Monday, November 5, 2012

Breakfast Blooms

Some days, I really have to trick myself into eating my vegetables.

I love the idea of fresh vegetables, you know? Lovely greens on my plate, being colored by splashes of reds and oranges. I imagine myself drizzling balsamic vinegar on spinach leaves and taking casual bites of crunchy cucumbers. Juicy tomatoes and crunchy carrots, naturally sweet and waiting to delight my palate.

And then I remember- I don't really like vegetables that much. Not as much as I like other things. Eating vegetables- it's just an awful lot of work. They have so many vitamins and so much fiber... how am I supposed to fit all those other delicious things that I love if I fill up on vegetables?

I've mentioned before that I often sneak my veggies in by putting them in soups (which I then often puree). But sometimes, I feel like a big girl and I just accept that I need to eat them. Right away. Early in the morning. Before I lose my nerve.

From this dread of dirt-dwellers comes Breakfast Blooms.

Because sometimes, being a big girl involves having everything around you be pretty.

Now, you may have already tried this recipe before. You may have seen beautiful pictures on Pinterest that look like some soccer mom savant just casually tossed it on a plate before her children went to school one morning. I would show you what some of my early attempts looked like, but I don't want to make you lose your appetite. There are some simple tricks to making your egg-in-a-pepper-ring look fantastic, and I'm here to share them.

If you have kids, this is a great way to get your them to eat some veggies, first thing in the morning! I only had a red pepper on hand, but using both a red and a green pepper to make these beauties is even more lovely and gives a lot of cheerful variation to your plate. I don't have kids, but as we already established, I am a kid about eating those greens, so let's dive in. 

Breakfast Blooms

4 eggs
1 bell pepper, any color (red and green go very well with the bright yellow egg center!)
coconut oil, or butter
your choice of seasoning

Cut your bell pepper in half so that you can see the seeds and the pith inside.

You're going to want to get rid of those seeds, but leave a good deal of that light colored membrane intact. The deeper the divisions between the segments, the more "flower-like" your bloom will look. I tried to pick out a pepper at the store with this in mind. You can see that the pepper above has good definition and the segments appear to be even. Now, scoop out those pesky seeds!

You can discard the insides of the pepper. I try to save the cap and the bottom for something else- a salad topping, perhaps, or an addition to a chili. You can see that I've left some of the light colored membrane in the inside of the pepper ring. Make sure that you cut the rings fairly thick so that your egg has plenty of room to nestle. Somewhere between a quarter inch and half an inch should be plenty.

Once you have your rings cut, start heating your butter or coconut oil in a skillet. Since I'm working with eggs, I'm using a nonstick skillet (my favorite yellow one, in fact!). I prefer cast-iron for the flavor, but I try not to mess around with it when I'm working with eggs that I don't want to end up scrambled. Coconut oil is going to work better for you than butter or olive oil because you need your pan to be nice and hot before you put the pepper ring in, and coconut oil will withstand those temperatures better. I'll post a rant about it someday.

Once your pan is good and hot and the oil is melted and starts shimmering, plop your pepper ring in.

Your pan will spit at you. I have no way of fixing this, I'm just warning you.

The point of getting the pan spitting hot is so that when you crack your egg into it, the bottom of the egg will fry up immediately and trap the egg within the boundaries of the pepper ring. You will have some egg white leakage. Don't worry. We'll spruce that up before we plate it.

Sizzle, sizzle. See? I'm not worried about the leaks.

If your yolk's not quite in the middle of your ring, go ahead and move it with a spatula. The bottom of the egg will tear, but if you do it right away then the still-raw egg white will spill in and fill it's place. Just hold the yolk where you want it for a minute and the new bottom will form.

As soon as the bottom of the egg has cooked, turn the heat down the somewhere just above "low" and put a cover on the skillet. This is your secret for a pretty, yellow yoke and a bright egg white.

Allow your egg to cook on low heat, covered like this. It is up to your own discretion how long you let it cook. If you like your yolk runny, it will only take a few minutes. I am not a fan of runny whites, so I let mine cook a little longer. Just keep peeking (although not too often, you'll lose your heat) and turn the heat off once you feel the consistency will suit you. I used a pair of kitchen scissors to snip off the egg white that had leaked out and just ate those crispy little pieces on the spot. 

If you really want to stuff in some more veggies, you can serve your bloom on a bed of spinach or lettuce leaves. Use your imagination with seasonings. Salt and pepper is my basic, but there are some mornings when it's curry powder or cayenne pepper that adds that final pizzazz. This morning, I decided a sprinkle of grated mozzarella and some parsley was what I needed.

In lieu of my spinach leaves, which got sacrificed for a salad last night, I served my bloom on top of a piece of toasted Ezekiel sesame bread.

I haven't even done my makeup and I've already had my first serving of vegetables.

I know this is going to be a good day.

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