Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fresh Backyard Eggs

Photo by Mark Wallheiser for the NY Times.

A recent article in the NY Times, Straight From the Home Coop, features the growing number of folks who are raising their own eggs and not only in the country but in the city.  There are a few folks here in Raleigh who have egg-laying chickens in their backyards. Unfortunately we aren't one of them. 

Our neighbor, Maggie, in Cape Breton has egg-laying chickens, and we can sometimes get fresh eggs from her when we are there.  And are those fresh eggs ever good!  The rooster crowing in the morning is an added benefit from my perspective.  What a wonderful sound to wake up to.  Here in Raleigh, and probably in most cities, roosters aren't permitted.

A new cookbook by Jennifer Trainer Thompson, The Fresh Egg Cookbook, has recipes featuring fresh eggs including one I tried recently.

MJ's Egg Casserole 
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar, lightly packed
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch cayenne
18 hard boiled eggs, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound bacon, cooked, drained of fat and crumbled
Toast, for serving.
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
2. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until it foams. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Lower the heat and slowly pour in the cream and milk. Heat until steaming, whisking often. Add the cheese and whisk until melted. Add the parsley, marjoram, thyme, garlic powder and cayenne.
3. In the prepared dish, make layers of egg slices, bacon and sauce, ending with sauce. Cover and bake 40 minutes. (To make ahead, refrigerate covered casserole overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before baking, and add 20 minutes to baking time.) Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving with hot toast.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings. 
Egg casserole.

Easter brunch.
We enjoyed this casserole for brunch on Easter morning.  I halved the recipe for the two of us.  It seems appropriate to celebrate Easter and other spring celebrations with eggs, because it is in the spring that backyard chickens begin laying again.  Their reproductive cycle is linked to daylight.

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