Breakfast for dinner: A 'risque' delight

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Sometimes, at the end of the day, you just have a hankerin' for breakfast.

Kathy Portolano, owner of Papa Pete's Diner on Vt. Route 9 in Bennington's east end — which is known for its 14-inch pancakes and other breakfast offerings since she opened it in 2009 with her now-late husband, Lee Cappello —beamed when asked about a late-day breakfast.

"There are so many reasons why breakfast for dinner makes sense," Portolano said. "To begin, it's practical. You can quickly put together a meal with leftovers and some eggs. Or if you make fresh pancakes or waffles, those are so easy to freeze and then heat up on a later date for another meal or a snack. But in the end, yes, make it all fresh from scratch and it's terrific for dinner."

Scanning her menu for what she called "interesting dinner-type breakfast meals," Portolano said that few recipes in her kitchen are written to exact standards, allowing the chef to perfect a meal over time through "the art of cooking."

She started with a local favorite, Papa Pete's twist on eggs Benedict:


California Benedict

(Courtesy Papa Pete's)

DIRECTIONS:

Start with toasted English muffins.

Top them each with a slice of tomato (preferably right out of the garden).

Top the tomato with slices of avocado.

Cook some bacon in a pan to suit, then layer the bacon on     

Poach eggs to suit, then top all the previous delicious layers with them. (Get creative with any kind of egg style you like, too.)

Cover with homemade hollandaise sauce. (Egg yolks, lemon and melted butter — whipped together.)

"The griddle-cake sandwich is the best of all worlds," Portolano said. "This is one people might want to try for dinner, to have a taste of everything, a sandwich made with pancakes."

Griddlecake sandwich

(Courtesy Papa Pete's)

DIRECTIONS:

Make 2 medium- to large-sized pancakes with pancake mix of your choice.

Get them golden brown.

On one of the pancakes, place scrambled eggs to suit (or any style egg)

Then place a meat or vegetable, or both, to suit, on top of the eggs.

Add any kind of cheese to suit, or not.

Place the other pancake on top of the deliciousness you just created.

Add Vermont maple syrup (or not) to really bring out the flavors.

The year 2009 must have also held good breakfast karma, because that's when Renee Lapier opened Renee's Diner in North Adams, at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Roberts Drive.

Lapier, who roams her establishment in constant rapport with customers from table to table, nearly became breathless when addressing breakfast for dinner.

"Oh my, having those delicious breakfast items in the evening is almost a little risque, you know?" she exclaimed with a near-mischievous smile. "You're supposed to be eating traditional dinners. But here you are instead with some of our decadent berry pancakes, which are a great choice for such moments when you want to have a second breakfast, just in the evening."


Triple berry buttermilk pancakes

(Courtesy Renee's Diner)

INGREDIENTS:

For the batter:

2 teaspoons salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

4 cups sifted flour

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 eggs, slightly whisked

4 cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

1/4 cup fresh blueberries

1/4 cup fresh blackberries

1/4 cup fresh raspberries

DIRECTIONS:

For the batter, mix all the ingredients except the berries together. Mix all berries together and add after the pancakes are on the grill.

Cook to suit.

Lapier also said the flexibility of making anything in an egg scramble is a good way to feed a hungry person, or, depending on how many show up for dinner, quite a few.

"On our menu, we call it the `Garbage Plate,'" Lapier said with a chuckle. "It's perfect for anyone with a big appetite, and stands out for having six eggs in it."



The Garbage Plate

(Courtesy Renee's Diner)

INGREDIENTS:

6 eggs

Home fries to suit

Bacon

Ham

Sausage

Peppers (red and/or green)

Onions

Fresh tomatoes

DIRECTIONS:

Scramble, then top with cheddar cheese to suit.

Serve it accompanied by bread or toast of your choice.


"The beauty of a scramble is that you can make it any way you like by adding other things in and taking things out, or replacing items also, such as a different cheese that you may prefer," Lapier said. "Breakfast for dinner can be a guilty pleasure, whether it's for family, guests or just the cook!"


Reach Telly Halkias at tchalkias@aol.com or on Twitter: @TellyHalkias


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