So, what was I supposed to do when I received a box of dried mushrooms from Marx Foods in order to participate in their Blogger Mushroom Recipe Challenge??? (The Challenge involves creating a recipe, posting it, waiting to hear if it's been chosen as a finalist, then begging everyone to vote for it if it's been selected.) My goal, pure and simple, was to make something that Jeremy and Tom might take a bite of without then grabbing their throats, gagging, and pretending that they were about to keel over and die.
A wide variety of ideas meandered through my brain. I fixated for quite some time on a combination of mushrooms and figs: a sauce of fig jam with sauteed mushrooms, served over chicken or steak? A savory bread pudding with sauteed mushrooms, with dollops of fig jam swirled throughout and topped with a good Swiss or Parmesan? This notion is still calling to me, so stay tuned for further experiments.
And then the project veered towards something more familiar, a tweaking of comfort food. Meatloaf, perhaps? It's a favorite of both my "boys". But then my fevered brain went into overdrive again: mushroom gravy? marinara sauce with mushrooms? mix mushrooms into the ground beef, or combine them with cheese for an ooey gooey filling? Too many options, too many ideas, too little direction.
Then on Thursday morning, I read a New York Times article about food in Bilbao, Spain. Apparently "chef Eneko Atxa, who trained with Martin Berasategui, delivers a jolt: a 'reverse egg,' a yolk whose interior has been replaced with black truffle."
And that led to an epiphany: take out the yolk of a fried egg, replace it with a mushroom mixture of some sort, and create a yellow-ish sauce with the yolks to pour over the lump of mushrooms to resemble a yolk. It started to come together ... bacon, of course ... good cheddar ... toast ... possibly hash browns. I just needed to quit my job and rush off to cook. But alas, I had to wait until I got home despite enthusiasm and creativity swirling through me.
I soaked the porcini mushrooms until they were tender. I separated the eggs. I grated cheese. I chopped onions and bacon. I used up a lot of dishes and saucepans as I tinkered and tweaked, which precluded having any available space to make hash browns (though I definitely support Tom's idea to serve this on potatoes). I toasted some rye bread. And there it was -- my idea having come to fruition.
I plated the dish and brought it to Jeremy; Tom was at home that evening, so he wasn't available to be a co-guinea pig. Much to his credit, Jeremy didn't wrinkle his nose or roll his eyes at the presentation. And he didn't just sniff and nibble and refuse my offering.
He cut the egg in half and said that he thought it would be good to plop the egg onto the bread to make an open-faced sandwich.
And then he opened wide and bit in, as I waited anxiously for some semblance of a positive response ... or at least a polite and courteous negative response. In all honesty, I was waiting for him to start an Oscar-worthy performance as he retched and gasped for his last breath, accusing me of poisoning him.
But to my surprise -- actually, to my utter shock and amazement! -- this is what Jeremy said to me (edited slightly for a family-friendly audience):
"You know you're not getting any of this, don't you? This is f***ing DELICIOUS!!!"So, there you have it -- my son's rousing and whole-hearted endorsement of a food he normally loathes and rejects. Mushrooms ... my son ate mushrooms. And he enjoyed them. He loved them! He refused to share them! And he devoured every morsel on his plate ... after eating a sandwich, no less. Jeremy was determined that we would have no mushroom left behind.
The recipe is going to seem more complicated than it actually is -- it's really very easy to put together. Whether you serve it for breakfast, for a light lunch or a supper is up to you. But do serve it. Either you'll be rewarding those who love mushrooms already, or you'll be converting those who don't realize that they do ....
Fried Eggs with Bacon and Mushrooms in Cheese Sauce
1 1/2-ounce packet Marx Foods dried Porcini mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
3 strips bacon, chopped fine
1/2 small red onion, chopped fine
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
pinch of kosher salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup skim milk
4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded orange cheddar cheese
4 slices caraway rye toast, buttered, each slice halved
Break up the dried mushrooms and place them into a bowl.
Cover with the boiling water and let rest for 30 minutes.
Place the butter into a small saucepan and melt it over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until well combined, then whisk in the seasoned salt, salt and pepper.
Slowly whisk in the milk and the egg yolks until smooth, and bring just to a boil.
Lower heat to simmer, then whisk in the cheeses until smooth and thickened. Keep warm, stirring occasionally.
Drain and finely chop the mushrooms.
In a large skillet, saute the bacon for 2-3 minutes. Add the onion and saute for another 2-3 minutes, until the onions are tender. Add the mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes; place mixture into a small bowl and set aside.
In the same skillet, carefully place the egg whites so that they don't touch each other; it's easiest to do this 2 at a time.
Cook just until the outer portion is set but the center is still soft; place 1/4 cup of the bacon mixture over the center of each egg white.
Cook for 1 minute, then place one bacon-topped egg white onto each of 4 plates. Spoon a scant 1/3 cup of sauce over the mushroom mixture, to resemble the yolk of a fried egg. Drizzle any excess sauce around the plates once the eggs are ready.
Serve immediately, with toast. And if you have both the time and the inclination, placing the egg over some nice crispy hash browns would likely be a perfect touch.