We’re waking up to an extremely light dusting of snow here in Toronto, barely a white Christmas but nonetheless a special day for many of us. And that calls for something equally special to start the day. You know breakfast being the most important meal of the day and all that stuff, so why not start the overindulgence as soon as you get out of bed?
I made these eggs en cocotte for Christmas breakfast last year, inspired by Laura Calder. As many of you lovely readers know, it was Sean’s last earthly Christmas. I promised him a special treat before we went to church and since mushrooms were one of his favourite ingredients I thought it would be perfect to use as the base for the coddled eggs. Might I add, my dear sweet husband readily agreed.
Sean was a big fan of breakfast and would readily eat it at any time of the day. It was not unusual for us to have a simple frittata for dinner on nights we just didn’t feel like making anything too complicated. If there’s one thing that stood out in Sean’s kitchen repertoire it was his omelettes – he was a pro at making them. For one of his birthdays I even bought him a t-shirt with a graphic image of a full English breakfast that was entitled, ‘A Taste of Paradise’. Yeah, the man was a big, big fan.
To make things easier, I make the mushroom mixture the previous day so you just layer it with the eggs and cream and bake it the next morning. I remember using thyme last year, but my local supermarket was out of it so I chose to go with chives instead. Calder suggests serving the eggs with buttered toast, which quite honestly is the perfect accompaniment. You can dunk the slice in and scoop up the runny egg or mix everything together and spoon it onto the toast – any way you choose it will be just as delicious.
So I’m starting a bit of a tradition for myself this year. I’ve just devoured a ramekin of coddled eggs and I’m off to church – in fact, the very same parish that Sean went to mass for the last time. I remember it being a gorgeous, sunny day last year and we were both baffled by the fact that it felt more like a crisp fall day, instead of a frigid wintry one. No complains from me this year. Santa isn’t a miracle worker and isn’t going to be able to give me what I want, but I hope he is good to all of you as you celebrate with friends and family.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays.
Mushroom and eggs en cocotte
1 small onion (or shallot), chopped finely
1 clove of garlic, chopped finely
4 large cremini mushrooms, cubed
2 tbs chives, chopped finely (plus more for garnish)
2 tbs cream
Salt and pepper
Butter toast for serving
Heat a frying pan. Add the butter and once it’s melted add the garlic and onion to the pan. Once the onions caramelize, add the mushrooms. Make sure the pan is wide enough so the mushrooms saute and don’t steam because of overcrowding. he mushrooms will release a bit of water, so turn up the heat so that it evaporates and cook until lightly caramelized. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and toss with the chives.
As Calder directs, heat the oven to 375ºF. In the meantime, divide the mushroom mixture between the two buttered ramekins. Break an egg over the mixture, add a tablespoon of cream and then some salt and pepper. Put the ramekins into a larger baking dish. Pour hot water into the larger baking dish until it comes half-way up the sides of the ramekin. Bake for around five to seven minutes, depending on the level of doneness you prefer. Serve with buttered toast.