Brunch: Poached eggs in bird’s nests, and grilled asparagus

This brunch looks complicated, but it’s actually quite quick and simple to pull together: You pack the kadaif noodles into bowls and stick them in the toaster, toss the asparagus (or vegetable of choice) into a pan to grill, and let the eggs boil for a minute or two in the meanwhile. Then you assemble it. That’s all.

As a bonus, it tastes good and looks nice — the nest comes out crunchy and buttery, and soaks up the liquid egg yolk. And fresh vegetables are (almost) always welcome.

I’m not listing precise quantities, because you’ll want to decide how many eggs you want to eat, how many nests you want to make to hold them, and how much vegetables you want to accompany it all. Plus, precision is not key here.

Kadaif bird’s nest bowls

1 package of kadaif noodles
1 bowl about 12 centimeters in diameter
tin foil
butter (or olive oil)

Line the bowl with tin foil. This is your mold. Pack the tin foil-lined bowl with kadaif noodles, leaving a well in the center — you want it to have a nest/bowl shape, and each nest should fit one or two poached eggs. Top the kadaif with slivers of butter (or olive oil, if you want this to be non-dairy), carefully remove the foil and kadaif from the bowl, and put the foil/kadaif in your toaster oven for 10-15 minutes, until the noodles are browned. Keep an eye on it to make sure they don’t burn.

Poached eggs

Egg(s), as many as you wish to make. Fresh is better

Heat water in a pot, with a splash of vinegar. The water should be hot, but not boiling — around 75 degrees Celsius or 160 Fahrenheit. Crack an egg into a bowl, and gently pour into the hot water. You’ll see tendrils curling off the egg, but most of the whites should stay close to the yolk. Let the egg cook for a minute or two, until the whites are set, and then fish the egg out of the pot with a slotted spoon. Sit it in a bowl until you’re ready to use it. Repeat with the rest of the eggs

Grilled asparagus

A handful of fresh asparagus, or another seasonal vegetable of your choice (I also used brussels sprouts; you could use green beans, too)
Olive oil
Coarse sea salt

Heat a grill pan (or regular frying pan, if you don’t have one). Break the asparagus in half and throw it and the other vegetables into the pan. All the vegetables should be in contact with the pan. Flip the vegetables once or twice, and remove once they’re bright green and lightly softened.

To assemble:

Put a bird’s nest on a plate and gently remove the foil from underneath. Slip a poached egg or two into the nest. Arrange some vegetables alongside. Drizzle them with olive oil. Sprinkle the salt on top of the vegetables and the eggs.

A note on poaching eggs:
There are a million and two methods for poaching eggs, each claiming to give you a perfect result without sending thin shards of egg whites all over your pot. I’ve found that the method that works best for me is keeping the water at less than boiling, and not trying to create a whirlpool in the pot (which supposedly keeps the whites in a compact ball). The egg settles at the bottom of the pot and comes out relatively flat, as opposed to round and restaurant-perfect, but the end result looks fine in my opinion. Serious Eats has more detailed instructions on this method.

Another way of doing it, which I imagine would give you a rounder poached egg, is wrapping it all in plastic wrap. I prefer not to heat my food in plastic, but if that doesn’t bother you, Not Quite Nigella offers instructions using that method.

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