Thursday, June 4, 2009
Eggs in a Frame and other egg dishes I remember.
You can tell I am Italian when one of the moments I remember most about the movie Moonstruck was Olympia Dukakis(a Greek) made Eggs in a frame with fried peppers for herself and for Cher(an Armenian and Native American). I love that movie. There are things about it that are a little stereotypical...but then we are Italian; most of our stereotyped behaviors are very endearing. And of course the scene when Cher starts crying at La Boheme..a story about French young people in Paris acting like Czech youth, written by and Italian, sung in Italian and played by old, fat, conservative people. I will admit it, I cry at opera...Hell, I cry at store openings. Then at the end of the film, everyone toasts with champagne cocktails in the kitchen: "alla Famiglia!" The tears flow. That is part of the heritage I guess. There is that great line in "Gosford Park", an Agatha Christie knock-off....The Sister-in-law of the dead man cries bitterly about the death of the...Dead Guy....and her husband says:"Would you be quiet. One would think you were Italian!"
Mom did not have time for Eggs in a Frame, but she tried it because I hated eggs as a kid. I still would rather have tea and toast than an egg dish in the morning, but I have been more receptive in the last few years. One great advantage is that despite rising prices, eggs are a great value for the money and filled with protein. They had a bad reputation for a few years because of the yellow fat bomb in the middle. However, (That being the only part of the egg I like) the whole egg has become less of a threat in moderation than it used to be. I understand that consuming the entire egg is fairly healthy...Just beware of raw or undercooked. Despite the fact that they do lose some of their nutrition and volume over time they do keep rather a long time compared to many things.
As I was terribly small when we moved from our little farm in Littleton, I do not remember the deprivation that the rest of my family suffered when mu father was sick and we lived miles from town. The things Mom could count on were those that were near at hand on the farm. There was some maple syrup from trees on the property.(Once they were big enough). There were potato fields across the road, and you can eat potatoes at many stages of their growth. Elsie gave them milk. And, a quick trip to the henhouse netted eggs. Sometimes so many eggs in fact that they made Sunshine Cakes to get rid of them all. But chickens are notorious for not laying in certain conditions. This is not from a real knowledge of the rearing of chickens that I say this, but just some descriptions of chicken keeping. There were of course the chickens who did not lay well or slowed in production. They provided other forms of protein associated with an ax. By the time I was three, we had left the farm, and I never knew the joys or sorrows of that culture.
Stay away from cheap...or expensive for that matter...grocery store white bread and go for cheap Italian bread. The shape is not as easy to deal with, but most any other bread than regular sandwich bread works very well, will be more nutritious, and will taste better. The piece you cut out can be fried alongside, dried and made into crumbs or be used for party sandwiches. Just toss them into a bag and then into the freezer. See a post on herb butters elsewhere.
Choose the bread you like best. Perhaps sweet breads including those that are naturally sweet because of the type of grain, should be avoided for this application.
Lay the bread on a counter or cutting board and use any fairly large sized cookie cutter to remove the center of the bread. Stars, circles, moons, holiday shapes are great for kids...or for any of us for that matter. Just be sure that your cut out area of the bread is large enough to hold an entire egg. You can also just tear out a circle of bread.
Film a large skillet with a generous amount of olive oil and put it on low heat.
Drop in a sliced garlic clove and sweat the garlic till it is soft, but not colored. Add more than one clove if you like. Then remove the garlic when the flavor has infused the oil.
Raise the temperature of the pan. Lay the bread slice(s)into the oil. Drop a whole egg(hopefully you realize that it would not be so good in the shell) into the hole in the bread.
Allow the bread to toast, and the egg to solidify on the bottom, then flip the bread and egg over and cook the egg till it suits your taste...see how I skillfully avoided what I consider to be a pseudo word....Doneness...
Serve with grated cheese.
Separate the egg, beat the whites to break up only, mix in Parmesan or similar cheese, chives, Thyme, Chili flakes or powder, Parsley, basil shreds,Oregano, Tarragon...any combination you like. Drop the white and a single yolk into each bread slice and continue.
Can you afford Truffles? Use a few drops of Truffle oil especially in the yolk, and if you cannot afford that, grill a few sliced mushrooms...your choice. Truffles are supposed to be a perfect marriage with eggs...of course they are usually shaved over softly scrambled eggs. But who can afford truffles. It might be cheaper to go to Umbria, buy a dog, hike through the oak groves and try to smuggle a few home on the plane.(November is best.)
Caramelize sliced onion, Red and green peppers and sliced sausage(Pepperoni was the choice at home). Serve on top, on the side or mixed into the egg white as above.
Chopped sun dried tomatoes(In oil or soaked in water)
Large flakes of Parmesan made with a potato peeler on top.
Grate your favorite cheese on top. Fontina, Provolone,(PRO-VOE-LONE-AY not PRO-VOE-LONE) Cheddar or others that suit the filling. How about Pepper Jack with a pinch of chili powder, parsley and cumin in the egg and salsa on the side? Top with sliced Avocado...It is fruit...eat it in the morning!(How about a few slices of fresh chili pepper?)
Olympia served hers with roasted red peppers fried beside the bread.