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10.08.2005

If it’s Friday, it must be eggs-and-beer night

It was a Friday night, and you know what that means: good Catholics won’t eat meat; Shabbat-savvy Jews won’t sow, plow, reap, grind, sift, knead, bake, spin, weave, tie, or untie; and good, savvy Seattlites won’t hesitate to crack open a beer, break a few eggs, and call it a day.

Dear reader, this may be the closest I’ll ever come to getting religion, and I owe it all to my petite, ingenious friend Jenny, her husband Thomas, and their little boy Eero. In their small but influential family unit, Friday means eggs-and-beer night, and that means I’m coming over. With my Catholic-schooled mother and a father whose ancestry adds up to 100% Polish Jew, I suppose I could try a tricky straddling of traditions, but let’s be frank: ours was a non-observant house, and when push comes to shove—or, hell, even a gentle nudge will do—my faith lies in a cold brew and a runny yolk.

Jenny is, as the best of us are, a champion cookbook collector and recipe clipper, and this evening’s find was no exception: a Turkish dish combining poached eggs, garlic-spiked yogurt and spicy, sage-scented butter. Even Eero, whose gustatory genius is no secret, lent his approval. As we simmered eggs and measured spices, he bobbed in and out of the kitchen, his wispy white-blond mini-mullet puffing over his collar and a baggie of sumac clutched in his tiny fist. Jenny warmed thick slices of baguette and wielded the bottle-opener over three beers, and on a chilly October night, we sat down at their sturdy wooden table and slipped into the weekend over plates of silky eggs.


Firm but delicate, fresh from a quick simmer and ready to spill their molten yolks with the slightest prick of the fork, the eggs sat in a bath of yogurt and were capped with a few spoonfuls of paprika-tinted, red-pepper-flecked butter with whole leaves of fresh sage.


It was a case calling for a hunk of bread and a napkin, for scooping and soaking. The butter was heady with herbs and heat, and the yogurt was cool and tangy with a fiery edge of fresh garlic, a perfect foil for the richness of buttery yolk.

For his part, Eero tucked away a poached egg, a mound of blanched peas, and a few yolk-soaked nuggets of his mother’s bread. It was a standard show for his intrepid palate, but truth be told, he’s more interested in a new gig—namely, impromptu recitations of his four favorite words*: diocese, Appaloosa, sacrifice, and Democrat. He pronounces them slowly, deliberately, precisely, looking around to be certain that all jaws are dropped and all ears tuned to his high-pitched frequency. And at the ripe age of almost-two, this performer has an uncanny sense for his audience: looking straight at me, he announced, “Democrat Molly.” Apparently, his palate isn’t the only thing that’s intrepid. I say, sign this one up for Mensa preschool, and sign me up for eggs-and-beer night.

*Jenny adds the following report: “by the way, eero has added one more word to his list of favorites: ‘placebo effect.’ but he does sometimes leave it off, because he is quite in the groove of his top four. he rattles them off to impress people, or substitutes them for hello or tacks them onto good-byes, especially ‘democrat.’ We go to Chaco Canyon a lot for juice, and when we leave, he says ‘bye democrats’ as loud as he can. one of the girls who works there now calls him her ‘favorite democrat.’ bless his liberal little heart, no?”



Turkish Poached Eggs with Yogurt and Spicy Sage Butter
Adapted from Epicurious and Bon Appétit, May 1985; not martha.org; and Jenny

This is the epitome of an easy, lightning-fast dinner, but its flavors are remarkably complex and sophisticated. It’s nobody’s plain-Jane breakfast-for-dinner. Of greatest importance is that the dish be served while the eggs are still piping hot; we dallied a bit and learned the hard way that a cool egg is not such a tasty egg. Also, for future reference, don’t make the mistake of eating the butter-frizzled sage leaves, and don’t say I didn’t warn you. Be sure to serve this with plenty of warm bread for scooping up luscious swirls of yolk, yogurt, and spicy butter, and of course, a beer never hurts. We drank Fish Tale Organic Amber Ale, but a Belgian-style ale would go down awfully nicely too.

1 cup plain yogurt, preferably full-fat
1 large garlic clove, pressed or crushed in a mortar and pestle
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter (or, if you want to experiment, try salted butter; while eating this dish, I had a premonition that salted butter might be the way to go)
12 fresh sage leaves
½ tsp paprika, or Spanish smoked paprika, if you like
¼ tsp dried crushed red pepper
Salt
1-2 Tbs white distilled vinegar
8 eggs
Bread for serving, such as warm pita or a good, chewy artisan bread


Stir the yogurt and garlic in a small bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt. Divide the mixture evenly between four plates, spreading to coat the center of the plate with a large, thin circle.

Melt the butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the sage, paprika, and red pepper, and stir just until the butter sizzles. Remove it from the heat, and season to taste with salt.

