on the menu: eggs en cocotte

On May 17, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

Eggs en cocotte are a surprisingly quick and simple breakfast, all you need is the ambition to pre-heat the oven.

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A cocotte is formally a covered casserole or Dutch oven (any size) but is also often used as a synonym for ramekin. A cover isn’t at all necessary, so any ramekin or oven-proof teacup is fine here, 6-8oz is ideal. Even a muffin pan will work, though I prefer the ease of serving and the uniform heating of either porcelain or ceramic. Great for brunch as you can put them together in an assembly line, and your serving capacity is only limited by the number of cute little oven-safe dishes you have. It’s convenient if they are all more or less the same size, so they will cook uniformly.

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Adorable 8oz mini cocotte from Le Creuset in Caribbean

Add-ons will improve the situation, but eggs, butter and cream alone will do just fine. I like to include any combination of the following: bacon, ham, parsley, cilantro, asiago, gruyere, cheddar, parmesan, chives, scapes, dill, basil, scallions, caramelized onions, sauteed vegetables…anything you would put in an omelet, really.

What you do:

Pre-heat oven to 375°

Heat water in a kettle

Liberally butter (unsalted) the base and sides of cocotte(s), leave a little pat of butter in the bottom.

Layer add-ons into the cocotte as desired. Here I’ve layered scallions, garlic scapes, cooked bacon lardons (+ dash of bacon fat), cheddar, asiago.

Add one or two eggs, depending on the size of your cocotte and hunger levels. Add salt, pepper, and a grating of nutmeg. Pour in a dash (anywhere from 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp) of cream (cream on the bottom also popular). Add a little more cheese on top (this is non-traditional, but I like a lot of cheese).

Place cocottes in a casserole dish (I add a paper towel to the bottom so they don’t slide around) and pour hot (not quite boiling) water around such that the water level comes half-way up the sides of the cocotte. The water bath/bain marie helps keep the eggs tender and evenly cooked.

Cook 10-15 minutes, depending on your taste and the size of your ramekins. I like to cook for about 10-12 minutes and then broil for 1 to brown that cheese but still have the yolk soft. The broiler business is non-traditional and an easy way to overcook the egg, so be careful with this if you try it.

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Very little trial and error is required to figure out what the best cooking time is for your favorite kind of egg. It’s never too late to add more garnish at the end, either, herbs especially. I’ve been putting garlic scapes on everything to great effect lately.

Don’t forget the coffee.

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pie time

On September 21, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

I made a pie.

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I started with Dorie Greenspan’s apple pie recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours, which uses tapioca as a thickener, and added a bit of cornstarch as I did not intend to use only apples. No no no.

I made a peach apple raspberry pie.

I think the best shot is on instagram. [Oh, I am on instagram now.]

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First a layer of Jonamac apples (similar to McIntosh, they baked very nicely) and raspberries, then a picturesque layer of fanned peaches, which took ages and which of course I forgot to document, and which really ought to have been the top of a tart, which is the new species of baked thing I want now.

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Then a tartan latticework crust, because I never can do things the easy way.

Brushed with milk and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

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So pleased with my pie, which turned out beautifully. I should really make more pie. I don’t have any rabid love for pie (excepting pecan pie, in which case it may be love), but I enjoy it. I think it’s one of those things I like making even more than I like eating, a satisfyingly involved, crafty process. It’s one of those things I am happy to give away.

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 The pie bird isn’t strictly necessary when the crust is open, but it’s just so cute. And, for what it is worth (this was my first time using it), the juices did not run over, and the crust was not a soggy disintegrated mess. 

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on the menu: eggs en cocotte

On September 3, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

Here is another extremely flexible way to prepare eggs. Cocotte means small casserole or baking dish, here a ramekin (both cocotte and ramekin such cute little words). You butter the ramekin, load the base with whatever savory debris you like (fresh herbs, vegetables, bacon), crack an egg in, top with crème fraîche or some substitute (a little cream or yogurt will do), season, and bake (375°) in a water bath.

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You can add the cream element to the base as well as the top, can add cheese (could broil the cheese a bit at the end), can garnish liberally…as with omelettes, add whatever you like and cook the egg to the desired consistency. Not exactly foolproof as you can overcook the egg, but even this is quite edible. A simple formula that yields consistently tasty results.

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Recommended.