Tag Archives: breakfast

Silver Spur Restaurant Review

The Silver Spur is essentially across the street from our house in Santa Cruz. It is a quaint looking place with a Western decor reminiscent of my grandparent’s living room, minus the shag carpeting. Andrew and I heard good things about it from a couple of locals who have lived in the area for over twenty years, plus the line out the door every Saturday is another good sign.

Breakfast seems to be a battle ground in Santa Cruz, restaurants fighting for a place as the best restaurant. There are few restaurants that serve dinner in town that can hold a candle to the cuisine served at breakfast, according to most of the locals anyway. I have found that most of the breakfast restaurants in town are incredibly overrated: Walnut Cafe, Zachary’s Restaurant, Hoffman’s Bakery, and Cafe Brazil being the most notable examples. They each have something that I enjoy, but overall I have never been wowed. There is only one place in town that I believe serves a perfect breakfast: Kelly’s Bakery. Kelly’s Bakery is the only restaurant, and I mean the only restaurant, I have ever been to that serves satisfactory poached eggs. Every other restaurant serves them with at least a quarter cup of water still in the cup with them. The perfect breakfast at Kelly’s Bakery is two perfectly poached eggs nestled atop toasted slices of Francese bread baked in house with smoked salmon and sliced avocado. Amazing.

Silver Spur is on the same level with Zachary’s Restaurant for me. It is better than Walnut Cafe and Hoffman’s Bakery, while not as good as Kelly’s Bakery. I ordered a Two Egg Combo with poached eggs, two biscuits, home fries, and three chicken apple sausages with limitless coffee. Andrew ordered three slices of French toast, two scrambled eggs (well done, sigh), and bacon with Early Grey tea. The coffee was good and there were limitless free refills. The eggs were still in too much water. Really is it too much to ask for that they drain their eggs before serving them to you? The home fries could have been crispier, but they were tender and there were no bell peppers, which makes me incredibly happy. The sausage was generic, but tasty. The biscuits were the standout for me. They were light, fluffy, and tangy served with apricot preserves. Andrew enjoyed his French toast, eggs, and bacon.

Overall, I would go back to the Silver Spur and I would also try them for lunch some time. Their service was good (a rarity among breakfast restaurants in Santa Cruz) and their facilities were clean.

Don’t Let the Cat out of the Bag Eggs

There are many names for this kind of dish. I mostly call it Egg in the Hole, but I’ve heard it called a number of names: egg in the basket, toad in the hole, and bird’s nest. I looked it up on Wikipedia to see what other names they had:

Rocky Mountain toast, egg-in-a-basket, moon egg, egg-in-the-hole, one-eyed Jack, bird’s nest, gas house eggs, the Elephant Egg Bagel, frog in a hole, camp eggs or camper’s eggs, bull’s eye, egg in bed, egg(y)-in-a-bread(y), moon toast, Moon over Miami, Popeye, Lone Ranger, Wink Eye, and Cowboy Eggs.

Essentially its a fried egg in a hole in a piece of bread, a waffle, or even a bagel. I used California Black Bread from a local bakery. I love this bread. I love this bread even more when there is a delicious egg in it. I love this bread even more when there is a delicious egg on it topped with avocado topped with pesto. I think somewhere in the dictionary next to the definition of love are those things put together.

Now this is a dish that unfortunately can never be vegan. Don’t even try. Don’t even try with your tofu scramble. It won’t work. It is not the same. You can never replace eggs this way. There is no oozing runny yellow egg yolk in a tofu scramble. In fact, in my humble opinion, there is nothing but rubbery weirdness in a tofu scramble. Here come the protests…

I want to tell you the story as to how I came to like runny egg yolks. Growing up, I detested eggs in all forms except for scrambled or omelets. I did not like hardboiled eggs because my mother would boil them until the yolks were greyish-green. I thought that was what all hard-boiled eggs looked like. I would refuse to eat the yolks and just eat the whites. I believed I did not like runny egg yolks into my adult years. It was not until I was drunk one night at Santa Cruz Diner that I decided I needed to try runny eggs. So I got eggs over easy with pancakes and bacon. OH MY GOD. Why had I not been eating these? For a while after that I had to try everything with runny egg yolks, the most important of all was egg’s benedict. That’s right, until I was twenty-two years old I had never had egg’s benedict because I was convinced that runny egg yolks were disgusting. I was missing something very vital and important in my life until that point. People, do not be afraid of the runny yolks.

