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Eric Akis: Get out the baking dishes for these French-style eggs

Serve this dish with toast for breakfast, brunch, lunch or even dinner
Eggs baked in single serving dishes with vegetables, mushrooms and cheese. ERIC AKIS

If you’re looking for a way took cook eggs that does not require you to scramble, fry, flip, poach or boil them, get out some baking dishes and cook them in the oven. This style of baked egg dish is also called shirred eggs and, in French cuisine, is referred to as eggs en cocotte, eggs baked in a casserole/ramekin.

When I make baked eggs, I like to use single serving baking dishes that are large enough to hold two large eggs and the ingredients I’ll flavour them with. For today’s recipe I used baking dishes that were five inches wide and one and a half inches tall with a one and a half cup capacity. You’ll find these types of baking dishes at hardware stores, cookware stores and other establishments with well-stocked kitchen sections.

This size of dish is perfect for baked eggs because two large eggs equals about a half-cup in volume. So that leaves a cup or so of space left in the dish for the other ingredients you bake the eggs with. The possibilities include such things as salsa and crumbled Mexican-style cheese; sautéed leeks, cooked sausage and grated cheddar; and creamy, seasoned wilted spinach, roast red peppers and grated asiago cheese.

In my recipe, I chose to sauté diced onions, green bell peppers and mushrooms together and then mix in diced cherry tomatoes, garlic and fresh oregano. That mixture was divided between two baking dishes. I made two wells in the mixture in each dish and cracked an egg in each well. The eggs were then topped with grated havarti cheese, which could be plain or your favourite flavoured variety of that cheese.

The filled baking dishes were then set on a baking sheet. The eggs were then baked in a 400 F oven (a toaster oven will also work) for 13 to 16 minutes, or until the whites were set, and the yolks were still soft. During cooking you can assess how done the eggs are by gently tapping the baking sheet and viewing how wobbly the whites and yolks are in the baking dishes.

When cooked, the end result is two baked eggs per serving you can serve with toast for breakfast, brunch, lunch or even dinner.

Baked Eggs with Vegetables, Mushrooms and Havarti Cheese

A richly seasoned vegetable/mushroom mixture, set in single serving baking dishes, topped with eggs and grated havarti cheese, and baked.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 18 to 22 minutes

Makes: two servings

2 tsp butter

2 tsp olive oil

1/3 cup diced onion (see Note 1)

1/3 cup diced green bell pepper

1/2 cup diced brown or white mushrooms (see Note 2)

8 ripe cherry tomatoes, diced

1 medium garlic clove, minced

2 tsp chopped fresh oregano or basil (see Eric’s options)

• pinches red pepper flakes and smoked paprika

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• soft butter or olive oil, for greasing

4 large eggs

1/4 to 1/3 cup grated plain or flavoured havarti cheese

Place the 2 tsp butter and 2 tsp oil in skillet set over medium, medium-high heat. When butter is melted, add the onion, bell pepper and mushrooms and sauté until tender and the moisture seeping from the mushrooms has evaporated, about four minutes. Mix in the tomatoes, garlic, oregano (or basil), pepper flakes, paprika, salt and black pepper and cook one to two minutes more. Remove skillet from heat.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease two shallow, 1 1/2 cup capacity baking dishes with soft butter or olive oil (see Note 3). Set the baking dishes on a baking sheet. Divide vegetable/mushroom mixture between the baking dishes. Make two wells in the vegetable/mushroom mixture in each dish and crack an egg into each well. Use the back of teaspoon to carefully lift some of the vegetable/mushroom mixture from the bottom of the dish so some of it sits on top of the egg whites. Top the eggs in each dish with the grated cheese. Bake 13 to 16 minutes, or until egg whites are set, but yolks are still soft.

Note 1: Diced in this recipe means to cut into small, 1/4-inch cubes.

Note 2: Two medium to large, white or brown mushrooms should yield the 1/2 cup of diced mushrooms needed here.

Note 3: The baking dishes I used were five inches wide and 1 1/2 inches tall.

Eric’s options: If you don’t have fresh herbs, replace them with 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of dried oregano or basil.

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Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.