Egg Nests

It all started with a book. A whimsically illustrated French children’s book about cooking, called La cuisine est un jeu d’enfants, or “Cooking is Child’s Play”. First published in French in 1963, a version that included both the original French and the English translation was published by Random House in 1965. I first stumbled upon this book a few years ago and have been buying up used copies wherever I can find them, as gifts for my young friends who like to cook.

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The recipes are mostly pretty standard classical French recipes, like quiche Lorraine and croque monsieur. What’s funny is to see recipes like coq au vin and stuffed veal in a recipe book clearly intended for children. I grew up on Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys and Girls: Facsimile Edition, and I can assure you that there was nothing in that book as complicated as what was expected of the children reading “La Cuisine” 50 years ago.

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That said, in this book there is a fairly simple and intriguing recipe for “egg nest” or “nid d’oeuf”. Unlike most egg nest recipes with which you may be familiar, the ones with the egg filling the hole in a slice of bread, this recipe doesn’t use bread, but has you separate the egg, whip up the egg white, form a nest with the whipped egg white, and bake it with the yolk in the middle. Oh yes, and some grated Gruyere cheese is folded into the whipped egg whites. More cheesy structure for the nest.

3 ingredients—egg, salt, and Gruyere. The hardest part is whipping the egg white. And the result? We loved it. Now we only tried it with Gruyere, but I suspect that it would be just as good with freshly grated Parmesan.

Egg Nests Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt (a pinch of salt per egg)
  • 1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the middle. Line a roasting pan, or baking sheet that can take high temperatures without warping, with parchment paper or Silpat.

2 Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Make sure there are no little pieces of egg yolk in the whites or you will have difficulty getting the whites to beat properly. It helps if you are making more than one egg nest to keep each egg yolk in a separate prep bowl.

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3 Place the egg whites in a very clean mixer bowl (any residual oil in the mixer bowl will keep the egg whites from whipping up properly). Add an eighth of a teaspoon of salt to the egg whites. Beat the egg whites with a whisk attachment in a mixer (or using a hand mixer), starting on low speed and then slowly increasing to high speed, until stiff peaks form.

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4 Gently fold in the grated Gruyere cheese, taking care not to deflate the egg whites.

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5 Create two mounds of the egg white mixture on the lined baking sheet. Form the mounds so they look like nests, with indentations in the centers.

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6 Place in the oven for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, open the oven, pull out the rack with the egg white nests, and gently add an egg yolk to the center of each nest. Return the baking sheet to the oven and cook for 3 more minutes.

Serve immediately.

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Online bookstores that may have available copies of La Cuisine est un Jeu' d'Enfant:
Look for Random House publisher, 1965 publication date, if you want the version that has both French and English

Links:

Egg nests - same recipe, beautiful photos at Food and Whine

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Reilly, Alden, and Piper with our egg nests

93 Comments

  1. Kristy

    The book looks great. I grew up with my older sister’s copy of that Betty Crocker book. What kind of texture do the egg whites take on when mixed with the cheese and baked like that? Are they a little stiff, kind of like a savory meringue?

    Like a meringue, but a savory one. ~Elise

  2. Jennie M

    Elise,

    These look awesome! I have a question though: what is the consistency of the egg whites after they are baked? Are they fluffy/creamy or firm like a meringue?

    My mom just gave me a dozen fresh eggs from a farmer friend of hers so I just might have to give these a try today :-)

    Firm, like a meringue. A savory, cheesy meringue. ~Elise

    • Emily Jo Bauer

      Hey Elise…..I am Emily Bauer from Sebring, FL and I love to cook also. My family, son James and wife Emily Jane Bauer had a restaurant here in Sebring called “EJ’s Cafe”. The comments were always very complimentary, but the one I thought was the best was from an eldery man who said, “If I didn’t know better, I would think my mother was in your kitchen. Love your recipes, keep them coming.

  3. ana maria

    luv it! kids learn so much cooking & baking good food to eat not just comes from a package or drive though!…..When love & skill work together, expect a masterpiece and if not whats a few broken eggs:-) I will be looking out for this book!