My egg in the hole today is named Don’t Let the Cat out of the Bag Eggs because I used a cat cookie cutter and the bread is the bag. What came out was pretty damn delicious, quick, and filling for lunch.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 slice of bread (I used California Black Bread)
  • margarine, butter, or oil (I used olive oil spray and a non-stick pan)
  • half an avocado, sliced lengthwise
  • pesto sauce
  • alfalfa sprouts

You can top your egg with anything you want or not top it at all. I bet you could make a killer hollandaise sauce to go on it or use salsa and cheese. I used to go to this coffee shop that would do the egg-in-the-hole with avocado, smoked cheddar, salsa, and your choice of Canadian bacon or bacon. It was pretty damn good and that was back when I was doing hard yolks (I’d always ask for it hard and they would look at me like I was missing a significant part of my brain).

1. Heat a skillet on medium with margarine, butter, or oil. Cut a hole in your bread. I used a cat cookie cutter, but you could use a glass. You want to use a large piece of bread not, a small piece or your egg is going overwhelm the bread. This would be a great way to use the heel of the bread because face it, no one eats the heel of the bread. Place the bread in the skillet and crack the egg into the hole. Put a lid over the skillet to cook the top of the egg.

2. When the bottom part of the egg is cooked (you will smell it, if you can’t then use a spatula to lift up and check it), flip your basket over and to cook the white. This will take very little time. Don’t forget to add your cat or circle or whatever shape you used and toast it in the skillet.

3. Carefully remove the bread and egg from the skillet. Place the alfalfa sprouts on top of the bread. On top of the alfalfa, add the avocado, salt, and pesto sauce. Then place your cat (or circle, you totally boring unimaginative person) on top to make it look like there is a dead animal on your food.

Restaurant Reviews

As a recent traitor to omnivorism and convert to cooking vegan, I feel very lucky to live in an area with as many options as Santa Cruz has. Going out to eat is not difficult, it’s not as easy as it was before, but it’s definitely do-able and delicious. There are a couple restaurants in Santa Cruz that are purely vegetarian/vegan: Saturn Cafe, Malabar/Asian Rose, Charlie Hong Kong (I think, though I’m not 100%), Alfresco, and Dharmas.  There is also Black China Bakery which has a great variety of fine vegan desserts. I have only been once to the actual bakery, but they sell their desserts at some local grocery stores and coffee houses. Many of the restaurants have a large variety of vegetarian items.

This weekend Andrew and I got food from Yan Flower, Zachary’s, the Falafel House, and Sitar. Ugh, that’s a lot of eating out, but we almost always cook. On Friday night we got food at Yan Flower before going to see Robin Hood.  Before this weekend Andrew was convinced that there was no Chinese food restaurant that was better than competent. I told him that Yan Flower was pretty good compared to all others in Santa Cruz and therefore could possibly be considered “good”.  We got hot tea, vegetable potstickers, white steamed rice, salty and chilli pepper tofu, and Andrew got Mongolian Lamb. The potstickers were very good, but a little hot (as in temperature) and I almost burned my mouth. The rice was actually good for steamed rice: fluffy and tender. The salty and chilli pepper tofu was fried tofu, jalapeno peppers, garlic, and onions. It was not as salty or spicy as I remember it, but the tofu texture was great. Andrew described it as “egg like” and he enjoyed it as much as he could enjoy tofu. He said the Mongolian Lamb was very good as well.

After taking the night to recover from the mediocrity that was Robin Hood (or Gladiator 2010: Time Travel to The Dark Ages), Andrew and I got breakfast at Zachary’s. Zachary’s is an insanely popular breakfast venue on the main drag downtown. It usually would be insanely crowded at 9am on a Saturday, but we were lucky due to the craptastic weather that we are experiencing mid-May.

