Forget rose petals on the bed and chocolates for Valentine’s Day. My idea of romance is the Sunday morning I got to sleep in late, then wake up to see Mr Nerd had made breakfast. But not just any breakfast.
He had prepared for me a replica of one of my all-time favourite, iconic Perth breakfasts – Eggs Benny Chan, which I may have ordered every single time I have visited Roasting Warehouse in South Freo in the past six years. Except this time, my Eggs Benny Chan was waiting for me on my own dining table, in the warmth of our home on a chilly morning.
No wrangling a maniacal toddler out of a café while one of us hastily gulped the last dregs of our cold coffee and paid the bill – and I didn’t even have to get out of my pyjamas to eat it. Now that is romantic.
Going out for breakfast with both our kids is not something we do very much at the moment.
It’s not that I don’t want to go out for breakfast. It’s that we haven’t wanted to do it much with Miss Nerd the past couple of years. Some toddlers are just not the restful café babes content to sip their babycino and peacefully watch the world go by, are they?
Some toddlers are more the “spirited” socialite variety who start walking at eight months and don’t see why they’re not allowed to go in the kitchen to talk to the chef. All the barista-made coffee in the world does not give me and my puffy morning face the energy for such shenanigans at 9am.
When it was just Mr Nerd, Little Nerd and I, we used to go out for breaky a fair bit.
Not just to South Fremantle to get the benny chan with siracha hollandaise sauce.
We’d go for the siracha chilli avocado sourdough at Mary Street Bakery in Highgate.
The eggs benedict with bacon at Blend in Melville.
The macaroni with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce and asparagus and bacon at Nic & Kolo in Applecross (sounds weird, is good).
The buttermilk pancakes with pecan nuts and double cream at Bib & Tucker in Cottesloe on a wet, wintry morning, with a table overlooking the ocean.
But Little Nerd was usually pretty good in a restaurant or café. When he was two and a half, we took him along with us to a seven course degustation that went for three hours…. and he enjoyed it.
And one kid is far easier to manage than two.
After we had his little sister, she soon proved that she was just wired… differently.
But while going out for breaky as a family is something we’ve put on the backburner at the moment, there IS a silver lining. And that is that we have learned to make a really good weekend breakfast at home – one that’s as close to our favourite Perth café breakfasts as we can get. A breakfast hack, if you will.
Another parenting ‘hack’ we have discovered since having kids is how much easier it makes your life having things delivered. I still can’t believe it took us more than a year with Little Nerd to realise how much easier parenting can be when you get groceries delivered.
And as much as I enjoy a spot of leisurely browsing in a pretty homewares store, I also rarely set foot in brick and mortar stores any more – we both do so much shopping online.
We love eBay and I don’t think I would be exaggerating if I said we bought things through eBay several times a month, and have done for years. It makes getting some of the things you need for the home so much easier, and often at a fraction of the price you would pay elsewhere. So I jumped at the opportunity to upgrade our kitchen cookware – Mr Nerd was stoked. (I know… that’s my idea of romance, too. “Look babe! I got you a new Scanpan. We can throw out your old Teflon one now!” But really, this is the kind of thing that excites us these days).
Mr Nerd and I have learned so much in the ten years we’ve been cooking in this kitchen. I couldn’t cook at all when I left home. I was 24 years old and only had one recipe up my sleeve, a semi-passable chicken and avocado pasta sauce. Actually, I’ll share that recipe with you another time, because I have seriously upgraded it to a level that I’m now super proud of haha and it’s the BEST way to get kids to eat veggies without complaint, it’s delicious!) I think the best New Years resolution I ever made (and actually kept) was deciding that I was going to cook one new recipe every single week. I finished the year feeling like at last… I can cook!
We have both learned to cook a LOT better these days.
But we also care a lot more compared to when we were 25 – about what materials we’re cooking with, the healthiest materials for cookware, where things were made, what brands have higher standards and last longer than others, etc. The saying ‘buy once, buy right’ rings true for me now in a way it didn’t when I was 24.
I don’t want to buy things that eventually become thrown out – I want to buy things we’ll use and keep for ages.
I think we’re also far more aware now about how cookware can affect our health in a way I wasn’t when we were younger. We have been slowly trying to upgrade our old cookware for ages – we’ve bought cast iron pots and stainless steel Scanpans to move away from Teflon as much as we can, and have been replacing our plastic drink bottles with stainless steel. We’ve learned not just about the harm of BPAs in plastic, but BPS and BPB (replacements for BPA that are just as bad!) These days, between Google and eBay, you can do some pretty efficient, well-researched shopping about what’s better for you (and the planet).
