I recently found a hundred-year-old recipe for Creole Eggs, which are shirred (baked) eggs topped with tomato, green pepper, and onion. Shirred eggs are surprisingly easy to make. And, when topped with the tomato mixture, they are absolutely delightful.
Here’s the original recipe:
I found this recipe confusing – though the eggs turned out well. It is an odd mixture of very specific directions – “2 tablespoonfuls green pepper”; “Garnish each dish with a tablespoonful of the tomato mixture.” And, very general directions – “one to two eggs per individual” with no clue how many individuals the recipe was supposed to serve. If only 1 tablespoon of the tomato mixture was put on top of the eggs in each ramekin, it seems like this recipe would make enough tomato mixture for a lot of eggs. In the end, I decided that another option would be to just make fewer servings and use more of the tomato mixture per serving (2+ tablespoons).
It also was not clear how big “two large tomatoes” were supposed to be – though the comment that 1/2 can of tomatoes (a 1 pound can?) could be substituted for the fresh tomatoes made me think that it was calling for about a cup of canned tomatoes. The statement that just the “solids” from a can of tomatoes were supposed to be used, also made me think that the recipe was calling for about 1/2 cup of canned tomatoes after they were strained. And, that if fresh tomatoes are used (which is what I used), that there should be about 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes.
I used clear glass ramekins, and didn’t grease them or “dust” with breadcrumbs, because I was concerned that the photo would not look very nice with the breadcrumbs around the edge of the ramekin. I didn’t have any problems with the egg sticking excessively to the edge of the ramekins, so don’t think that it is necessary to grease and dust them. I also reduced the salt from 1/2 teaspoon to 1/4 teaspoon, since the original amount called for seemed like a lot.
Bottom line – This recipe appears to be an attempt to provide exact measurements for a recipe that actually is very flexible. It’s not important to have exact amounts of onion, green, pepper, or tomatoes – just make an amount that seems appropriate for the desired number of servings.
Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:
4 – 8 eggs (1 – 2 eggs per serving)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons onion, chopped
2 tablespoons green pepper, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tomatoes, diced (about 1/2 cup) or 1 cup of canned tomatoes, strained (measure before straining) – I used fresh tomatoes.
Melt butter in a saucepan. Add onion and green pepper; cook until tender. Stir in the tomatoes and continue cooking until the tomatoes are thoroughly cooked; stir occasionally while cooking. Stir in salt.
In the meantime, preheat oven to 400° F. Break 1 – 2 eggs into each of four ramekins. Place in a shallow pan that contains about 1 inch of hot water. Put in oven and bake until the white is set, and yolk is the desired firmness. (About 10-15 minutes.) Remove from oven and remove the ramekins from the pan with water.
Spoon the tomato mixture on top of the cooked eggs (about 2 tablespoons per ramekin), and immediately serve the eggs.