Sometimes, the best way to get back into cooking and writing about cooking is to start at the beginning--with breakfast that is!
When I was growing up, I went through a rather prolonged phase when I did not enjoy eating eggs. I had the mistaken belief that I hated runny yolks and would always overcook my eggs. Then, about halfway through my first of medical school, I was flipping through one of my favorite cookbooks, 'The Flexitarian Table', and came across an extremely simple recipe for fried eggs in olive oil. It looked delicious, I was famished, and the contents of my fridge were rather meager, so I decided to go for it. It was a revelation!
I know it doesn't sound very exciting, but for me it was a pretty big deal, and helped me learn what I had been missing. I learned that I love runny yolks, but don't love runny whites. I learned that even the slightest browning of the white part of the egg threw off the entire flavor of the dish for me. After that, things took off, and I was eating eggs regularly and constantly looking for new ways to make up for my lost years of egg eating.
Baked eggs quickly became a favorite of mine. It was such an easy lazy Sunday breakfast treat--toss together some leftover veggies, place them in a ramekin, crack a few eggs on top, lay some butter and cheese on top, bake for some time while making chai and toast, then enjoy. This time I went with mixed mushrooms (I used fresh shitakes, oyster mushrooms, and cremini), onions and garlic, and fresh spinach. For the cheese, I used extra sharp cheddar. My toast of choice is, and has always been, the heartiest whole grain you can find. Bake until the whites are set and the yolks are runny, dip your toast in, and allow the runny yolk to lusciously coat the veggies, and enjoy!
For four servings, or four ramekins:
1 lb assorted mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch spinach, washed, dried, and sliced
1 pinch red pepper flakes
8-12 eggs (2-3 eggs per ramekin, depending on personal preference)
4 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp butter, plus more for smearing on ramekin
4 oz extra sharp cheddar, grated
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375F. Rub four ramekins with a small amount of butter.
For the veggies:
Heat a sufficient amount of olive oil in a sautee pan. Add the onions, and cook until softened. Add the garlic and continue to cook until softened. Add the red pepper flakes and stir well. Add a small amount of salt and 2 grinds of pepper to the pan. Add all of the sliced mushrooms, and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid. Add the spinach and cook until well wilted. taste and season with more salt if necessary. While the veggies are cooking, prepare the water bath...
For the water bath:
Pour an inch of water into 1 or more pans sufficient to fit the ramekins. Place on the stove and bring to a boil.
Assembling and Baking the Eggs:
Divide the veggies equally between the four ramekins. Crack 2-3 eggs on top of the veggies depending on personal preference. Pour one tablespoon of milk on top of each egg in each ramekin. Dot with 1/2 Tbsp butter for each ramekin. Top with an ounce of cheese. Put a couple more grinds of pepper on the cheese.
Carefully lower the ramekins into the boiling water bath and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until whites are set and yolks jiggle when shaken.
Eat with some delicious whole grain toast soldiers.