You can fry them, shir them, scramble or roll them up. Is there a more versatile food at your fingertips? It's that incredible egg, long on the upswing after its battering on the health front.
But everyday eggs can be so, well, everyday, always pleasant and comforting, with a predictability and demeanor that might as well whisper, "It's time to wake up."
But when morning takes on grander importance, for those celebrations when you want to shout, "Welcome!" to the day — whether it's a regular morning or any of the spring gatherings where guests gather around the table — the egg can be dressed for company.
Consider the roulade, a curlicue of egg, cheese and vegetables. Made from a batter that cooks in a jellyroll pan, the eggs become nearly as firm as a crepe, with a topping of good stuff that's added before it's rolled up. The roulade is a bit time-consuming, but it's definitely worth the effort for the "wow" factor alone. And if it's the only dish on the menu that needs some last-minute attention, you are set.
Or think simple but dressed up, on the order of scrambled eggs on bruschetta. The key is in the scrambling (don't do much of it). Oh, and the cream cheese in the mixture. Add your choice of topping — shrimp, salmon, a bit of lobster — and this will look as good as it tastes.
Then there's the shirred egg, an everyday kind of dish that's turned on its head when cooked with cream and lemon and anything else you might want to add.
If there are too many at the table to fuss with individual eggs, a crustless quiche — creamy and filled with vegetables — is a grand way to fill out the menu.
Whatever the option, morning couldn't taste better.
Serves 6 to 7
This calls for a 10- by 15-inch jellyroll pan (a baking sheet with edges). If you have a different size, just shape the batter on the pan accordingly. I've made two of these at a time, for a group of 12 diners, and I made the batter individually for each. With two roulades, it's a little extra last-minute pressure, but if the rest of the meal is simple, this is doable. Keep in mind that you'll need the full oven if you're making two of these. Adapted from Sara Moulton.
5 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons. flour
11/4 cups milk
4 eggs, separated
Freshly ground black pepper
Filling (see below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the 10- by 15-inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper; either butter or spray it with cooking oil.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Increase heat to high, whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.
Transfer flour mixture to a large bowl. Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time. Season with pepper.
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Stir a third of the whites into yolk mixture and fold in the rest.
Pour the batter onto the parchment paper and smooth it out. Bake for 15 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
Meanwhile, prepare any filling that needs to be warmed. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.
Cover the egg surface with another oiled or buttered piece of parchment. Invert onto the counter, and peel off the parchment on the top.
Sprinkle the egg surface with whatever filling is to be used. Starting on the long side of the egg surface, and using the parchment on the bottom to help, roll up the egg, jellyroll fashion. Place the roulade back on the jellyroll pan, with parchment underneath, and return it to the oven. Bake until any cheese in the filling has melted, about 10 minutes. To serve, cut into 1/2-inch slices.
The filling must be prepared and hot (except for cheese) before it is placed on the cooked egg surface. Make sure any moisture in the vegetables is gone; heat in a saute pan to assure it.
• Diced tomatoes or roasted red peppers and grated Cheddar cheese
• Diced sauteed mushrooms and Gruyere cheese• Cooked, chopped spinach (make sure it's thoroughly dry) and Parmesan cheese
• Slices of prosciutto and any grated cheese
• Black beans and diced roasted red peppers
• Diced ham and grated Cheddar cheese
• Smoked salmon (lox), whipped cream cheese (so it's easy to spread), chives or capers
• Cooked and crumbled bacon or sausage
• Grated cheese or fresh, minced herbs
• Green chile sauce
• Hollandaise sauce
Bruschetta With Eggs and Lobster
Bruschetta (broo-SKEH-tah) is a traditional toasted bread topped with something tasty. If you cut the bread on the diagonal, you will get more surface. You can toast the bread an hour or so in advance, but the eggs and lobster need to be cooked right before serving. Each 5-ounce lobster tail will provide 4 ounces of meat. There are many alternatives to lobster (see below). Boursin is a creamy soft cheese with the texture of cream cheese, and it comes flavored with herbs. It's a tasty alternative to cream cheese. For large soft curds of eggs, keep your stirring to a minimum. Adapted from Bar La Grassa in Minneapolis.
