Breakfast Egg Muffins

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Till recently breakfast has always been a ‘no-sweat’ effort for me. Even as a child going to a morning school that started from 7:45 and lasted till 1:45, almost all days me and my brother would either have a glass of milk and biscuits or cornflakes in the morning. And our ‘tiffin’ (lunch packs were then and even now called tiffin) would inevitably contain bread butter and sugar or bread butter with salt and pepper or bread and jam. We hardly ever complained; we were good kids to a working mom. There were some days when we would take Maggi, and later in high school my mom would also make some parathas with achar but those were rare. Of course weekends were special days when we would have puri sabji or noodles or idli etc but Bread was the most preferred snack. My friends would often bring different lunches and I would happily share my slices for some bites from someone else’s box. Now looking back I wonder how we never ever got bored of it.

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Breakfast was always the same all through my college and after that when I started working – Bread butter, milk and banana or any other fruit. It was always easy to prepare and quick to consume. When I got married and took over the kitchen duties I would cook a lot of variations for lunch and dinner but breakfast was something that I tried to keep simple. Work, here in US, starts pretty early (as compared to India) so I never really ventured into an elaborate morning meal. I would always tell myself that there was no point in elevating the expectation of my newly wedded husband. I replicated my earlier days and gave either bread butter with tea or cornflakes. Recently (since the last one and half years) I have tried to change the custom of “easy breakfast”. These days I consciously try to eat healthy food and adopt a healthy food habit. And I have realized that the first meal of the day needs to be the most significant one. So most of the days I try waking 15  minutes early to prepare both of us a filling breakfast and its one meal of the day that we religiously take on the dining table together. (Dinner is mostly on the couch in-front of the Television).

Usually I have a list of options that I choose from, depending on how much time I have in the morning. It could be either upma, poha, pancakes, stuffed omlettes  with butter toast or toast with scrambled eggs, all served with a warm cup of tea – and all prepared within the 15-20 mins timeframe. When I have even less time I go for toast and poached eggs or the age old option of butter toasts/cornflakes. Weekends will find me baking even for breakfasts or trying something new. Today’s post is on breakfast egg muffins that I made one Saturday morning just because I wanted to try something different. I had found this recipe and the pics looked so tempting that I had to try it out. The pictures sure did come out very nice.

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My honest feedback – Taste wise they were not as great as they looked. It was okay for something new or different but nothing that excited me. However I think its a great breakfast option for working people since you can prepare and freeze them. You can also use this as a ‘to-go’ snack and am sure the kids would love these variations.

I will really appreciate if anyone of you let me know your feedback if and when you prepare this.

There are a couple of ways to prepare this, and you can choose to add or reduce any no. of ingredients to this. I am providing a rough guideline – this is the way I made it, however feel free to be creative. Also I wanted to keep it healthy so avoided cheese but these will definitely taste much better if you can add some.

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Ingredients: (for 4 egg muffins) –

  • Bread slices – 4
  • Eggs – 4
  • Personalised toppings, cut into small pieces – Add any ingredient of your choice like onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, bacon, broccoli, cheese etc. I used only small pieces of onions, bell pepper and mushrooms.
  • Seasoning – Salt, Pepper powder, any other of your choice. I added some Cajun spice.
  • Butter or Oil – as required

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease the muffin pan / ramekins with some oil/butter; Alternatively use muffin liners or line it with a parchment paper (cut a circle slightly bigger than the diameter of the muffin cups and place it).
  • With a rolling pin flatten the bread slices slightly and with a cookie cutter (or use the rim of a glass) roughly cut the slices in rounds, almost 4-5 inches in diameter.
  • Cut each round in half, then press 2 halves into each muffin cup, overlapping slightly and making sure bread comes up to edge of cup. Use extra bread to patch any gaps. If you prefer brush the bread with some butter.
  • In a pan, add some oil or butter and lightly fry the onion, bell pepper and mushrooms (or any other topping of your choice) with salt, pepper and any other seasoning that you prefer. Once cooked distribute it equally onto the muffin cups lined with the bread slices.
  • Sprinkle some grated cheese of your choice. I skipped this step.
  • Next step is to add the eggs. You can do this in 3 different ways:

1. Crack the eggs into the muffin cups and sprinkle some salt,pepper, or any other seasoning of your choice. This is how it will look when done:

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2. Crack the eggs into the muffin cups, using a fork lightly break the yolk (inside the muffin cup) and let it spread.