  4. Bethany

    These are so cute! This is definitely a good way to build fond cooking memories in children.

  5. marla

    These are protein packed egg nests & I love how they come from that darling French cookbook. I need to look for this book (with a built in translator) The girls are so cute. xo

  6. Syd

    One of my favorite go-to online used bookstores—abebooks.com—currently has 60 copies of this book. Some of them are French only, but many are translated. They range in price from $20.06 and up, way up. Enjoy!

  7. homegrown countrygirl

    This book sounds delightful! What a find! I’ll bet the gals pick up an enjoyment of language-learning along with the kitchen-learning with this fun colorful book!

  8. The Innkeeper's Daughter

    I had forgotten, Tatan Sylvette used to make these in France when we would come to visit as a special treat. I think I was 10 the last time she made them. Thanks Elise, for the lovely memory, I owe her a phone call now. Yolande

  9. Wayne G

    “What’s funny is to see recipes like coq au vin and stuffed veal in a recipe book clearly intended for children.”

    Perhaps this is(was) a testament to the different childhood cuisine expectations of USA vs France. Interesting.

  10. Meister @ The Nervous Cook

    Oh for heaven’s sake, just look at how charming that cookbook is! What darling illustrations. Amazing.

    Also amazing–three ingredients?! To make that lovely little breakfast treat?!

    G-d, the French just have everything figured out, don’t they? Sigh…

  11. Jan

    My grandson is coming for the summer and I’ve been looking for ideas to entertain and teach. This looks great. (Doesn’t hurt that grandma and grandpa are going the low carb route.) The “nests” in bread just make a mess…love this idea.

  12. Sharmila

    This is awesome! I tried out something similar a couple of weeks ago but baked them in ramekins. Didn’t know it was in a book, just wanted to see what would happen. Sadly, you don’t see the yolks my way. http://bit.ly/kUUGYK Yours has way more character. I love eggs in any form but love their texture this way. Thanks for sharing this beautiful thing Elise.

  13. Steve-Anna

    Gorgeous! I think this dish looks elegant enough for quite the fancy brunch! Can’t wait to try it. Looks tasty, too.

    Nice work, girls!

  14. AkiAki

    I should try this recipe this afternoon!

    Hmm…what would happen if I don’t use the cheese?

  15. Cathy/ShowFoodChef

    This is one of those “why didn’t I think of that” recipes. Thanks so much for sharing it, actually going into the kitchen to do this right now, seriously. Loved the whole story and pic about the book, too :D

  16. Reese

    Can’t wait to try this with the kids, and thinking….a nice way to make an egg fancied-up for those on low-carb diets as well! The white’s consistency could replace toast! :-)

  17. Kristina

    Thank you so much. I just made this for my husband with parmesan cheese. He loooved it-definitely a keeper, especially as we always have eggs and parmesan on hand!!

  18. michelle in wgtn, nz

    I just made one to have with my dinner – it was absolutely delicious. Sincere thanks for sharing such a simple yet great recipe.

  19. MDSanta

    Saw this article at 3:30am. It is now 4am and I can tell you those were some good eggs and a really simple recipe to do. Would like to try to get creative and try to give the eggs whites some shapes next time. Maybe use a cookie cutter to make a heart :).

  20. Karina

    How sweet and lovely are these? Charming. Absolutely brilliant. (And don’t you just love old cookbooks? Such treasures.)

  21. Susan

    We served this during a business breakfast meeting and everyone just loved it.

  22. Rosemary

    Thank you for posting this recipe…i made eggs benedict and made these instead of poached eggs. They were fantastic! It was the quietest sunday breakfast we’ve ever had…every one was too busy eating!
    Cheers!

  23. Christina

    Just made these– even my picky egg-eater hubby liked them. Delicious. I used Parmesan and they were fab! Thanks!

