June 11, 2010

Bits and Pieces

Okay, can we take a moment here and talk about poached eggs?  Those just set whites and creamy thick and runny yolks?  Oh!  They are my favorite sort of egg preparation.  Over a piece of toast, on a salad, cooked in a spicy tomato sauce.  I suppose if you're a perfectionist and looking for that nicely shaped poached egg with no ragged edges, they can be a bit a tricky, otherwise, there really isn't anything to them.  Bring some water to a gentle simmer, crack an egg into a cup or ramekin and slip it into it's warm warm bath, then after 3-4 minutes remove it with a slotted spoon.  I'm not running a restaurant around here so I'll take the slightly tattered look, it's not as if they taste any different when plopped on top of a dish.

Now the days get longer and warmer and the desire to be in the kitchen wanes; traded for al fresco dining and simple dinners.  And while this recipe requires you to crank up the oven to "broil" and poach an egg or two, the total time spent in the kitchen near the heat is 10 minutes, tops.  This is a use up the odds and ends kind of a dinner.  There was the leftover feta from the gorditas, a few kalamata olives from a barley salad - that was sadly not the prettiest thing to photograph - and a chunk of a baguette that I froze not wanting the whole thing to go stale and hard as a rock.  The eggs and herbs and olive oil are just your average kitchen staples.  Maybe it's the satisfaction that I didn't have to waste any ingredients or because I didn't have the highest expectations already set, but it always surprises me that cobbled together dinners such as this, are usually some of best.  Throw together a quick salad with a lemon-dijon vinaigrette and voila! you have a very satisfying meal in no time.  When the feta is broiled it gets creamy yet crispy on the edges, punctuated by briny olives and earthy sage.  The poached egg on top helps subdue all the salty elements and cover the bowl in silky yolk.  Gah! - I'm hungry all over again!

Poached Eggs with Baked Feta and Olives
Adapted from Food and Wine, May 2008

Surprisingly I didn't deviate from the original recipe other than the bread (baguette instead of focaccia), and I managed to use up a few leftover ingredients from other recipes in the process.  If you don't have sage around I'm sure you could easily replace it with thyme, rosemary or even basil, but don't leave it out.  The herbs go a long way to deepen the dish and add a nice earthy flavor.  Cooking for more than just two?  This recipe easily lends itself to being doubled or tripled.  In fact, the original recipe makes 6.

2 servings

5 oz of feta cheese, cut into two slabs
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
Aleppo pepper or ancho chile powder for sprinkling
2 large eggs
6 kalamata olives
1 teaspoon chopped sage leaves
4 baguette slices, cut on a deep angle

Preheat the broiler and position a rack 6 inches from the heat. Bring a large deep skillet of water to a simmer. Brush the baguette slices with olive oil and broil until lightly toasted. Put a slab of feta into each of 2 individual gratin dishes. Drizzle each slab with 1 teaspoon of the oil. Sprinkle lightly with Aleppo pepper and broil for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly browned and sizzling.

Meanwhile, crack the eggs one at a time into a small bowl, then slide them into the simmering water. Poach until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to the gratin dishes.  Sprinkle with Aleppo pepper, the olives and sage. Serve with the bread.

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