Where do I even start with this recipe? In the cookbook, it looked intriguing, and while not overly difficult, a bit fancier than ordinary breakfast fare. In reality, it was still intriguing, and not too complicated to make, but it sure took a lot longer than 5 minutes in the oven – 35, actually – and by then the bread cases, though lovely and crispy, were hard enough that I cannot imagine eating these gracefully with guests at a most fashionable breakfast or lunch. Not even with the late Tzarine.
They were quite tasty… bread crisped up with bacon fat, still soft around the eggs, which I cooked fully hard. The bread didn’t burn in the oven as I feared it might – I knew that even if a normal egg took 5 minutes (it did not, it was still completely clear at the ten minute mark) mine would be in there a lot longer. They even looked fairly nice for a first timer. But the extreme crispness of the giant crouton made them hard to cut neatly. If I was going to ever make them again, it would be for some occasion, though I don’t know what sort of occasion requires fussy yet messy-to-eat egg dishes.
They might cook a bit faster with a thinner bread cube, or a bread cylinder with thinner sides. I don’t know. I wasn’t going to make the sides too thin because I am a bit of a klutz and then I would have ended up with piles of bread bits, not nice neat(ish) bread cases.
My other half liked them well enough, but then he likes eggs. He doesn’t think the extra effort is worth the result; he is a basic eggs kind of guy who likes to keep things, including his eggs, simple.
The following recipe is for 5. I scaled it down to 2 servings.
OEUFS A LA TZARINE
Eggs a la Tzarine
Proportions.– For five Persons
Salt and pepper…………. A little
PREPARATION.– 1st. Cut 5 pieces of bread about 3 inches in diameter and 3 inches in height. Cut the crust off and make in the middle of each a hole about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep, fry these toasts in butter. 2d. Dispose them in a buttered dish, break a fresh egg in every hole, sprinkle over some salt and pepper, place about 1 teaspoon of butter on each egg, and let them bake for 5 minutes.
NOTE.– This dish, notwithstanding its simplicity, may be served for the most fashionable breakfasts or lunches and was highly appreciated by the late Tzarine.
Home Cooking with Full Instructions How to Carve seems to be a reprint of Francois Tanty’s La Cuisine Francaise, A Guide to French Cooking in the Home which was published in 1893. Apparently the other title was published in America in 1894, perhaps to reassure American housewives that it was all nice, basic food inside. I have no idea. I also have no idea when my copy is from, as everything before the introduction has been carefully torn out.