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November 2006

Hugo Bordin's Mussels in White Wine and Creme Fraiche


Sometimes The New York Times can be such a tease. Why, you ask? Well, take this article that Julia Moskin wrote in August about the glories of the humble mussel.

I certainly need no prompting to sing the praises of a mussel. So tender, so sweet, so weirdly shaped and colored, so amenable to a myriad of flavors (white wine! shallots! tender tomatoes! basil! lemongrass! coconut milk! red curry! green curry!), so cheap, so plentiful. I mean, who has a problem with mussels (well, besides the Jews and the shellfish allergic).

Not me.

So when Julia wrote, in her article, about the way that Sam Hayward of Fore Street in Portland prepared his wood-roasted mussels and described this method as a "single-dish public relations campaign for the long-neglected mussel", furthermore noting that the dish was so good that "that diners have been known to order [it] two or three times in one sitting", I rubbed my greedy hands together and let my eyes jump to the recipe box. I couldn't wait to try it!

But, dear readers, it was not to be. Because Ms. Moskin hadn't printed Fore Street's mussel recipe. Oh no, instead she'd shared a recipe from 25-year old Hugo Bordin, a chef on Il de Re whose family has been fishing mussels (musseling mussels?) since before time began. Oh, sure, he's probably some expert and he's certainly got the lineage to prove it. But didn't Julia realize the pain she'd caused me?

All I wanted was to try the famous Fore Street mussels and short of getting myself to Portland (which, ahem, isn't exactly outside the realm of possibility, but never mind), it wasn't going to happen for me.

Dejectedly, I clipped the Il de Re'ian recipe and let it sit on my desk for a few months until, one Friday night, I found myself with a hankering for a quick shellfish dinner. I bought mussels, a bottle of Muscadet, a little tub of crème fraîche and put myself to work. Up until the mussels were steamed in their winy-oniony mussel-liquor bath, everything worked out just fine. But then I was instructed to remove the cooked mussels from the pan and reduce the liquid into a sauce. Which I started to do. And do. And do. Because have you ever tried reducing more than 2 cups of liquid into a sauce, quickly? Yeah. Didn't think so.

The recipe took a lot longer than the 20 minutes specified, but in its defense, the resulting soup was pretty good. Of course, the delicious soup didn't do much to warm up the mussels that had grown stone-cold waiting for their anointing liquid to reduce. So, I don't know. We ate our bowls of cold mussels and warmish soup and were happy enough, but something nagged at me. I didn't want Bordin's mussel recipe! I wanted Hayward's. The New York Times had whet my appetite and I resented being deterred from my one true goal.

But then.

I started typing up this post. Which meant I had to google Sam Hayward. Which brought me to a Food & Wine piece that Nancy Harmon Jenkins wrote on him. And, lo and behold, what did I find in that there piece?

You got it. The recipe.


It'd better be good!

Mussels in White Wine and Crème Fraîche
Yields 2 main course servings or 4 appetizer servings

4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
2 cups white wine
4 pounds mussels
3 tablespoons crème fraîche
Salt and pepper

1. In a wide skillet with a lid, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and shallot, and stir until very soft and beginning to turn gold, about 5 minutes; do not let them brown. Add thyme and bay leaf and stir. Add wine and 1 cup water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add mussels, cover, and cook until open, about 4 minutes.

2. Transfer mussels to serving bowls with a slotted spoon and boil liquid in the pan until reduced to a sauce. Turn off heat and whisk in crème fraîche and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over mussels and serve with crusty bread.

Trish Deseine's Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Mousse


You know times have changed when you get to the grocery store (and I'm not talking Balducci's or Whole Foods here) and realize, as you stand in the baking aisle, that they don't carry milk chocolate anymore. They've got semisweet and bittersweet, even the abomination that is white chocolate. But milk chocolate? O plebian masses, no.

