Weekend brunch is all about the egg. Frittata, strata, spanish tortilla, Benedict, poached, soft scrambled, fried, omelet, and so on. You can’t go wrong with any of them and everyone has their personal favorite. For the non-egg lovers, even french toast is embraced for its custardy-goodness. Many people will vote breakfast as their favorite meal of the day. Even better, is the late breakfast that can stretch into the afternoon. Brunch.
This leisurely affair is usually best enjoyed on the weekends, when you have time to gather with friends and catch up on the details of each others lives. Interesting conversation while sipping orange juice, nibbling on toasted brioche, or dusting off sugar encrusted fingertips from your beignets and coffee. In all of these experiences, the most memorable part is the sense of community. Everyone making time to meet and sit with one another to share a meal.
Community is one of the most fulfilling aspects of life. Having lived a somewhat nomadic existence for the past ten years, has brought the importance of community to my life’s forefront. It is entirely possible to live in a city and work, eat, sleep, and play without ever really knowing anyone. Accumulating acquaintances, work associations, and dutiful experiences can fill your days with what feels like eventfulness. However, at the end of the day there was no connection and no real “knowing.” These experiences have been a lesson as to what real connection feels and looks like in life. To value those who reach out to make a connection. I recently attended a brunch that was inspired by what the host currently had in their pantry. It was marvelous. We chatted and laughed while we filled our cups with hot french press coffee and spread clotted cream and strawberry jam over our cream scones. Everything was made even more delightful by the individuals that surrounded the table. Kind souls who welcomed us into their home to share in their appreciation of great food and good company. Connection.
Inspired by the simplicity of using what you find in your pantry for a weekend brunch, I share these Oeufs en Cocotte (baked eggs) with you. Truly a simple breakfast that will leave you scraping the bottom of the dish. Depending on how you like your eggs prepared, you may cook them until the yolk is just set or bake them for a few more minutes until the yolk is solid. Enjoy it with a quality toasted bread, such as brioche, and it is perfection.
Oeufs en Cocotte
Makes 4 small ramekins (3″ diameter) or oven-safe cups
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 large spring of fresh thyme, leaves removed from stem
Pinch of fresh rosemary, chopped
1 slice turkey bacon, soysage, bacon or any preferred breakfast meat, crumbled
4 tablespoons ricotta
4 teaspoons heavy cream
Pepper, freshly cracked
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a medium sized saute pan, over medium-high heat, add your olive oil. When oil is shimmering hot add shallots, plus a pinch of salt and pepper, and saute until they begin to become translucent. Add thyme and rosemary, stir and saute for another minute until shallots are lightly golden. Scrape out into a clean bowl.
In the same saute pan, over medium-high heat, add your bacon and cook until crisp. Remove from pan, let cool sightly, and then coarsely crumble.
In each ramekin, add 1 tablespoon of ricotta. Add 1 tablespoon of seasoned shallots, sprinkle in crumbled bacon, and add 1 teaspoon of heavy cream. Top with one freshly cracked egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place the ramekins in a large baking dish, evenly spaced, and pour hot water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins (also known as a “water-bath”). Carefully, transfer the baking dish into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until whites are set and yolk is still runny. If you prefer your yolks to be hard, bake for a few minutes more.
Remove from oven and remove ramekins from water-bath. Allow to cool slightly and sprinkle with fresh herbs, such as dill, parsley, or chives. Serve warm with toasted brioche or sourdough.