Hi y’all…it’s me! What’s going on with you? Sorry about the lack of posts here at Just Putzing Around the Kitchen the last two weeks, but I’ve been on vacation! And then I was jet-lagged, so there wasn’t much of any action in my kitchen. Also, I lost my camera cable thingy in Iceland and didn’t figure out until just a few days ago that I could pop out my SD card and stick it into my laptop, so my pictures have all effectively been trapped in my camera.
Which means that even when I did get around to whipping up tasty treats (for example, I did actually make a delicious cocktail for Thirsty Thursday last week) and taking pictures, I couldn’t figure out how to get them to you.
If you’re thinking right now that I am a moron, you would be correct. But hey, I know about the SD card thingy now, and I got a new camera cable, so it’s all good. Which means I can finally tell you about my vacation (we’ll get to today’s recipe a little later, I promise)! Hope y’all are ready for a super long post!
As you may have gathered from my last few posts, Dan and I were in Europe. Partly for sightseeing, but mainly for a family wedding. Dan’s cousin Luke married a gorgeous Icelandic girl last year, but only a few close friends and some of the bride’s family were there for the big day.
This year, in honor of their one year anniversary, they invited everyone to fly over to Reykjavik for a belated wedding celebration. Dan and I were totally on board from the start – any excuse to take time of work and travel, you know?And, because it was my first time in Europe, we decided to hit up a few more places while we were abroad. There were about a billion different cities/countries I wanted to go to, but we only had just under 10 days so I had to rein myself in.
In the end, based on recommendations from our friends and family, we settled on Amsterdam and Paris. And y’all? It was so much fun! Too much fun to cover in a single post, so I’m going to break down our trip in three separate posts, with each post featuring a recipe inspired by the tastiest foods we ate in each city. Starting with…
…Paris! The City of Light, the city of lovers, and our last stop in Europe. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we rented an adorable little flat near the Eiffel Tower, drank a lot of wine, and ate our body weight in fresh baked bread, soft cheese, and pastries. It was, of course, awesome. But we did other things too!
On our first full day in Paris, we hit the big tourist hot spots with a vengeance…by foot. We started at the Eiffel Tower (b/c it was like..right there!), walked along the Seine River towards the Grand Palais, window shopped our way through Champs Elysee towards the Arc de Triomphe, then back tracked across the river to the military school, the Musee de l’Armee, and Napolean’s tomb before finally calling it quits.
We seriously walked for about 4.5 hours straight that day. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like if we had actually gone inside any of those places (the lines were way too long, y’all)…my feet would have been bleeding, for sure!
On Day 2, we discovered the Metro, which helped our poor aching feet big time. We also decided to be a little less ambitious in our sightseeing and just focus on visiting two hot spots: the Louvre and Notre Dame. Fun fact: the Louvre is HUGE.
Also, did y’all know that it’s comprised of more than just that glass pyramid featured in the Da Vinci Code? Despite all my fancy degrees and book learnin’, I somehow did not. We walked into the middle of the main courtyard, which is surrounded on three sides by a ginormous stone building, and I was all “Wait, where’s the Louvre? I don’t see a glass pyramid anywhere…” To which Dan responded “ALL OF THIS IS THE LOUVRE. That’s the pyramid, and it’s just the entrance…”
He didn’t come right out and call me an idiot, but I could tell he was thinking it. Whatever. I’m cultured!
Once inside the Louvre, I knew our time among culture and history would be short – Dan dislikes museums and art, so this was pretty much his personal hell. We flew by the Winged Victory and blew through the Italian painters (all apparently obsessed with the same two themes: Jesus on the cross, Madonna and baby Jesus), making a beeline towards the Mona Lisa.
We knew we were in the right place when we saw the giant swarm of tourists madly trying to take pictures of something in the distance with their iPads (why has iPad picture-taking become a thing?). I fought my way through the horde, snapped a quick pic of the enigmatic Mona, and then we were off again!
This time, to the Venus de Milo! We got a little distracted by some of the other statues and kept accidentally ending up in the hall of antiquities, but we found our girl eventually. One quick picture of the goddess, and it was time to go – Dan had reached the end of his museum tolerance, and my feet were tired.
It seemed like only a few minutes, but we were actually there for almost three hours – the Louvre is a freaky time-warping black hole, apparently…which is partly why we were not quite as excited about touring the Notre Dame. In the end, we half-hardheartedly circled around the cathedral one time and took a few pictures from the outside before heading off to find ourselves a nice little street cafe and do some serious day drinking.
