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9 am Sunday: baked eggs and bacon

The call came last Thursday.

“Molly.” Rebecca said sternly. “Sunday morning. Jimmy’s.” I wasn’t sure if this was a command or a question. “He’s doing baked eggs. Don’t eat after three o’clock on Saturday.”

In only a few words, there it was: the return of the Jimmy.

Longtime readers of this site will remember Jimmy, my former employer Rebecca’s gay husband and the crowned king of Sunday mornings, the man whose bold, fearless conquests of the kitchen have clogged many an artery, spawned Dutch babies across the land, and won countless full-bellied followers. For a while there, I had the honor of spending nearly one Sunday out of four in Jimmy’s petite, astoundingly productive kitchen, and astounded I was by the quantities of fat, sugar, and cream that fell upon my plate. It was delightful; it was delicious; it was completely immoderate. I loved those mornings, but in all honesty, I feared them a little too. So when a few months passed without a call from Rebecca, I was sad, but I took it as a sign that my waistline and I were supposed to stay at home, where the milk is (mostly) nonfat and the chocolate stays in the cabinet until well after noon.

You’d better believe, though, that when the call did come, Brandon and I wasted no time in getting to Jimmy’s. While we did get off the elevator on the wrong floor and pace the hallway for a few minutes, wondering why none of the doors were emitting the usual bacon-scented tractor beam, when we finally reached the right floor and the right door, oh, we were ready.

There was a skillet of potatoes on the stove, browning slowly in butter with a dice of bell pepper. Rebecca, wearing a Café du Monde apron and a Band-Aid on her thumb—“Jimmy made me grate the cheese,” she explained cheerfully—poured mimosas and stirred the potatoes. Jimmy stood at the counter with three small sheet pans of bacon and a bowl of sugar, cayenne, and black pepper, which he spooned atop the slices before sliding them into the oven, where they began to slowly sizzle and crisp, turning a gorgeous shade of shiny, burnished red.

Then he prepared the eggs. I have had baked eggs in many incarnations, but I had never seen any like these. The whites were seasoned and whipped separately, so that they formed a frothy nest in which to place the yolk. A dollop of crème fraîche sat on top like a cap, along with a few feathery shreds of the Cantal cheese that gives this dish its elegant name: oeufs à la Cantalienne. Once in the oven, the whites puffed around the yolk like a rumpled lace collar, and the whole thing went airy and golden, like a sort of deconstructed soufflé.

It was eggs, bacon, and hash browns, but served up Jimmy-style: on oblong Fiestaware plates, and at 9 am.

I stabbed at the yolk with my fork, and it split into the soft, spongy whites with a rush of yellow. The melted cheese wove a fine web over the top and down into the egg, where it wound delicately around the tines when I scooped up a bite. It was almost cloudlike—but then it was creamy too, swallowing with the soothing, milky tang of crème fraîche. My only regret, having quickly scraped my ramekin clean, was that I didn’t drag at least one of the potatoes through the saucy, yolky stuff at the bottom. But I swallowed my remorse with a few bites of bacon, whose sweet-hot burn made a tasty distraction—tasty enough, in fact, to tide me over until the next call.

Oeufs à la Cantalienne
Gourmet, September 2006

Rather than the Cantal cheese called for here, Jimmy used Beaufort, and although that might technically make these oeufs à la Beaufortienne, we found the substitution more than acceptable. In fact, so far as I could tell, every single speck of these beauties was gobbled up. Jimmy served them in individual ramekins, but Gourmet’s recipe indicates that you could also use a single 9”-by-13” baking dish, which would make this easy recipe even simpler.

A note to those who, like me, have mixed feelings about rich breakfasts and brunches: this is the recipe for you. It feels almost virtuous somehow—so much so that I’m tempted to call it “Jimmy lite.” But I won’t.

Butter, for greasing ramekins
6 large eggs
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
3 oz coarsely grated Cantal cheese, about 1 cup
6 Tbs crème fraîche
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish

Position an oven rack in the middle position, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter 6 (8-ounce) ramekins or a 9”-by-13” baking dish. If you are using ramekins, place them on a rimmed baking sheet for ease of transport.

Separate the eggs, putting the whites into a large mixing bowl and carefully sliding the whole, unbroken yolks into a small bowl of cold water.

