It's a grey day and I'm not feeling very motivated. I'm doing a bazillion loads of laundry (part of the glamor of my job as bed and breakfast owner and mother) and listening to Charlie Parker at high volume. Its not cold or windy. Just kind of blech. This sort of Montana weather usually leads me to start planning our spring break at the beach. Instead, I'm making eggs.
To start, however, I have a confession to make about my hot chocolate recipe from a few days ago. It's good, don't get me wrong, but if you want THE BEST EVER, visit David Lebovitz's post about his recipe. I plan a trip to Bozeman this weekend to pick up more chocolate at Joe's Parkway. This hot chocolate might be habit forming. (By the way, David's blog is one of my favorites to read - great writer, beautiful photos and, "ah, Paris" all in one.) So, while mine is a great every day or out-on-the-trail choice, do make David's. It's divine. I haven't tried the chocolate biscotti post David put up the day before...but it won't be long...
These herb-baked eggs are one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It requires none of the finesse of an omelet. It's a great choice to make for a crowd. It's based on a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks - Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten. If I'm lucky enough to have some of the homemade brioche that I also make from this book, I'll eat that too - toasting it in the oven along with the baking eggs and smearing it with butter and a little sprinkle of salt.
You'll need something like these little baking dishes to make these eggs, although I'm sure they'd work in any bake-safe dish. I buy mine at a great little Livingston, Montana kitchen store called Home on the Range. These dishes are great because they look pretty and are like little presents for your guests.
Note: Make sure you have a serving plan if you are going to bring HOT dishes to the breakfast table. I use pretty blue plates that are heat proof with a white napkin as a ccushion when I serve them here. Also, Ina uses the broiler to make hers. I can't pay attention that carefully.
As far as eggs go - get the best you can. I buy eggs from a little gal down the valley who keeps chickens and is saving for college. They are fresh, large and go for $2 a dozen. Since they are the big show in this dish, it matters. Really. Also, use whatever fresh herbs you have on hand. Fresh. It matters. Really.
Herbed Bake Eggs (ala Ina)
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon each of fresh herbs, minced - thyme, rosemary, parsley, chives
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan
Mix all this together to make a sort of paste with the back of a fork. You can keep this for other stuff (makes great garlic bread, for instance). I like garlic but if you don't like it as much as I do, only use one clove.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In each bowl, put a little pat (about 1/2 Tablespoon) and a dash of cream (1 Tablespoon). Put the dishes on a baking sheet and place in the oven until they start to bubble and get a little brown around the edges.
While the milk mixture is heating, crack 2 eggs into a bowl for each dish you are making. Ina uses three but I like more stuff and less egg. Your choice. Cracking it into individual bowls seems kind of fussy but it makes it much easier to deal with when...
Take the baking sheets with the hot milk dishes out of the oven and, in each, carefully slide the eggs in the hot milk. Then sprinkle the herb mixture on and sprinkle each with salt and pepper.
Return to the hot oven for about 5 minutes - until the yolks are just about set but still runny. The eggs keep cooking so don't worry if you hate really runny yolks. Remove from the oven and then sprinkle on a little more salt.
Once you've mastered the technique you can play with the flavors. I've also made this with a thin layer of re-fried beans on the bottom (not heated), added a small spoon of salsa and diced chilis, poured in the eggs and then sprinkled with chopped cilantro and a little cheddar cheese. Then take about a Tablespoon of cream and pour it over the top. Bake, again at 425 degrees, until done as above.
Or...you can add some Italian sausage and go heavy on the rosemary and add a small spoon of ricotta under the eggs. Don't skip the cream no matter how crazy you get with this one - it's essential.
My very favorite variation is to toss the herb mixture with really good chopped tomatoes or grape tomatoes cut in half. Add under the eggs and bake as above. The chances of me getting good tomatoes in January are slim, however, so you are getting the winter version.
This would be great with a cup of David Lebovitz's hot chocolate. Or, if you live far from town and are out of chocolate, with mine.
P.S. We had a guest tell me today that they made a variation of the recipe they highly recommended. Instead of cream, she coated the bottom of the dish with marscapone, heated it and then proceeded with the recipe. Can't wait to try it! Thanks Ms. Mullins!