Egg Nests

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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 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

Egg Nests Recipe

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  • 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

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Showing 4 of 99 Comments

  • Scott

    When I was a little boy my mom (who learned from her mom) used to “help me” make, what she called “Birdy Eggs”. I say ‘help’ cuz this was as much being able to help your mom, maybe for your dad, as it was an intro to cooking..& So Simple: Just Soft-cook an egg (poaching is best) & lightly toast 1-2 slices of bread- then into a large mug (best cuz of handle) breakup toast (fun for kids as they rarely get to take their food apart- except like when u do it to put out for the birds) – put into mug. Then add egg over pieces of toast- mix it up a bit. That’s it -good for finicky egg-eaters & as my mom told me later..a good way to help teach me to be ‘self-sufficient’.

  • Joyce Alenskis

    I have been making EGG PUFFS since mid 50s except mine are on pre-toasted English Muffins. The whites are stiff and the yolk is completely covered. Recently I have been baking a few minutes without the egg yolk, then adding them and more whites. Sometimes, the yolk can slip through and off the whites. This has been a family favorite for years and I think I got it from the Sunset Magazine

  • Keisha

    I have just this moment tried making these and the meringue turned out to be a little…undercooked? The outside was sort of chewy like meringue but the inside had the consistency of uncooked meringue. I’m not sure if I baked it for long enough or if I whipped the whites properly. All in all though, the idea is fantastic and I’m sure next time I’ll get it right.

  • 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.

  • 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!

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