Friday, May 20, 2011

Soft Cooked Eggs

I'm about to admit something rather shocking: each morning I make breakfast for Sean. This isn't because he demands it, or is incapable of feeding himself. It's because I wake up earlier than he does and work and write for a quiet hour or two. I brew the coffee and cook myself something to eat. And instead of making breakfast for one, I make it for two.

But Sean doesn't really like eggs. And he especially doesn't like "separate eggs." This means there's no no fried eggs, no soft eggs on toast slathered with butter and a strip of jam. I get my egg fix at lunchtime, regularly cooking up scrambled or fried eggs to eat with toast and greens, or for a mid-afternoon snack in the form of hard-boiled, protein packed perfection.

But a few weeks ago in Portland, I ate eggs almost every morning. I have one friend with a herd of chickens, another that demands a savory meal almost as soon as her head rises from the pillow. This friend is the hyper-efficient type, too. So while I lolled in bed watching the sunrise, she puttered around the apartment, showering, putting water on to boil, setting the table, toasting the bread.

Selfishly, I liked the role reversal. Though I felt a little bit guilty that I wasn't up making breakfast before her big commute, I loved rolling from the bed to the table to find coffee freshly brewed, piping hot toast, and a perfect soft boiled egg.

Who needs expensive bed and breakfasts when you have friends like this?

It's a good reminder that it is the little things that show love: the hand-ground coffee beans that smell like caramel and butter, the last of the loaf sliced perfectly so we both have equal bites, the jar of jam opened just for me since I like my savory breakfast balanced with a little sweet. 

Since returning to San Francisco, I've been craving soft cooked eggs. Not too soft, mind you -- but enough that there's a bright runny yolk that splits and drips and demands being sopped up with good bread.

But my attempts at making them have failed -- I've yet to end up with a runny white, but usually my yolks are well on their way to being hard, defined rounds. I've given up for the moment. Maybe soft cooked eggs will be what I eat in the Pacific NW on lazy mornings with good friends.

This is how it should be -- and this is how it is. A phone call doesn't make up for a face to face chat. A really great email, or -- dare I say it, letter? -- can't replace a long dinner with too much wine. And a sub-par egg can't make up for a perfect one.

But if I decide to try again -- all in the name of a simple meal bringing your heart closer to home -- this is the recipe I'll use:

Place eggs in a saucepan large enough to accommodate them in a single layer. Fill the pan with cold water, covering eggs by an inch. Set over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Turn off heat, cover, and let stand 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove eggs from water. Serve immediately in egg cups -- perfect for cracking and scooping the egg right from the shell. Season with salt and pepper.

2 comments:

The Yellow Door Paperie said...

"A phone call doesn't make up for a face to face chat. A really great email, or -- dare I say it, letter? -- can't replace a long dinner with too much wine. And a sub-par egg can't make up for a perfect one."

Such truth in this statement!

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

Okay, now I really need an egg, a soft cooked egg. I have not perfected mine. Perhaps I should have paid closer attention to my grandfather's method. His were perfect. Your last paragraph will be my next attempt.