Finally French Baked Eggs!

There are times where you have to try, try, and try again.  Such is life.  It gets a bit annoying when that happens with a recipe.

I saw a recipe in a cookery book of Barefoot Contessa’s for easy baked eggs.  Ooh, I thought, this looks amazing.  Let’s have a go.

To start her method was to broil.  I followed it to the letter.  Three times and failed each time.  I was starting to get annoyed!  The flavours were there but the yolk would over cook and the whites would stay runny.  Not the way I wanted.

In the meantime I tried Jovina Cooks Italian recipe for Marinara Baked Eggs.  I still struggled with getting the yolks runny but it was a better result.  My husband and I talked about maybe separating the eggs and cooking the whites for a bit.  Darya on Tortore mentioned in the comments the same idea so that settled it.  I was going to give it another try.

French baked eggs 1 2015

This recipe is for one serving.  Finely chop a handful of parsley, rosemary, and thyme.  Then finely mince a clove of garlic.  Grate about a 1/4 cup of fresh parmesan.  Set all this aside.

French baked eggs 2 2015

Preheat the oven to 400F/205C.  In a shallow bake safe dish heat up 1 1/2 tablespoons of cream and a tablespoon of butter.

French baked eggs 3 2015

Separate three eggs and add the whites and half the cheese and herb mixture to the dish.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Bake until the whites are almost set, fluffing a few times as it cooks.  Add the three yolks.

French baked eggs 4 2015

Add the rest of the herb and cheese mixture.  Bake a few minutes more until the yolks are warm but still runny.  I was feeling really positive by this point!  Once the eggs are cooked, remove from the heat.  Grate a bit more parmesan over the eggs.  Toast up crusty bread to serve with.

French baked eggs 5 2015

Look at that, runny yolks!  This was easy.  🙂  And oh so good.  I am so happy I figured this out.  There is an extra step but it means I get the result I’m supposed to.

Cheesy Canapés to Ring in the New Year

Well 2014 is done and dusted.  They go by faster as we get older.  I do wish I can figure out how to slow it down a bit.  Ah well, I’ll just have to enjoy the ride at the speed it goes.

As usual we had a lot of fun with our friends for New Year’s Eve, letting our hair down probably more than is good for us.  And as usual we had a lot of good food, enough for an army!

A few weeks ago apointgourmet posted about Thyme and Gruyere Canapés and I thought they would be perfect for the party.  I could make them earlier in the day and them warm them up at the party.

I decided to use the cheeses I had on hand for this dish which was jarlsberg and parmesan cheese.

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C

Cheese puffs 1 2015

It’s a good idea to prep the ingredients prior to starting the recipe.  The amount of cheese needed is about 1 2/3 cups with half a cup of that being parmesan and the rest jarlsberg.  Grate the cheese and set aside.  Finely chop fresh thyme to give you two teaspoons and set that aside with the cheese.  Add a pinch of sea salt and a few dashes of cayenne pepper to the cheese.  In a sauce pan bring a cup of water and 4 tablespoons of butter to a boil.  Remove from the heat and add a cup of flour.  Mix well until the dough becomes smooth.

Cheese puffs 2 2015

In a mixer incorporate the dough with the cheese mixture.

Cheese puffs 3 2015

One at a time add 4 eggs and mix well.

Cheese puffs 4 2015

Scoop into a pastry bag with a tip that has a large hole.  This is my least favourite bit as the dough is thick and sticky and likes to find it’s way out the top of the bag.  So annoying!  And it’s hard on my hand squeezing all the dough.  Create dollops about an inch in diameter and place them about 1/2 an inch or so apart.  Beat one egg and egg wash the dollops without letting the egg drip down the sides otherwise the egg can prevent the puffs from rising.

Cheese puffs 5 2015

Bake 25-30 minutes until they are golden brown.  Now the recipe I followed said 20-25 minutes but mine weren’t golden in that time frame, I suspect because of different ovens.  At any rate bake until golden.

Cheese puffs 7 2015

I had also come across an idea to do apples with cheese and pancetta.  So I used that for inspiration and decided to use fontina and prosciutto.  Very easy, just wrap the apple and cheese and bake until the cheese is melted.

Cheese puffs 6 2015

I really liked the balance of the sweetness of the apple and saltiness of the prosciutto.