To poach the eggs, fill a large skillet about two-thirds full with water, to a depth of about 2 inches. Add a tablespoon or two of white vinegar, and bring it to a bare simmer over medium-high heat. There should be plenty of little bubbles along the bottom of the pan, and the surface of the water should be barely trembling. When in doubt, err on the side of hotter water. While the water is heating, fill a large bowl with very warm (but not boiling) water: you’ll hold cooked eggs here as you finish cooking the rest of them.

Now, be not afraid: in my experience, this is a pretty fool-proof method for poaching eggs, and I say that as someone who, until now, had gone through roughly two dozen eggs and her entire vocabulary of expletives trying to poach a single egg.

Crack an egg into a small, thin-lipped mug or a small custard cup. Holding the mug or custard cup upright, lower the base into the water, and then, slowly and gently, twist your wrist to turn the egg out into the water. You’re essentially twisting the mug out from under the egg. Don't hold the mug in the water for too long, or the egg will cook to the inside of the mug.

Disturb the water as little as possible, and allow the first egg to settle a bit before adding a second one. Depending on the size of your skillet, you could probably poach up to three eggs at a time.

Cook each egg for 2-4 minutes total, until the white is opaque from the edges right up to the yolk. Mine cooked for about 3 minutes. Use a plastic spatula to gently release the egg from the bottom of the pan—it may have stuck a bit—and lift it out with a slotted spoon. It should be wobbly in the center, but not runny. Slide the egg gently into the bowl of warm water; this will rinse away any vinegar residue and keep the eggs warm. Repeat with the remaining eggs, and if the butter needs to be rewarmed, put it briefly over low heat.

When you are ready to serve, remove the eggs from the water, gently shake off any water droplets, and place two eggs atop the yogurt on each of the four plates. Spoon the butter over the eggs and yogurt, and serve immediately, with bread.

Yield: 4 servings

22 Comments:

Blogger amateur said...

Just wanted to let you know that I loved the post. I regularly read your blog and always like it, but this one was especially nice, with a twist of cute on the side

1:17 PM, October 09, 2005  
Anonymous gemma said...

That sounds like a fantastic time. I have only had one egg since travelling and have been craving them. Your post is making me drool. Mmm.

3:17 AM, October 10, 2005  
Anonymous Melissa said...

Eggs and beer on a Friday sound good to me! (Then again, most things with beer on a Friday would, but we won't go there...) The interesting thing is that I'd read about this dish before and looked forward to trying it (or something like it) when we were in Turkey last year. Unfortunately it was nowhere to be found - in fact, I didn't manage to find anything with sage or butter, the two apparently having been abandoned in favor of copious amounts of olive oil and dill. At least now I have an alternative to heading back there to continue the search :)

4:46 PM, October 10, 2005  
Blogger s'kat said...

...eggs and beer?? If only I'd known it could be so simple. I just sent my husband out for Bad Chinese.

Love the bit about Eero, he sounds like a real firecracker in the making.

4:01 PM, October 11, 2005  
Anonymous Dave said...

Hey Molly,
Nice trick for poached eggs, think I'll try it next time. Incidentally, I love butter frizzled crispy sage leaves.

5:02 PM, October 11, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Well, thank you, amateur! Lovely to meet you. And as for that twist of cute, well, I do have a weakness for the sweet stuff--preferably as a side order! Glad you agree.

Gemma, get thee an egg, my dear traveling lass. So cheap, so delicious.

Melissa, it's funny that you mention reading about this dish before. Just a day or two ago, I was browsing in a bookstore, and I came across another rendition of Turkish eggs, this time with olive oil and paprika. Maybe in one of Bill Granger's cookbooks, of all places? You know, though, recipe or no, I think you DO need to go back to Turkey to continue your search...and I'd be a great detective's sidekick.

S'kat, I don't know--I think bad Chinese can definitely fill the same void as a good, simple, creamy-yolked egg, don't you? As long as you wash it down with beer, of course...

And Dave, Mr. Food Scientist Extraordinaire, I'd love to hear your take on poached eggs. As for the sage leaves, though, I'll leave you to enjoy those alone...

9:00 PM, October 11, 2005  
Blogger Gina Louise said...

Long-overdue, but I took your reccomendation for the Mamie Nova yogurts, and I am in love. Before I ran off to teach yesterday I ate a sucree et miel d'acacia and it was heaven. I've also been through the pistache, and there is a set of rhubarbe rose sitting in my fridge, waiting to be attacked. Merci!

2:10 AM, October 12, 2005  
Blogger Brandon said...

Exactly the kind of meal I love--especially those crispy sage leaves. The photos are lovely as well!

6:15 AM, October 12, 2005  
Blogger pomegranate said...

That's not the [ ] is it? I don't think it is.

I came to bestow lovely things upon your head as a thank you for the inspiration you are. Enough sap from me now.

I'm hardly a fan of The Egg.
This being said, last night after a late evening class, I came home to find a ravenous husband and meager offerings in the refrigerator. So, sadly lacking sage leaves, I made these eggs with everything else. We both devoured them. So rich! I even sopped up your description here with some chewy bread.

