There can never be too many ways or variations to make eggs! In our house, they are the ultimate fast food. I poach them in leftover chili and soups and it makes every leftover dish richer and more nutritious. I actually don’t understand why there isn’t a restaurant dedicated to putting eggs on EVERYTHING! Seems like a no-brainer. If you know of such a restaurant please fill me in!

Anyway, on with the show! Eggs in Cocotte are delicately baked eggs in individual portions. Easy to make for a good amount of people (my in-laws will be eating these when they visit over the holidays) and super, fancy pants impressive. It’s a decadent, warming cool-weather breakfast (or lunch, or dinner!).

baked eggs in pots with mushrooms and prosciutto

  • 4 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • olive oil to sauté
  • 9 large meaty mushrooms (shitake, portobella etc.), sliced thick
  • pat of butter
  • 1 Tablespoon cream (1 teaspoon per pot)
  • few large sprigs fresh thyme, miced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 cup gruyere, grated
  • 8 eggs
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • toast points for serving

~ Heat oil in a large skillet. Add shallots and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add chopped prosciutto and sauté another few minutes until crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.

~ Melt butter in skillet, then add mushrooms and sauté until tender. In the skillet, toss together the mushrooms, shallots, prosciutto and most of the rosemary and thyme (reserve some for garnishing).

~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

~ Butter or oil the small pots or ramekins. Spoon the mushroom mixture evenly into the bottom of each pot. Drizzle a teaspoon of cream into each pot and divide cheese among the dishes. Make 2 depressions in the mixture with the back of the spoon to cradle the eggs. Crack two eggs in each pot, sprinkle a bit of extra  cheese on top of the eggs.

~ Get a pan big enough to fit the 4 pots and fill it with water so that the water goes half way up the sides of the pots. Either bring water to boil in the pan or, if using a glass baking dish you can let the dish heat in the oven and boil water in a hot pot to fill the baking dish.

~ Place the pots in the water bath and carefully place in oven. Bake for 13-16 minutes though I recommend checking on them at 10 minutes due to differences in oven temperatures.

~Once whites are set but yolks are still runny, remove from oven. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Serve with toast points.


 pan of sautéed prosciutto mushrooms and herbs

I’m often asked, by clients and friends alike, what I eat in normal day to day life. We eat a lot of different things over here, mostly veggie based, but hands down the dish I eat the most is a loose variation of Shakshouka or a Turkish Şakşuka. Sounds like a sneeze or a word in a spell to curse someone if you ask me! I can picture Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus spitting “Shakshouka” at someone and turning them into a toad. She truly is the epitome of Halloween fun in my book! “Double, double, toil and trouble….Shakshouka!” Ha!

Anyway, I’ve been making this recipe in large batches and eating the leftovers in a bunch of different ways for about a year and never knew that it had a legitimate name (though this recipe is a very non-traditional version!). Usually I make a giant dutch oven sized batch of the vegetable ragout and put it over polenta cakes and top it with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil for dinner. It is so delicious and full bodied that I don’t even miss the pasta. Then for a nice hot breakfast I heat up some of my leftovers in a skillet and then crack a couple eggs in and poach until softly cooked. This is a lot less work overall for the number of delicious, healthy meals it yields. That said, you could also make a small batch in a skillet the traditional way with the eggs the first time around which is what this recipe does. Whatever floats your boat!

This non-traditional version borders on a pot ratatouille and is really adaptable to whatever delightful veggie you may have in your fridge. As a food photographer, I loved shooting this dish because of the incredible richness of color and texture. It is earthy and divinely delicious! It’s a whole different kind of soul food;)

Shakshouka Vegetable Ragout with Poached Eggs- copyright Crystal Cartier

  • olive oil, enough to saute
  • 1 Tablespoon smashed garlic
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pound mixed mushrooms (I used king oyster and king trumpet), chopped
  • 1/4 cup baby japanese eggplant, chopped
  • 1 pound zucchini, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sweet cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup  prepared tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • few squirts hot sauce, optional

~ Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet, add garlic and onions and saute for a few minutes until fragrant.

~ Add mushrooms and eggplant and saute for 5 minutes.

~ Add zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, tomato sauce, thyme, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

~ Using the back of a spoon, make 2 indentations in the mixture for the eggs. Crack two eggs into your indentations, reduce heat to low and cover skillet. Cook until white are opaque but yolks are still tender and jiggly.

