Eric Akis: Give your breakfast added flair

Eye-appealing, taste-tempting ingredients could include avocado, almonds, coconuts and maple syrup

Eric Akis

Many people have toast topped with a preserve or other spread for a quick breakfast. But if you’re not in a rush and are feeling adventurous, why not turn that toast into something a bit more gourmet by dressing it up with eye-appealing, taste-tempting ingredients.

When I do that, my first step is to think about what to spread on the toast. In today’s four recipes I used, respectively, ricotta cheese, almond butter, a spreadable cheddar mixture, and avocado- flavoured mayonnaise.

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Step two is to decide what complementary ingredient or ingredients, including in-season ones, would go well with the spread.

In the case of the ricotta, I choose to top it with thin slices of ripe peach, and for the toast spread with nut butter, I used fresh berries. For the more savoury toast spread with the cheddar mixture, I used slices of deli ham and boiled egg. For the toast spread with the avocado mayonnaise, I opted for slices of ripe tomato.

Step three in making these gourmet breakfast toasts is to sprinkle or drizzle something on them just before serving. As you can see in the photo, items I choose for the various toasts included toasted almonds, honey, coconut, maple syrup, green onion, bits of bacon and chopped parsley.

With regard to the bread used for the toast, any good quality, sturdy bread will work, such as white, whole wheat or other loaf. Just choose one you can slice yourself, as you'll need to slice the bread a bit thicker for these toasts.

You could toast the bread in a four-slice toaster, or under your oven’s broiler. To do the latter, set an oven rack six inches below your oven’s broiler. Preheat the broiler to high. Set the bread slices on a baking sheet. Broil the bread until toasted. Now turn each slice over and toast on the other side.

When making these, be sure to have all the toppings ready to go, before toasting the bread.

Summer Peach Ricotta Toasts With Honey and Almonds

Juicy fruit, tangy cheese, crunchy nuts, sweet honey and refreshing mint top these toasts.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about eight minutes

Makes: four servings

3 Tbsp sliced almonds

1/2 cup ricotta cheese, or to taste

4 (3/4-inch thick) slices of quality, sturdy bread, toasted

2 ripe, medium peaches, halved, pitted and cut into thin wedges

• honey, to taste

• small fresh mint leaves, to taste

Place almonds in a skillet and set over medium heat. Cook almonds, swirling the pan occasionally, until lightly toasted, about five minutes. Remove from the heat.

Spread each toast with ricotta. Divide and arrange peach slices on each toast. Sprinkle almonds on each toast, drizzle with honey, set on some mint leaves, and serve.

Ham and Egg Toasts With Tangy Cheddar Spread

These savoury toasts are typically topped with classic things served at breakfast, ham and eggs. But in this case those items are richly enhanced with a spreadable cheddar cheese-flavoured mixture.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: about 12 minutes

Makes: four servings

1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese

1/3 cup spreadable cream cheese

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp horseradish

• splash Worcestershire sauce

• freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 (3/4-inch thick) slices of quality, sturdy bread, toasted

8 thin slices country, maple or other deli ham

4 medium- or hard-boiled eggs, sliced

1 large green onion, very thinly sliced

Place cheddar, cream cheese, mayonnaise, horseradish, Worcestershire and pepper in a bowl and mix well to combine. Spread each toast with an equal amount of the cheese mixture. Set two slices of ham on each toast. Divide and arrange eggs slices on each toast, sprinkle with green onions and serve.

Nut Butter Berry Toasts With Coconut and Maple

Nutty-tasting toasts, adorned with a mix of summer berries and bits of coconut, all drizzled with sweet maple syrup.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about three minutes

Makes: four servings

4 (3/4-inch thick) slices of quality, sturdy bread, toasted

1/2 cup almond or other nut butter, or to taste

1 cup or so assorted fresh berries, whole and/or sliced, such as blueberries, blackberries and strawberries

• unsweetened coconut flakes, to taste

• maple syrup, to taste

Spread each toast with almond or other nut butter. Set some berries on each toast. Sprinkle and drizzle toasts with coconut and maple syrup, and serve.

Tomato Bacon Avocado Toasts 

These toasts are topped with a mix items that always taste divine together.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: about eight minutes

Makes: four servings

1 large, ripe avocado

3 Tbsp mayonnaise

• splashes of Tabasco and lemon juice

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 (3/4-inch thick) slices of quality, sturdy bread, toasted

8 ripe, thin tomato slices

4 strips bacon, diced, halved, cooked crisply and drained well

1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Cut avocado in half and remove pit. Scoop the flesh out of the avocado with a small spoon and set in bowl. Mash the avocado with a fork. Mix in the mayonnaise, Tabasco, lemon juice and salt.

Spread each toast with an equal amount of avocado mixture. Set two slices of tomato on each toast and season them with salt and pepper. Top each toast with some of the bacon, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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