Monday, January 9, 2012

A little sin on Sunday - Brunch with the girls

There was a time when I hated eggs. At first they were never served to me properly – as a kid I found the typically dry, overcooked scrambled eggs and the difficulty of peeling a soft boiled egg so very unappealing that it turned me off to eggs altogether. Then somewhere along the way my taste buds were introduced to eggs cooked slowly, with care and attention. And since then I have loved eggs and feel much delight in experimenting in the numerous ways to prepare eggs. I am so very adamant about my eggs being cooked slowly on not too high of heat, my sister Soniya, refuses to prepare me breakfast altogether.

A few weeks ago, to celebrate the existence of our dining table – (my previously tiny Manhattan apartment had only an island counter with stools) I invited a few of the girls over Sunday brunch.

December 12, 2011

Oeuf en Cocotte
boursin, grape tomato, herbs

Potato Gratin
garlic, thyme, cream

Yellow Cornbread
rosemary, olive oil

Berry Crossover
strawberry, cream, confectioner’s sugar

Oeufen cocotte, which may sound intimidating, is rather easy. Some refer to this dish as baked eggs or shirred eggs. The components vary, but oeuf en cocotte is typically prepared with cream or cheese inside of ramekin. I found this recipe on Chocolate Zucchini and prepared it with a few alterations seen below.

Oeuf en cocotte

- 1 egg / Or two if you prefer
- 1 tablespoon of Boursin with fine herbs
- ground black pepper,
- sea salt with herbs de provence
- paprika
- a pinch of grated pecorino romano
- chopped grape tomatoes

This is what you need to prepare breakfast for one and will require one ramekin, but make as many as needed.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Butter a small ramekin, in this case, the exact size is not so crucial, though be conscious if you decide to use two eggs. Spoon in the tomatoes and Boursin. Crack the egg on top. Put in a tiny pinch of salt, pepper, and cheese.

Put the ramekins in a large baking dish enough to hold water. Pour hot water in the dish halfway up the ramekin. Be careful not to spill water inside the ramekins. Bake for 10 minutes, or longer if you prefer a more solid yolk.

Remove from the oven and carefully lift ramekins out of hot water. Add a tiny pinch of paprika for color and serve immediately.

Traditional Potato Gratin

I found this recipe on La Tartine Gourmande, I love this blog and cook from here religiously. She posts her entries in French and English, and I love getting a chance to practice my French. Her recipe calls for Celeriac, or celery root, which I could not find at Whole Foods so I simply omitted it and made a few alterations based on ingredients available in my kitchen. The gratin was enough for six servings and made for such a hit, and as La Tartine Gourmande says, “Can you really dislike a gratin?”

  • 1 lb & 5 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 whole garlic clove, 2 crushed, or more if you wish
  • 7 fluid oz whole milk (7/8 c)
  • 7 fluid oz heavy cream (7/8 c)
  • 3 thyme twigs
  • Nutmeg
  • Unsalted butter
  • Sea Salt with herbs de Provence
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Pour milk and cream in a pot and heat to a boil. Add the crushed garlic and thyme twigs. Turn off the heat, cover, and allow the flavors to combine for a half hour. Then remove the garlic and thyme from the pot.

While infusing the milk, peel and slice the potatoes very thinly. At the time I did this by hand, but I now have a mandoline and highly recommend that. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 400F. I prepared this in a rectangular baking pan, but you can prepare them in individual sized dishes, too. Prepare the dish by rubbing the remaining garlic clove along the surface and then grease with butter. Line the dish with slices of potato and repeat for layers. Pour cream over potatoes. Add a pinch of nutmeg. Bake in center of oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

Rosemary Cornbread Muffins

LinkFor brunch, my roommate Deepa actually did all the work on this one! I was so bogged down with cooking other things and tired from spending the early hours in the kitchen, she woke up and came to my rescue. I found this recipe on Martha Stewart's website, and they were a scrumptious addition to brunch.

I made this on my own a week or so later and was so very unsatisfied because I had switched things up and used whole wheat pastry flour. I found the muffins far less pleasant as they cooked a bit faster in my mom’s oven. I stupidly asked my mom to remove them from the oven while I rushed to shower before my sister arrived from the airport. She took them out as soon as the timer went off but they had become far too golden. I prefer muffins and cupcakes to be soft and delicate – but I suppose if I wanted a sort of skillet style cornbread that coarse cornbread would have been fine.

This recipe when followed exactly produces a super soft cornbread with this pleasantly surprising infused flavors of rosemary and olive oil, and is quite addictive!!!

  • 1 c organic yellow cornmeal
  • 1 c organic all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp natural salt
  • 1 T finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 large organic eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5 T organic cane sugar
  • 2/3 c organic low-fat buttermilk
  • 2/3 c extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Place cornmeal in a mixing bowl. Combine remaining dry ingredients and sift into cornmeal. Add chopped rosemary and mix briefly.

In a separate bowl, break eggs into sugar, buttermilk and oil. Blend with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. On low speed, add half of cornmeal mixture until combined, and repeat with second half. Don’t over mix.

Prep muffin pan with cupcake liners. Divide batter among cups. Bake until solid and a knife comes out clean when inserted into a muffin, approximately, 20 to 25 minutes. Keep a watchful eye, as the muffins should remain yellow, and not be golden. Remove muffins from pan to stop cooking and place them on a cooling rack.

Strawberry Crossovers

I wanted to end the meal on sweet note and found this lovely recipe for pastry made with fresh strawberries. This blog has such a great set of pictures displaying each step I’ll go ahead and suggest reviewing that for detailed instructions on how to make the crossovers. I followed the recipe to the t, and the pastries came out sweet, but not too sweet. Everyone loved them! Enjoy them immediately – they were a bit soggy the next day after refrigeration so I wouldn’t make these in advance. The nearby Whole Foods carries fresh puff pastry dough from a local bakery, which I found much better tasting then the typical frozen puff pastry. Be careful to not let the dough get too warm and also to not let the strips get too thin. It’s handy to have scissors for your kitchen, too.

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