When you have done catering on a large scale, there are more than a few things that you wish you never knew went on in some kitchens. Without wanting to give too much away let’s just say that the truth lies somewhere between the mayhem of Gordon Ramsey and the pristine environment of Master Chef Australia.
Other tricks and tips which keep food looking and tasting good are just plain good to know. In fact, I still find myself using them when we are having folks over. Take eggs for instance. Scrambled eggs cooked en masse have a tendency to turn green if they stand too long. Yes green. But since most kitchens don’t have enough chefs, or pots to scramble eggs on service for say 80 people, chefs mix scrambled eggs with a béchamel sauce to hold it. Its a neat trick, and the eggs are tasty and creamy, and not at all green which is something you didn’t even know you had to be thankful for.
Poached eggs offer a different challenge all together, so when hundreds of poached eggs need to be ready at the same time, a chef will often par-cook the poached eggs and rest them in cold water until just before they hit your plate, at which time they are placed back into hot water and finished off. Super smart em chefs.
This getting stuff ready and being “organized before service” goes by the fancy pants French name of “mise en place” which means everything in place. And although I haven’t been in a professional kitchen for almost six years now (little sob escapes), I still do my mise en place. So does Dear husband, with a lesser degree of precision obviously. Our kiddos think mise en place means “clean your room and brush your hair guests are a comin”, sweet things.
What I like about making these baked eggs for Easter Brunch to go after this and before this, is that everything can be set “ in place” prior to guests arriving and a with one quick hand you can serve eggs for ten. Could you be more snappy and smart?
If I were using English spinach I would toss it in a pan with some olive oil first to soften it and then I would chop it up before placing it in the ramekin. But, I found the baby spinach cooks perfectly along with the egg.
- Preheat the oven to 180˚C
- Butter 4 ramekins and coat with the grated parmesan.
- Mix the spinach in a bowl with the cream, nutmeg, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and the salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Divide the spinach between the ramekins, then crack an egg into each, and pour around a little of the extra cream.
- Sprinkle with salt and black pepper and some fresh thyme.
- Bake on a tray for about 15 -20 minutes, until the whites are set and yolks are done to your liking.
- Serve with buttered toast.
When I was working with these beautiful shots of this whole Easter series (thanks Photogirl for your ever generous and hard work) I couldn’t help feeling a little nostalgic over this particular shot. Here is why: