In need of pampering? A little luxury goes a long way in this change-of-season meal.
It was the name that caught my attention: Soft eggs with lobster. On bruschetta, no less. Little did I know it came scrambled with cream cheese and drizzled with truffle oil.
Wow. I was dazzled before I took the first bite.
What came to mind after I had savored the luxurious treat at Bar La Grassa in Minneapolis, and after a few contented groans, was this: I could simplify the recipe and make it at home (a frequent thought that keeps me busy in the kitchen).
Eggs and lobster are, indeed, the perfect choice for a spring brunch, a time when we all are looking for a bit of relief as we shed the mufflers and mittens and other vestiges of the past too-many months.
I am not hesitant to say I could use a little pampering right now -- and I'm not talking about a pumice stone and a king-size bottle of extra-dry lotion.
I want indulgence I can sink my teeth into. What I love about this sumptuous recipe is that a little luxury goes a long way.
Consider the recipe's basic elements: It is simply scrambled eggs with cream cheese and a bit of lobster served atop what is essentially toast. The operational word here is "bit." We are talking about a small amount of lobster. You can be as extravagant as your bank account and temperament allow, but for this morning meal, a 5-ounce lobster tail is sufficient for four people -- at a cost of $10 or less at a discount grocery store.
You could use even less lobster, or none at all, given that the cream cheese is decadent in itself. Or substitute another seafood preference: smoked salmon, shrimp, crab or white fish.
But we won't stop there. With the aim of coddling our guests, we will drizzle a little truffle oil over the eggs for an added layer of flavor. Again, this is not necessary: It's strictly over-the-top. But as any chef will tell you, a dish bumps from good to great (and from great to groans of delight) built on the details.
So if you have a tiny bottle of truffle oil on your shelf and have been wondering what to do with it, this would be a good time to bring it out. (Not so incidentally, truffles go with eggs like peanut butter does with jelly.)
Eggs and lobster is a versatile recipe that can easily be made to your own liking, which is at the heart of my message to all would-be cooks. Repeat after me: Recipes aren't cast in stone. They are meant to be a starting point. You need to claim them as your own and add your signature touch. Then sit back and bask in the oohs and aahs.
A springtime review
Let's not forget the rest of the meal, which is easy to make for even the busiest of cooks. For color and texture, we're serving a simple salad of spring greens and composing it on the individual brunch plates with the eggs. This menu should be served as a restaurant does, with salad and eggs in position before the dish lands in front of your guest; it's simply too pretty to serve family style. We will pass a platter of roasted asparagus, which takes virtually no effort to prepare. (If you wish, you could position a couple of spears under the eggs for an added dimension to that dish.)
If you've got some big, burly guests who need even more protein for breakfast, prepare some bacon or slices of ham to pass at the table, but for most everyone else, this light yet filling meal offers an unexpected treat for a spring gathering -- a menu well suited to those events that pop up like crocus this time of year, from Easter to bridal or baby showers, Mother's Day and the like.
Don't forget dessert
The end of the meal is as important as the beginning, and once again luxury returns with an almond cake rich with almond paste and drizzled with strawberry-rhubarb sauce. The cake can be made in advance to ease the last-minute pressure of entertaining.
A beverage is a must, of course, so break out the bubbly. My personal preference for any such gathering is for a sparkling wine (we're celebrating the end of winter, for goodness' sake, as though anyone needs a reason to indulge in sparkling wine!). Stick to a dry variety, and the bubbles will suit the eggs, lobster and asparagus. (And note the sense of splendor when serving any sparkler.)
If mimosas are more your style, serve the bubbly half-and-half with orange juice, freshly squeezed for the best flavor. If white wine is your preference, either a pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc pairs well with this menu.
And that's our take on the season: simple, fresh and unexpected.
Springtime ... it's priceless.
Lee Svitak Dean is the author of the Taste collection of recipes, "Come One, Come All/ Easy Entertaining With Seasonal Menus" (Minnesota Historical Society Press).