  24. Kristy

    Thanks for the great recipe and the great book idea! One more way to keep my kids up on their French skills (me, too!). I wonder if they will work well with a softer cheese, my kids love Corsica cheese on their egss…

  25. Josh

    Very interesting. I made these this morning, mixed in cheddar cheese instead of Gruyere, and topped with some left-over ranchero sauce and cilantro. Great texture, and the nest holds the yolk very nicely, even after broken.

  26. Kathy

    I love how these illustrate the versatility of eggs, another one to add to the collection of egg recipes. Thanks for sharing!

  27. prilla

    My mom used to make these for us when we were little (in Canada). She actually served it on top of a piece of toast, if I remember correctly. I’d forgotten about this idea, but with my own little grandson just arriving, this will be a fun breakfast to resurrect. Thanks!

  28. Chad McKenna

    My class loves your site, and egg whites. During the Royal wedding we followed a link from your Scottish Scones recipe two find prince William’s favorite dessert (Eton Mess) and had to make meringue cookies to complete it. Now this great egg dish. Thanks

  29. Amanda

    My Mom also used to make this for us when we were little (I’m from Newfoundland in Canada). Anyhow, she used to butter a piece of toast and then put a piece of roasted ham on top, and then the egg nest on top of that. It was really yummy :). Thanks for reminding of this great recipe!

  30. Katrin

    These were great! Made them this morning for my 1 & 3 year old and they were gone before I could blink. It was like eating a cloud of egg and cheese. You stuff a big fork-full in your mouth and it just instantly “melts”. Plus, no pans to clean up – I just put them on some parchment paper in the toaster oven and then threw it away when done. Thanks! As always, the recipes on your site are tried and true.

  31. Caroline

    More like egg in a cloud!

    I don’t think I knew how to whip egg whites until I was in my 20’s– the French sure know how to start them early.

  32. chantelle

    omg that book is like $120 on Amazon! thanks for giving us a little peek, because i don’t think an original will be gracing my shelves anytime soon…

    I think that may because of the mention on this site. It’s been long out of print so only used copies are available. You might also take a look at Abebooks.com where they have a few copies (at the moment of my writing this) that are still somewhat reasonably priced. What I do is check every few months on Amazon, eBay, Alibris, etc. to see if more copies have become available. Make sure you get the 1965 version by Random House. That’s the one that has both the French and the English translation (unless of course you want the French-only version). ~Elise

  33. Frank W

    That picture of those little girls faces at the end of the recipe is worth the whole recipe.

  34. Katee

    I’m currently living in the Caribbean for school and when I saw this recipe I was so happy because there was only three ingredients. I had to make one of these right away and that’s just what I did. Yes I had to whip the egg white by hand with a fork, but it was worth it. I used pre-shredded cheddar cheese (all I had on hand) and omitted the salt and it was amazing! An eggy cloud of deliciousness and a good study break snack! Thanks :)

    Hats off to you for whipping your egg white with a fork! ~Elise

  35. Jennifer Davis

    This looked so interesting, i had to make it. I used parchment paper because i couldn’t find the silpat, and after using the parchment paper it change brown and then i looked on the box and it says to not use the paper over 400 degrees, but it didn’t ruin the eggs so I’ll just use the silpat next time.
    Also i have never separated yolk from eggs before, and it was pretty easy.

  36. MsUK

    Made these on the weekend, the day I read this! :)
    So easy to make, hubby really enjoyed them.

  37. Regina

    OK – these look DIVINE… even though I don’t like eggs with the yolk all in one spot (it’s a texture thing)…. I’m thinking…. use the yolks to make a Hollandaise, and use these egg nests (without the yolk) as a substitute for the poached eggs for Eggs Benedict! Hmmmm…..

  38. Spiceaholic

    Thanks for posting about this book! I took a chance and got the one that’s just in French so I can brush up on my French.

  39. Mercedes

    I grew up with this book! (We are American, but my mother was a francophile.) Mine is much more battered and stained, but I have it set away for when I have children one day.

  40. Jamie

    I have to make this.

  41. Colleen

    It’s so funny you should post this now. I subscribe to a blog for parents who want to make their own baby food and this was on that one this week too! I guess the universe is trying to tell me that I should give this a shot.

