East Meets West: Egg-free Breakfasts and Brunches

Good morning everyone,

Today we’re tackling 10 recipes for The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.  Ten.  And… we’re at the ‘egg’ chapter, which is more accurately a breakfast/brunch chapter I would say.  The challenges today are going to be many.  Many.  Many.  First, and most obvious – my family and I do not eat egg so we have to get rid of all of it and find suitable substitutes.  As part of this project that I began for myself  (why, again?), we are also going to remove all the animal products except rennet-free dairy, kick up the flavours and add a few fusion flavours to some of the dishes.

Breakfast around my house when I was a kid usually involved cereal with milk.  On Sundays though, my mother would sometimes make us eggs with toast and occasionally bacon or fried bologna.  I think I’ve probably mentioned before that my mother was never a very good cook.  It probably didn’t help her develop any creative cooking skills that the only way her kids would eat eggs was scrambled.  I always liked the smell of bacon permeating through the house, whenever it was available.  There’s no reason, now that I’m part of a vegetarian family and living my life as an Amrtidhari Sikh, that our brunches and breakfasts can’t be lots of fun and just as tasty as the western tradition of bacon and eggs.

The original recipes are found on pages 434 – 440 and are Watercress Scrambled Eggs; Spicy Breakfast Patties; Double-Boiler Scrambled Eggs; Sarabath Levine’s Goldilox; Baked Eggs on Artichoke Bottoms; Herby Cheese Baked Eggs; Avocado Baked Eggs; Orange Egg Benedict; Orange Scones; Orange Hollandaise; and Baked Potatoes and Eggs.  They also use Clarified Butter which is the same essentially as ghee (Recipe here)

Our versions are:  Fenugreek and Spinach Scramble, Spicy Veggie Breakfast Patties, Breakfast Challah Buns, Hara Bhara Scramble, Baked Artichoke Breakfast, Brunch Stuffed Peppers, Avocado Bake, Orange Benedict, and Baked Brunch Potatoes.

Fenugeek and Spinach Scramble

1/2 cup crumbled paneer (Recipe here)
1 tbls gelatin-free sour cream
Salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fenugreek leaves
1/2 cup coarsely chopped spinach leaves
2 tsp unsalted butter

Lightly mix the paneer, sour cream, and salt and pepper in a bowl.  Stir in the fenugreek and spinach leaves.  Melt the butter in a nonstick frying pan, ensuring that the bottom of the pan is coated.  Add the paneer mixture and cook over low heat, stirring frequently with a spatula.  Cook until the spinach and fenugreek are wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Garnish with a more sour cream and serve immediately.  Makes 2 servings.

Spicy Veggie Breakfast Patties

In Punjab, a variety of veggie patties are served as appetizers, chaat (street food) or as veggie burgers.  They are absolutely delicious!  These patties are inspired by the original recipe but use some techniques for making good patties that are typical in a Punjabi kitchen.

1/2 kg potatoes, boiled and mashed
1/2 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme or the leaves from 1 fresh sprig of thyme
1/2″ piece ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes, crushed
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbls dried bread crumbs
1 – 2 tbls besan flour (chickpea flour, available in most Canadian supermarkets and in Indian markets)
2 tbls canola, bran or olive oil

Combine all ingredients except the oil in a large mixing bowl, and stir well but do not overmix.  Cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.  Shape the mixture into 12 patties, about 3″ in diameter.  Heat a little of the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  In batches:  brown the patties on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the frying pan and cook, turning the patties occasionally, until they are crisp and cooked through, about 4 – 5 minutes.  Serve immediately.  Makes 12 patties.

Breakfast Challah Buns

We found a wonderful, super easy eggless challah recipe online at The Challah Blog – here.  I substitute honey or cane sugar for the refined sugar because refined sugar uses a process called bone charring to make the sugar white.  I will provide our version of the recipe in a future post.  I make large batches of this super-easy dough because it freezes well once it has risen once and been punched down.  To use the frozen dough, thaw it in the refrigerator, once thawed knead it on a lightly floured surface for a minute or two, form it into whatever form of bread you want, and let it rest for 35 – 40 minutes before putting it in the oven to bake.