Using an electric mixer at medium-high speed, beat the egg whites with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cream of tartar until they just hold stiff peaks. Fold in ½ cup cheese gently but thoroughly. Divide the egg white mixture among ramekins or transfer to the baking dish, smoothing the top slightly. [The whites will stand above the rims of the ramekins.] Make an indentation in the center of the whites in each ramekin, or, if you are using the baking dish, make 6 evenly spaced indentations. Using your fingers, carefully remove the yolks from the water one at a time, and slip one yolk into each indentation.

Stir the crème fraîche so that it is smooth and free of lumps, and spoon one tablespoon on top of each yolk. Sprinkle the eggs with the remaining cheese.

Bake the eggs until the whites are puffed and pale golden, 10 to 14 minutes. The yolks should jiggle slightly. Sprinkle with chives, and serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings


Sweet-and-Spicy Bacon
Gourmet, September 2006

I should begin by saying this: I am not a huge fan of bacon. The thought of it is certainly pleasant enough, but it doesn’t send me clawing for a plateful. I like it better as a flavor component in a larger dish, I guess, than as a stand-alone thing. This bacon, however, is no ordinary stuff. No one—not even I—can straddle the fence when pork fat meets sugar, cayenne, and black pepper. I ate three pieces, and that’s no small potatoes.

1 ½ Tbs packed light brown sugar
Rounded ¼ tsp cayenne
Rounded ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb thick-cut bacon (about 12 slices)

Position an oven rack in the middle position, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cayenne, and black pepper.

Arrange the bacon slices in 1 layer—not overlapping—on the rack of a large broiler pan. [Jimmy didn’t use a broiler pan. Instead, he lined a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and put the bacon on the foil. It seemed to work just fine.] Bake the bacon for 20 minutes. Turn the slices over, and sprinkle them evenly with the spiced sugar. Continue baking until the bacon is crisp and deep golden, about 20-35 minutes more, checking every 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain before serving.


Blogger wheresmymind said...

That bacon looks TOO good...This is WAY fancier than a breakfast I would make :) Needs a mamosa to go with it.

5:47 PM, September 04, 2006  
Blogger Deb said...

OH MY GOD! That looks like the most heavenly breakfast!!!

6:23 PM, September 04, 2006  
Blogger Shauna said...

Dearest Molly,

As you know, I am a bacon girl. My Dan makes me bacon in nearly every incarnation. But I've never had it like that! I wish I could have been there. I would have happily eaten Brandon's portion!

7:48 PM, September 04, 2006  
Blogger Alice Q said...

Wow, that sounds great - I'm getting a little tired of the same egg sandwiches and scrambled eggs so I think I might try this for something new! Does the bacon make the oven all greasy though?

10:55 PM, September 04, 2006  
Anonymous Ellie said...

Looks and sounds amazing! What an amazing breakfast to start the day with - I'd be floating on a cloud of bliss for the rest of it!

1:24 AM, September 05, 2006  
Anonymous J. Bo said...

Hooray for the return of Jimmy!

I've done that bacon, too, tho' I sub maple sugar for the brown and don't use cayenne. I've also found that putting the bacon on a stainless cooling rack over a lined baking sheet lets a lot of the fat drip away from the bacon itself.

(mmm, bacon...)

1:34 AM, September 05, 2006  
Blogger Zarah Maria said...

YAY! Jimmy's back! With a vengeance! Wo-hoo!!:-)

2:18 AM, September 05, 2006  
Blogger ThomP said...

Your stuff is SO cool. LOVE the photo's

2:31 AM, September 05, 2006  
Blogger hannah said...

as a professed breakfast lover, this post puts me over the moon. good lord, i need a towel to sop up the drool on my keyboard...

8:07 AM, September 05, 2006  
Blogger Lia said...

Since discovering your blog a few months ago, I've been completely hooked! Your writing and photography are both beautiful and inspiring. And this particular breakfast sounds amazing. If Jimmy's ever in NY, I'd love to have him cool for me :)

10:33 AM, September 05, 2006  
Anonymous Luisa said...

Jimmy!!! I missed your stories about breakfast with him. And while I am on your page with the feelings about brunch, that bacon sounds like it could be eaten all day long (I had something similar - maple glazed and thick cut - at Good Enough to Eat on the UWS a few years ago, and it still registers as My Best Bacon Experience Ever).

