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.

x

challenge: interior design

On January 5, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

Modani, a furniture store specializing in contemporary designs, recently invited me to design a living room infused with my style. The idea is to begin with one of their modern sofas and build out from there, using their accessories or any others. This kind of thought experiment always interests me, underscoring the fluid, plastic nature of style and the sense of the word style that is universal, not limited to clothing or the presentation of the body but inclusive of the entire environment surrounding or belonging to the self.

When you begin to think about style in this expansive way, intimations of one’s style start popping up left and right, its influence revealing itself in every aspect of life. Even if you are not consciously thinking about it this is the case, even if you think you do not have a style, you do. Like an accent. If you do think about it, though, the number of variables up for consideration…endless. The potential for harmony and expression, endless. I have long thought about style in this broad way, a certain way of approaching the world that reflects a bank of principles I am acting on (not so easy to identify these) regardless of the application. That said, I seem often to be contradictory, both minimal and baroque, rustic and modern.

It’s almost more entertaining to design a theoretical living room than a real one as with interior design I always have difficulty making final decisions. They are more final and lasting (and expensive) than most fashion decisions, and not so many of us get to have multiple houses to design.

In the absence of an oxblood leather tufted sofa, I would perhaps go for something completely impractical, like this:

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Modani phantom sofa

Having determined a white base (white walls, definitely, large windows), cream and pale wood accents seem inevitable, and texture becomes critical, the presence of interesting textures to balance the absence of color. Hardwood floors in a pale oaky shade (or whitewashed, even!) and a cream shag rug, say.

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Modani Mateo rug

A few white leather footstools dotted about.

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Modani Tedo stool

I completely fail to get the mania for throw pillows. I can see them being useful for certain lounging positions but the kind that are only for show and actually cannot be used (i.e. are uncomfortable to use)…I don’t get it. Art I get, certain tchotchkes I get, purely decorative throw pillows I do not get. That said there could be some cream brocade pillows on the sofa as well. I guess. And one of these Brahms Mount alpaca cotton throws.

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Brahms Mount Alpaca/Cotton Herringbone throw

A low reclaimed wood coffee table with a simple silhouette, the contemporary sofa contrasting with the raw wood.

J. W. Atlas reclaimed wood coffee table

A grand spalted maple bowl wouldn’t go amiss here.
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Spencer Peterman oval spalted maple bowl

Bookcases, surely. Perhaps something like this, or perhaps one wall custom built with shelves in some useful geometric configuration like this.
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Modani Lugano Library case

So, one wall of books, one wall of windows, one wall mostly a generous passage into the kitchen, and perhaps above the sofa a large brush painting of plum blossoms. Something like this, but I am going to try to paint my own.

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OR, the painting alone on a blank wall, and a large mirror above the sofa instead. Perhaps with a simple wood frame or perhaps with no frame, just clean edges.

A vase with some rotation of my favorite blooms, preferences for white and rosy shades. Peonies, snapdragons, tulips, ranunculus, orchids…

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Simon Pearce Anemone vase

Hm, something to put the vase on…a vintage pedestal table along these lines. I like the idea of some elaborate touch that isn’t quite intuitive but that is still tied in with one of the thematic threads of the room.

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This is a good beginning, I think. Now I’m thinking about the kitchen…

Modani images provided, other vendor images link to vendor pages