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Oeuf cocotte

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
    Ingredients:
    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
    3 eggs
    1 heaped tbsp feta cheese, diced
    1 tbsp parmesan shreds
    1 tbsp butter
    Olive oil
    1 tsp balsamic vinegar
    1 level tsp brown sugar
    Salt
    Pepper
    Method:
    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!

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Oeuf cocotte

I myself prefer my New Zealand eggs for breakfast.
~ Elizabeth II

3.30pm, eggs on the bench, ramekins in the cupboard and trusty Google open on my laptop – this is how I came to have some magnifique oeuf cocotte for lunch today.

It was so simple to make, and this recipe is one I anticipate being able to easily tweak and experiment with without devastating consequences!

I ate my oeuf cocotte standing in the kitchen, reading an e-mail from a friend, feeling a tingle of pleasure travel slowly up my spine… the melted cheese, a warm wave of comfort and gentleness, slipped slowly over and under my tongue. The eggs were just cooked – not rubbery in the slightest. The bits of broccoli were soft, capsicum slightly crunchy – both were oh-so-sweet. The herbs, salt and pepper provided subtle and necessary flavour.

And of course, all this goodness was contained inside my white ramekins (I’m glad I made 2 small portions to double the goodness) – what can I say? Food served in ramekins mysteriously increases in tastiness and elegance.

    Ingredients:
    1 egg
    handful of diced broccoli
    handful of diced capsicum
    handful of grated cheese
    1 tbsp cream cheese
    salt
    pepper
    dried parsley
    dried oregano
    Method:
    Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Grease a small ramequin, lay vegetables and cream cheese at the bottom, and break the egg on top. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Top with cheese and dried herbs, rubbing the herbs between your fingers as you sprinkle them to release the flavour.
    Put the ramequin in a deep ovenproof dish, and pour hot water in the dish to about half the height of the ramequin. Put in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how runny you like your eggs (mine were perfect at 10).
    You can sprinkle on paprika and fresh herbs, and serve with warm crusty bread as suggested on Chocolate & Zucchini – but I ate them just the way they were, and it was perfect for me.
    Yields 1 serving (I made 2 of these today).