The Elevated Egg Sandwich

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Cohabitation brings many perks but one of my utmost favorites is the joy of cooking together and for one another. But it also means shelving the roster of old standards you became used to as a single person—you know those dishes you pull out of your arse at nine p.m. when looking at the clock after an evening of binge-watching Netflix with half a bottle of red wine and lukewarm kale chips and realize you need to eat something of substance.

One of my old stand-bys has always been the fried egg sandwich. Bonafide egg whores like me will agree that nothing quite fills in when you need something quick, easy, nutritious and slightly seedy than a buttery egg between two luscious slices of bread with whatever adornment you desire. When my daughter was younger, she would liltingly ask for an egg sandwich every morning before school. Her order was persnickety and always the same: sunny side up on one piece of toasted, buttered French bread with a tiny creek of runny yolk and lots of salt. Then another piece of toast to shred and dip into the sunshine yellow until the creek ran dry at which time she would gobble down the rest.

IMG_7658For me, being of a more adventurous palate, I have created and adored many a variety of the classic egg sandwich. So when I found myself alone at home for dinnertime recently, I decided to revisit and elevate my old friend with a naughty multicultural crossbreed that did the trick. I fried the egg in luxurious French butter like an indulgent Marie Antoinette and then plopped it onto a slice of hearty multigrain toast whose better half was already spread with thick Armenian labne (a tangy, cultured kefir cream cheese) and Ajvar (an addictive roasted red pepper vegetable spread). The result was a fluffy, warm and bright rendition that went splendidly well with a healthy side of blanched, olive oil tossed kale from the garden.

Dinner for one can still be quite fun!

Egg Whore Pasta as Common Denominator

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When it comes to life and love, I believe that pairs are oftentimes made by extremes. Either you are completely the same as another person and share so much in common that it’s impossible not to get along, or you are so different that you fit into the holes where each other lack as well as get filled up by the things they are full of that you are not just like perfectly cut puzzle pieces. The Cute Gardener and I noticed immediately that in many ways we were the latter but that the traits I was missing were merrily generated by him while the ones absent in him were the ones overflowing in me. When it comes to our palates, it’s been a fun adventure to navigate the road of our opposites while also finding things that are more harmonious.

For example, he loves his butter while I love my coconut oil. He enjoys mild while I thrive on spicy. He loves gamey and bloody meat versus my farmed and cooked. His favorite desserts consist of thick, flaky pastry dough while mine tend to come dense, flourless and full of straight dark chocolate. He lubricates daily with water while I drink my super food concoctions and teas. He has a sophisticated bevy of wines that he likes while I prefer my bold and aggressive French and Spanish reds. And he’s a traditional semolina pasta man while I tend to aim for hearty whole wheats.

The fun in our relationship has been constantly wanting to cook for each other to show off the things we love ourselves and secretly hoping the other will come away delighted as well. The fruits of his well-practiced culinary skills have consistently sated my stomach while he’s been shown a roster of experimental dishes that I am constantly stumbling upon and hankering to make. It means that life is never boring or predictable when it comes to our intimate dinners for two.

There are bridges between the two palates for sure. We both love pork in all its meaty variations, terrines and mousses of every color, excellently prepared raw sushi dishes, and our variations of the perfect pizza are pretty identical. But the edible that makes us both equally mad is the simple egg in various applications but ultimately runny and hot from a soft yolk.

So it always gives me pleasure when I can combine aspects of him with aspects of me topped off by the sinful aforementioned egg into a bowl worthy of the both of us. This is something I feel I accomplished this past weekend in a recipe that will make the old index card file for life.

Runny Egg Whole Wheat Pasta with Oyster Mushrooms
(adapted from Food and Wine, January 2009)
Serves 2 (with ample leftovers)

1/4 pound oyster mushrooms cut into ¼ inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 pound whole wheat fettuccine
1/2 leek, white and light green parts only, halved and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1/8 cup plus 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1/8 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 – 1/2 cups baby spinach
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 400°. On a nonstick baking sheet, toss the mushrooms with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes.

In a medium pot of boiling salted water, cook the eggs for 5 minutes. Drain and cool under cold running water. In another pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente and drain well.

In a medium skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the leek and cook over medium heat until translucent. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the mascarpone and cream or milk, then stir in the butter, if using. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

Add the roasted mushrooms, cooked pasta and spinach to the skillet and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and mound the pasta into shallow bowls. Peel and halve the eggs, adding one to each bowl. Sprinkle the pasta with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and serve immediately.