When I was a bride back in the ‘sixties, I moved far away from my mom and granny to the deep south of Atlanta, Georgia. Phone calls were too expensive to make more than once a week,so I relied on two essential cookbooks to make the foods from my childhood spent in Mt. Vernon,NY and Brookfield, Ct. – Irma Rombauer’s The Joy of Cooking and Ada Boni’s The Talisman Cookbook.
The first was perfect for learning the basics of cookery such as sauteing, baking, frying; the second was perfect for finding Italian recipes from my grandparents’ region of Italy, the Abruzzi. I use these wonderful culinary friends to this day and many of my recipes on The Infinite Kitchen come from there. In fact, today I was longing for a simple egg dish that my mom often made when we were returning to our house in Mt. Vernon, NY from a summer away at our farm in CT. We brought eggs, butter and milk from the farm, but our pantry had not yet been restocked, so this Ada Boni recipe for eggs au gratin filled the bill.
She calls it eggs au gratin which sounds quite french, but my mother called it baked eggs in cream sauce, which describes this dish perfectly.The ingredients are simple and few, but the resulting dish is a glorious meld of creaminess, buttery goodness and eggy yuminess. Add some lovely Italian toast, and no one will feel deprived no matter how little is actually in the pantry.
1/4 cup butter (I only use 2 tbsps)
1 – 2 tbsps flour
1 1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp fine bread crumbs (I use Italian bread crumbs)
1 tbsp butter, melted
Directions: Butter a shallow casserole baking dish. Pre-heat oven to 400°
In a small saucepan over a medium heat, melt the butter.
When it is foaming, slowly whisk in the flour and whisk until the flour is incorporated well.
Begin pouring in the milk slowly while continuing to whisk. When all is whisked in, continue to stir until the mixture thickens into a sauce. If it seems too thin, add more flour to 1/8 cup of cold milk, and then add that to the cream sauce. Continue to cook and stir until sauce is the thickness of custard. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Butter a shallow casserole dish and pour the custard into the dish. In a small bowl, using a fork, mix the bread crumbs, cheese and melted butter. Set aside. Break all four eggs one at a time into the cream sauce in the casserole dish. Salt and pepper them.
Break the eggs into the cream sauce in the baking dish. Here I only used two.
Sprinkle the bread crumb cheese mixture over the eggs and the cream sauce. Place the casserole dish in the oven. Set the timer for 15 minutes. Eggs will be done and the cheese-crumb mixture will be browned and crusty.
While the eggs are baking, make 4 sets of Italian toast and butter them. Serve the toast on the plate along with a helping of eggs and cream sauce.