OK, I confess, I'm being a little sneaky here. I was planning to make this dish for myself and the FNBF this morning, but it turned out that he had a crazy early work call today, so instead we had it as a midnight snack last night. But I'm counting it for today. :-)
Baked Eggs with Morels (p. 90)
In case you missed yesterday's shopping episode, my introduction to morels came with a hefty price tag, i.e. $68/pound. Now, it's fun to make a big deal out of it and shock you with that price, but I should also divulge that the amount of morels needed to prepare this recipe for two cost a mere $8. Still, $8 for a half a cup of mushrooms is expensive, but I didn't want you to think I served a $200 Mountain of Morels. (I cut the recipe in half, if you're following along.)
When you're preparing $68/lb mushrooms, you REALLY don't want to get it wrong, because starting over means waiting to shop again and spending another $8 on a paltry half a cup of mushrooms. So I was very careful with the cleaning of the morels, which are so delicate that just touching them seems to set them acrumble. I brushed them, I soaked them, I dried them, and then it was time to cut them to use. I halved the first morel, and waiting inside was a very special treat: a mama and baby grub, amazingly, still alive. In fact, mama just went crawling right out. (So much for grubs' maternal instincts.) Gross, yes, but it seemed to be an indication that these were relatively fresh, so I took it as a good sign, disposed of the little critters, rewashed that morel, and carried on. (FYI, there were no more hidden treasures in the rest of the pile.)
The flavors of this dish are very delicate (shallots, morels, chives), and then there's that half a cup of heavy cream, which makes for an interesting mix. The creamy shallot and morel mixture gets poured into little gratin dishes with whole eggs, and the dishes get baked for roughly 10 minutes. The dish is traditionally served with toast soldiers (bread cut into finger-shaped slices and toasted). Improvising, I served it with English Muffin Soldiers.
Sadly, I overcooked it a tad. Martha said to "bake until egg whites are just set (they should be firm to the touch)" but I kept feeling then, and they still felt so wet. Turns out, I was feeling the cream sauce, which was covering the already-set egg whites. By the time these came out of the oven, even the yolks had started to set, which is not supposed to happen. :-(
All in all, the result is lovely, refined, as FNBF said, "what Brooke Astor would have for breakfast." For me, it's a little too precious. I can definitely appreciate the lovely flavors and the adorable serving style and size, but I prefer my egg dishes on the heartier side. I can't imagine ever serving this to anyone.
And yet, I did enjoy eating it. In fact, I was hungry for another one. (Maybe this would have seemed more satisfying as a morning meal?)
I'm very happy to have been introduced to morels, though. It's always fun to experience a new food, even at $68/pound.
Jeff: B (points off for overcooking)
Until we eat again...
Blurry picture of a large whole morel and a small halved one. Looks like brain, right?
The finished dish!