So combining these themes, I’ve decided to share with you today our favourite Perth cafe breakfast, DIY-style… for people who might want to impress someone, or might not feel like braving a busy café with their own favourite mini-humans.
I’m also providing two versions – the quick draw, for busy parents who have a hangry toddler whining at their ankles, and the fancier, more Instagram-worthy version with crumbed eggs – perfect for scoring points with your significant other on a weekend morning!
DIY EGGS BENNY CHAN
Inspired by the amazing Eggs Benny Chan at Roasting Warehouse, South Freo (renamed Port City Roasters, then back to Roasting Warehouse, I can’t keep up) If you haven’t tried it yet – you absolutely must go there. It’s one of my favourite cafes in Perth.
Freezer parathas or rotis – These are available in the freezer sections of Asian food stores. I have no idea why Woolies and Coles are not selling these (that I know of) anyway – they are missing out on a moneymaker here I tell you. We always have a bag of these in the freezer. They cook in a few minutes and are so nice and easy as a side when you make a curry.
Fresh free range eggs
Olive oil or butter (Lurpak is delicious, but the danger is once you’ve tried it you’ll never go back to normal butter!)
Small bowl of ice cubes in water for chilling the eggs
Red or green chilli
Avocado or greens like spinach or asparagus
For sauce: Roasting Warehouse make this amazing siracha hollandaise. When we make this at home, we do a quick easy sauce with about three parts mayonnaise, one part tomato sauce and a sprinkling of paprika all mixed together and set it aside.
If making the fancy crumbed egg version you need:
Small bowl of breadcrumbs like Panko (or you can make breadcrumbs with a piece of toast whizzed finely in a blender)
Small bowl of plain flour
Small bowl of one whisked egg yolk
Eggs Benny Chan is all about the right eggs! You want your eggs to have cooked whites, but runny/jammy yolks.
1. Start frying up your parathas on medium to high heat. They take about three minutes each on a hot pan. They burn fast though, so be careful to check.
You can start setting your cooked parathas aside like pancakes to create a stack. You’ll know they’re cooked well when they start getting nice and flaky.
2. Add olive oil or butter to another pan and start cooking the bacon.
2. Start boiling a saucepan of water for the eggs.
4. Set aside another pot or pan with ice cubes and water. Your eggs will go into this cold water after, to halt their cooking process.
5. Add eggs into the pot of water on the stove just as it starts to simmer and boil (not too hard!) for 4 minutes for runny yolks that have just started to thicken – no longer!
You can do slightly less time if you want them more runny.
6. Remove the eggs with a spoon and pop them gently into your bowl of iced water.
Remove after a minute and place into a bowl. The ice water helps slow the cooking process fast, so the yolks stay nice and runny.
Once they’re cooled down a little, gently crack the shell all over by tapping it on a hard surface, and peel.
7. Now, you can either serve these yummy soft boiled, jammy eggs straight on top of your parathas and bacon – or you can turn them into FANCY INSTAGRAM BREADED EGGS.
If we want to eat fast, we do the quick eggs version. If we have time, the fancy one 😉
Breaded Eggs to Impress Version:
The good part about doing breaded eggs is that if the surface cracks a little while you’re peeling them, no worries. They just get covered. And they look so good!
You need to set out your three bowls – one with flour, one with breadcrumbs, one with whisked egg.
1. Dip peeled egg first in flour.
2. Then dip the egg in whisked egg.
3. Then dip it in your Panko or breadcrumbs.
Shallow fry the breaded eggs on a stainless steel pain in butter until they’re nicely fried all over.
9. Chop your avocados, red chillies, herbs and greens.
10. Assemble. Add your avocado (or spinach or pan-fried asparagus or broccolini, whatever sort of green you like), and top with sauce, fresh herbs (parsley, or coriander if you like it) and fresh cut chillies. I love all the colours of this meal from the chillies, the herbs and the eggs.
Now, as you can see, food assembly – and photography – is clearly not my forte. I have been involved (in other ways!) on food photography shoots enough times to know there is definitely an art to it, and I’m generally too hungry at this stage, so this is Mr Nerd’s skill not mine! (one of his below)
But trust me, these things all put together are delicious no matter how you assemble it!
I forgot to add sesame seeds if you want to be even more fancy. Nothing says fancy like sesame seeds right?
Here’s a simple version without breaded eggs – just as yum.
For kids, we tend to just give them plain eggs (or we serve them soft-boiled eggs in a cup so they can dip).
Also, here is the kids version below.
Anyone else have kids who act like the world is ending if their foods are touching each other (and then other days they don’t care at all?) At least we’re not alone!
Enjoy! What’s your go-to home breaky? Or your favourite kid-friendly cafe??
Thanks to eBay for gifting us products for this story! Maya x