I have been obsessed for a while now with a BBC series on Netflix called Midsomer Murders. The show is set in a fictional county in the English countryside. The show is quite pretty with lots of quaint cottages, rolling green hills and pretty woods. Chief Inspector Barnaby and his sergeant solve complicated cases, usually fairly gruesome murders with multiple victims. A friend of mine laughed at me when I told her I found the show relaxing.
“Only you would find a crime show relaxing,” she said. Well, I’ve always enjoyed a good mystery, but I think the relaxing part comes in with all the beautiful scenery and, of course, those wonderful British accents.
I have long been an Anglophile and one of the many things that fascinates me about the British are their unusual breakfast choices.
I have a friend, Lucy, from England and she finds it absolutely disgusting and hilarious that we serve grits for breakfast. Where she lives, grit is something akin to gravel you’d put on your driveway. What I find hilarious though is that the British often eat something they call beans on toast for breakfast.
I questioned my friend about this at some length. It is very much like it sounds, you make toast and top it with beans in tomato sauce.
Now, I like beans and I like toast, but together? And for breakfast? I couldn’t quite imagine it. This past Saturday, however, I finally gave it a try. I’ll admit, I think the verdict is still out. While I was at the store I picked up a small can of plain pork and beans in tomato sauce. I warmed them up in a little pot. I toasted my bread, buttered it and poured the hot beans on top. It tastes about like you’d imagine. It was sort of bland so I did add a sprinkle of salt which helped. It was quite filling, but I can’t say I plan to make a habit of eating it. I imagine if it were complete with what they call an English fry up, with eggs, grilled tomatoes or mushrooms and sausage, perhaps it would have been more appealing.
On Sunday morning I had a breakfast that was much more my speed. I prepared a make-ahead breakfast casserole that I think would be lovely served anytime of the day. It was very savory with eggs, mushrooms and the surprising twist, green chiles. You can use any meat you prefer, I used sausage. This would be a great dish to prepare in advance if you’ve got company coming or, if you need a potluck dish to take to a brunch.
Make Ahead Breakfast (or anytime) Casserole (Recipe from www.reluctantentertainer.com)
• Loaf of sliced bread (white or wheat or sprouted wheat work), crusts trimmed off
• 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
• 1 lb. pre-cooked sausage, bacon or ham
• ½ lb. fresh sliced mushrooms
• 1 can diced chiles
• 2 cups grated jack cheese
• 6 eggs
• 2 cups milk
• ½ tsp. paprika
• ½ tsp. basil
• ½ tsp. pepper
• ¼ tsp. onion salt
• ¼ tsp. dry mustard
Place buttered, trimmed, bread slices in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan, overlapping each other – butter side up. Layer the grated sharp cheddar cheese, meat(s), mushrooms, chilies, and jack cheese. Mix in a separate bowl the eggs, milk, paprika, basil, pepper, onion salt, and dry mustard. Pour egg mixture over the layered ingredients. Cover with foil and chill overnight. In the morning, remove the foil and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour, or until center is firm and does not jiggle. Depending on your oven, you may need to cook an additional 5 minutes. Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.
Kitsey Burns Harrison is a reporter for The Yadkin Ripple and The Elkin Tribune, here she shares her musings on food, life and love. She can be reached at 336-518-3049 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.