicken eggs; sea salt; freshly-ground black pepper; spring garlic from John D. Madura Farm, partially-cooked earlier, tossed into the pan with the eggs; both finely-chopped bronze fennel stems and chopped fronds on the egg yolks; wild Sicilian fennel pollen from Buon Italia, also on the yolks; micro scallion fronds from Two guys as a garnish; toasted whole wheat sourdough miche from Bread Alone Bakery
cook’s critique: I can’t be relied upon to deliver fried eggs with all of their yolks intact, and this time 2 of the 6 ran the moment I cracked them into the pan, so next time I may try an end run (look at me, using a sports idiom!), cracking them gently into a bowl and then slipping them into the pan)
There was supposed to be fried scrapple.
I have absolutely no experience serving scrapple, so I enlisted a little help on line after I had found some in the Union Square Greenmarket for the first time ever. I’m sure I read somewhere yesterday that it would be much easier to get a firm, proper slice for frying if the whole block (the form in which it arrived) were still frozen when the knife was applied.
It was frozen hard as a rock; I got nowhere with a knife, I couldn’t even get my meat saw to do the job, although in that case it was probably because in applying pressure with its teeth I only succeeded in melting the surface enough that they couldn’t ‘saw’.
So instead we had our usual fried eggs accompaniment, excellent, quite thick (precut) bacon from the same Amish farmers who had brought us their Pannhaas, straight from Lancaster County. Although it was not a sacrifice, I’ll be trying again next Sunday, making some adjustments to my preparation plan.
- the ingredients that were assembled on the plate in the photograph above included thick bacon from Millport Dairy Farm, Cultured Pastured Butter from Organic Valley, a little bit of thinly-sliced scallion green from Norwich Meadows Farm, 6 Ameraucana chicken eggs from Millport Dairy Farm, freshly-ground black pepper, sea salt, Maldon sea salt for finishing, part of a crushed dried golden/orange habanada bought fresh from Norwich Meadows Farm last fall, 4 Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ (from Maine, near Skowhegan) via Whole Foods Market, arugula and red-veined sorrel from Lani’s Farm, toasts of 3 different breads (an older organic whole wheat, and whole spelt flour ‘Levain’ from Bread Alone, a whole wheat Levain Boule from Our Daily Bread, also several days old, and a fresh Balthazar Bakery rye boule from Whole Foods Market)
- the music was Rossini’s ‘Stabat Mater’ (1832-1842), with soloists Cecilia Bartoli, Raúl Giménez, Roberto Scandiuzzi, and Luba Orgonasova, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna State Opera conducted by Myung-Whun Chung
(sunlight reflected from the north on its rare stretch across an ancient table)
The Amish generally have a reputation for their traditional ways, and their reluctance to adopt modern conveniences, although this hasn’t always meant always abjuring actual modern technologies, and there are major variations in the practice of their many communities. Still, it’s interesting to find the Amish farm most familiar to this New Yorker, and perhaps most New Yorkers, introducing us to relatively innovative food products.
I’m no longer surprised to see John Stoltzfoos selling things like peppery cheeses and spicy sausages (all excellent, by the way), but I was recently surprised to find him in his family’s Millport Dairy Farm stall at the Union Square Greenmarket, selling blue eggs that had been laid by the trendy Americauna chicken, which was first bred in the US in the 1970s.
I’ve been buying those eggs ever since. The color is only incidental for me: It’s the taste and those plump, deep-yellow yolks that are the attraction for both Barry and I now.
morning afternoon they dominated a particularly beautiful breakfast table, a rather traditional American board whose ingredients were, except for the salt and pepper, and, probably, the butter, entirely of local origin.
- the makings of this meal included thick bacon from Millport Dairy Farm, Cultured Pastured Butter from Organic Valley, Japanese scallion greens from Norwich Meadows Farm (remarkable survivors, with some attention, in the crisper!), Ameraucana chicken eggs from Millport Dairy Farm, black pepper, sea salt, Maldon sea salt for finishing, crushed dried golden/orange habanada bought fresh from Norwich Meadows Farm, Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ (from Maine, near Skowhegan, and they are so pretty local, pretty green) via Whole Foods Market, winter savory (now half-dried from branches that were originally fresh) from Stokes Farm, fresh lovage from two Guys from Woodbridge, toasts of a day-old whole wheat baguette from Runner & Stone Bakery, and fresh slices of a Sullivan Street Stirato
- the music was an extraordinary performance of Beethoven’s 1823 ‘Missa Solemnis’ John Eliot Gardiner conducting l’Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, the Monteverdi Choir, and the solists Alastair Miles, Charlotte Margiono, Catherine Robbin, and William Kendall
It was breakfast much as usual, but with fewer accoutrements today. We were hoping to get to Bushwick before sunset, so I was thinking that less would give us more [time in Brooklyn], so I skipped the alliums and tomatoes this time.
- the ingredients that did appear on our plates were half a dozen eggs from 2 local suppliers, 4 from Norwich Meadows Farm and 2 pullet eggs from Shannon Brook Farm; bacon from Millport Dairy Farm; toast from a loaf of Bread Alone’s 12 grain & seed (organic wheat and whole wheat flours); crumbled dried orange/gold habanada pepper: a bit less crumbled dried peperoncino Calabresi secchi from Buon Italia; sea salt; freshly-ground black pepper; chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge; a pinch of fenugreek from Nirmala Gupta’s ‘Bombay Emerald Chutney Company‘ at Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market on 23rd Street; and purple micro radish, also from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- the music was probably our first nod to the season this year (I resisted just a little, since my December birthday was still to come, but then I retreated), Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Philippe Herreweghe conducting soloists Michael Chance, Barbara Schlick, Howard Crook, Peter Kooy and the Collegium Vocale