t some point in life, everyone has eaten breakfast as dinner, whether it was as a result of a time crunch, a budgetary constraint, or for the sheer pleasure of it. When it comes to chefs, you might assume it would be the first reason, but for Chef Paula Navarrete, it's the last.
Before moving to San Francisco, Paula was Executive Chef of Toronto's Kojin, part of the Momofuku empire. Despite spending long nights and early mornings in the kitchen, she never missed breakfast. "It's my favourite meal of the day," she says. “Eggs were my mother's go-to ingredient. As kids, we had eggs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My love for breakfast and eggs developed from then on.
Now that restrictions have been loosened, cooking at home feels more social as people start hosting dinner parties for their friends and families. Upon asking Paula what kind of dinner party she would host, she replied, "Brunch, of course!"
Sweet Potato: What does a dinner party look like for you?
Paula: For me, a perfect dinner party is brunching—outside, in a beautiful backyard, surrounded by a garden and my loved ones. It has a lot of food and drinks, and the best part is, there is no agenda or end time. No one has to be anywhere.
I am a food lover through and true. I am a big believer that the stories behind food and hospitality not only educate but bring people together. The most important experiences in life are often centred around food, friends, and laughter. Dinner parties to me bring all these concepts together. I think that there is something so powerful and special about sharing a meal with others.
SP: Tell us more about where your love for breakfast—and eggs in particular—started?
PN: I enjoyed the idea that I could have breakfast any time of the day. Later in my career, I learned the versatility of eggs and the things that they can do, which made them become my favourite food. There isn't a day I don't have eggs, and tension is high when I run out.
The thin frittata started as a way to cook breakfast for one and have something quick and easy. It was also a great way for me to use all the ingredients in my fridge and make leftovers exciting. Soon the frittata became a staple in my life, something I make every day, and I started experimenting with adding it to a sandwich, a toast, and a taco or burrito. The ability to use this technique and have it always work no matter what ingredient is added brings joy.
SP: What would you serve at your brunch party?
PN: Definitely frittata. For a lot of people, I enjoy cooking corn and jalapeño because you can keep them warm in the oven while you cook everything else. You can also add any toppings you like (my favourites are butter and honey). Last but not least, a large portion of togarashi salmon. In addition to being a great substitute for lox, the leftovers go well with salads and rice.
Throw your own brunch party with some of Paula’s favourite recipes below.
Egg Frittata (Serves 2)
½ cup broccoli florets
1 tbsp queso fresco or feta, crumbled
1 tbsp canola oil
Urfa or chili flakes (to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
Oven-safe non-stick pan
Medium mixing bowl
- Set the oven to broil, ensuring that the rack is in the middle of the oven.
- Scramble both eggs in a bowl with a fork until mixed.
- On medium-high heat add canola oil to the pan. Once the oil is warm, add broccoli to the pan and lightly sauté.
- Coat broccoli with scrambled eggs (rotate pan to make sure eggs are spread evenly) and sprinkle the crumbled queso fresco on top.
- Once eggs are almost fully cooked, place the pan in the oven for 5 mins.
- Remove eggs and transfer to a plate. Enjoy with toast, as a sandwich, or even a breakfast taco.
TIP: If broccoli isn’t your thing, it can be swapped out with another cheese, chives, ham, mushrooms, or really anything that brings you joy.
Togorashi Salmon (Serves 4)
2lb whole salmon fillet, cleaned *salmon steaks are also okay to use.
4 tbsp togarashi (Japanese spice mixture containing seven ingredients)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
Cookie sheet or cooking tray
- Preheat the oven to 355F and line the cookie sheet/cooking tray with aluminum foil.
- Add half the olive oil to the sheet pan, and the remaining oil on the salmon fillet.
- Place salmon fillet on the tray and season with salt before coating with togarashi. The trick to this salmon is to crust it with the togarashi and give it a nice layer of spice.
- Cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Remove salmon and let it rest for a few minutes before shredding with a fork. Serve on a platter for sharing.
Corn & Jalapeño Flatbread (Makes 14pc)
1 package Instant Yeast (7g)
3¼ cup AP flour
½ cup cornmeal
2 tbsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
1.5 cup room temperature water
2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup sweet corn kernels
1 medium jalapeño, diced
Stand mixer with hook attachment (or good old fashioned elbow grease)
- Combine yeast, water, and 1 tbsp of sugar in a bowl. The water should be room temperature and slightly warm to allow your yeast to bloom. After 6-10 minutes the yeast mixture should be bubbly and foamy.
- Mix dry ingredients together: salt, flour, cornmeal, and remaining sugar.
- In a stand mixer bowl add yeast mixture, dry ingredients, corn, and diced jalapeño.
- Mix using hook attachment until combined. The dough should be coming off the edges of the bowl (this happens after approximately 6 minutes of mixing.)
- Let this dough rest for 20 minutes, until it doubles in size.
- Separate dough into 14 smaller portions (80g each) and let it rise again for 20 minutes.
- Using a rolling pin, roll each ball into a circular flat bread, approximately 4-5 inches in diameter and about ½ a centimetre thick (the dough will continue to expand about 1-1.5 cm due to the yeast.) Using cornmeal will keep the dough from sticking, and also create an English muffin-like final product.
- Heat sauté pan on medium-high heat until warm.
- Cook flatbread on each side until golden brown. Due to their thickness, they will cook through completely in the pan.