A few years ago, I got an exciting phone call. I had won a recipe contest from Cook's Country, the sister magazine to Cook's Illustrated. The subject was "interesting sandwiches," and my entry consisted of french style, slow-cooked eggs on multi-grain toast with goat cheese and arugula. I was to receive $100, and a one-year subscription to their magazine. I was elated.
An entire month passed and I received neither. I began to wonder whether they had changed their minds about the winners. Then one day at pastry school, my classmate came up to me and said, "I saw you in a magazine! Your sandwich with salmon looks really good!" Doubly perplexed, I waited several more weeks to have my questions answered. The check and magazine arrived one day, bearing my photo, next to a heading which read "Elegant eggs on toast: scrambled eggs on pumpernickel with arugula, goat cheese and smoked salmon." Now, I'm sure that sandwich is delicious too, but from then on I was left to wonder what recipes the contestants had actually entered, as I flipped through my year's supply of Cook's Countrys.
So here it is in all its glory - the o.g. elegant eggs on toast. Only I call them "decadent eggs," and when you read the recipe, you'll see why. The eggs are cooked with butter and cream in a skillet set over the lowest possible heat, stirred constantly with a rubber spatula. When they set up, after fifteen minutes or so, they are the consistency of a luscious custard, with some ricotta-like curds for body. Soft, meltingly creamy and oozy, they set off the crunch of the toast and the pungency of the herbs.
I made these on a whim the other day, using Acme's glorious levain, sliced thin and toasted with a brushing of fruity olive oil, and some herbs I had on hand from the chilled beet and buttermilk soup I'd made a few days prior. Feel free to go crazy, though. Toast any bread you love: brioche, olive bread or, yes, even pumpernickel would be lovely. Other nice additions could be:
sliced avocado or tomatoes
arugula or watercress
basil, chervil, or tarragon
a smear of pesto or romesco
truffle oil or fresh truffles, if you should be so lucky
Speaking of lucky, I'm lucky enough to get awesome eggs in my bi-weekly box from Eatwell Farm; the striking orange-yellow of the eggs in the photos are all thanks to their crazy bright and happy yolks.
Decadent eggs on toast, with herbs and goat cheese
Makes 1 - 2 servings
1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
two slices of bread, such as levain brushed with olive oil
1 ounce or so of soft goat cheese
a couple teaspoons minced fresh herbs, such as chives, dill or tarragon
Beat the eggs in a bowl with the salt and heavy cream until they are homogenous and slightly foamy. Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a heavy skillet over low heat. Add the eggs. Keeping the heat as low as possible, stir constantly with a heat-proof rubber spatula, for about 15 minutes, until the eggs are set up to your liking. They should be the texture of a soft ricotta cheese - creamy, yet firm enough to mound, with some curds. Stir in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter.
When the eggs are almost done, toast the bread. Spread or crumble on the goat cheese, top with eggs, herbs and a turn of pepper.