In 2013, British photographer Michael Zee made a simple breakfast that started a phenomenon. He noticed the food–an omelette with avocado and salami and fruit juice–was arranged symmetrically. Zee took a photo and shared it online, thinking he’d try to do the same the next day. One month later, his Instagram account where he posted the geometric food photos had 200 followers. 400 breakfasts later, Zee had 92,000 followers. At the time of publication, his account (@symmetrybreakfast) now has over 609,000 followers.
What started as an aesthetically-pleasing breakfast for him and his boyfriend has changed Zee’s life. They both had hectic work schedules, so breakfast at home in their central London flat was the one constant the couple had. An act of love documented on social media transformed into a kaleidoscopic photo series. Now, Zee is taking his Instagram account offline and converting it into a cookbook. SymmetryBreakfast: 100 Recipes for the Loving Cook is already available in the United Kingdom and is slated for release in the United States this November.
Besides offering 80 internationally inspired recipes, gorgeous photography, and lessons in the art of food-styling, SymmetryBreakfast explores what breakfast is and what it means to people around the world. Surprising with the exotic and delighting with the familiar, this unconventional cookbook offers ideas for perfectly plated assembly breakfasts to more complex dishes for seasoned cooks, as well as recipes with great stories behind them.
In advance of the book’s release, RealClearLife is giving you a sneak peek. Below, find Zee’s recipe for Churros with Ham and Caramel Dipping Sauce, as well as additional mesmerizing food photography. If you like what you see, you can pre-order SymmetryBreakfast here.
Churros Y Jamon Con Cajeta
Churros with Ham and Caramel Dipping Sauce
For the Cajeta
Makes 3 jam jars of sauce
–2 quarts goat’s milk
–2 cups grated panela, or light muscovado sugar 1 tsp vanilla
–1⁄2 tsp baking soda
To make the cajeta, place the milk, sugar, and vanilla in a large, heavy-bottomed pan (large is important and you’ll see why later). A copper pan is traditional in Mexico, but any heavy–based enamel or steel pan will work fine. I’d advise against using cast iron because of the risk of damaging the pan.
Over a low heat, slowly melt the sugar into the milk and add the vanilla extract. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, so you don’t burn your hand. Dissolve the baking soda in a tablespoon of water and quickly add this to the milk, still stirring. Within seconds the liquid will double in volume, so quickly turn the heat down if you need to.
For the Churros
Makes 8 churros
–1 cup water
–Oil for deep frying
–3 tbsp light brown sugar
–1 stick of butter
–1 cup plain flour
–1/2 tsp salt
–1 tsp vanilla extract
–1⁄3 cup minced Serrano ham
–1 cup superfine sugar
–2 tsp cinnamon
–8 squares of baking parchment, 4 x 4 in
Now, for the next 4–5 hours, with the heat on low, it is a matter of stirring occasionally and making sure it doesn’t burn. Perhaps use this time to finish those odd jobs around the house you’ve been putting off.
Sterilize three jam jars. The easiest method is to wash them in hot soapy water, rinse but not dry them, and then bake them in the oven at 350°F for 15 minutes.
The cajeta should now be glossy and caramel colored. It will thicken as it cools. Carefully pour into the sterilized jars, screw on the lids, then immediately turn the jars upside down and leave to cool completely. This will create a vacuum seal and it simply means that you’ll be able to keep the cajeta for longer. You can store it in a cupboard until opened, then keep it in the fridge and use within 6 months (if you can manage it; it’s more likely that you’ll scarf the lot).
To make the churros, you’ll need to invest in a heavy–duty piping bag with a star nozzle or a specialist churro gun, which you can find online. Gently heat the oil in a heavy pan. You want the oil to be at least an inch deep.
In a separate pan, add the water, light brown sugar, and butter, and melt. Bring it to a boil and add the flour and salt. Combine the lot with a spoon and some elbow grease until you have a batter that looks like wallpaper paste.
Beat the eggs in a bowl with the vanilla and combine this with the flour mix. You will now have a smooth, glossy batter.
Finely mince the Serrano ham and add this to the batter. Combine the superfine sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
Load up your churro gun or piping bag with the nozzle already inserted. Test the temperature of the oil with a pea–sized ball of the batter. If it browns fully in 90 seconds then it’s ready. To create the classic teardrop shape, pipe the mix onto a sheet of the baking parchment and, using a pair of scissors, snip the batter clean from the nozzle.
Gently lower the churro, paper attached, into the hot oil. After 30 seconds it will come free of the paper; using tongs, carefully discard the paper. Continue to cook for 1 minute, then flip and cook for another minute. Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining batter. Leave to cool for a minute so that you don’t burn yourself, then sprinkle each churro gently with cinnamon- sugar. Serve with cajeta and coffee.