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Diner Breakfasts Celebrated

by Bill Shaw

At the heart of every harbor worth its salt is a great breakfast joint. These diners are the kind of places where the newspaper is shared, you pour your own coffee, and the cashier gives you a welcoming smile as if she knew you were coming in this morning. At Roche Harbor, the Lime Kiln Café has been brewing coffee, frying fresh donuts, and flipping buttermilk pancakes since 1995. Along with serving a hearty American breakfast, the café offers a lunch menu with griddle-seared smashed burgers, Kodiak cod fish and chips, freshly made clam chowder, and a killer Cubano sandwich.

During the summer, the little café opens in the evening and serves old world style pizza, hand stretched and baked directly on stone hearth. It’s the kind of place that the locals call their own and the regulars come in early to grab their favorite table.

Prior to the Lime Kiln Café being built, marina guests enjoyed the same freshly made donuts, fish and chips, and pizza from Johnny R’s in the ‘80s and The Donut Shop in the early ‘90s located in the same location where the Lime Kiln Café kitchen stands today. The little donut shop was not much bigger than a walk-in closet that served donuts in the morning and fish and chips and pizza for lunch. The donut shop was leased from Roche by an amazing island couple, Pat and Lois Brashear, and operated from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The Roche Harbor guests loved The Donut Shop. Pat and Lois made their food from scratch, knew every customer by name, and worked long hours to make the little restaurant a success.

In every small town in America has a breakfast joint that only the locals know about, and if you’re lucky enough to discover one of these gems, don’t bother to open the menu, just ask the waitress to order you the best item on it.

Give her the control of your breakfast experience, it’s her place and she knows what the regular customers rave about. I have done this a few hundred times in my life and, with a few exceptions, I have always had an amazing breakfast and tasted something I never would have ordered without the help of my new friend. The month’s recipes are a collection of these amazing experiences.


Hangtown Fry

  • 8 strips bacon, cooked crisp
  • 1 dozen oysters, shucked and removed from shells
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic, powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion, powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 dozen fresh eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, grated

Directions: Freshly shuck oysters and inspect for any shell fragments or purchase a jar of extra small oysters from your local market. Drain oysters, then place on a paper towel.

In a small bowl, combine flour, garlic, onion, salt, and black pepper. Add drained and blotted oysters to seasoned flour and toss gently with your fingers to coat oysters evenly with flour. Prepare a serving platter lined with paper towels.

In a 10-inch skillet over medium heat, add 1½ tablespoons of oil. Add breaded oysters to skillet in a single layer. As edges of oysters begin to brown, add 1 tablespoon of melted butter to skillet. After 3 to 4 minutes or when the oysters are golden brown on the underside, turn the oysters and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes or when the opposite side is golden brown. Remove oysters and place on paper-lined platter. Clean the skillet and repeat the procedure until all the oysters are pan-fried. Transfer the pan-fried oysters to a warm serving platter. Cook bacon until crisp.

Crack eggs into a medium-size bowl and whip eggs until light and fluffy, then season with salt and pepper. Heat a non-stick small sauté pan on medium heat and add butter. When butter has melted, add 2/3 cup of whipped eggs. Cook as for an omelet, then flip over and top with two tablespoons of cheese. When the cheese has melted, place on a heated plate. Place two strips of bacon in an X pattern, then place 4 pan-fried oysters between each slice of bacon.

Hold each completed omelet in a warm oven until all are finished. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Joe's Special

Joe’s Special

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup red onion, julienne ¼ inch
  • 1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
  • ½ lbs. ground beef
  • ¾ cup cremini or button mushrooms, slice ¼ inch
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 drops Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch black pepper, ground
  • 8 ounces fresh spinach, rough chopped
  • 8 each eggs, cracked and whipped
  • 2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shredded

Directions: Heat olive oil in a non-stick 12” skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cook until soft. Add ground beef and mushrooms, cook while stirring until the beef is browned. Add Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt, pepper, and fresh spinach, cook until spinach is wilted and cooked through. Add whipped eggs, cook while stirring until eggs are slightly dry, about 4 minutes. Divide onto four heated plates and garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


Toad in a Hole

  • 6 slices of white bread with a center hole cut out
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup bacon bits
  • 6 eggs

Directions: Heat non-stick 12” skillet over medium heat. Using a 1¾-inch biscuit cutter, cut a hole in the center of each slice of bread and reserve bread cutouts. Spread butter over on side of each slice of bread.

Place the slice of bread and the bread hole in the heated skillet and cook for about 1 minute, then crack an egg in the center of the hole in the cooking bread. Top with 1 tablespoon of cheese and bacon bits over each egg. Cook for another 3 minutes or until desired doneness of egg.
Remove toast gently with spatula, being careful not to break egg yolk, and place on a heated plate. Serve with fruit.

Diner Style Hashbrowns

Diner-Style Shredded Hash Browns

  • 2 lbs. medium russet potatoes, peeled and cooked for 5 minutes in boiling water, then cooled
  • 12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, clarified
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons kosher salt, coarse
  • 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper, coarse ground
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Directions: In a 2-quart saucepan, fill one quart of salted water and bring to a boil. Add peeled potatoes and for 5 minutes (our goal is to par cook the potatoes to 50% done so that when the potatoes are grated, they hold their shape). Drain and rinse with cold water, then place in refrigerator to cool. After the potatoes have cooled, using a box grater, or something similar, to grate the potatoes on the coarse grating surface.

In a large cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat, add ½ cup of butter followed by the grated potatoes. Using a large metal turner or spatula, arrange the potatoes in a compact ¾ inch thick sheet, then season the potatoes evenly with the salt, pepper, garlic, and onion. Drizzle the remaining cup of butter over the potatoes in a thin stream, covering all the potatoes.

Continue cooking the potatoes for 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp golden brown. Using the metal turneror spatula, divide the potatoes into four rectangle shapes cutting through the crisp bottom layer. Once the potatoes rectangles are cut, carefully flip over the hashbrowns with the spatula. Cook for an additional 4 to 5 minutes and serve.

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