Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Eggs en Cocotte, Or Let's Just Call Them Fancy Schmancy Eggs

I like my eggs. I like the way they taste, I like how many hundreds of healthy ways you can cook them and how they can add a nice touch to almost any dish they are in. They got a bad rap in the '80's for adding to peoples cholesterol problems, but that was turned around and they were proven to be a good addition to your diet a couple of years ago.

I never quit eating eggs even though my dad had cholesterol issues and still does. I'm a firm believer to which if a person eats healthy at least 80-90% of the time, then all bad things which come from a poor diet will decrease and possibly go away. There's no way Mother Nature would make something like an egg available for us to eat and make it bad for you, unless human intervention has added things to it to make it unhealthy.

What makes them even better is they are extremely versatile. We all use them in all facets of cooking: baking, cooking in the oven and on the stovetop, pasta, etc. Eggs can also be used in food as a binder in certain dishes which require a "glue" to hold them together as well such as burgers, crab cakes and ravioli. Eggs are more than just over-easy or sunny-side-up.

This dish is one of my favorite dishes for eggs, besides Eggs in Purgatory (poached on tomato sauce). You can add almost anything you want, within reason, and the eggs will lead you down the garden path to a taste eggstravaganza! All kidding aside, this is a pretty healthy and great way to have a wonderful eggsperience.

When you try this dish, it is an old French way to cook the egg. The dictionary (audioenglish.net) explains it like this: "egg cooked individually in cream or butter in a small ramekin."
Wikipedia: "Shirred eggs (also known as baked eggs, or in French, oeufs en cocotte) are eggs cooked in a manner which results in a firm white but soft or runny yolk. The name comes from the dish in which the eggs are cooked." Both are a little different explanations but really mean the same thing: a brilliant way to eat eggs.

I used to make this years ago for myself, but that was no fun. Now, I can make for Mrs. Urban Eater and soon little O. It was a slightly difficult to do as the wife likes her eggs hard, bouncing off the wall hard (I think she was trying to change Wikipedia's definition). So I had to open up the door and let the steam escape to put mine in as I like my yolks runny to dip my toast in. It still worked out, so both of us were happy with the outcome.

When making this dish, be creative and think about what eggs go with or what you think you would like to eat with your eggs. I did a take on lox and cream cheese in one and blue cheese in the other. I could have added a sprinkling of walnuts and some pear slices to the blue cheese, but I chose not to be overly creative. Both are very simple to make but offer beautiful flavors and compliment the eggs so you can serve them to your spouse, parents, in-laws or whoever you want to impress for breakfast.

Eggs en Cocotte

- 2 teaspoons crumbled blue cheese
- 8 slices smoked salmon lox
- 2 thin slices red (Spanish) onion
- 6-8 capers per ramekin. I don't give measurements for this as you shouldn't use spoons to take capers out of the jar. Us a fork or the opposite end of the utensil as to not take any of the brine with the capers.
- 1 teaspoon cream cheese, Mascarpone or crème fraîche.
- 4 eggs
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- 2 sprigs of chives, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon butter for the ramekins. I always use just enough to make sure none of the ingredients will stick to keep the fat down to a minimum.

1. Heat the oven to 375FºF/190ºC. Into the bottom of each of two buttered ramekins put a spoonful of one of whatever you choose like blue cheese, smoked salmon, etc. Gently crack an egg in on top. Top with a spoonful of cream cheese for the salmon. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the chives now or you can wait until they are out of the oven.

2. Set the ramekins in a baking dish and pour hot water in the dish to come half-way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until cooked, but still jiggling if you like your eggs rare, about 5-7 minutes. If you like them done so the yolk is still a just a little runny, you'll need about 7-9 minutes. Keep your eye on the whites and not the yolks. The yolks will stay yellow, so don't be fooled waiting for them to turn color. Serve with buttered toast soldiers for dipping.

Take a look at those yolks, still nice and yellow. BUT, they are juuuust a little runny. I should have taken a picture of Mrs. Urban Eaters as well. Hers were the same color but like rubber, just the way she likes 'em. My toast soldiers wouldn't have stood a chance with her eggs, so she had regular toast. She's no fun.

On a health note, I used butter because EVOO may have made everything stick to the ramekin because of a low smoke point, so butter was the choice to go with. Besides, eggs and butter are a tasty combo. Just make sure you keep the amount to a minimum.

Try this way of cooking eggs and get creative. Eggs don't have to be boring or cooked in an unhealthy manner. They also don't need to be cooked all by themselves. Add some personality to them.

Little O's Menu

She can't get enough of those mini croissants, I tell ya. But that's alright though. It fills her up. The French can't be wrong about those things. They are pretty damn tasty. We have been giving her those for breakfast or for snacks along with the raspberries, some blackberries and blueberries alone or with yogurt. She now has 4 little teeth to chew with so she has to learn how to use those little choppers somehow.

Another idea for snacks we started to utilize is Garden Veggie Straws we bought at Costco. I'm not to sure where else to get these as there isn't a lot of info on the web about them, but the big people in the house like them too. She has been nibbling on them for the past few weeks and they are a good little space filler between meals. Here is a little blurb about them which is one of the only ones I could find (http://www.foodsourcefile.com/diet/healthy-treats-veggie-straws-are-like-french-fries-in-taste), and here is another on (http://productreviewratings.com/2010/01/veggie-tale-twist/). The second person seems a little all over the board with what they like or dislike, but at least this gives you an idea of what they are. We only feed her 4 or 5 at a time as we aren't too sure yet if there are any bad things happening with them. Good enough for me right now. They're a lot better than a lot of other junk out there which you have to carry around for an emergency snack fix.

Tonight is Mrs. Urban Eater's company Christmas party. We will be dining at The River Cafe (http://www.river-cafe.com/index.php) on Prince's Island in downtown Calgary. Should be interesting as always and we're both looking forward to it. I'll let you all know what we had and how it was next time.

Today's quote:

"When arguing with a stone, an egg is always wrong."

- African proverb

Until next time, good eating everyone.


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