Friday, January 25, 2013

Scrambled Egg Tartine with Smoked Salmon & Herb Cream Cheese

Remember a few months ago when I said I wanted to become "master of the egg one preparation at a time"? Well, I had recently become unemployed and figured I needed some goals for while I was in between jobs, other than finding a new job, that is. Now I'm starting a new job on Monday (!) and I've only managed to master 2 egg preparations. So much for that idea... Maybe I'll make it more of a long-term goal.

While I've only perfected 2 techniques, I have to say the ones I've chosen have come in extremely handy. In my first post I taught you all about the olive oil fried egg and now we're on to soft, creamy scrambled eggs. Both preparations are extremely versatile and are great tools to have in your back pocket. Whether it's a lazy Sunday morning or a late night craving, as long as you have some eggs, you'll be prepared.

These scrambled eggs are melt-in-your-mouth creamy and pillowy soft, nothing like the dry chunky cardboard eggs that haunted my college cafeteria days. The key here is patience. You need to cook the eggs slowly over low heat to achieve the fine curd that makes these lusciously creamy.

While these eggs are great on their own or with a little cheese sprinkled in, I decided to fancy them up a little with herb cream cheese and smoked salmon. It's my last week of unemployed leisure and I've been making the most out of it, spending an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen and preparing myself special lunches every day. That's one thing I will miss about not working—all of the free time I have to spend in the kitchen. Don't get me wrong though, I can't wait to go back to work, even if it means less one-on-one time with my kitchen appliances.

View from my kitchen as I cooked

I chose herb cream cheese because it resembles one of my favorite spreads—chive cream cheese, then I added smoked salmon because I thought it would pair well with the other elements of the tartine (in case you were wondering, tartine is a fancy French word for an open-faced sandwich). I was very pleased with the results: the creamy texture of the eggs, the crunch of the toasted bread, the smoky salmon flavor, the freshness of the herbs—it all worked.

If the weather where you live is anything like it is in Chicago right now, and you can't bear the idea of leaving the house for brunch this weekend, I definitely recommend this tartine. It's fancy brunch fare you can enjoy from the comfort of your own kitchen.

Bon appetit!

Scrambled Egg Tartine with Smoked Salmon & Herb Cream Cheese
Serves 1
2 large eggs
1 tsp unsalted butter
1 piece of bread, I used whole wheat, but sourdough or rye or even a bagel would be great
1-2 tbsp herb cream cheese (recipe below)
1 oz thinly sliced smoked salmon
Handful of sliced chives, for garnish

Herb Cream Cheese
8 oz light cream cheese, slightly softened
4 tbsp fresh herbs, finely chopped—equal portions thyme, tarragon and dill
5 green onions, white and green parts, trimmed and finely chopped
1/3 c chopped fresh chives

First, prepare the herb cream cheese. Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and smash together with a fork until well mixed. Cover and chill in the fridge until needed. Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge as long as regular cream cheese. Check the expiration date on the cream cheese package before throwing away.

Store leftover herb cream cheese in the fridge and enjoy with your next bagel (or 6...)

Next, prepare the eggs. Place pat of butter into a small cast iron skillet set over very low heat (my electric stove was set to 2 out of 9). While the butter is melting, crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk vigorously with a fork until yolks and whites combine to create a uniform light yellow mixture. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

When butter has melted, pour the egg mixture into the skillet and note the time. Your eggs should cook anywhere from 10-15 minutes, depending on your stove and your pan (mine were done in 10). Keep a constant eye on the eggs, using a small rubber spatula to move the eggs around the pan whenever you see them start to solidify. For a good demo, check out this video. Also, this article from The Kitchn features some great instructional photos.

While your eggs are cooking, toast your bread and get out your smoked salmon and chives. Spread herb cream cheese on toasted bread and have everything ready and waiting for when your eggs are done.

How long you cook your eggs is a matter of personal preference, but I like mine super creamy and custard like and tend to take them off right before they look completely dry. Once you decided the eggs are done, remove them to a plate or bowl. The heat from the pan will continue to cook the eggs even after you turn off the burner, so move quickly here. Taste eggs for seasoning.

Finally, assemble your tartine by layering eggs then smoked salmon over the cream cheese. Garnish with chopped chives and dig in!

Source: D*lish original

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