Breakfast is about feeding your loved ones, says Michael Zee, who creates dishes for two that taste as good as they look. Michael Zee’s beautiful and perfectly symmetrical breakfasts are hard to resist. What began as an Instagram of his boyfriend’s breakfast now has more than 600,000 followers and led to his first cookbook.
“Breakfast is the meal that most people take for granted,” says Michael. “Chewing at one’s desk or swigging a coffee on the go, we seem to care less and less about the most important meal of the day. I want to challenge the belief that there are breakfast foods and non-breakfast foods. The fact is, anything can be breakfast – and probably is, somewhere.”
Baghdad baid masus
If you love shakshuka, then give these special eggs from Baghdad a try: eggs fried in a spiced cumin and coriander butter, with finely diced celery and onion, served with crispy pitta chips and a herby labneh dip.
2 pitta breads
3 tsp za’atar
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
11⁄2 tsp cumin seed
11⁄2 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp hot paprika or chilli powder
200g labneh (substitute 170g cream cheese mixed with 30g yoghurt if you’re struggling to source this)
Fresh chopped mint, parsley and coriander
Juice of 1 lemon
Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Open up the pocket of each pitta and split each into two so that you have four ovals. Cut each into strips. Place them on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with za’atar. Bake for about 15 minutes until crunchy and brown around the edges.
Heat the butter in an ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat and add the celery, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander and paprika. Cook this for 10–12 minutes until soft.
Crack in the eggs and when they are just about set on top, put the pan in the oven with a lid on. The oven should still be hot (from baking the pitta) but not switched on.
In a bowl, mix the labneh with the freshly chopped herbs and lemon juice. Remove the eggs from the oven and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve from the pan at the table, with dollops of the herby labneh and pitta chips for dipping.
Pop rye bread into a food processor, blitz it into a crumb and eat it with ymer, a type of sour yoghurt, and fresh fruit.
300g dark rye bread (or whatever you have left over)
2 tsp brown sugar
450g ymer or yoghurt
250g mixed soft berries
Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Tear the rye bread into chunks and put it in a food processor along with the sugar and any other flavourings you’ve decided on. Blitz until it resembles rubble.
Spread evenly over some baking paper on a baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes but give it a jiggle at around 7 minutes, for even cooking, then check again at 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. I like mine still a bit warm. Serve with yoghurt and fruit.
A lovely flaky, crispy pancake from Morocco. Serve with honey and lashings of culinary argan oil (made from toasted argan kernels)
FOR THE DOUGH
450g plain flour
100g fine semolina
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
1 sachet fast–action yeast
300ml tepid water
100g soft butter
100g fine semolina
FOR THE TOPPINGS
Argan oil (go easy on this)
Pine nuts, lightly toasted
Put all the dry ingredients for the dough into a bowl or mixer and add the water until the mix forms a slightly sticky dough. Be careful that you don’t add too much water at the start. If you’re using a mixer, knead the dough for about 5 minutes using a dough hook. If you’re working by hand, knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes. It should be smooth and elastic.
Split the dough into 10 balls and, using the sunflower oil, lightly coat each one so that it doesn’t dry out. Clear a large work surface to prepare your pancakes and generously oil so that the dough doesn’t stick.
Take a ball of dough and, with oiled hands, press it flat. Working from the middle outwards, keep going until the pancake is so thin you can almost see through it; don’t worry if you make some holes. Scantly spread some butter over and sprinkle some semolina on – this will help the flaky layers form when cooking.
Like folding a letter, fold the left two thirds in and then bring the right side over. You should have a narrow strip now. Bring the top down two thirds of the way and fold the bottom up to match. Now you have a square. Repeat until all the balls are folded.
Preheat a dry pan over a medium–high heat. Starting with the first square, flatten it out until it’s about twice its original size. Fry each pancake for about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown, flipping several times throughout.
Drizzle with honey, argan oil, pine nuts and berries.
All recipes from SymmetryBreakfast: Cook, Love, Share (Bantam Press) by Michael Zee.