~ Plate mixture and top with a few squirts of your favorite hot sauce if desired.


 Shakshouka Vegetable Ragout with Poached Eggs- copyright Crystal Cartier



When my food stylist pal Sienna DeGovia brought the ingredients for this little wonder to the studio one day, we both had no real idea what the final product would look like. In the end it was quite a win and definitely uniquely impressive. This dish is an interesting take on traditional salt crusted fish but this time you’ll make a salt crust that resembles a meringue and pile it on top of the fish. The results are spectacularly beautiful while uncompromisingly satisfying and delicious. Tender, flaky, salty but with a hint of that snapper sweetness this recipe makes a simple idea special. Give it a whirl, it’s easier than it looks.


  • 1 (4-pound) whole red snapper, cleaned and de-scaled
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 pound fresh fennel, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seed
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup kosher salt

Leave head and tail on. Rinse the fish inside and out then pat dry.

Combine the parsley, lemon, fennel, bay leaves, shallot, fennel seed, and 1/4-cup olive oil. Stuff the cavity of the fish with 3/4 of the mixture, then spread the remaining 1/4 on the bottom of a roasting pan so the fish will not stick.

Transfer the fish to the roasting pan and rub the skin with remaining olive oil. In another bowl, whip the egg whites to a stiff peak, then fold in the salt to make type of salted meringue. Smear the salted fluffy goodness over the entire fish and roast in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 30 to 40 minutes. The egg whites form a hard crust that will crack like a shell. Pull chunks of the crust away to reveal the savory fish beneath. Scoop the flesh from the fish with a spoon. Watch for bones!

yum and yum.

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

I must confess that I sometimes go on egg benders. These are stretches of many months where I find it difficult to limit my egg consumption to no more than 2 decadent little eggs per day. They are a go-to breakfast, lunch and dinner staple in my house (even the dogs will cry and wail to lick the left over gooey yolks from my plate. Note that they do not do this for beef or any other food. weirdies). This post is a little bitty homage to a favorite food.


Bright creamy yellow yolks are the sign of a farm fresh egg. I’ll do back flips and drive to Burbank first thing Sunday morning for a flat of farm fresh eggs. Done deal. Personally, I’m all about the drippy, luscious goodness of the softest yolk possible. The art of the egg.

raw egg up close and incredible

So aside from the graphic visual delight of the raw egg, I’m constantly on the prowl for new ideas to make a poached egg a new experience. Today was a definite winner. It’s a perfectly poached egg (how-to secret to be revealed) atop brown butter baby portobella mushrooms with lemon thyme from our very own victory garden!

To perfectly poach an egg is easy peasy. Simply:

  •  bring the water in a shallow pan to a boil
  •  turn down to a simmer
  • add 1 or 2 tsp of vinegar to the water to help the eggs congeal and stay together for photo perfection
  • crack egg into cup and slowly slide it into the pan
  • turn off heat, cover and cook for 4 minute
  • remove gently with slotted spoon

VOILA! Beautiful, round poached eggs. Absolutely camera quality;)

For this recipe we made brown butter which is exactly what it sounds like, literally browned butter. It adds a depth of flavor and nuttiness to any old food you can imagine. No matter the dish, brown butter can make it sing.  Simply:

  • cook pats of butter on medium/high heat swirling or whisking frequently
  • it will begin to foam and change color to a rich brown and gain a nutty aroma
  • immediately take from heat and put in bowl to cool
  • (optional) cook the brown butter with sage for an even more complex and earthy flavor

Cooking any squash with brown butter is a real crowd pleaser. In this case, we used the brown butter to accentuate the earthiness of the mushroom and compliment the decadent richness of the egg yolk. Beautiful and mouthwatering.

Then we grabbed some lemon thyme from our trusty, organic victory garden (more to come on that in future posts) and pulled the teensy little leaves off to add at the very end.

thyme and sage from the Victory Garden


Saute the sliced mushrooms in the brown butter with some smashed garlic.

Poach 2 eggs as described above and sprinkle the tiny thyme leaves over the mushrooms. The difference is in the delicious details- the small nutty, lemony, herby details that make a simple breakfast something special. Enjoy!


poached eggs with brown butter baby portobella mushrooms

What’s your favorite way to enjoy the incredible, edible egg?

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