Growing up, breakfast was cereal. Healthy cereal, to be specific- bran flakes, wheat germ, wheat bran, you get the picture. I loved it, I really did, happily adding in fresh strawberries and milk. The only day that this routine might change was Sundays, when my mother would often prepare fluffy white scones onto which we would slather cream cheese and homemade jelly. The “American Breakfast” – bacon, eggs, potatoes- was a strange and unknown creature. In fact, I don’t remember eating bacon even once in my life, as I gave up meat at the age of 16, before American breakfasts were introduced to me through late night visits to Denny’s (generally a stack of pancakes) or brunches in college.
When I moved to San Diego to study, I lived seven blocks from the beach- a quick walk to the boardwalk would bring me to what would be one of the most amazing breakfast places I have ever been to in my entire life. Mr. D’s -a little hole in the wall that would only open when Mr. D felt like it, generally depending on whether the surf was up or not- consisted of a small, square room with about 7 tables. The back of the room had a little cut-out in the wall, where Mr. D, a tall, skinny man in his 30’s, would stand, gruffly taking orders. He would bark back your order, pleasantly, writing on a little white pad. It was a family affair- his mother worked with him, washing the dishes, while his adorable little children would bring the steaming plates of food out to your table. Coffee was self-served behind the counter in little thick white ceramic mugs, and the menu consisted of one laminated page with limited choices. Because I was vegetarian, one of the only options I had was perhaps the best thing and most awesome breakfast deal in the universe: 2 eggs any style (sunny side up was my go-to choice back then), toast, and hash browns for $1.75. Yes, you are reading that price correctly. And this was in 2001, so not that long ago. It was really cheap even back then. The food, with its perfectly sized portions, hot and greasy, slathered in tabasco, would always help gently ease my hangover. By the time I graduated, Mr. D’s was never open and someone told me that he had shut down, probably due to the excessively low prices and infrequent opening days. But my love affair with eggs for breakfast had begun, with much appreciation to Mr. D.
These days, I will take my breakfast eggs in most ways- poached, over-easy, sunny-side up, omelette, soft-boiled, even scrambled (but only if my friend Madeleine scrambles them, because those are the best ever, and I’ve never been able to successfully repeat her technique). So when my husband asked me for a mushroom quiche this morning, I thought that sounded like a pleasant challenge, since I’ve never made it before. As I searched the web for gluten-free recipes, a shredded potato/hash brown crust recipe appeared on my screen. Immediately I remembered Mr. D’s hash browns and decided this was the right way to go. So here’s a fancy fancy recipe for quiche in honor of Mr. D’s memory.
For the Crust:
3 cups grated russet potatoes
2 tbsp coconut oil
For the Filling:
1/2 a yellow onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, diced
1 tsp finely diced habanero pepper
Several (~8 medium sized) shiitake mushrooms (or as many as will fit in the filling)
Handful of parsley, chopped
splash of lactose-free kefir
spices for seasoning
Preheat the oven to 400-450 degrees (depending on how hot your oven is, I did it at 425 with my very hot oven). Grate the potatoes, and place in a sieve. Press down with a paper or clean cloth towel until the potato shreds are quite dry. Toss them with the oil. Press the potatoes down into a 9-inch quiche pan, making sure to spread the potatoes up the side of the pan. Cook for 20-25 minutes until the potato crust is brown and starting to crisp.
Slice up the mushrooms – make sure they are not too chunky. Mix the diced veggies with the mushrooms and eggs into a bowl, stir until incorporated. Season with salt, pepper, turmeric, fresh thyme, or whatever seasoning suits your pleasure. Stir in a splash of kefir- this helps it to be fluffy. Once the potato crust is ready, turn the oven down to 325-350. Pour the egg mixture into the pie dish, and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the filling is puffed up and cooked. Can be eaten hot.