I was mostly bemused by this discovery (after all, I haven't wanted a bar of milk chocolate since high school), but then also a little bit annoyed. Because it meant I'd have to do another one of those frantic runs around my neighborhood bodegas, looking for just one kindly soul who'd have a stack of  Symphony bars or, God willing, even some Lindt (some of those Korean deli owners really know their way around chocolate, people).

Having battled a skull-splitting migraine just an hour before I found myself pounding down 8th Avenue meant I couldn't afford to get worked up over the milk chocolate shortage. But I had friends coming for dinner and barely the requisite six hours that the dessert needed to cool and firm. Luckily for both my brain membrane and myself, I found milk chocolate across the street and fell upon the bars like a starving street urchin.

The recipe comes from Trish Deseine's book on caramel that Fanny at Foodbeam wrote about this summer, after which Christine Muhlke, at the New York Times Magazine, wrote a piece on caramel and reprinted Trish's recipe via Fanny. And now I give it on to you. From blogs to the mainstream media back to blogs again. Am I the only one tickled by this?

At home, I chopped those bars up roughly while sugar and water melted into a burnished brown liquid. Wearing oven mitts, I poured heavy cream, a wedge of good butter and a judicious pinch of salt into the caramel. But the instant I added the cream and butter, the caramel seized up, and a large lump of hardened caramel formed itself around my whisk and would not melt back into the caramel. I whisked the chocolate into the creamy caramel (and added even a bit more salt). The lump of hard caramel persisted on the whisk. I pried it off and set it in a saucer in the microwave to melt, but when I attempted to add that molten puddle back into the chocolate mixture, it only seized up again.

My words of advice to you? Who knows. Proceed with caution. I'm no caramel expert. Just keep breathing, deep cleansing breaths, if possible. They help. I promise. I whisked some egg yolks into the caramel, and then folded in a mountain of stiffly whipped egg whites. This lightened, ambrosially-smelling mixture got spooned into ramekins and set in the fridge to chill.

Hours later, after dinner, I set those little ramekins in front of my guests. Using enormous soup spoons (because while I now live with cutlery in my life, I don't necessarily always have the appropriate sizes), we spooned into the mousse. Well, the mousse wasn't so much of a mousse as it was a gooey, aerated mixture. I don't know if that's because I overbeat the egg whites into the caramel or if it's supposed to be that way, but it didn't really matter. Because the flavor was lovely, like a chocolate-dipped salted caramel that melted itself into your spoon.

This is a juvenile dessert, one that real sweet-teeth will flock to. I think I prefer the complexity of darker chocolate, and I wonder if this dessert would work with 70% chocolate rather than milk. But the warm, sugary tones of the milk chocolate in the mousse are part of the appeal here, so I'm not sure it should be fiddled with. Haven't we all wondered from time to time why Rolo's don't come in spoonable form?

Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Mousse
Serves 6

½ cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 ½ tablespoons good-quality salted butter (I used unsalted butter, and a quite healthy pinch of salt)
7 ounces milk chocolate, roughly chopped
3 eggs, separated

1. Combine the sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan. Do not stir. Cook over medium-high heat to a dark caramel, swirling as it begins to brown to distribute the sugar. Take off the heat and deglaze with the cream and butter. Add the chocolate, wait for a minute or two for it to melt and mix until smooth. Mix in the egg yolks.

2. Whisk the egg whites until they form firm peaks and then fold into the chocolate mixture. Divide between 6 4-ounce ramekins and chill for at least 6 hours.

Julie Powell's Garlic Soup with Poached Eggs


I'm surprised that it's taken me this long to get around to cooking something by Julie Powell (and thereby, of course, Julia Child). I probably don't need to introduce Julie to you lot, but just in case there's a poor soul among my readers who hasn't discovered the side-splitting misadventures of Julie Powell as she cooked her way through Every Single Recipe In Mastering The Art of French Cooking, then stop reading this right now and head on over to settle in for a long day of catch-up.

