Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nothing New Under the Sunnyside Up

This is an old, old dish from my childhood. I thought I'd make some, and trot it out to jog your memory.
These are eggs cooked in bread that you cut (or tear) a yolk-sized hole out of. Did you eat these as a kid? What did you call them? I can't even remember what we called ours, but at some later point I learned the name Cowboy Eggs, and it stuck.
Any time you do something silly with food, like putting faces on it, or chopping the green beans into inch-long segments, kids are supposed to get over their usual avoidance, and give it a fair and square try. Especially if you give it a cool name.
And then you outgrow it. You eat beans at their natural length, and your toast intact.
But I wanted Cowboy Eggs. Cranky was not treated to this non-novelty growing up. Never encountered it. So the first time he tried to make some on his own, he cut a hole in the bread large enough to hold the entire egg.
Wrong, wrong, wrong! Unless, of course, that is they way you always had it. Results may vary.
This time he attained perfection, including the use of clever grown-up bread instead of those soggy white squares from the plastic bag.
The secret, we believe, was that the pan was a leetle hot, and the butter browned a bit. The bread toasted right in the pan, melding with the butter. Toast the first side, flip, drop the egg in the hole, and wait until the bottom of the bread gets toasty.
This was nothing like what you'd get from using a toaster and smearing the results with butter. Nope, you want that fusion in the pan. Intimate artistry.
And toast the pieces you tore out of the bread. You can pop them on top of the cooked eggs like a... cowboy hat!


auntjone said...

framed egg? never had it but that's what came to mind. i covet your photography skills.

musingegret said...

Mmmmm yes! Sometimes called 'Egg in the Hole' or "Egg in a Nest" or any number of names coined in family mythologies----near the end of the movie "Moonstruck" Olympia Dukakis is frying some up in a black castiron skillet with roasted peppers on the side.

I was on a kick 2 weeks ago and had to fix them 3 mornings straight on rye bread fried/toasted in a smidge of olive oil and butter (decadent!) with a squirt of sriracha (of course).

I think this post has resurrected my addiction---just when I thought it was sated. LOL

cookiecrumb said...

Auntjone: Framed egg is good; I like it.
You don't covet my photography skills; you covet my little Nikon Coolpix. It knows how to make everything look good!

Musingegret: Oh, or Egg in a Basket, I recall.
So, I think once or twice a week is fine, yes. I'm already hungry for another batch.
With sriracha? OMG.

MikeWas said...

I know these as "Hobo Eggs". The story was that a hobo lacking a proper skillet could cook these eggs on any flat surface because the eggs would be contained by the bread.

Haven't had these for some time ... breakfast tomorrow morning!

njskog said...

Well, I grew up calling them a less appetizing name -- toad in a hole!! By whatever name, they are delicious!

eatclosetohome said...

I've heard "toad in the hole" and "eggy in a basket."

Delish. And thanks for setting me straight on the size of the hole!

Greg said...


Zoomie said...

We called these Egg in a Frame when my Fairy Godson and I used to make them together. Happy memories of a cool little kid who enjoyed experiments in the kitchen. Now he's a cool big kid but no longer cooks.

Kailyn said...

Toad in a hole is what I've always called it.

cookiecrumb said...

MikeWas: That's such a great name, with the fanciful etymology. I might swipe it!

njskog: And you are not alone in that nomenclature. But I know toad in the hole as sausages baked in Yorkshire pudding, so I'd be confused from brekkie to supper. :)

ClosetoHome: "Eggy" in a basket. See, cute it up and the kids'll come running. Thanks. (You can make the hole any size you want, unless you'd be disturbing a childhood memory.)

Greg: No way! I haven't heard that one at all. Very cute.

Zoomie: That's about the most accurate name, description-wise. (See that, auntjone?) Sweet.

Kailyn: That's probably because we don't eat the sausage version of toad in the hole in the States. It's a fun name.

Sweet Bird said...

hmm...I just had this for breakfast yesterday morning. When I was a kid they called it "Toad in a Hole."

Also, we apparently have the same camera. Knowing this, I do applaud your photography skills - because it's not just the camera. Although, I may think poorly of my trusty Nikon at the moment because I have dropped it so many times that half the functions don't work and it's filled with sand.

