My father was (and still is) many things to many people: a busy corporate executive overseeing a large staff, a friend to many, a close brother to his brothers Jim and John, a loyal husband, a veteran, a caring son to his father and mother, and a loving keeper of many animals, including his beloved horse Valiant.
But to me, he is simply Dad—the best kind of dad. He's the kind of dad that, despite his extremely demanding travel and career demands when the four of us were growing up, was there. He was there for all the little league games, he was there (through example) to teach the important life lessons on the value of honesty and hard work, he was there to celebrate each of our joys, sorrows, and lives. Sweetly, he would bring my sister Heather and I little trinkets from his travels—a miniature Swiss clock from Geneva, or Madame Alexander dolls dressed up to represent their respective countries. He would set up camp under a tent in our rooms to tell "scary" stories of "Cookie" the hapless, good-hearted monster. He would scatter the eggs at the Easter hunts and put up the tree (and take it down) for what seems like an endless stream of Christmases past. He eventually walked me down the aisle on my wedding day, a blend of pathos, pride, and pure love apparent on his handsome face and radiating from his beautiful, selfless soul. (Dad pictured to the right with Mom and Tann Mann on a recent visit.)
But for all the gifts, love, memories, lessons, and life he has shared with me, nothing resonates as strongly with love as his "McCaulio"—a warm breakfast specialty blend of leftovers that usually included rice, peas, some kind of steak or pork, and eggs scrambled up in a pan and served with a big dose of ketchup. Though the ingredient list for the "McCaulio" (a play on his name, Herb McCauley) varied, there were two constants: it was always a hot breakfast and it was always made with love and usually lots of laughs as he prepared to get us off to school. Mom liked to sleep in during those busy years, and Dad selflessly picked up the slack. I'll never forget him or the McCaulio—I sure do love that man!
While I'm late in getting this out to you for a Father's Day breakfast, there is still time to put it together later today or any other day of the year. This is a simple yet beautiful "special" breakfast that can be whipped together quickly. Mom can help the kids with the bechamel sauce; meanwhile, the kids can put together a quick eggs scramble and toast. Dad will love it, and he'll especially love it because it was made with loving hearts.
Happy belated Father's Day, Dad, and to dads everywhere!
Photo by Steven Rothfeld
Soft Scrambled Eggs Cloaked with Sage and Sausage Bechamel Sauce on Baguette Toast Points
(Makes 4 generous servings)
Recipe adapted from The French Cook: Sauces (March 2013/Gibbs Smith)
First, prepare the bechamel.
Basic Bechamel Master Recipe
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 Tabsp. all-purpose flour
1 shallot or small onion (about 3 Tbsp.), finely chopped
2 cups skim milk
1 1/2 cups Half & Half
Sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When just melted, whisk in the flour all at once, whisking rapidly to combine. Add the chopped shallot (or onion) and whisk to combine. Continue whisking and cooking (without browning) for five minutes. Add the skim milk and Half & Half, drizzling rapidly into the roux, whisking continually. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Continue whisking and cooking the béchamel another five minutes, or until it’s come up to a gentle simmer and thickened to the consistency of thick chowder. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Reserve warm. Any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to three days and gently re-heated for another use. (Note: If you want to limit the fat and calories, the recipe can be prepared with skim milk only, unless it will be flavored with alcohol or acid in the recipe where it will ultimately be used. Depending on the quantity, it might risk breaking/curdling the sauce.) Set aside.
Meanwhile, put together the rest of the dish.
12 oz. loose pork sausage
Sea salt or kosher salt
Ground white pepper
2 cups of the reserved, prepared bechamel
1 tsp. dried, ground sage
2 Tbsp. dry vermouth
2 Tbsp. pork or veal demi-glace
For the toast points:
8 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonally cut slices fresh baguette bread
For the eggs:
8 large eggs
1/4 cup Half & Half
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Sea salt or kosher salt
Ground white pepper
4 sage leaves, optional for garnish
Heat a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble the sausage into the pan and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly brown and cooked through, about five minutes. Drain the sausage in a colander, straining off and discarding all of the rendered fat. Set aside. Finish the prepared, reserved bechamel by whisking in the sage, vermouth and demi-glace in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir in the reserved sausage. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Keep warm over very low heat. Toast the sliced bread in batches in a toaster or under a high broiler until golden brown. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and the Half & Half until very well incorporated, aerated, and lemony in color. Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat. Pour egg mixture into the skillet and season lightly with salt and pepper. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring constantly with a spatula or spoon. As soon as the eggs begin to set, remove from the heat. To serve, arrange two of the toast points on each of four large plates. Divide the eggs and warm bechamel over the toast points. Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh sage leaves, if desired. Bon appetit!