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Eggs and Spring!


IRELAND HOPPING | By Margaret M. Johnson

When I’m really stuck for a quick spring supper, I turn to eggs. Not fried, poached, or scrambled, but what the French call a tart or a quiche and what Italians call a frittata. While many use the terms quiche and tart interchangeably, the main difference, I’m told, is the amount of egg mixture that’s poured into the pastry base: a quiche uses more eggs, while a tart and a frittata use fewer eggs and generally more filling — think asparagus and spinach at this time of year. For a really quick quiche or tart supper, substitute a prepared piecrust for the pastry. Follow the directions for pre-baking the crust for custard pies and quiches and then follow the directions for filling.

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1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons cold water


4 tablespoons olive oil

2 large red onions, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 cup baby spinach leaves

1 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 cup crumbled Kerrygold Cashel Blue cheese

1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream

1 (8 ounce) container sour cream

2 large eggs

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Thyme sprigs for garnish

  1. Make pastry. Sift flour and salt into a food processor fitted. Add butter and pulse 8 to 10 times until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. With machine running, add egg yolk and just enough water to bring dough together.

  2. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and form dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

  3. Preheat oven to 400°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch round. Press into a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Fold in excess dough to form thick edges. Prick bottom with a fork and refrigerate for about 15 minutes.

  4. Cut a piece of foil or parchment to fit pan and top with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.

  5. Remove weights and parchment and bake for 10–15 minutes more, or until bottom is browned. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Reduce heat to 350°F.

  6. Make filling. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onions, thyme, and spinach and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until onions are soft but not browned. Add sugar and cook for 5 minutes. Add vinegar, stir, and remove from heat; let cool. Strain off excess liquid and spread onion-spinach mixture evenly over baked pastry. Sprinkle cheese over onions.

  7. In a medium bowl, whisk together cream, sour cream, eggs, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Pour over cheese and onions and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until top is golden and filling is set. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before cutting into wedges. Garnish with thyme sprigs.




Chef Neven Maguire, who turned his family’s rural restaurant into a national phenomenon, adds both thyme and sage to this simple bacon, eggs, and cheese dish. He counts it as one of the most popular dishes served at his MacNean House Restaurant, Blacklion, Co. Cavan, where he proudly uses only the finest local ingredients.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 medium onions, thinly sliced

6 slices Irish breakfast bacon, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

3 garlic cloves, crushed

Freshly ground pepper to taste

8 large eggs, beaten

1/2 cup grated Kerrygold Dubliner cheese

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and butter. Add onions and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes or until soft but not browned. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until onions caramelize.

  2. Stir bacon, thyme, and garlic into onions and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until bacon is lightly browned. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and season with pepper.

  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Add eggs, cheese, and sage to onion mixture.

  4. In a deep 9-inch ovenproof skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-low heat. Swirl to coat sides of pan. Pour in egg mixture and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the bottom is set. Transfer pan to oven and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until frittata is puffed and golden.

  5. Remove pan from oven, loosen sides with a spatula, and cut into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.



The Italian word “frittata” was originally a general term for cooking eggs in a skillet, anywhere from fried eggs to a conventional omelette. Unlike an omelette though, a frittata finishes cooking in the oven.

Girl with eggs, St. George’s Market. NITB

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

8 to 10 large mushrooms, such as portobello, white, and cremini, chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

8 large eggs, beaten

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Dash of Tabasco sauce

1 cup grated Dubliner cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat oil and butter. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until tender. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, mustard, and Tabasco. Stir in cheese and parsley. Pour mixture over mushrooms and stir gently to mix. Cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, or until bottom is set.

  3. Transfer skillet to oven and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, or until frittata is puffed and golden.

  4. Remove frittata from oven, loosen sides with a spatula, and cut into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page expands this year to “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, or to order a signed cookbook, visit www.irishcook.com.