Nowadays you can find recipes galore online (here for example) and print or bookmark until your hearts desire. But there’s just something about being able to hold a book in your hands, the feel of the pages, the wholeness of someone’s work – someone’s creation.
With that said, a few years ago I picked up Nigella Lawson’s “Nigella Express” as a Christmas gift for my sister. My sister, Carole, has yet to see it as I kept it for myself after looking through it more closely before wrapping. Merry Christmas to me, huh? Don’t worry, she did get a nice replacement gift.
Like many other cookbooks or cooking sections of my favorite magazines, I enjoy perusing the photos and stories that accompany the recipes, rarely recreating a recipe to the tee. But I think that’s the sign of a well done cookbook – to inspire, to push you forward in creating wonderfulness in your own kitchen.
“Nigella Express” is no exception. Nigella weaves her personality and wit throughout every page of yummy goodness in a down to earth, approachable way. The book’s concept is “good food, fast” and there truly is a great compilation of quick entrees, desserts, and party foods that are sure to impress the taste buds, and not leave you a harried wreck in the end.
Lately I’ve been trying to think about the holidays. Planning ahead some “go to” dishes, and do a little freezing. So a few nights ago, as my husband watched baseball, I pulled out Nigella’s cookbook, and with pencil and paper started looking for inspiration. While late night is horrendously known for sweet cravings, Nigella’s Ouefs En Cocotte (baked eggs) caught my eye.
I’m so terrible about regularly eating breakfast but this looked too easy to pass up. So while in town the next day I looked for some ramekins (which I found at Marshall’s for $7.99/set of 4) and prepared to bake some ouefs.
Basically all you’ll need is eggs, some half and half (or heavy cream) and some favorite combination of herbs. Of course, as Nigella mentions in her book, you can get creative with these adding cheese, ham, bacon or whatever strikes your fancy.
I decided to make my own version with dill, along with a little spice, and replaced the recommended heavy cream with half and half.
These ouefs were outstanding! Quick, simple, but a little fancy looking, these would be a great morning welcome for any overnight guests. And “toast sticks” (or whatever you want to call em) are the perfect compliment.
The prep couldn’t be easier, but I ended up playing with the temperature and cook time to get it just right for us. If you want your eggs a little underdone you’ll have to adjust and vice versa. One thing to keep in mind is that the carry-over cooking can take them from just right to overdone quickly. So I’d recommend doing a trial run before testing it on guests.
- 6 half cup ramekins
- butter (for greasing ramekins)
- 6 eggs
- 6 tablespoons half and half
- dill (enough for a pinch for each dish)
- ground cayenne pepper (enough for a pinch for each dish)
- salt (enough for a pinch for each dish)
- Preheat oven to 350° F and put a full kettle (or pot) of water on to boil.
- Grease each ramekin with butter.
- Crack one egg into each ramekin.
- Add a tablespoon of half and half to each ramekin.
- Into each ramekin put a pinch of dill, ground cayenne pepper and salt.
- Place ramekins baking dish and fill baking dish halfway up ramekins with the boiling water.
- Place baking dish in oven and bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and carefully take each ramekin out of baking dish.
- Serve warm.