1 baguette, cut in 16 (1/2-inch) slices
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 or more (5 ounces each) lobster tails (defrosted, if frozen)
14 eggs, beaten until yolks and whites are well-combined
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into small cubes (or Boursin cheese, see Note)
Fresh chives, chopped
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
Truffle oil, optional
Toast bread in oven or in toaster. Rub one side of each slice with garlic (if you don't like garlic, omit this). Butter and set aside.
Prepare the lobster: Do this before you start the eggs so there isn't too much going on at the same time. To remove meat from shell, use kitchen shears to make two cuts along the underside of tail (the softer side) and break away the shell. Once the meat is out of shell (before or after it is cooked), remove the black vein that runs along the tail (pull it out or make a cut along the meat, as you would to devein shrimp, and pull the vein out).
Choice of options for cooking lobster:
Remove meat from shell and saute whole in 2 tablespoons butter, basting it often, for about 5 to 8 minutes, until cooked through, then chop or slice for the eggs, or …
Remove uncooked meat from shell and chop into chunks and saute in 2 tablespoons butter before adding to the eggs, or …
Poach meat in the shell for about 3 minutes in water to which some white wine, carrot, celery, onion, chile flakes, fennel seed, mustard seed, peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme, kosher salt and lemon and oranges have been added. (Bring the water to a simmer before adding the tail.)To prepare eggs: In each of two nonstick pans (or one large pan), melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add eggs and turn heat to medium-low. For the largest curds, cook eggs with little stirring, instead pushing cooked part aside with a spatula and allowing uncooked eggs to move into place. When almost done, add cream cheese and stir. Remove from heat. (Eggs will continue to cook.)
To serve: On each plate, overlap two slices of toasted bread. Divide eggs and place on toast. Top with lobster and sprinkle with chives, a little salt and pepper. Drizzle a bit of truffle oil over eggs, if using.
Variations (instead of lobster):
• Smoked salmon, topped with fresh dill instead of chives.
• Cooked crabmeat (not the fake stuff, please!).
• Small or medium-size cooked shrimp.
• Cooked whitefish.
Shirred Lemon Eggs
Zest is the grated colored rind of citrus fruit. This recipe can easily be increased. Ramekins are individual baking dishes, about 3 to 4 inches in diameter. From "The Breakfast Book," by Marion Cunningham.
Butter for the ramekins
4 tablespoons heavy cream, divided
1 teaspoon lemon zest (see Note)
3 tablespoons grated Gouda cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons minced herbs (dried fines herbs or fresh parsley, oregano, tarragon, marjoram or thyme)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter 2 ramekins well and pour 1 tablespoon cream in each. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese over the cream in each ramekin. Salt and pepper to taste.
Crack 1 egg into a cup and carefully pour it into a ramekin (this is to assure that the egg yolk doesn't break or have a spot on it; if it does, use another egg); repeat with remaining egg into second ramekin. Pour the remaining tablespoons of cream over the eggs. Scatter herbs over the top. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes (about 15 minutes for the white to be cooked, but the yolk will still be soft and a bit runny).
• Add lemon zest to the top of egg before it's cooked.
• Add salsa or Asian chile sauce over eggs when they come out of the oven.
• Prosciutto-wrapped: Place a paper-thin slice of prosciutto in each ramekin (cut to assure it fits the dish without overhanging) and bake for 10 minutes. Continue with recipe, first warming cream before adding it to ramekin. Add egg and seasoning.
• Ham (or prosciutto) and mushrooms: Finely chop ham, mushrooms and green onions. Toss with a little brie and place mixture in ramekins. Top with egg and additional cheese over egg and bake.