  42. Michelle

    aw . . . the illustrations are so adorable! I love the cover with the baby chef in a stroller peeking out, so cute. Every time I read this blog, I learn something new, and not just another recipe. thanks for enriching my life! If I can’t find the book, maybe I’ll compile one of my own. :) ah, another project.

  43. Maxinemary

    I can`t believe it!!!My Mom used to make eggs in a cloud for me when I was little and I am now 72. I had never seen this recipe anywhere!!!! The only difference was my Mom put the whipped egg whites on a slice of toast before baking them. Thanks for bringing back wonderful memories.

  44. Tonya

    So darn cute! I love that book, can’t wait to try it :)

  45. Misca

    As writen, do the yolks come out soft and runny, or firm?

    As written they come out runny, like a typical fried egg. ~Elise

  46. Laurie

    I just googled it on Amazon and it’s over THIRTEEN THOUSAND dollars brand new. And $220 used. Wow.

    I checked out the amazon link above, same result. Wonder if it was your recommendation that pushed it so high?

    I’m guessing that yes, that is what is happening. Most copies I buy cost about $30 to $40. If you are interested in buying the book I would check some of the other online sellers and also just check back with Amazon in a few months. ~Elise

  47. Carole

    If you are interested in the French only version you can get one on Amazon.fr for about 20 euros. If you have a UK Amazon login this will work just the same and you can get billed in sterling. Brilliant!

  48. liz

    How good is it that all cultures have an “eggy” treat for children (and it’s still great when you’re grown-up!)

  49. Liz

    I love cooking with my children and believe it’s an important part of growing up. Children who cook generally have a more sophisticated palates and a heightened appreciation of food. This recipe is easy and fun – my kids would love it.

  50. Stephanie

    I love these older cookbooks for children. My favorite cookbook as a child was my Betty Crocker’s cookbook for kids. In this book we deep fried, made seven minute frosting, made ghost eyes, by putting alcohol into egg shells and burning off the alcohol. This would be a great way to teach kids how to beat egg whites.

  51. Lucy Lean

    Elise – I love Egg Nests – and I have a recipe from Jason Denton of ‘ino in NYC for Truffle Egg Nests in my book inspired by a recipe from 1907 Many Ways for Cooking Eggs. I so so so want a copy of that French cook book now – perhaps when I’m in Paris?

  52. Selma

    Oh my goodness!!! This is my new favorite low carb breakfast. The first one was so delicious that I had to eat the 2nd one, too!!! Thank you so much for this recipe. The “nest” reminds me of Dr Atkins original substitute for bread in his low carb diet. At any rate, EXCELLENT!!! Oh, I should add that I live in the Netherlands (from USA, tho) and I didn’t have Gruyere cheese so I used a shredded Jong Belegan (for any NL readers … lol) Again, thank you!!!

  53. Elise Lafosse

    Wow! I actually think my husband has this book. He is French originally though has been here in the States since 13 years old, though his family is still there. I will go home tonight to check and see if it is this book of something similar.

    This recipe looks great and easy! I am sure I will make it soon…need to run out and get some gruyere now as maybe I will make these when I am down visiting my sister. Thanks so much!

    Elise Lafosse

  54. alli

    I just made this for my husband’s birthday breakfast and it was amazing! The texture of the egg whites and the runny yolk went perfectly together! I already sent this recipe to my friends and I’ll probably make it again tomorrow morning!

    Thanks!

  55. Joanna

    We had these for breakfast today and they were fantastic!! They not only looked good, but also tasted great! I didn’t have gruyere, so I used marble cheese instead and they were yummy – I could have used a little more cheese. The only thing that I need to remember for next time is that the whites puff up a fair bit and the wells I made disappeared. Next time, I’d make the wells much, much deeper and wider. This recipe is a winner!!!

  56. Steve-Anna

    Just made (and ate) these – all I could say, over and over, was, “Wow.” That may be the best way I’ve ever eaten eggs! I served mine on toast (as did others), and for the first time ever, there was more egg than toast!