Cyndi said...

I learned them as toad in the hole. Thanks for reminding me of a dish I can make in my trailer oven. We're currently east of you - northeast, maybe - over in Clio - near Graeagle - near Quincy, if any of those are familiar. Normally I'm about 8 hours south of you. Back to food talk - I think I'll get some rustic bread and try these - usually I just use thin sandwich wheat bread. Have you tried them grated cheese on top? Yum.

cookiecrumb said...

Sweet Bird: I was just looking at your ginger-orange dessert when the mail beeped. Hee.
Well, the scales are definitely tipping toward Toad in a Hole. Wait till the British commenters show up!!
(PS: Never drop your digital camera. This is a perfect excuse to buy a new one.)

cookiecrumb said...

Cyndi: (You slipped in.) Another vote for toad! Yes, this does sound like RV cooking at its finest (and I must be geographically retarded, because I didn't recognize any of those places). And when you mentioned cheese on top, I suddenly thought, no -- Marmite, then egg... Drool. Our bread was Semifreddi sweet batard, if you can find it. If not, wing it.

Kate said...

I heard egg in a hole, or toad in a hole. We used a small glass to cut the circle out of the bread, then toasted it in the pan along with everything else. Then we put it over the cooked egg when plated. I guess the idea was to peek under the round piece of toast and be "surprised" by the egg/toad. It was never a surprise, but it was sort of sweet nonetheless.

Your photo is droolworthy. Makes me want toad in a hole!

kudzu said...

Greg -- My dad called them Popeyes, too. My mother called them Egg in a Nest.....These weren't common in my family so they are memorable. I love the idea of cooking the circles (rings a bell) and making little caps for the toast. Very fanciful. I can see those circles -- maybe this was so as not to waste anything -- but we just used them to dip into the egg.

cook eat FRET said...

moon over miami
ate them all the time as a kid
still love them

peter said...

Good, but not as good as a chip butty, I'll wager. Now if you made a chip butty with two of these, why then you'd have something. And I would eat it for breakfast, I would.

cookiecrumb said...

Peter: Aren't you a fancy lad, Bert? All full of foam and smoke and ghost food from Alinea whilst us poor working blokes eat chip butty and eggs and stuff made from bread.

cookiecrumb said...

Kate: I'm reading a lot about using the glass to cut the circle. That would be a bigger hole than I remember, but still charming. (And it would be a neater hole.)

Kudzu: Eee! Popeyes again! That is so cool. We're still working on getting the yolk to come out "dippable." :D

ceFRET: OMG. Moon over Miami. So New York, in a way. Classy, but just dumpy, fun food.
Thanks for the Wiki link. I was over there too. Be sure to click on One Eyed Monster breakfast.

limoncello said...

Ohmygosh, I have pasteured eggs from Inverness, rosemary-Meyer lemon bread from della Fattoria, and bacon from Prather Ranch. Now THAT's what I call a "happy meal". I'm happy just thinking about it.

Cali said...

My grandmother made these for me when I was little and it was probably the first food I ever learned to cook for myself. Nana's were cooked over low heat using white sandwich bread, butter, salt and pepper. Hers were kind of soggy and the egg yolks were cooked too hard to dip much. I learned to pan toast the bread so it was crisp and cook them a bit hotter so that the white was cooked through but the yolk was still soft. And of course the hole (cut with a juice glass) was always toasted, too, and served covering the egg. When I made them for my son I used a heart shaped cookie cutter and once in a while he will now make them for me, complete with the heart shaped hole. Oh, and our family's name for them is "wink eye."

dancingmorganmouse said...

Moon eggs, but when my mum made it for me she always smashed the yolk and cooked it solid, you know me & egg blood.
NOT toad in the hole, that's snags in yorkshire pud - I can't believe you yanks don't eat that!
What about bubble & squeak? Tell me you eat bubble & squeak!

Kate said...

Cookiecrumb, we used the smallest diameter glass we had. Just a tad larger than a shot glass. But it's all good.

Kevin said...

Egg in a basket. I rrecall my frandfather making them - the only cooking he ever did besides BBQ.

The Spiteful Chef said...

