Brunch by the Sea

In 1896 Punch magazine wrote that the term “brunch” was coined in Britain in 1895 to describe a Sunday meal for “Saturday-night carousers”.

The term has evolved to mean the wonderful meal we enjoy today between breakfast and lunch. It might be bacon and eggs, omelets and vegetables, or any number of lunch time dishes reflecting where the meal is taking place.

On Cape Cod or Montauk, LA,  San Francisco, Miami or Houston.  for example, seafood brunches are common in part because of the daily bounty of seafood readily available.  Of course any combination of complementary dishes work well for brunch type meals, as noted below.

For example over the years I have come to love bagels, smoked salmon, red onion and tomato slices after breakfast and before lunch. Of course, sautéed kippers (herring) with caramelized onions are no less wonderful. I am told this is common fair in the UK and Scandinavia. I learned to love this dish in Chicago from my Lithuanian grandmother.

Another special brunch meal that doesn’t have to wait for Sunday to enjoy is soft scrambled eggs with strips of roasted poblano chili peppers. The origin of this meal I suspect is Oaxaca, Mexico where I first enjoyed it for brunch.

But I have to say that David Eyre’s soufflé like pancake takes a backseat to no other breakfast or brunch feast, even though the competition is fierce. First, let’s examine a bit of culinary history to fully appreciate the origin of this treat.

The New York Times food editor Craig Claiborne was the first to write about the famous David Eyre’s pancake in 1966. He was attending an informal Sunday brunch at Eyre’s Japanese-style home in Honolulu.  Claiborne tells us that, “Diamond Head was in the distance with a brilliant, palm-ringed sea below and this delicately flavored pancake before us. We seemed to have achieved paradise.”

Current New York Times food editor Amanda Hesser tells us “the dish deflates like pricked balloons, in their journey from the oven to the table…You must be quick, she tells us.  Be sure to sprinkle them with lemon juice and cilantro as you go.“

Over 50 years later, here is an adapted version of Claiborne’s original recipe which I can assert has not lost its magic nor delicious soufflé like flavor.

David Eyre’s (Soufflé like) Pancake

(Adapted Version of Claiborne’s Recipe)

Serves 2-4
2 eggs
½ cup unbleached flour
½ cup milk
Pinch ground nutmeg
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup diced cilantro
Juice of half a lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Next, in a mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add flour, milk and nutmeg, and lightly beat until blended but still slightly lumpy.
2. Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with a heatproof handle,  if possible, over medium-high heat. When very hot but not brown, pour in the batter. Bake in the oven until the “souffle like” pancake is billowing on the edges and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
3. Working quickly, remove the pan from the oven and using a fine-mesh sieve, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar. Return to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve with jam, pear butter or marmalade. Finally cut pie – like wedges for each of your guests. And perhaps to “gild the lily” even further, that is to enhance what is already beautiful and excellent, include some crispy strips of bacon or some seaside Clam stuffies on the side prepared with chopped onions and clams, bread crumbs and butter.






Please send comments, questions and observations of interest to Chef Alan Zox at [email protected].

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