Spring Brunch from the Kitchen Garden: Shirred Eggs with Shiitake & Arugula …
Shirred Eggs with Homegrown Shiitake Mushrooms & Garden-Fresh Arugula
I’ve always been a breakfast person. French toast, waffles, eggs, potatoes, pancakes; I enjoy them all. Sometimes, in fact, I would like them all at once. Because of my love affair with breakfast foods, I have developed some pretty liberal ideas about when they should be served. Brunch is a great idea of course, but I also happen to think huevos rancheros make a fine dinner. And those restaurants with the round-the-clock breakfast menus? Those are some of my favorite places.
During the growing season, my work day usually starts before sunrise. I love the early hours, but they seem to go by too fast. Often, I’m juggling a couple of different jobs, scrambling to get things done here in the office or out in my garden, and running off to appointments with landscape design clients. I don’t have time to sit down for a leisurely morning meal. So when I have a free weekend or morning off, Â I treasure the opportunity to create an old fashioned breakfast or relaxing brunch. And at this time of year, I especially enjoy cooking with fresh, early-spring produce —mushrooms, arugula and fiddleheads— from the garden and surrounding forest.
Shiitake Mushrooms Emerging in the Woodland Garden at Ferncliff
The woodland mushroom garden began as a small experiment here, but has since blossomed into a full-blown production. There are so many mushrooms popping up right now, that it’s probably time to start selling them. Shiitake mushrooms are surprisingly easy to grow, and early-spring or autumn is the best time to begin a mushroom garden of your own. Wonderful when harvested fresh in spring and fall, shiitake can also be air-dried and stored for later use (soaked in water or wine they are easily reconstituted for use in myriad recipes; including soups, sauces, pasta and rice dishes). If you are interested in how shiitake are grown, travel back to last year’s post —by clicking here— for a step-by-step tutorial on the process. Of course, I have plenty of space for full-sized mushroom logs here. But if you enjoy cooking and eating mushrooms, growing them is within the realm of possibility for any gardener; even one with very little, or no outdoor space. Small, pre-inoculated mushroom logs can even be purchased online (in season) from retailers like Gardener’s Supply Company and Terrain. There’s nothing like the taste of fresh mushrooms, and with the cost gourmet food items like shiitake, it’s really worth your while to start growing your own!
After Great Success with the First Dozen Shiitake Logs – The Mushroom Garden Grew Again Last Fall
Another Favorite, Seasonal Crop: Ostrich Fern Fiddleheads (learn more about fiddleheads, and find a recipe for a fiddlehead omelette, by clicking here)
With a basket full of fresh shiitake and fiddleheads from the forest –and of course baby arugula from the kitchen garden— I had plenty of delicious produce for my late-morning breakfast today. I decided to save the fiddleheads for tomorrow’s omelette, and made shirred eggs with shiitake, arugula, cheddar cheese and cream. Shirred eggs —baked in ramekins or muffin tins— make a delicious meal; perfect for entertaining a crowd at brunch. And with Mother’s Day coming up next weekend, I thought I’d share this recipe and give you a chance to practice before you making it for company (once you taste this delicious combination of flavors, you will definitely want to share). Earthy shiitake have a wonderful, rich flavor that works well with the fresh zing of baby arugula. But if you don’t have access to your own or locally grown shiitake (yet) you can substitute a different mushroom or vegetable of choice . Have access to freshly foraged fiddleheads? Perhaps you’d like to try the Ferncliff Fiddlehead Omelette, which I featured last spring in this post ( click here ).