I think this is a British thing. They're forever putting things in holes: toad in the hole, egg in the hole, etc.

denise said...

my favorite aunt used to make these for us. the name we used wasn't as creative as so many mentioned here in the comments section. we called them "egg-in-the-middle". this was the same aunt who whipped up egg whites and sugar for us (we called it whippy do!) and fried up slices of rye bread in bacon fat for an extra special treat.

cookiecrumb said...

Limoncello: We are indeed blessed to have the local bounty. Especially the della Fattoria bread. Have a nice meal.

Cali: What a story. I like that you moved away from the bad bread and overcooked yolk.
And then... the heart-shaped cutter. Must find one.

Mouse: You can cook the yolk however you must. I understand. I'm the type who removes the two strings from the egg white before I'll beat it.
Moon eggs. Sigh. You and your moon. xx
Now, bubble & squeak... that'd be, uh... Ah, yes, a patty made with leftover vegetables and mashed potatoes. No, we don't eat that. But I could try.

Kate: It's all good. Don't let me be a nag.

Kevin: That's the primary name Wikipedia uses for the genre. It's nice. And good on yer grandpa!

Spiteful: I know. Hole in the hole. I blame Chrissie Hynde.
Wait, she's a Yank.

Denise: I like that you made up your own name for them. All kids like these; good auntie.
But -- whippy do? That's awesome.

Spitzmaus said...

My southern [North Carolina] mama called 'em "Eggs in a Nest," as do I to this day. Alongside was either ham or sausage, the latter being in patty form (link sausages were reserved for "Pigs in a Blanket").

Ahhhh, nostalgia ...

mejane635 said...

We call it a "Hole in One" and use a small wine glass to cut the bread.

dancingmorganmouse said...

I suspect mum only called them moon eggs in an effort to get me to eat them :) Do try squeakers, tis carbo yum!

limoncello said...


Who can fail at a slice of bread, butter, a cast iron pan, and an egg? Li'l ol' Limoncello, that's who. Clearly, I need to get Cali over here.

Ick. The butter over browned. The bread burnt in some places and got soggy in the others. The yolk-sized hole was cute, but the white spilled over the top of the bread, rendering it soggy and preventing the egg from cooking. The bread continued to scorch on the other side til I gave up and...and...flipped the whole thing.
I need more ingredients. I can't make ANYTHING that is supposed to be perfect with fewer than five. Truly.

To make matters worse, the past weeks on this blog have totally unraveled at least 20 years of convincing myself that English cooking has moved on, so improved since the dark days of...well, English cooking. But it appears I also failed in disabusing myself of that notion.
*Sigh* Guess I'll just sit it out til fall.

cookiecrumb said...

Spitzmaus: "Eggs in a Nest" is so evocative. Like... unhatched eggs. But very sweet. Nostalgia tastes good, doesn't it?

MeJane: A wine glass would fit the whole egg, which our friend Limoncello should have done... You've got the right approach, I guess. Good. "Hole in One" -- me like.

Limoncello: I take the blame. We put a lid over the pan, briefly, to help cook the egg whites. Should have said so.
I like the little hole, but you probably get better results with a bigger one. Try again?
(Blog, please.)

Sam said...

When I next come to stay, I am ordering this for brekkie.

cookiecrumb said...

Sam: We don't have a guest room, but we will happily make you brekkie!

MC said...

These things have so many different names, I remember my friend introduced me to this and called it a "Pirate's Eye". It's so simple but really delicious actually

cookiecrumb said...

MC: Thanks for another contribution! This comments thread now has more names for it than Wikipedia. I love Pirate's Eye.

Kristin said...

I grew up eating these all the time. My mom taught me to make them when I was about 7. I remember making them for guests when they stayed at our house!
We call them "peekaboo eggs!"

grinntonic said...

do try it with your fav bagel!
I find the hole and the height make for the perfect space for the egg, and usually allow the whites to run thru and under the cut side of the bagel. Covering it helped the cooking, over low and slow heat. I used to make these for regulars at a cafe, and called it "eye of the tiger", for kicks, nothing nostalgic. :) -ccw

cookiecrumb said...

Kristin: Peekaboo is the cutest name.

Grin n Tonic: Bagel! Wow, that's just perfect. The height, the hole, the cut side down. Eye of the Tiger.

Adrian! Adrian!