In Italy, as I believe in most European countries eggs are not considered breakfast food only. Kids eat them as an afternoon snack and they are common to find in the home’s evening menu, as a simple, fast to prepare and nutritious food.
In Europe lunches are the main meals and dinners are much lighter in portions and caloric intake. Often a bowl of salad, a piece of cheese with bread and olives, a glass of wine and a piece of fruit will make a good dinner.
Other times, some eggs scrambled with meat and vegetables also make a good meal.
In my native region of Puglia, in Italy, lamb cooked in the oven with fennel, green peas and scrambled eggs is one of the most common dishes. My favorite of all the egg styles is egg à la coque, oeuf à la coque in French, uovo alla coque in Italian. Before you embark on the egg à la coque ritual, because it is a ritual, you must have the right tools, the coquetier (egg cup) made of any material, from glass to ceramics to metals and the egg topper (cutter), also made in a variety of metals, each ranging in price from $10 up to $90. If you like to have a professional restaurant type topper, the price will be much higher.
For long time, I had searched for an attractive egg topper, if it was a second-hand piece, or an antique I would have not cared, I just wanted an interesting piece.
Once I was visiting some relatives in Bologna, Italy. Strolling around in downtown area, I stopped to admire the merchandise in the window of a jewelry store, it was clear to me the store carried some unique home pieces all in silver.
The store was elegant and expensive looking. I entered because it was inviting. I asked for an egg topper and the owner looked at me puzzled: “nobody uses this tool anymore, you must be a food connoisseur” he said.
Apostrophizing one as food connoisseur is a bit over rated, I just want to treat myself to good things in life. He showed the only example he had available and I purchased. I was lucky to find the egg topper I wanted, it is made of silver, not a contemporary design and they got rid of something that had not sold in years. I have used it ever since.
Back in the kitchen. Prepare some mouillettes, long bread strips.
I cut the bread in slices, then in strips, brush olive oil on each piece, roll them in grated Parmigiano cheese, place under the broiler and toast for a few minutes. The bread is for dunking inside the egg yolk and a small spoon is for scraping the egg white off of the interior shell.
In a small pan, boil the water, with a needle poke a hole on both ends of the egg, when the water boils, rest the egg on the dipper and slowly drop the egg in. Let it boil for 4 minutes, take it out and place it on the coquetier.
Make a decisive clean cut at the top with the egg topper to expose enough of the egg, serve with the warm toasted mouillettes.
Asparagus tips sautéed or grilled, or a small bowl of green peas will fit really well with egg à la coque.
I like caviar, for me it is like the parsley in every dish. If you like caviar, place it on the caviar dish and eat it together with the egg à la coque.
What a way to end the day! A lite dinner with eggs, caviar, a glass of wine and you will be happy, happy. I hope you will try it. Ciao,
Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn ugly spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and entertainment rooms. She is also the author of two Italian regional cuisine books available here and in various locations: