Breakfast # 7: Soft boiled egg with asparagus on toast

Penguin Books celebrated their 70th anniversary this year by publishing 70 adorable Pocket Penguins by a selection of some of their most well loved authors. Each book is unique, either especially written by the author for this auspicious occasion, or a selection of the author's past work. The authors ran the gamut from Albert Camus to Zadie Smith, George Orwell to Roald Dahl, Sigmund Freud to Anne Frank, Anton Chekov to India Knight. When the shipment arrived at the book store where I used to work, I razed the shelves and got around a dozen of the 70 being a lovely little piece called Something for the Weekend by Jamie Oliver.

The book is a small collection of some of his favorite recipes for "the weekend", a time spent with family and friends. This meal is taken from his "Brekkie" section (don't you just love that word?) and combines two of my favorite (not only for) breakfast foods: Bacon and Eggs...and not just any eggs...runny, soft boiled wonders! Runny is the only way for me with eggs...I get ornery if even the slightest bit of yolk starts to harden. The recipe also includes one of my favorite veggies: Asparagus. So I knew I was definitely having this for "brekkie".

I changed it slightly from the original to serve just one person (me!). The original recipe serves four.

Here we go:

Soft boiled egg with asparagus on toast
(adapted from Something for the Weekend by Jamie Oliver)

- 1 ripe tomato
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- 3 slices of bacon (Jamie suggests pancetta as well...sadly, I didn't have any on hand)
- 1 large egg (in the Philippines I always use extra large because the eggs here seem smaller)
- a bunch of asparagus spears (enough for you to eat in one serving, be generous, this is breakfast remember?)
- 1 slice of rustic bread (I used sourdough because, well, I like it, and it's what I had)
- a knob of butter

Here's what you do:

- Cut your tomato in half and place on a pan or roasting tray, cut side up. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Grill.
- When the tomato starts to color, lay your bacon slices beside it and continue grilling until the bacon is crisp and remove.
- While you are doing the above steps, you can start boiling some water for the egg. Place the egg and the asparagus in the boiling water for four minutes (check on the asparagus though, they may be ready before that if they are thin) then remove.
- Toast your bread.
- Toss the asparagus with butter to coat.
- Peel the egg (this was tricky...I felt the soft boiled egg was going to break apart in my hand! Cup it gently in your palm and speak kind words to it and everything should be fine).
- Get one half of the tomato and squash it into your toast.
- Arrange asparagus on toast that has been smothered with mushed tomato.
- Lay your bacon on top of the asparagus.
- Top the whole thing carefully with the egg.
- When you feel the egg is anchored somewhat securely, cut it open and let the luscious, runny yolk dribble down.
- Drizzle with some olive oil.

Then comes my favorite part of Jamie's recipes...the part where you "tuck in"! This was truly a woderfully hearty breakfast. The crispness and smokiness of the bacon was fantastic against the bright asparagus flavor, and the soft richness of the egg. The tomato on the bread also added a great touch (something like pan con tomate, a favorite of mine from Barcelona). I used the other tomato half as a garnish. I think it's enough to say that my plate was sparkling clean when I was done eating.

I like Jamie Oliver because he looks so endearingly rumpled and his dishes always sound so homey and nourishing. And, as I don't live in the UK, I still find words and phrases like, "brekkie", "tuck in", "puds", and "sarnie my stylie" quite adorable.

Note: You can also find Jamie's recipe here.