Several months ago, Julie wrote an article in the NY Times Magazine about a temporary separation she and her husband Eric endured, and the cooking she did in those lonely days to keep herself distracted and fed. Like many of her former bleaders who had read her blog so devotedly they started to think that Julie was a close personal friend, I found myself shocked - just shocked! - that her marriage to her husband was on the rocks. After all, Eric had been just as much a part of the Julie/Julia Project as anything else. He washed dishes selflessly, he made spicy Tex-Mex when neither of them could look at another stick of butter, and he brought Julie to her senses when she wallowed a bit too long in self-pity.

Why, then, would this seemingly perfectly matched pair feel the need to take a break? I couldn't imagine Julie without Eric, perhaps just as Julia couldn't be imagined without Paul. The separation was long over by the time the article went to press, and I felt palpable relief when Julie assured her readers that she and Eric were back together. But the melancholy that Julie described about being alone after a long period of, well, not being alone, stayed with me.

Last night, I was at home by myself, with little appetite to speak of and no energy for grocery shopping. I'd have to make dinner with what was left in the house, and it was precious little, I knew. (Well, there was a full jar of this ridiculous stuff that I brought back from Berlin, but I hadn't stooped to the point where that'd be acceptable for dinner. There have been nights when that would be the case, but last night it wasn't. Thank God.) When I spied Julie's soup recipe, I knew that'd have to be it

I filled a small pot with the requisite water and pinches of herbs and a spoonful of oil and before long the kitchen filled with a lushly aromatic scent. After the broth had steeped long enough, I drained the clear liquid into a clean pot and pressed all the creamy juice out of the garlic cloves, rendering the broth a milky white. The eggs I had were just two days old (fresh, fresh eggs are key here), and when I cracked them into the hot broth, the whites barely separated. After just a minute of poaching, I spooned the quivering egg and some broth into a bowl, grated Parmigiano on top and settled down to eat my one-bowl meal.

It was like the best-tasting medicine ever, medicine for heartbreak or disillusionment or depression or gluttony. It was warming and soothing, but nourishing, too. You know you're doing something good for your soul when you eat this soup. It wasn't necessarily pretty to look at (in fact, I hope you don't find the picture of that glowing orb of a yolk too gruesome - it was exceedingly difficult to photograph), but it had huge amounts of flavor. And maybe a little bit of magic, too.

Garlic Soup With Poached Eggs
Makes 6 servings

1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried sage
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
4 parsley sprigs
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 eggs, as needed
Chopped parsley, for garnish
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Crusty bread, optional

1. In a large saucepan, combine the garlic, salt, pepper, sage, thyme, bay leaf, parsley sprigs and olive oil. Add 2 quarts of water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil; then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

2. Pour through a fine-meshed strainer into a heatproof bowl, pressing on the garlic to squeeze out as much flavor into the broth as possible. Let cool and then transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until needed.

3. To prepare a serving for one, ladle about 1 1/3 cups of broth into a small saucepan. Place over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer. Carefully break an egg into the broth (do not break the yolk) and poach until the white is just set, about 1 ½ minutes. (It will continue to cook off the heat.) Transfer the egg to a soup bowl and pour the broth gently over it. Garnish with parsley and cheese. If desired, serve with crusty bread.

Florence Fabricant's Swiss Chard Timbales


After yet another weekend with no cooking (which included, however, a gorgeous wedding, a Coloradoan winter storm, and the delicious discovery of Chipotle - glory be!), I skipped blithely around the greenmarket yesterday, gathering up my ingredients for dinner. Don't you love it when you can bypass the store entirely? I do. I bought shiny, bright bunches of Swiss chard, aromatic bundles of gritty leeks, smooth, nut-brown eggs, and thick-cut bacon streaked with creamy white fat from Dines Farms.

I'd been meaning to make these timbales since Florence Fabricant first wrote about them a year ago, as a pairing with red Loire Valley wines, but something else always came first. This time around, I would not let myself be deterred. Be forewarned: an awful lot of prep work goes into making these. Washing chard and leeks alone takes a while. Then you have to dice chard stems and garlic, and chop chard leaves and leeks finely, not to mention whip egg whites and grease muffin tins. But it's satisfying kitchen work, especially if you have enough cutting boards.

