Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Breakfast for company

Like I mentioned before, my husband's sister and brother in law stopped through town on their way north for a vacation. We knew it would be a short trip, from Friday afternoon to late Saturday morning. I had hoped to make dinner, but with it being Lent, which means no meat for my Catholic husband and sister in law, my husband wanted pizza. Well, he always wants pizza, but this gave him an excuse to go to a pizza place near us that is a bit more expensive than the chain places. He said he wasn't sure 'if they ate seafood,' which was code for 'I want a nice gooey cheese pizza for the last Friday of Lent.'

So I gave in trying to make dinner and then suggested breakfast instead. I actually really enjoy making breakfast and brunch, but it is not something I do often. My husband hates eggs with a passion and just isn't the type of person to eat a big breakfast. Neither am I actually, but I love to make it on occasion.

I kept trying to get input on what to make, what sorts of things people would like. The response was anything will be good, though we have never had a quiche we liked, so probably not something like that. And probably not too many veggies, either. So there went the spinach, ham and egg casserole I was hoping to make.

I had a cinnamon pancake mix left over from my Christmas gifts, so I figured that was a good idea. That would definitely keep my husband happy with a non-egg based option. Then I figured I would make biscuits and sausage gravy. I found a recipe on King Arthur Flour for biscuits that they even suggested would work well with sausage gravy (http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/biscuits-for-breakfast-recipe). I just wasn't sure if I would have the time to make these since the recipe includes a one hour freezing time.

I had a back up plan in place. This biscuit and gravy recipe from allrecipes.com included a shorter preparation time (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Drop-Biscuits-and-Gravy/Detail.aspx). Either way, I planned on using the gravy recipe since it had gotten such good reviews. It didn't matter in the end, I found time to make the biscuits Friday night after dinner. I could still socialize since our floorplan is very open, but I also got to make the biscuits the way I wanted to.

The sausage gravy was simple to make following the directions. I doubled the recipe without any trouble. I warmed the biscuits slightly and that was a great addition to the meal.

For the egg part of things, I was still at a loss. I could make scrambled eggs, but I really wanted to try something a little fancier since I don't get the opportunity to make breakfast like this. Most of the egg casseroles have sausage, which I already used for the biscuits, or lots of veggies. I would have loved the veggie-filled ones, but knowing that I might be the only person eating it made me think twice about that.

I have been reading Shirley O'Corriher's Cookwise book and remembered a recipe for baked eggs that I had marked. I have never had baked eggs and thought this would be a good opportunity to try them out. So I followed the recipe by buttering small ramekins, then dusting with plain bread crumbs. Next I broke an egg into each one and topped it with some freshly grated nutmeg, salt, pepper and two tablespoons of cream. Then some grated Gruyere to top it off. I baked the ramekins on a baking sheet at 350F for the suggested 8-10 minutes. The eggs still looked a bit soft and I ended up baking them 5-7 minutes more, just to be sure they cooked through. The eggs still looked a bit runny, but it was mostly from the cream and not the egg yolk.

The opinions on the baked eggs were varied. My husband didn't try it at all, which I expected. His brother in law ate part of his, but didn't like the Gruyere on top, so he didn't want to finish his. He evidentally only likes Cheddar, American or Mozzarella, so this was a bit too strange for him. My sister in law took a tiny (pretend) bite and said she liked the flavor. But she won't eat anything where the yolk isn't hardened, even though the runny-ness of the dish was from the cream, not the yolk.

Then there was my opinion. I actually really enjoyed the eggs. It was a different way to prepare eggs than I have ever had before. The fresh nutmeg was a strange and unexpected flavor addition, but I liked it. And I think I have fallen for Gruyere cheese. I have been wanting to try it, and this gave me the perfect excuse. It has a slightly nutty type flavor that I relish. I made a grilled cheese sandwich with it and I don't think I can ever go back to using American slices.

So I had a few eggs left over, since I wasn't sure how many to make per person. I wrapped them in Saran wrap and stored them in the fridge. I heated them through in the microwave and have had them with dinner the last two nights. I completely agree with Shirley's opinion that the baked eggs are a nice luxury. I don't usually use cream in my cooking, but since this was an occasion, I went right ahead. Maybe I will try to make them again for my mom, who sounded very interested when I was telling her about them. I am hoping I am not the only one that finds them not only appetizing, but very delicious.

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