Let me start with New York City. East Village. Sunday. Brunch. Five Points Restaurant. Delicious. I still miss that place. New York has that way about it, if you've ever lived there there is always something you will miss about it, even though you're glad you've left. The city gets under your skin in good ways and bad, but probably both which makes it all the more mystifying. But all is not lost because I was able to locate the Five Points Brunch cookbook! It seems to be out of print but I was able to find it used and in very decent condition. I actually bought this book for my sister quite a few years ago and was kicking myself for not picking up a copy for myself. But it's here, not-so-tattered, and I'm happy to start making some of their delicious recipes. And there are 100 recipes! I'm tempted to make all of them.
The thing that's most important to me about this book is that this is the restaurant that sparked something inside me, many years ago, the food being so good, mostly grown from a farm upstate NY, all local, and I loved the simplicity and how it all worked. And I remember sitting there one day and telling Jeff "this is how I want to cook", I really did, but corporate day job and all I never seemed to get it together, so it was just a muse, a dream that I too could make such good food. And now I have the book! It's well written and has good photos so I'm already in love with this thing. They have quite a few egg dishes, and I absolutely love baked eggs, so I thought to start with something simple. Baked eggs with spinach and brioche.
And a nice surprise, this recipe includes homemade creme fraiche! I never thought to make it, I'm pretty excited because not too long ago I was looking for some and figured I would just walk to a couple neighborhood markets rather than haul the car out to Whole Foods, but I did not come back with creme fraiche, it's just not as common as I thought it might be. But as long as you have heavy cream and buttermilk on hand you are good to go. And the recipe says it will keep for a couple weeks in the fridge, so I now have nearly a quart of buttermilk AND creme fraiche on hand to experiment with. This is a big thing because I don't think I've ever bought buttermilk, whenever I had a recipe requiring buttermilk I always found some sort of work-a-round, so I intend to take full advantage now. More to come no doubt.
About the brioche. So not only is creme fraiche hard to find in this neighborhood, but brioche as well, seems to be a pattern, I've scouted the local markets, as well as Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Safeway, nothing (and this is Russian Hill area with fancy schmancy french restaurants!), however, there is a Brioche cafe about a mile from here in North Beach, I called ahead to confirm and they do in fact sell loaves of brioche. So I walked a mile there and back, over hills no less, for one loaf of bread. I made sure to get the large loaf!
I wanted to try and make it myself but that is definitely for another day since it takes a good 24+ hours to completion and did not want to have brunch at 1am. And I kinda didn't want to make 2-3 loaves of the stuff which most recipes seem to make. I can't complain to have a brioche specific bakery in the neighborhood, I just thought I could find it anywhere, like in New York (always back to NY!) Are there any ingredients that you just can't seem to find easily?
The recipe is for a lot of baked eggs, a whole dozen, so I made about half this recipe. But I'll post the original dozen version here. The creme fraiche was only slightly thickening by the next day, but they say that's how it should be for this recipe, and that it will thicken up over the next few days.
I love these baked eggs, the dish is very quick to put together and I think you'll like it too. Recipe below, hope you enjoy!
Baked Eggs with Spinach + Brioche
(adapted from Brunch)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 bunches spinach (about 1 1/2 pound) washed
- Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, + more for baking dish
- 8 slices brioche, cut 1/2 inch thick
- 12 large eggs
- 1/4 cup creme fraiche (recipe below)
- 1 cup grated Parmigiono-Reggiano
Preheat oven to 400°. In large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat, add the garlic and cook for about 3 minutes until fragrant and golden. Add the spinach, toss with salt and pepper, cook until spinach wilts, about 3 minutes. Transfer spinach to bowl and let cool.
Lightly butter the brioche slices on both sides, lay them on a baking sheet and bake in oven for about 3-5 minutes, turning once midway, until they are lightly browned and crisped. (or toast in toaster and butter them when they are done)
Lightly butter 4 ramekins or large baking dish, arrange brioche slices to form 1 layer (you can cut some pieces diagonally to fit better), evenly scatter the spinach over the toast, making rough little nests to hold the eggs in place. Crack the eggs into the spinach nests and season them with salt and pepper. Drizzle creme fraiche over the dish, sprinkle with grated parmesan, and set on the lowest shelf of the oven. Cook until the whites are just set but the yolks are still runny, about 12-15 minutes.
Creme Fraiche recipe
(adapted from Brunch)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
Bring the cream to 98° in a small saucepan over low heat (using instant thermometer to check), remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
Add the buttermilk to the cream and whisk to incorporate. Let the mixture cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator overnight.
The creme fraiche will be ready in the morning and will be good for up to about 2 weeks (it will get increasingly tangy over the span of that time).