are the building blocks of life, the first step to creating
you and me and most other animals on Earth.
it a little weird, then, that they are also so delicious?
they are scientifically complex, eggs are culinarily quite
simple. For our purposes as cooks and eaters, they consist
of only three parts — the white, the yolk and the shell,
and there isn’t a lot of call to eat the shell.
yet, look how much you can do with eggs. You can boil them
hard and soft. You can poach them and fry them. You can
scramble them and omelet them, coddle them and bake them,
frittata them and soufflé them and turn them into nog.
can be benedict or quiche, strata or migas, deviled or
meringue or egg salad. You can even drop them into soup.
wonder they’re called the incredible edible egg. True, it’s
the American Egg Board that calls them that, and they’re
probably biased. But still, eggs are pretty incredible. Food
guru Alton Brown calls them "liquid meat."
are delightful for breakfast, of course, and casually
decadent for dinner. But the meal at which they reach their
fullest potential would have to be brunch. When served at
brunch, eggs dress up in their Sunday best. It is when they
are at their most elegant and are most eager to please and
eggs take a little more effort than a couple of Tuesday
morning eggs over easy served with a side of toast and a cup
of coffee. But brunch is for guests, and guests will
appreciate the extra time and care you took to prepare them.
don’t need to know how much of the work was done in
first dish I made for an egg-filled brunch was a Shakshuka,
and to be perfectly honest I decided to focus on eggs this
week because I wanted to make Shakshuka. This is a dish I
encountered several years ago in an Israeli cookbook. I saw
a photograph of it, and I was instantly hooked. It was like
falling in love; it was one of those moments that changes
you forever — or at least as much as you can be changed by
eggs poached in a tomato sauce.
the intensely flavored sauce that makes Shakshuka so
special. Tomatoes are cooked with paprika, cumin, caraway
seeds and turmeric, given a sweet and sour kick with honey
and vinegar and then mixed with feta cheese and chopped
greens. I made mine fiery hot, which is traditional, but you
could easily dial down the heat if you like. A poached egg
on top is the perfect accompaniment; when the runny yolk
hits the tomato sauce it is the equivalent of culinary
originated in Northern Africa but is especially popular in
nearby Israel, where some restaurants keep pans of the hot
tomato sauce at the ready. The sauce can easily be frozen,
so you can keep it on hand for whenever you get the urge.
You may end up making it every week.
made an egg strata, which is precisely the sort of dish they
invented brunch for. It’s bread soaked with eggs, milk and
cheese, baked until it puffs up all creamy and delicious. I
topped mine with bacon (I used turkey bacon — it’s half
the cost and two-thirds the calories of regular bacon) and
stratas are so irresistible because, at their core, they are
really just thick, savory portions of French toast. Like
French toast, they do better when you use bread that is
slightly stale (mine was fresh, but I cut it into cubes a
couple of hours before making the dish and that worked
fine). The longer you can soak the bread in the eggs and
milk, the better it will taste. I soaked mine overnight,
which was ideal — both for the flavor and for the ease of
preparing it the next day.
had to do in the morning was put it in the oven and sit back
to enjoy the aroma while it baked.
true indulgent treat, I made baked eggs. At first glance,
baked eggs would appear to be nothing more than eggs that
have been baked in an oven. But what makes them so
deliciously special are the other ingredients you add to
the French origins of the dish, I made mine with Roquefort
cheese, walnuts and heavy cream (the French call this dish
oeuf cocotte au Roquefort). The baked eggs are a little
creamy in texture to begin with, and they only become more
special with the addition of the heavy cream and salty,
pungent cheese. The walnuts bring a crunch but also a bit of
an earthy counterpoint to all the other richness.
this dish is most certainly rich. You won’t want to serve
more than one per person. On the other hand, you also won’t
want to serve less.
pointed my kitchen toward Iran for a famous Persian dish,
fresh herb kuku. A kuku is like a less eggy version of a
frittata, and herb kukus are traditionally served on the
Iranian New Year. They can be served hot, cold or at room
temperature and are great any way.
kuku I made packs a huge amount of herbs and greens into a
dish with relatively little egg. To help bind it together,
it uses a mashed potato, which is brilliant.
of the high herb-to-egg ratio and the baking powder, the
kuku is almost spongy in texture. But the taste of the herbs
isn’t overpowering because the bulk of them is made up of
relatively mild parsley. Often served in Iran as a side
dish, this kuku is pleasant and quite delightful.
saved dessert for last. Brunch eggs can be sweet as well as
savory, so I made a German dish that is a wonderful
combination of two French dishes: omelets and soufflés.
omelet soufflé — a Schaumomelett — mixes the beaten egg
yolks of a standard omelet with the whipped egg whites of a
soufflé. When heated on the stove, this mixture cooks into
a dish that is ethereally light and delicious. It has lemon
zest in it for added flavor and a bit of sugar for
sweetness. But the real genius of the dish comes once you
take it off the stove.
you fold the omelet over, you first smear the inside with
jam or a fruit spread. Suddenly, what was once an omelet
becomes something more: a crepe with delusions of grandeur,
it is, it’s fluffy. It’s sweet. It’s superb. It is an
egg that is more than an egg.