A First Crack at a French Omelette…

Well it’s back to reality now.  We came back on Thursday from a fabulous trip to England to see friends and family.  Thursday was a 21 hour day so I barely avoided going face first into the pillow when we made it home.  A friend of ours asked me what I missed when we were gone and it was a bit erm ketchup?  Seriously, when we move back we’ll be asking any visiting friends to bring us ketchup.

Of course I missed our kitchen.  My husband and I got a bit of cooking in, there was an amazing leg of lamb, but it’s hard when it’s not your kitchen.  Not knowing where things are slow you down!  And if you are trying to cook to allow your mother-in-law to relax, it’s hard for her to relax if you are asking where things are.  But we did our best.

After doing a few travel and train posts I was anxious to get back to recipes though the jet lag held me back a bit but today was better.  I thought I’d be bold and go for a French omelette.  The fluffy, creamy, make in a few seconds but has a high level of technique kind.  And as it was my first time, take pictures!  Hmmm.  Maybe the jet lag hasn’t worked it’s way through yet.  But I did it anyway.

I used Julia Child’s book Mastering the Art of French Cooking for this.  It highly recommends a non stick omelette pan.  Which I don’t own.  I own a crepe pan.  I think I upped the level of difficulty right there as it is helpful to have some sides to the pan.

Omelette 1 2014

The cooking of the eggs is very quick so prep the ingredients beforehand.  I chopped up fresh thyme and chives from the garden and grated a 1/4 cup of fresh parmesan.  In a bowl beat 2-3 eggs until blended.  Don’t whip them just get them integrated.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Omelette 2 2014

Heat a tablespoon of butter in the pan you are going to use, moving it about to coat the sides and the bottom.  The book says that once the foam subsides and just before the colour changes it is hot enough.

Omelette 3 2014

Add the eggs and slide the pan back and forth.  The book recommends using a fork but as I don’t want to scratch the pan I used a silicon spatula but you want to stir the eggs quickly as the eggs thicken.  Not scramble them mind but keep the egg moving as it spreads out to cook.  This only takes a few seconds.

Omelette 4 2014

As it begins to fluff up and starts to look like a broken custard add your fillings.  And when they said in a few seconds they weren’t kidding.  I could have used three arms for this with taking photos!

Omelette 5 2014

Gently move it about folding it over itself by bringing the pan to a 45 degree angle.  If it sticks whack the handle a few times.  However you do this you don’t want the eggs to stick.  They’ll start overcooking.  Roll it onto a hot plate.

Omelette 6 2014

Add a bit of butter to melt over the top and serve.  I was quite pleased with this being the first attempt but I can see I need some practice.  I don’t mind.  🙂

PS, I see coming back to the PC that the website changed.  Anyone know how to preview before publishing?  I can’t find it.

Italian Caramelised Onion Soup

I was spoilt this weekend.  It was Mother’s Day stateside and it was a gorgeous weekend to spend with my family.  I get to be bonus mum to two amazing kids and while they always do wonderful things for me on Mother’s Day I get to also celebrate the fact that I won the lottery when I met my husband and kids.  They truly make all the ups and downs of the world worthwhile.

I was treated to a four course meal cooked by them and the kids took turns being “waiter” with the towel over their arms.  I enjoyed Bruschetta for the starter, a salad, chicken piccata, and finished with my daughter’s flourless chocolate cake with custard.  Told you I was spoilt!

A few months ago my husband ordered an onion soup inspired by Italy and I thought at some point I wanted to recreate it.  It was a cool rainy day on Friday, perfect for a light soup.  I don’t have any idea how they did their soup, I went with the impression I got from a spoonful I tried but I was pleased with the results.

I would recommend making this either the morning of or the day before to allow the flavours to mature.  Because I used half chicken stock and half water it needs the time to come together.  It’s amazing how strong a flavour water can have in a dish.  This simmered for over an hour and it just let go of the water flavour.

Thinly slice a large onion of your choice.

Italian Onion Soup 1 2014

Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter.  Saute the onions on low to medium heat to caramelise.  As they begin to soften add a tablespoon of sugar.  The trick here is to be patient and not stir constantly.  Let the onions sit between stirrings. Gradually they will start having that nice caramel colouring you need.

Italian Onion Soup 2 2014

Chop up 2 garlic cloves and fresh rosemary.

