Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tuscan (a.k.a. African) eggs

I used to make this dish a lot during my tour in Malawi as a volunteer highschool math and science teacher (how's that for a mouthful of adjectives). You can read about some of my adventures on my friend Paul's blog, where I make an occasional cameo. Markets in Malawi were sometimes a little thin. At the time, it was the poorest country in the world next to Mozambique (which happend to be at war, so it was a little worse off). However, you were pretty much guranteed to find tomatoes and eggs at the market, and usually onions too. These are the fundamental components of this dish, so ... you guessed it ..., I made it whenever tomatoes, onions, and eggs were all I could get my mitts on.

In spite of its humble components, it's actually a great dish, and I'm glad that I dredged it out of the depths of my culinary memory. I tried to find something similar in my cookbook collection, but no dice (this is a well researched blog, despite its devil-may-care appearance). There was, however, a scrap torn from an old Fine Cooking (Oct/Nov 2002) with a Tuscan Poached Eggs recipe that fit the bill (it didn't tell me much, but at least yielded a few timings to make this memory experiment a little less risky). It also resonates with the whole Eat Italian phase I'm going through right now. (Although this is about to come to an abrupt end tomorrow when they pull two wisdom teeth out of my head -- I will then be in a Drink Smoothies phase, which will be WAY less fun.)

This dish is pretty simple. First sizzle-up some onions, oregano (or whatever), and hot pepper flakes (if you want) in olive oil until they are nice and soft and blended.

Add a mess-o' chopped tomatoes (there are about 6 romas and 1 regular one in here -- the regular one adds juice which you will need for this recipe to poach your eggs). Simmer away until the tomatoes are broken down and the sauce is nice and juicy (I can't remember how long, but it's like ten minutes or so).

Then, make little dents in your sauce (one for each egg). Break your eggs into teacups so you can add them gently. Pour one egg into each dent, pop the lid on and let it simmer for about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, heat your broiler. (I could have fit 4 eggs in this pan, but only wanted two for supper -- I'll save the extra sauce for a quick huevos rancheros replay in the morning for brekkie -- HEY! MAYBE THESE ARE MEXICAN EGGS!)

Here's what they look like after the simmer. You can leave them a little longer and do the whole thing on the stove top, but I like the extra flavour that comes from a quick blast under the broiler. Pop them under there for another 2 minutes or so.

Here's how they look after that (I guess I should have mentioned you need an oven proof pan). You can eat up now, OR you can go the extra mile (and by now, you should know that I'm an extra mile kida guy). So....

Scoop the eggs and some sauce into a serving dish, sprinkle with cheese (Reggie, romano, cheddar, whatever) and pop the dish under the broiler for a few seconds until the cheese melts. How awesome does THAT look?!?!

Serve up with bread, or rice, or just eat it like that if you want. A choice way to prepare eggs. You can do this in ramekins if you want to get fancy, or on a nice serving platter -- whatever.

Get crackin'!


  1. You. Must. Stop. This. Insanity. Cholesterol. Count. Rocketing.

  2. Wha'? Wha'?! Eggs are good for you! And tomatoes too! -Cue the Ka voice- "Trussst in meeee...."

  3. I can't wait for your girls to learn to drive and start delivering this stuff.

  4. Looks delicious Joe! Your culinary experimentation was always miles ahead of mine in Malawi; I found creativity only in unusual Power's No 1 combinations. The egg and tomato remind me of the time in Liwonde when I ordered a tomato and cheese omelette. The waiter appeared a few minutes later and gave me a plate of sliced tomatoes with some cheese melted on top. Took us a while to figure out he misunderstood my tomato and cheese omelette as "tomato and cheese on it." Ah, Malawi!Bon appetit, and thanks for the plug!

  5. Oh man. Did that happen at Lakeshore Fast Foods? Reminds me of when Troy tried to order a vegetarian omelette (as if!). When it arrived it didn't look much like an omelette (bit it did have vegetables and eggs in it) so Troy sent it back saying it wasn't what he ordered. We knew he was doomed at this point, and sure enough the waiter never came back and Troy had no lunch. Then there was the time Pete and I ordered the chicken... (maybe I need a second blog for Adventures in Malawian Cuisine -- I still have the cookbook, after all).

  6. I made these the other day Joe. Very good. Well liked by my sons. I didn't put the pan in the oven - I went from the frying pan straight to the ramekins on a baking sheet so I could just slide it out to add the cheese before serving.