Sunny side up

Eggs served sunny side up with some sides.

The egg in its pure form is used as often as any single protein but shines particularly as a breakfast entrée and is as integral as sugar to the world of baking and cuisine.

But it is the pan that often spells success or defeat. Let me put it bluntly: use nonstick, a surface that is slick and yielding. Unless overcooked, the pan rejects the brown crust that toughens a delicate egg.

In cooking a single egg, or perhaps a scramble with several, I add a half butter and half olive oil mixture to the pan — perhaps a light tablespoon of each for a small recipe of six eggs. I also prefer to use medium to medium-low heat. For the softest and most flavorful eggs, low heat is favored by the culinary giants from Jacque Pepin to Gordon Ramsey. Though a simple preparation, a few tricks spell perfection.

When scrambling, remember to beat the eggs heartily. For larger quantities, many chefs whip the egg mixture, including the cream and salt, with an immersion blender or even by putting them in a food processor for about 10 seconds. A metal whip will also work, it just takes longer to froth them up.

Scramble (serves two)

Ingredients

  • Six fresh organic eggs
  • ¼ cup of heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil or butter (or half of each)
  • ½ teaspoon of sea salt
  • Chopped herbs, saved for last and not blended with the egg mixture
  • ½ cup of shredded white cheese, medium-soft like Gruyere or Swiss

Preparation

Soften the butter and olive oil in the non-stick pan. As it begins to bubble, add the egg mixture and begin to stir immediately. Stir away. Don’t leave the stove and let the mixture thicken or brown — you want soft, creamy eggs.

When the eggs begin to congeal, add the cheese and chopped herbs — parsley and chives are wonderful — and continue to stir. When soft and creamy but cooked through — this is the advantage of slow cooking — pour on a plate, sprinkle with a few of the remaining chopped herbs and a bit of grated parmesan. Serve with bacon, toasted whole-wheat bread and a few sautéed potatoes. An incredible addition instead of the meat is salmon lox. Oregon white truffles are rare but splendid when grated over the scrambled eggs. And sliced wild mushrooms are always a raving success when in season.

I par-boil the spuds and then sauté them with olive oil, ¼ teaspoon of dried turmeric and a sprinkling of oregano or Italian spices. Homemade jam on the toast is the cat’s meow.

If you are concocting a frittata, it’s alright to get a bit of brown on the egg crust.

A fried egg can be enhanced after it begins to set in the butter-olive oil mixture by grating a bit of parmesan cheese over the top and steaming with a tablespoon of water under a covered lid. On occasion, I add a few slices of tomato on top. The presentation is lovely.

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