3. Beat the egg with a tablespoon of milk in a separate bowl, sprinkle some seasoning and pour it into the muffin cups. This is how it will look when done:

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I made 4 muffins – 2 of option 1 and 2 of option 3.

  • Bake the muffins at 350 F for 7-10 mins or until the egg whites are set. Temperature and baking time may vary from oven to oven. Do not over cook the eggs or they will become rubbery. The muffins will continue to cook for sometime even when out of oven so keep that in mind. Mine took 7 mins to bake and then 5 more minutes to cool down. I prefer the yolk on the soft side than over cooked.
  • Once the muffins have cooled down, gently take them out by running a small knife around the cups. Serve immediately with tea/coffee/juice.

Storage:

You can make these muffins in batches and freeze them for later use. Let the muffins cool down completely and then wrap them and freeze in a zip-lock bag or a freezer bag. For reheating wrap in a paper towel and reheat in microwave.

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Baked Eggs with Spinach and Tomatoes

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I woke up last Saturday morning dreaming of food. A rare dream I must say since I do not – NEVER – dream of food. My dreams are usually adventurous ones.. or maybe romantic ones. But never food. So I am not sure whether it was a dream at all or not. It was 8:00 in the morning and that was pretty early for me considering our weekend standards. So I just grabbed my iPAD under the blanket trying not to wake up the sleepy-head next to me. I did not need to search long for the recipe. I knew what I wanted for breakfast, an elaborate one it would be.

The other day I had been checking the BBCGoodFood app on Google chrome and there it was on the featured recipe of the day – baked eggs with spinach and tomato. A quick glance ensured all the usual ingredients and nothing fancy about the process. So I decided to go for it and surprise Mr. B with an early breakfast.

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All ingredients were pretty handy and in no time I was put the pan in the oven. It felt so good to bake that early. Usually weekends are very relaxed with late breakfast and an even later lunch. It felt good to break the norm once in a while. Mr. B being a foodie that he is – and a person who can guess all ingredients of a dish just by the smell of it – could no longer remain in bed without knowing what was cooking in the kitchen. Needless to say we had a nice start to the day with toast, baked eggs with spinach and tomatoes, fruits and a cup of tea. Thanks to BBCGoodFood for the wonderful recipe. I just added a couple more things to it to give it my touch.

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Ingredients:

  • Spinach – 100 gms
  • Tomatoes – 2-3 medium sized, roughly chopped
  • Oil / Olive oil / Butter – to grease the pan
  • Garlic cloves – 2, finely chopped or crushed
  • Salt – to taste
  • Black pepper powder – to taste
  • Red Chilli Flakes – to taste
  • Eggs – 4 (I used only 3)
  • Shredded or grated Cheese (optional) – I used Shredded Mozzarella – Adjust amount to your preference
  • Milk / Cream (optional) – 1/2 cup approx (reduce the amount if you want to)
  • Any other seasoning (optional) – could be oregano or basil. I used a store-bought Italian seasoning

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Method:

You can either use one oven proof baking pan or container, or you can use two medium containers or four small containers or ramekins for this. Divide the ingredients and the eggs accordingly. I used the only available 9×9 baking dish (you can use a smaller size too) so I put all the ingredients in the same pan.