    Next time I will omit the salt as it was a little salty for me. The cheese lends enough of a salty flavor (oh, and I had mine with bacon on the side).

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

  57. john Novak

    I followed this recipe to the letter, but when I added the cheese it went to mush. Where did I go wrong?

    You have to fold the cheese in very gently. Actually mixing the cheese in with the egg whites will cause the egg whites to deflate. ~Elise

  58. Leanna

    I was eager to try this and got an opportunity for breakfast this morning. What a beautiful looking and quite simple to prepare meal! I used sharp cheddar as that was the best cheese we had on hand. Was delicious, although to my taste, the salt was a bit much. Will make again for sure, reducing the salt. I did find it tricky to get the nests off the parchment paper without totally mangling them, but with some patience got it done. Thanks for a great idea!

  59. kimberlycun

    wow! totally amazing! i can’t wait to make this!

  60. Jeanine Ertl

    Thanks for sharing a great children’s cookbook (that’s new to me) and a neat recipe. I must admit to not usually loving children’s cookbooks, but this one looks potentially unique. I also love your observations that this book pushes the new cook to really learn some technique that most US books completely avoid. Is it for the parents or the children’s sake, really?! Well, anyhow, I shared a link to your post on my link share post this weekend (http://rosiedreams.com/favorites-for-the-week/). Now, I’m adding this to my recipe list for next week. Cheers!

  61. Elise Lafosse

    Actually the book my husband has is La Pattisserie est un jeu d’enfants. I made these egg nests, delicious except I doubled the recipe and I think in retrospect I should not have doubled the salt in the egg whites, because the egg white portion was a bit too salty. However regardless we enjoyed them! Elise Lafosse

  62. Stella

    I am pretty obessesed with these! Must make them soon!

  63. Deana Allary

    My Grandma and I used to make these when I was little…she called them ‘dippin eggs’.

  64. Marina

    I made them yesterday, and they looked gorgeous! What a nice presentation of simple eggs. I had one problem, however. When I started (very tenderly) mixing in the cheese, the egg whites deflated completely, and I had to throw them away and make a second batch, which I just sprinkled with cheese instead of mixing it in. Any suggestions/advice/tips? Thanks!

    Could be that the egg whites weren’t stiff enough to begin with. Adding a pinch of salt to the egg whites does help them keep their shape when whipped. And you do have to be gentle. ~Elise

  65. Tia

    If it weren’t for the fact that I am about to make dinner, I would be running to the store for Gruyere right now. Yum!

  66. Georgia Pellegrini

    These egg nests are fabulous. They are such a fun twist on the classic sunnyside up eggs.

  67. Vicki B

    What a delightful book! This recipe sounds delicious. I noticed it was made into a children’s cartoon series. Have you seen it?

    I noticed that too! Haven’t seen it though. I assume it’s in French. ~Elise

  68. Heather

    I’d very much like to find a copy of this book, I see there is one with an english translation, but they seem difficult to find.

    Hi Heather, I think my calling attention to the book resulted in the relatively less expensive copies getting sold. I’m always on the prowl for this book. Every 6 months or so I’ll check back at the sources I’ve mentioned here and see if they have any copies for $40 or less. If they do, I’ll buy it. So I would recommend checking again in a few months to see if any more copies have come up for sale. ~Elise

  69. Ellie

    Thank you for posting this lovely and simple dish…I’ve made it twice since seeing it. We loved it both times. Second time around I folded in some chopped chives in the egg whites and added a bit more cheese in the center of the nest. LOVED IT! What a great way to serve eggs-in-nests to a crowd… as you can do quite a few on a tray.

  70. Emily

    I just made these this morning….seriously my new favorite way to make eggs. :D soooo wish that I spoke French…I would totally buy this book.

  71. ace

    What kind of cheese(s) could be used besides Gruyere?

    Emmentaler or Jarlsberg. ~Elise

  72. Charlotte

    YAY! My mom also used to make these unusual eggs for brunch, early 1970’s. She had lived in France so maybe that’s why. My mom is gone now so I am delighted to find this little way to remember her and a connection to make with my kids. You made me smile. Thank you very much!