On Day 3, Dan and I holed up inside our apartment for most of the day – it was super rainy outside, we were worn out from being touristy, and it’s kinda really nice to stay in bed all day when you’re in the most romantic place on earth with your husband (wink)! The only time we went outside was to stock up on bread, at which point I got to practice my halting high school-level French at the boulangerie/patisserie down the street.
It was deeply uncomfortable for everyone involved, but we successfully came away with two baguettes (and the nice man behind me in line told me I did a good job!), which were just barely enough to hold us over until dinner.
And speaking of dinner, I should confess now that for most of our stay in Paris, our dinners consisted primarily of bread, stinky cheese, fruit, and wine. Not because there weren’t any restaurants that appealed to us, and for once it wasn’t even because we were lazy. The bread was just so unbelievably delicious that we couldn’t get enough of it (we’ve been back for two weeks and I have yet to find anything as good from the stores near us…sob).
Foodies everywhere are probably weeping at all my missed dining opportunities, but I regret nothing (also, I’m counting on the fact that we’ll go back someday)!
We did have one really amazing, non-bread dinner, though. Based on a recommendation by Dan’s cousin, we made a reservation at a place called Le Petit Canard on our last night in Paris. It was, without a doubt, the best meal we had in Europe. The service was awesome (I think our meal was served by the owner, who can only be described as warm and twinkly), the wine was delicious, and the food was amazing.
Our meal started off with a complimentary aperitif – crisp, clean, and fizzy. A little dry for my usual tastes, but really tasty with the dish of marinated olives that came with it (BTW, I love olives now). For our appetizer and main course, Dan and I ordered duck (because, as you may have guessed from the name, Le Petit Canard specializes in duck). Dan started with a plate of charcuterie (assorted cured duck meats, sausage and pate), and I had the oeuf en cocotte (a soft-boiled egg with cream, smoked duck breast and foie gras).
Both were delicious – my oeuf was luscious, creamy and deeply satisfying; Dan’s cured duck meats were a revelation. It seemed impossible that our entrees could be anywhere near as delicious as our appetizers, but they were. Dan’s Aiguillettes (sliced duck breast with a honey sauce, served with potato and chestnut puree, string beans, and mushrooms) were melt-in-your mouth tender and the perfect balance of sweet and savory. My confit (duck leg poached in preserved duck fat, served with sliced mushrooms and a crisp salad), was unbelievably rich and decadent, with an explosion of flavor in each bite.
We washed everything down with a bottle of red wine (don’t remember the name, but it was perfect), so by the time dessert rolled around (an apple crumble for Dan, molten lava cake for me), I was not only stuffed to the gills but also happily buzzed. I can’t remember the last time I left a restaurant feeling that satisfied and happy. When Dan rolled me out the door at the end of the night, my one thought was that I needed to come back to Paris soon just to eat at Le Petit Canard again (and figure out how to eat fois gras for every course).
I’d be hard pressed to tell you what my favorite dish of the night was, but I can tell you with confidence that the oeuf en cocotte are the only thing I can replicate in my kitchen (for real, how on earth would I even begin to cure my own duck sausage?). Which is why I’m sharing this recipe for you today.
Oeufs en cocotte, otherwise known as eggs in a pot or coddled/shirred eggs, are probably the easiest egg dish you will ever make. Just crack an egg into a buttered ramekin, top it with cream, and cook it for a little bit in a water bath in the oven. The result is a creamy, luscious, perfectly cooked, slightly runny egg that you can enjoy any way you want (I recommend smearing it on crusty bread), with any toppings you want.
This would be a great brunch dish when you have guests – looks impressive, tastes delicious, and is super versatile (you could set up a killer toppings bar to go with it: crumbled bacon, herbs, pesto, cheese, etc.).
- 1 to 2 tbsp melted butter
- 4 large eggs
- 4 tbsp heavy cream
- Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
- Fresh herbs, for serving (optional - I used parsley)
- Other toppings, for serving (optional - I used homemade pesto...recipe coming soon!)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Bring a teakettle or pot filled with water to a boil. Remove from heat.
- Brush the inside of four small (4 to 6-ounce ramekins) with your melted butter.
- Crack an egg into each ramekin.
- Spoon 1 tbsp of cream over each egg.
- Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper (to taste) over each egg.
- Place the ramekins in a casserole dish. Carefully pour boiling water into the casserole dish until the water level reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Place casserole dish in the oven and bake the eggs until the yolks are just barely set, about 20 minutes.
- Remove ramekins from the casserole dish, sprinkle with herbs and grated Parmesan, if using.
- Serve with crusty bread and homemade pesto.
(Slightly adapted from Yum Sugar’s recipe)