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Blanch the spinach first. This is how you do it – Boil water in a saucepan, add spinach to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain out the spinach in a colander and wash it under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and keep aside. Alternatively you can also put the spinach in a colander and pour hot boiling water on the leaves. Squeeze out the excess water and keep aside.
  3. Grease the baking dish with butter or olive oil or cooking oil.
  4. Place the blanched spinach as a first layer.
  5. Throw in chopped tomatoes to form the second layer.
  6. Sprinkle salt, pepper, chopped garlic and some cheese.
  7. Break the eggs (see the note below) on top of the spinach tomato layer. I used all four in one pan placing each egg on each corner of the dish. If using two containers, put two eggs in each of them; if using 4 break 1 egg in each.
  8. Add cream or milk (optional), top it off with some chilli flakes, some more cheese and any other seasoning of your choice.
  9. Bake it for about 15 – 20 minutes (mine took 18 minutes) till the eggs are cooked. Note: The baking time varies from oven to oven and how well cooked you prefer your eggs to be.
  10. Serve it immediately with some bread toast.

Note:

  • Do not beat the eggs.  Break them directly on to the baking dish.
  • Except adding the eggs you can prepare everything before hand and keep it sealed in the fridge the night before. Next day just add the eggs, top it with some cheese and  bake it. This works great if you are in a hurry.

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I am sending this recipe for the Bake Fest Event #21 hosted by AmritaVishal of Sweet ‘n’ Savory.

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Dim Posto – Eggs in Poppy paste

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A little about my Bong connection:

Probashi Bangali is what I like to call myself. Born and brought up in a small town of UP, I had never really understood the connection that all Bengalis feel with the city of joy. To me Kolkata, then called Calcutta, was my hometown-on-papers while in reality it was just the place where I spent the summer vacations and where all my relatives stayed. It was a place that always used to scare me in my childhood – the traffic… the pollution and the people…. everything. That used to be my connection with Kolkata. On being asked my preferred place for pursuing higher education (which was not to happen in the small town that I was living) Calcutta would figure at the bottom of my list.

I never had the understanding of the culture that we Bengalis are always so proudly boasting of. My parents tried to give me and my brother the most that they could. The bong traits in me resulted in me being a part of the school choir and other cultural groups, wearing glasses as early as in Class 4th (a permanent ornament for the Bongs – sorry for the typecast), developing a sweet-tooth and being what you may call a ‘good student’ (it was a commonly accepted notion amongst us that Bengali kids are the studious kinds). But that was where it ended. I hated Bengali food, could not bear the thought of having plain rice or fish or patla musur dal (lentil soup) or any curry which had sugar in it…. so while my brother was the mach-bhaat (fish and rice) types I was the roti-sabji one. I liked the thick dal with my rotis, loved any cuisine other than bengali and my meals were always accompanied with a fight with my mom for not having fish. I would wait long for everyone to leave the lunch table and then would quietly throw away the fish into the garbage when no one looked (something that I still feel guilty about). I remember me and my brother skipping the Bengali movies on Sunday afternoons on DD2 Bangla channel which my family loved to watch, except obviosuly the Gupi Baga series that even I loved. And though I danced to many a Rabindrasangeet I never really bonded with any of them. Infact I spoke Bengali so poorly that my relatives would make fun of my hindi mixed bengali language.

So somehow when I ended up being in Kolkata after high school (life has its own ways of surprising us!) my family was very – very – skeptical of how I might cope with the city life. And to be honest the first year I hated it terribly.

