My Nana could have eaten eggs and bacon for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mind you, she didn’t, as that would not have constituted a proper diet, but it was decidedly her favorite meal and aroused in her the same genuine joy and finger-licking enthusiasm morning after morning for 90 years. Any style of egg would do, but the best was scrambled and when done right, moist and soft, well that was what she called ambrosia.
No eggs were better than those served at the hotel’s daily breakfast buffet on our family trip to Prachatice, the small Czech town where my great grandfather (Nana’s father) was born. Of all the experiences on this pilgrimage, it was the tale of these eggs, (along with that of an eccentric tour guide at the Budweiser plant) which became the stuff of lore; quite fitting, given Nana’s innate love of a well-cooked egg (and a cold beer).
And it was no surprise that no matter how great the language barrier, Nana would not let such eggs pass without extracting a recipe from the hotel cook. A week’s worth of cringe-worthy (especially so for the teenage granddaughter) interviews proved sufficient to harvest the technique for the most creamy, softly curdled, and decidedly delicious eggs that the aficionado had ever tasted.
Meticulously gentle cooking was the secret. The eggs had been coddled over a bain marie, the steaming water bath used for such delicate tasks as tempering chocolate and emulsifying hollandaise sauce. And, elevating them to celestial status, the lightly whisked eggs never touched the scorching heat of a metal vessel, but were instead steamed within the silky walls of a porcelain bowl. The good news for us (and you) is that however highfalutin this method sounds, all it takes is a pot of boiling water and a cereal bowl. Now that’s a blessing!
Whisk 3 large eggs with a pinch of salt. In a heat-proof glass or porcelain bowl set over a steaming double boiler, melt 2 teaspoons butter. Add the eggs and let sit undisturbed for 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula, removing the cooked egg from the sides and bottom of the bowl. Repeat until all the eggs are scrambled, about 8 minutes.
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