Tuesday, December 11, 2007

French Food, In Baby Steps

I'm the first to admit that I know almost nothing about French cooking. Sure, France is the birthplace of all things culinary, but it isn't really my style. Too many rules, too many "techniques." Cooking for me is much more Italian, Mediterranean, or Indian: a pinch of this, a bit of that, toss it together and dig in.

I think, though, that it is time for me to confront the French beast. I've been reading the wildly popular blog Chocolate and Zucchini, which is about as French as French can be, in my opinion. The cute creator/writer/hostess/chef, Clotilde, is petite and cheerful and loves to entice her readers with tales and photographs of butter-rich sables, creamy fig glace, and all manner of enticing tarts. I recently happened upon her cookbook (also called Chocolate and Zucchini) at a local bookstore and couldn't resist buying it. Thus my cookbook-buying bender continues, and I am obligated to add a little French flare to the kitchen.

A little frightened by the technique-heaviness and fat-filledness of Clotilde's recipes, I opted for something simple on my first go: Soft-boiled eggs. You might be thinking that this isn't really a French recipe, but wrong you are. With a name like Oeufs a la Coque, how could this recipe not be French? Also exceedingly French is Clotilde's story accompanying the recipe: a tale of a lovely French family, each with a single oeuf for Sunday dinner. Ah yes, I remember those Sunday night family dinners at my house, when we would all eat a single egg and be perfectly satisfied with our supper's simplicity. If we weren't feeling particularly ravenous we might even share two eggs between the four of us...

In all seriousness, though, this dish is just right for breakfast, brunch, or, I suppose, dinner - as long as it's not the only thing you are eating. To make the eggs, add them carefully to a pot of boiling water. When the water starts boiling again, set your timer for four minutes and cook at a gentle simmer. Immediately remove eggs, rinse with cool water, and serve in precious little egg cups, like the ones we just bought specifically for the photographs in this post.

To eat the eggs, tap a knife around the top of the egg, cracking the shell gently. Pull off this little hat of egg shell, and season with salt and pepper. Eat with a small spoon, or by dipping pieces of bread into the egg. You are bound to feel very sophisticated. Almost French, I'd say.


Mitch said...

Egg topper

mom said...

Do you have an egg timer? As a child, one of the joys of eating a soft-boiled egg was the egg timer. My mother would put the egg in the pot and I would get to turn over the egg timer. She would take it out, remove the top just so, and serve it to me in an egg cup. It had to be cooked perfectly or I would not touch it. If the yolk had hardened at all, I would not eat it, but if it were too runny, it would be equally unappealing.

Mitch said...

Re: "mom said..."

Riddle: What timepiece has the most parts?