...which I suppose ideally occurs at half past nine at a house covered in vines, with 11 other little kids in two straight lines sitting at a long table. Not to mention, saying a lot of “pooh, pooh,” to your exceptionally friendly dog beneath the table because she want some of your whimsical egg dish. Usually, such as eggs and soldiers but today we push the boundaries of whimsy with a slightly fluffier and puffier take the ubiquitous and universal egg. Incredible and most certainly edible, indeed.
The reason I summon memories of Madeline for this dish is because I found the it in a rare French children’s cookbook at a little bookstore in London – a cookbook I will never forgive myself for not buying. Originally published in 1963, La Cuisine est un Jeu d’Enfants* by Michael Olivier is filled with simple French recipes for children and parents to enjoy together and fantastically stylized illustrations all upon lovely yellow-tinged pages. I like to think that there was a little bit of flour tucked somewhere in the binding or butter smudged on the page edge from good use -- but I think I’m mixing it up with the memories of the cookbooks my mom and I used to cook out of together.
Being I sabroke Stupidly, I put it back on the shelf in that Notting Hill shop and have regretted it ever since. However, I did manage to retain this very basic recipe after I flipped through and parted ways with the book. It’s easy and an interesting way to enjoy something you would otherwise cook in a much more mundane fashion. Poaching is for grown-ups, anyway.
And to that I say Pooh, pooh.
Eggs in a Nest
When separating the eggs and reserving the yolks, I like to keep the yolk in its shell to minimize dirty dishes. Returning the eggs to the oven for only a short time at the ends keeps the yolks runny and mimics eggs and soldiers. I love it as it makes a good sauce for the white or for dipping if you still have soldiers on call.
A tbs or two of grated Gruyere, or any kind of hard cheese you prefer (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Separate the egg whites and yolks, keeping yolks individually separated. I like to use the shells to minimize dirty dishes. You will need them in their unbroken and individual state of being shortly.
Whisk the egg white to stiff peaks. For each egg used, divide whites into mounds on a lined baking sheet or non-stick baking surface. Don’t overlook the non-stick here. Egg whites are delicate creatures and sticking to the pan will surely lead to their deflated demise.
With a spoon, create a crater within the center of each mound. Place in the oven for 3-5 minutes or just until egg white edges slightly begins to brown. Remove the white from the oven and carefully place each yolk into the pocket or ‘nest’ of each white. Return the eggs to the oven and allow the yolks to set for another 2-5 minutes, depending on how you like your yolk.
Welcome to the B-Spot, by the way. Consider this the first of many a breakfast post as the 'B-Spot' to you from now on will be used to filter any and everything that can be consumed and enjoyed before the clock strikes lunch. Although for me, it generally refers to my bed which I crawl back into every morning to surf the web, much like a grown and learned person. Then, eat my breakfast, much like a small child again. It only seemed fitting for the tag. You can even refer to my bed also as "the B-spot" if you really insist, however, you may not put your feet on it. We live in New York City and that, my friend, is crossing the line.
And you didn't think I just had one egg, did you? Accompanied by chocolate chia breakfast pudding that I consume religiously every morning with all the fixins (Gojis to pepitas, yada, yada) alongside whatever else I decide to concoct. Recipe obviously to come eventually as it is actually largely responsible for my livelihood. I should also let you know have an undying and hot burning love for chia seeds that cannot be sequestered.
So on that note --
au revoir les enfants,
*There’s not much information on the book circulating the interwebs, but I did find someone who wrote a short blog post on it. Click here for more photos.