One of my persistent fantasies involves opening a restaurant. Several friends have suggested I do this very thing, but I think it’ll remain firmly in the fantasy category for a while. Why? Because in my fantasy my restaurant always makes money. There are no cockroaches, rats or other vermin to deal with, the waitstaff always show up sober and on time, and there are never any dishes to clean. Also, my fantasy restaurant is a bakery/cafe/bar with a bowling alley and an ice cream stand.
Whenever Chicky and I discover a new dish/drink we love, we’ll say “this has to go on the menu.” And I’ll file it away, in case the market for a bakery/cafe/bar with a bowling alley and an ice cream stand ever materializes.
This is one of those recipes. I eat kale at least once (and often many more times) a week. And though I’ve braised it and roasted it and put it in stews, it had never occurred to me to cream it. If you liked creamed spinach, you will love creamed kale, which is like spinach’s sturdy big brother. Topped with an egg, dusted with a bit of cheese and baked, this is a dish elegant enough for brunch and hearty enough for dinner. I should know, I’ve served it for both.
You have some choices here. You can go dainty and pile the kale into individual ramekins, or you can go hearty and serve it family style in a casserole dish. Both are delicious. If you go with the ramekins, I’d suggest cooking the creamed kale a little longer in the pan and letting the sauce thicken up.
Regardless of your choice, when arranging the kale you want to make a little nest in which the egg yolk will lie. If you’re using ramekins, make sure the kale rises higher on the sides of the dish and has a shallow indentation. Otherwise the egg yolks are apt to slide around and settle along the side of the dish which makes them cook faster and isn’t as pretty. If going for the group serving, lay the kale out evenly in a casserole dish and then use a spoon to create little divots in which to rest the egg. One egg per person is fine, two if they eat like my sister.
Creamy kale and eggs
(adapted from Rachel Allen)
1 lb fresh kale, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup evaporated milk or cream
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 ounces grated cheese (cheddar is fine, something with truffles is decadent)
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 350.
Wash kale leaves, leaving some excess water on the leaves. Heat a large frying pan and when hot, add in kale. Cover and let the leaves steam for two minutes. Stir and continue cooking until the kale is wilted and tender, about five minutes. Season with salt and then add nutmeg and evaporated milk (or cream). Stir again and let the milk/cream cook down a bit.
Arrange kale in ramekins/casserole dish, creating an indentation in which to rest an egg yolk. Crack an egg and dump it into the kale nest. Top egg with a touch of sea salt, pepper and then sprinkle with cheese. Place dishes in oven and let the eggs bake until the white is all cooked and the cheese is melted and bubbly. This will take 10 to 15 minutes for individual ramekins, or 25 to 30 minutes for a casserole dish.