Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sunday Morning

I love Sunday mornings. Who doesn’t? In the new house I seem to be developing a Sunday morning pattern. I get my coffee, grab my laptop and head onto the back porch. In the good ole days, I might enjoy the Sunday paper out there but now I peruse the World Wide Web for the news as well as the occasional food blog. It’s quite peaceful. We have a small alligator that I’ve seen lurking around the canal and there are always birds just waking as the sun peaks over the trees on the other side of the lake. Now a non-Florida lake dweller might think this alligator is quite daunting (he’s in the 4-5 ft range I’m guessing), but he blends in nicely to the morning serenity. He’s quite shy. He does go the other way if he sees you coming or he just slips beneath the surface. Short of putting my hand directly in his mouth, he does not make me nervous.

So as I sip and read the blogs, my mind wanders as to what will end up on the table. There is inspiration everywhere but this day I find something I’ve had before and it sounds like the perfect way for a day to begin. A couple of my favorite blogs mention eggs fried in olive oil. Oh I so love eggs fried in olive oil. They epitomize a yummy everyday decadence. The rich complexities of the olive oil combines so harmoniously with the simple and luscious flavor of perfectly seasoned eggs that I’m not sure why this isn’t a menu item at every breakfast nook in the country. Well it’ll just be our little secret then, right?

Now these eggs are not just for breakfast. Here they are served over a pasta. I’ve not made this version before but I have played with others. The rich yolk flowing over ribbons of noodle that I twirl onto my fork is welcome on my tongue. I briefly contemplate something of this nature but I decided that if eggs in olive oil were simple, then the rest of my breakfast should be equally as simple. So after drinking in the rest of the morning news as well as my coffee, into the house I went. I left a Cormorant sunning himself on our dock.

Now I’m not the only mouth in the house to consider. Lisa and Olivia have stirred awake by now. Olivia is enjoying her nutritional staple, chocolate milk, while staring bleary eyed at one of her favorite Noggin shows (something about pets saving other pets). 4-5 cups of this a day with a princess shaped vitamin and she continues to grow. Lisa enjoys breakfast but is such a picky eater that there are only a few things in my breakfast inventory that I can pull out. I’m on my egg mission and I need to find something that others will enjoy too. This is my dilemma at most meal times in the house by the way.

So after some careful consideration, my menu is loosely set. I think I want to serve my egg over some grits. Not just any grits though. Since the eggs are a succulent touch, I want a more flavorful and savory expression. Looking in the fridge, I settle on some heavy cream, spring onions and fresh parmesan cheese. Oh I do love it when a plan comes together. Lisa will eat the grits, I think and … Olivia? Hmmmm. OK some discussion with her and she only wants the mini frozen pancakes from the freezer. Not exactly blog worthy, but hey… it’s my life.

I began the grits pretty much the same way I always do. I start with 3 parts liquid to 1 part quick cooking grits. This usually yields a slightly thicker consistency that I can add other things to. For example a cup of sour cream or a cup of cheddar cheese both have different but delicious results. Lisa has an affinity for my cheese grits. This time, though, I think I’ll add the cream at the end to finish off the perfect texture. The technique worked like a charm. This took an already yummy base for many potential dishes and lifted it into a new realm. One worthy of eggs fried in olive oil.

For the eggs, I have a goal every time I make an egg for myself. I like every bit of the white cooked but every bit of the yolk to run. This is an almost impossible balance and I have varying degrees of success with this. If you like them this way too, I have some useful tips. First off, I never leave the egg unattended. Next, learn your stove settings. It’s the perfect medium high temperature that yields the desired yolk effect. If you have a gas stove, you’re ahead of the curve but I do not. Then there’s a new little trick that I would love to think I invented but I’m sure this is a well known tidbit. It’s just that no one showed me. I spoon the hot olive oil over the top of the egg as the bottom cooks. Only do this a few times. This seems to make the perfect sunny side up egg. As an aside, adding an egg to hot olive oil will cause some popping so be careful. Yet another reason not to cook naked (that brings a funny story to mind but I’m not going there).

So putting it all together resulted in more than I’d hoped for. It was fantastic. The bright flavors of the spring onion and salty nuttiness of the freshly grated parmesan lifted little clouds of creamy grits to gastronomic nirvana. Then atop each cloudy bite was the sunny colored glaze of the yolk. Let me say, friends, that success is sweet. I can’t wait for a house guest to share this with. Would you like to come over for breakfast? Well, you are always welcome. Thank goodness I don’t cook naked.

I so love Sunday mornings.

Eggs Fried in Olive Oil with Creamy Parmesan Grits

For the grits:

4 tbsp melted unsalted butter
Slightly less than 1½ cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup quick cook grits
6 oz heavy whipping cream
About half a cup of grated parmesan cheese
2 spring onions (scallions) finely chopped

In a measuring cup add the butter and fill with water to equal 1½ cups. Season the water with salt (about a tablespoon) and a few cranks of pepper. Bring to a boil. Add the grits and turn heat to low. Cover. After just a few minutes the grits are done. Add the cream and stir. Remove completely and keep covered. When plating, place a good sized dollop of grits in the center of a plate and sprinkle some parmesan cheese and spring onion atop before topping with egg.

For the eggs:

6 eggs
¼ cup olive oil divided (approximately)
Salt and pepper to taste

I recommend 1 egg at a time but I imagine 2 would be fine. I also serve this 1 egg per serving but doubling for the heartier appetite should work well also. In a sauté pan add enough olive oil so that when the egg is inserted, the oil will splash over the white shoreline of the egg just a tad (I rather like that visual). For sunny side up, cook for a minute or two depending on the heat. Towards the end, turn the pan slightly to gather the olive oil to one side and gather with a spoon to baste over the egg. A few times should do the trick.

To plate, place atop the parmesan grits and sprinkle with a bit of good kosher salt.

Serves 6

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