One needs something to believe in, something for which one can have wholehearted enthusiasm.
~ Hannah Senesh
Once upon a time, I thought that making oeuf cocotte was fussy and “much work for little return”. Now, I make them occasionally and each time I am always surprised by how simple they are to prepare, how (deceptively) fancy they look and how comforting they are to eat.
Just chop up some of your favourite veges, herbs, bits of ham or anything you like to eat with eggs (and that will like being in the oven)… sometimes I like to first sear some tomatoes with a splash of balsamic vinegar and a bit of muscovado sugar.
Then dot the bottom of a few ramekins with butter, throw in your veges/ham/whatever, crack an egg on top and crown the lot with some cheese. Place the ramekins in a deep baking dish, and fill the baking dish with hot water till it comes halfway up the side of the ramekins.
Bake them for a few minutes, then serve as breakfast/lunch/a light start to dinner. Easy, huh? I think so too.
The recipe I include below documents the way I made it recently, but you can make delicious variations with ham, bacon, mushrooms… some recipes I have come across also use cream. This is a versatile dish that lends itself well to some experimentation!
- Oeuf cocotte
1/4 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, smashed and finely chopped
3 tomatoes, cut into 4-8 small wedges
Handful of cooking spinach, roughly chopped
1 large pepper or capsicum
1 heaped tbsp feta cheese, diced
1 tbsp parmesan shreds
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 level tsp brown sugar
Preheat oven to 200°C. Boil some water.
- Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet set over a medium-high flame. Once the oil is warm, add in the onion – sauté till golden brown and fragrant, then throw in the garlic, capsicum and tomatoes, sugar, and balsamic vinegar. Stir for a minute or two, till you can see the skins on the tomatoes begin to collapse gently.
- Place a pat of butter at the bottom of each ramekin, and add in the spinach, cooked vegetables and feta cubes. Roughly level the surface of the vegetables, then crack an egg into each ramekin. Add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Put the ramekins into a deep baking tray and fill the baking tray with hot water till the water level reaches halfway up the side of the ramekins.
- Place the tray into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes.
- Yields 3 servings.
Other yummies of late: (1) a particularly delicious chocolate fondue involving, I found out later, mascarpone added to the warm chocolate mix. Mmm! (2) a generous and very tasty chicken sandwich at Willow Glen in Gordonton. (3) my sweet brother’s “brownie cake” (midway between brownie and cake). Cute imagining him in the kitchen, probably looking very serious the whole time. (4) farmers’ market salad leaves. Crunch crunch crunch.
P.S. Happy Waitangi Day!