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Kolkata – the city of Joy
Image Courtesy : Bedabrata Chatterjee

Life changed for me. The first year when I was staying with my dida.. she made me eat all kinds of Bengali food… from Uchchey shedhdho (Boiled bittergourd) to Loitta mach (Bombay duck fish) to lau er payesh (a dessert made of bottle gourd) – names that I had never heard of. Since I was preparing for my entrance exams that year my only recreation used to be the evening bengali movies that I would watch with my dida… mostly the Uttam-Suchitra or Soumitro-Aparna Sen ones. I learned to travel in the crowded buses and packed local trains, and in that one year stint at Kalyani University a friend of mine taught me how to read and write the numbers in bengali so that I could read the bus numbers. At night when I would sleep next to my dida, she would recite poems to me – what we call ‘abritti’ in Bengali. That’s when I got introduced to ‘Korno Kunti Sombaad’ – one of my favorites – in my Dida’s emotion packed voice. My friends and other family members introduced me to other bengali movies and songs. Hostel life, when I finally joined LBC, was a different chapter altogether. The celebrated menu of any bengali meal – the fish – for which I would have so many fights with my mom – became the only edible food in the lunch menu. The crowded street with all kinds of queer people became my co-passengers. I learned to protect myself and even vocally fight back in many cases in the crowded buses and trains – something that the daily passengers of Kolkata will surely understand. The constant hustle-bustle of the big city became my companion whenever I would feel lonely. Eventually the town girl who was once not sure if she would survive in this city started thriving.

After years of alienating myself from Kolkata – gradually, unknowingly, unwillingly, I started falling in love with it. The city gave me love and joy and a few heartbreaks and tears too… but more importantly made me what I am today. I rose above my biases and opened my heart to the city with all its givings and misgivings and the city, as it does with everyone, embraced me and added a distinct imprint on my life.

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Image Courtesy : Bedabrata Chatterjee

I still love to call myself a probashi bangali instead of a true Bangali. My tastes have matured from Bollywood movies to foreign movies and yet I love to watch the mature Bengali movies of the recent years… While I listen to A.R. Rehman and Adele I also have a playlist of songs ranging from Anjan Dutta, Chandrabindoo to Lopamudra and the modern versions of Rabindra Sangeet…Old Uttam Suchitra movies hold more passion and romance than the current Ranbeer-Deepika movies… Though I am perfectly fine with the quiet and peaceful life of the US, there are times when I long for the traffic filled Bypass rides and the liveliness of the city life… While there is no place like New York city or Las Vegas, Victoria Memorial of Kolkata will always hold the memory of the most precious moment of my life… Comfort food ranges from dal bhaat aloo posto, rajma chawal to roti and mixed dal… While I still follow and prefer the North Indian style of cooking Indian meals, I have also come to love kosha pathar mangsho (Mutton curry) with mishti pulao (Rice), the slightly sweetend chanar dalna and I never forget to add a little sugar in my egg curries… While we both are still not crazy about fish, I have found  that cooking it little differently suits our palate better. I have tried to imbibe in me best of both the worlds and keep myself open and receptive to the wide world where there is so much more to experience and learn.

Coming to today’s recipe – it is an attempt to accolade my bengali roots that I have come to understand lately. And the one thing that I have realized about bengali cuisine is that given a chance Bongs would put every edible thing in a poppy seed paste with lots of green chillies, maybe add some mustard or coconut and come up with a heavenly dish…! For the countless egg lovers here is a simple Bengali preparation – Eggs in poppy seed paste – Dim Posto

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Ingredients:

  • Eggs – 4 hard boiled, shelled and halved
  • Potatoes – 2 small, cut lengthwise into quarters (optional)
  • Onions – 1 medium, thinly sliced
  • Green chillies – slit lengthwise,  5-6 or to taste. I usually dont use red chillies but you can.
  • Poppy seeds – 4 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds – 2 tbsp for paste (optional, can skip it)
  • Kalonji/Kalo Jeere/Nigella seeds – for tempering (optional).
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp and a little more for sprinkling on the eggs and potatoes.
  • Red chilli powder – to taste, if not using green chillies
  • Salt – to taste
  • Oil – as required. Preferrably mustard oil but I use white oil.
  • Water – as required
  • Chopped coriander leaves – for garnishing

Method:

