It's book club time again! Tonight we're gathering to discuss My Life in France at Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-op’s Selby location from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. and near Harmony Co-op in Bemidji from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
There's no denying the deliciousness of the tales Julia Child (along with her nephew Alex Prud'Homme) tells of her time in la belle France. She travels the country, delves into the nuances of each region, discusses life and politics in 1950s France, and more. Most importantly, she cooks. Throughout the story, Child is creating one of the most heralded cookbooks of all time: Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Child knew she was on to something special when she developed the unique, detailed recipe format featured in that cookbook. The step-by-step instructions, ample definitions, and illustrations truly changed the way that recipes were presented. Lucky us. Though French cooking (still) may seem overly fussy and unattainable, the truth of the matter is this: if you read carefully and follow Child's learned hand, true French cuisine is absolutely within your reach.
In the spirit of the season -- and with a nod to the era of the book -- I want to share a recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking (sadly, there are no recipes in My Life in France). The recipe uses a technique that can be considered a "throw-back," but it turns out to be one that I use often when I have folks over for brunch. Plus, it sounds fancy.
Oeufs en Cocotte (Eggs Baked in Ramekins)
These individual servings of 1 or 2 eggs are baked in porcelain, pyrex, or earthenware ramekins. The ramekins must be set in a pan of boiling water, otherwise the intense heat of the oven toughens the outside layer of eggs before the inside has cooked.
For each serving:
- 1/2 t butter
- 1 ramekin 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter and about 1 1/2 inches high
- 2 T whipping cream
- A pan containing 3/4 inch of simmering water
- 1 or 2 eggs
- Salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Butter the ramekin, saving a dot for later. Add 1 tablespoon of cream and set the ramekin in the simmering water over medium heat. When the cream is hot, break into it one or two eggs. Pour the remaining spoonful of cream over the egg and top with a dot of butter.
Place in the middle level of the hot oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes. The eggs are done when they are just set but still tremble slightly in the ramekins. They will set a little more when the ramekins are removed*, so they should not be overcooked.
Season with salt and pepper, and serve.
*Note: the ramekins may remain in the pan of hot water, out of the oven, for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. To prevent overcooking, remove eggs from oven when slightly underdone.
Variation: Aux Fines Herbes (with Herbs)
Add half a teaspoon of mixed fresh parsley, chives, and chervil, or tarragon to the cream in the recipe.
So go ahead, get your spring on! We look forward to seeing you tonight at bookclub!
Tracy Morgan is a frequent contributor to Simple, Good and Tasty. She also runs Segnavia Creative, a business development and marketing firm, and is co-owner of the new Kitchen in the Market. Tracy serves on the board of directors for the Mississippi Market Natural Food Co-op in St. Paul.