Eggs on toast are a satisfying, nutritional, economical meal. The last resort of bachelors, students and the otherwise cupboard-challenged need not be relegated to the ranks of mundane foods, however. Indeed, a perfectly poached egg on crust-free toast points is an empty canvas upon which the creative epicure can paint a luxurious feast given the right palette of ingredients.

Flavor, substance and color can be achieved by the creation of a simple sauce with which to nap the eggs. Béchamel, the most versatile sauce in the French repertoire, elevates one's dish to "Creamed Eggs on Toast" (pass the freshly-ground black pepper!). The buttery, creamy sauce (preferably made extra-rich by using heavy cream and extra butter) in turn provides a canvas for garnishes:

Minced Chives, Tarragon, Chervil or Scallions

Finely (1/8") diced Smoked Salmon, Virginia Ham or other ham, Prosciutto

Medium (1/4") dice or shredded cheese (the garnished eggs can be run under a very hot broiler to barely melt the cheese)

Caviar, with or without finely minced sweet white onion

Finely minced stuffed green olives, or pickled cocktail onions, or a combination of both

Go to the supermarket and buy a packet of Knorr-Swiss's* fabulous Bearnaise Sauce or Hollandaise Sauce mix for a decadent treat. A slice of Canadian Bacon or ham underneath will turn your humble eggs into the popular Eggs Benedict. Substitute a few ounces of lump crabmeat warmed in butter and two cooked asparagus spears, atop the eggs and under the sauce, and you've got Eggs Oskar. (Eggs Oskar are even yummier when one insinuates a modest amount of caraway-flavored Aquavit into the sauce!) More Hollandaise-appropriate additions:

Cook Porcini or other wild mushrooms and shallots in red wine; cook down until the wine evaporates but for a trace. Chop the mushrooms and add to the sauce.

Chopped pimiento pepper

Nonpareil Capers

Medium-diced left over roast beef that's been sauteed quickly in olive oil with a bit of Rosemary.

Make a fresh, zippy salsa from diced tomatoes, red onions and the hot peppers of your choice. Place on the eggs. Top with shredded Monterey Jack or similar cheese and run under the broiler to melt. You've just made a simplified version of Huevos Rancheros.

Finally, for a hearty treat, dice some onions and some good, thick bacon and cook them together until the onions are browned at the edges. Stir in a pinch of Sage. Spoon this mixture onto your eggs and add salt and pepper.

The medical community's not as hard as they used to be on eggs as a cholesterol source, particularly if the yolks aren't cooked hard. Why wait until the cupboard's bare to have an egg-venture!

*Do not substitute another brand. Knorr-Swiss is the only prepared Hollandaise to use if you don't want the fuss of making it yourself.