Eggs four ways: Benedict, baked and microwaved

Canadiana Eggs Benedict. (Courtesy of Egg Farmers of Ontario)

Canadiana Eggs Benedict. (Courtesy of Egg Farmers of Ontario)

Rita Demontis, National Food Editor, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:18 PM ET

If there's one food that is synonymous with spring, I would have to say it's the egg.

Eggs are all about renewal, new beginnings, hope for the future, and are delicious to boot!

They've been popping up everywhere it seems — as gaily-covered chocolate eggs for starters, and most if not all brunch menus. And, to be honest, eggs are so comforting: Some nights my dinner consists of two soft-poached eggs with brown toast. Or I chop a couple into a large salad with diced green onions and red wine vinegar. Or try poaching eggs into a simple tomato sauce and serve with crusty bread.

Eggs are such a great source of protein, are about 70 calories an egg and are loaded with essential nutrients. Plus at only five grams of fat — and zero trans fats — eggs stand tall in a balanced eating program.

The egg has, during the span of history, represented mystery, magic, medicine, food and, reproduction.

It's all good food for thought with Easter on the horizon. Here's a selection of great egg ideas perfect not only for the upcoming holidays but spring and summer brunch ideas, too!

Canadiana Eggs Benedict

With the distinct flavour of Montreal smoked meat, this Eggs Benedict will be a breakfast or brunch favourite you will love to enjoy at home. Recipe courtesy of Egg Farmers of Ontario.

  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) white vinegar
  • 6 ozs (180 g) shaved Montreal smoked meat
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 English muffins, split and toasted

Maple Hollandaise Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 Tbsp. (15 ml) pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) lemon juice
  • Garnish: pinch of smoked paprika (optional)

In a small skillet, warm smoked meat over medium heat until fragrant; keep warm.

Maple Hollandaise Sauce: Using a small pan, melt butter over low heat. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, maple syrup and lemon juice until frothy. Slowly add egg mixture into melted butter and whisk gently for about 6 minutes (or until sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon) over low heat.

Remove from heat and keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a large shallow saucepan filled halfway with water, add 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) white vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat so water is simmering. Crack each egg to be poached into a small bowl or ramekin to gently slip into simmering water. Poach for about for 3 to 5 minutes or until white is set and yolk is cooked as desired.

Top English muffin halves with warmed smoked meat. Using a slotted spoon, remove poached eggs from water and place on top of smoked meat. Spoon Maple Hollandaise sauce over top of each egg. Sprinkle with smoked paprika, if desired.

Serves 4.

Variation:

Regular Hollandaise Sauce: Omit maple syrup and add 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) of water.

Peameal Bacon Eggs Benedict: Omit Montreal smoked meat and substitute 4 slices cooked peameal bacon and top each English muffin half. Top with poached egg. Whisk in 1 tsp (5 ml) Dijon mustard into Hollandaise sauce to serve.

TIP: To thicken hollandaise sauce, simply heat and stir for 1-2 minutes longer until sauce thickens to your desired consistency. Keep in mind maple flavour will decrease longer you cook the sauce, so add more to taste.

Russian Breakfast Squares

Kale, once considered boring, is now a super food because of its nutritive value. Although the name implies breakfast, this dish can easily be served for brunch or lunch with a salad.

  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lb (250 g) kale, trimmed of tough ends and ribs, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups/1 L packed)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) each salt & pepper
  • 1 cup (250 mL) grated Swiss or Gouda cheese
  • 5 oz. (150 g) smoked salmon, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces (about 1 cup/250 ml)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh whole wheat or white bread crumbs
  • Garnish: Low-fat sour cream (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C). Grease an 11 X 7-inch (2 L) baking dish.

In a large non-stick deep skillet, heat oil over medium heat; saute onion for about 3 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Stir in kale and cook covered, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until wilted and softened. Place in large mixing bowl; let cool 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs well; stir in dill, mustard, salt, pepper and cheese. Stir egg mixture into kale mixture, along with salmon and bread crumbs. Mix well. Spread into prepared baking dish and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until eggs are set and edges are lightly browned. Serve warm, cut into squares and top with sour cream, if desired.

Serves 6.

TIPS:

Smoked salmon can be replaced with ham or simply omitted. Spinach can replace kale. Leftovers can easily be reheated in the microwave.

Family Style Apple and Sausage Omelette

This large family style omelette is great to serve for any get together. Spice it up with a variety of fresh sausages from your local grocer.

Recipe courtesy of Egg Farmers of Ontario.

  • 2 tsp. (10 ml) canola oil
  • 2 mild or hot Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 4 green onions, whites and greens, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Cortland, Honey Crisp or Spartan apples, cored and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp (1 ml) fennel seeds, crushed (optional)
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. (45 ml) water
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

In a 12-inch (30 cm) non stick, oven proof skillet, heat 1 tsp. (5 ml) of oil over medium high heat and cook sausage, green onions and garlic, breaking up with a spoon, for 3 minutes. Stir in apple, fennel (if using) and nutmeg; cook, stirring for about 4 minutes or until sausage is no longer pink and apples are tender crisp. Scrape into a bowl; set aside. Return skillet to medium low heat and add remaining 1 tsp. (5 ml) oil.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, water and pepper. Pour into skillet and cook, stirring gently until eggs start to set. Place under broiler for 3 minutes or until eggs are completely set and puffed. Slide omelette onto a serving platter and spread sausage mixture on half of omelette. Fold remaining half over sausage filling to cover.

Serves 6.

Tips: To make your skillet ovenproof if the handle is wood or metal, wrap it in foil before using. Leave the skin on the apple for additional fibre and colour.

Baked Custard

I particularly love this recipe as it's fast, easy and you can play around with different ingredients, like adding a dash of brandy or port and a tablespoon of hot espresso to the scalded milk.

  • 1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) light cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar
  • Dash salt
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) pure vanilla
  • Dash nutmeg or cinnamon
  • Whipped cream
  • Fresh berries

Blend milk and cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave uncovered on high for about 3 minutes, or until milk starts to bubble around edges. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla until blended and smooth. Remove several tablespoons of hot milk and quickly blend into egg mixture. Quickly blend in milk. Divide custard into four custard cups or ceramic ramekins. Sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon.

Microwave uncovered at medium for 5 to 6 minutes. Centres will jiggle slightly when done, but will set when cooled. Let cool; refrigerate. Serve with whipped cream and fresh berries.

Serves 4.

 


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