2:31 PM, September 05, 2006  
Anonymous maryeats said...

yeah! Something I can make (all ingredients available in Seoul, and will work in a toaster oven). Saturday morning is looking up.

3:59 PM, September 05, 2006  
Blogger Shari said...

that's one helluva breakfast molly. love the smell of bacon in the morning. xo shari

6:15 PM, September 05, 2006  
Blogger Natalia said...

That sounds like a wonderful breakfast. I don't think I've ever seen a better looking piece of bacon! I usually just cook mine, no seasonings or anything, but I'm going it this way next time.

9:40 PM, September 05, 2006  
Blogger Tea said...

Your photos are gorgeous, my dear! Really beautiful.

Breakfast sounds lovely as well. I'm willing to thumb-wrestle Shauna for Brandon's portion of bacon:-)

11:17 PM, September 05, 2006  
Blogger Garrett said...

Dear Jesus, that bacon sounds good...

10:13 AM, September 06, 2006  
Blogger Carol said...

mmmm...bacon...what a brilliant idea to add sugar and cayenne. definitely will try it!

11:31 AM, September 06, 2006  
Blogger Julie said...

Why haven't I gotten my issue of Gourmet yet? I will definitely try the eggs. I love weekend breakfast; you're lucky to have a Jimmy:)

12:21 PM, September 06, 2006  
Anonymous Janice said...

You have some AMAZING friends. I'd probably be 300 lbs. if I had a friend like Jimmy. It'd be a sweet, decadent time, until I hit 301 or something.

The eggs look a bit out of my range, but I'll definitely try the bacon. A friend of mine would wrap bacon glazed with balsamic vinegar and soy sauce around a water chestnut, then bake it in the oven. Crazy health nut.

1:29 PM, September 06, 2006  
Blogger Tokyoastrogirl said...

Oh...I would looove to see the inside of those baked eggs! I'm both saddened (my tummy) and happy (my waistline) that I don't have a Jimmy in my life but I certainly enjoy reading about yours.

1:43 PM, September 06, 2006  
Blogger Acme Instant Food said...


"I Dream of Jimmy" should be a new cooking show!

10:06 PM, September 06, 2006  
Anonymous jules said...

just when you think you've seen all the best way to serve breakfast eggs...jimmy comes along...loving the idea of whipping the whites

12:28 AM, September 07, 2006  
Blogger ooishigal said...

Ecerything look so good!

I love the special technique for the eggs, it reminds me a recipe of the french chef Jean-François Piège, you can find the details in my blog :


A bientôt!

5:08 AM, September 07, 2006  
Anonymous Melissa said...

Does Jimmy do house calls? Preferably international ones? I'd be tempted to marry him too if he'd cook me brunches like this every weekend (shhhh, don't tell Manuel!).

In the meantime, though, I think your recipes will more than suffice. Caramelized bacon, what genius!

6:32 AM, September 07, 2006  
Anonymous leslie said...

Sweet and spicy - that's the ticket! Being a dip-my-bacon-in-maple-syrup girl, the addition of 'hot' adds a lovely dimension. These are the kinds of breakfasts that I love to have...other people cook for me! I will count on you for detailed reports of breakfasts at Jimmy's!

11:13 AM, September 07, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Mimosas were most certainly present, wheresmymind! I love a good mimosa. And with spicy bacon? It's downright essential.

Deb, you've got that right! It was heavenly.

Shauna, my favorite bacon girl, you'd better get that Chef of yours back in the kitchen with some brown sugar, cayenne, and black pepper. [Hop to it, Dan!]

Alice Q, hmmm, you know, I can't really say how the oven fared. I was so distracted by the bacon and baked eggs that I hardly saw the oven itself at all - only the food inside of it! And I should sheepishly admit, too, that Brandon and I snuck out before any dish-washing or cleanup took place. Jimmy, if you're reading this, do tell: did the bacon do a number on your oven?

Ellie, it was a pretty terrific way to start our Sunday. By the time we left Jimmy's, the sun had burned through the morning clouds, and so we wandered around downtown for a while, soaking it in. [And digesting.] It was a very good day.

J. Bo, that cooling rack idea is a great one. Next time, I'll try it your way, since I don't have a proper broiler pan. Thank you!

Zarah Maria, those are my sentiments exactly!