1 cup of paneer, crumbled (Recipe here)
1 tbls gelatin-free sour cream
Salt, to taste
Coarsely ground pepper, to taste
1 tsp finely chopped dill
1 tsp unsalted butter
4 Eggless Challah buns (Recipe in description above)

Lightly mix the paneer, sour cream and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.  Fold in the dill and stir to ensure it is well distributed.  Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the paneer mixture and mix with a soup spoon as the paneer begins to soften.  Cook in this way for 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Remove the tops of the buns and remove some of the bread from the centre, creating a well.  Distribute the paneer mixture between the buns and serve immediately.  Makes 4 servings.

Hara Bhara Scramble

2 medium sized potatoes, boiled and mashed
2 cups loose spinach, blanched, drained and chopped finely
1/2 cup peas, drained and rinsed under cold water
2 green chilies, chopped finely
1 thumb ginger, peeled and finely grated
handful of cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tbsp chaat masala (snack seasoning, available in Indian markets)
Salt, to taste
2 tbsp besan (chickpea flour, available in most Canadian supermarkets and in Indian markets)
1 red or orange bell pepper
2 tsp ghee (recipe here)
100 grams paneer, cut into 1/2″ cubes (Recipe here)

Preheat the oven to 500C.  Mash all of the ingredients up to and including the besan flour in a mixing bowl.  Set aside.  Cut the bell pepper into quarters and remove seeds.  Place, skin side up, on a baking sheet that is lightly coated with oil or a little ghee.  Roast the pepper until the skin begins to blister and blacken.  Set aside to cool under a dish towel.  Shape the potato and spinach mixture into small balls.  Once the pepper is cool, remove the skin and cut into narrow strips.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat and coat the bottom with a little ghee.  Fry the potato and spinach mixture for a few minutes, add the paneer and continue cooking until the ghee begins to soften and melt.  Add the roasted peppers and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.  Turn the scramble out onto a plate and serve immediately.

Baked Artichoke Breakfast

4 large artichokes
2 tbls gelatin-free sour cream
4 – 1/2″ slices of tomato
1 cup of paneer, crumbled (Recipe here)
2 tsp capers, chopped
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbls chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Place the artichokes in a large saucepan and add 1″ of water.  Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and cover.  Cook until the artichokes are tender, about 45 minutes.  Remove them from the pot and set them aside to drain and cool.  Preheat the oven to 375F.  Peel away the artichoke leaves and remove the chokes.  Set the leaves aside.  Place the artichoke bottoms on a baking sheet.  Spread 1 1/2 tsp of the sour cream on each bottom.  Top with a slice of tomato.  Sprinkle each with the crumbled paneer, capers, pepper and cilantro leaves.  Bake until the paneer is melted and beginning to brown, about 12 minutes.  Serve immediately surrounded by the artichoke leaves.  Use the artichoke leaves for dipping in the melted paneer.

Brunch Stuffed Peppers

1 red bell pepper
1 tsp unsalted butter
3 tsp heavy cream
4 cloves roasted garlic
2 tsp Boursin cheese (not the same as chevre, which usually contains animal rennet)
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Cut the lid from the bell pepper about 1 1/2″ from the top.  Remove the seeds.  Chop the pepper top into 1/4″ dice.   Place the bell pepper cut side up in a microwave and microwave on high for 3 minutes, until steamy.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 450F.  Place the butter and 2 tsp cream into the pepper.  Mix the roasted garlicand chopped pepper with the Boursin cheese thoroughly and place over cream in the pepper.  Drizzle over remaining cream and season with pepper.  Place the pepper on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake the pepper in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is browned and bubbly.  Remove from oven, sprinkle with fresh cilantro leaves and serve immediately.  Makes 1 serving.

Avocado Bake

2 large potatoes, peeled, rinsed and grated
1/2 cauliflower florets, chopped very small
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 ripe plum tomatoes
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbls unsalted butter
1/2 ripe avocado, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 tbls gelatin-free sour cream
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 tsp chopped cilantro leaves

Toss the cauliflower in a small bowl with the paprika.  Slice the tomatoes lengthwise into 1/4 thick slices.  Place the slices on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and let drain for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 450F, and bring a kettle of water to a boil.  Melt 1 tbsp of the butter in a skillet, and saute teh cauliflower until lightly browned.  Place 1/2 of the cauliflower into each of two medium ramekins.  Pat the tomato slices dry, and arrange them over the cauliflower.  Arrange the tomato slices over the cauliflower.  Scatter the avocado evenly over the tomatoes, and dot with the sour cream.  Sprinkle the grated potatoes evenly over the avocado.  Sprinkle them with pepper and dot with the remaining butter.  Sprinkle with the cilantro.

