This is a perfect breakfast/brunch dish for one or many. It presents well, is extremely nutritious, filling, and can be made on demand quickly. It is very simple to make, yet is a nice change from scrambled eggs or omelets. But then, it is a French dish after all. I am always amazed by how perfectly prepared French dishes are. Some are fussy, some are bistro-style, some are pretentious, but the one thing they all seem to have in common is 'flawless execution'. They are so well-thought out. I might sound like a francophile, but really I am not. I've never even been to France yet (that really needs to change). Seriously, I am not that much in awe of France, but I really like the technique behind the food. Ah! I just hit the nail on the head! That is what I admire most about french food. They have impeccable technique. No wonder most of the classically trained chefs learned French cuisine. Thanks dear friends for letting me
think write aloud on your time and clarify my thoughts. What! you thought I blog for your benefit? :-)
Well, here below is my interpretation of baked eggs. You can adapt this recipe in many ways. You could add some ham, sausage, fresh herbs, minced garlic, chopped tomatoes, use different cheeses, etc. I chose this particular combination because
(a) less is more
(b) I was in a 'vegetarian' mood
(c) I like herbes de provence
(d) I *heart* basil
(e) I *heart* parmesan (the real reggiano stuff)
If you guessed all of the above I *heart* you and you are welcome for brunch anytime. If you guessed wrong, we just need to spend more time together.
Ok, back to the eggs. You can use whatever ramekins you have on hand, but I like the shallow ones here. They show off the dish better, have more surface area for cheese, and the wide surface allows the whites to set-up while the yolks stay runny. That said, broilers and eggs can be fickle, and sometimes, the eggs can set up too quick. But fear not. Just pretend that was the way you intended it to be and your guests will lick their bowls clean anyway :-)
Now, here is the most important thing. This dish will only be as good as the eggs you choose, so please find yourself the freshest, organic, free-range eggs you can lay your hands on. It is well worth it! And once you find these eggs, just go ahead and use these eggs exclusively. I swear, there is no going back. You don't need to be a nutritionist. C'mon, all you need to do is look at the lovely deep orange of the yolk and you know what you're eating must be good for you. Not like that pasty pale yellow yolk supermarket eggs sport.
The recipe below is for one serving (2 eggs). If you are making this for many, just multiply the ingredients. Nothing is precise here, so feel free to play around.
A small knob of butter (~1 tsp)
1 tbsp cream or half-n-half
1/2 tsp herbes de provence
1 tbsp freshly grated parmagiano-reggiano
1 - 2 leaves fresh basil, chopped (chiffonade is great)
1. Set your oven rack 6 inches from the broiler element. Preheat broiler for 5 minutes.
2. Add cream and butter to ramekin. Set under broiler approx. 3 minutes till cream is hot and bubbly.
3. Take ramekin out of oven (careful). Set on counter. Gently crack the eggs into the ramekin. Sprinkle herbs and parmersan cheese on top. Give a generous turn of salt and pepper. Transfer ramekin back into oven. Cook 5-6 minutes or just until the egg whites are almost set. Oven temperatures vary greatly, so you will need to keep a close eye and calibrate to your oven. The eggs will continue to cook a bit when they come out of the oven, so plan accordingly.
4. Take eggs out of oven. Top with basil and let cool for a minute or two. Serve with buttered toast. Tip: If you cut into the eggs and find that they are too runny, zap them in the microwave for 20 seconds so they firm up a bit. Enjoy!