MAY IT PLEASE THE PALATE "This Breakfast is a Mouthful"

By Nick Roumel

What's for breakfast? How about - "Grilled Peaches, Greek Yogurt, and Feta Jalapeño Cornbread, with Sweet Basil Vinegar Glaze." There is simply no shorter way to say it. There are, however longer ways to say it, especially the glaze. I could, for example, say, "Jalapeño, Basil, Ouzo, Vinegar, and Honey Reduction." What I cannot do is to adequately describe this mélange in a pithy way, like "Spam." I can only list the ingredients and leave you scratching your head.

This recipe began as a gleam in the eye and ended up as a beautiful baby born of very different parents. The idea grew out of a need to have a vegetarian alternative to the lamb hash that I recently featured for Selma Cafe. With peaches in season, I tried to think of creative presentations. Then I had a discussion with a friend who is an innovative dessert chef. She is fond of combining sweet and savory, such as desserts with fresh herbs.

Someone else mentioned cornbread, and I thought a scoop of Greek yogurt would nicely harmonize with that and the grilled peaches. Aw heck, who am I kidding? I was setting up the oddest trio since my Uncle George on clarinet, my Cousin Nick on bouzouki, and my cousin Ernie on drums. The trick was, how to tie all this together?

Then the peaches, yogurt, and cornbread spoke to me. They said: "Nos nihil sine sum 'Jalapeño Basil Ouzo Vinegar and Honey glaze!' ("We are nothing without it!") This was even more confusing. Why would a Greek inspired dish be speaking Latin?

But it is true. Something about the glaze brings together the different tastes and textures of the grilled peaches, the cornbread, and yogurt. Each food is good in its own right with the glaze, but there is a synergy to putting a bit of all three on your fork at the same time. Not to mention the need for a large napkin.

Maybe, after all, there is a shorter name for this recipe. How about:

Nick's Odd Greek Trio, Nicely Sauced

For the Cornbread

Find any ol' cornbread recipe with cheese and jalapeño. Use feta cheese and Greek yogurt for buttermilk, if called for. Here's a good one with no need for substitution: go to www.inyourkitchen.com. Plug "cornbread" into the search engine. You'll inexplicably come up with two recipes: one for jalapeño-feta cornbread, and the other one for Arctic char, stuffed and wrapped with bacon. Choose wisely.

For the Peaches

Halve some fat, ripe peaches. Brush with butter or canola and set cut side down a few minutes over a medium grill, until they've softened and have some nice grill marks. If necessary, flip them and grill skin side down for a minute.

For the Vinegar Honey Glaze with Ouzo, Jalapeno, and Basil

Halve a jalapeno pepper and place it in an aluminum pan, heat at medium, and flame it with an ounce of ouzo. Cook until charred.

Add _ cup balsamic vinegar, _ cup honey, a couple of basil leaves, and simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Taste to correct seasoning. Should be sweet-savory, with a creeping hot afterburn. Strain to remove the jalapeno and basil.

Now to Tie It All Together

Arrange a peach half, a slice of cornbread, and a scoop of Greek yogurt on a plate. Drizzle some glaze over and around them. Garnish the yogurt with a few julienne strips of basil and mint.

Serve this concoction with lamb and a shot of chilled ouzo. Now there's a Greek breakfast trio I can highly recommend. Opa!

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard, and Walker PC, a firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment and civil right litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for "Current" magazine in Ann Arbor. He occasionally updates his blog at http://mayitpleasethepalate.blogspot.com/.

Published: Fri, Aug 16, 2013

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