Photo by Stacey Ballis

Like PB&J, but even better

Stacey Ballis
September 19, 2018

I like a breakfast streak. I prefer not to say rut. Rut implies that one is stuck in something, too lazy or uninterested to find a different path, skating along blithely in a space created by your own inertia. But a streak is a good thing. It's no thinking, all eating. Being able to just get up and assemble something nearly by rote while still groggy is a little bit of self-care. Streak implies winning. Or nudity. Either way, rut: negative, streak: positive.

For a long time, the breakfast streak at my house was peanut butter on English muffins. It's a perfect balance of carb and protein, crunchy muffin, soft creamy peanut butter, easily prepared and even more easily digested. By the time the toaster has done its work, the peanut butter jar is open and the knife is at the ready. There is something about the transformation of peanut butter when it hits a hot piece of bread, getting all melty and gooey, and the flavor somehow deepens and gets even nuttier.

When I started baking sourdough, the streak shifted to buttered toast and cottage cheese. It's the same but different; still carb and protein, still toasty. But recently I had a fortuitous convergence at my house. I needed English muffins for another recipe and had several of them left over. And I had recently received a shipment of Soom tahini, which is the best tahini I have ever tasted, and I’d been on something of a tahini jag, baking it into desserts, freezing it into ice cream, drizzling it into sauces, and topping vegetables with a wild abandon.

A new streak was born. Tahini hits many of the same notes as peanut butter, but with a slightly more adult nudge. English muffins, with their nooks and crannies, are the perfect vehicle for this deeply savory nutty spread, and once I figured out that it tastes best when the tahini is applied before toasting, getting bronzed and golden, I had a changed morning routine.

Tahini is a bit richer than peanut butter, so I spread a scant half-tablespoon on each side of my muffin and toast in my toaster oven to level seven, the darkest setting, since I like it well-broiled and crunchy. If you don’t have a toaster oven, put it under the broiler for one to two minutes. You want the muffin golden around the edges and a little bit of browning on the tahini. Eat it plain, or garnish as I do with a sprinkle of flaky salt and, since tahini loves a bit of sweet to balance, a drizzle of date syrup (because I found a bottle on sale at Home Goods). It would be equally delicious with pomegranate molasses, or fig jam—something that has sweetness that is complex but not cloying.

And if you think of yourself as being in a breakfast rut, I recommend you embrace a new streak.

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