baked eggs florentine & lavender rosemary potatoes
What WAS I thinking? Besides me, how many out there would have hay-bales worth of lemon verbena to harvest and make lovelies with? (See previous post – or don’t – and simply take my word for it.) But here’s the thing: occasionally what you’ll see here is very real evidence of what happens when the cooking-spree gets crazy-excited about something. As impractical or outlandish as her whims may be, sometimes there’s just no holding her back.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s get on to something more practical – something of humble, everyday ingredients – eggs, potatoes, spinach - yet “elegant” enough for company (if you fancy getting fancy for your guests.)
One lovely thing about baked eggs is that a person can make up a whole slew of them for a brunch and bring the whole lot of them to the table at the same time, each perfectly cooked. (And, incidentally, what an affordable way to feed a crowd!) Another lovely thing is that they’re highly adaptable. Instead of the spinach used here, you might substitute polenta, or a purée of vegetables leftover. Another thing to like about baked eggs is they’re very uncomplicated and easy to prepare. And maybe the loveliest thing of all is that baked eggs are utterly delicious and everyone seems to love them!
The potatoes are a variation on everyday roasted potatoes, but with a little something extra that elevates them out of the ordinary, into the slightly elegant. If you don’t have any lavender and can’t find any at your local market you can simply double the amount of rosemary called for, but the combination of the two is really wonderful. (I found our grocery store has lavender in the bulk tea and spices section. You’ll just want to make sure that it’s for cooking and doesn’t have oil added for potpourri. If it’s in your market, it’s likely just what you want.)
If you decide to serve them together, get a head start on the potatoes. The eggs can bake in the same oven for the last 10 minutes.
Each egg is baked in its own little ramekin, and various sizes and shapes will all do. (Round ramekins can be picked up for a few dollars a piece, sometimes less.) Baking times will vary slightly with the size and shape of container used.
Because you may choose to serve this as a romantic breakfast for 2 or a brunch for 20, I’ll give the quantities for 2, and then for 8, and let you do the rest of the math.
Baked Eggs Florentine
(for two) (for eight)
- 2 large, fresh eggs – 8 large fresh eggs
- 5 ounces baby spinach, washed well – 1¼ pounds baby spinach
- 2 teaspoons butter – 2 Tbl. + 2 tsp. butter (1 tsp./ ramekin)
- 2 teaspoons cream (optional) - 2 Tbl. + 2 tsp. cream (1 tsp./ramekin) (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon breadcrumbs (or Panko) – 4 Tbl. breadcrumbs (or Panko)
- 1 Tablespoon grated fresh Parmesan cheese – 4 Tbl. grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp. dried (or tarragon) - 4 tsp. fresh thyme, or 2 tsp. dried (or tarragon)
- salt and pepper to taste – salt and pepper to taste
Place one teaspoon of butter in each ramekin and set them in your microwave to melt. With a pastry brush, brush the melted butter up the sides of the ramekin. Drizzle about a teaspoon of cream in each ramekin. (Optional, but a very delicious addition.) Set aside.
In a cup or small bowl, mix the grated parmesan, breadcrumbs and thyme (or tarragon), along with ¼ tsp salt for every 2 servings. Add pepper to taste. Set aside.
Steam the baby spinach in a vegetable steamer just until wilted, or cook it very briefly in a saucepan in just the amount of water left on the washed leaves. Remove from heat. When it’s cooled sufficiently, squeeze the majority of liquid from it, then chop it roughly. Spread the chopped spinach evenly over the bottom of the ramekin, making a slight depression in the center in which to balance the egg. Sprinkle the spinach with a dash of salt and, if you like, a little grating of cheese. Carefully break an egg into each. (If you want to be fussy and make sure that no yolk gets broken into the nearly-finished ramekin, break each into an individual cup and then slide it into the ramekin.) Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the breadcrumb and cheese mixture on each.
Bake in a 375°F oven for 9 to 12 minutes – just until the whites are set (firm when you give the ramekin a little shake.) 9 or 10 minutes is usually about right. They’ll continue to cook a little more once removed from the oven. Place, as is, on a plate along with the sides you’re serving.
Roasted Potatoes with Lavender & Rosemary
(for 2 or 3) (for six or eight)
- 1 pound small potatoes (see NOTE) - 3 pounds small potatoes
- 3 fresh lavender sprigs or ½ t. dried buds – 9 fresh lavender sprigs or 1½ t. dried buds
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil - 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 t. finely chopped fresh lavender (or ½ t. dried) – 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh lavender buds (or 1½ t. dried)
- 1 t. finely chopped fresh rosemary - 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- ½ teaspoon salt – 1½ teaspoon salt
(NOTE on potatoes – Yellow Finn, Yukon Gold, fingerling or new red or white)
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Wash the potatoes and cut them in halves or quarters. Place them in a saucepan of cold water along with the amount of lavender first specified. Bring to a boil and continue cooking on simmer for 12 to 15 minutes. (Potatoes should be tender when pierced with a fork, but still hold their shape.) Drain. Put olive oil, rosemary, salt, pepper and second amount of lavender specified into a cast iron pan or casserole dish large enough to hold them without overcrowding. Add the potatoes and stir to coat. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes. Add the ramekins containing the eggs florentine during the last 10 minutes.