At breakfast, more than any other meal time, I am a creature of habit. When the weather is warm, I want nothing more than tea, toast with jam or peanut butter, and fruit. I sometimes swap my toast for oatmeal when the air turns cold but, mainly, I stick with my standard morning meal. Oh, sure, I’ve strayed from this formula before. I went through a pretty serious granola phase a few years ago, and I’ve been known to include a small pot of yogurt with breakfast. For the most part, though, I like to keep it simple: tea, toast, fruit, done.
When the weekend rolls around, though, I’m usually ready to cut loose. Pancakes! Muffins! Scones! I’ve even been known to devote an entire weekend’s work to a single morning of croissants (worth it, by the way, but not for every weekend). And, because I’m very lucky, I can usually look forward to a beautiful breakfast of over easy eggs with bacon and hash browns when I return from my Sunday morning spin class, once Keith rouses himself. When I’m making the eggs, though, I like to make ’em fancy.
Enter les oeufs en cocotte, a quick, delicious and satisfyingly impressive egg dish. The process for making these couldn’t be simpler, too. The ingredients–eggs, creme fraiche and smoked salmon–are thrown together haphazardly into a ramekin and baked in a bain marie for about the same amount of time as it takes to have a leisurely shower and get dressed. With some light seasoning and a small amount of garnish, the result is a restaurant-worthy dish that will have you feeling proud of yourself for skipping the lines and doing it yourself.
Using a bain marie might seem like a fussy and time consuming way to cook eggs, but it’s really no more time consuming than assembling the dish while boiling some water. It’s certainly not more challenging than greasing a frying pan, and it takes only a few minutes longer than frying or scrambling eggs. And, of course, the results speak for themselves. The egg whites stay tender, the salmon firms up a bit, and the deliciously runny yolks mix with the creme fraiche to make a sort of rich and tangy dipping sauce. It’s the perfect egg dish for dipping and scooping with toast. And you remember how much I love toast…
Les Oeufs en Cocotte
Serves 1; recipe is easily multiplied
1 tablespoon creme fraiche (substitute Greek yogurt or full fat sour cream if creme fraiche isn’t available)
1 slice cold smoked salmon
salt and pepper
1 tsp dill, roughly chopped
1. Preheat the oven to ˚350 C. Boil a small pot of water and set aside.
2. Lightly grease a ramekin with a small amount of oil or butter. Line the bottom of the ramekin with the smoked salmon, then add the eggs, taking care not to break the yolks, and the creme fraiche.
3. Prepare the bain marie: place the ramekin in a larger oven safe container, like a cake pan, and add the boiled water (which shouldn’t be boiling anymore but should still be very hot) until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekin.
4. Being careful not to spill any of the boiling water in the ramekin, place the bain marie in the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven. You’ll know they’re finished when the whites are just opaque and jiggle slightly when moved.
5. Season lightly with salt and pepper (not too much–the smoked salmon gives off plenty of seasoning). Garnish with dill and serve with buttered toast.