Italian Onion Soup 3 2014

Saute in the onions for a couple of minutes then add about 2 cups chicken stock and 2 cups water.  Bring to a simmer.  Add lemon juice to taste as well as salt and pepper.  Grate a cup of fresh parmesan cheese and add to the soup.  Stir until blended.

Italian Onion Soup 4 2014

Serve with some cheesy toast.  This is a lighter version of French Onion Soup and is great as we come out of the dregs of winter.

This Is Not Popeye’s Spinach….

My husband and I were grateful to crawl into bed last night and zone for awhile after a busy several days of holiday and whooping it up for his birthday.   The recovery time is not what it used to be!  We did enjoy watching Guy’s Grocery Games on the Food Network last night as a friend of ours, Luca, who is a wonderful local chef won the game.  So that was pretty cool.  But that was the extent of the excitement we could take.  🙂  As many of you know Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday but we had it on Friday this year as it wasn’t our turn to have the kids for the holiday.  My parents and aunt joined us but my sister couldn’t come as we’ve synced up the holidays so when it’s our Christmas they come too and same for Thanksgiving.  That way all the kids have a chance to be together.

We got our turkey at a local farm and we were late ordering it so I was worried how big it was going to be.  Fortunately they still had a relatively small one at 13.9lbs.  So it fit in the fridge!  We did do the traditional mac-n-cheese, gravy, and roasted veg but I wanted to mix it up a bit with other dishes this year.  To keep us sane we did a lot of food prep the day before.  We were still very busy the morning of though.  I was a bit surprised at that since we planned ahead!

When I was a kid the only two ways I would eat cooked spinach was my mum’s spinach quiche and my Grammy’s spinach balls.  Because I really don’t like cooked spinach.  I mean, why would you take a lovely green and kill it that way?  When I had a sense of smell I couldn’t stomach the smell of cooked spinach and the texture threw me.  But mix it with wonderful ingredients and bake it and I’m good to go.  I’m not sure where Grammy got the recipe and if she was the first in our family to put it on the table but it has been passed on to be made for parties and special occasions.  Of course I changed it a bit because I wouldn’t be my mother’s daughter.  I like to think mum got the habit from her mum.  I also made these for Halloween and I was surprised to see one of our friends who doesn’t really care for veg enjoy these.

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C

Cook 20oz of spinach and drain.  Melt 3/4 cup of butter.  Set this aside to cool a bit.  While the spinach is cooking beat 6 eggs together, chop a medium sized shallot and 2-3 cloves of garlic, and grate at least a cup of fresh parmesan.

Spinach balls 1 2013 Spinach balls 2 2013

When the spinach is ready add the spinach and butter and mix well.

Spinach balls 3 2013

It was at this point I realised I should have made sure I had all the ingredients.  This recipe needs 2 cups of stuffing you cook on the stove.  I had about a 1/4 cup.  So there was a mad dash to the store and a mad dash back.  A bit of a rookie mistake! Mix in the 2 cups of stuffing.

Spinach balls 4 2013

Form into balls and place onto a cookie sheet.  These do spread when baking so treat them like cookies.  The original recipe calls for 20-25 minutes to bake, my Grammy had written 30-35 minutes.  If I bake on regular then it takes about a half an hour.  I chose to do convection and it was about 15 minutes.  Good thing I checked.  It depends on your oven.

Spinach balls 5 2013

If you can serve right away.  We had to do these about an hour beforehand because our bottom oven needed to be in constant use while the turkey roasted in the top oven.  We put them on an oven safe plate and popped them back in for a couple of minutes to warm through.

Parmesan Baked Potato

We have family coming for a birthday lunch today so this will be a quick post as we have various dishes to prep for.  Today is gorgeous and perfect for eating outside.  We won’t have too many more of these days as our days are getting shorter and cooler.

This dish went with the smoked pork tenderloin and a salad.  I found something similar on Pinterest but they had added butter and a bunch of other things.  I decided to keep it really simple.

I first cooked the potatoes in the microwave for 9 minutes.  Then baked them in the toaster oven for about 20 minutes at 325 F.  I then sliced them in half and sprinkled pepper on the open sides.  Then I liberally sprinkled freshly grated parmesan cheese over the pepper for a complete covering.  I put them back in the toaster oven until the cheese was melted and browned a bit.

This is great as a stand alone small meal or a side dish.