French Eggs Florentine au Gratin
Sitting on a call with Istanbul midday yesterday, I saw the flicker of my phone out of the corner of my eye. “Hey! I am getting my blood drawn on Friday,” the husband wrote in a text, “and finally getting my cholesterol levels checked.” My first thought was good for him, naturally. “Great! High 5, health!” You see, we have been consciously coupled for a decade now and of those years I have sat and enjoyed countless meals with him in quite a few countries. Some healthy, some fried, some crisp and fresh, and some so rich in butter it is heart-stopping (perhaps quite literally). This is smart for not just him but for the two of us in the New Year. Then my second thought came; would he still pick me up the 2 dozen eggs on his way home? I hope he wouldn’t shy away from them with these new upcoming tests. “But he’s European…” I thought, and therefore not as fussy as us Americans can be from time-to-time.
So here we go again! How many eggs can you eat a day without compromising your health? The good news is, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, is that eating one a day (including the yolk) did not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy people. Unhealthy people, well let’s just say, don’t run out and build a backyard chicken coop just yet as your risk of type 2 diabetes increases on an egg-a-day diet, not to mention stroke and heart attack. Yikes.
Now I am not doctor nor can advise anyone on their health but I am one who isn’t no stranger to giving a dose of advice or two (mostly unsolicited) and my response is simply this: moderation. Moderation, including moderation, throughout one’s life. And calm down with the egg whites already. The only useful egg whites in my kitchen are the ones that go into my cake batter. So eat some eggs and enjoy them!
For me, the smell of fried eggs in butter remind me of my father back home on a lazy weekend, attentively preparing the eggs just right to pair with the morning’s newspaper, a deviled egg of one of my best friends H. at all her fabulous cocktail parties, and hard-boiled eggs in general of the countless years at Easter holidays with my family; the Easter egg color sweating onto your palms, the smell of vinegar from the dyes. And don’t even mention our Christmases! A proper egg genocide indeed.
Eggs. How about you? Do they remind you of anything in particular?
It is of no wonder why I dream about opening an omelette bar in my future but that is for another post! But today we are making Eggs Florentine au Gratin! A French entrée that is easy and oh so very elegant!
Eggs are marvelous any time of the day. The possibilities for eggs are truly boundless; from the mighty soufflé to a spring vegetable quiche, or from tarragon egg salad to a Niçoise deviled egg. Today’s egg dish, served “au Gratin” (meaning a Mornay or Béchamel sauce, sprinkled with cheese and browned) could be served for 4 or served on crostini as an hors-d’oeuvre at your next cocktail party.
And of course, my kind taste-tester of a husband did pick up those eggs last night and most generously opted to join me at the table for a memorable egg dish. That said, his test is this Friday . . . I will let you know if my Egg Florentine au Gratin really blew a coronary gasket. I think not.
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Eggs Florentine au Gratin
A decadent dinner dish with these soft-boiled eggs front-and-center
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- 1 bag of spinach; baby if preferred
- 3 shallots
- 6 large or jumbo eggs to be soft-boiled
- 1/4 cup (appx) grated Swiss cheese like Gruyere
- 1/4 cup (appx) grated Parmesan
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tbsp butter
- 3/4 cup warm milk
- Salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste
- Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil and add the eggs. Set your timer for exactly 6 minutes (these are soft-boiled eggs. You do not want hard-boiled)
- While the eggs are cooking, clean your spinach and steam for 2 minutes. Sauté the shallots in butter and EVOO, add spinach and toss for another 2-3 minutes then smooth across a bottom of a baking dish evenly, removing excess spinach water as you go. After 6 minutes, take your eggs and cool them in an ice bath for 5 minutes before you peel them under running cold water. Arrange the eggs over the bed of spinach, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with some of the combined cheese. How much cheese you add is a matter of preference and desired richness
- Begin to make your gratin sauce; combine the butter and flour in a sauce pan and bring the roux to a bubble. Add warm milk and whisk until thickened; add a sprinkle of cheese if desired
- Add salt, fresh-cracked pepper, and a pinch of freshly-grated nutmeg - taste and correct seasoning. Spread the gratin sauce generously over the eggs and spinach. Add the remaining cheese to the top of the Florentine dish. Place under the broiler until golden brown, remove, then enjoy!
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