You can fry them, shirr them, scramble or roll them up. Is there a more versatile food at your fingertips? It's that incredible egg, long on the upswing after its battering on the health front.
But everyday eggs can be so, well, everyday, always pleasant and comforting, with a predictability and demeanor that might as well whisper, "It's time to wake up."
But when morning takes on grander importance, for those celebrations when you want to shout, "Welcome!" to the day -- whether it's a regular morning or any of the spring gatherings where guests gather around the table -- the egg can be dressed for company.
Consider the roulade, a curlicue of egg, cheese and vegetables. Made from a batter that cooks in a jellyroll pan, the eggs become nearly as firm as a crepe, with a topping of good stuff that's added before it's rolled up. The roulade is a bit time-consuming, but it's definitely worth the effort for the "wow" factor alone. And if it's the only dish on the menu that needs some last-minute attention, you are set.
Then there's the shirred egg, an everyday kind of dish that's turned on its head when cooked with cream and lemon and anything else you might want to add.
If there are too many at the table to fuss with individual eggs, a crustless quiche -- creamy and filled with vegetables -- is a grand way to fill out the menu.
Whatever the option, morning couldn't taste better.
This calls for a 10- by 15-inch jellyroll pan (a baking sheet with edges). If you have a different size, just shape the batter on the pan accordingly. I've made two of these at a time, for a group of 12 diners, and I made the batter individually for each. With two roulades, it's a little extra last-minute pressure, but if the rest of the meal is simple, this is doable. Keep in mind that you'll need the full oven if you're making two of these. Adapted from Sara Moulton. Serves 6 to 7.
5 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups milk
4 eggs, separated
Freshly ground black pepper
Filling (see below)
HEAT oven to 350°. Line the 10- by 15-inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper; either butter or spray it with cooking oil.
MELT butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Increase heat to high, whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.
TRANSFER flour mixture to a large bowl. Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time. Season with pepper.
BEAT egg whites until soft peaks form. Stir a third of the whites into yolk mixture and fold in the rest.
POUR the batter onto the parchment paper and smooth it out. Bake for 15 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
MEANWHILE prepare any filling that needs to be warmed. Increase oven temperature to 375°.
COVER the egg surface with another oiled or buttered piece of parchment. Invert onto the counter, and peel off the parchment on the top.
SPRINKLE the egg surface with whatever filling is to be used. Starting on the long side of the egg surface, and using the parchment on the bottom to help, roll up the egg, jellyroll fashion. Place the roulade back on the jellyroll pan, with parchment underneath, and return it to the oven. Bake until any cheese in the filling has melted, about 10 minutes. To serve, cut into 1/2-inch slices.
The filling must be prepared and hot (except for cheese) before it is placed on the cooked egg surface. Make sure any moisture in the vegetables is gone; heat in a sauté pan to assure it.