i remember reading once, years ago, that the average woman ingests four pounds of lipstick in a lifetime.
my immediate response to that statistic, as an obedient product of modern critical thinking education, is to ask how on earth anyone could possibly figure that out.
skepticism aside, though, i really love the idea. fitting, somehow, that we so literally consume what we consume. i think that growing up with an odd fascination with fashion and beauty magazines created some sort of mental link between cosmetics and food--a weird neurological cross-over between my reward centers. two products to be coveted, with which to sensorily engorge myself: visually, texturally, orally. in department stores i would become aware of an urge to bite into the rows of gleaming, jewel-toned lipsticks on display, to dig my teeth and fingernails into the rainbow palettes of shadows. call it a sickness of growing up in an era of hyper-advertising, largely geared towards women. i call it sensory conflation.
either way, the idea of all those pounds of lipstick, waxy-slick and inky-tinted, slowly passing through me--it doesn't bother me at all. and when my food is just as visually pleasing, it's a win-win. certainly i would be the last person to bash homelier pots of stewy, lentilly, mucky meals--but you also won't hear me complaining when food is pleasing to the eye, and my strong associations between taste and pleasure often lead me to want to eat beautiful things, even if they're not necessarily food.
this recipe comes to us from camino restaurant in oakland, and it's about as simple as they get (second, perhaps, to this, which i'm chomping at the bit to try, if only to satisfy my skepticism). you sweat a pile of herbed leeks, throw them into a ramekin, top with an egg and some cream, bake a few minutes, and inhale with a chunk of baguette. pantry-friendly, time-friendly, dinner-brunch-lunch friendly œufs en cocotte, in minutes. oh, and they're cuuute in their little ramekins, for one or for many.
baked eggs in cream with herbed leeks
adapted from a recipe by camino restaurant for the new york times
makes one serving, but easily scaled up
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup sliced leeks, light green and white parts only*
- 2 sprigs thyme, leaves roughly chopped
- 2 sprigs parsley, leaves roughly chopped
- 1 large farm-fresh egg (i used two eggs, hedonist that i am)
- about 2 tbsp half-and-half (i used heavy cream, see above)
- coarsely ground black pepper
- grilled or toasted bread slices
*don't be afraid to make more; having leftover herbed leeks on hand is never a bad thing.
set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F. in a small sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. add the leeks, a splash of water and a pinch of salt and cook until the leeks are tender, about 2 minutes. add the herbs and transfer to a 6" ramekin, cocotte or other ceramic dish, covering the bottom with the butter, leeks and herbs.
crack the egg(s) into the middle of the dish. add enough half-and-half to barely cover the white. sprinkle with salt and coarsely ground pepper. cook until the white is set, 8 to 12 minutes (i like to aim closer to 8 minutes here, giving me a runny yolk to wind its way into the leeks and get mopped up with bread). serve immediately, with bread.