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story.lead_photo.caption Spiced Bread Egg in a Hole (For The Washington Post/Tom McCorkle)

So many dishes start with warmed olive oil in a skillet: You could be sauteing garlic and onions, frying an egg, searing chicken or fish or shrimp. You could be blooming spices, toasting nuts or making tortilla chips.

In this way, olive oil is a great unifier: It's a moment in cooking that connects so many things we want to do, and as a result, allows us to multitask. For instance, let's take two of the most basic of foods: eggs and toast.

You know how to make toast. In a toaster, in the toaster oven, something like that. You might butter it before or after toasting. But the ideal toast resembles a giant crouton: golden outsides with a center that still gives. So, if you make your toast how you make your croutons, good things happen: By sizzling the toast in warm olive oil, the outside gets crispy-crackly while the middle softens and warms. Whereas butter risks burning at high heat, olive oil can stand it, and your (fried!) toast is better for it.

The same goes for eggs: Frying eggs in butter is your low-and-slow weekend route. Because butter will burn at a high temperature, you'll coddle your egg over a lower temperature and end up with a soft, tender egg. In a medium-high pan of hot olive oil, an egg's cook time is so fast that the white cooks without the yolk having a chance to cook through. It stays warm and runny, which is ideal for mopping up with your toast-size crouton.

You could salt and pepper your olive oil-fried egg and toast, learn — again — how useful olive oil is, and be happy with breakfast. But that olive oil in your skillet can work harder yet.

Olive oil is not just a cooking medium that happens to have a silky feel and fruity flavor. It also can carry flavor. When whole or ground spices — or other aromatics, such as garlic and onions — settle into warm oil, they bloom.

Just a pinch of a spice grows a wingspan that doesn't exist when it's sealed in a spice jar. In a short amount of time, spices will temper and infuse the oil: You'll smell them, for one, but also your light green olive oil will turn electric orange from ground turmeric or terra-cotta from cayenne. You now have spice-infused oil, a flavorful puddle for you to, say, fry eggs and toast.

This spiced egg in a hole is delicious multitasking: As the spices crack open in the warm olive oil, the first side of your bread (minus a hole in the middle) begins to crisp. When the bread starts to sizzle, pour an egg into the bread's missing middle. Once the white on bottom of the egg is cooked through, use a fish spatula to flip the egg in a hole. Allow the bread on the next side to soak up the spiced oil while the egg cooks in just a couple minutes.

Transfer your egg in a hole to a plate, cut into the egg in the middle and let the creamy yolk run. Mop it up with your golden piece of toast flavorful through and through with the warm spices of turmeric, coriander, and cayenne (though you can switch up the spices as you wish).

It's a meal all in one adorable package.

Spiced Bread Egg in a Hole

1 egg

1 ½-inch-thick slice bread, sourdough or rustic

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon ground coriander

Pinch of ground cayenne pepper

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Crack the egg into a small bowl or container with a spout. Using a glass or measuring cup, cut out a circle in the middle of the bread, being sure to leave at least a ½-inch of bread on all sides.

In a medium nonstick skillet, use a wooden spoon to stir together the oil, turmeric, coriander, cayenne and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Add the bread and its middle and heat the skillet over medium heat. When the bread starts to sizzle, gently pour the egg into the hole. Cook until the bottom of the bread is crispy, about 2 minutes.

Using a spatula, gently flip the bread and continue cooking until the egg white is cooked through but the yolk is still runny, another 2 minutes. Serve.

Makes 1 serving.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 431 calories, 10 g protein, 33 g fat, 22 g carbohydrate (no sugar), 186 mg cholesterol, 474 mg sodium and 1 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1 ½.

Food on 05/20/2020

Print Headline: Olive oil is the great unifier in making toast, eggs

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