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Italian Eggs in a Basket

March 24, 2016 Entrees, Menu No Comments

Eggs in a Basket has been a fun and popular breakfast item for many years. Quite a few versions of this meal exist, from the quick and easy Toad in the Hole* (using a juice glass to cut a hole in the center of toast, then frying an egg in the center of the hole), to lining a muffin tin with hash browns and bacon, then topping with a scrambled egg batter before baking.

In my version which I am about to share with you, we will be using dinner rolls that are hollowed out and baked with an egg poured inside. While this is also a very popular and common version of Eggs in a Basket, I’m adding a bit of an Italian spin to mine. Before cracking the egg into the hollowed roll, I add a slice of provolone cheese to the lining of the roll, then fill it with a tablespoon of bruschetta (home-made or jarred will work well). I also like to sprinkle some fresh herbs, salt and pepper on top of the basket for additional zing. These extra ingredients add a beautiful flavor and texture to an already classic dish. With springtime  finally in the air and Easter Sunday just a few days away, this dish will make for a great brunch item to serve to family and friends…and it’s just as easy to make a single serving for yourself during the week!

Italian Eggs in a Basket

The recipe is per serving. You can make as many, or as little as you wish!

The basic ingredients: eggs, bruschetta and dinner rolls

The basic ingredients: eggs, bruschetta and dinner rolls.

 

Slice a small portion off of the top of the roll, then hollow out the roll. Keep the sliced top for dipping.

Slice a small portion off of the top of the roll, then hollow out the roll. Keep the sliced top for dipping.

 

Line the rolls with sliced provolone cheese, then with a teaspoon of bruschetta (home made or store bought).

Line the rolls with sliced provolone cheese, then with a tablespoon of bruschetta (home made or store bought).

 

Gently crack an egg over the top of the roll. Top with salt, pepper and fresh herbs (basil or Italian seasoning work well).

Gently crack an egg over the top of the roll. Top with salt, pepper and fresh herbs (basil or Italian seasoning work well). Place on a sprayed baking sheet.

 

Bake in a 375˚ oven for 25-30 minutes, until the eggs are set, or to preferred doneness. You can place under a broiler quickly for well done yolks.

Bake in a 375˚ oven for 25-30 minutes, until the eggs are set, or to preferred doneness. You can place under a broiler quickly for well done yolks.

 

Serve immediately.

Serve immediately.

 

Lightly toast the bread toppings for dipping. Enjoy!

 

*Note – there is also a British version of Toad in the Hole, which consists of sausages baked in Yorkshire pudding, served with vegetables and onion gravy. Maybe I’ll consider adding an Italian spin to that dish somewhere down the line….

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Kale, Peppers and Eggs Sandwich

October 14, 2015 Entrees, Menu No Comments

This recipe is by far not an original. In fact, its roots go back to one of the most traditional Italian-American classics, the peppers and eggs sandwich. There are a number of variations on this sandwich – my grandfather would often add hot dogs, and I’ve added shrimp or pancetta to mine.

This version takes a bit of a healthier route, with the addition of fresh kale. In true Italian-American style cooking, some of the measurements in this recipe are eyeballed. But with a dish like peppers and eggs, a little of this and some of that is always the perfect amount.

 

 

 

Kale, Peppers and Eggs Sandwich

Makes two fully packed sandwiches

1 green bell pepper, chopped
(you can learn more about my quick pepper slicing techniques by clicking here)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 yellow onion, chopped or grated
(you can learn more about my onion grating techniques by clicking here)
Olive oil
2 handfuls of fresh kale, chopped
4 large eggs
1 heaping teaspoon grated parmesan cheese (optional, but gives the egg a nice flavor)
Salt and pepper

Lightly coat the bottom of a pan on medium heat with olive oil. Add the garlic and onions, stir. Add the peppers, stir. Once the peppers are slightly softened and tender, add the kale. Season with salt and pepper. Add about a tablespoon of water to the pan, then cover the pan and lower the heat to medium-low. Let simmer for about 5 minutes.

In a bowl, scramble the eggs, parmesan cheese and a bit of salt and pepper. Once the kale has softened, give the peppers and kale one more stir to mix it together. Add the egg mixture, tilt the pan to make sure that the egg mixture is evenly distributed.

