Recreating Duke’s: Avocado Toast with Poached Egg

There is this restaurant called Duke’s Grocery a few blocks down from us that both Husband and I love.  We love it so much, in fact, that we once waited almost 2 hours (!!!) for a table for four at brunch.  (I will note this was only acceptable because they also serve bottomless Bloody Mary’s and mimosas for $15.  One Bloody Mary is $8.  Obviously, there is significant positive marginal utility to me, the consumer & lover of all things spicy, horseradish-y, and salty, in this construct).

According to the Husband, there is really only one problem with this restaurant (other than the sometimes interminable wait): they do not serve french fries with their completely epic burger.  We are talking TWO (thin, because what are you, a glutton??) patties of perfectly cooked Angus beef, smoky Gouda cheese, caramelized red onions, a sweet chili sauce, garlicky mayo…I could go on.  Last time we were here, the Husband rectified the lack-of-starch-issue by ordering a second burger.  (Again, bottomless drinks cost $15 and we had waited almost two hours.)

Saturday morning, though, we waltzed right in, and ordered the usual.  Burger for him, avocado toast with poached egg for me.  And then Sunday morning, it hit me.  I had the celery, the horseradish, the tomato juice, the vodka, the sriracha.  That’s bottomless for $0.  I also had a perfectly ripe avocado, eggs, and some spinach to use up.  One epic brunch, coming my way.

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Avocado Toast with Poached Egg (inspired by Duke’s)

  • multigrain toast or English muffin
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 2 eggs
    • to poach: water, vinegar
  • about a tablespoon or two of cream cheese (once you go jalapeno, you never go back)
  • arugula or spinach
  • s&p
  1. Bring a small but deep pot to boil.  Add about a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of vinegar to the pot, reduce the heat until the water only bubbles slightly.  Carefully crack one egg and slide it into the water; repeat with second egg.  Cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until the egg white firms up around the yolk.  Remove (gently!) with a slotted spoon.
  2. As your eggs cook, toast your bread.  Spread with a bit of cream cheese, top with a few slices of avocado and a bit of arugula or spinach.
  3. Top with the poached eggs and sprinkle some cracked salt and pepper over the top.  Serve with a Bloody Mary and wish every day were the weekend.

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The Verdict:

I think poached eggs are a bit of a skill – I get them right about 65% of the time (honestly, who wants an overcooked egg yolk, YUCK)…but I swear to goodness, this was 98% as good as my Duke’s breakfast the day previously.  The chief difference, of course, being that at home, I have to wash my own dishes (my chief dishwasher, aka Husband, wasn’t awake yet).

Breakfast Chez Nous: Bagel, Tomato and Cream Cheese Casserole

The Husband and I hosted the beaux-parents (that’s the in-laws, but in French it sounds less contractual and more like a relationship that was entered into lovingly) this weekend for a few days of eating, drinking, and Hoyas hoops watching.

We also exchanged Christmas gifts, and Hubs and I received Jawbone bracelets to track our movement – but that’s another story, since it doesn’t go too well with the theme of eating and drinking.  (There’s a larger metaphor to ponder.)

To get us (back) into the Christmas spirit, I had planned on making what the Husband’s family normally enjoys on Christmas morning – a bread/egg casserole.  And then I thought about trying to recreate a decades-plus tradition, and thought again.  Instead, I took a look at the long-suffering bagels in our freezer, my new Smitten Kitchen cookbook, and got to work recreating Deb Perelman’s New York Breakfast Casserole (with a few minor tweaks, obvi).

assembly: the most tedious part
assembly: the most tedious part

Bagel, Tomato, and Cream Cheese Breakfast Casserole

  • 3 large bagels, cut into cubes (bonus if they’re sesame, everything, or onion)
  • 1 bar chilled cream cheese, cut into small bits
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 and 1/3 cups milk or half & half
  • a good handful each of salt, pepper, crushed reds
  • optional: bacon, cooked and cut into small, crispy bits, capers for serving
puffed & golden brown
puffed & golden brown
  1. Prepare the casserole the night before you want to eat this.  Spread about a third of the bagel cubs in a 9×13 baking dish and place a small bit of cream cheese on the bagel cubes.  Mix in about a third of the onion and tomatoes.  Repeat again, adding more bagels, cream cheese, onion and tomatoes.  If adding bacon, do so now.
  2. Whisk eggs with the milk, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.  Pour the mixture evenly over the bagels/onions/tomatoes.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  3. The next morning: preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the casserole, uncovered, for about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, until it has puffed, turned golden brown and cooked all the way through.  Let it rest a few minutes before serving.
  4. Serve with a grind of salt and black pepper, maybe some sriracha, and a side of fruit salad, to even it all out and make your Jawbone happy.  Note: this feeds 6-8 people comfortably.  If you have leftovers, it reheats beautifully over low heat in your oven or toaster.
fruit + cream cheese and bagels = net good-for-you, right?
fruit + cream cheese and bagels = net good-for-you, right?

The Verdict:

There was universal agreement around the breakfast table that this was really good – but would have benefited from the addition of bacon.  I loved the creamy puffiness of the cheese bits, combined with the sweetness of the roasted tomatoes.  The bagels, nice and crisp, also add a good crunch to the dish – not something you’d normally expect from a casserole.  A definite winner – with bacon!