Wake and Bake...

Though I've been undertaking most of the cooking in our newly-minted household, there is one domain where Justin still reigns in the kitchen -- weekend breakfasts. This tradition goes back to the early days of our relationship, and I still think there are few things greater than sleeping in on a Sunday and getting to watch the man you love prepare a delicious meal for you while you kick back and relax. Today, I even got to play executive chef and pick out the recipe that Justin used to prepare us both breakfast.

I selected herbed-baked eggs, one of the most popular recipes by Food Network personality Ina Garten, whose recipes I more or less trust implicitly, though many of them need to be scaled back to feed a modest number of people. I've only made one recipe of hers that didn't turn out well, and I think that was more due to my error than hers (it was for potato leek soup, and I think I delved too far into the dark portion of the leeks when slicing them, because there were tough, fibrous bits in the otherwise well-flavored soup.) Plus, I have a soft-spot in my heart for Ina, because she could have been my mother's twin before my mom lost almost a hundred pounds. Watching her is kind of like learning to cook from my own mom, who is an excellent cook but has never enjoyed being in the kitchen.

Baked eggs had a particular appeal to me because Justin recently used the Crate and Barrel gift card he got at his Christmas office party to purchase a set of ramekins for me. It's a major bakeware item that I didn't already have (a rare thing in my well-stocked kitchen), and I knew there were whole categories of recipes that lay out of my reach until I acquired some. I've saved several recipes for pots de crème to my Pinterest board, and you can look forward to those going forward, but for now, I knew we could use our new dishes to make baked eggs and I wanted to put them to use as soon as possible.

This dish was very quick to put together, faster than anything involving potatoes, like a hash, though Justin didn't enjoy meticulously mincing herbs when he was starving. (I think he would have preferred a quick bowl of cereal this morning, but he acquiesced to my request because he is the greatest boyfriend ever.) We're still getting the hang of our broiler, which either seems to brown the surface of food while the rest of it goes raw, like this morning's eggs, or it never browns the surface at all, as with some garlic bread we made last month. We ended up having to finish the eggs in the microwave, which we overdid, leaving the eggs hard instead of soft and just-barely done, but the flavor of them was excellent.

Once we master our broiler, we'll definitely be trying these eggs again. It's always good to have more recipes in your brunch arsenal, and this was a delicious change of pace. Plus, now that we have those ramekins, we'll be sure to get our money's worth out of them!

Herbed-Baked Eggs
adapted from Ina Garten

1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
4 large eggs

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat. 

Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan and set aside. Carefully crack 2 eggs into each of 2 small bowls or teacups (you won't be baking them in these) without breaking the yolks. (It's very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking.)

Place 2 individual ramekin dishes on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon of cream and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Quickly, but carefully, pour 3 eggs into each ramekin and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place back under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked. (Rotate the baking sheet once if they aren't cooking evenly.) The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve hot with toasted bread.

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