There are matches made in heaven. Just exactly what does that mean, anyway? While you might be thinking about you and your partner; I could be thinking about Dave and me…
…since it’s our 45th wedding anniversary this weekend! (We’ll celebrate at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City–one of our favorite places. Watch this space for photos.)
I’m really thinking about food matches, though, sometimes known as perfect pairings. Peanut butter + jelly. Garlic and butter with grilled Italian bread. Spaghetti with grated Parmigiano Reggiano. You know: the things that make the eating life worthwhile. Think…. Pizza and sausage. Peaches and cream. Toast, jam. Eggs and bacon. Apple pie with ice cream. Tomato sandwiches on squishy white bread thick with mayo. Steak plus baked potato. Biscuits and sour cream with honey. (Ok, that was at my house.) You definitely have your own such as _______ and _________. There are also the no-argument food and wine matches (pairings): scallops or goat cheese and Sauvignon Blanc (I like Sancerre best), salmon paired with Pinot Noir, or lamb served along side a swank bottle of French Bordeaux, though I’m a renegade here and am happy with Syrah or Shiraz. I mean, wasn’t God probably involved in all that? Is that what “matches made in heaven” are all about?
So herbs have matches, too. You know basil with mozzarella and tomatoes, better known as caprese. Hopefully, since basil is so plentiful right now, you’ve been making the most of that summery joy.
How about chives on baked potatoes with sour cream? Dill and salmon. Ok. So another is one of my very favorites: mushrooms with marjoram (Origanum majorana). Now marjoram, also known as sweet marjoram, isn’t a sexy herb like basil or easily found like chives; you’ll not find it in every grocery store herb section, though it’s a staple in some, I know.
But pungent marjoram, which is a member of the mint family and a little like oregano (oregano is sometimes called “wild marjoram”), is often an ingredient in Herbes de Provence and regularly serves as part of a bouquet garni. While typically used for meat, it’s really the perfect pairing for mushrooms. Don’t ask me how I know this; I guess I just read it somewhere over the years and the proof is in the pudding today and forever. Culinary school wasn’t part of my education; I just cooked, ate, and read — rinse, repeat.
TIP: Marjoram is made up of tiny leaves with a huge personality. Unlike basil or chives, more is not better. Be sparing and add a little more at a time; you’ll be glad you were conservative about your approach with this herb.
I keep dried marjoram in my spice cabinet for winter moments when I’m so in need of spring that I sprinkle a little on a skillet full of sautéed mushrooms for luck or toss it in early on while making stew. But I really wait for summer when my own marjoram — and it grows pretty slowly at altitude — comes into its own and is ready for to do its magic with mushrooms.
This fast one-pan egg dish that makes the most of mushrooms and skips the bacon or sausage, is perfect for a little marjoram thrill. I really hope you manage it, but if you can’t get marjoram, try subbing a sage leaf, sliced as thinly as possible or julliened–you could even mince it. (This is opposed to chiffonade, which means you roll the leaves up a la cigar and slice them thinly at that point.)
If you have neither, you can sub a little easily-available parsley and it will still be superb. Still, there’s little like marjoram with mushrooms (try them as a side for your next grilled steak), or eggs and mushrooms for that matter, and not much better than tomatoes with cheese. How’s that for all those matches made in heaven in one meal? Try this for breakfast or a quick dinner; it’s easily doubled, tripled, or quadrupled….
cheesy eggs on marjoram mushrooms –served with tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 ounces baby bella (cremini) mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh marjoram leaves (or more to taste)
- 2-3 tablespoons water
- 2 large eggs
- 1 slice Sharp Cheddar Cheese (about 3/4 ounce)
- 2 small tomatoes, sliced and seasoned with salt and pepper
- Heat an 8 or 9-inch skillet over medium heat for a minute; drizzle in oil and heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper. Let cook, turning only a time or two, until tender –about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt and the marjoram.
- Add 2 tablespoons water and heat until bubbling and water is reduced by about half. Crack eggs over mushrooms and sprinkle eggs with another pinch each kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. (If the water is nearly gone, add a bit more.) Lower heat and cover. Cook until eggs are nearly, but not quite done to your liking. Mine took about two minutes and I like them over-medium. Turn off heat. Divide cheese slice in half and lay a piece on top of each egg. Cover until melted–pehraps 30 seconds. Tip out onto plate and grind a little more pepper over the eggs and mushrooms. Serve hot with seasoned fresh tomatoes.
COOK’S NOTE: Why not both salt and pepper the mushrooms at the start? Salt will leech the liquid from the mushrooms; it’s a better idea to salt them AFTER they’ve cooked or you’ll have tougher, drier mushrooms.
IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE THESE FRESH HERB-THEMED DISHES:
Enjoy summer herbs,