Go out to eat with Lee Brian Schrager, founder and director of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival and culinary school graduate, and you’d expect him to order complicated dishes with tweezer-placed garnishes.
But Schrager, whose latest cookbook is out April 5, is a meat-and-potatoes man, far happier with a plate of fried chicken or scrambled eggs than anything fussy or frou-frou.
“To me, the joy of cooking is about pulling together a few simple ingredients and preparing them in a way that’s straightforward and delicious,” said Schrager, who is vice president of corporate communications and national events for Southern Wine & Spirits. “Breakfast is the perfect embodiment of that mentality.”
For America’s Best Breakfasts: Favorite Local Recipes from Coast to Coast (Clarkson Potter, $23), Schrager, co-author Adeena Sussman and photographer Evan Sung picked up where they left off from their last project together, the 2014 fried chicken tome Fried & True.
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The trio traversed the country in search of breakfasts both classic and cutting-edge. (Miami food truck FOAR “Freedom on a Roll” gets a shout out for its bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, as do breakfasts from Versailles, Eating House, Panther Coffee, Buena Vista Deli, 27 Restaurant and more.) Along the way, Schrager and Sussman offer tips for things like egg cookery, Bloody Mary riffs and secrets from celebrity home cooks.
Recipes, like for lobster scrambled eggs from Connie and Ted’s in West Hollywood, California, give practical advice for bringing the dishes from page to table.
To mark the book’s release, Schrager will host an America’s Best Breakfasts food party at Magic City Casino from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 24. More than 40 local chefs and restaurants will dish up their favorite breakfast foods, along with Bloody Marys, mimosas and more. The People’s Choice winner will receive airfare, lodging and guest passes to the New York City Wine & Food Festival this fall. Tickets are $50, with proceeds benefiting Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management; available at americasbestbreakfasts.com.
Lobster Scrambled Eggs
Recipe from Connie & Ted's in West Hollywood, California.
3/4 pound lobster meat
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
12 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup creme fraiche
Lobster tomalley from 2 lobsters
Zest of 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Pinch of paprika
Buttered toast or grilled bread
In a small saucepan, gently warm the lobster meat and butter over the lowest heat (lobster will overcook if the flame is too high), 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and season with the salt.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the warmed butter from the lobster in a slope-sided nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the eggs and gently cook, whisking constantly, until they slowly start congealing into what looks like small, uniform cottage cheese curds, 15 minutes. Whisk in the crème fraîche and, if using, the lobster tomalley; the texture of the eggs will become a bit looser. Cook until the eggs tighten up slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Add lemon zest directly into the eggs, then stir in the chives, reserving some of the zest and chives for garnish. Remove the skillet from the heat.
Remove the lobster from the butter and divide it among 4 serving bowls, saving the prettiest and most vibrantly colored pieces of meat for the top. Spoon the eggs over the lobster, garnish with the reserved lobster pieces, the rest of the chives and a pinch of paprika. Serve with toast.
Yield: 4 servings