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~ Peppered Ham & Eggs on Roasted Red Pepper & Foccacia Toasts w/a Tangy Asiago Cheese Sauce ~

IMG_2171Don't you just hate it when the title of a recipe is so long that by the time you've read it in its entirety, you've lost track of what it was describing?  I do too, but, there is no short way to explain all of the amazing flavor components that come together on one plate for these eye-opening, open-faced, knife-and-fork breakfast sandwiches.  Oh yea, these are surprisingly VERY easy-to-make too.  All you have to do is slice some high-quality focaccia, whisk together a super-quick four-ingredient spread, stir together a three-minute cheese sauce, and, scramble some eggs!

IMG_2174Meet my Italian answer to Southern biscuits and gravy!

IMG_2004Any focaccia, even store-bought will work just fine.  If you're buying it, a classic rosemary focaccia should be your first choice.  On Tuesday I posted ~ My Rosemary & Cracked Black Pepper Focaccia ~ recipe.  It gets mixed and kneaded in the food processor in less than 5 minutes, so, it too qualifies for "easy" status. To learn everything you need to know about focaccia baking, as well as get my recipe, just click on the Related Article link below!

IMG_2036A bit about Asiago cheese (ah-zee-AH-go):  Originally, Asiago was a sheep's milk cheese produced in the Veneto foothills of Italy. Nowadays it is made from pasteurized cow's milk.  During the aging process, Asiago changes textures.  The most important thing you need to know is there are two kinds of Asiago:  fresh (Pressato) and aged (d'allevo).  

Asiago Pressato, aged for just 1-2 months, is sold as softer, mild cheese.  Asiago d'allevo, a firmer, harder, grating cheese is aged for different time periods:  Mezzano (4-6 months); Vecchio (10+ months), and; Stravecchio (2+ years).  Any aged Asiago is  similar to Parmesan or Romano, with Parmesan being a little sharper and Romano being a lot sharper than Asiago.  You can substitute either Parmesan or Romano for Asiago, IF the cheese is to be sprinkled over a finished dish at the end, but, IF the cheese is to be cooked into the dish, as is the case of this cheese sauce, it has been my experience that neither Parmesan or Romano melt as evenly and creamily as their slightly-softer Asiago cousin does.

Need breakfast in a hurry for two or twelve?

IMG_2040About this recipe:  Because the foccacia toasts get made under the broiler, you can make two in your toaster oven, (like I am doing this morning), or, if you're having guests, you can make several on a large baking pan in your oven, and, the recipe for the cheese sauce easily doubles, or triples too. Just increase the size of the skillet accordingly, to scramble more eggs, and, in just about the same time it takes to make two breakfasts you can make twelve breakfasts!

The following recipe makes six open-faced sandwiches:

IMG_2048For the Asiago cheese sauce:

2  tablespoons salted butter

2  tablespoons all-purpose flour 

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

1/4  teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/4 cups heavy cream + additional cream, if necessary

1  cup grated Asiago cheese

IMG_2056 IMG_2049~ Step 1.  In a 1-quart saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Increase heat to medium and add the flour, salt and cayenne pepper. Using a large spoon or a small whisk, stirring constantly, cook until mixture is thick, smooth and bubbly, about 30-60 seconds.

IMG_2079 IMG_2060~ Step 2. Add cream. Stirring constantly, cook until smooth, thickened & drizzly, 3-4 minutes.

IMG_2081~ Step 3. Lower heat to low and add the grated Asiago.

IMG_2084~ Step 4.  Continue to stir constantly until cheese is melted and sauce is ribbonlike in texture.  Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

IMG_2098Note:  You'll have 1 3/4 cups of sauce or 6 servings. Reheat gently on stovetop or in microwave. Add more cream, if necessary, to thin sauce to desired consistency.

IMG_2107For the roasted red pepper & mascarpone cheese spread:

1/2  cup mascarpone cheese

1/4  cup well-drained and mashed roasted red peppers packed in olive oil and garlic (Note:  I simply place the roasted peppers on 2-3 layers of paper towels to let the excess liquid drain out of them.)

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

1/4  teaspoon cayenne pepper

IMG_2120 IMG_2101                                      ~ Step 1. Place the peppers on a plate. Mash into small bits and place in a small bowl.

IMG_2117Add the cheese, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

IMG_2133For the focaccia toasts & ham (for six servings):

6  3" x 3" squares of 1-1 1/2"-thick focaccia, preferably rosemary focaccia, cut in half lengthwise to form 12 total bread slices

18  thin slices deli-style peppered ham, the best available, folded freeform to approximately fit the 3" x 3" size of the bread (3 slices of ham per sandwich)

IMG_2143 IMG_2135Step 1. Place the tops and bottoms for sandwiches on an appropriate-sized pan.  I use disposable aluminum broiler pans.

~ Step 2.  Give the top of each bread slice a slather of roasted red pepper spread. Place pan of bread slices 5"-6" underneath preheated broiler for 2-2 1/2 minutes.

IMG_2156The focaccia should be just browning around the edges and the cheese spread should be bubbling, but not browned.

Note:  It is worth mentioning that this roasted red pepper and mascarpone cheese spread, which contains no mayonnaise, is a lovely condiment for hamburgers and other sandwiches too.  Keep it in mind for the upcoming Summer picnic and grilling season!

Whisk your eggs while the focaccia slices are  broiling and be ready to scramble the eggs moment the bread comes out of the oven! 

PICT2698 PICT2699For scrambled eggs to serve six:

(Note: Scramble eggs your favorite way. I'm only scrambling for two today.)

2  tablespoons salted butter

6  extra-large eggs, room temp

enough milk to total 1 1/4 cups

4-6 grinds freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend

IMG_2164To assemble the sandwiches:

Place three slices of peppered ham on the bottom half of each piece of focaccia, top with a scrambled egg and  generous drizzle of Asiago cheese sauce.  

IMG_2189Place the top to the side of each sandwich and serve immediately with a knife and fork.  This is NOT a pick up and eat sandwich!

All the flavors of a fancy breakfast with none of the work:

IMG_2201Peppered Ham & Eggs on Roasted Red Pepper & Foccaccia Toasts w/a Tangy Asiago Cheese Sauce:  Recipe yields 6 hearty open-faced, knife-and-fork breakfast sandwiches and 1 3/4 cups of Asiago cheese sauce.

Special Equipment List: 1-quart saucepan w/lid; spoon or small whisk; paper towels; fork; spoon; plastic wrap; 1-quart measuring container; disposable aluminum broiler pans, appropriately sized for the number of sandwiches you are making;  nonstick skillet, appropriately sized for the number of eggs you are scrambling

PICT2701Cook's Note:  In case you are in need of instructions for ~ How to: Make "Fluffy" Scrambled Eggs & Bacon ~, just click into Categories 9, 12, 15, 17 & 20!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copywrite 2014) 


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