How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Closer to Heaven

I start this post with a stock photo of a microplane because I like to include a photo, but today's entry does not photograph well (as demonstrated by the vomitrotious photos on the original recipe page) and I cannot think of an excuse to include pop-culture icons as I did in my recent Ginger post. We have a microplane (a.k.a. little tiny cheese grater) because we used one at our friend Susan's house last year to grate horseradish and found it so very handy. It works well for the very small amount of very sharp cheese needed in the brunch dish I prepared for last night's dinner -- Antoinette's Eggs in Purgatory.

Pam found the recipe for us, and I prepped it while she was at her recorder rehearsal. Because the recipe calls for eggs to be cooked two different ways but not overcooked, I did not actually begin the cooking until our trusty hound alerted me that Pam was at the door. From that point, this took only a few minutes.

Although I found it difficult to discern what this would look like by reading the instructions,  is essentially a fried-egg pizza. Thankfully it bears no resemblance to the egg-pizza catastrophe currently offered by Papa Gino's, which I recently tried at a highway rest area.

Rather, this ends up being a crusty slice of buttered bread topped by a fried egg, a ricotta mixture, and red sauce, topped off with a bit of extra cheese and basil. The comments section on the recipe page includes the suggestion of salsa, which I think would not work as well as the marinara. This is an Italian dish that might resemble huevos rancheros, but I would suggest going all the way with one or the other, rather than hybridizing them.

The recipe calls for "imported provolone" cheese, which was unfamiliar to me; I only knew of the sliced variety in the deli section. Looking through the specialty cheese section of the local grocery, however, I was aided by a big black-and-white label on a small wedge of cheese that simply read


I figured it was the right stuff. It is great -- almost as hard as Parmesan and extremely sharp. Our basil recently died and our front-yard parsley is not in yet, so I bought a small plant of each in our produce section, and snipped off a few leaves. We had grocery-store cage-free eggs at home, though this would have been even better with the fresh, local eggs we usually have on hand. In no circumstances would I prepare this with "regular" eggs.

After reading the recipe a few times to see how simple it actually is, I followed it essentially as written. The recipe comes from a television program and includes a video link that promises to show how it is made. I tried to watch, but it is an entire episode of daytime television, and the quotient of vacuous banter to actual instruction is simply too high! I did watch just long enough to learn that competitor chef Antoinette named the recipe because others already had applied "heaven" and "hell" to egg dishes.

My only modifications were to use no added salt, along with unsalted butter. I only used salt called for in recipes if it is clearly part of baking chemistry; otherwise I know there is plenty in the other ingredients. Where it calls for an oven-safe pan, of course, I used our indispensable cast-iron skillet, to great effect.

Bottom line: On the flavor-nutrition-value-convenience trade-off matrix, this is an all-around winner. Delicious, nutritious, cheap, and easy. Just don't photograph it.

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