  • Hard boil the eggs, once done keep aside and let them cool. De-shell and cut them into halves length wise. Sprinkle salt and turmeric and keep aside.
  • Boil the potatoes half done and keep aside.
  • Make a paste of poppy seeds, mustard seeds with salt and some water. I generally use the Sunrise mustard powder which I soak in 1-2 tbsp of water and salt for 15 mins. I grind the dry poppy seeds in a grinder and then soak it in water for 15 mins along with the mustard powder or sometimes separately.
  • Heat oil in a pan, fry the thinly sliced onions till browned, drain and keep aside.
  • Fry the eggs in the oil with the yellow side facing the pan and the white side up. That way the boiled yolk will not separate from the whites. Once done flip the eggs carefully and fry the white sides. Remove from the pan and keep aside.
  • In the same pan, add some more oil if required, heat it and temper with the kalonji / nigella seeds.
  • Add the half boiled potatoes with some salt and turmeric. Add green chillies and fry a while.
  • Next add the green poppy paste / poppy mustard seeds paste, salt to taste, red chilli powder (if using) and mix well.
  • Add some water – quantity according to the desired gravy – and let it come to a boil. This will not have too  much gravy so adjust the quantity accordingly.
  • Once the potatoes are completely cooked, check for salt and spice. Add salt / chillies accordingly.
  • Now you can add the eggs to the gravy and mix it carefully so that the yolk does not come out. Alternatively you can arrange the eggs on a serving dish with the yolk side up, and pour the gravy along with the potatoes on top of it.
  • Garnish with the fried onions and chopped coriander leaves.

Serve it immediately. This dish tastes best with plain rice when served immediately after cooking as on reheating the poppy paste gravy tends to dry up.

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Egg Shrimp Pie / Dim Chingri

I start this post with a fact that am not sure what to name this recipe. My dida (grand mom) found out this recipe in a cooking show and and after its huge success in the family, passed it on to me, my mom and many others. Probably I am the only one who finally tried it out, of course thanks to the whole day that I have to myself for such experiments and the constant want for some new food. So I named it according to my fancy but you can choose to give it a better name (and also let me know of the same please).

Ingredients:

  • Eggs – 4
  • Shrimp – 10 – 12
  • Onion – 1 medium sized
  • Tomato – 2 medium sized, boiled, peeled and chopped (refer to the method  given below)
  • Ginger – 2 inch piece, finely chopped or grated
  • Garlic – 5 cloves, finely chopped or grated
  • Green chillies – finely chopped to taste
  • Salt – to taste
  • Sugar – to taste
  • Garam Masala powder – 1 tsp (optional)
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Red chilli powder – to taste
  • Paprika powder/Kashmiri lal mirch – 1/2 tsp (optional)
  • Pepper powder – 1/2 tsp for garnishing (optional)
  • Dried Parsley or finely chopped coriander leaves – for garnishing
  • Oil

Note: You will need a non stick pan (atleast 9 inch) with a lid for the final dish, but you may choose to use any other cookware to fry and mix the ingredients. I used only the pan for the entire process.

Method:

  • Boil the whole tomatoes for a minute, peel the skin and roughly chop into small (1/2 inch or litlle less approx.) cubes.
  • Heat oil in a nonstick pan (or any other cookware).
  • Fry the shrimps with little salt and turmeric. Keep aside for later use.
  • Add oil if required in the pan; fry ginger and garlic for half a minute.
  • Then add the chopped onions and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the chopped boiled tomatoes and fry on medium flame without crushing them completely.
  • Add chopped green chillies, salt, sugar, turmeric powder, garam masala powder, red chilli powder, paprika powder, and mix well for almost 5 minutes.
  • If using a separate cookware for the frying, follow this step: At this stage, lightly grease the hot nonstick pan with oil or butter and transfer the masala / mixture on the  pan.
  • Spread the masala/mixture in the pan evenly into a uniform layer.
  • Break each egg onto the pan such that the yolk remains intact (same while making an egg poach) and each egg occupies a quarter of the pan. Try not to break the eggs too hard so that the yolk remains intact.
  • Sprinkle little salt and pepper on the eggs.
  • Place the fried shrimps on the eggs, preferrably at the intersection of the four eggs (so they form a ‘+’ shape). However I had some extra which I placed randomly.
  • Garnish it with some dried parsley or finely chopped coriander leaves.
  • Cover quickly and simmer for another 5 minutes till the eggs settle in.

