Monday, October 14, 2013

Mixed Plate: Eggs-actly the Book You've Been Waiting For

There's a Sriracha-themed cookbook, there's likely more than one bacon cookbook, so it was only a matter of time before someone not only did an all-egg cookbook, but one that took advantage of the meme-riff on Portlandia's "Put a Bird on it" skit. I give you, Lara Ferroni's "Put an Egg On It."

Pasta carbonara "nests" inspired by Lara Ferroni's new book - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Eggs are an on-trend ingredient, to be sure -- they've become the edible garnish everyone wants on their food, from pizzas to sandwiches. And it's not without cultural tradition -- Italians top their pastas with it, Koreans put it on bi bim bap. There's just something universal about that sunny-side egg with the bright yellow yolk staring up at you like the Epicurean Eye of Sauron that says, yes, you want to eat this food. Or I'll steal your soul.

I admit, myself and many others in the food blog/social media-verse have been throwing down the "Put an Egg On It" saying for a while, it was only a matter of time before someone would nab that meme and Put a Cookbook-Title-Ring on it. I'm glad it was Pacific Northwestian, Lara Ferroni. I've been a fan of her books and photography for a while. She puts out gorgeous books that show beautiful, unfussy foods that are easy to imagine on your own dinner table at home. You're not spending days preparing a single recipe. These are books to inspire you to get back into the kitchen and convince reluctant cooks that meals at home can be as satisfying as the food being prepared. Put an Egg On It is a great book for people who don't have a lot of time to cook -- the recipes are simple and because they focus on the almighty egg, you can't have too many ingredients to worry about, otherwise the egg gets lost in the mix. Also, I particularly love that she has a recipe for scrambled eggs on hot dogs. She even admits in the recipe, does it really need a recipe? But of course she includes instructions anyways. This is meaningful to me because as a kid this was literally all I ate. For reals. Hot dogs (no bun) with scrambled eggs. My poor mother. She will find this book and that recipe in particular very amusing.

There's also a recipe for having a fried egg with oatmeal, which left the Mister feeling like his brain was Vulcan Mind-Melded without consent. He makes what he likes to call Megg-meal at home on the weekends -- fried eggs with oatmeal -- so seeing what he felt was his proprietary breakfast on the printed page made him feel somewhat violated. I, however, feel fairly certain he's not the inventor of this dish and probably a lot of other people do this. If anything, he should feel vindicated that he's not the only one who does this weird thing for breakfast.

Baked eggs and pasta, with a dissection to see the gooey, lovely yolk - Photos by Wasabi Prime
One of the recipes that caught my eye was the one that made the final cover, the baked egg "nests." The book's recipe uses a simple cream sauce to coat and bake little noodle nests that sit in cupcake tins, and then a quail egg is added for the oven to finish off. This made me think of pasta carbonara, the quick-fix pancetta and egg pasta dish that's such a simple delight. Ferroni's version with the quail egg is meant to be more of an appetizer, but I wanted to make something that was meal-sized. I used her cream sauce recipe, but then added bacon crisps, and used ceramic cups to form the larger nests, which would hold the precious chicken egg. Definitely took more time to bake, since it's a larger egg, but when it was done, it was like having a creamy, delicious soft-boiled egg inside a pasta tangle. The book's version is great for smaller portions, and if you want to size-up, this version would be great for brunch, since you could bake multiple "nests" and then serve the finished egg-pasta tangles on a bed of greens.

Shakshuka, the Shark Hula, the Shake Zula... - Photos by Wasabi Prime
She included one dish I'd been meaning to make at home for a while -- shakshuka. Also commonly referred to as Eggs in Purgatory, I admit, I like the preferred cultural nomenclature, if you please, as The Dude would say. A popular dish throughout Israel and the Middle East, it's delightfully simple and hearty. Look up shakshuka and ingredients will vary, but it's typically a tomato-based stew heavily spiced with paprika and chiles. The stew's consistency is meant to be on the fluid side, like a marinara sauce, and raw eggs are cracked right into the sauce as it simmers, so they poach and cook right in the sauce. The tricky thing is getting the consistency just right, not too watery, but not too thick, since tomato sauce has that wonderful tendency to pop and explode, and you need to let it sit unstirred while the eggs poach. Keep a lid handy so you're not wiping splatters of tomato sauce all over your kitchen and nursing wounds of tomato sauce burns.

Topped with feta and cilantro (I had parsley handy), you have a great spicy tomato stew with a poached egg, just waiting to get all mixed in. It's usually served with bread, but I made baked zucchini chips. Just as delicious and what a great way to get a hefty dose of your vegetables. Another thing about shakshuka is that when you type it into your smartphone, the autocorrect will change it to Shark Hula. Or in some cases, if you're an Aqua Teen Hunger Force fan, Shake Zula. So consider that yet another bonus to making shakshuka on a cold winter day.

Consider yourself officially inspired to Put an Egg On It. Not that you weren't already doing that before, I'm sure. Brinner for everyone!


  1. I know what I am making for dinner tonight!

  2. Can't wait to try the pasta nest recipe. I may need to buy some bowls to be just the right size! We buy pasta nests at local farmer's markets, usually boil in water and it becomes regular pasta dish. I'm intrigued by the idea of retaining the "nest".


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