Mimic Shirred Eggs

Shirred eggs.  Baked eggs.  “Fried eggs in the days prior to a fancy cooktop on which skillets could be placed to fry things.”  Slow fried eggs with toppings.

I attempted a proper recipe at this and found the need to prepare the oven a bit annoying — because I had no other need to use it (heating these days is from the Central Dragon, not a constantly running hearth).  After scrying the alternate realms for a bit, I realized that the way I prepared these was basically “slow fried eggs”.  The objective isn’t to “fry” the egg, have it “over-{any} style”, or make “sunny side up”, but cook it through “low and slow” so the toppings settle in, the cream doesn’t curdle, and everything firms up nicely.

I accompanied these with toast, as is proper.  When baked, I baked them for 12m, added the cheese, then baked for 3m more.  I didn’t time this on the stovetop, I eye-balled it.  Ow.

What went in the pan:

 

  • 2 eggs
  • 1T heavy cream (half-and-half would work, but not light cream)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chives
  • paprika
  • Gruyere cheese

What else went in the belly:

  • toast
  • a wee dob of mint jelly, “on the side”

I used a very small cast iron pan for this (the #2).  It fit everything perfectly.

Warm the pan on a burner on really low heat. I set my gas burner on a 3, so maybe a 2 for an electric?

Crack eggs individually into a cup and add into the pan.  (Good practice to catch a bloody-egg before it touches other ingredients).

Drizzle with cream.

Season with salt, pepper, chive, and paprika. I used savory instead of salt and pepper in one attempt. General “seasoning” seems to be the thing. For the chives I have a jar of freeze-dried chives which you should be able to get at any store. They’re great for a oniony taste without the hassle of an onion. In this case, also without the moisture of bulk.

When the eggs look almost done, crumble the Gruyere over them. Feta could also work. I read about Parmesan and mozzarella, but I think Parm is too subtle in flavor and moz is probably too stringy and wet. Something crumbly, dry, and pungent is nice. Blue Cheese would work too.

Let cheese melt a bit and “plate”.

I started toast going at “about the right time” so it would be toasted and buttered right around the time the eggs were ready.

An alternate version of this is to put a piece of ham (slab, obviously) at the bottom of the pan. That might be where baking this is better. But for just eggs, the stove-top approach was really easy.

At least this mimic doesn’t bite back… unless you season it to do so!

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Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Beholder

Beholder

I have said it before, and I will say it again after this: I am not a vegetarian, let alone a vegan.

I have said it before, and I will say it again afte this: I am a huge snob when it comes to food and drinks.

Amusingly, this latter point crops up in some not so snobby ways, like “what is the best pizza” or “what is the best cheeseburger” not just “what is the best 18 year single malt scotch”. What it means in the upshot is that I have strong opinions both on how to correctly define various food terms, and on what the near Platonic actualization of that term then may be — whether you want them or not.

Being from New Jersey, and thus wedged between that holy junkfood trinity of Philadelphia, New York City and The Jersey Shore [1], I have especially strong views on the word “pizza”. A strong case can be made that of all the styles of pizza to be found throughout the United States, “New York style” is the closest to the Neapolitan original (yes, pizza is really a genuinely Italian food, believe it or not), and since this is the style one generally finds throughout the heavily Italian immigrant populated regions around the holy junkfood trinity, most notably the highly lauded “boardwalk pizza” of the Jersey Shore, those of us who grew up eating this style have a tendency to insist that this is “pizza” and that all else is at best inferior and at worst (like Chicago style) not pizza at all.

I say all this, and mention once again in passing that I am not a vegetarian/vegan because I am about to discuss something we cooked the other evening for dinner, and I am going to very deliberately not call it a pizza. While it did involve a traditional dough (purchased in a small, frozen ball from the grocer), fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh oregano, fresh “blushing beauty” bell peppers, and was cooked in a rocket hot oven on top of ceramic tiles, it did not have any cheese on it. None. And because of this, it was not a pizza.

So call it a veggie flatbread. And we had it on a whim, mostly. It wasn’t a fasting day in the Church cycle that required us to skip the cheese, we aren’t deliberately watching our dairy fat intake or anything like that. We just tried this to see how it would be.

In addition to the already mentioned items, all from my organice community garden plot, we also caramelized a red onion.

My primary concern was whether or not the veggies would stick to the dough without cheese. They did. Mostly. If I had rendered the tomatoes more into sauce, it is very likely this would have bound everything to each other, and the dough.

Tonight we are making another attempt, this time with a chunky sauce of fresh tomato and oregano, faux sausage crumble, black olives, and cheese.  In other words, we’re making pizza.

pizza

pizza

The really important thing here, when you have your oven up to 550 degrees and you’re cooking directly on ceramic tiles, is to actually sit and watch the thing cook after the first 10 minutes or so. I used a timer to do 10 minutes, and then a second timer to do an additional 5, which was about 2-3 minutes too long. Much of the crust without toppings on it was burnt. Thankfully, the crust was overwhelmed with toppings, so the loss was minimal.

My plan tonight is to do the first ten minutes, add the cheese, then watch from there rather than using timers.

[1] Please note that the cast of the TV show of that name are not from New Jersey. Most are from New York, at least one is from Rhode Island, and in any case, the entire show is set in a location that residents of New Jersey universally despise precisely because people like that from New York have completely overrun the place. When a resident of New Jersey says “the Shore” they are more likely to mean Wildwood, Ocean City, Atlantic City &c. rather than Seaside Heights.

Just for the Sake of Amusement ~ The Early Years

Back when I was a Level 0 cook, and my efforts were confined largely to scrounging up lunch for myself while I was home for the summer and Mom was busy with Mom Things[tm], there were a great many “oh, I thought I was making something else” moments. Many meals started out with half remembered spells for cheeseburgers or omelets which ended with saving throws to transmogrify into hash. Important lessons during these years included notions such as:

  • Always cook eggs in a nonstick pan. Nothing sticks to a well seasoned cast iron skillet — except eggs *
  • With almost all proteins, the higher the heat, the less likely things will stick to the pan — except eggs *
  • Keep flattening a ground meat patty with a spatula often and hard enough, and it will completely fall apart.
  • When cooked ground meat falls apart, it doesn’t go back together again. Ever.
  • Trying to convert crumbled hamburger into sloppy joe or chili after you’ve cooked it never works.
  • Always start the potatoes first. Potatoes take way longer to cook than they look like they should.
  • You are not clever enough to cook two things in the same pan which are not supposed to eventually be combined.
  • The only thing which sticks to a pan more permanently than eggs is cheese.
  • Always have the pan scraped and cleaned before Mom gets home.
  • Leftover transmogrified hash may actually be a potion for the ending of all life on earth.

* Advanced spells involving bacon grease can prevent eggs from sticking to pans, even cast iron, but over use of this spell eventually leads to saving throws versus myocardial infarction and death — use with caution.