Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Whisk Wednesdays—Oeufs Mollets Florentine (Soft-boiled Eggs with Spinach and Mornay Sauce)

Oeufs Mollets Florentine (Soft-boiled Eggs with Spinach and Mornay Sauce)I have to say I wasn't looking forward to Oeufs Mollets Florentine. Poached eggs with spinach covered in sauce and broiled. How exciting is that? But then, the newest member to Whisk Wednesdays, Melissa of From Stovetop to Laptop, emailed everyone after making it earlier this week raving about how good it was: "OMGAWD. Holy cow. They were a FABULOUS brunch! So rich, decadent and well worth it!! We had NO idea." She went on to explain all her tips and gotchas and got everyone excited about making this classic French recipe.

This dish is a popular brunch item like Eggs Benedict but uses spinach instead of ham and is often called Eggs Florentine. For Julia Child, it was one of the recipes that caused her to fail at Le Cordon Bleu.
"Did I remember what an oeuf mollet was? No. How could I miss that? (I later discovered that it was an egg that has been coddled and then peeled.)"‑ My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme
And then later she made Eggs Florentine for a friend and it didn't turn out:
"I remained a long way from being a maitre de cuisine. This was made plain the day I invited my friend Winnie for lunch, and managed to serve her the most vile eggs Florentine. ... I suppose I had gotten a little too confident for my own good: rather than measure out the flour, I had guessed at the proportions, and the result was a goopy sauce Mornay. "‑ My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme
With all this history, it was more interesting to get into the kitchen and see how I would fare.

We've already learned how to make béchamel and Mornay sauces so this was just a refresher. Basically, you make a roux, add some milk and whisk away. Season it with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Then, add a liaison of cream and egg slowly so that you don't curdle the egg. Finally, you add the cheese. I kept the sauce warm in a thermos while I prepared the rest of the dish.

For this recipe, the spinach is boiled, drained, cooled, squeezed, and then sautéed. According to Peter Hertzmann, all these steps were required because spinach used to be a lot tougher than it is today. I used baby spinach and I would skip the boiling-draining-cooling-squeezing stage next time.

One of the ten basic ways of cooking eggs is soft-boiled, called oeufs mollet in French. According to Hertzmann, you boil the eggs five to five and half minutes, cool and peel. Here is a great article that shows the different cooking methods for eggs and how each should look. Mine turned out more like medium-cooked eggs rather than soft probably because they sat in lukewarm water too long while I finished the rest of the recipe. Next time I would make the eggs last.

The ingredients list in the cookbook didn't list breadcrumbs, so I scrambled at the end to make some quick homemade crumbs by toasting half an English muffin and then blending it. [Melissa had warned about this, but I forgot, and I guess I didn't read the recipe thoroughly enough before I started.]

Broiled and browned

Buttered Gratin DishAfter preparing the gratin dish with butter, I added the spinach and set the eggs on top. Then I poured on [too much] sauce [forgetting that I had made a full batch of sauce but not a full recipe of eggs and spinach]. A sprinkling of cheese and breadcrumbs, and it was ready for the broiler. Again, I used old cheddar since that's more popular around here than Gruyère. Five minutes later, it was done.

Serves 6

Ingredients for Oeufs Mollets Florentine (Soft-boiled Eggs with Spinach and Mornay Sauce)
3 eggs (use 12 for 6 people)
8 ounces spinach (use 2 pounds for 6 people)

Mornay sauce:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup cold milk
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 ounce cheese, grated
1¼ tablespoons unsalted butter (use 5 tablespoons for 6 people)
1 ounce cheese, grated (use more for 6 people)

You can find the recipe for Oeufs Mollets Florentine (Soft-boiled Eggs with Spinach and Mornay Sauce) in the book Le Cordon Bleu at Home. To see how the rest of the Whisk Wednesdays group fared with their recipe, click here (or check out the sidebar) and then click on each blogger!

