If there’s one piece of advice Chef Celeste Gill would want you to follow this holiday season, it’s this: Don’t let mom and grandma work in the kitchen alone.
Gill has been in the kitchen since she was about 4, and the experience shaped her life. Growing up in Detroit among a family of chefs, she can still remember how her mom’s hands always smelled like onions and bell peppers.
No doubt Gill’s hands are scented much the same way today, with running her Main Street Market bistro and catering business. She confesses that she cooks more for others than herself these days, moving swiftly from breakfast and lunch service at her bistro to television cooking demonstrations to catering projects. But she’s OK with that.
“Cooking is just good for the soul,” she says. “If you have a bad day, go make some roux. I can just stand there and get lost in it.”
At her bistro, she specializes in sandwiches, salads and our personal favorite: breakfast. And while she may not cook elaborate dinners for herself anymore, there’s one meal she can’t resist: “I do like to eat breakfast for dinner,” she says. chefceleste.com
FIRST THINGS FIRST
• Take a break from butter. Try lemon-infused olive oil. It adds depth of flavor and lends your eggs an even more vibrant yellow color. You can find some at Red Stick Spice Co. Olive oil with lemon juice works, too.
• Don’t underestimate the importance of mise en place. The more complicated your dish is, the more important it is to have veggies sliced and seasonings and oils on your counter ready to go. This includes making your own seasoning blend ahead of time. For eggs, Gill likes a blend of salt, pepper, garlic and cayenne pepper.
• Use stainless steel pots and pans. Gill prefers them to nonstick. “Because I’m kind of rough,” she says with a laugh. With steel, you can use a metal
To get fluffy eggs, start by pumping air into them. Beat vigorously with a fork or whisk. Season your eggs now—don’t wait until they are cooked, or the spices will just sit on top rather than building flavor. Heat a pan on medium. Wait until it’s warm to add oil and eggs. If you start them in a cold pan, they’re more likely to stick, Gill says.
Let the eggs cook without stirring. Tilt your pan from one side to the other, so the uncooked parts run under the cooked eggs. Use a spatula to hold your omelette in place as you tilt.
Once the eggs are fully cooked, top with cheese and cooked veggies and meat of your choosing. Gill likes to add white cheddar and blue cheese in the omelette’s center and outer edges so it acts like glue holding the dish together. Spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers and onions make for a creamy yet earthy omelette.
Fold the omelette in half with a spatula, and flip it onto a plate.
Pro tip: Cook your veggies in a separate pan before adding, because it’ll be easier to ensure they cook through.
This is one of the prettiest dishes Gill makes—and also one of the most deceptively simple. Add oil to a warm pan. Season and cook your veggies. Add six eggs. Season and let cook until the eggs are done on the bottom and runny on the top. Top with cooked bacon or meat of your choosing. “Don’t think of it as anything fancy,” she says. “It’s really just souped-up sunnyside-up eggs.”
Cook bacon, shrimp or protein. Bring a saucepan of water to a gentle simmer. Add a couple teaspoons of white vinegar to help the eggs keep their shape. Gill likes to crack the eggs directly in the water, but beginners may want to crack the eggs in a bowl first and carefully place them in the water one at a time. Whichever method you choose, leave enough space between each egg to keep them separated. Watch the clock and remove after about 3 minutes, retrieving your finished eggs with a slotted spoon.
While the eggs poach, saute your spinach and veggies. Toast the English muffin.
To make the hollandaise, add 3 eggs, a tablespoon of butter or oil, salt, pepper, garlic and a little lemon juice to a stainless steel bowl. Whisk rapidly, beating air into the sauce. Hold the bowl over the saucepan your eggs are poaching in, and continue whisking. Don’t stop whisking or let the eggs get too hot, because they will scramble. Once the hollandaise has doubled in size, remove from the heat.
Plate your dish, topping the toasted English muffins with the spinach, veggies and protein. Finish with the poached eggs and a drizzle of hollandaise sauce.
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This article was originally published in the December 2017 issue of 225 Magazine.