Poached eggs on toast Poached eggs on toast Poached eggs on toast (Photo: Joe Gough/Shutterstock)

Poached eggs for breakfast

A quick and easy gourmet breakfast inspired by Julia Child.

Who doesn’t love Julia Child? Even when she goes on about foods congealed in aspic, I love her. Last night I sat around reading "From Julia Child’s Kitchen" and her treatise on poaching eggs, when I should have been doing energetic housewifely things or catching up on writing assignments.

A craving for a well-poached egg came over me. Tender egg white surrounding moist, yellow yolk, sprinkled with salt and pepper, topping buttered toast. OK, Julia-in-the-sky, I said. I’m going to poach me some eggs, your way.

Julia recommends piercing the egg first, with a pin, "to let air out of egg and keep shell from cracking." I had never seen the need for that because I was going to crack the raw egg’s shell anyway, but I was doing it her way, so I did it. I pierced two room-temperature eggs.

I was to poach no less than 4 eggs, in 2 quarts of boiling water, adding 1/3 cup vinegar … but couldn’t do it. I’m the only poached-egg eater in the house. I did two, with about 2 1/2 cups of water, and 1 tablespoon vinegar.

Water was boiling and a slotted spoon at the ready. Following instructions, I lowered the eggs in and counted 10 seconds – like Julia says: one thousand, two thousand, three thousand….not too fast. This is to heat up the whites inside so that they’ll keep their shape when cooking. Another thing I’d never done, but okay, I did it. Slipped the eggs out and placed them in a small bowl.

A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into the boiling water, then, as instructed, I held the eggs as close as possible to the liquid and broke them wide open. They went to the bottom. I turned the timer on for 4 minutes.

Poached eggsPoached eggs with onions and mushrooms (Photo: Miriam Kresh) 

It took me about 1 minute, while I was slicing sourdough bread for toast and putting it in the sandwich grill, to remember that there were mushrooms and onions in the house, and butter, and that those three things would taste really good with poached eggs on toast. Hurry, hurry! I chopped up half a small onion with a small handful of the fresh button mushrooms. A tablespoon of butter in the frying pan to melt and froth up. A quick sauté, seasoned with nothing more than salt and a few grinds of black pepper. The mushrooms were done at the same time the timer went off.

The eggs had floated free of the pan floor and were plumply good, although not perfectly oval. A little drippy in the center, which is how I like them. To have them cooked through, I would have simmered them one minute longer. Gently placed on the toast and with the mushrooms spooned over them, they were delicious.

To accompany the homey meal, a plebeian glass of milk.

Next time, I’ll boil an artichoke and place my poached egg on top before spooning hollandaise sauce over it all. And open a bottle of Chardonnay. Today, alone in my rather dark kitchen, still in pajamas and with the day ahead of me, this 5-minute breakfast was as gourmet as I wanted to get.

I’m ready for anything now.

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