Place the ramekins in a shallow roasting pan, and pour boiling water into the pan to reach 3/4 of the way up the sides of the ramekins.  Bake until the potatoes are browned and crispy on top, about 12 minutes.  Makes 2 servings.

Orange Benedict

12 spears of asparagus
4 Orange and Cranberry Scones (Recipe below)
1 cup paneer, crumbled (Recipe here)
2 cups Orange “Hollandaise” (Recipe below)
1 tbls chopped fresh mint leaves

Trim the woody ends from the asparagus spears by bending the asparagus until they snap (they will naturally snap where the asparagus becomes woody).  Discard the woody ends and cut the remaining spears in half.  Place in a steamer and steam for 3 minutes or place in a small pot with 1″ of boiling, slightly salted water and allow to steam for 3 minutes.  The asparagus should not be wilted.  Slice the scones in half and toast them lightly.  Place two scone halves on each plate.  Top each with 6 spears of aparagus, 1/4 cup of the crumbled paneer and some of the warm Orange “Hollandaise” sauce.  Garnish with the mint leaves and serve immediately.  Makes 4 servings.

Orange and Cranberry Scones

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
1/4 cup milk, a bit extra for brushing
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbls grated orange zest
4 tbls dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Using a pastry blender or two knives, work in the butter until it resembles coarse meal.  Mix in the milk, then the cream, then the orange zest and cranberries.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Roll out the dough until it is 3/4″ thick.  Cut out the scones using a 3″ round cookie cutter.  Place them on a bakind sheet and bake in the centre of the oven until lightly golden and crusty, 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove the scones from the oven and allow them to cool.  You can prepare these 1 to 2 days ahead of time.  Keep them in plastic freezer bags.  Makes 8 to 10 scones.

Orange “Hollandaise”

Regular Hollandaise sauce is rich in both butter and eggs.  Our eggless version though is just as good, if not better than the original, and certainly much lower in cholesterol.

2 tbls olive oil
3 tbls rice flour
1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar (the alcohol left in vinegar is trace enough that it’s appropriate for an alcohol-free, vaishno diet)
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 pinch paprika
1 1/4 cup fresh orange juice

In a medium saucepan, add the olive oil, flour, vinegar, orange zest and paprika.  Stir until smooth.  Whisk in approximately 3/4 cup of the orange juice, adding it slowly to keep a consistent texture.  Place the saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat and bring the mixture to a low simmer.  Whisk throughout the simmering process until the sauce thickens.  Once the sauce begins to thicken, add the remaining orange juice and continue to whisk.  Turn down the heat to low.  Continue to whisk for roughly 7 – 10 minutes.  If the sauce gets too thick, add a little more orange juice.

Baked Brunch Potatoes

2 large baking potatoes
1 tbls unsalted butter
1 tbls heavy cream
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 cup paneer, crumbled (Recipe here)
1 tbsp capers, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds, lightly ground
1 green chili, chopped finely
1 tbls chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Scrub the potatoes and dry with paper towels.  Prick them lightly all over with the tines of a fork.  Bake them for 1 hour.  Remove the potatoes from the oven and allow them to cool slightly.  Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, and scoop out the pulp carefully, without tearing the skin.  Reserve the four halves.  Mash the potato pulp in a mixing bowl, and stir in the butter, cream and salt and pepper.  Mix in the crumbled paneer, capers, cumin seeds, chili and fresh cilantro leaves.  Fill the potato skins evenly with this mixture.  Bake until the cheese is softy and melty and the potato tops are browned, about 12 minutes.  Serve immediately.


Wow!  Look at all that vegetarian breakfast food and not an egg or bit of meat to be found only flavour!!  Have a great brunch!  Experiment as always and tell me what you think and how you made these recipes even better.

Until next time,

Peace & love,



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