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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

An Homage To Breakfast

November 16, 2015

It is widely known among my family and friends that breakfast is this columnist’s favorite meal of the day. My son and I eat breakfast together at least twice a week. I meet my mother for breakfast three times each week and the other two slots are reserved for friends or business meetings.

I prefer a business meeting during breakfast over a lunch meeting 100% of the time. The brain is fresh and unclouded in the early morning and ideas and concepts flow easily in the immediate hours after dawn. I am in the restaurant business, and for almost 30 years I have been able to pay my bills and save up for my children’s college because of lunch business meetings, but I typically work during lunch. If I am going to participate in a meeting it needs to be at breakfast.

I am not sure why I prefer breakfast over almost every meal, maybe I’m just wired that way. I don’t think it is anything from my childhood. I have many great memories of childhood breakfasts, but most of the lasting memories that I have that surround food are from lunches at my paternal grandmother’s house.

My maternal grandparents house was where my fondest breakfast memories were made. My grandmother, we called her “Muz,” made pancakes from a recipe she learned in Nashville in the 1930s. It was her go-to breakfast. I don’t think I ever spent a night at her house without having pancakes the next morning. When our family went on vacation she came with us and prepared pancakes for breakfast. Today we still make pancakes from her recipe.

Breakfast food is so good that sometimes people eat it for supper. No one eats supper food for breakfast. Sunday evenings were reserved for breakfast in my childhood home. The Wonderful World of Disney, Ed Sullivan, Bonanza, and scrambled eggs were the mainstays.

Last week a breakfast companion and I were having a business meeting. He, too, is a breakfast guy. The discussion turned to, “rank in order: Pancakes, waffles, French toast.” For me the order is: 1.) Pancakes 2.) French toast 3.) Waffles. That probably comes from my childhood memories in my grandmother’s kitchen, but I also believe that a mediocre pancake is not as good as mediocre French toast. Sometimes pancakes can be very one-dimensional and too “bready.” French toast, even though it is 90% bread, can have more complexity in the flavor profile than many pancakes (except Muz’s pancakes, of course).

RSJ’s Top 10 breakfasts

10.) Oatmeal— I’ve been eating oatmeal all of my life. It was my go-to afternoon snack in elementary school. Today I use whole oats, a small amount of butter, skim milk, a touch of honey, and a pinch of salt and cook it in the microwave. As a breakfast, it has never let me down.

9.) Country ham and blackberry preserves in biscuits— Country ham is one of life’s greatest treats. Once it has been sautéed in a little butter and sandwiched between two halves of a homemade buttermilk biscuit and dressed with a little blackberry preserves it becomes transcendent.

8.) Fried eggs on top of wheat toast— This is a go-to basic for me. Many times in a diner I’ll order two pieces of wheat toast topped with two over-easy eggs. Basic. Simple. Delicious.

7.) Eggs in the hole— This one goes by many names, but when I was a kid we called it “Eggs in the hole.” It was great then and it’s good now. You know the drill: A cookie cutter, a hole in the middle of the bread, and an egg cooked in the hole.

6.) French toast and bacon— This becomes an even better treat when left to the talents and creativity of many New Orleans chefs.

5.) Scrambled egg sandwich— this was a late-night mainstay in my teen years and early 20s. I still make it today with sharp cheddar cheese and crisp bacon on wheat.

4.) Quiche— I am blessed to have an office located across the street from a very talented French chef’s bakery. The French are better than the rest of us when it comes to cooking chicken and eggs. His bacon quiche is silky and light. Good for lunch with a salad, and great for breakfast with fruit.

3.) Dad breakfast— Every father has a go-to breakfast he prepares for his kids. I cook bacon in a cast-iron skillet and then cook hash browns immediately after, in the same skillet, using the rendered the bacon grease to cook the potatoes. Scrambled eggs and biscuits with peach or blackberry preserves round out the meal.

2.) Cup eggs— I grew up eating soft-boiled eggs. I have never cared for the hard-boiled variety, but my mother cooked three-minute eggs and we added torn up biscuits in a cup with salt and pepper. My son and I ate this all over Europe with croissants.

1.) Muz’s pancakes and spicy sausage— I have always said that, “Pancakes are love.” It’s true. Have you ever eaten pancakes (in your home or someone else’s home) that weren’t made by someone who loved you, or someone you love? I rest my case.

Show someone you love them today and make them a stack of pancakes.


Muz’s Pancakes (love from a griddle)

1 cup               All Purpose Flour (or 1/2 cup A/P flour + 1/2 cup pastry flour)

2 tsp                 Baking Powder

1 tsp                 Baking Soda

1 tsp                 Salt

1 Tbl                Sugar

1                      Egg

1 cup               Buttermilk

1 /2 cup           Milk

1 /4 cup           Melted Butter (plus an additional 1/ 4 cup for basting)

more melted butter for finished pancakes


Mix dry ingredients thoroughly. Mix liquid ingredients in a separate bowl. Gently add liquid ingredients including 1 /4 cup of butter, and stir until just incorporated. Do not overwork the batter.

Cook pancakes on a lightly greased non-stick griddle. Pancakes should be turned only once. They are ready to be turned when bubbles form in the middle and the edges appear cooked. Just before plating, use a pastry brush to spread the additional 1/ 4 cup of melted butter on top of the pancakes. Top with real maple syrup.

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