Make Ahead

Use the Good China Eggs, Homage to Richard Olney

May 15, 2011
3 Ratings
Author Notes

One of my favorite dinners is breakfast. The first few months after my son left for college, my daughter and I played with many variations on the theme. There is a comfort factor to breakfast outside its usual context that I suspect we truly needed because we were so far outside our usual context.

This is a variation I come back to often. For one thing, it comprises staples always on hand. It can be changed up and never suffer: no tomatoes, use mushrooms, or peppers; no basil, use parsley, rosemary, whatever. Not only is it an economy of ingredients, but also of preparation and of washing up. At the end of a complicated day, the last may be its greatest blessing.

And it's easy to eat. You can go outside, balance the plate in your lap, and hold a book. And it goes with whatever wine you have to hand.

Richard Olney. I'm not going to go all Julie and Julia here, but his dictum of simple, magnificent, pleasurable is nowhere more perfect than in his description of how to scramble an egg. If you've not read it, it's well worth hunting down. Brace yourself; it is one of the most sensuous pieces of writing ever. - boulangere


Test Kitchen Notes

I dusted off a china plate and got out one of my silver forks in preparation for these eggs. Boulangere's recipe is so easy to follow; she explains everything step by step, it's like having a private tutor. I had some beautiful heirloom cherry tomatoes and used herbs from my garden, basil, parsley and chives. After cooking the tomatoes and herbs, I fried some bread which soaked up the juices in the pan—so delicious! Then I started the eggs. I moved them around the pan, oh so gently, with a wooden spoon as Boulangere, who had to have channeled Olney, described. I have to admit I have been guilty of overcooking my scrambled eggs and promise I will never do it again. I poured a glass of whatever I had laying around and sat down to enjoy this delicious and satisfying meal that cost next to nothing. These eggs were downright sexy. —sdebrango

  • Serves as many as you need to serve, but i've scaled it to one
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Fresh herbs, chopped
  • Sea or kosher salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Heavy cream
  • A couple of slices of baguette
In This Recipe
  1. Heat your favorite skillet over medium-high heat with a generous splash of olive oil. Add the tomatoes, herb(s) of choice, and a dash of salt. Sauté, stirring minimally, until tomatoes soften and even caramelize a bit. Scoop them out of the pan; don't pour them out because now you'll drop your slices of baguette into the pan and grill them in those lovely juices and olive oil. Sprinkle them with a bit of salt and brown nicely on both sides.
  2. Turn the heat way down. Wait a minute or two. Add a bit more olive oil if need be. Now add your eggs. Season with some salt and pepper. With a wooden (Richard insists) spoon, move the eggs around gently and minimally. They are done when still soft and shiny. Now add your splash of cream. This will (a) stop them from (over)cooking, and (b) gild the lily. Pour onto a pretty plate.
  3. Take a glass of whatever is open, sit in your favorite spot, and take a book along. I find that when I read while I eat, I eat much more slowly. Otherwise I tend to go at it like it's a job. Save a couple of bites of that wonderful bread to mop the plate when you're finished. Let the day's jangles go quiet.
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