five egg sandwiches – smitten kitchen

I came down with a Man Cold* and laryngitis** this week and it’s totally cramping my game, or it would be, if I had any. It’s pretty clear what the cold expects of me I’d like to it leave: loads of sleep, little activity and probably some bad reality television. But as I keep interpreting this as: go to a bookstore event, go to another great talk, take laptop to Genius Bar, watch my wind-up bug go… — essentially my rule for this week has been, if it’s a tightly-packed enclosed space a few degrees too warm with zero air circulation, I’ll be right over! — I shouldn’t be surprised that on Day 6 of this mess, I’m still a pill to be around.

three-pepper shakshuka

The only thing I like less is seeing this site go quiet while I wait for my appetite/creativity/enthusiasm to return, which gives me the perfect excuse to share some egg sandwiches I teased you with in December but have been hoarding since (seriously) 2012, when I created them for a magazine that never ended up running them. They’re short on process photos (though I’ve now experienced the vagaries of freelance life enough times to know: always take photos, lots of them) and lengthy details, but we enjoyed them all quite a bit at the time and will hopefully serve as a springboard for you for your own breakfast sandwich endeavors.

three-pepper shakshuka

Why egg sandwiches? I often feel on the weekends especially that I have to choose between going out and having a full day or having a really grand breakfast. And, while deli-style egg sandwiches to-go (here’s my riff on them) are everywhere in the city, they’re not exactly inspiring. Having a few packable ideas up our sleeves allowed us to be able to get our day started whenever we wanted (or were expected to by our in-house tyrant), skip both brunch lines and stale coffee shop scones, and still eat something grand when we got hungry for a real breakfast.

runny egg blt

* I’m sorry, I really have to link to this at least once a year, or until there’s a better exhibit of how terrible colds feel.
** Which I keep, adorably, insisting has nothing to do with the bachelorette party I attended last Saturday night, merely coincidentally the last time I spoke squawk-free.

One year ago: Lobster and Potato Salad
Two years ago: Rhubarb Snacking Cake
Three years ago: Rhubarb Streusel Muffins and Strawberry Summer Cake
Four years ago: Pecan Cornmeal Butter Cake and Mushroom Crepe Cake
Five years ago: Endive and Celery Salad with Fennel Vinaigrette (the first thing I made in this then-new apartment!) and Rhubarb Cobbler
Six years ago: Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies and Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
Seven years ago: Raspberry-Topped Lemon Muffins, Baked Eggs, Chive Biscuits and Bloody Marys and Homemade Oreos

one of five egg sandwiches

Three Pepper Shakshuka Pita with Feta and Za’atar

Shakshuka, a North African and Mediterranean dish of eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce, is my favorite way to intersect tomatoes and eggs. But it’s not portable. This, with added sweet peppers, a sprinkling of feta and za’atar, all loaded into a hand-held pita, is, and it’s wonderful, though keep some napkins nearby.

If you can’t or don’t wish to purchase za’atar, there are many recipes to make your own on the web. My lazier approach is to use equal parts dried oregano, marjoram, ground sumac, ground cumin and toasted sesame seeds, along with sea salt (about half of one part). It’s delicious on everything from shakshuka to hummus to toasted pita wedges with a drizzle of olive oil.

You can squeeze a single egg and bit of sauce in a small pita, but it’s tight. (Pictured.) A larger pita will hold one egg and a nice ladleful of sauce or 2 eggs and a lesser amount of sauce.

Serves 2 to 4

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed then minced
1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced into thin strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and sliced into thin strips
1 Anaheim or 1 jalapeño chile, cored and sliced into thin strips
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted if you can get them
6 eggs
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 teaspoons (or more to taste) za’atar
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional), to garnish
6 small or 4 large pitas

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add onion and cook until it softens a bit, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute more. Add peppers (all varieties) and sauté them until they soften a bit, about 5 minutes. Add salt, paprika and cumin and cook for one minute more. Pour in tomatoes and then half a can (you can eyeball this) of water and bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer sauce for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings to taste.

While sauce simmers, gently warm your pitas.

Make 6 indentations in the sauce and crack an egg into each. Put a lid on the pot and cook the eggs until your desired firmness; after 3 to 4 minutes, they should have set whites and mostly loose yolks. After 5 to 6, they’ll be fully set in the middle. Sprinkle surface of dish with za’atar, feta and parsley (if using), holding a little feta and parsley back if you want additional garnish. Cut open each pita and scoop one (or two, if using large enough to fit) egg and surrounding sauce into each pita. Garnish with reserved feta and parsley, if desired and eat immediately.

