26 July 2009

Oeufs En Cocotte

For those of you who are vegans, or otherwise don't eat eggs. You might as well stop reading right now.

This post is about eggs.

I have always loved eggs for breakfast, especially poached eggs. When I was little, my favourite breakfast was either a soft-boiled egg with toast soldiers or toad in a hole (my mother's version was an egg fried in bread). On special occasions, I would get oeuf en cocotte - an egg baked in a ramekin with butter & cheese.

When I was married, I sometimes made toad in a hole but I made oeufs en cocotte a lot. My then-husband also had his grandmother's egg poacher which we used quite a bit.

Since I've been divorced, I've made soft-boiled eggs, and toad in a hole, but I had not made oeufs en cocotte. Until today.

I began reading "Julie & Julia" which my aunt had given me for Christmas several years ago (while it was still on the NYT bestseller list) but which I had just not gotten around to reading. Since the movie is coming out, I decided that I had better get to it.

Of course, Julia Child loved eggs, butter, cream, and cheese which are exactly the ingredients of Oeufs en Cocotte. Julie Powell, the author, makes them frequently in the book, calling them the perfect dish.

And then this morning, I was inspired to make them when one of the people I follow on Twitter complained that no matter what he tried to do with eggs, they always end up scrambled. I found an easy recipe and tweeted the URL back to him. Then I proceeded to the kitchen to make them myself. Because if there's something I nearly always have in my kitchen, it's the ingredients for Oeufs en Cocotte.

Here's my recipe:

Preheat oven to 450 F

In a ramekin, place 1 tbsp of butter (if your ramekin is large enough for two eggs, use 2)
On top of the butter, crack 1 egg (or 2)
On top of the egg, put 1 tbsp of cream, creme fraiche, 1/2 & 1/2 or sour cream (or 2)
On top of the cream, put 1 tbsp of grated cheese of your choice (or 2)

Place ramekin in another baking dish, fill the outer dish 1/2 way with hot water. Place in hot oven and bake for at least 10 minutes or until the eggs are done to your taste.

Remove ramekin from baking dish and place on serving plate. Salt/pepper/parsley to taste. Serve with toast. Makes one serving per ramekin.

Easy Peasy!

It was delicous btw.

25 July 2009

Defrosting the Minibar

Look to your left. No, not my left, your left. Do you see those lists in the sidebar? Have you noticed that they have new titles? Well, that is in honour of Minibar's 10 years in Los Angeles.

Minibar is my favourite band - you see them right there at or near the top of my list of bands that I have seen this year (LPs I Scratched Over Time is the heading). I first met Simon Petty and Sid Jordan who are one-half of the 'bar in Finn McCool's in Santa Monica. My friends were regulars there on Thursday nights and had been trying to get me to go for about a year, but I had another commitment. Finally, it was one friend's birthday and she was having her party there so I went. I was hooked. That was about 6 years ago and since then I have been to as many gigs as possible.

I have seen Minibar play all over the US - either alone or as Pete Yorn's backing band, and sometimes as both.

I've been thinking a lot about the time I've spent seeing Minibar lately. They had their "10 years in LA" show last night at Largo. It was phenomenal. I videotaped it so I hope we can all enjoy it for years to come. A week from this Thursday, Sid & Simon will play their last regular gig at Finn McCool's. I am hoping to make it one last time.

In the time since I have known them, they have gone from being four bachelors sharing an apartment to three out of four being married (and no longer sharing one apartment - in case you were wondering). Oddly, everyone but Malcolm seems to have more hair.

I just wanted to say "Cheers" to the four of them.

08 July 2009

The Russians Are Coming!

For some reason, I am gaga for Russian art in many forms. I love the music, the poetry, the plays, the operas, the literature. It can't be genetic since, despite the name of this blog, I'm not Russian. I do love melancholy things though so maybe that's the connection.

This musing was brought on by my trip to hear the Philharmonic perform selected works of Sergei Prokofiev. So I thought I might mention a few other Russian artists that I truly love.

Modest Mussorgsky wrote my favourite piece of classical music by a Russian composer: Pictures At An Exhibition. He also wrote Night on Bald Mountain which is featured in Walt Disney's Fantasia and the opera Boris Godunov.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is probably the most famous Russian composer, especially if you are a ballet lover. I was lucky enough to be selected for District Honours Orchestra the year that the entire Nutcracker (not just the Suite) was on the performance schedule. I also love Swan Lake & Sleeping Beauty. And who doesn't love the 1812 Overture performed with live cannons & fireworks! He also wrote operas based on stories by Alexander Pushkin - my favourite opera of all time "The Queen Of Spades" and "Evgeny Onyegin".

Anton Chekov is a favourite playwright. I especially love "The Three Sisters". And though some may scoff at Leo Tolstoy and avoid his books, I really did love "Anna Karenina". It was sort-of Jane Austenesque, except that it was Russian. Anna Akmahtova and Alexander Pushkin are favourite poets.

In school, I made a film set to Igor Stravinsky's "Firebird". Hmm. I wonder if I gave Disney the idea to use it for "Fantasia 2000". Probably not.

The strangest connection I have with Russian art, though, is with the Rimsy-Korsakov piece "Scheherazade". As if my name wasn't odd enough, my pet name at home was Scheherazade. Go figure. At least it's a nice piece of music.

So, even if Shostakovich Tone Poems aren't your thing, maybe there's a Russian artist out there that you would enjoy.

03 July 2009

Happy Birthday America

On this, the eve of America's 233rd birthday, I wanted to reflect for a bit on people that I am grateful for having served America.

My cousin Tom. He's a career military man. He served in the first Gulf War, in Bosnia, and has done two tours in Iraq. We are in a cluster of cousins 8 months apart in age. He is the oldest and I am the youngest. He is my hero.

My father. He was drafted and served in World War II. He never left California, though. I have his discharge papers that state "Foreign Service 0 years 0 months". He was stationed near Sacramento and had dinner every Sunday with his mother.

My friends Don & Elizabeth. They met in the Vietnam War. (How many people do you know who can say that?) He was a Naval Aviator. She was an Army Nurse. They met at a dance at an Air Force Officers' Club. Recently, they went back to Vietnam on vacation with some of their buddies from the war. I admire them greatly.

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!

Happy Independence Day!