Egg Asparagus Milanese & French Popovers

This morning I wanted to try something different for breakfast. I adore Italian foods. I adore French foods. So why not bring the two together, with a little American touches? This was so easy to prepare, although the kitchen was turned up-side-down in the process. I had never eaten popovers before let alone made them, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Recently I decided it was time to give popovers a try, so I picked up a popover pan at our favorite restaurant supply store. They were wonderful! As for the Egg Asparagus Milanese, this was also a first – first to cook it, first to eat it.  Everything was delicious beyond words. While it might not be a breakfast menu for every-day cooking, it is definitely something to serve on special occasions or just when you feel like something out of the ordinary.

The Egg Asparagus Milanese is a recipe I picked up from William-Sonoma. You know me, I made a few alterations, and it came out beautifully. The original recipe called for steamed asparagus. For years I’ve made steamed asparagus and topped them with a variety of different sauces in the hopes of getting my guy (our grandson) to eat them. It didn’t seem to matter how much I smothered the asparagus in sauces to mask the taste, he took one bite and said “nope”. About a month ago I came across a recipe that called for the asparagus to be seared with a little butter and a splash of fresh-squeezed lemon juice. My guy couldn’t get enough! He loved the smokey flavor searing the tips added. Now we skip the sauce (thank God!) and just enjoy the simple goodness of pan-seared asparagus. The lemon juice does impart a hint of flavor, but more importantly it brightens the green of the asparagus. Sometimes I add just a little minced roasted garlic to the pan, but only if the garlic isn’t going to compete with other foods.  Another change I made to the Egg Asparagus Milanese was to add onion rings.  I cut a large slice of onion for each egg, then fried the egg right inside the ring. This time around I used a sweet yellow onion. Next time I might try a red onion for added color.

The French Popovers are actually a combination of several different recipes. The basic recipe came from Martha Stewart. The technique came from several places. Once recipe said to warm the milk. Another said to warm the eggs. I decided to use Martha’s recipe, with warm milk and warm eggs. The splash of Almond Extract was my idea. The Almond Extract simply added another layer of flavor. The popovers can be served with honey, butter or a good quality fruit preserve. There’s a little farmer’s market along the delta that sells the most awesome jars of locally grown fruit preserves. Blackberry is my current favorite.

To round out the breakfast, I cooked up some yummy sage sausage patties.  And what breakfast would be complete without French Pressed coffee?  This morning’s pot was a cup of Jamaican Blue. Okay, I will confess, it was actually a Jamaican Blue Blend (haven’t found pure Jamaican Blue locally in years, but World Market does stock a blend).

French Popovers
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon Almond Extract (optional)

Place uncracked eggs in a bowl with hot water, warm for 10 minutes before cracking. Heat milk to lukewarm.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush a little Wilton’s Cake Release into each of the muffin tins. (Or lightly butter and flour the tins).

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter and Almond extract. Pour over flour mixture, and fold gently until just blended.

Fill the popover cups two-thirds to three-quarters full.

Transfer tin to oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees, and bake until well browned and crusty, about 20 minutes. Remove popovers from the oven, and unmold onto a rack. Puncture the sides with a sharp knife to let steam escape, and serve immediately.

Egg-Asparagus Milanese
1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 Lemon, juice only
4 large rings of an onion
4 tablespoons bacon drippings or oil
4 eggs
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 Shallot, minced
2 tablespoons panko crumbs

Cook The Asparagus:
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and roll gently to coat in butter. Squeeze half a lemon over the asparagus. Cook until lightly charred, rotating pan as needed to cook asparagus on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove from pan, keep warm until ready to serve.

Cook the Eggs:
While the asparagus is cooking, slice a large onion in half. From each half, slice two rings. Use the outermost rings to create 4 onion molds for the eggs, and set aside Finely mince the shallots and set aside.

In the same pan that the asparagus was cooked in, brown the onion rings on one side over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Turn rings, add a little bacon drippings or oil to the center of each onion ring. Carefully break the eggs into the rings in the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the whites and yolks are set, about 4 minutes. (If eggs aren’t quit set; cover with small lid to “steam” for a few minutes). Using a wide spatula, place 1 egg on each serving of asparagus.

Add the shallot and panko to the pan and sauté until the crumbs are golden, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle over the eggs and serve immediately.

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