• Florentine: Spread 1 tablespoon chopped cooked spinach on bottom of each ramekin. Top with egg and 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Mushroom and Onion Quiche
Serves 10 to 12
Need an easy egg dish? This quiche fits the bill. It does not have a crust. If you prefer one, roll out two prepared pie crusts and bake according to directions. Then add the egg mixture and bake as directed below. The more finely shredded the cheese is, the more it will melt into the eggs. Substitute other vegetables as you prefer; chopped fresh asparagus is particularly nice (be sure to cook until almost tender in advance of adding to eggs). From "Come One, Come All: Easy Entertaining With Seasonal Menus," by Lee Svitak Dean.6 to 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced (3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons butter, plus more to grease pan
1 1/2 cups half-and-half or milk
4 ounces (1 cup) finely shredded Gruyere or white cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
Dash white pepper
2 tablespoons chopped chives, plus more for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Saute mushrooms and onions in a saucepan with butter until soft. Set aside. (If preparing in advance, refrigerate mixture until ready to use.)
Crack eggs into large bowl; whisk until egg whites and yolks are thoroughly blended. Add half-and-half or milk, cheese, salt, pepper and chives; whisk thoroughly. Add mushroom mixture and stir.
With butter, lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch pan (glass or ceramic will look nicer than metal for serving) or two 9-inch pie pans. Pour egg mixture into pan(s). Bake until golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature, with additional chives sprinkled on top for garnish.
Crabcakes replace Canadian bacon in this classic dish, and there's no need for hollandaise sauce. From Wolfgang Puck in "The Macy's Culinary Council Thanksgiving Holiday Cookbook." He notes that cooking the eggs sunny-side-up instead of poaching them is quicker and less fussy. Not enough time to make crabcakes? Great ones are available at Costco (the Handy brand). Panko breadcrumbs are bigger and lighter than the traditional crumb, which can be substituted.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup mixed diced red, yellow and green bell peppers
1/2 cup diced red onions
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon minced jalapeno chile or red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Leaves from 2 fresh thyme sprigs, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup panko breadcrumbs (see Note), divided1 cup ground almonds, divided
11/4 pounds fresh lump crabmeat, picked over for cartilage and shell fragments
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed
6 English muffins, split
12 extra large eggs
Chopped chives for garnish
For the crabcakes: You will need to make the crab mixture and shape the cakes at least 1 hour before you are ready to cook them. In a 10-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers and onions and saute, stirring frequently, until tender, 7 to 9 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl and let cool.
While the pepper mixture is cooling, return the skillet to medium-high heat, add the cream and jalapeno and simmer briskly, stirring frequently, until the cream is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add to the pepper mixture and let cool for about 15 minutes.
Add the chives, dill, parsley, thyme, salt and cayenne to the cooled mixture and stir well. Stir in the egg and half each of the breadcrumbs and almonds. Gently fold in the crabmeat; the mixture should be lumpy.
On a plate, stir together the remaining breadcrumbs and almonds. Have ready a baking sheet.
With clean hands, divide the crab mixture into 12 equal portions, then shape each portion into a cake the diameter of an English muffin. As you form each cake, gently press both sides of it into the crumb-almond mixture to coat well, then place on the baking sheet. When all of the cakes are ready, cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.
To cook and serve the crabcakes: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Have ready a large baking dish. In a large skillet, combine 2 tablespoons of the butter and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add half of the crabcakes and saute, carefully turning them once with a spatula, until they are golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to the baking dish and keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining crabcakes the same way, adding more oil to the pan if needed to prevent sticking.
When the crabcakes are almost done cooking, toast the English muffins and spread them lightly with a little of the remaining butter. Place 1 or 2 muffin halves, cut side up, on each individual serving plate, or place them all on 1 or 2 large platters.
To cook the eggs and serve: As soon as all of the crabcakes are cooked and in the oven, wipe out the skillet, return it to medium-high heat, and melt enough of the remaining butter in it to coat the bottom evenly when you swirl the pan. Carefully crack just enough eggs into the pan to fit without crowding and sprinkle them with salt. Fry until the whites are set and the yolks are cooked to your or your guests' liking, spooning a little of the butter from the pan over the whites and yolks to help them set, 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer the same number of crabcakes to muffin halves as eggs you cooked, and top each crabcake with a fried egg. Repeat with the remaining butter, eggs, and crabcakes. Garnish the eggs with the chives and serve right away.