These are eggs that deserve a party.
Yet brunch gatherings aren’t always easy or fun. They’re often the domain of people with small children – the ones trying to maintain the social life they once had, before the nap times of tiny creatures cannibalised their day. They’re for me nine years ago, playing house with the excess of white platters received for your 21st, revelling in the rare weekend without a hangover.
And they’re what you do when your schedule is rammed but you feel you really should catch up.
For all of those situations what you need is a brunch dish that can be easily prepared ahead, so when your people arrive all you have to do is throw some ramekins in the oven for 10 minutes while you make some coffee.
I want us to be clear about something at this point. You’ve invited people over for brunch because you’re being nice. Your flat is not a cafe. Nobody needs to be flipping eggs to order or remembering who likes butter on their toast. And nobody wants to be up at 8 am to slip a bread pudding in the oven.
Baked eggs are the answer. I like them as shakshouka, the Middle Eastern iteration with peppers, chilli and yoghurt. I like them with a base of wilted spinach and slivers of ham and more cream cheese than you probably should eat in the morning.
And I like them when they take a little Mexican side step.
Here are some good things about these eggs;
There’s no need to shuffle about looking for bacon or ham or sausages to have on the side, because the little bit of chorizo in the black beans is meaty enough.
There’s no need for beans , because they’re already in the bottom of your ramekin.
Same goes for tomatoes and onions.
The whites of the eggs are hard and if you keep an eye on them, your yolks will ooze. All that it needs is a few goat cheese and mozzarella quesadillas to be cut into quarters for those who need some carbs for dipping. And perhaps for the Australians among us some guacamole wouldn’t go astray (because it’s not a proper egg- breakfast for Antipodeans unless there’s avocado on the table).
The south of the border spicing in the black beans comes from coriander, cumin, chipotle if you have it and a touch of dark chocolate. To me it’s a breakfast so exciting it can turn almost anything into a fiesta- and it makes me feel ok about the fact that we’re hosting a social engagement without liquor.
All of this is exactly how last Sunday morning, after our old neighbours came over to see our new place we ended up having a very special sort of party.
After we cleared away the ramekins and swept up the last of the guacamole with the crisp corners of the cheese hugging tortillas, we pulled out laptops and piles of paper and set up around the table.
And then we all did our Australian tax returns. Each of us.
A boredom shared, a party made. There was no yelling or shouting. To be honest, one of us went into a dark hole for a small period, but they eventually came out the other side.
We agreed it hadn’t of been for the eggs, we might have never made it.
(Soon afterwards we started making plans for a shared New Years in Panama. There will be hats. And potentially linen suits involved. That was much more fun).
It’s at this point that I pose the following question; if these eggs can turn TAX into a party, can you imagine what they could do for your next brunch?
NB- Without the quesadillas, this is an excellent low carb breakfast to follow your low carb dinner. And if you’re looking for some more low ercarb dinner options, you might be interested in this ebook, which has been written by a nice girl, which is available for a bargain prices of $2.99 on iPad here, or for a Kindle here
Baked Mexican Eggs
Serves 4 (Nb, this will leave you with a little extra beans. It’s delicious on its own, or as a warm salad later on. Alternatively, you could use larger ramekins like the one in this picture and crack two eggs over the top. The Hungry One very selflessly let our guest have the larger portion. It was tough, but he managed.)
1 saucepan/Dutch oven. 1 baking tray. 4 x 1 cup ramekins. 1 sandwich press/ fry pan (for the quesadillas)
3 red banana peppers (or 2 red peppers)
15 cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon of olive oil
50 grams of chorizo, cut into small dice
1 red onion, peeled and cut into small dice
1 small chilli, diced (and seeded, depending on how hot you like things)
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon of ground coriander
1 pinch of chilli flakes
1 large handful of coriander, ends finely chopped, leaves reserved
2 x 400 gram tins of black beans, rinsed and drained
10 grams of dark chocolate (minimum 70 per cent cocoa solids)
Optional 1 tsp of chipotle puree
Salt to taste
4 tsp of natural yoghurt
8 flour tortillas
3/4 cup of grated mozzarella
4 tbsp of goat’s curd
2 ripe avocados
Squeeze of lemon juice or lime
Here’s how we roll
1) Preheat the oven to 150 C/300F. Drizzle the peppers and tomatoes with olive oil and place in the oven to roast for 45 minutes, until lightly blistered.
2) Place the diced chorizo in the Dutch oven over a medium heat. Sautee until it starts to leach crimson oil. Add in the chopped onion, red chilli, cumin, coriander, chilli flakes and diced coriander stems.
3) Sautee for 6 minutes until the onion has softened. Add in the drained black beans and dark chocolate and chipotle if you have it and stir to combine.
4) Slice the roasted peppers. Add the peppers, tomatoes and the oil they cooked in to the pan with the beans. Stir to combine. Taste the sauce. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and more chilli if you want.
5) Place 2-3 tablespoons of the bean mix in the bottom and up the sides of of your ramekins, creating a well in the centre. Ensure there’s at least 2 cm clear at the top for your egg. Place the ramekins on a baking tray.
6) Crack your eggs gently into the top of each ramekin, taking care not to puncture the yolk. Float a teaspoon of Greek Yoghurt over the top of the yolk. You can leave your eggs like this until you’re ready to eat.
7) Turn the oven up to 180C/350 F. When your guests have arrived and just before you’re ready to eat transfer your eggs into the oven and bake for 10 -12 minutes- until the white is solid but the yolk is still a little runny.
8 ) While the eggs are baking make the quesadillas by placing a handful of grated mozzarella and some dabs of goat cheese on the face of one tortilla. Sandwich another on top and toast in a sandwich press or in a fry pan until the cheese is melted and the tortilla crisp. Cut into fours.
9) Serve the baked eggs with the quesadillas and a quick guacamole made of mashed avocado and the chopped cilantro/coriander leaves and a squeeze of citrus. Hot sauce and tax returns optional.