They tell me its spring somewhere. I believe them, whoever “They” may be, because I’m seeing plenty of great spring produce cropping up everywhere. But right now there’s a pretty nasty storm pounding the Cap City, so today I’m hunkered down with some tunes and the kitties, tackling random projects around the house and making progress on my egg training.
That’s right: I’ve become obsessed with making awesome eggs the right way, the way real chefs do it. Since I can’t afford culinary school or the private tutelage of say, Thomas Keller, for example (Poor Girl may be poor but she has standards), I turn to the interwebs and articles to help me practice my technique.
You see, I love to cook and create new recipes, and I’m good at doing so with very little prep time or ingredients to work with. I’m resourceful, I’m creative, I think fast (which would make me an excellent candidate for Chopped… I should look into that, lol) – but I do not have certain techniques down the way the big guys do. I’m a home cook, primarily self-taught, and I’m totally okay with that. I have absolutely no delusions of grandeur that I’ll become some restaurateur-slash-celebrity chef, and have no desire to do either (Hey, I grew up in the restaurant biz, so I know what that’s like. I’ve worked in it, I love it, but I’m definitely not crazy enough to want to be in charge of something like that!).
But that doesn’t mean I can’t have better knife technique or create perfect omelettes in my own home, right? Of course not!
So, to pass away the nasty, stormy day, I decided to do some egg practice this morning. I’m still nowhere near where I want to be in terms of perfect omelette-making – that’s definitely going to take more practice. And eggs. Not that my omelettes are bad, but I realize I’ve been committing fatal egg mistakes with those little puppies in terms of cooking technique. (And when I really get the hang of it, be forewarned: there will be a massive Photo Makeover explosion on all omelettes!)
Anyway, because I only had about a half dozen eggs, I decided to put omelettes on hold and revisit poached eggs. I absolutely adore poached eggs, but had never actually made one of my own until last year. I don’t know why… I guess my egg focus has always been on more complex dishes like omelettes and frittatas and the like. And, like most people, I felt a little intimidated by the process. What if my poached eggs ended up looking more like egg drop soup?
It didn’t matter. I had to know.
If there’s one place I have no problem putting all pride aside and making an ass of myself until I get something right, it’s in the kitchen. The first time I tried poaching an egg I had no idea what I was going to end up with, but I consulted several methods for making the perfect poached egg, gleaned the points that I liked (and that made sense) from each one, and put them to work. Luckily for me, the exercise was a cinch, my eggs remain whole and un-tendrily every time, and I’ve been enjoying my own poached eggs ever since.
My favorite way to enjoy these, aside from properly-prepared Eggs Benedict, is ridiculously simple, and the recipe we’re looking at today. Just some roasted asparagus, some toast, and a beautifully poached egg or two, and I’m in absolute heaven. It’s a meal I like to enjoy at any time of day, not just breakfast, and one that makes me feel perfectly, deliciously spoiled. I don’t know why, exactly. It’s a very simple dish, both in preparation and in terms of ingredients. But when I see the beauty of that simplicity on my plate and take that first bite of fresh, unfussy ingredients, I feel like a MegaMillions winner every time.
Naturally, I prefer to enjoy this using fresh asparagus, but since their season is so short and they’re not always the most affordable veggie off-season, there are times when I fall back on frozen ones. And that’s totally okay. It’s also okay to be too lazy to wait for them to be done roasting, so if you’d rather give them a quick blanch or steam until they’re tender, go for it. Just be sure not to overcook them so they’re still slightly firm and crunchy when you take that first bite.
Because I know many of my readers are new to cooking and come here to learn (which I appreciate very much!), I decided to make a simple video to show you the poached egg method I’ve found works best for me. Stay tuned for that in tomorrow’s new post! For now, sit back, relax, and enjoy this simply delicious recipe…
Roasted Asparagus & Poached Eggs on Toast (makes 2 servings; total cost per serving: $1.75)
1/2 lb fresh asparagus
1 T olive oil
Salt & pepper
2-4 large eggs (preferably cold)
2-4 slices of bread
Extra olive oil (for drizzling)
1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside. Rinse the asparagus and gently pat dry. Cut off about 1/2″ – 1″ of the woodier bits from the bottoms of the asparagus spears and toss out. In a large bowl, toss the asparagus with the olive oil and a pinch of salt & pepper, then arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for about 15 minutes or until just tender, then set aside.
2. Fill a skillet or saucepan with about 3″ of water and bring to a low boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and adjust the heat so you’re left with gently simmering water (look for a constant parade of tiny bubbles at the bottom of the pan; if the bubbles are too big, lower the heat).
3. Crack one egg into a small bowl or ramekin (whatever you do, do NOT crack your egg directly into the water! This will not yield good results). Gently slide the egg into the simmering water and let it cook on its own for about 30-45 seconds, until the whites start to curl up and firm up on their own, and the yolk is no longer visible. Cover, turn OFF the heat, and allow the egg to poach for 3-5 minutes, depending on how firm you like your yolks.
4. After the time is up, remove the lid and, using a slotted spoon, gently remove the egg from the water. Let it drain as much as possible so you don’t end up with watery eggs & toast when serving. Place on a plate and set aside, and repeat if you’re making more than 1-2 servings.
5. Toast or grill your bread to your liking. Place a few asparagus spears on top of the toast, then slide one or two poached eggs on top. Sprinkle a little more salt & pepper on top, drizzle with extra olive oil if desired, and enjoy!