Called oeufs en cocotte in French, these delectable baked or shirred eggs are cooked individually in ramekins. Fresh asparagus, still a little crunchy, along with chopped watercress leaves give the dish springy flavors that will make an enticing course on an Easter brunch or dinner menu. To make perfect eggs, in which the whites are firm and the yolks still runny, set the ramekins in a water bath. Serve the eggs with a small spoon, or toast 3-inch sticks of thick sandwich bread and dip them into the egg.
|Salt and pepper, to taste|
|1||bunch fresh watercress, leaves removed|
|1||bunch fresh asparagus, ends snapped off, and spears cut into 2-inch pieces|
|2||tablespoons crème fraîche|
|Pinch of ground cumin, or to taste|
|1/4||cup finely grated Parmesan|
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand 6 ramekins ( 1/2-cup capacity) and a small roasting pan. Bring a tea kettle of water to a boil.
2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Drop in the watercress and cook for 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, remove the watercress and transfer to a colander set over a bowl. (Do not drain the water). Rinse the watercress under cold water. With your hands, squeeze out the excess water. Chop the leaves finely; set aside.
3. In the same saucepan, cook the asparagus for 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water; set aside.
4. Add 1 teaspoon crème fraîche to each ramekin. Divide the watercress and asparagus among them. Sprinkle with cumin.
5. Break an egg into each ramekin and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Parmesan. Set the dishes in the roasting pan and pour enough boiling water around the sides to come halfway up the dishes.
6. Bake the eggs for 12 to 14 minutes or until the whites are just firm to the touch. Set each ramekin on a small plate.