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Duck Duck Duck Eggs

March 20th, 2011 by Cocolat

My friend Josh brought a dozen fresh eggs from his ducks. How could I be this old and never have tasted duck eggs? Never mind. I scrambled one immediately so he could share my first taste. I thought, “rich, not as egg-y (by which I guess I meant chicken egg-y) tasting as chicken eggs, hmmm”. Some people think they taste cheesy according to Josh. I didn’t and still don’t taste cheese, but the rich texture is somewhat reminiscent of scrambled eggs with cheese. And that extra richness does have its own flavor, which mutes what I would ordinarily consider to be an “egg-y” flavor. But I was hooked by the time I had finished my half of that first egg, which I had cooked hot and fast (but very soft) in brown butter and eaten with whole grain toast.
 
Over the next few days I ate a scrambled duck egg (often cooked in peppery extra virgin olive oil) everyday for breakfast. These have been so delicious I haven’t been able to make myself branch out and poach, fry sunny-side-up, or make custard with even one of them.
 
Last night, my cousins came to dinner. Duck egg virgins! What to do? I made a little appetizer: scrambled duck eggs with crunchy toasted baguette slices and chopped parsley on the side (a good call as it turned out), so we could each assemble our own little tastes. We had flakey Maldon salt and a pepper grinder at hand. Interestingly, the pepper overwhelmed the good duck egg-y flavor and the parsley was completely distracting. All that was wanted was a little salt after all.
 
This morning I was at it again. I scrambled my solitary egg in extra virgin olive oil, on low heat instead of high, and stirring constantly so the eggs came out very moist and creamy, very oeufs brouilles (someone please tell me how to get an accent egu over that last “e” please). I ate them with toast and salt. They were the best yet.
 
There are only a couple duck eggs left now. Tomorrow I might finally be able to poach one. Or maybe not.
 
 

Berkeley Breakfast For Two In 15 Minutes

March 5th, 2011 by Cocolat

Every now and then I love to be reminded that the best meals I’ve ever cooked are the simple fast ones I’ve prepared for people I love: a daughter, a lover, or a cherished friend. They often involve a little serendipity.

Last week my dear friend E set out for Berkeley from the North Coast to continue the celebration of her 75th. As usual, she stopped at the Booneville hotel to break the drive. But the Booneville was booked, so they tucked her in at the Toll House Inn 10 minutes up the hill on the road to Ukiah. She headed south again the following morning, after de-icing car door handles and scooping up the bottle of Alexander Valley chardonnay (Handley 2007) gifted by the hotel. Neither of us would have chosen the chardonnay, but even the persnickety can be tempted by free wine. Good thing.

POACHED EGGS FOR TWO W/ ASPARAGUS, BROWN BUTTER, FRESH TARRAGON, AND CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAY

Be sure the kitchen table is de-cluttered and the Magnolia blossoms plucked from the neighbor’s tree are in a lovely dish in the center. Tulips should already be arranged in the big vase behind the sink with lilies in the opposite corner of the room. (It wouldn’t hurt if the rest of house was de-cluttered as well-but that doesn’t count in my fifteen-minute prep time, nor does the fact that E usually gets up first and makes coffee for both of us well before we contemplate breakfast).
 
Put a wide skillet of water on the stove to heat. Meanwhile cut four slices from a loaf of Acme levain and put them in a turned off toaster oven. Rinse, snap, and peel asparagus stalks and set the kitchen table with flaky sea salt and a pepper grinder. When the skillet water is boiling, add salt and asparagus. Plop a chunk of unsalted butter into a tiny saucepan with a sprig of fresh tarragon over medium heat. Keep an eye on the butter and swirl it in the pot from time to time until it is fragrant and golden brown. When the asparagus is al dente (and still bright green), transfer the spears to a double layer of paper towels. (Check the butter and pour it into a ramekin when it is done).

Bring the asparagus water back to a simmer. Break four very fresh farm eggs into the water, in a clockwise pattern. Turn the burner OFF, cover the pan, and set the toaster oven for 3 minutes. Meanwhile uncork an expensive bottle of champagne and discover that it is not very good. When the toaster oven beeps, divide the toast between two plates and drizzle them with a little of the brown butter. Use a slotted spoon to remove the first egg, draining the excess water by resting the spoon on a folded paper towel before sliding the egg onto a slice of toast. Repeat, scooping each egg from the water in the order it was added. Garnish plates with asparagus and drizzle more brown butter over the eggs and asparagus. Top with tarragon leaves, pinches of flaky salt, and grinds of pepper.

Serve a slightly oaky, buttery, bottle of Alexander Valley Chardonnay (which turns out to be an even better choice than the champagne would have been…) Linger over breakfast as long as possible.

PS Enjoy left over brown butter on toast with salt and tarragon leaves for several mornings thereafter and don't forget to return the champagne to the store.