It is the season of gourmet breakfasts. As afternoons and evenings are turned over to the clamor and bustle of a restaurant kitchen and harried snatches of a midnight meal, the morning spread appears a peaceful, deliberate treasure.
This morning, I awoke early to see what pleasures a hungry riser might steal from the depths of the fridge. I began with quail eggs, an epicurean item by any measure. From there, I worked my way down; what began with tiny, speckled gold moved from a box of soft artisan cheese to a bunch of broccoli rabe to a pat of butter and finally to the utterly mundane: a slab of stale toast.
Nevertheless, it only took those first few finds to make a feast. I lit the stove, heated up a skillet, and dropped in a pat of butter to coat its cast iron flat. Next I spread a handful of the long, leafy broccoli rabe across the pan and covered it tightly to steam and sizzle. Stale bread became toast rounds, cut to the size of a tiny coaster and spread with a thimble of classic French cheese from Shy Brothers' Farm in Westport. With the rabe nearly tender, I pushed it to the side of the iron and cracked two quail eggs onto a layer of butter. In seconds, they were firming up, and I slid the over easy pair into a layered tower of toast and egg.
The rich, miniature yolk soaked down through the bread as I sliced and toppled the cheese laden spire. Broccoli rabe lent a bitter cut, while a few scattered strawberries sweetened the plate. Slowly, quietly, I sat back to enjoy the simple elegance of the meal, before giving way to the hurry of the day.
QUAIL EGGS, TOAST ROUNDS, AND RAPINI
In a heavy frying pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Spread 5-10 stalks broccoli rabe (rapini) across pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and let steam for 2-4 minutes. Push to side and add tiny dab of butter where eggs will cook; crack 2 quail eggs into pan and cook as desired.
Toast one piece stale bread and cut into two rounds slightly smaller than the size of the eggs in the pan. Spread each with 1/2 Hannahbell Classic French thimble or 1 teaspoon other soft cheese. Layer toast and eggs into two tier tower and serve alongside rapini and several strawberries.