2 to 4 servings
tablespoons granulated sugar
rind of 1 lemon
jam, sauce or preserves
Beat egg yolks with sugar, a dash of salt and grated lemon
rind. Beat egg whites to soft peaks and gently fold into
Melt butter in a 9-inch skillet over medium heat, and add
egg mixture. Cook slowly until bottom of omelet is golden
brown. You may cover pan until top of omelet is thoroughly
cooked or you may serve it with the top slightly runny, as
with a regular French omelet. You may also turn it over if
you want it browned on both sides. Spread with fruit sauce
or preserves (apricot, strawberry or raspberry preserves are
especially good with this). Fold in half and serve.
serving (based on 4): 110 calories; 6 g fat; 3 g saturated
fat; 188 mg cholesterol; 6 g protein; 7 g carbohydrate; 7 g
sugar; no fiber; 102 mg sodium; 27 mg calcium.
from "The German Cookbook" by Mimi Sheraton
4 to 6 servings
teaspoon baking powder
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
cup finely chopped fresh chives or scallions
finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
cup fresh chopped dill or 2 tablespoons ground dill
large potato, peeled, cooked and mashed, or 2 tablespoons
tablespoons oil or melted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Break eggs into a large bowl. Add baking powder, salt and
pepper. Beat with a fork. Add garlic, chives, parsley,
cilantro, dill and mashed potato or flour, and mix together
Place butter or oil in an 8-inch ovenproof baking dish or
skillet and put dish in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Pour
in the egg mixture and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or
until a light golden brown. Serve from the baking dish or a
platter. Cut into small pieces and serve hot or cold.
serving (based on 6): 162 calories; 10 g fat; 2 g saturated
fat; 186 mg cholesterol; 8 g protein; 12 g carbohydrate; 1 g
sugar; 1 g fiber; 549 mg sodium; 99 mg calcium.
adapted from "New Food of Life; Ancient Persian and
Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies" by Najmieh
4 to 5 servings
loaf of white bread, crusts removed, cut into cubes
pound bacon or bulk breakfast sausage, or ¾ cup cubed ham
pound sliced fresh mushrooms
cups whole milk
pound (5 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
teaspoon dry mustard or 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
pound asparagus, bottom few inches removed
Recipe can be easily doubled. Cook in a 9-by-13-inch baking
Place bread in a buttered 8-by-8-inch baking dish. If using
bacon, cut into 1-inch strips and fry until crisp. For
sausage, fry, crumble and drain. For ham, cook in a nonstick
pan, turning, until browned and heated through.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add
mushrooms, season with salt, and cook until tender. Drain
off excess liquid.
a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, cheese, mustard, reserved
meat, cooked mushrooms and asparagus. Pour this mixture over
the bread, but do not mix. Cover with plastic wrap and
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 45 to 60 minutes or until
heated through. Let cool slightly, then cut into serving
pieces. Serve warm.
serving (based on 5): 400 calories; 25 g fat; 12 g saturated
fat; 241 mg cholesterol; 25 g protein; 20 g carbohydrate; 6
g sugar; 1 g fiber; 666 mg sodium; 385 mg calcium.
adapted from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
EGGS WITH ROQUEFORT
ounces Roquefort or other creamy blue cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put on a pot of water to boil.
Season the heavy cream with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Butter 6 individual ramekins and break an egg into each one,
taking care not to break the yolk. Add a few walnut kernels
and chunks of Roquefort cheese to each ramekin, then pour
the cream to fill each ramekin.
Place the ramekins in a baking dish and place the dish in
the oven near the front (do not close the door). Quickly add
boiling water to the baking dish until it rises halfway up
the side of the ramekins — be careful not to splash water
into the ramekins. Close the oven door and bake until the
eggs are as you like them, about 12 to 15 minutes.
serving: 527 calories; 51 g fat; 24 g saturated fat; 308 mg
cholesterol; 14 g protein; 6 g carbohydrate; 3 g sugar; 1 g
fiber; 358 mg sodium; 193 mg calcium.
from "French Feasts," by Stéphane Reynaud
3 to 4 servings
tablespoons olive oil
medium onion, peeled and diced
cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 chile pepper (or to taste), stemmed, sliced in half and
minced; seeds removed for less heat if desired
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
teaspoon paprika, smoked or sweet
teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed
teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed, or 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and diced, or 2 (14-ounce) cans
of diced or crushed tomatoes
tablespoons tomato paste
teaspoon red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
loosely packed greens such as radish greens, watercress,
kale, Swiss chard or spinach, coarsely chopped
ounces (about 1 cup) feta cheese, cut in generous, bite-size
4 to 6
a wide skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add the onions and the garlic and cook until soft and
wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the chile pepper (if using),
salt, pepper, paprika, caraway seeds, cumin and turmeric.
Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, to release their
the fresh or canned tomatoes, tomato paste, honey and
vinegar, reduce the heat to medium and cook 12 to 15 minutes
until the sauce has somewhat thickened. Stir in the chopped
Turn off the heat and press the cubes of feta into the
tomato sauce. With the back of a spoon, make 4 to 6
indentations in the sauce. Crack an egg into each
indentation. Turn the heat back on to bring the sauce to a
gentle simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes, taking some of
the tomato sauce and basting the egg whites from time to
time. Cover and cook 3 to 5 minutes, until the eggs are
cooked to your liking.
Serve with lots of crusty bread for scraping up the sauce.
serving (based on 4): 326 calories; 21 g fat; 8 g saturated
fat; 304 mg cholesterol; 17 g protein; 20 g carbohydrate; 12
g sugar; 5 g fiber; 1,345 mg sodium; 229 mg calcium.
by David Lebovitz from recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami
Tamimi in "Jerusalem" and Adam D. Roberts in
"Secrets of the Best Chefs"