It was my friend's birthday yesterday, and I made her a spiced chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting and a cherry-berry compote. While it turned out pretty nicely (I've had some very bad cake disasters in the past, so I approach special-occasion basking with a bit of trepidation), along with the noodles and calzone I'd also consumed earlier in the day, it was a bit of a carb excess.
So this morning I was trying to think up a good way to use the leftover compote, and all the usual recipes came to mind-- pancakes, waffles, shortbread, french toast, etcetera-- and nothing sound appetizing. Don't get me wrong, I'm a breakfast/brunch food fan, but this morning the idea of mixing up more flour and butter just seemed kind of... gross.
After searching up and down my very understocked fridge, I came up with a head of lettuce, some broccoli sprouts venturing near their expiration date, and eggs. And thus this salad was born.
Arguably one of the most important skills I've learned in college so far was self-taught-- how to make the perfect soft-boiled egg. Growing up, I never was an egg person, and I always preferred my eggs scrambled or in an omelette over their straight-up boiled cousins. I finally gained an appreciation for the boiled egg after marveling at the impeccable soft-boiled ones that ramen shops churn out to top their steaming noodle bowls.
Last fall I became convinced that I too could boil these exquisite specimens, and began boiling egg after egg in search of soft-boiled perfection: tender but fully cooked white, intact but creamy yolk. The eggs I remembered hating as a kid were either rubbery, with pale, greying yolks, or so runny that the white was still oozing and disintegrating on the plate. After many attempts, I've settled on a successful formula.
1) Bring water to a boil in a roomy pot on the stove. As water is heating, leave eggs out at room temperature to warm slightly.
2) When water is rapidly boiling, carefully lower eggs into water with a large metal spoon/spatula/pasta server, or whatever you have.
3) Let boil for 7-8 minutes (depends on your stove and your heat setting-- I keep my electric on medium). While boiling, grab a large bowl and fill it with cold water.
4) When the eggs are done, lift them out of the pot and place them in the cold water. Roll them around to cool. Crack, peel, eat. (Peeling them underwater in the bowl makes the shell come off much more easily.)
I'll admit that I've never been huge on salads-as-meals, but there's definitely something rather refreshing on eating a plateful of greens... and berries.