  73. Yin

    Made some for breakfast this morning! Mine were too salty, though… I guess I’ll use less cheese when I attempt this again tomorrow? Other than that, this is such a beautiful dish!

    Thanks, Elise. Your site is brimming with simple, delicious recipes that even a beginner cook like me can manage (I had a habit of burning things, but not with your detailed instructions!). Best site I’ve ever stumbled upon, and with beautiful photography, as well!

  74. Rob

    I wonder if the people claiming the eggs were too salty were using table salt instead of KOSHER salt.

  75. Will

    Romano cheese with a cracked pepper works great too.

  76. Katy

    Love this recipe. For those people mentioning that the salt seemed to overwhelm the whites, it’s the cheese being used and not so much the salt added. The first time I made this, I picked a really nice grueyere and it proved to be too robust (salty) for the delicate egg whites. In the next round, I used a more mild version and it was just right. I’ve also tried this with other cheeses and it seems like almost anything will work.

    Also, my 3yo and I are on a kick of adding food coloring to anything we can. A drop or so of green or blue in the whites gives a wonderful contrast to the yellow of the yolk!

  77. ks. Hubbard

    Yes I adore these illustrations and the recipes too. I am still looking for more adorable and “Charmant” characters of La Cultur Francaise!
    Au Dieu, et Merci pour des sweet ar-tickles!

  78. Cheryl

    What a small world. I was looking up recipes for eggs (obviously), and suddenly, there’s Reilly! I miss seeing that smile every day. :)

    Mrs. Hay

  79. Senectus

    The cheese is too salty, I’d try Parmesan.

  80. M

    Hmm, savory egg meringues.

  81. noell

    I just wish we could get publishers to make ebook versions of books like this one, so we could at least access the information! Thanks for sharing, now it’s on my wishlist, too! (and I clicked the amazon “tell publishers I want this on my kindle” link!)

  82. Sara

    My mom used to make these baked eggs for our family, but she used low-sided ramekins to bake and serve them in. Just did a search for this type and, sadly, they are very hard/impossible to find now. Glad I now have my mom’s dishes! Maybe find them at estate sales? You could use large scallop shells for an elegant look. Also, the higher you whip the egg whites, the more dramatic the effect.

  83. Jim Price
  84. Josh

    My wife took a picture of our egg nest with huevos ranchero sauce and posted it on her photo-journal blog. The texture of these egg whites is incredible. Take a look:
    http://jdlarkin.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/day-82-huevos-france/

  85. Sandra Simmons

    I LOVE this recipe! So glad to have come across this! We have friends coming to stay with us and all of my best breakfast recipes are sweet. Our friend has diabetes and that won’t do for him but this sure will! C’est super!

  86. Sheri Johnson

    I made these for breakfast this morning and they were amazing! My husband wants to know when I’m making them again.

  87. Ketty

    Can we just whisk the egg whites if we don’t have a mixer?

    • Elise

      Yes you can, if you have strong arms! And be prepared, it takes several minutes of fast whisking. Make sure your bowl and whisk are spotless clean.

  88. Sharon

    I just found your site. I have to say those are the cutest chefs I have ever seen! They just made my day!

  89. Ashraf

    Its soooooo gooood thanks

  90. Linda

    This looks like a fun recipe…a fun way to separate the yokes from the eggs that kids will love is this: Use a clean empty water bottle, lid removed, crack all of your eggs into a bowl, gently squeeze the sides of the water bottle, touch the opening to the yoke and watch the yoke jump into the bottle…then when your ready to put them on the whites again simply tip the bottle over to where you want the yoke and give it a gentle squeeze and the yoke will come right out! Kids love this little trick and this is the perfect recipe for it…plus just makes it so much easier!

  91. Skipper

    My mother made eggs in a nest back in the 30’s. She toasted the bread and put a thin slice of ham on it and placed the whipped egg white on the ham with the yoke in the nest and baked it in the oven. It was a tasty breakfast, lunch or light supper.

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