Baked Eggs

Recently, I’ve been having another bout of my so-called ‘brunchitis’, an unfortunate condition where I cringe at the thought of going to brunch. You see, brunch and I have what you might called one of those complicated love-hate relationships.

If you know me, you already know that I love brunch and have been known to declare this fact loudly and often. And let’s be honest here, if you don’t love the idea of a lazy morning lingering over cups of coffee (or Bloody Marys) and munching on deliciously eggy dishes with perhaps a ribbon or two of crispy-chewy bacon, I will most likely declare you to be a bit loco, especially if I’ve had a couple of those Bloody Marys. But like any relationship, my relationship with brunch every so often comes across an obstacle, one which makes my love falter and questions my devotion.

This obstacle is what is commonly known as the San Francisco Brunch Scene.

Like myself, it turns out that the city of San Francisco loves brunch. The overall result is, unsurprisingly, huge crowds gathering at brunch-serving locales all across the city, leading to over-an-hour waits and lines so long that I would feel bad doing any sort of lingering over anything. It only takes a few encounters with the SF Brunch Scene for me to develop this rather terrible condition of ‘brunchitis’ and I’m quarantined at home on weekend mornings.

Being a veteran of this condition though, I’ve developed a few trusty ‘home-opathic’ remedies, one of which is these baked eggs. I first had these in a little French cafe I lived near and have been absolutely addicted to them ever since. A while later, I saw Ina Garten prepare them on TV and committed the basic method to memory. Trust me, baking eggs is so easy that once you’ve done it, you won’t even need to look for a recipe next time – well, if you can even call what’s written below a recipe.

If ‘brunchitis’ should strike you too, baked eggs like these, enjoyed luxuriously slowly with a steaming cup of coffee, will cure you in no time and reaffirm your love of brunch. Before you know it, you’ll be back out there with the rest of the city, writing your name on that little clipboard at Zazie’s.

Although you can pretty much put anything you want into these eggs, I would recommend not overdoing the toppings, so that you can enjoy the eggs in their full glory. But then again, I really really like eggs.

4 eggs, preferably at room temperature (otherwise, you may need to bake a little longer)
heavy cream or milk
fresh herbs, e.g. thyme or sage or chives
toppings, e.g. prosciutto, crumbled bits of bacon, sauteed mushrooms, etc (optional)
salt and pepper

any kind of bread
1 garlic clove, cut in half (optional)

Preheat oven to 325F. Butter 4 ramekins well.

Break an egg into each ramekin and add a splash of milk or cream on top. Chop up some fresh herbs and sprinkle over the eggs. Add toppings, if using. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange ramekings on a baking sheet and slide into oven. It will take about 10 min or so for eggs to bake – check every few minutes. You want the whites to set but the yolks should remain soft and runny. If you don’t like runny yolks, bake for longer.

While the eggs are baking, slice and toast the bread, either in a toaster or in a pan on the stove. If you use the stove, you can also brush the bread slices with some olive oil first. When the bread is toasty and hot, rub the cut side of the garlic clove lightly on the bread, if you like garlicky bread.

(Serves 4)