Long before Jim and I were romantically involved we worked together at very straight-laced firm chock full of rules and regulations as large, successful firms are wont to have. They even had a large book of rules, although they referred to it as the Employee Handbook. One of the rules or standards was that everyone was addressed by their initials. If someone in the long history of this firm previously had your initials well, quite simply, they assigned you new ones. Your parents have no say in this matter. Sometimes one managing partner would not even call me by my name; I was just simply TMG and he’d address me as such to my face. Your initials served as the backbone for locating you, on the office map, your email address and really almost anything related to your employment there; more so than your social security number. But mainly your initials served as a way to receive all sorts of imperative inter-office garbage: magazines articles, specifications for review, new rules, your mail. Jim and I still have fun with this, occasionally depositing funny stories, a horrifying $450 electric bill, or whatever quietly placed on each other’s office chair with one set of initials and an arrow pointing at the other set of initials. We may even address a Christmas gift this way. We giggle like kids with this game. I know it doesn’t sound very funny, but we’re childish.
Oddly, and in spite of my disdain, I still use these pigeon-holing methods for organization in a serious manner. In the very back of my red book (my personal cookbook, the one I have previously referred to as the book of lists) past all the recipes, the menus, the lists of appetizers and the scraps of recipes not yet made is another list titled ‘Things JPY likes’. Beneath that title and scrawled over onto the next page is the ever evolving list of dishes I make that make Jim shout ‘Eureka!’. It is cross-referenced in the red book with fifth-grade-worthy hearts scrawled in the margins of recipes with the notation ‘JPY ‘hearts’. Jim professes to like almost everything I make, but sometimes if a dish really strikes him, he will express his extreme satisfaction with an eye roll while saying ‘Baby, this is really good.’ Now he just says ‘You can put that on the list.’ The list of things TMG makes that JPY likes.
So from the list of tasty items JPY ‘hearts’, from me, TMG, to you and your initials. Happy breakfast, enjoy.
Breakfast Polenta with Linguica - Serves 2
1 cup cream
2 cups water
1/2 cup polenta
1 tablespoon butter
salt + pepper
1 Linguica sausage
1 tablespoon rosemary chopped
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Combine the water and cream in a sauce pan and bring to a boil but do not let it over boil. Whisk in the polenta and two large pinches of salt. Simmer the polenta for about 25 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent lumps from forming. Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a skillet and add the sausage and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove the sausage and slice in to 1/4” rounds. Add the rosemary to the pan, fry until fragrant and slightly crispy, about 1-2 minutes.
Fill a wide pan with about 2” of water and add the vinegar; bring to a simmer. Crack the eggs in to small bowls or ramekins. Tip the bowl with the egg slowly in to the simmering water so the water comes in to the bowl to take the egg out to sea like the tide. Repeat with the other eggs. Using a slotted spoon, gently redirect the egg around itself in the water. Allow the water to return to a simmer and simmer 2-3 minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon or pasta claw and drain on paper towels.
Remove the polenta from the heat, stir in the butter, adjust salt and add pepper. Spoon the polenta into two warm bowls, top each with the sausage slices and two poached eggs, sprinkle fried rosemary and smoked paprika on top.
Notes: Instead of sausage I have also previously used a few ounces of chopped pancetta.