Here is the famous chef Fernand Point's recipe from his book Ma Gastronmie (en français):
Gratin d'oeufs
Couper des oeufs durs en rondelles, et les faire chauffer avec de la crème double en liant avec un peu de béchamel et de hollandaise. Assaisonner sel et poivre. Puis disposer dans un plat à gratin en étalant, et en parsemant de champignons de Paris émincés et revenus au vin blanc. Glacer à a salamander et server très chaud. –Fernand Point in Ma Gastronomie
Tasting Notes
This was a fairly light meal since we only had one egg each. I loved the sauce and the crunch from the broiling made it extra tasty. It wasn't as rich as Eggs Benedict, and it really isn't all that hard to make. The hardest part is getting the eggs done properly. The sauce requires some patience as well so that it doesn't separate or coagulate, however, you could make it ahead of time and keep it warm in a thermos. Overall, it's a straightforward meal to wow and impress friends for brunch.

Next Week (December 3)
• Saumon au Champagne (Salmon in Champagne Sauce) on page 486 OR Petite marmite Henri IV (Chicken pot-au-feu) on page 246 in Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cook Home Collection

Other breakfast ideas:
Eggs Benedict
Quiche Lorraine
. . . . . . . . . .

Running total: $880.70 + $6.79 = $887.49

Butter used so far: 8 pounds, 14 tablespoons

. . . . . . . . . .
::Whisk Wednesdays::
We're cooking our way through a cooking school curriculum using the Le Cordon Bleu at Home cookbook. The "classes" are based on the Le Cordon Bleu curriculum found online and used as a guideline. Not all the items in the curriculum are in the cookbook, but most are. Where the items are not in the book, we try to find a suitable substitution. Find out more here.

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natalia said...

You made me want to make them too ! Cao shari !

Y said...

Look at all that sauce! All it needs is a big piece of bread! :D

sefa firdaus said...

can we change the spinach?

NKP said...

It looks wonderful, I love your serveware. My eggs turned out medium too, but I was fine with that. I made 5 eggs, 3 for hubby and 2 for me. I think hubby was pretty full after the 2!
Looking forward to the salmon!

Anonymous said...

Great looking eggs...and who cares if there is too much sauce? Too much sauce? Really, there is such a thing as too much sauce????? LOL. It is fun to see all the little eggs together like this. One egg per portion is plenty! I put two in each dish and we ended up dividing them as we had some toast and oranges with ours, and of course the spinach, so one egg, really is a fine portion! I purposefully let my egg cook a little more as I knew I would not be able to eat a runny egg...LOL. Mark liked his runny just fine. I think you are right, however, that the trickiest part was getting the eggs right. This was fun!

Manggy said...

Agreed with Y-- all I need is toast now :) And how could you not get excited over that?! It's fabulous! :) (Thank you for having one egg each only, though. Whew!)

Anonymous said...

This looks fabulous! I love Mornay sauce.

Melissa said...

I loved that sauce and secretly ate the last piece of bread, dipping it in leftover sauce as I cleaned up the kitchen. :)

steph- whisk/spoon said...

oh my gosh--that looks and sounds delicious!!

jesse said...

Whoaaa, yeah, we do need a crust piece of bread to sop up all that sauce!

pam said...

I think this sounds wonderful!

Katie said...

Yum! I never say no to breakfast :)

Anonymous said...

I'm so inspired to see your beautiful caramel cake, then I scroll down and see these eggs! Goodness, I've gotta go for the savory first, indulge and then move on to the dessert!

These look fabulous. It's perfect for a sunday breakfast!

Shari said...

natalia - They are so delcious!

y - I poured way too much sauce on for the amount of spinach and eggs! Funny, though, I ate it all.

sefa firdaus - Sure. Leave it out! Or use something else.

Natashya - Found that red dish at Winners!

Kayte - One egg was perfect! It heated up well for lunch the next day too.

Manggy - Toast to sop it up would be perfect. A couple of other members made homemade english muffins and baguettes! keeners!

Erin - Thanks!

Melissa - It was delicious sauce! Thanks for your enthusiasm!

steph - It was!

jesse - Lots of sauce in mine!

Pam - Thanks!

Katie - It wasn't so hard to make either.

White on Rice Couple - It would be a perfect brunch!

Thanks, guys!