At Lottie + Doof we’re aware that the economy has fallen apart. Everyone is concerned about the future and we’re all trying to be frugal. This is the first in a three part series aimed at helping you save money while continuing to eat pretty fantastic food.
Eggs are the official protein of 2009, says me. Even the most expensive eggs you’ll find are cheaper than buying meat or tofu. So, start off by finding some organic, drug-free, cage-free eggs. The best you can find. Even better if they are from your farm, or your neighbor’s farm, or a local farmer’s market. You might try to argue with me and say that eggs are eggs, but I promise they are not. I normally buy good eggs, fresh, organic, drug-free, but over the holidays I was desperate for eggs for some cookies I was making and bought a dozen conventional eggs at a nearby market. I gasped when I cracked the first one open! Why were the yolks pastel yellow? I am used to bright, almost neon orange/yellow, yolks. Yolk color has been tied to the diet and health of the chicken and the general consensus it that the bolder the yolk color the better the egg. The chickens are eating healthier food. So, look for good eggs. Even in these tough times I think it is worth the extra dollar or two to buy better eggs. Once you have the perfect eggs, it is time for dinner.
I found this recipe for an omelette filled with mustard croutons and cheese and it sounded too good to pass up. I don’t have the patience or skill for an omelette, but I thought this could also work as a scramble. I slowly scrambled some eggs and at the end added some delicious mustardy croutons and shredded Gruyère. The resulting dish was pretty delicious. I served it with an herb salad in vinaigrette dressing and a bowl of oranges. A really good, and affordable, dinner for two.
Eggs with Gruyère and Dijon Mustard Croutons (Adapted from the Zuni Cafe cookbook, which is amazing)
- 3 ounces slightly stale, chewy, peasant-style bread, most of the crust removed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for eggs
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, lightly crushed
- freshly ground black pepper
- kosher salt
- 3/4 cup grated Gruyère
- 6 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Take the eggs out of the fridge.
Tear the bread into fluffy wads, about 3/4 inch and smaller. You’ll end up with about 2 1/2 cups.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, then remove from heat and whisk in the mustard, wine, mustard seeds, and lots of black pepper. Add the bread and toss well to coat. Salt to taste.
Spread the bread out on a sheet pan and toast for 10 minutes or until evenly browned on the outside and still chewy in the center. The smaller pieces will be totally crunchy and the larger pieces will still have a little chew left.
Scramble the eggs using your preferred method, just before the eggs set toss in the cheese and croutons and finish cooking. Serve immediately.
*** I used 3 whole eggs and 3 egg whites to make this a little healthier. I also added a tablespoon of milk to the eggs when I whisked them, which is what I always do for scrambled eggs. I also cook the eggs slowly over a very low flame. This recipe is easy to adapt to your tastes, I am sure that croutons could take on a variety of different seasonings and still be delicious.
January 14th, 2009 at 9:06 pm
Ah, Zuni. I accidentally had a $50 lunch there (and by accidentally, I mean I didn’t realize I was paying $50 for two hamburgers…). But they were pretty amazing, leading me to believe this recipe will be as well.
(By the by, Zuni also made headlines in SF recently for selling a “summer fruit plate” for $8, and the plate consisted only of one perfect peach. But I digress.)
January 15th, 2009 at 9:00 am
Nothing wrong with a good egg. This looks delicious!
January 15th, 2009 at 3:01 pm
love this- I just wrote about “How to Cook A Wolf” on my non food blog. I love eggs. I love this post. Merci.
January 15th, 2009 at 4:46 pm
I completely agree with your preference for pricier eggs. I will never go back to the cheap carton, the taste difference is unbelievable. This dish sounds tasty, I’m a big egg fan.
Daily Spud says:
January 15th, 2009 at 6:26 pm
Big egg fan here too and that sounds well tasty. I also do a scrambled egg that involves mustard seeds but has got more of an Asian thing going on, with ginger, fresh coriander, green onions and tomato in there too. Also well tasty :)
January 15th, 2009 at 9:06 pm
Hi Tim. I was so happy to see that you were writing about eggs. I love eggs from my head down to my legs and I’m not kidding. I eat AT LEAST one egg a day, hard boiled most of the time. With a little sea salt. It’s my yummy breakfast-in-my-office every morning.
January 18th, 2009 at 6:39 pm
My mom has a few egg-laying, happy hens on her farm a few hours from the city. It is such a treat to have fresh eggs to bake with!
January 30th, 2009 at 2:46 pm
I made this last night and it was so delicious. However, with the wine, and the gruyere, I don’t think it counts as frugal. Also, tofu is cheaper than local eggs ($2 compared to $4-5, where I live). I’d love to see recipes that involve simple ingredients and vegetables and herbs you can grow in your 2009 victory garden.
January 30th, 2009 at 3:05 pm
Glad you liked it, Lindsay! For me, I can get more servings out of a dozen eggs than I can a package of tofu and so that is how/why I made the cheaper claim. Perhaps my market is just over-priced too! And the recipe certainly isn’t the most frugal thing you can make, simply an alternative to some more costly protein sources like meat while still using more extravagant additions like the wine and cheese. More of an inspiration than anything else.
February 2nd, 2009 at 9:15 am
I love eggs! Where do you get your good eggs in Chicago? I try to get them at green city but now that it is winter I am getting the “free range eggs” that they sell at Treasure Island.
February 2nd, 2009 at 9:24 am
I’m still getting my eggs at Green City. They moved indoors but still have eggs! You just need to get there early. Alternately, I look for organic, free-range, cage-free etc. at Treasure Island, or Whole Foods or Chicago Green Grocer.
April 30th, 2009 at 8:04 am
You’re absolutely right about there being a huge difference in taste, appearance aside. You can tell when your first thought before you’re even done with one egg is that you want another. I was going to say though, that pasture-raised is the factor I take into account when buying them. Free-range and cage-free are deceiving terms, meaning that they get SOME access to the outside for a certain period of time. Pastured chickens are outside pretty much all the time, happily passing the time and eating grubs, which is a reason the eggs are so tasty.
May 1st, 2009 at 6:00 pm
Thanks, Sairis. Yeah, all of the food label terms are actually quite deceiving. I’ve never seen true free-range eggs in a Chicago grocery store although they are often available at farmers markets (but even then you should ask your farmer about the chickens). And truly, they are the best!