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Egg-cellent idea
Turn morning favorite into extravagant brunch treat
0410FOOD-Eggs-1
Spring brings new ingredients to the table bursting with flavor and bright colors, including a roulade that can be filled with almost anything the cook can imagine, as well as fresh asparagus. - photo by Tom Wallas | Minneapolis Star Tribune

You can fry them, shir them, scramble or roll them up. Is there a more versatile food at your fingertips? It’s that incredible egg, long on the upswing after its battering on the health front.

But everyday eggs can be so, well, everyday, always pleasant and comforting, with a predictability and demeanor that might as well whisper, “It’s time to wake up.”

But when morning takes on grander importance, for those celebrations when you want to shout, “Welcome!” to the day — whether it’s a regular morning or any of the spring gatherings where guests gather around the table — the egg can be dressed for company.

Consider the roulade, a curlicue of egg, cheese and vegetables. Made from a batter that cooks in a jellyroll pan, the eggs become nearly as firm as a crepe, with a topping of good stuff that’s added before it’s rolled up. The roulade is a bit time-consuming, but it’s definitely worth the effort for the “wow” factor alone. And if it’s the only dish on the menu that needs some last-minute attention, you are set.

Or think simple but dressed up, on the order of scrambled eggs on bruschetta. The key is in the scrambling (don’t do much of it). Oh, and the cream cheese in the mixture. Add your choice of topping — shrimp, salmon, a bit of lobster — and this will look as good as it tastes.

Then there’s the shirred egg, an everyday kind of dish that’s turned on its head when cooked with cream and lemon and anything else you might want to add.

If there are too many at the table to fuss with individual eggs, a crustless quiche — creamy and filled with vegetables — is a grand way to fill out the menu.

Whatever the option, morning couldn’t taste better.

Egg Roulade
Note: This calls for a 10-by-15-inch jellyroll pan (a baking sheet with edges). If you have a different size, just shape the batter on the pan accordingly. I’ve made two of these at a time, for a group of 12 diners, and I made the batter individually for each. With two roulades, it’s a little extra last-minute pressure, but if the rest of the meal is simple, this is doable. Keep in mind you will need the full oven if you’re making two of these. Adapted from Sara Moulton.

It serves six to seven.

5 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups milk
4 eggs, separated
Freshly ground black pepper
Filling (see below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the 10-by-15-inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper; either butter or spray it with cooking oil.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Increase heat to high, whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Transfer flour mixture to a large bowl. Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time. Season with pepper.

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Stir a third of the whites into yolk mixture and fold in the rest.

Pour the batter onto the parchment paper and smooth it out. Bake for 15 minutes, or until firm to the touch.

Meanwhile, prepare any filling that needs to be warmed. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.
Cover the egg surface with another oiled or buttered piece of parchment. Invert onto the counter, and peel off the parchment on the top.

Sprinkle the egg surface with whatever filling is to be used. Starting on the long side of the egg surface, and using the parchment on the bottom to help, roll up the egg, jellyroll fashion. Place the roulade back on the jellyroll pan, with parchment underneath, and return it to the oven. Bake until any cheese in the filling has melted, about 10 minutes. To serve, cut into 1/2-inch slices.

Filling variations:

The filling must be prepared and hot (except for cheese) before it is placed on the cooked egg surface. Make sure any moisture in the vegetables is gone; heat in a sauté pan to assure it.

Diced tomatoes or roasted red peppers and grated Cheddar cheese

Cooked, chopped spinach (make sure it’s thoroughly dry) and Parmesan cheese

Black beans and diced roasted red peppers

Diced ham and grated Cheddar cheese

Cooked and crumbled bacon or sausage

Topping variations:

Grated cheese or fresh, minced herbs

Salsa

Green chile sauce

Hollandaise sauce

Bruschetta with Eggs and Lobster

Note: Bruschetta is a traditional toasted bread topped with something tasty. If you cut the bread on the diagonal, you will get more surface. You can toast the bread an hour or so in advance, but the eggs and lobster need to be cooked right before serving. Each 5-ounce lobster tail will provide 4 ounces of meat. There are many alternatives to lobster (see below). Boursin is a creamy soft cheese with the texture of cream cheese, and it comes flavored with herbs. It’s a tasty alternative to cream cheese. For large soft curds of eggs, keep your stirring to a minimum. Adapted from Bar La Grassa in Minneapolis.

It serves eight.

1 baguette, cut in 16 (1/2-inch) slices
1 garlic clove, peeled
Butter
2 or more (5 ounces each) lobster tails (defrosted, if frozen)
14 eggs, beaten until yolks and whites are well-combined
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into small cubes (or Boursin cheese, see Note)
Fresh chives, chopped
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
Truffle oil, optional

Toast bread in oven or in toaster. Rub one side of each slice with garlic (if you don’t like garlic, omit this). Butter and set aside.

Prepare the lobster: Do this before you start the eggs so there isn’t too much going on at the same time. To remove meat from shell, use kitchen shears to make two cuts along the underside of tail (the softer side) and break away the shell. Once the meat is out of shell (before or after it is cooked), remove the black vein that runs along the tail (pull it out or make a cut along the meat, as you would to devein shrimp, and pull the vein out).

Choice of options for cooking lobster:

Remove meat from shell and sauté whole in 2 tablespoons butter, basting it often, for 5 to 8 minutes, until cooked through, then chop or slice for the eggs.

Remove uncooked meat from shell and chop into chunks and sauté in 2 tablespoons butter before adding to eggs.

Poach meat in the shell for 3 minutes in water to which some white wine, carrot, celery, onion, chile flakes, fennel seed, mustard seed, peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme, kosher salt and lemon and oranges have been added. (Bring the water to a simmer before adding the tail.)

To prepare eggs: In each of two nonstick pans (or one large pan), melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add eggs and turn heat to medium-low. For the largest curds, cook eggs with little stirring, instead pushing cooked part aside with a spatula and allowing uncooked eggs to move into place. When almost done, add cream cheese and stir. Remove from heat. (Eggs will continue to cook.)

To serve: On each plate, overlap two slices of toasted bread. Divide eggs and place on toast. Top with lobster and sprinkle with chives, a little salt and pepper. Drizzle a bit of truffle oil over eggs, if using.

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