The great chef Escoffier held eggs in high regard.  There are more than one hundred egg recipes in his Guide Culinaire.  It tells us, perhaps, that guests at the Savoy in the late nineteenth century or the Carlton Hotel in the early twentieth had considerably more choice than 'boiled, fried, or poached' for their breakfast eggs.

We have eaten eggs for all of recorded history, and in phenomenal numbers.  In 1344 at Pope Clement VI's coronation feast, for example, 39,380 eggs were consumed in one way or another.  Eggs were not, however, exclusive to the nobility.  Eggs were "part of the modest everyday fare" by which historians can calculate the cost of living at any given time.  (Braudel) 

By the time of Escoffier, it was not unusual to be fussy about how one's eggs were cooked.  Perhaps the most famous "fusser" was the English novelist, Arnold Bennett, a long-time resident at the Savoy Hotel.  He reputedly influenced Escoffier and/or the chefs at the Savoy to create the omelette, and henceforth he demanded this omelette for breakfast wherever he travelled, popularising the dish.

Eggs Maximilienne is another classic Escoffier egg dish which may have tempted even Arnold Bennett to temporarily forgo his omelette.

Ingredients:

2 large tomatoes
4 small eggs
1-2 cloves chopped garlic (to individual taste)
2 tbl continental parsley
2 tbl breadcrumbs
60g grated Parmesan
olive oil for frying

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Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius.  Slice the tomatoes in half horizontally and remove the innards so that you have a tomato cup.  Fry them in the olive oil just long enough to give them a little colour.  Place them on an oven tray and fry the breadcrumbs.

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Mix the garlic and half the parsley, and sprinkle into the tomato cups.  Break an egg into each cup. (If you're worried about the egg spilling or the tomatoes losing shape, you can fashion a foil belt around each cup.)

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Add the Parmesan and breadcrumbs to the remaining parsley, then sprinkle on top of the eggs.

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Bake for eight to ten minutes, and warm up your grill.  Transfer to the grill until the cheese browns and bubbles up (au gratin).

Serve immediately.

If you have mushrooms as well as leftover garlic, Parmesan, and breadcrumbs, we highly recommend making mushroom cups alongside the Eggs Maximilienne.  We placed a sliver of butter, garlic, and a squeeze of lemon in each upturned mushroom cup, then topped each with a mix of Parmesan and breadcrumbs.

Eggs Maximilienne could also be topped with candied bacon, or the parsley substituted with basil.  This dish is fairly rich on its own, but it could be made into a larger meal with a small accompaniment of meat and vegetables, such as fried slivers of black pudding or crispy bacon and asparagus spears or baby spinach.
Finally, many thanks to Patricia at Artitude for the kind gift of duck and chicken eggs, some of which were used in the making of our Eggs Maximilienne.
 


06/09/2013 01:24

This dish sounds exceedingly yummy!!! Your photographs are a work of art!

06/09/2013 01:51

It is indeed, Kathy! Absolutely delicious. I don't usually like cooked tomatoes, but I now make this at every opportunity (though I used basil instead of parsley).


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