A great follow-up to my weekend tribute making the Rancho La Puerta (I think) Granola which is perfect.

So glad you're here..

8:39 AM, October 12, 2005  
Blogger Rachael said...

What a fantastic post. I don't really care for poached eggs, and it had my mouth watering anyway. And smiling too...so cute

9:22 AM, October 12, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, yum!!! We've been mad busy at work, lots and lots of late hours, and also there's all this rain ... and so it seemed like just the sort of week for Comfort Food for Dinner. I made us all take a break and made this for dinner tonight and mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. And then again.

In a very strange twist, there was an actual Turk in the kitchen while I was preparing. I don't even know him but these things happen in New York ... he took a look at the yogurt-ed plates on the table and at the eggs I was beginning to poach and said, "This looks very Turkish." He grilled me about what was in the yogurt sauce, told me wee lil' Turkish boys and girls love this food, and pronounced the meal appropriately inspired. So, fair play to ya :)

peace out :)
Lisa

7:53 PM, October 12, 2005  
Blogger Shauna said...

Sans the beer, I would eat this with you any time. The photos are scrumptious enough to eat themselves, especially that second one, with the bit of yolk escaping, illuminated in the instant. Nice job, Miss Molly! And speaking as one who adores her two-year-old nephew to the point of making a fool of myself, I have to say that kid sounds just great.

10:43 PM, October 12, 2005  
Blogger dharma said...

its turkish name is "çılbır" : )

5:44 AM, October 13, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Gina Louise, I'm so glad to hear that you've been won over to the ways of Mamie Nova! I had a feeling. Do me a favor, would you, and think of me when you pop open a rhubarbe rose?

Brandon, it's lovely to meet you. I've seen your site on food porn watch, I believe, and I'm looking forward to heading back over there for a more thorough perusal!

Pomegranate, you're hunch was correct. That is not the []! Mine doesn't have his own blog; he's too busy reading mine. Heh heh. At any rate, ma cherie, thank you for the lovely words you've bestowed upon me. I am thrilled to hear that you tried the Turkish eggs--and better yet, that they were a smashing success! And as for the Rancho La Puerta granola, I know, isn't it delicious? I had some just this morning, myself...

Rachael, thank you! And if you're not a poached-egg fan, might you consider giving it a go with fried eggs, or sunny-side up? As long as the yolk is runny, I'm not picky.

Lisa, thank you! I was initially seized with dread when you mentioned the Turk in the kitchen--oh no! my recipe must be a fake!--but I've now caught my breath, knowing that the dish at least passed inspection. Phew! You're dreamy, as always.

Thank you, dear Shauna. Turkish eggs might might a good Sunday lunch one day, don't you think? And as for Eero, yes, I think he'd quickly have you entranced. I bet he'd even say "Democrat Shauna" in your honor.

And dharma, thank you for letting me know! Now I only wish I could properly pronounce it. Sniffle, sniffle.

1:14 PM, October 13, 2005  
Anonymous amanda said...

OMG! This recipe was so, so good. Exactly what this New Yorker needed on a chilly rainy weeknight. This is my new favorite recipe. I highly recommend using greek yogurt; it hit the spot. Mmmmmm.

3:33 PM, October 13, 2005  
Anonymous keiko said...

Molly, this looks so good, I can't resist! Gorgeous photos as always. Let me join the eggs and beer club too :)

11:18 PM, October 16, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Amanda, I'm so glad to hear it! And thanks for the Greek yogurt tip. Hope you didn't float away in all that rain...

Keiko, thank you! And as for membership in the eggs-and-beer night gang, more is always merrier.

6:34 PM, October 17, 2005  
Blogger hera said...

probably too late to comment but i couldnt keep my tongue away, hope you'll read this.
this is called "cilbir" as Dharma wrote before. pronounce as "chilbir".
great site btw, thanks

12:46 AM, May 18, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Thank you, hera. And don't worry: it's never too late! Cilbir. I'll remember that...

12:43 PM, May 18, 2006  
Blogger Lisa Braithwaite said...

Made this last night and it was SUBLIME! Absolutely delicious. This would have gone really well with the slightly sparkling pinot grigio we discovered last week. Instead, we had red wine. Still good.

I used the smoked paprika instead of plain, and added a little pile of beluga lentils between the yogurt and the eggs for more substance.

The beauty of this recipe is that it's simple and quick, yet has deep, complex flavors. It's hard to find recipes like that, and when I do, they're like GOLD. I'll be making this again and again.

9:28 AM, June 22, 2007  
Blogger Molly said...

I'm so glad to hear it, Lisa! Hip, hip!

2:46 PM, June 22, 2007  
Anonymous claire said...

hello!
my cousin turned me on to your blog over the summer and i've been hooked ever since. i've literally made these eggs three separate times in the past week. SO delicious!

11:38 PM, January 26, 2010  

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