And the smell that that wafts through your kitchen whilst making these? Worth every step.

After I had chopped and diced and softened and wilted and stirred, I had a bright green mixture redolent with fresh garlic and smoky bacon and that woodsy scent of chard. I stirred in some breadcrumbs and bright yellow yolks, then lightened the whole thing with creamily beaten egg whites. I spooned this delicate mixture into muffin tins (which, by the way, despite being oiled and crumbed, did not do a great job of releasing the cooked timbales) and baked them for 20 minutes.

While those cooked, I threw together Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce with butter and onion - this recipe alone makes the purchase of her book worthwhile - with diced tomatoes and let it simmer away. When the timbales were finished, I spooned some chunky sauce on each plate and arranged a few timbales on top. The bright chunks of diced tomatoes were the perfect foil to the timbales, which were delicate and hearty at the same time.

We ate our dinner quickly before running off to see Marie Antoinette (in case you're wondering? I was underwhelmed. Though now I think I have to read Antonia Fraser's book.) The timbales were fussy to prepare and not necessarily something I could do most nights of the week. And without the juicy sauce, they might have been a tad too dry. But as we ate them, they were tasty and different and certainly worth trying.

Swiss Chard Timbales
Yields 12 timbales

1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, preferably red-stemmed, well-rinsed
Butter or oil for greasing molds
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
3 ounces slab bacon, finely diced
1 cup finely chopped leeks
5 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs, separated
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

  1. Cut stems from Swiss chard. Finely chop stems and leaves separately.

  2. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease six 6-ounce or eight 4-ounce timbale molds or muffin tins (I used a regular 12-cup muffin tin). Use 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs to coat them.

  3. Place bacon in a heavy skillet over low heat. When it turns golden, add chard stems, leeks and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat until vegetables are tender but not brown. Transfer to a bowl.

  4. Add chopped Swiss chard leaves to skillet, increase heat to medium-high and cook until leaves are wilted. Add leaves to bowl. Mix in 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs and egg yolks. Beat whites until they hold peaks but are still creamy. Fold in. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

  5. Transfer mixture to prepared molds. Sprinkle remaining breadcrumbs on top. Bake 20 minutes. Unmold and serve hot.

Neelam Batra's Goan Coconut-Milk Pilaf


Jennifer Steinhauer's New York Times piece on cooking when you're moving house and attempting to use up the half-empty tins, bags, boxes and glasses of spices, rices and beans you've got lying about your pantry made me laugh. I've been in her shoes (haven't we all?) in my moves around this city. I may not have been going far, but from Manhattan to Brooklyn and back again, I certainly felt like emptying my pantry to streamline my spice cabinet and collection of oils, vinegars, and various other sundries was virtuous, if not practically mandatory.

When I saw that Steinhauer included a Goan recipe for coconut rice in her article, my eyes lit up. Since my January discover of Latin-styled coconut rice, I haven't been able to get enough. So I decided to serve the rice along with jalapeno-marinated sea bass (a true keeper in its own right) for dinner. But as I stood over the stove to make the rice, I wondered: would it supplant my beloved Raichlen coconut rice? Something in me couldn't bear it if it did.

Well, I needn't have worried. It's not that it was bad, it wasn't, really. The sizzling spices, the cooling coconut milk: I had high expectations. But the sum of all these parts was less than spectacular. I think the sweetish spices (which, once combined with the sauteed onion, were a sticky pain to cook) overwhelmed the dish, and made it too perfumed. I'm not quite sure what role the toasted coconut played: I couldn't detect those paltry two tablespoons amidst all that highly-flavored rice. Judicious amounts of salt helped tone it all down, but I found myself swallowing each mouthful with a bit of a frown on my face. Even Ben, my barometer for tastiness, had to be prodded to take seconds and that is a sign, in and of itself.

