A Gentle awakening for weekend guests

March 25, 2001|By BETTY ROSBOTTOM | BETTY ROSBOTTOM,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

The first meal of the day is my favorite, and yet we rarely entertain at breakfast or brunch. The exception is when we have weekend guests. On Saturday or Sunday mornings of such visits, I love to make pancakes laced with fresh seasonal berries; pumpkin waffles; French toast garnished with bananas and maple syrup; or oatmeal with a topping of brown sugar, butter, raisins and lemon zest. And, of course, there are egg dishes: omelets, gratins and scrambled creations.

Several days ago, when good friends came for a Friday-to-Sunday stay, I had the perfect opportunity to prepare a weekend brunch. I decided to scramble eggs with bits of cream cheese, morsels of smoked trout and chopped green onions. All the ingredients were mixed and then cooked slowly in melted butter in a large skillet placed over low heat.

This "slow-and-low" technique is the secret to the success of this dish, since it produces exceptionally creamy and moist eggs. In addition, the robust flavors of the extra ingredients - the smoky fish, the salty and slightly sharp cheese and the mild bite from the green onions - combine beautifully with the soft, gently cooked eggs. Our guests, enamored of this unique midmorning entree, asked for the recipe and were surprised to learn how simple and easy this dish is to assemble.

Toasted onion bagels and bundles of steamed asparagus spears would make excellent accompaniments to the eggs, and you could offer glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice plus cups of coffee or tea to complete the menu.

The recipe that follows is for four servings, but you can double it for a larger group by using two skillets and cooking a batch in each. In fact, these eggs are so straightforward to prepare that you could even enlist the help of one of your guests to stir the eggs in one skillet while you look after the other.

Scrambled Eggs With Smoked Trout, Cream Cheese and Green Onions

Serves 4

8 large eggs

4 ounces smoked trout, skin removed and flesh broken, not flaked, into small pieces (see Note)

4 ounces light cream cheese (Neufchatel), broken into small chunks

3 green onions, chopped, including 2 inches of green stems

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

dash salt, several grinds black pepper

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound slim asparagus, tough ends removed, spears steamed or cooked several minutes until tender and seasoned with salt, optional

4 onion bagels, sliced and toasted, optional

In mixing bowl, whisk or mix gently eggs, trout, cream cheese, green onions, 1 tablespoon of the chopped parsley, salt and several grinds of pepper just until combined. (Do not oversalt as both the fish and cheese are salty.)

Melt butter in large, heavy, preferably nonstick skillet set over medium-low heat until hot and butter starts to bubble. Add egg mixture and, with wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula, gently stir in circular, swirling motion. (This will release cooked eggs from bottom of pan and make room for uncooked mixture to receive heat.) Continue to cook in this slow manner until eggs just hold together, but are still moist and glistening, 5 minutes or longer.

Remove from heat and transfer to heated serving platter. Sprinkle eggs with remaining 1/2 tablespoon chopped parsley and several grinds of pepper. Serve eggs with cooked asparagus spears (sprinkled with salt if necessary), and toasted onion bagels.

Note: Smoked trout is available is many markets and in fish specialty stores. My favorite brand, Kendall Brook from Ducktrap Fish Farms in Maine, is widely distributed throughout the United States. If you can't find smoked trout, other smoked fish such as smoked salmon can be substituted.

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