For the oldie-but-goodie file, I bring you Eggs En Cocotte… again! Our theme this week is brunch and Laura reminded me of this one from last year. I was surprised to discover that it was almost exactly a year ago that I made these baked eggs. And only mildly discouraged that I’m still struggling with the same issues of how to handle the relentless requests for treats in my home. If you’ve got a tween that does this, do me a favour and don’t tell me, okay? I might just jump out of the window. But I promise if you try eggs this way it will brighten your weekend. Whether you make them for a brunch party or just for your own crew on a lazy Sunday morning, they’re so easy, so versatile and so, so delicious. Come to think of it, you could make these for dinner on a night when you need something on the table really fast. Is there anything eggs can’t do? Well, they can’t make my kids stop hounding me for chocolate. But then, neither can I.
Let us know what your favourite brunch dishes are – we love hearing from you! – C.M.
These are not the Easter Bunny’s eggs, admittedly. In true SPC fashion we’ve decided to zig while everyone else is zagging. That’s right – we’re not showcasing treats this week. I don’t know about you, but I’m weary of the full-court press that sugar puts on from Halloween to Easter. I just don’t know how parents are supposed to walk the healthy food walk during these sugar driven holidays. There’s nothing wrong with treats but I struggle with the balance between limiting them so much they become an obsession and allowing them so much they become the norm. Now, of course I’m not so high minded about it that I’m going to deny my kids the fun of digging chocolate eggs out of the sofa cushions next Sunday morning but I think I might add a few non-candy surprises to the mix. (I’d love to know how you all handle the high sugar days!)
And then I might make these eggs for a change to our usual weekend breakfast of pancakes. I’ve made eggs this way a few times and despite the fancy French name, they’re really easy to make and once you get the basic technique down can be changed up in almost any way. I like them in individual ramekins (which allows you to adjust to everyones’s tastes if you’re so inclined) but I’ve seen it done in a larger casserole and that looks really pretty, too. To celebrate spring’s reluctant arrival – it’s freaking snowing as I type up this post – I made these with leeks and asparagus but you could do a dice of zucchini and tomato, a bit of sliced ham, some thinly sliced mushrooms. Whatever you add to them should be ready to eat, so sautee your veg just a little before assembling your ramekins as they whole thing isn’t in the oven long enough to cook anything except the eggs.
Eggs En Cocotte
2 Tbsp buttter
4 asparagus spears
2 Tbsp Parmesan, grated
4 tsp creme fraiche
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut off the scraggly end of the leek and just above where it turns green. Slice it in half lengthwise and rinse really well under running water. Lay the washed leeks down flat on a cutting board and slice them thinly into half moons. Cut off the tough ends of the asparagus and cut the spears into quite small pieces, maybe 1/2 inch each.
Warm up 1 Tbsp of butter in a sautee pan and add the leeks and asparagus. Cook the veggies for a 3 to 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Take off the heat.
Put the kettle on to boil.
Butter the ramekins with the other 1 Tbsp. Put a pinch of Parmesan on the bottom of each ramekin. Then place a quarter of the vegetables in each. Top each one with a an egg and then gently shake the ramekin so the whites of the eggs cover the veggies under neath. Place a spoon of creme fraiche onto each egg and don’t worry that it will slide to the side. Finish with a small grind of salt and pepper.
Place the ramekins in a high sided roasting pan or baking tin. Carefully pour boiling water into the pan so it comes up about half way up the side of the ramekins. Place the whole works in the oven for about 15 minutes depending how runny or firm you like your yolks. At 12 minutes give the eggs a little poke to see how they’re doing. These are sneaky – they’ll look undone when they are. Serve with toast soldiers.