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Baked (Shirred) Eggs for a French Morning

January 16, 2011

During the late winter of my Senior year of high school, I was an exchange student to a French family in Normandy. Incredibly nervous about traveling to the mecca of cuisine, and knowing the French understanding of food, I worried that being a vegetarian would be a huge inconvenience to them. I sat down with my French teacher, and we wrote a letter of introduction where I explained that I was a vegetarian, but that I would love to help prepare the food, so as not to be an inconvenience.

After a long overnight flight, which surrounded by my friends meant a sleepless night, and a train ride from Paris to Caen, I met my host family. They were fantastically generous people who really were excited about their American guest (the entire family went running with me because they wanted to try it, and that is a story for another post). Because I arrived later in the day, and was obviously dazed, my host mother dropped me off at the house, showed me my room and said there was lunch on the table for me. She left, and I wandered to the kitchen. There sitting in front of me was a giant, picked over, roast chicken with a butcher’s knife. Now, please forgive me, I was 17, exhausted, hungry, and in a strange place. I just teared up and panicked. My parents raised me to never be rude to a host, appreciate what you are given, and love what you have. I also hadn’t eaten since I left Dulles 5 p.m. the day before, so, I picked a bit at the chicken and then went to bed for much needed sleep. However, it was difficult to fall asleep. I just stared at the French pop star posters hanging in my borrowed room, and I tried to figure out how I was going to explain that I don’t eat meat. Luckily, I managed some rest, which was just enough strength to talk to my host mother. She was gracious, kind, and wonderful. It seems she was confused by my use of the French word la viande, meaning meat, which for her, only referred to red meat. Thinking Americans eat alot of red meat, she thought I was clarifying that I was not a typical American, so clearly I would eat le poulet, or chicken. We laughed at the miscommunication, and she said it was not a problem at all. So, the next night she made baked eggs with a side salad and a crunchy baguette. The most delicious, amazing, wonderful and generous meal I had eaten in my life so far.****

A photo from a more recent visit to France with AAM. It is much more vegetarian friendly these days.

Early this morning, I woke up to Serafina crying in the dark. It seems she is going through her own teen angst as a 10 month old. I gathered her together and headed to the living room to play. Late dark mornings always remind me of that winter trip in Normandy, where we arrived and left school in the dark. We popped on some Edith Piaf, and Serafina sang along to every tune, these days she loves singing. We read some of our favorite French themed children’s books, Madeline, Quiet Time with Cassatt, Mon imagier de bébé, and then she went down for her morning nap. So, I did what every novice home cook does, I googled Baked Eggs, and pieced together my own version of my host family’s meal. In France, baked eggs are largely a lunchtime meal, but really it can be served for breakfast or  dinner after a heavy lunch. I would recommend having a salad of greens (ground pepper and olive oil dressing) and baguette with the eggs. Because I was the one on duty this morning, this serves one, with two eggs, a very hungry one. But since this is the perfect meal to serve guests for lunch or brunch, just double, triple, quadruple the recipe as needed.

Baked (Shirred) Eggs with Greens and a Baguette

  • Butter to grease (so not much, but just enough to cover your ramekin)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp Pecorino or Parmesean cheese
  • 1/4 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • Boiling Water or very hot water
  • 1/2 cup of romaine mixed greens
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 a baguette
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat your oven to 325.

2. Grease the inside of a ramekin. Then crack two eggs into the ramekin. Sprinkle Herbes de Provence and cheese on top, and drizzle cream over the eggs.

3. Place your ramekin on a roasting pan. Pour the boiling water in the roasting pan (surrounding the ramekins).

3. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the egg whites are lightly cooked, but the yolk can still be soft (think eggs over easy, but softer). I found that the time varied on different recipes. I needed 15 minutes, and some might want to cook it even longer. So, for your first try at the recipe, hang close to the kitchen and periodically check on your eggs.

4. Prepare the plate, romaine leaves with ground pepper, salt and olive oil sprinkled over it. Place crusty baguette on the plate, and add the ramekin. Bon Appetit!

****The next night she served a stew with a ham hock in it, but I swallowed my pride and enjoyed her efforts to appease her strange young guest; I should have remembered to add le jambon to the list as well.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 16, 2011 12:15 pm

    I LOVE baked eggs! And what a great story to go with them 🙂

    • January 17, 2011 8:26 pm

      Yep! And if only I could truly describe my awkward French… I may teach high school, but it is so hard to think about your own self in high school!

  2. January 17, 2011 1:22 pm

    Served this to my girl for breakfast in bed today…
    You get four resounding thumbs up from us on this one!

    • January 17, 2011 8:24 pm

      Fantastic! I am glad you enjoyed it!


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