Thank you much, ThomP.

Hannah, I had no idea that you had such strong feelings for brunch! Hope you managed to find a towel before that drool made your keyboard too gooey...

Well, thank you, Lia! You know, Jimmy and Rebecca are actually in Italy right now - a trip they've been planning for ages - but maybe on the way back, they'll have a layover in NYC?

Luisa, my fellow brunch skeptic, you know me so well. This was definitely My Best Bacon Experience Ever. All of us were ooohing and ahhing over the stuff. Heck, I'm even oohing and ahhing a little right now, just thinking about it.

Hooray, maryeats! And may you have a very, very happy breakfast.

Shari, you would have loved the smell of the hallway outside Jimmy's apartment - it was Bacon Central! I feel sorry for the other people living in that building, smelling so many good things but not getting to eat them. Jimmy is a real heartbreaker...

Natalia, I hope you like it - but honestly, I don't know how you couldn't! For a bacon lover, this might be the only thing better than a plain ole crispy slice...

Thank you, dear Tea! You're so sweet. But as for Brandon's portion of the bacon, I'm sorry to say it, but you'd have to thumb-wrestle Shauna and Rebecca. Better start doing some strengthening exercises...

Oh, Garrett, it was! Really, really good.

Please let me know if you do, Carol! I hope you like it...

Julie, maybe your postman saw the bacon recipe and stole your copy? I don't know about you, but I'd be feeling awfully suspicious!

Janice, I know - I met Rebecca within days of moving to Seattle, and with her came Jimmy, a bonus prize! I thank my lucky stars, especially on Sunday mornings. And about this business of a soy-and-balsamic-bacon-wrapped water chestnut, oh my - that sounds good. I'd like to have one right this minute, actually.

I know, Tokyoastrogirl - the yolk is the best part, and the prettiest! I tried to get a photo of it, but the light was really iffy, and it didn't come out well. Maybe you should make these baked eggs yourself, so that you can get a peek at the oozy yolk inside? Hmmmm?

Acme Instant Food, why didn't I think of that? Jimmy will love it.

Jules, the whipped whites are really the star here, I think. They were so light and fluffy - a perfect foil for the rich yolk and creme fraiche. I love a simple ole baked egg, but this was really something special.

Ooishigal, your write-up of the Piege recipe is so lovely! And yes, it does look similar in concept to Gourmet's version, what with the whipped whites and runny yolk. Ca me donne envie de l'essayer...

Melissa, hmmm, I think you'll have to take down Rebecca before you can claim Jimmy for yourself. But maybe if you offer to pay his way to Scotland, you can borrow him for a while? Better start saving up!

Leslie, this bacon has your name all over it!

4:41 PM, September 07, 2006  
Anonymous hag said...

holy moly, that looks fantastic! I love bacon and eggs, but that just elevates it to the divine!

10:27 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Mary said...

Where can I sign up for a gay husband?! I still can't get over the first breakfast he made for you! He is really good.

4:17 PM, September 09, 2006  
Blogger tara said...

All hail the return of Jimmy. As his Dutch Babies have become a staple around these parts, I do believe we shall have to recreate this latest breakfast menu. Though, I should admit, after such a meal I might want to head back to bed for a nap!

11:02 AM, September 10, 2006  
Blogger h said...

I made the Sweet & Spicy Bacon for a brunch I had yesterday and it was a complete hit. It was so easy, too. I never would have thought to spice or bake bacon.

I also made the Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes you wrote about at Suacy. Also a huge hit. :)

11:28 AM, September 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bacon went over well at our brunch yesterday, but - although we used thick, meaty slices - we really had to watch the heat. I'd shorten the time in the oven. Even a bit burned, it was some of the best damn bacon I've ever had.

We also had mimosas. And those eggs (with gruyere). And then, we had a nap.

11:52 AM, September 11, 2006  
Anonymous Rebecca & Jimmy said...

Hi Little Bird, it's Rebecca and the world famous Jimmy, checking in from Firenze. Jimmy, who prefers to let his cooking do the talking, says "the food is better here." I prefer to let the talking do the talking and say look out, he's deconstructing and conjuring and figuring and watching and I know, I just know, we're in for nothing shy of super-duper gay greatness in the kitchen when we get home. Love love love, see you soon, ciao.

