Saturday, October 27, 2007

Breakfast for single 20 serving


There have been very few a time where I have intentionally skipped breakfast. If anything, this under-appreciated/ taken-for-granted/ forgotten/ "a-granola-bar-is-breakfast-right?" meal is my favorite meal and part of the day.

With breakfast, there is a different air about. Is it the potential of the day that instills hopefulness and tranquility that makes breakfast so different compared to the other meals of the day? Or maybe it's the pleasure of starting with an empty canvas and literally "breaking" the "fast" that gives breakfast such a pleasant quality. Perhaps, breakfast is wonderful just because it is just another chance to bite, taste, and chew a scrumptious meal.

Anywho, being a full-time university student living in a dormitory where the closest kitchen is a long stair-well away and the prospect of lugging a cart of spices, dishing washing soap, sponge, cutting board, knives, utensils, and pots & pans after 5 hrs of sleep (from studying for a biochem exam) at 8 am in the morning is hardly an incentive for making a honest to goodness breakfast.

So, what is single 20 serving supposed to do?

Learn to love the microwave.

With a little imagination and plenty of attempts, I have found a staple breakfast that takes 1 minute to prep and 1.5-2 min to cook. The short time required of this breakfast is due to some early prep done ahead of time (the weekends for me).

So here it is, Breakfast: Spicy Black beans with Salt&Peppered Egg

The method of preparation is rather simple and by having a full tupperware of these black beans, I have a warm and filling breakfast for at least 3 times a week. I love beans, not only for their nutritional value, but also that they fill me up without making me actually have that dooming sense of heaviness at the start of the day. The egg is really what makes this feel like breakfast and there's nothing more satisfying the gently prodding that semi-set sunshine yolk to ooze its golden deliciousness over the gentle steam of the beans. And to think that this is what can come out of a microwave (other than popcorn and warm milk) is another added plus. With a mug of coffee (black for me) and a view out the window, breakfast for single 20 serving is served...

Spicy Black Beans

1-15.5 oz can of black beans (washed and drained)
1 medium onion (red or white)
2 cloves garlic (reduce or eliminate if you're not so much a garlic fanatic)
1 tsp chili powder
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flake
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Equipment: A stove, knife (use one that you're comfortable using, but not a dull one), cutting board, a sautée pan

Dice the onion into small pieces and set aside. Crush the garlic and chop into fine pieces and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot (add a piece of onion and see if it sizzles- if it gives a nice sizzling sound, you're good. If not, then heat a little more. If you get smoke, take the pan off the heat and let it cool), add the onion and 1/3 tsp salt and pepper (to taste). Cook onions until slightly browned and beginning to look translucent (~2 min). Add the minced garlic and cook until the garlic is slightly brown (~1min).

Dump the beans and spices into the pan, mixing thoroughly so everything is evenly incorporated and distributed. Salt and pepper the beans (3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper is how I season). Cook the beans until they're piping hot.

Take beans off heat and let cool for 10 min. Store in an appropriately sized container and let cool until you can place it in the fridge.

When it's 8:30am and the stomach is grumbling for some breakfast grub:

1/2 c. Spicy beans
1 egg
Salt & Pepper

In a microwaveable bowl (I use ramekins), add the beans. Crack an egg over the beans. Salt and pepper the egg (pinch of salt, couple of twists of the pepper grinder).

With the microwave setting at high, cover the dish (with a paper towel of napkin- do this or prepare for some microwave cleaning), and put it in the microwave. Set the microwave to 30 sec cooking time. After that, repeat another 2 sets of 30 sec cooking. Check the yolk to see if it's to your liking. If you prefer a set yolk, do an extra set or two of the 30 sec. cooking.

Why cook this dish in 30 sec intervals as opposed to cooking it all at once? The heat in the microwave does something weird so that the cooking process intensifies so much that the beans begin to pop a lot and the egg cooks inconsistently. As to date, the 30 sec cooking has not left me down in creating that golden yolk that I love. But, of course, as my microwave oven is different from yours, try it whichever way you prefer. But 30 sec. intervals have been the most sure way in creating this breakfast.

I've just bought another pack of eggs and I still have some spicy beans left. The upcoming week will be a bit chilly so I'm looking forward to something warm for company at breakfast...

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