They say you can’t go home again. I beg to disagree, especially when your parents have just arrived back from a month-long tour around Italy laden with all sorts of treats and goodies, and your access to said goodies is only an hour train ride away. It was with this in mind that I hopped aboard the classiest train around – the Long Island Rail Road – and headed home for the weekend to relish in delights from a far-away land.
One of the greatest goodies that made its way back across the atlantic with my parents was truffles. Yes, truffles in all sorts of glorious forms, all except for the chocolate kind. Truffles, which are a fungus, are similar to mushrooms in how they grow and look, and are extremely unique in how they are harvested, namely by pigs who sniff them out and dig them out of the dirt with their cloven feet. Truffles are often referred to as “the diamond of the kitchen;” these little gems are extremely expensive (you can buy a jar of two – that’s right, TWO – at a specialty store for $25), and are used to elevate dishes at fine restaurants to the next level. Garnishing a risotto with shaved truffle, or a hint of truffle oil drizzled over a braised fish adds a degree of elegance and subtle, buttery flavor that many foodies lust after. In fact, the new TriBeCa hot spot, Locanda Verde recently instituted a “Truffle Dinner” where each course in a lengthy meal used the ingredient in some way, hoping to draw in the high brow crowd.
But back to Italy. My parents came back from the motherland with a great culinary story; one night, they were in a cab rattling through Rome and asked their driver to recommend a restaurant. He recommended Postilogne, an unassuming, family owned restaurant outside the walls of the city. My parents arrived at Postilogne, told the owner that Bruno C, the cab driver sent them, and proceed to make fast friends with the owner, enjoying an excess of wine and off-the-menu meals created specially for them for the rest of the evening. (I should note that this always seems to happen to my father.) And later, when they tried to pay the bill and depart graciously, the restaurant owner came back out, shouted “But Bruno C!”, disappeared into the kitchen, and returned moments later with two small plates. On each was an over easy egg topped with shaved black truffles and extra virgin olive oil.
This meal of only three simple ingredients was to become my parents’ favorite of the trip, and the reason they came home laden with truffle oil, shaved truffles in honey, honey infused with truffles, etc.
Now, coming home is always exciting for me because I get to use my parents’ large kitchen, high-quality cookware, and fully stocked fridge with no complaints – as long as they get to enjoy the outcomes of my culinary adventure. With just a smidgen of nudging from my mother, I decided to recreate my own version of their Postilogne meal for saturday morning breakfast using the fresh Italy-inspired ingredients in our fridge. So, my friends, I give you – Poached Eggs with Truffle Honey.
Poaching an egg is something that I’d never done before, but after reading about it on another blog and hearing from a friend about how easy it was, I decided to give it a whirl. I tried it twice; once using a pot of water, once using a pan, and I think the pan method definitely works better (and takes less time). Here’s how it goes.
Fill a large sauce pan three-quarters of the way with water. Set on the stove, cover, and crank up the heat to a boil. Once the water is boiling, lower the heat so the water goes down to a simmer, add a teaspoon of vinegar (this helps the egg coagulate or stick to itself, not the pan) and a pinch of salt.
Give the water a few minutes to adjust to the temperature and salt and reach a steady simmer. Meanwhile, crack your eggs into small, separate bowls.
Once you’re ready to go, set your kitchen timer for three minutes, slowly slide your eggs into the pan near the side and close to the surface of the water. The eggs will look a bit cloudy when you crack them in, and that’s okay – thats normal. Cover the pan, and start the timer. If you notice a lot of steam starting to escape from the pan or your cover rattling, lower the heat – you want the water to be simmering, not boiling, and it will boil faster with the lid on so you may need to adjust the flame/heat source. Other than that, keep your hands off! (Though, I imagine if you have a glass pan lid, this would be very fun to watch.)
In the mean time, slice some thick grain bread and toast it. Once it’s crispy, add some butter. To be fair, I made a lower-cal version of this for myself with a Thomas’ multi-grain english muffin and “I can’t believe it’s NOT butter” and it was still fabulous, so you can definitely “healthify” this meal. I made the full grain-bread-and-italian-butter version for my nineteen year old brother with the wicked metabolism, and he loved it as well, so the choice is yours.
By the time your bread is buttered, your timer has probably gone off. Take off the cover, and remove your eggs with a slotted spoon. I left the eggs on the spoon atop some paper towels for a few minutes to dry off a bit, and then topped the toast with them – one egg on each slice.
Then I added salt and pepper, and drizzled a little bit of the truffle honey on top each.
Now, I know that most sane people aren’t going to run out and drop over twenty bucks at a specialty store on some truffle honey just to make this dish. But if you have regular honey in the cabinet, I’d imagine that would be just as good. The little hint of sweetness balances the creamy egg and the salty butter and crunchy bread really nicely.
Like I said before, this can definitely be a healthy breakfast. If you make one poached egg, one whole-grain english muffin, a little “butter”, and a drizzle of honey (I’d estimate 1/2 a teaspoon), you’re looking at about 250 calories for breakfast – not bad at all! I ate it with a side of fresh fruit – a sliced peach and 1/4 cup of blueberries, for a very energizing, filling, balanced breakfast. Okay, now I sound like a Kelloggs commercial. But go poach an egg! It’s fun, healthy, and a lot easier than it sounds. Happy Poaching!!
Nutritional breakdown for this breakfast:
- 1 poached egg: 70 calories, 5 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein
- 1 Thomas’ Multi Grain Light english muffin: 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, 8 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein
- 1/2 tbsp “I can’t believe it’s not butter” light, or similarly “healthy” spread: 25 calories, 2.5 grams of fat
- 1 tbp of honey: 20 calories
- 1 peach, sliced: 60 calories, 0 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of fiber, 1.5 grams of protein
Total: 275 calories, 8.5 grams of fat, 10.5 grams of fiber, 13.5 grams of protein.