10:02 AM, September 13, 2006  
Blogger arielle said...

happy though i was for your waistline, i'm thrilled about the return of 9am sundays at jimmy's!

10:30 AM, September 14, 2006  
Anonymous frida said...

good grief...I must have that bacon right now!

12:15 PM, September 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

woW!!! I found this recipe through a link on NOT MARTHA's page and am soooo glad. Made and loved the eggs and potatoes for friends on my Sunday off and only got raves and handed the recipe out. Thanks.

5:01 PM, September 18, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Thank you, hag! We owe it all to Jimmy.

Mary, I hear you. I've got the straight husband figured out, but I'm still on the lookout for a gay one...

Tara, after breakfasts like these, a nap is almost a necessity - don't even try to fight it! You know, truth be told, I think the world would be a much better place if we went back to bed after breakfast every day.

h, that makes me so happy! Thank you for reporting back.

What a Sunday, Anonymous! And thank you for the tip about the bacon. Hear that, everyone? Watch it carefully!

Rebecca and Jimmy, I am SO glad that you're home - at long last! - and cannot wait for some of that super-duper gay greatness! When can we come over, hmm? P.S. Rebecca, your e-mails nearly killed me. When are you writing your first book?

Me too, arielle - waistline be damned!

Frida, have you made the bacon yet? Hurry!

You're very welcome, Anonymous! Jimmy, are you reading this? You should be proud.

9:18 PM, September 19, 2006  
Blogger Lia said...

Just had to let you know that my husband and I treated our friends to these baked eggs and spicy bacon this weekend and OH MY GOD. They were absolutely unbelieveable. Though we did mess up a few steps with the eggs, we were still amazed with how delicious they were and I definitely found them to be fairly light (even with the creme fraiche and pieces of cheese). Goodbye scrambled, hello ouefs a la cantalienne!

Jimmy truly is a genius and I am now even more jealous of how lucky you are to have him cook for you! Now I can't wait to try those shortbread waffles...

9:04 PM, September 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anneke said...

This is my first time on your blog, and the person who linked it didn't exaggurate when they warned me your writings would make me salivate ;)

Perhaps you could post a hash brown recipy sometime? I'm from the Netherlands and have no clue how they're made, but I'd love to try out the whole breakfast as you wrote about in this entry.

9:38 AM, September 28, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Lia, I'm so happy to hear it! All bow down before Jimmy...

Welcome, Anneke - so glad you found your way over to Orangette! I'm sorry to have taken a few days to get back to you about those hash browns. I wanted to discuss hash brown cookery with Brandon, who is Mr. Hash Brown around here. Here are some rough guidelines:

- Hash browns come in many shapes and sizes. Some people like to dice their potatoes; some use small potatoes and halve or quarter them, as Jimmy does; and actually, most people grate their potatoes. Technically, Jimmy's potatoes aren't true "hash browns" because they are made with such big hunks of potato. They should probably be called "breakfast potatoes."

- If you want to use halved or quartered small potatoes, as Jimmy does, you should boil them a little first. Cut them into your desired size and boil them in lightly salted water until they are just tender (but not falling apart). Drain and dry them. Warm butter or oil in a large skillet over medium heat (Brandon prefers medium-high), and add finely chopped onions, chopped bell peppers (whatever color you like), and the parboiled potatoes. Cook them all together until the potatoes are tender and lightly golden, and the onions and peppers are tender as well. Seasoned with salt and pepper, your "Jimmy-style" breakfast potatoes are ready.

- If you want to use diced or grated potatoes, there is no need to boil them beforehand, but you can expect to use more oil or other fat than you would use with a parboiled potato.

10:44 AM, October 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My chef husband thought the bacon was incredible-like nothing else he has ever tried. Thankyou.

9:52 AM, March 01, 2008  
Blogger Cate said...

Oh Yum I like it alot. What else can you say when your mouth is fullllllll!

3:16 PM, March 27, 2009  
Blogger Marshall Turner said...

I made the sweet, spicy bacon with some thick cut from the Ballard Market, and wow, just wow. Everyone said without a doubt that it was the best bacon they had ever had. This recipe is going in my "special Sunday brunch" folder. The eggs are next.

12:06 PM, May 03, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This bacon is SO good! Thank you for sharing recipe!

12:34 PM, September 04, 2013  

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