I got coffee with soy milk, tofu scramble with avocado, vegan home fries, and oatmeal molasses bread. They make their breads in house and they are all amazing, but oatmeal molasses is my favorite. I thoroughly enjoyed the bread with the avocado spread on it and the home fries were tasty. Tofu scramble just isn’t my thing and this had a rotting garlic scent to it. Andrew enjoyed his scrambled eggs, sausage, and pancakes with Earl Grey Tea.

Later that day we went to check out the Greek Festival in downtown Santa Cruz. There wasn’t anything to it this year: just a bunch of different food booths. This was mostly desserts with a gyro place and another place where you could get souvlaki. There was no falafel which was what Andrew was looking for. Instead we ended up going to the Falafel House on Walnut Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz. The Falafel House is a Syrian/Middle Eastern restaurant. I got the vegetarian combo platter which consisted of baba ghanoush, pita bread, taboulleh salad, falafel, and hummus. Now, I fucked up. I ate the regular yogurt sauce on the falafel instead of the vegan tahini sauce. I didn’t know that they were going to put the yogurt sauce on the falafel and I didn’t feel like bothering them to change it.

I enjoyed the falafel, hummus, and pita bread. I liked the baba ghanoush as well which surprised me since I don’t like eggplant. I definitely think I make better hummus though. I didn’t like the taboulleh salad too much, but I still tried to eat it and it wasn’t wretched. I think I don’t like taboulleh. Another great thing about the Falafel House is the fact that they are always playing Syrian MTV or some other music video channel. Oh and they’re onion rings are amazing.

Today we went out for lunch/dinner instead of cooking because we were bummed after the Sharks losing the first game of the conference finals. Andrew got pizza at Pizza My Heart (a local San Francisco Bay Area chain that began in Capitola). My favorite slice at PMH is pesto. It was the first thing with pesto that I ever liked and converted me to a pesto lover. Screw you campus dining halls for making me afraid of pesto for so long.

At Sitar, I got Chana Masala (vegan chickpea/garbanzo bean curry), vegan naan, basmat rice, ice berg lettuce crap in a compartment, and raita (which I didn’t eat since it’s made with yogurt). The chana masal had wonderful texture: thick sauce, creamy garbanzo beans, melt in your mouth pieces of onion, but it the curry could have been spicier. The rice was a good texture and the naan was good.

Steel Cut Oats

I realized this morning that I hardly ever do breakfast posts. I always eat breakfast and I enjoy breakfast foods, but most of the time breakfast means a bowl of cereal or a couple of pieces of toast with apple butter. Then coffee. I am a coffee addict. I decided to show a little bit of what I eat for breakfast on a typical morning. McCann’s steel cut instant oats with salt and agave syrup.

Breakfast Oatmeal

  • 1/2 cup McCann’s steel cut instant oats (or any brand of plain instant oats)
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (you can use rice, soy, or cow milk. You can also use water.)
  • a sprinkle of salt
  • agave syrup

1. Pour oats and milk into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for two minutes uncovered. Add salt and syrup to taste.

The salt really adds a complexity of flavor. It brings out the oat flavor and brings balance to the sweetness of the agave syrup. I would really like to try some savory oatmeal recipes in the future.

Vegan Poptarts with Homemade Apple Butter

Please excuse the incredibly shitty photo. For some reason I could not get my camera to focus today and my battery ran out before I could take more photos. I used the same recipe as before (see Homemade Vegan Poptart recipe) and this time I used apple butter that I made over the weekend as the filling. The apple butter turned out absolutely amazing, but I have so much of it. I have no idea what to do with all of it. Here is the recipe for the apple butter.

Apple Butter

Adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. pink lady organic apples
  • 1 cup water (Martha calls for apple cider, but I didn’t have any)
  • 1-2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice mixture
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice

1. Combine all the ingredients in a large havey buttomed saucepan; place over mdeium high heat and cook, sittiring often with a large wooden spoon to prevent scorching, until apples are broken down and saucy, about one hour. Mash any large pieces of apple with the wooden spoon.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until apples are completely broken down and butter is thick and dark, about 2 1/2 hours. Remove from heat and let stand to cool. Store, refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to 1 month or frozen up to six months.