DIVINE DINING: Special birthday brunch for a special person
“There was a boy, a very strange, enchanted boy…” Wait, that’s not how this particular story goes. Let’s try that again:
There is a girl ... well, woman actually. A very strong, enchanted woman. She is oft to be found meditating in sun-dappled woods or cozying up with her beloved cats with a cup of tea on evenings when the sky pours rain. This strong, enchanted woman calls her Granny Virgie every single day, isn’t afraid to show up to church in a bright red dress and laughs with the wild abandon that is reserved for a truly Southern woman. Her life is one of unbridled independence, where, though she has many meaningful friendships, her strength is drawn instead from a deep well within herself. Those who are fortunate enough to be her friend find themselves drawing from that same yawning font when in her company. She is fiercely loyal, relentlessly seeks after wisdom and is hard working in the way a person can only be when they’ve found their calling in this life. She is Gina Eaves, my dear friend, and your Sanford Herald advertising director. Gina is to blame (or thank, depending on your perspective) for enticing me into this Divine Dining gig.
It just so happens that, as is wont to happen each year, Gina had a birthday. She selflessly celebrated her Granny Virgie’s birthday instead with a mass of family, but I wanted to cook her a little something special to celebrate. That something special took the form of tender asparagus bundles wrapped in prosciutto (Italian ham) and roasted to perfection, piled atop thick French bread toasted in olive oil, crowned with a perfect farm-fresh fried egg and generous shavings of nutty gruyere cheese. It was a feast worthy of a strong, enchanted woman on her birthday: my friend, Gina. I hope you’ll make it for a dear friend in your life.
10 thin asparagus spears, woodsy ends removed and sliced in 3-inch pieces
4 thin slices of prosciutto (in deli of grocery store), or ham, halved lengthwise
2 thick slices of fresh French bread
freshly shaved gruyere cheese (about 1/3 cup)
2 farm fresh eggs
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bundle 4-5 pieces of asparagus and wrap in prosciutto. Place seam side down on a baking sheet, about 1-inch apart. Drizzle with a touch of olive oil and season very lightly with salt and generously with pepper. Roast until asparagus is tender-crisp and prosciutto is crispy, about 10 minutes. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season bread with a little salt and pepper and toast in olive oil a few minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove and reserve to a plate. Add a little more olive oil if needed. Crack eggs into hot skillet, reducing to medium-low, and season with salt and pepper. Cook about a minute on the first side, then 30 seconds on the other, so you still have a runny yolk. Serve bread topped with asparagus bundles, fried egg and shaved gruyere. Break the yolk to create a gloriously rich sauce.
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The Rev. Whitney Wilkinson is pastor of Cameron Presbyterian Church.