Bird in a Nest, Edible Version

One thing I wish more people knew, especially people who have lived their lives on fast/takeout/restaurant food: cooking doesn't always have to mean making a giant involved recipe. Many people are unaware of the incredible amount of culinary satisfaction that can come with very little effort. Putting out freshly boiled corn, sliced tomatoes, and cucumbers in oil and vinegar is cooking. I consider a really good ham sandwich cooking (put pickles on it!).

Read a few cookbooks that appeal to you, make a few of the simplest dishes, and the whole process begins to grow on you. 

Or, that's the way it happened with me. Granted, I loved being in the kitchen when I was a kid, and started cooking for other people when I was in college. But I happen to know that even if you grow up in a family where cooking is not the absolute norm, or where no one cooks at all, that can change very quickly. 

For instance: doesn't this Bird in a Nest look delicious to you? It does to me, and I can say that without sounding like a braggart because I did not make it. I taught it to a close personal friend of mine, who is 9, and now she makes it herself, much better than I make it. Just look at that browned crust, the perfect amount of pepper. Aaahhh: Saturday morning breakfast. Add half a grapefruit, a smoothie: you're cooking with gas until lunchtime rolls around. This version looks especially good, I imagine, because this friend puts about a half a stick of butter in the pan before starting, but she can do that because she is slender as a piano leg--a graceful, lovely butterhound. She also took the picture. 

She loves food, and likes to help me cook about half the time. But her favorite dish is fried chicken fingers and ketchup, and you should never expect her to take it lying down if you try to serve "cooked oranges," as part of a pork tenderloin dish. I'm just trying to make sure you know that she is not one of those junior food snobs. Because I believe that if you took all the cuteness out of the world, what you'd have left over is a runty, mean little former boss of mine, and children who say things  like "chevre," "aged balsamic vinegar" and "sous vide." 

It's not, of course, a recipe at all. It's just our breakfast. You need a slice of your favorite bread (we like rye), a fresh organic egg, some butter, sea salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Using a small biscuit cutter or small glass, cut a hole in the bread, saving the bread from the hole as the little round hat. 
  2. Melt butter in a medium nonstick skillet, over medium high heat. Place the bread and the bread hat in the pan and let each get toasty brown on one side, then the other, moving them around in the pan so that each side gets buttery. Turn down the heat to medium low. 
  3.  Crack the egg into a coffee cup, being careful not to break the yolk. Once the pan has cooled down a bit, gently pour the egg into the hole. You want it to cook slowly, so it doesn't get that horrible leathery coating. When the egg white has become firm and halfway opaque,  salt and pepper it, then flip it. For over-easy, cook for barely a minute more. You'll have to use a spatula to get it out of the pan; once you do, flip it over on the plate and serve, topped with the hat, which you can use to dip into the yellow. Practice makes perfect. 


  1. Yay!! As a child of an Italian-American household, this pleases me enormously. I remember when Olympia Dukakis' character made it in Moonstruck. I was about 13 and I remember turning to my mom and grabbing her arm in disbelief that someone put it in a movie.

  2. I love that movie, and I love that egg scene! And the one at the end of Big Night, where the busboy scrambles eggs for his boss in silence and then they eat in silence.

    Even pretend eggs are good.

  3. I have boys, so we call it Toad in a Hole.

  4. HA! We call it Egg in a Hole. It's one of our favorites and all four of my kids love it. And when we're out of bread we'll have Egg in a Tortilla Hole instead. And we use all different cookie cutters for big effect.

  5. ". . . worth two in the bush!" A great way to start the day! S.R.E. can teach me on her next visit.

  6. Oh, we'll have to try this. Thank you, Emily.

    The kiddo here likes pineapple but was utterly appalled when I grilled it once.

  7. Hi, Susan! Tell me how the kiddo likes it when you try it. I love cooked pineapple. But cooked fruit in general (except in pie) doesn't seem to fly around here. I did amazing baked bananas, with raspberry and brown sugar at end, broiled to make brown sugar crunchy and brown.