We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Brussels Sprout and Bacon Hash Served Over Grits With a Poached Egg — Breakfast at Topsy's Kitchen and a Walking Tour of Petaluma, California

by Linda

"Breakfast is for cowards." — Jordan T.

   Although my son, Jordan, may not have a high regard for breakfast—I most emphatically do! One of my favorite things to do on a day off from work is to walk downtown from my historic neighborhood in Petaluma, California to have breakfast at Topsy's Kitchen. On the menu at this cute café you will find a breakfast option that has become "the thing" that I choose just about every time I go there. Please check out my video below that I created so that I would be able to share with you my experiences of living in Petaluma for the last three years—walking around the town with camera in hand. I knew when I moved to Petaluma three years ago, that I wanted to live on the west side of town, where going out to eat, going to the movies, or even seeing a concert is all just a short walk from home.

   Mark and I went to Topsy's Kitchen for the first time almost two years ago. On that day we wanted to have breakfast out for our birthday week in July. Since we share birthdays that are just three days apart, we have turned the occasion in to an extended celebration. Topsy greeted and seated us, and we confided that we were celebrating both of our birthdays. Not knowing at that time that we prefer to eat gluten-free, Topsy returned to our table with one of the café's delicious fresh apple fritters still warm from the fryer to celebrate our birthdays. She had thoughtfully topped it with a glowing birthday candle. Needless to say, we devoured it, gluten and all.

 Owner, Estelle "Topsy" Rand, and the owner/chef, Annie Simmons.
Chef Annie poses for me at one of the tables on the patio.
   Topsy has had long career in the San Francisco restaurant scene, and before opening Topsy's Kitchen, among other previous ventures, she ran the front of the house for my very favorite fine dining restaurant in Petaluma, Central Market. Annie graduated with honors from the New England Culinary Institute and has worked and traveled in Japan and Europe. When she moved to California she founded A Splendid Table Catering with Topsy.

   Mark and I have become what is known in the biz as "regulars". On chilly winter days we sit inside the cozy café interior, and during the summer months we love to dine al fresco on the patio with its yellow umbrellas, cheery yellow-checked table cloths and golden linen napkins. The service is always impeccable, and we are treated with real hospitality, which sadly seems to be a lost art in many food establishments these days. Wow—that makes me sound like a cranky old granny, but unfortunately it is true. We both highly recommend the establishment and our favorite Breakfast Bowl.

My favorite latté is served with a tiny pitcher of simple syrup.
Topsy and her staff make final preparations before the café opens for the day.

Brussels Sprout and Bacon Hash Served Over 
Grits With a Poached Egg

   This is the recipe that Mark and I came up with when we want to make the dish at home, which is not very often, because we really like walking the half mile downtown from our house and ordering it at Topsy's. The aforementioned service is always great, and I have a latté set before me quickly, which I enjoy sipping while I wait for my breakfast bowl to arrive. To be clear, the recipe below was not given to me by Topsy or Annie, however, Mark and I both think it is pretty darn close to the one made in the kitchen there. On occasion we like to make the hash with green cabbage instead of the Brussels sprouts. The bowl at Topsy's Kitchen is also offered with quinoa instead of the grits, but we both enjoy the base of grits much more.

good quality eggs
coarse corn grits—I use Bob's Red Mill
yellow or white onion
fresh parsley
fresh thyme
Brussels sprouts/or green cabbage
bacon drippings
sea salt
black pepper
Your favorite hot sauce

   The only difficulty in making this breakfast is the timing of all the components. If you use our oven fried bacon recipe, it makes cooking the bacon a snap, and it can be made ahead (even a couple of days in advance). The grits can softly simmer on the stop while you prepare the hash. When the bacon hash is finished, keep it warm until your eggs are cooked, and then assemble quickly. Mark is not so fond of poached eggs as I am, and he has his over easy.

Corn Grits
1 cup coarse grits,
3 cups of filtered water
1 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp of butter

This is a basic recipe for corn grits. The grits can be made more rich with the addition of cream or half and half if you wish.

Sprinkle the grits into lightly boiling and salted water. Stir the mixture until thickened and the grits are tender and have the consistency that you desire. More water or cream can be added if needed. Stir in the butter at the end and season with salt to taste. I like to simmer mine very slowly and to keep adding a little extra liquid if needed when I stir them every few minutes.

Brussels Sprout or Cabbage and Bacon Hash
1 small yellow onion—diced
2 cloves of fresh garlic—minced
1/2 cup chopped parsley (save a small amount for garnish)
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 pound Brussels sprouts or 1/2 head of green cabbage
3 Tbsp bacon drippings
5 strips cooked bacon chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a 380 degree oven cook bacon. For our easy method for oven fried bacon click here. When the bacon is done set aside. Begin heating water for the poached eggs.

While cooking the bacon, heat a large skillet to med-high, and add 1 Tbsp of the bacon drippings. Add onions and sauté until starting to be translucent. Add garlic and continue to sauté, then add parsley and thyme. When garlic releases its aroma, add the sliced Brussels sprouts or cabbage, pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper and cover. When cabbage is soft, remove lid and add 2 Tbsps bacon drippings and fry until the cabbage begins browning. Add bacon, and finish sautéing for another 2-3 minutes. Add fresh pepper, and adjust salt if needed.

Place a scoop of grits in a shallow bowl. Top with a scoop of the bacon hash and then place the egg on the hash. Garnish with the remaining parsley. Add hot sauce if desired along with a grind of black pepper and sea salt.

Mark patiently waits for me to finish with photos before he tucks into his breakfast.

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