Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Breakfast for Two

It's very rare that I get to only cook for two.  My husband and I had the opportunity to enjoy breakfast alone this morning, and it was a great one.  Now, I'm not saying we don't enjoy our children at all.  Our 14-year-old daughter, Taylor, and 12-year-old son, Trevor, are the greatest joys in our lives.  However, sometimes Momma needs a break!  And Dad needs some spoiling sometimes too!

So we woke up on this very cold day (10 degrees!) wondering what in the world could we do for breakfast.  We usually only cook a big breakfast on Sundays, and our favorite breakfast choice is breakfast tacos...bacon (or sausage), eggs, potatoes, and cheese (I dare you to try sliced cheese here) in a tortilla.  But not today.  No, today was one of those leisurely days that I had time to ponder great things, time to invent and create, time to be inspired.  I found my inspiration not in the fridge, but in the cabinets.  I once bought a set of shallow, oval, avacado-green ceramic ramekins, about 8 1/2 inches long.  And, of course, immediately I thought of baked eggs.  Didn't you?

So, as I shuffled around the kitchen in my slippers and PJs, I gathered up some savory ingredients to build a masterpiece...baked eggs.  But not just baked eggs, baked eggs my way.  What are baked eggs, you say?  Baked eggs in France are called "oeufs en cocotte" which means "eggs in ramekins."  They are also known as "shirred eggs."  But I'm calling mine Brilliant Baked Eggs.  Just because they are.  Eggs and bacon are best friends, and potatoes and cheese are their favorite cousins.  They all play together so well! 

But all playground talk aside, you are probably wondering why the heck my baked eggs are so special.  Well, I'll tell you.  My baked eggs are like a whole breakfast in one, like all your favorite things wrapped up in one package, like the whole kit and kaboodle.  Well, you get it.  Hashbrowns, eggs, cheese, bacon, green onions, serranos, and onions all in one little avacado-green ramekin.  The greatness about this dish is the hashbrowns bake into the eggs and the cheese melts in and you break the soft yolk to ooze its yellow goodness all over the whole thing.  Leave out the serranos if your tongue is spicy-food challenged, but I dare you to try it with the serrano.  As a side note, serranos are now my favorite peppers to eat.  I used to think jalapenos were the way to go. But a tiny little serrano, half the size of a jalapeno, packs a slightly hotter heat than the jalapeno.  And the flavor is spot on!  And one other side note:  I take very few shortcuts when cooking, i.e., buying pre-done products to cook with.  However, one exception I have is hashbrown potatoes.  The frozen ones are a pretty good product and far easier than trying to shred and dry out potatoes.  I just find that you get a much crispier result with the frozen ones.

So without further adieu, I give you Brilliant Baked Eggs!


For the hashbrown layer:
1 cup frozen hashbrowns
1 serrano pepper, finely chopped
1/4 onion, sliced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

For the egg layer:
4 slices bacon, chopped and cooked halfway (they continue to cook on the eggs)
4 whole eggs
2 egg whites
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used colby-jack)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
Chopped green onions for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  To cook the hashbrowns, heat about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.  Add in the serranos and onions and cook about a minute.  Stir in hashbrowns.  Sprinkle garlic powder and salt and pepper over the top.  To get crispy hashbrowns, don't stir.  Wait 3 to 4 minutes and flip them with a spatula.  Season the other side and continue browning the same way on the other side until done.  Remove from heat and strain on a paper towel. 

Generously butter two ramekins (or two small, shallow baking dishes) to prevent sticking.  Divide the hashbrowns between the ramekins and spread in an even layer.  Crack two whole eggs over the hashbrowns in each ramekin, being careful not to break the yolks.  Use the remaining two egg whites to fill in where there isn't enough egg.  Sprinkle the bacon on one side of each ramekin, cheese on the other.  Sprinkle the parsley on the ends of each ramekin.  Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top.  Here's what you've got now:

If you want hard yolks, cook about 15 minutes or until done.  However, if you want soft, runny yolks, the timing is crucial.  Set your timer for 9 minutes and then start babysitting.  Check every minute to see if the whites are done and the yolks are soft.  It will be anywhere from 9-13 minutes, depending on your oven.  When done, sprinkle the green onions over the top and enjoy!  Here's the finished product:

Now stick your fork in, break those yolks, and savor the brilliance that these eggs are!!

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