Flying the Coop

Simple in form, complex in what it can do, the egg is a many splendored thing.

(Photo by Andrea Hubbell)

They can be blue or green or brown, not just white; as large as a cantaloupe or as petite as a pecan. Regardless of size, shape or color, eggs—quail, duck or the more pedestrian chicken—are the square root of cookery. The Turks top pizzas with them; the Chinese thread them through soup; Italians roll them into brasciole; and Indians float them in a spicy cream sauce. Here in the U.S., we are unabashed in our love of nature’s whole food, serving them for breakfast, brunch and dinner.

Like the cosmos, the simple egg offers so many yet-to-be-discovered complementary combinations. So explore. With a soupÇon of inspiration and a few more ingredients, the options are endless.


Quail Eggs on Toast

(Photo by Andrea Hubbell)

  • 8 slices cocktail-sized bread
  • 1 pound spinach
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 quail eggs

Lightly toast bread in toaster oven. Melt butter in a sauté pan. Add spinach and stir lightly until wilted. Cook eggs 2-3 minutes in a lightly greased, non-stick pan, until whites are cooked and yolks are still runny. Divide spinach evenly and place on toast. Top with eggs.

Serves 4


Eggs in Purgatory

(Photo by Andrea Hubbell)

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 2 yellow peppers, cut into strips
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • Approximately 1 cup water
  • 8 eggs

In a large pan, heat olive oil, add onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add peppers, sugar and herbs and continue to heat for 5 more minutes. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper, reduce heat and cook on low for 15 minutes, adding water from time to time to maintain sauce consistency. Remove thyme and bay leaf. Make four wells in sauce. Carefully crack two eggs into each well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and cook gently over very low heat 8-10 minutes. Garnish with parsley and cilantro.

Serves 4


Mushroom Ragoût with Eggs

(Photo by Andrea Hubbell)

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 1 pound mixed mushrooms (button, cremini,
  • Shiitake, oyster)
  • 1⁄3 cup white wine
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 1⁄3 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup Parmesan, grated
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 8 eggs

Heat oil in large skillet and sauté onions and garlic over low heat until onions are soft, 6-8 minutes. Add mushroom, thyme, salt and pepper. Raise heat and sauté until liquid evaporates. Add white wine and allow to evaporate. Add chicken stock and reduce by half, then add cream. Bring to rapid boil. Remove from heat. Add parsley and cheese. Cook eggs sunny side up, then gently slide onto mushroom mixture.

Serves 4


Scarlet Egg and Beet Salad

(Photo by Andrea Hubbell)

  • 4-5 small to medium beets
  • 1 sprig fresh tarragon
  • 4 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup slivered green onions for garnish
  • Cracked pepper

Place beets in saucepan and cover with water. Simmer until tender, 20-30 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Cut the beets to match the size of the eggs. Place tarragon sprig in wide-mouth quart canning jar. Add eggs and beets, alternating, packing as tightly as possible. Combine reserved cooking liquid, vinegar, sugar and salt in saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before pouring into jar. Seal and refrigerate for at least two days. Drain liquid. Halve or quarter eggs and beets and arrange on lettuce. Garnish with onions and fresh cracked pepper.

Serves 4


Cardamom Rice with Duck Eggs in Yogurt

  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 fresh green chilies, thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • 2 cups Basmati rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 8 duck eggs
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 cups chopped cilantro
  • 5 tablespoons lime juice
  • 8 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • Black pepper, freshly cracked

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in large ovenproof pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add onions and garlic and sauté on low 5-6 minutes. Add cardamom, coriander, turmeric, salt and chilies, and stir. Reduce heat to medium. Add rice and coat in spice mixture. Add water and bring to boil. Cover and place in oven for 25 minutes. Fill a saucepan with 4-5 inches of water and add vinegar. Bring to a boil. Carefully crack eggs into water and remove from heat to rest for 4 minutes. When rice is done, stir in cilantro, parsley and lime juice and adjust seasoning to taste. Divide among bowls and spoon yogurt on top. Place two eggs on each and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Serves 4


Originally published in the April 2014 issue.

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