Home Appétit – Chefs At Home: Amanda Cusey
By Karla Wall
Chef Amanda Cusey Of The Villa Turns Scrambled Eggs And Toast Into A Rich, Decadent Yet (Fairly) Healthy Breakfast
How do you take simple eggs and make them into something spectacular?
It helps if you’re a Cordon Bleu-trained chef.
Chef Amanda Cusey, who was hired as executive chef of The Villa in downtown Lake Charles when it opened in January of ‘17, attended the Tante Marie Culinary Academy in Surrey, England, to earn her Cordon Bleu degree, and worked at the renowned restaurant Fiorentina in Dublin, Ireland, eventually rising to the position of executive chef there.
When Amanda’s parents, who lived in Ireland, as well, decided to make the move to Lake Charles and its warmer climes, she decided to follow them. She put out feelers for an executive chef position. Local restaurateur Mike Sperandeo was about to open The Villa, and jumped at the chance to have Amanda on board.
As an executive chef at one of the area’s hottest new restaurants, Amanda works “about 50 hours a week,” so she needs a breakfast dish that’s simple and quick — but still worthy of a top chef.
Her go-to is a simple scrambled egg and vegetable mixture on toast.
“It’s my version of eggs on toast,” she says. “It’s simple, it’s healthy-ish, and it’s fairly quick to make.”
But, as you might expect, it’s anything but ordinary.
Amanda begins by toasting up a couple of slices of ciabatta bread (you can, she says, use any type of bread you want), without butter or oil. While the bread is toasting, she sautés shallots, along with julienned slices of red and green peppers, in olive oil, with salt and pepper to taste.
As the veggies sauté, she melts about a tablespoon of butter in a separate skillet, and adds eggs — unscrambled at this point. She lets the eggs set for a few seconds, then separates the yolks from the whites. She scrambles the whites a bit, then adds a couple of the yolks to the scramble, holding one or two yolks back until the very end, which gives the scramble a creamy texture.
While the eggs set, she adds mushrooms to the vegetable mix. She lets that sauté another minute or two, then adds cherry tomatoes, and turns the heat off under the skillet.
“You don’t want to over-sauté your vegetables,” she says. “You want a bit of crunch.”
She stirs in the remaining yolks to the scrambled eggs, and salts and peppers to taste.
The eggs are added to the vegetables, and finished with some parsley. Olive oil is drizzled over the toast, and the eggs and vegetables are spooned over the toast. The dish is topped with lots of mozzarella, and placed under the broiler to melt. The dish is finally finished with another drizzle of olive oil.
I’m not a big breakfast eater, but I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to take at least one bite of something a chef of this caliber was serving up, even if it was just scrambled eggs.
I didn’t stop until my portion was gone.
Amanda’s technique with the eggs resulted in a soft, rich and creamy scramble that has the texture of a very soft scrambled egg but the taste of a perfectly-cooked egg over easy you’ve just broken the yolk on — forget the dry, homogenous scrambled egg concoctions you grew up eating. The vegetables had just enough texture to make the dish interesting, and their flavor was front and center in every bite. The toast, lightly drizzled with oil, soaked up just enough of the buttery egg mixture to be soft, but not too soggy to provide a good base for the dish.
Granted, this isn’t something you can quickly put together entirely from scratch on a rushed morning — but if you prepare the vegetables the night before, and have your utensils ready to go, it’s a do-able breakfast even on a weekday, and one that will have you more than ready to face whatever the day brings you. It’s filling, without being heavy, and decadent without being unhealthy. It also happens to be an uncomplicated dish. Give it a try.
Eggs On Toast
1 green pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
10 slices ciabatta bread
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
10 mushrooms, sliced
salt, pepper to taste.
Toast ciabatta slices. While they’re toasting, sauté peppers and shallots in olive oil. While these sauté, melt butter in separate skillet, and add eggs, unscrambled and yolks intact. Let whites set for a few seconds, then separate yolks from whites. Scramble whites for a few seconds, then scramble in the yolks, holding out one or two until the last second. Season to taste.
Add mushrooms to sautéing vegetables, and finish the eggs. When mushrooms have sautéed a few minutes, add tomatoes and turn off heat. Season. Add egg mixture to vegetables, sprinkle with parsley.
Plate toast, and drizzle with olive oil. Top with egg and vegetable mixture. Top with mozzarella, and broil a few seconds to melt cheese. Drizzle with olive oil.