Fresh Herbs and Brunch on the Patio

 My small herb garden

My small herb garden

It’s the height of summer and I’m home in New Mexico anticipating my return to Italy in just a few weeks. In the meantime, I’m enjoying my herb garden, my small backyard, cooking some of my favorite summer dishes, and entertaining friends and family.

Last week I had two friends over for brunch and some trip planning. I made a favorite brunch dish – herb-baked eggs with toast. I used fresh herbs from the garden, set a pretty table on the patio, and spent a lovely morning talking travel with friends.

My version of herb-baked eggs is adapted from an Ina Garten recipe. This is more of a French-inspired dish than an Italian one, but hey, I can’t serve frittata every time I have brunch company, can I? You can find Ina's original recipe in her Barefoot in Paris cookbook or just follow this link: https://barefootcontessa.com

 The table is set for brunch on the patio.

The table is set for brunch on the patio.

 Fresh herbs for the eggs

Fresh herbs for the eggs

I make a few changes to the original recipe, including substituting finely chopped chives (1/2 teaspoon) for the rosemary. I prefer the chive flavor and I find little bits of rosemary too tough for my taste. I increase the fresh thyme to ½ teaspoon and decrease the parsley to 1 teaspoon (too much parsley tastes like grass to me). I also find that the three eggs in the original recipe is too large a serving size, so I use just two eggs in each baking dish. One thing I don’t change – I always use the ½ tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of heavy cream called for in the original recipe. A touch decadent I know, but oh the flavor is worth it! Because I’m eating low carb these days, I also substitute a high-fiber whole wheat bread for the brioche (though in a perfect world I’d go for the brioche!).

 Here the eggs are added to the bubbly cream and butter mixture, sprinkled with the herbs and cheese, and are ready for the broiler.

Here the eggs are added to the bubbly cream and butter mixture, sprinkled with the herbs and cheese, and are ready for the broiler.

The key to success with this recipe (which is really quite easy) is having all the ingredients prepped before beginning to cook the eggs. It’s especially important to have the eggs cracked and in a dish ready to pour into the hot cream/butter mixture. You definitely don’t want to be breaking eggs at the last minute and you don’t want to use any broken yolks! Also be sure to chop those herbs really finely and use a good sea salt and fresh pepper.

 The herbs make the finished dish smell as good as it tastes!

The herbs make the finished dish smell as good as it tastes!

Trust me, your friends will rave about this dish. So invite some friends, fix brunch, and maybe plan a trip of your own.  I’ll be in Lucca in September and October and Judy will join me in mid-October. Want to meet us there?   Two Parts Italy has some Lucca events scheduled: a journaling workshop, a garden walk, and even some help settling into a rental apartment. We'd love to see you in Lucca!

For more information about traveling with us go to:     https://www.twopartsitaly.com/travel-with-us/                                                           -post by JB