Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Discovering the Egg

There are times when my husband comes home, and looks at me like I'm crazy. These times usually coincide with some crazy cooking project I've delved into. When the kitchen was so covered in flour from my fresh pasta experiments, when the entire apartment was filled with the heavy sent of barbecue sauce, I was the recipient of extremely concerned glances and the deeply worried "Honey?" Such was the scene this past weekend as our waste bin filled with egg shells. He got home, glanced at the cookbooks and magazines that covered every available surface, and knew something was up.

Easter looming, his 27 year old wife had decided to learn how to cook an egg.

I've dabbled before. In high school I would make scrambled eggs, before I finally admitted to myself that I don't really like a whisked and fluffy egg. I've fried eggs, made them Over Easy, and even tried to craft an Egg White Omelet, which hasn't been very successful thus far, more of a spattered but tasty egg white mess really. But on the whole I don't take on the shelled wonders very often, relegating them to ingredient rather then main dish status. Partly it's been because Will really, really hates eggs, so I would be the only one eating them. Partly it's been because, honest to god, I don't know how to cook them in the more sophisticated ways. Speaking to friends, I don't think I'm the only 20 something in America staring down an egg with a bit of bewilderment.

With Easter looming, however, surrounding by the imagery of the egg, I had to have them. I wanted to devour solid whites and runny yolks. I wanted them flavored and boiled and baked, combined with herbs, heated gently, I wanted to bite and slurp and revel in the eggy goodness. NY is a great place to find a variety of eggs, at one Whole Foods alone I have seen quail, ostrich, duck, and emu. As an egg novice, I decided to play it safe and stick to the basic chicken.

There were two big experiments that went into my egg weekend madness. The first was my quest for the perfect soy sauce egg, a quest I blame entirely on the blog Momofuku for 2 which talked about them so temptingly last week. As of this post, it has not gone well. The first trials have been delicious, but not pretty. The perfect boiling times have not been worked out yet, the perfect marinade is still being toyed with, and honestly? It turns out I don't know how to peel an egg. Egg. Shells. Everywhere. Apparently there's a way of getting around this by blowing out the egg. Ew. Stay tuned, I will keep you posted on my progress. If my husband doesn't kill me first.

The second experiment is something I have been mulling in my head for quite awhile. I wanted the sophisticated brunch treat that is the baked egg. I first read about this delicate dish in the January 2008 issue of Gourmet, with amazing food porn splayed across it's pages. In Chef Scott Peacock's recipe little individual servings splayed across an outdoor table, and I felt that one could not start a day in a more impressive and grown up way then by serving up these little beauties. The filling ingredients of spinach and ham were not things I had on hand this weekend, however. What I really needed was something that incorporated cheese. In a bit of impulse shopping over the past two weeks I have ended up with an Irish Cheddar, a Swiss, and a Gruyere all staring up at me in the fridge, begging to be incorporated into various dishes. The epidemic is so bad that, attending a wine and Spanish food tasting at Despana in my neighborhood this weekend, I had to beg Will to not allow me to walk out with any cheese. I mourn the Manchego I left behind.

My research turned out a baked dish with Gruyere, but it included herbs I did not have on hand and was made in a big dish with 10 eggs, not the individual servings I was looking for. Since my husband wasn't going to help me consume this, the individual serving was key.

Eggs with Cream, Gruyere, and Shallot
Makes 2 Individual Servings

- 1 Tablespoon and 1 Teaspoon Butter plus extra for greasing ramekins

- 1 Shallot, sliced
- 1 Clove of Garlic, Chopped
- 1/4 Cup Shredded Gruyere
- 3 Tablespoons Cream or Half and Half
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
- Salt and Pepper
Equipment: 2 (6oz) Ramekins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the middle. Butter ramekins.

Saute shallots in butter until beginning to crisp, about 2-3 minutes in a small pan over medium heat. In the final minute add garlic and saute until fragrant. Remove and divide into ramekins. Stir in shredded cheese. Spoon 1 tablespoon of cream over each serving. Crack 1 egg into each ramekin. Spoon half a tablespoon of cream over each egg. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme. Dot each top with a scant 1/2 teaspoon of butter.

Put ramekins in a shallow baking pan and bake, rotating pan halfway through baking, until whites are just set but the yolks are still runny, 15 to 20 minutes. If you do this in a toaster oven, the time will be closer to 12-15 minutes.
The ingredients are completely based on what I had around, resulting in a perfect cheesy, veggie, herby combo. But really, you can add what you wish. Scallions instead of shallot, or add some mushroom. Fresh Rosemary would be a good substitute for the dried thyme, if you have it around. Heck if my thyme plant hadn't died, I would have preferred fresh.

I served this with a slice of toast on the side, and it was delectable, gooey and yet still sophisticated. It the best of two egg worlds really, the mix and match ability of an omelet, but the runny yolk of a fried egg. Baking gives it that fancy edge that just screams "I should have a mimosa in my hand right now." I'm really always looking for a way to work that phrase into a conversation. Really it's the second best part of brunch. You know, besides the eggs.

PS- Reminder that the Short and Saucy pan (just like mine) giveaway ends tomorrow at midnight Eastern Time! Run over to our 100th blog and leave a comment! And isn't it pretty?


Anne Keefe said...

PS. I am going to make this for tomorrow morning's MFA potluck Easter Brunch/ MFA potluck best breakfast Hangover Food. I'll let you know how it goes.

Cajun Chef Ryan said...

We call these sheered eggs or eggs co-cote! Wonderful with all kinds of toppings or base ingredients, such as tomatoes, basil, milk, mayonnaise, mustard, cheeses, herbs, an endless variety of ways to make the baked egg.

Bon appetite!

Post a Comment