I had an opportunity to do some cruising in the San Juan Islands this summer: two families, a 45’ boat, four adults, and three children. It was perfection to wake up in semi-remote locations on the hook, with the quiet noises associated with sunrise and the gently rocking boat. Many mornings I woke up early and snuck out on deck to take in the beautiful colors on the water and witness fish, birds, and marine mammals starting their day. It was so calm and quiet that it was easy to pick up on sounds from across the bay or inlet, watch eagles feeding on fish, or a family of otters feasting on mussels. One early morning as we were transiting to another location, we watched a pod of orcas having salmon for breakfast!
It was tricky (in tight quarters) to get the coffee made quietly so I could enjoy the morning by myself. But as the morning progressed and the family started to wake, breakfast seemed like the big meal of the day. If we had a big fun breakfast, we often skipped lunch and just had snacks and mini-meals the rest of the day, then enjoyed our catch of the day at dinner. All the food experts say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it certainly felt like it on the boat.
We woke up so early and were active right out the gate that we really needed that big meal to get us going. On boats, as I discovered, cooking and baking is a juggling match when serving a meal to the entire group. Hot pancakes or crepes, sizzling bacon, scrambled eggs, and even fresh-cut fruit are all challenges with the stove, oven, and available counterspace. Some of the work happened the night before: batters made, fruit cut, ingredients prepped. Often, we used some of the leftovers from the night before to dictate the breakfast menu the next day, like salmon in a frittata, crab meat for a nice French-style omelet, or berry sauce for pancakes. Again and again, it seemed as if organization is the key to spending extended time on boats.
Poaching or scrambling eggs is a quick and easy way to go, along with toast and bacon, but the children always love pancakes with bacon, so I brought my own dry pancake base that just needed milk, or buttermilk, eggs and melted butter. Then we added fresh blackberries, grated apples, or blueberries. Muffins were fun and easy to make, and again, a batch of muffin base was made at home and kept in an airtight container until we were ready to use it.
Like the pancakes, we created our own variations. Bacon or sausage can be cooked on the stove or in the oven in advance, then reheated right before everyone is ready to eat. Eggs need to be the last item to cook unless you are serving a frittata or a bread pudding. With an elegant and hearty breakfast, the day is bound to go right. Happy boating!
Basic Muffin Base
In a mixing bowl, blend together the dry ingredients, add the fruit, and toss in the flour to coat. In another bowl, whisk the eggs with the buttermilk, and add the melted butter. Fold the wet into the dry ingredients. Using a large spoon or ice cream scooper, fill a lined muffin tin to just below the edge (or drop by dollops onto a parchment lined baking sheet) and bake in a 350-degree oven for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
French-Style Rolled Omelet
Filling options: mixed herbs, sautéed spinach, crab meat or Salmon, cheese, and sautéed mushrooms
In a medium mixing bowl, crack the eggs and whisk until foamy. Set pan on stove to heat on medium and (condition) warm the pan. (Note: a hot pan prevents the eggs from sticking). Whisk in milk or cream, salt, and pepper, then add the fat to pan. The fat should smoke slightly if the pan is properly hot. Add egg mixture and lift the pan to swirl the eggs into a thin layer. Reduce the heat and set the pan on the burner, add the filling down the center of the omelet, turn off the heat, and fold the omelet over gently, covering the filling then rolling it into a cigar shape. Roll onto a plate and serve immediately.
Spinach or Herb Frittata
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large 10” – 12” skillet, add shallots and onions and sauté over medium heat with some of the oil until golden, about four minutes. Add half of the herbs and toss until beginning to wilt, about one minute. Set the mixture aside on a plate, wipe out the skillet, and hold on low heat. Beat eggs and salt to blend in large bowl. Whisk in 3/4 cup Parmesan. Add one tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil to the warm pan, pour in egg mixture, and spread topping evenly on eggs. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan over eggs. Cook over medium heat until frittata is just set at edges, about ten minutes. Transfer to oven and bake until just set, about ten minutes. Loosen the edges of the frittata and invert onto serving plate. Slice into wedges and serve.
Variations: Add 1 cup diced, cooked chicken meat, cooked salmon, or picked crab meat.
Crepes with Wild Blackberries
Whisk the eggs, milk, and water in a bowl, whisk the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and fold the wet into the dry. Add the melted butter and place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for one hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.
Heat a small stainless steel sauté pan. Using a folded paper towel, or pastry brush, add butter to coat the pan. Pour 1 ounce of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another ten seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone. After they have cooled, you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days.
Fill and roll the crepes with jam and soft butter. Top with fresh berries.