Once the eggs start to firm up, carefully flip everything in the pan with a spatula. Continue to flip and stir until the eggs are evenly cooked.

Serve the kale, peppers and eggs in a roll. I prefer adding a slice of provolone cheese. Enjoy!

Step 1. Stir together the garlic, onion and peppers in olive oil.

Step 1. Stir together the garlic, onion and peppers in olive oil.

 

Step 2. Add the kale.

Step 2. Add the kale.

 

Step 3. Simmer until the kale wilts.

Step 3. Simmer until the kale softens.

 

Step 4. Add the egg mixture.

Step 4. Add the egg mixture.

 

Step 5. Allow the egg mixture to cook and mix in with the veggies.

Step 5. Allow the egg mixture to cook and mix in with the veggies.

 

Step 6. Serve it up in a nice roll...add provolone cheese for extra zip!

Step 6. Serve it up in a nice roll…add provolone cheese for extra zip!

 

Even my kids enjoyed it!

 

peps8

peps7

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Zabaglione with Nutella Whipped Cream

September 10, 2015 Dessert, Menu No Comments

Last week I shared with you a video on how to easily separate an egg by using a plastic water bottle to remove the yolk without having it break apart. There was a method to my madness while making this video – I was preparing to make zabaglione (pronounced sah-bah-yone) for my wife and I. For those of you who are not familiar with zabaglione, it is an Italian custard-like dessert that is made up of three ingredients: egg yolks, sugar and Marsala wine. While the ingredients may be simple and basic, this delicate dessert follows the same strategic cooking methods that are needed for polenta and risotto. Lots of patience, lots of stirring and lots of attention, with the end result being a beautiful, classic and elegant dish that is to be savored with each spoonful. I also decided to make a home made nutella whipped cream to add as a decadent topping.

To make zabaglione, you will need to cook it in a bain-marie (water bath) also known as a double boiler, which is a cooking method used to gently heat without scorching. You don’t need any fancy equipment to do this, just a medium to large size pot with a bit of simmering water in it, and a smaller pot or stainless steel bowl that can sit on top of the pot but not come in contact with the water. You can click here for further instructions on how to prepare a bain-marie. You place the ingredients into the smaller pot, you sit the smaller pot onto the larger pot to let the heat of the simmering water warm the mixture, and you whisk…and whisk….aaannnddd whisk. You keep doing this until the egg mixture thickens and increases in volume. The trick to this is to not let the eggs get too warmed up, otherwise they will curdle and you will end up with scrambled eggs. The idea is to keep the batter in motion while it heats from the steam. To assure avoiding curdles, remove the smaller pot from the large pot occasionally, while continuing to stir. Once the batter is thick and warm – but not hot – you have zabaglione! Remember that patience makes perfect with this dish. It took me a few attempts to get the consistency right. Stick with it, and keep stirring, and you will be able to enjoy a true Italian classic.

Zabaglione with Nutella Whipped Cream
Serves 2

Zabaglione:
3 egg yolks
3 tbspn granulated sugar
3 tbspn Marsala wine

Prepare a double boiler by using a large pot filled about half way with water, and a smaller pot or stainless steel bowl that will sit in or on top of the pot. Bring large pot to a simmer. Place all ingredients into the smaller pot/bowl, and mix with a hand mixer until foamy. Place the smaller bowl over the simmering pot, making sure that the bottom of the smaller bowl does not come in direct contact with the simmering water. You want the steam to heat up the mixture. Continue to whisk the mixture until it thickens and increases in volume into a creamy pudding-like texture. This may take a few minutes. If the mixture feels like it is getting hot, or if it starts to curdle, remove the bowl from the heat, continuing to whisk. You want to keep the mixture warm and creamy. Once thickened, it is ready to be served. Top with Nutella Whipped Cream.

