Thursday, April 29, 2010

Storybook Eggs


Stranger I've Almost Forgotten: *Knock, knock*
Me: "Who is it?"
SIAF: "It's me."
Me: "Hmm? You sound familiar, but I've almost forgotten you."
SIAF: "It's me!!! Spring!"
Me: "Oh, of course! Well, in that case come on in, and I'll cook you up!"

Spring. As I'm typing this I can actually hear birds chirping outside my window. Asparagus and strawberries were available at the farmers' market last weekend, green garlic has been here for three weeks now, and the fresh milk I've been buying is thicker than ever. This is the season that always makes me think I should quit my job, pull out my big backpack, and live my life wandering around the countryside. I'm pretty sure I could live on wild onions and forest morels for at least a little while, but that's a fantasy for another day.

Three weeks ago the Dunwoody Green Market opened, which was great news for me. This means easy access to a few different farms that are growing slightly different veggies and such than my friends at the Morningside Market. Several wonderful little discoveries have come out of this market, but one of my favorites is duck eggs. I found them by accident. The day the market opened I loaded up one of my little friends (age 5), and we headed that way to see what we could find. He was very impressed by the white carrots and the free samples, but what most impressed him was a duck wearing a dress. Here's a picture of the duck and her owner:

You will notice that the duck (named Cutie Pie I later learned) is NOT wearing a dress in this picture, which is unfortunate, but so it goes. It cost 5 bucks to take a picture of the duck with the dress on, and I decided that money was better spent on what she'd produced: duck eggs. I'd never tried them before and was curious.
That afternoon I headed home with a dozen little treasures, proudly lifted the top of the carton, and watched Charlie's eyebrows raise in amusement. He suggested we fry them, and I couldn't think of a reason why we shouldn't, so we did!

Before we get into the part of this story that involves cooking and eating, let me take a moment to describe these little stars. The eggs are really beautiful. They're a very pale ivory with a gray tint and a few speckles here and there. They're longer and thinner than chicken eggs and are more difficult to crack. Because they come from water fowl, the eggs must have a slightly thicker shell with a more resilient membrane inside to protect the contents. One good whack on the side of the counter breaks through with no problem, and out slides a beautiful, orangey yolk and nearly-transparent whites. I was amazed by the size of the yolk. It's much larger than the yolk of a chicken egg and (I later learned) has a lot more protein.

What does one do with such a lovely new ingredient? Well, if you're me you create a recipe that features it. And so, Not-Quite-Benedict came to be. I am sorry to say that my stupid camera battery died before I could take a decent photo of the finished dish (that might have been my fault...), but I did manage to snap one not-so-great picture. This doesn't even almost do justice to the pretty eggs, but it's what I have. In fact, I think it looks kind of gross in this picture, so you'll just have to trust me when I say that it wasn't. It was delicious!


See! It's not gorgeous in the photo. Oh well.

serves 4

8 thick slices bacon
4 large duck eggs
8 buttermilk biscuits, recipe to follow
Hollandaise sauce, recipe to follow

Place bacon slices in a large cast-iron frying pan. Place the pan on your stove-top and gently cook on medium-high heat, turning the bacon after 2 - 3 minutes and continuing to cook until it is cooked through and just beginning to crisp. Remove bacon from the pan and place on paper towels to drain. Do not discard the leftover bacon fat in the pan.

Carefully crack one duck egg in a small bowl, taking care not to puncture or otherwise break the yolk. Heat the reserved baking fat until hot but not smoking and gently slide the egg into the pan.


Allow the egg to cook until the whites set, 2 - 3 minutes, then carefully flip it over with a spatula, again taking care not to break the yolk. Cook another 1 - 3 minutes then remove from pan. Repeat with remaining eggs.

To assemble, split one warm buttermilk biscuit in half, and place two pieces of bacon on the bottom half.


Slide one fried egg on top of the bacon, and top with a generous spoonful of hollandaise sauce. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with an extra biscuit for sopping up the egg and hollandaise sauce. Serve immediately.

Buttermilk Biscuits

1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 Tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 Tablespoon milk (for brushing biscuits)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and honey and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough just forms.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead several times. Using your hands, form the dough into eight balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the top of each biscuit with milk, and bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until the biscuits are completely cooked through and are golden on top.
Serve warm.

*Note: If you prefer, biscuits can be cut into perfect rounds using a circular cookie cutter or the bottom of a glass. I just tend to like puffy, cloud-shaped biscuits so I form them by hand. Also, a handful of shredded cheddar and chopped rosemary can be thrown in with the dry ingredients for a more savory biscuit.


This is my wonderful mother-in-law's recipe for Blender Hollandaise. It's so tasty and will keep for 2 days. I used it on steamed asparagus the first night and then used the rest on the Not-Quite-Benedict.

Blender Hollandaise

1/2 cup butter, heated to a bubble
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of cayenne pepper

Put egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend on low for 10 - 15 seconds. Add the hot butter, and blend 15 - 20 seconds more. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Project Begins

When I first decided to keep this blog my husband, Charlie, gently warned me that the difference between a successful blogger and an unsuccessful one is largely the difference between a persistent blogger and one who is not. I'm sorry to say I've fallen into the second category over the last few months. However, he also reminds me that it is never too late to start again. Doesn't he sound wonderful? He is.

March 20, 2010 marked the official start of our year-long locavore project. We started with a bang, inviting 20 or so of our nearest and dearest over for a Spring Celebration. Even though the pasta machine DID break just a few hours before the party, causing me tremendous anxiety about the homemade fettucini with rainbow chard that was to be the focus of the meal, overall the kick-off was a success. We ate. We drank. We discussed. I was reminded, yet again, of what fantastic friends we have.

And so...we've been ticking along. Over the past few months several of the problems we anticipated have resolved themselves, some were solved after a fair amount of trouble, and some we've just had to deal with (still no poultry!). It's been interesting, and it's a shame I've not chronicled it up to now. Hopefully that will change over the next few weeks. I would like to get this blog up and running again, but I hesitate to make any bold proclamations about what I will or will not do. That seems to be the death of many of my plans and ideas. Instead, let me throw out a plan: I plan on doing better. That's all I've got for now. :)