It was one of those nights. I was tired, the pantry wasn’t exactly full and the kids were starving (which equalled whining). And as much as I enjoyed cooking, on nights like these all I felt like serving for dinner was breakfast – toast, cereal, a boiled egg, you get the picture.
Thoughts of breakfast led me to scrambled eggs, and then to something a bit more special. The classic French dish - Oeufs en Cocotte. I’d never attempted oeufs en cocotte before but it sounded like something quick and relatively easy. After a bit of web surfing, I found this lovely Chocolate and Zucchini blog, with a very informative article on my chosen dinner item!
The recipe seemed very forgiving, so I gave it a whirl (with a couple of minor tweaks of course.)
A quick forage turned up fresh tomatoes, a bunch of spinach, some bacon, cheddar cheese and some cream. Not very French, but it would have to do.
First, I sautéed the (chopped) spinach with a diced garlic clove and some butter. Then I drained off the cooking liquid and pureed the spinach with my trusty stick blender. Yes, it had become more involved than I had initially planned, but by this stage I was feeling inspired.
Plus, the mini critics have an on-again, off-again relationship with spinach. Some days they would eat it without batting an eye, and other days it just got sent back to the kitchen. So I figured the more “disguised” the spinach, the better.
Next, I diced the bacon and fried it crisply. Into some oiled ramekins I put a slice of tomato, a sprinkle of the cooked bacon, a small handful of cheese, and finally the eggs. Here, I diverged again from the recipe because the mini-critics had something against egg yolks. They would eat scrambled eggs, omelettes and frittata but whole egg yolks got left behind on the plate. So, I beat the eggs lightly with a tablespoon of cream and a couple of tablespoons of the spinach puree. Then the mixture was poured gently over the other ingredients.
The ramekins went into a water bath, then into a hot oven (about 220˚C) for 10 to 15 minutes. I baked the kids ones a bit longer because mini critic senior doesn’t like custard or anything with a “custardy” texture. (She also doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies – go figure).
Voila! Not quite Oeufs en cocotte, more like a baked but very moist frittata. The kids dug in happily.
I was even happier that I didn’t have to make a separate dinner for the adults. For our version, I just spooned the spinach puree onto the tomato layer in the ramekin, added the other ingredients and cracked an egg over the top. A bit of freshly grated nutmeg, then into the oven. As soon as the eggs were cooked to our liking, I added about 1 tsp of cream,and popped it back into the oven a few minutes for the cream to warm through.
Paired with a cheeky red, dinner turned out much better than I had anticipated! Hubby then remarked,
“I don’t think I can eat anything else”. Why not? “Because one egg is an oeuf!”.