Nutella Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbspn granulated sugar
1/2 tspn vanilla extract
1-3 tspn Nutella

Chill the clean bowl of a stand mixer and the whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes (you can also use a hand whisk and a large chilled bowl). Add the cream, sugar and vanilla to the bowl and whisk on high speed until medium peaks form – about 1 minute with a stand mixer, or about 2-3 minutes with a hand mixer. Fold in the Nutella, one teaspoon at a time. I find that two teaspoons is the perfect amount, but give it a taste after each teaspoon that you add, and adjust to your liking!

zab1

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Breakfast Polenta Pizza

June 1, 2014 Entrees, Menu No Comments

I am often asked when an Italian breakfast will be featured on my food blog. A true Italian breakfast is very simple, usually consisting of a café e latte or a cappuccino, bread, some pastries and biscotti and maybe some fruit…which doesn’t really leave me with much to discuss. I have, however, always had the intentions to put some sort of breakfast meal together using Italian inspired ingredients. I’ve talked about breakfast strata in the past (you can visit my recipe by clicking here), and of course there are the meat pies and frittatas that are enjoyed during the Easter season. Using the key ingredients from the Easter pies as a starting point (meats, cheeses and eggs), I decided to put together a breakfast pizza.

When I was a kid, breakfast pizza meant enjoying a left-over cold slice from the night before as I watched my Saturday morning cartoons. But for this recipe, I’m going a little more elegant and classy, starting with the crust. Instead of a traditional bread crust, I’m making a crust out of polenta (corn meal or corn grits mixed with hot water, salt, butter and parmesan cheese for additional flavor). Making a polenta crust may sound intimidating, as polenta usually involves a good 25-30 minutes of consistent stirring. But for this polenta crust recipe, you actually only have to stir for about 5-7 minutes, until the polenta pulls away from the pot as you stir. The batter then gets poured onto a baking sheet and shaped into a crust. After baking the crust for 20 minutes, you are now ready to top your pizza with whatever toppings you like. Anything from traditional bacon, eggs and cheddar to sausage and peppers, to spinach, tomatoes and feta. Another ten minutes in the oven, and you’re ready to enjoy your breakfast pizza. This is a dish that allows you to be creative and to have fun. It’s also a good meal to get the kids involved…which as all parents know is always the trick to get your kids to eat something new! And be sure to leave your comments on this post to let us know what breakfast pizza topping you have come up with.

Breakfast Polenta Pizza

Step 1: The Crust
3 cups water
1/2 tspn salt
1 cup corn meal or corn grits (either will work)
1-1/2 tbspn butter
*Note – these measurements will make a crust that will fill a half of a 9×13 baking sheet. You can double the ingredients for a full pan

In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil over high heat. Gradually stir in the corn meal/corn grits. Reduce heat and stir frequently with a wooden spoon for about 5-7 minutes, until the mixture pulls away from the side of the pot. Stir in the butter until mixed in.

Carefully pour the mixture onto a 9×13 baking sheet that has been lightly greased and lightly dusted with additional corn meal/corn grits. Using a spatula, start to flatten out the batter and shape it into a square crust in the middle of the pan (see note above for measurements to fill the entire pan). Next, as the mixture starts to slightly cool, lightly oil your hands and continue to press the mixture into a crust shape, about 1/2″ thick. Be sure to add a slightly higher lip around the edge to prevent any toppings from running off. You can also make small divots in the crust with your thumb, which will also help contain any liquid toppings. When the dough is shaped, place the baking sheet into a 400˚ oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and proceed to add your toppings.

Step 2: The Toppings
Once the crust is removed from the oven and is slightly cooled, it is time to add your toppings. For my first attempt, I kept it simple and added cooked bacon bits, topped with 3 beaten eggs and some shredded cheddar cheese. You can add whatever toppings you like. Peppers and sausage, and spinach, tomatoes and feta pies are next on my list. Be sure that your meat toppings are pre-cooked before adding them to the pizza. Whatever you choose, add the toppings to the polenta crust first, then add the beaten eggs, then top with shredded cheese if you wish. Three eggs will be enough for the smaller crust. Six eggs should be enough for a full size crust, but you can adjust accordingly. When the pizza crust is topped, place it back in the 400˚ oven for another 10 minutes. Carefully remove it from the oven, slice it up and enjoy.

The polenta crust, shaped and ready to bake.

The polenta crust, shaped and ready to bake.

pizza3

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