I recently had two fantastic dinners at two restaurants that each inspire a lot of creativity–Frances in San Francisco and Camino in Oakland. Both restaurants–beyond focusing on fresh, seasonal food, seem to have a light touch of simplicity to them that I so very much love. While today’s recipe–for Souffled Cheddar Egg Nests–is adapted from a recipe in the The Best of Gourmet cookbook–my desire to make these eggs was inspired by these recent dining out experiences, where the food not only tasted delicious, but looked gorgeous, yet utterly simple. Eggs are brilliant in that their versatility seems endless–from breakfast and lunch to dinner and dessert–eggs are the basis of an incredible array of food. At their simplest though, they can prove to be as sophisticated as ever.
You may think that all we do around here is eat breakfast. And it’s sort of true. I hate to miss breakfast–especially on a beautifully sunny weekend that has every opportunity to turn into the perfect weekend. I have yet to make a cheese souffle, but these baked little puffy eggs remind me so much of a souffle that I have deemed them ‘souffled.’ The yolks are gently separated from the whites, which are whisked to stiff peak-proportions, and layered with creamy New York white cheddar cheese, a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper. Buttered ramekins are filled with the egg-white mixture. And each individual yolk is nested inside. Simple enough right? As the eggs bake, the airy whites puff up and form a glorious muffin top, while the yolks tighten only slightly, so that a gentle nudge of a fork breaks their creaminess into the puffed, cheesy whites.
The Gourmet cookbook suggests that that the dish is reminiscent of eggs benedict–without the English muffin, of course. I made these twice in two weeks, so you can imagine how impressed I was with the results. One piece of advice: don’t overcook the eggs–use the freshest eggs you can find so you don’t worry too much about eating them slightly runny. Overcooking these little guys only lends to having a cooked egg yolk sitting atop those deliciously puffy whites.
As we hit some of the warmest weather we’ve had here in San Francisco, I couldn’t think of a better way to start looking forward to the weekend. We’re going to get out of the city for a hike, and I’m hopefully going to experiment a little with my ice cream maker. I asked friends of eating/sf on Facebook what ice cream flavors they’d like to see and we’ve gotten some pretty interesting responses. Can’t wait to look into them! Anything you’d like to see us test out?
Souffled Cheddar Egg Nests
adapted from The Best of Gourmet
2 large eggs
butter, for greasing the ramekins
pinch or two of salt
pinch or two of freshly-grated black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup of coarsely grated white cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons of creme fraiche
chopped green onion or chives, for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position the oven rack in the middle of the oven. Generously butter two 8-ounce ramekins.
2. Fill a small bowl with cold water and set aside. Separate the eggs, putting the eggs whites in a large bowl and gently slipping the egg yolks into the small bowl of cold water–it sounds risky, but you’ll see that they stay intact just fine.
3. Season the egg whites with the salt, pepper and nutmeg and whisk at high speed using an electric mixer until the whites hold stiff peaks. Gently fold in the cheese and evenly divide the mixture between the two ramekins.
4. Make a small little hole/nest in the middle of each of the ramekins. Use a spoon to gently remove the yolks from the water and slip one into each of the nests.
5. Grate some more cheese over the ramekins and top each with a tablespoon of creme fraiche.
6. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 10-14 minutes, until the whites are puffed and lightly golden and the yolks resemble sunny-side up eggs. Sprinkle with chopped green onion or chives before serving.
Musical Pairings: Memoryhouse – The Years E.P. + Souffled Cheddar Egg Nests
Over on eating/sf, Kasey is featuring what has become one of our favorite new breakfast recipes: souffled cheddar eggs. As you’d expect, the whipped eggs are light and airy, but not without flavor as a result the cheddar, salt and pepper. If prepared right, the egg yolk is still runny and is almost sauce-like. If you are looking for a light morning recipe, this is it. It has the flavor to wake up your senses, but it is subtly flavorful. And for these reasons, Memoryhouse‘s serenely beautiful The Years E.P. is the perfect musical accompaniment for this recipe. It’s a wispy, dreamy record that is equally appropriate for chill nights at home with a glass of white wine or – even better – for relaxed, sleepy Sunday mornings. Over to Musical Pairings to read the rest! –Matthew