Friday, August 13, 2010

Using and Preserving Summer Herbs: Herby Baked Eggs

And now for a bit of herbalicious conversation from Rebecca over at CakeWalk...

I was really excited when I heard that Burp! was doing a Summer Herb Series, and even more flattered that they asked me to write something about one of my favorite herby things.  I like to garden in the broadest sense of the word.  I may not find the time to tend to as large a garden as I'd like, but no matter what, I always plant many types of herbs.  They seem to take to whatever conditions I subject them to, they seem to thrive on a bit of neglect, and the reward for such little effort is astounding.  Summer herbs are one of lifes most affordable luxuries, and I think one of my favorite ways to enjoy them is by using different combinations in baked eggs.

I first saw the original recipe when Ina Garten made it on Barefoot Contessa.  Ina is rather famous for her Hamptons-ish lifestyle, and her gardens that are regularly featured on her show and in her cookbooks are truly worthy of envy.  In fact, I used to love watching her show just to see glimpses of her hedges of rosemary!  I guess I like to imagine myself able to have an enormous garden, and maybe even a private gardener to make it all thrive... weed-free and well designed, like I can never seem to manage myself.

To bake her eggs, she used her beautiful Apilco gratin dishes, and  a mixture of different herbs with Parmesan cheese and baked the eggs under a broiler.  It was such an easy thing, and yet seemed so sophisticated - at least to me:  a home cook as far from Ina's Hamptons living as she is to say the Kendall Corn and Beer Bust (...yes, that is an actual event in rural Kendall, WI, and yes, I have attended.)
The greatest thing about this recipe is that it is so adaptable in summer.  To make it in the winter, you would need to find small amounts of several types of herbs.  Not only that, but it allows for several egg eaters to dine at once, allowing a hostess to eat with her guest(s), which is always a good thing.

My only oven to table dishes aren't as elegant as Ina's, but really you only need something that is oven safe not to crack under high heat.  I have some shallow, porcelain dishes that I like to use, and have even cooked up to 4 eggs at once (to serve 2 of us) in one of my 6 inch square ones.  Ina's original recipe calls for 3 eggs per person, but I rarely break the 2 egg limit myself.  I also like to load up on the herbs, and use a bit more than she calls for.  After all, fresh herb season is fleeting, and I like to indulge where I can.
You can easily adapt the herbs to the varieties that you have growing, or that you prefer.  I let my parsley go to seed, and decided to chop up some of the bolted fronds after tasting their "parsley-ness".  I think a Mexican version would be good, using cilantro, oregano (or Mexican oregano if you have it) and using cotija cheese instead of parmesan.  I may try this soon myself, since I grew a new Mexican herb this summer that I never tried before: papalo.  I'd bet it would be really good with eggs.
Knowing, and agreeing, with Peef and Lo's commitment to local and organic ingredients, I used a Parmesan cheese made in Wisconsin, rendering this dish 100% from our state.  Country Connection makes a variety of cheese that is a bit softer than it's imported cousin, but still has the trace of granulated saline bite that I love about Parmesan.  It's easy to find locally at Outpost, and I've been enjoying it in all sorts of things.

I use the recipe amounts per ramekin, but you can use more or less to your tastes.  You can also bake the dish for less time if you prefer runnier egg yolks.  I let mine get pretty well done this time, and part of the yolks were cooked hard, part were runny.  Exactly what I was aiming for!
Herby Baked Eggs (adapted from Ina Garten)
1 serving
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 t. garlic, minced
  • 1/4 t. thyme, minced (I used lemon thyme)
  • 1/4 t. rosemary, minced
  • 1 T. minced parsley
  • 1 T. grated Parmesan cheese (Country Connection, available at Outpost)
  • 1 T. half and half (Crystal Ball Farms, also available at Outpost), I eyeball this, just a splash in the bottom of the ramekin.
  • 1 T. butter
  • salt
  • pepper
Preheat broiler to high for 5 minutes and place oven rack 6 inches below the heat.

Combine garlic, herbs, Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.  Crack eggs into another waiting cup or small dish.  (Ina notes that it is important to have everything ready to go before you begin to cook.)

Put the gratin or ramekin you are using as a baking dish on a sheet pan.  Add butter and cream to ramekin and place under the broiler until butter melts and gets bubbly, about 3 minutes.  Remove from oven, and quickly and carefully add the eggs.  Sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, and put back under the broiler.  Bake for 5-6 minutes until eggs are cooked to your preference.  Watch carefully towards the end of the time so that they don't brown too much.  The eggs will also continue to cook for a minute or so after you remove them from the oven.
Serve with bread or toast, I used the Lahey Bacon Bread, which made this just about perfect as far as breakfasts go - not that it wouldn't make a perfectly delectable lunch or dinner as well.

It's difficult to know where to start describing the wonder that is CakeWalk, the brain child of my own personal friend, Rebecca Gagnon. She started her Milwaukee area food blog in 2009 -- and hasn't looked back. Whether she's baking up incredible breads as part of her Lahey Project or cooking up Vegan delights, she manages to bring plenty of wisdom and whimsy to everything she's cooking up in the kitchen.  Rebecca claims she has no idea where CakeWalk is heading. But, what I do know is that I'm eager to follow wherever she leads! 

This guest post is part of our Summer 2010 Herb Series: Using and Preserving Herbs. Stay tuned every Friday for more hints, tips, and tricks on how to use summer's bounty!

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11 comments:

  1. Yum, baked eggs are such a rich treat

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  2. This is absolutely gorgeous! What a great breakfast, but also a satisfying and classy dinner. On the list.

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  3. beautiful and tasty. For some reason I dont get your updates sent to my inbox. I now need to go back and read everything!

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  4. Amanda (et al) - we've had some reported trouble with the old email service we were using. However, our new arrangement seems to work better. Sign up by hitting the little orange "feed" button up in the right corner :) And let me know if anything isn't working for you. I'll look into it!!

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  5. The last Masterchef episode did a contest with eggs and since then I've been seriously craving them! I totally love this preparation!

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  6. Eggs with garlic, half/half, butter, Parmesan, and herbs? Sign. Me. Up. Ina rarely disappoints. Great guest post, Rebecca!

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  7. Wow, that's gorgeous. And the best part -- it's totally within my reach this year, because though my veggies have floundered, my herbs have done beautifully. Maybe we'll do this for dinner tonight (I love eggs for dinner!)

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  8. Oh yum!! Is sooooo needed a new breakfast/lunch/dinner idea. This looks perfect!

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  9. Let's hear it for recipes that are easy and yet seem so sophisticated!

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  10. I love Ina Garten too :) This looks fabulous. Will go make some now so the bf and I can have a lovely summer breaky.

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  11. Good heavens, this looks delicious. I love runny eggs and these look so good right now!

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