I wonder if cutting back the amounts of each spice, and adding some minced garlic to fry with the onion, some toasted, slivered almonds and twice as much toasted coconut at the end would result in a better dish? I'm not sure I'll try this again - not with the backlog of recipes I've got - but just in case there are some enterprising readers out there who want to take up the challenge, those would be my suggestions.

In any case, I'm going back to Old Faithful and counting this week as a disappointing one, foodwise. But never mind. Tomorrow, we're flying west for our final wedding (my sixth, if anyone's counting) of the year and I'll just have to be patient until next week. Better recipes are waiting to be found!

Goan Coconut-Milk Pilaf
Serves 6

2 tablespoons grated fresh coconut or shredded unsweetened dried coconut
1 to 2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 1-inch stick cinnamon
5 whole cloves
6 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed (or 1 heaping teaspoon ground cardamom)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 ½ cups basmati rice, sorted and washed
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon Goan vindaloo powder or garam masala
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

1. Dry-roast the coconut in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, but just barely darker in color, 1 to 2 minutes. Cool and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom pods and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onion (and ground cardamom, if using) and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Mix in rice, coconut milk, 1 ¾ cups water and salt and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan and cook until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish, mix in the coconut, vindaloo powder (or garam masala) and cilantro.

Celia Barbour's Beautiful Soup


A week in Berlin with my mother ensured that I got my requisite amount of fresh vegetables after being stuck, for the previous week, in a smoke-filled, sunless convention center where Wuerstchen and chocolate bars were the standard fare. But after returning from Berlin this past weekend, I've found that I'm still craving vegetables, especially ones that are transformed into silky, warm versions of themselves. Ah, fall. I'm so glad to see you.

While I was gone, quite a few appealing recipes were published - Garlic sausages with braised lentils! Monkfish-mussel-chorizo stew! Salted caramel mousses! - but for some reason I found myself gravitating towards this simple soup that Celia Barbour touted as her go-to winter fare. I left out the dill because I am not a fan of that feathery, frondy business: it always reminds of a traumatizing moment at the dinner table when I was a child and my father was going through an obsessive Hungarian phase, learning the language and the cuisine, and he made a veal stew that was flecked through and through with those fussy bits of dill and although, when I took a piece in my mouth, my throat just closed up and would not let that veal piece pass, my father insisted that I eat at least four pieces (like he made me do with Brussels sprouts, which I have to come to love, but the same just will not happen with dill, don't even try to convince me of it) and so I had to obey, with tears in my eyes, and yuck, by God, now that I am the master of my own domain, I will not eat the stuff, no way, no how, no sir.

But otherwise, I hacked and chopped and diced away at my pile of fall vegetables (though I have by no means mastered Knife Skills 101 and could care less, really, about the cubed uniformity of root vegetables in soups) and then cooked them into a shockingly bright mixture that miraculously didn't ruin a single article of clothing (I actually debated cooking with no top on, but decided against it... I do have roommates, after all). I put only half of the orange peel and orange juice in the soup, which was the right thing, for my palate at least - the soup is sweet enough with all those beets and tomatoes and butter. In fact, I think lemon juice might have been a better brightener.

Ben and I ate this for dinner (mine topped with plain yogurt, his unadorned) with toasted brown bread and found it a pleasing meal. It's wholesome and nourishing and that color certainly goes a long way towards the whole eating-with-your-eyes business. It won't go in my hall of fame of soups because it lacked something (beans? potatoes? parsley? I don't know) that would immortalize it. And that name, to be honest, sort of gets my goat. But it hit the spot last night, and that is, sometimes, enough.

