01 February 2008

Bacon-Wrapped Baked Eggs with Cream Cheese Biscuits and Arugula

Bacon-Wrapped Baked Eggs with Cream Cheese Biscuits and Arugula (with title)
Although I really should, I don't eat breakfast. It's a bad habit I picked up in med school, when sometimes the best you can do is a granola bar or yogurt drink while walking to the hospital. It didn't really bother me as I don't have an appetite in the morning, but it got really bad when I had to assist an operation that lasted from 7AM to 4:30PM, and all I had was said tiny granola bar and water. It wouldn't have mattered, really, if only the surgeons didn't start dictating their lunch orders. Grr. Knowing me, I probably rushed to the nearest McDonald's immediately afterwards and pigged out on a quarter pounder. Right now, if I didn't spend the wee hours of the morning watching The/A Daily Show with Jon Stewart and designing stuff (PS: I hope the writer's strike ends soon, but that means no breakfast forever), I would wake up early for some beans and toast at least.
Cream Cheese Biscuits
So I thought I'd wake up at a decent, normal-person hour to make biscuits for the first time, but I failed again and ended up making a breakfasty lunch. The biscuits are something I conjured up from a mash of everything I've read about biscuits, plus the need to finish a half-package of cream cheese. The presentation is something I took from Bon Appetit magazine. The biscuits tasted and looked great, even though I FORGOT TO INCLUDE THE BAKING SODA. I have no idea why, but that should teach me to write stuff down. In any case, the rise was acceptable. The biscuits are ultra-moist and wonderful, if a bit on the salty side (the better to eat with jam, my dear) and something you must absolutely finish on the same day, since the next day, the moistness is gone and it's just... there. If I were to organize some fancy brunch, I would make these again... With jam, honey, or maple syrup on the side, just to be a bit more unhealthy but deadly delicious.

I do not know why all recipes for baked eggs call for 15-20 minutes. I don't like the yolks cooked all the way through (though I would understand health-wise why people would be concerned). These are my first baked eggs and I would definitely not bake them for as long as I did the next time, to make a more delicate and decadent dish.

Cream Cheese Biscuits

  • 280g (2 cups) all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached

  • 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 55g (4 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

  • 240g (1 cup) cold buttermilk, preferably low-fat (I used coddled milk, or 240g milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice, left to stand for 10 minutes)

  • 110g (4oz or 1/2 package) cream cheese, softened

  • additional 140g (1 cup) all-purpose flour

  • additional 30g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 260°C (500°F). Sprinkle a baking sheet with the additional all-purpose flour. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda until well-combined. Scatter the butter cubes and cream cheese evenly over the mixture and cut into it with a pastry blender or rub it in with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal (alternatively you can process it in a food processor, with 8 1-second pulses). Add the buttermilk and stir with a rubber spatula until just incorporated.

Working quickly with the wet dough, use a 1/4 cup (60mL) measure to scoop out level amounts of dough onto the prepared baking sheet. You should be able to make about 12 evenly-sized mounds. Dust the tops of the mounds with flour from the sheet. Pick up a mound of dough and gently shape into a rough ball, shake off the excess flour, and place in the prepared cake pan as photographed above. Brush the tops with melted butter, taking care not to flatten them. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 230°C (450°F) and continue to bake until deep golden, about 14 minutes. Cool in pan for 2 minutes, then take out of the pan and break apart (I sliced them cleanly with a knife), and cool for 5 more minutes.

Bacon-Wrapped Baked Eggs with Cream Cheese Biscuits
For a single serving, you will need:
  • 2-1/2 thick rashers of bacon

  • a half of a cream cheese biscuit

  • a small handful (about 20g or 3/4oz) of sharp cheddar cheese, grated

  • a small handful (about 20g or 3/4oz) of Gruyere cheese, grated

  • 1 large egg

  • minced fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Heat a large skillet over medium heat and fry the bacon for about 4 minutes or until brown but still pliable. Drain on paper towels. Reserve the bacon drippings. Line the sides of a 1-cup custard cup/ramekin with 2 slices of bacon, forming a collar. Place half a slice of bacon on the bottom. Place a biscuit half on the bottom, then sprinkle most of both cheeses over the top. Crack an egg in the center and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, thyme, and fresh-cracked black pepper. Bake until the egg whites are almost set, about 20 minutes (though I would definitely prefer it on the rarer side). Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Run a small knife around the edge of the cups, tilt on to the serving plate and slide the whole dish out.

Arugula with Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 60g (1/4 cup) balsamic vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings from the baked eggs above

  • 115g (4oz) arugula (rocket)

Whisk the vinegar, mustard, olive oil, and bacon dripping together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the arugula and toss lightly. Serve alongside the baked eggs.

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