On Sunday we had a few friends over for lunch. Among them was a shy 13 year old girl who came earlier than the others to help me get everything ready. I had planned a foolproof meal: tacos. I figured, it’s family style, you get to pick your toppings, it’s generally a crowd pleaser! My young friend looked wary as I brought out the assortment of toppings. Shredded lettuce, onion, diced tomatoes, yogurt, cilantro, shredded cheese, wedges of lime… She looked so uncertain of the whole thing I gave her first a little piece of tortilla to try. She liked it. Afterwards she helped me make the guacamole and I gave her a taste of that. She liked the guacamole. As she was heating up the spicy ground beef, she was feeling so comfortable as to request a taste of the mixture. Go for it! She really liked the ground beef, suggesting only that I add more spice. I was all to happy to comply! Finally the other guests had arrived and we were munching happily on our tacos. That is, all but one. My little friend was avoiding my eye and had barely pecked at the dainty taco she had put together. Mat had noticed too and asked her gently, “Do you not like it?” She replied simply and directly, “No.” My heart sank. But she liked every element of it! Why would she not like it all together? I had made these tacos especially because I thought she would find it fun! I was wrong. I asked her what she didn’t like and she said, “It’s different.”
The experience got me thinking about when I was her age. Did I ever react like that to a cuisine I wasn’t used to? Answer: You bet I did! My mind drifted to a memory of visiting my sister in Toronto. We were invited to have an authentic Ethiopian meal. I felt like I was being punished. The wet bread freaked me out. I could not master the technique of scooping various food items into the bread without spilling, which was totally embarrassing. I could not identify any of the strange and colorful items I was meant to be scooping up. The whole thing felt uncomfortable. Fast-forward years later to Montreal, and you know what one of my favorite food memories there is? An African restaurant located in Mont Royal, serving the most incredibly delicious injera with a platter of stewed meats, lentils and vegetables. The very thing I had grimaced about and found weird was now a thrilling and special culinary treat! This serves to show me that over time, our palate develops and our mental stomach hopefully becomes more open to trying new things. Maybe we would like it, if we could get out of our minds the idea that it is weird.
Which brings me to…the soft egg yolk. Another thing I once considered gross and now feel slapped in the face if I get a hard yolk. “What did I ever do to you?” I ask the egg. “You think I wanted this?” it replies, making a solid point. But I know I was not always a fan of a runny yolk. It took me time to come around to it. The years wasted on a firm yolk are my fault and mine alone. But come around I did, thanks in great part to my runny yolk loving husband. In an earlier post about traveling through Provence, I talked about how passionately the French love their sunny-side up eggs. In fact, I showed you this picture to demonstrate the adoration:
And you know what? It. Was. Delicious.
So what could be better to honor the soft yolk and it’s role at the breakfast table than a one-bite wonder featuring a gorgeous quail egg?
I suppose this is more of an assembling than a recipe. It is a simple stacking of your favorite breakfast elements. What are your favorite breakfast foods? Feel free to swap things out to suit your taste! Here is a stacking of some of mine:
Go ahead and fry off some strips of bacon. Drain on paper towel and break bacon strips into pieces. Generally, 1 strip will yield 4 bites.
Grab some slices of your favorite bread. I used brioche because I wanted a salty-sweet contrast, but if you prefer to go all-savory, no judgment here. Using a wide-rimmed shot glass, press the rim into the bread to make a perfect round bite-sized piece of bread!
Do the same with your favorite slice of cheese. I wanted cheddar, but could only get Emmental (Swiss). I know they have nothing in common other than that they are types of cheese, but to walk you through my process of selection would require a series of posts, so, suffice it to say… good enough!
Next we toast the bread rounds. Heat a pan over medium-low heat and place the bread rounds in the pan. Once lightly toasted on one side, flip over and place cheese rounds on top. Once toasted and cheese has started melting, turn off heat, cause they’re ready!
Now for the quail eggs! Ah the glorious quail eggs. Here’s how I open these delicate lovely eggs:
Fry them (it’ll be quick; they’re tiny!) and turn off heat. Don’t forget to sprinkle with a touch of salt.
Now we assemble! We start with the bread/cheese rounds, we add to that sliced tomatoes, (small ones, that fit in the rounds, that are bite-sized, that…OK you get it) a piece of the bacon, the beautiful, beautiful quail egg with that runny yolk, and garnish with some sliced scallion.
I know it might not look like a bite, but it’s such a teeny-tiny egg. Look!
Go ahead, try it! Don’t be scared…after all, you only have to take one bite.