Shirred Eggs with Shiitake Mushrooms, Arugula, Cheese & Cream
An original recipe from my own kitchen
Ingredients (Makes 12, average muffin-tin sized baked eggs):
12Â Â Â Â Â Fresh, medium-sized, organic eggs
3Â Â Â Â Â Â Cups baby arugula leaves, freshly washed
3/4 Â Â Â Â Cup shiitake mushrooms washed & chopped into bite size pieces
3/4 Â Â Â Â Cup heavy cream (optional)
3/4 Â Â Â Â Cup cheddar cheese, grated
Softened butter for tins or ramekins
Fresh ground black pepper & salt to taste
Preheat oven to 325Â°Â Fahrenheit
Generously butter 12 ramekins or 12 regular size muffin tins. At bottom of each container, add one tablespoon chopped shiitake mushrooms, approximately one tablespoon baby arugula leaves (torn into bits if necessary) and 1/2 tablespoon of cheddar cheese. Pat ingredients to settle them in, and (optional) add one tablespoon of heavy cream. Carefully crack each egg over the top of the other ingredients. Place ramekins or muffin tins into the hot oven.
Bake at 325 F for 10 minutes or until the eggs are just starting to set. Remove from oven and sprinkle each egg with 1/2 tablespoon of cheese. Return to the heat for approximately 2 – 3 more minutes or until cheese is melted.
Meanwhile, arrange a nest of arugula greens on each plate.
Remove tins/ramekins from the oven and gently scoop each shirred egg from its container with a rubber spatula or large spoon (it helps to loosen each container around the edge with the tip of a rubber spatula or butter knife).Â Settle each egg atop a bed of greens and garnish with a few arugula leaves, freshly ground black pepper & salt to taste. Serve warm.
These shirred eggs are wonderful with a fresh-squeezed minneola mimosa (click here or on the photo below for recipe)
You may also enjoy the Ferncliff Fiddlehead Omelette (click here or on photo below for the recipe and more about fiddleheads)
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6 Replies to “Spring Brunch from the Kitchen Garden: Shirred Eggs with Shiitake & Arugula …”
So excited to try these recipes when spring is in full-swing here in Alaska!
I just picked what I think are fiddleheads, but when I got home and looked again at your picture, they look different. Yours don’t have any fuzz and mine are covered in light-tan fuzz. Do you know if they are okay to eat? Thanks!
@paspirit – Ostrich ferns –also known as fiddlehead ferns– have a brown papery coating around a smooth, shiny coil. These are the best ones for eating. They have an asparagus-like flavor. When I prep the Ostrich fern fiddleheads, I clean off the brown, papery bits and then blanch them for at least 7-10 minutes — up to 20 minutes. Cinnamon ferns have a fuzzy, whitish coating on the outside. These are also tasty, and frequently eaten. You can eat other ferns too, although not all are palatable. Also, be aware that all ferns contain a small amount of toxin. This is why you should blanch them, as I mention in the previous article, and you should always eat them in small quantities. Be safe and double check the ID anything you are going to eat. If, after comparing images online, you are still unsure, I would ask a local, experienced forager to make an ID for you. A small amount of any fern’s fiddlehead will not harm you, but as I say, some aren’t very tasty. Let me know what you discover. ;) Michaela
Wow, what a difference from one year to the next, eh? Last year Spring came on so fast and so hot – too cold and rainy this one. “Can’t win for losin’!”, as Grandma said… Ah well, “variety is the spice of life”, right? and “this (crappy weather) too shall pass”. (Picture me doing my best George Burns cigar waggle) “Ah, I gotta million of em! Nyu ha ha!” (sorry ; )
Fiddleheads I can find, no problem, but those beautiful mushrooms… I’m gonna have to find a local source of Shiitake logs ASAP, ’cause I’m really lovin’ the look of those beauties you’ve got there! Mm,mmm… and of course you’re making me taste all of these great dishes in my mind again. Thanks for the great shots. xo D
Well Mother’s Day brunch is now a done deal. My husbands 85 year old mother is coming for the weekend and the shirred eggs not only sound delicious but easy. Thank you again. I love your recipes almost as much as your gardening!!
Much obliged, Sarah
@ Sarah – I hope you enjoyed your weekend with your mother in-law. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments. I may not always get around to responding quickly at this time of year, but I always read your replies with great pleasure.
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