Do ahead: The sauce can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container until needed. Bring back to a low simmer before adding eggs.

egg tartines with asparagus pesto, pickled shallots

Egg Tartines with Asparagus Pesto, Dijon and Pickled Shallots

You’ll have extra of both shallots and, very likely, the pesto, but I don’t think you’ll mind. The former can be used for other sandwiches or salads (they also make excellent taco-toppers and slaw additions) and the latter can be spread on additional toasts. I’m tremendously fond of whole-grain Dijon mustard for this sandwich, because the whole seeds provide a spectacular taste and texture without being spicy. If using a smooth Dijon, which I find sharper, use a little less — I prefer the mustard here as an accent, a brightener, not a central flavor.

Makes 6 tartines

Pickled shallots
1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup water
3 small shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

Asparagus pesto
1/2 pound asparagus spears, trimmed of tough ends
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons pine nuts or almonds, toasted and cooled, divided
1/4 teaspoon table salt, or a little more of a coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

To assemble
6 large slices whole-wheat sourdough bread, miche, or another sliced country bread of your choice, toasted
2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
6 large hard-boiled eggs

Pickle shallots: Whisk vinegar, salt, and sugar together in a small, nonreactive (glass is my first choice) dish until they’re dissolved. Whisk in water then drop in shallots. Cover dish and chill in fridge for at minimum 30 minutes, preferably an hour, and even better if you can let them pickle for a day.

Cook asparagus: Bring a wide pot of salted water to a boil then drop in asparagus spears. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until tender but firm. Plunge in ice water or rinse with very cold water to cool and stop the cooking. Pat dry on a towel.

Make pesto: Transfer spears (breaking in half so they’ll fit) to a food processor, along with chopped garlic, Parmesan and 2 tablespoons of the pine nuts or almonds and pulse machine in short bursts until ingredients are finely chopped but not pureed. Drizzle in olive oil while continuing to pulse until just combined. You can run it until the mixture is fully smooth, but I prefer to leave it coarse.

Assemble tartines: Spread each toast with a thin, thin layer of Dijon, about 1 teaspoon per slice. Spread asparagus pesto thickly over Dijon, about 2 tablespoons per slice (or more, to taste). Slice hard boiled eggs thinly crosswise and arrange slices decoratively over pesto. Scatter pickled shallot rings over the eggs, and garnish with sea salt, freshly pepper and reserved tablespoon of pine nuts or almonds, if desired.

runny egg blt

Runny Egg BLT Sandwich

Does a BLT leave anything to be desired? Wasn’t it perfect just the way it was invented? Isn’t a runny egg a total mess in the middle of a sandwich? Could anything be more outdated than white bread and iceberg lettuce? I suspect if you’re asking yourself these questions, this sandwich is not for you. But everyone else is probably halfway to the kitchen, about to make seconds.

Makes 1 sandwich

2 to 3 slices of bacon, halved to approximate sandwich lengths
2 thin slices white, sourdough or a country bread, toasted
4 thin slices of tomato
A few leaves of iceberg lettuce
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 large egg
1 teaspoon butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook your bacon in a frying pan or on a griddle until crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Meanwhile, put your bread in to toast. Once toasted, spread each slice with mayonnaise, then stack one side with tomatoes, lettuce and bacon.

Finally, cook your egg. Heat a small skillet (or, heck, your bacon skillet, in which case, skip the butter and use some of the bacon grease) to medium-high and melt butter. Once fully melted, swirl it around, crack the egg into the center and cover the pan with a small lid. Cook for one to two minutes, until the whites are solid (and hopefully, a little butter-fried and crunchy at the lacy edges). You can stop here, but I do find for sandwiches that it makes slightly less of a mess to then flip the egg and cook it for another 30 seconds, until it’s still runny but unlikely to run fully off your sandwich. Season egg with salt and pepper, transfer to bacon, tomato, and lettuce stack, then top with second slice of mayo-slathered toast. Cut in half and eat immediately.

egg, potato and chorizo tacos

Egg, Potato and Chorizo Tacos with Queso Fresco

This is for people who feel that breakfast cannot be hearty enough. If a cup of yogurt or piece of wholegrain toast and jam could fall on a breakfast spectrum, this would be on the opposite end, a Tex-Mex riff on a roadside diner breakfast special off fried eggs, hash browns, breakfast links and pancakes. With that, you’ve been warned. Made ahead of time and frozen until needed, this is a fantastic weekend breakfast for when you’ve got better things to do than stand over a stove.