Beautiful Soup
Yields 6 servings

6 tablespoons butter or 3 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped into ½-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 small beets, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
4 to 5 medium carrots, cut into ½- inch dice
4 stalks celery, cut into ½-inch pieces
½ medium celery root, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
¾ cup chopped dill
2 quarts beef or chicken stock
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sour cream, for garnish
Dark whole wheat sour bread or other hearty bread, for serving

1. Place flameproof casserole or other deep, wide pan over low heat and add butter or butter-oil mixture. When butter has melted, add onion and garlic; sauté until soft but not browned.

2. Increase heat to medium-high and add beets, carrots, celery, celery root and half the dill. Sauté, adjusting heat as needed, until vegetables have released their liquid, dried and start to turn golden but not brown, about 20 minutes.

3. Add stock and tomatoes with their juice, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until vegetables are soft, about 45 minutes. Add orange zest and juice, and remaining dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, ladle into bowls and top each with a dollop of sour cream. Serve with hunks of bread.

Daniel Patterson's Poached Scrambled Eggs


I hope you aren't too disappointed that I chose to break two weeks of silence by featuring the lowly scrambled egg. It's anti-climactic, I know. But after such a long absence from my kitchen, I had to ease my way back into it. Well, that, and the fact that I had no fresh milk (or soy) for breakfast this morning, so eggs it had to be.

In January, Daniel Patterson wrote an article in the New York Times Magazine about his new version for scrambling eggs in an attempt to skirt the usual trouble that eggs present when scrambled in stainless steel pans (mess), and the inevitable health issues that come up when you think about scrambling eggs in nonstick pans (death by deformity, or something).

I clipped this article, though the technique and the reasons for its creation did seem a bit ridiculous (since when has a chef balked at the mess a measly egg or two makes when scrambled in a regular pan?). And it took me 10 months to get around to trying the recipe out, which probably says something, too. This morning, though, it finally seemed like the right time. I needed breakfast and I had nothing else in the house.

So, I cracked two eggs (hardly fresh) into a fine sieve, let the "thin" albumen drain out, then transfered the thick albumen and yolks into a bowl, at which point I was instructed to beat them for 20 seconds. After bringing four inches of water to a boil, and lightly salting the water, I created a whirpool with a spoon, poured in the beaten eggs, put the top on, and counted another 20 seconds. I turned off the heat, removed the top, and voila! A stormcloud of scrambled eggs.

I gently drained the eggs, and then slid them onto a plate. Clean-up was swift and easy, yes, but the eggs? They had a delicate, trembly texture, which was lovely (and which you can sort of see in the picture above), but very little taste. Although I had drained the eggs and pressed on them to get more water out of them, they tasted much like hot, salty water. Oh, and olive oil. A disappointing breakfast (though I remedied that with the last of the frozen corn pancakes from the summer), to say the least.

The verdict is that I'd much rather deal with that irritating film that cooked eggs leave behind in a stainless steel pan (but have a pile of flavorful, creamy eggs to savor) than to have an antiseptically clean kitchen (post-cooking, no less!) and insipid eggs on my plate. And in other news? I'm so glad to be home again! I missed my bloggy blog and my dear readers. Hope you've all been well!

Poached Scrambled Eggs
Serves 2

4 large eggs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Crack each egg into a medium-mesh sieve (or narrow-slotted spoon), letting the thin white drain away. Transfer the remaining yolk and white to a small bowl. Beat the eggs vigorously with a fork for 20 seconds.

2. Set a medium saucepan filled with 4 inches of water over moderate heat. Put a strainer in the sink. When the water is at a low boil, add a few large pinches of salt, then stir in a clockwise direction to create a whirlpool. Pour the eggs into the moving water, cover the pot and count to 20.

3. Turn off the heat and uncover the pot. The eggs should be floating on the surface in ribbons. While holding back the eggs with a spoon, pour off most of the water over the strainer. Gently slide the eggs into the strainer and press them lightly to expel any excess liquid.

4. Scoop the eggs into bowls, drizzle with olive oil if desired and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Variations: Serve with butter; smoked paprika; piment d'Espelette; or a spoonful of crème fraîche and a dollop of caviar.