Serving suggestion:

  • If using a non stick – use a spatula and gently lift one side of the pie and let the spatula slide under the entire pie. Gradually lift it entirely or let it slide into a serving plate.
  • Cut it into desired portions / quarters for serving. Ideally each receives a minimum of one egg with the hardened yolk.
  • Can be served with garlic/italian bread or with rice and dal or as a snack.

Egg Keema

Eggs – so popularly and frequently cooked in non-veg Indian households.  So in ours…

I always keep sufficient eggs in my stock, that way even if I have to cook for ourselves in a hurry we can have plain rice, dal and a omlette. When I have nothing else to cook or do not want to strain myself with too much of experiments in the kitchen, I make eggs. Ask my husband what he wants to eat – at any hour  – he would say ‘eggs’. Well.. I can tell you, if your husband or kids love eggs, nothing like that! Full of proteins, no hassles, and you can stock them beforehand. Add them to your noodles or Maggie and they are even more yummy!

As far as I am concerned, yes, I am fine with eggs. I am just fine! I have never treated them as special and just take them for granted. My favorite is chicken (though I have not yet mentioned any of the chicken recipes yet… they will follow soon). I not only love having chicken, but I also love cooking them. You can have so many different preparations… wow!

And probably that is the reason the other day I was looking for some nice egg recipes, should be easy to cook,tasty yet different. Not the usual way. And here is what I found – ‘Egg Keema’. Initially I was excited  – does this mean eggs and minced meat? No, it definitely does not, rather its minced eggs! I know I can try making minced meat and eggs some other day, but till then we are stuck with this recipe .

Here we go. Make it and am sure it will be a pleasant variation to have the minced eggs served with parathas. Bon Appétit !

Ingredients:

  • Eggs, hard-boiled  – 4 (peeled and grated/finely chopped)
  • Egg, hard-boiled – 1 (sliced) optional for garnishing
  • Bay Leaf – 1
  • Whole garam masala
    • Cinnamon Stick – 1 inch piece
    • Black Cardamom – 1
    • Green Cardamom – 2
    • Whole Cloves – 2
  • Onion – 1 large, finely chopped
  • Ginger – 2 tsp, minced
  • Garlic – 2 tsp, minced
  • Green Chilies – to taste, finely chopped
  • Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Red Chili Powder – to taste
  • Coriander Powder – 2 tsp
  • Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
  • Tomatoes –  1 large, finely chopped or puree
  • Salt – to taste
  • Green Peas, cooked or boiled – 1/2 cup (if using frozen soak in warm water for a minute and drain)
  • Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Oil –  1.5 Tbsp
  • Water – as required
  • Cilantro – finely chopped for garnishing

Method:

  • In a pan heat oil on medium heat.
  • Add bay leaf, cinnamon stick, black and green cardamom, cloves and stir .
  • Add onions and little salt, mix well, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Stir frequently.
  • Add ginger, garlic and mix well. Cover and cook till the onions  are browned and oil separates.
  • Add green chillies and tomatoes, mix well. Cover again and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently in between.
  • Uncover and cook for a while till the oil separates. From now on cook uncovered.
  • Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander and cumin powder. Stir well.
  • Add the grated eggs, salt to taste and a little water . Mix well.  Do not add excess water as this preparation is a dry one. The yolk absorbs water, so add accordingly.
  • Add cooked green peas and garam masala powder. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes, so that any excess moisture evaporates.
  • Serve hot, garnish with chopped cilantro.
  • Add sliced boiled eggs on top for garnishing though this is optional