Makes 8 small breakfast tacos; hungry people might want 2

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into small (about 1/2-inch) cubes
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 pound Mexican chorizo, casings removed
Freshly ground black pepper
6 large eggs
8 small corn tortillas, warmed or blistered in a hot pan

To finish
Crumbled queso freso (cotija, ricotta salata and feta are decent substitutes, if you can’t find it)
Chopped cilantro, diced tomatoes, diced white onions (you can also sink these in the same pickle brine as the shallots in the earlier recipe), pickled jalapenos, a dollop of crèma or sour cream, a squeeze of lime juice, a dash or hot sauce or all of the above

In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with an inch of cold water and bring it to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes, until somewhat tender, then drain the potatoes.

Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch cast iron frying pan over medium heat, then heat the oil in it. Cook your onion until it is soft and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Then, add the chorizo, breaking it up with your spoon as you brown it. Saute until cooked through and browned, about 5 minutes. Add drained potatoes and cook until they are fully tender and a bit browned at the edges. Season the mixture with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs and pour the mixture over the potato-chorizo in the pan. Cook until the egg mixture is scrambled and virtually cooked through (it will finish cooking in the residual heat), then divide mixture among tortillas. Scatter with queso fresco, cilantro and toppings of your choice. Eat immediately.

Do ahead: Extra tacos can be wrapped in foil and frozen until needed. Warm in oven.

cheddar cornbread waffle sandwich with creamed greens

Cheddar Cornbread Waffle Sandwich with Creamed Greens and a Poached Egg

Here, I tried to mash up some of my favorite breakfast things — cheddar cornbread, waffles, lightly creamed greens and poached eggs in a single, teetering sandwich. I realize that as far as sandwiches go, this one is a stretch. It’s precarious, at best. You’ll probably want a fork and knife around, just to be safe, or you could challenge the waffle’s indentations to catch all dribbles. Want to add yet another layer of delicious? Crisp up a slice of ham or Canadian bacon and add it to the stack, under the greens.

Makes 4 towering waffle sandwiches

3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 large egg
1/2 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
Spray cooking oil to coat waffle iron

Creamed greens
5 ounces baby spinach or another fairly quick-cooking green of your choice, stemmed if stems are heavy
1/4 small onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons heavy cream

To assemble
4 large eggs
Hot sauce and diced fresh tomatoes (optional)

Preheat your oven to warm and place a tray on a middle rack.

Make waffles: Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter and egg. Stir wet ingredients and grated cheese into the dry mixture until combined.

Make waffles according to your manufacturer’s directions. In the waffle iron I used – a thin one that made 6 rectangular waffles per batch – I cooked the waffles on the middle heat setting and needed 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups batter per batch. I made about 1 1/2 batches, yielding 9 small waffles.

Transfer waffles to tray in warmed oven and leave them there while you cook your greens.

Prepare creamed greens: Wash greens but no need to dry them. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the greens until wilted. For baby spinach, we prefer it just barely wilted, which takes just a minute. For heartier greens, you’ll want to cook them a few minutes longer. Transfer greens to a colander and press out as much extra liquid as you can. If desired, coarsely chop greens.

Wipe out pan and return it to medium heat. Melt butter and then cook onion until soft and tender, about 5 minutes. Return greens to pan and drizzle heavy cream over them. Cook, stirring, until cream simmers for a minute and mixture is evenly combined. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.

Poach eggs: Poach eggs according to your favorite method. If you don’t have one, here’s mine: Heat a saucepan with a few couple inches of water to the point right before it simmers. Using a cooking spoon, create a whirlpool and crack your egg right into the center of it and stop swirling. The egg should mostly wrap around itself. Continue to let the egg cook, keeping the water from fully simmering, until the white is firmed up but it the egg still jiggles from the middle when nudged with a spoon, about 3 to 4 minutes. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and repeat with remaining eggs.

Assemble sandwiches: Place one square or wedge of waffle on a plate. Top with 1/4 of the creamed greens and a single poached egg. Dash with hot sauce, if desired, or a scattering of chopped tomatoes. Top with a second square or wedge of waffle and eat, precariously.

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