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Cook Like le Chef

Soft Poached Eggwith Mushroom Toast & Baby Greens

Written by Caroline SchiffPhotos by Bonnie BriantRecipe inspired by Chefs on MHz Choice

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EDITOR'S NOTE: When I first screened award-winning French drama Chefs, the first, second and third thought I had was, "Man, I sure would love to know what those dishes taste like!" Enter Brooklyn Chef Caroline Schiff. Having spent a year cooking in France, Caroline brings firsthand insight to French cuisine and she has graciously created three recipes inspired by Season 1 of Chefs. I think you'll agree, Caroline deliciously answers my initial question! ~ J.C.

The French love their eggs. Omelettes, quiche, souffles, soft poached with lardons and frisée, à la coque, soft scrambled or sunny side up on top of a savory crêpe, with a perfectly runny yolk. Every bistrot and crepêrie offers multiple, simple egg dishes daily and it’s not uncommon to enjoy them for lunch or a light dinner. I’ll never forget the café in Grenoble, France, where I spent a year, that only served tarts and thus, quiche: dozens of kinds. Lorraine, Florentine, à la Grec, you name it. Each wedge was served with the same lightly dressed greens that paired perfectly with the buttery, rich, simple and delicious eggy tart. In French cuisine, dining in or out, eggs are seen as an easy way to a great meal, and they’re often showcased on fine dining menus as well, like we see in the first episode of Chefs.

Preview - Chefs: Season 1 Ep 1

ABOVE: The Chef and staff brainstorm on what to make for an investor that could save the restaurant. Chefs now available on MHz Choice!

Preparing something as simple as un oeuf à la coque to impress the still mysterious potential investor, Edouard (Robin Renucci), is risky to say the least and the cooks are skeptical when Chef (Clovis Cornillac) vetoes a perfectly sublime, haute cuisine fish dish. A soft boiled egg with toast seems hardly the way to impress anyone, let alone the man who has the power to save the ailing institution. However, Chef finds deep, nuanced inspiration for the dish and he’s confident it will tug at Edouard’s heartstrings.

The dish is stunning. It looks like an enchanted forest floor on the plate and with the melange of flavors, has the same depth of flavor, too. Truffles, a perfectly cooked soft egg, lardo, olive oil and muscat all paired with a 1996 Barolo makes your mouth water. It’s over-the-top luxury, even with the humble egg at its core.

Making a more practical version at home would still feel luxurious, and it’s possible, using some more common ingredients (unless, of course, you have fresh, white alba truffles lying around!) and sticking to simple preparations. To make this version, find great quality farm eggs, buttery brioche, delicate greens and beautiful mushrooms. Pair the finished dish with a delicious red wine, and you have yourself an elegant lunch for two that feels like a three-star meal.

To the outsider, French cuisine can seem impossibly stuffy and complex, but once you spend time there and get to know the staples of the cuisine, you realize it’s incredibly simple. It’s all about the ingredients and some key techniques that lift up something as simple as an egg. Get the good stuff and treat it right, don’t skimp on the butter, et voilà you’ve cracked the code. I recommend this dish for lunch or brunch and don’t forget to pour yourself and guest a glass of good red wine.

Recipe: Soft Poached Egg with Mushroom Toast and Baby Greens

“Oeuf à la Coque et les Petites Tartines aux Champignons”

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Oeuf à la Coque et les Petites Tartines aux Champignons

Serves 2
Preparation: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Printer friendly version

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
2 sprigs thyme
1 pound mixed mushrooms, chopped with large stems removed; I recommend a mixture of shiitakes, oysters and creminis
¼ cup white wine
1 small loaf of brioche, sliced
2 eggs, as close to farm fresh as you can find
2 handfuls baby greens, see if you can find mache or something equally delicate at the market
Splash of champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons good green olive oil, plus more to taste
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Fleur to sel for garnish


  1. First sear the mushrooms. Heat 3 tbs of butter in a skillet with the thyme sprigs over medium heat, and add the minced shallot and garlic, sauteeing until soft and translucent but not browned. Add the sliced mushrooms and turn up the heat slightly. Season with a pinch of salt and a crack of fresh black pepper. Keep the mushrooms moving so they start to cook down and brown, but the garlic and shallots remain translucent. When the bottom of the pan is dry and slightly browned, deglaze with the wine and cook until it evaporates.
  1. Remove the thyme sprigs and discard. Transfer the mushrooms to a food processor and add the remaining 1 tbs of butter. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped but not completely smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if you like.
  1. Toast and top the brioche: Toast two slices of brioche until just golden. Trim off the crusts and top each slice with a generous, even layer of the mushroom mixture. Cut each slice into 4 strips or bȃtonnets, garnish with a little fleur de sel, and place on two plates.
  1. Boil the eggs: Bring a small pot of water to a boil and gently drop in two eggs in their shells. Set a timer for 3 minutes, removing the eggs gently when the timer is up.
  1. While the eggs boil, dress the greens: In a mixing bowl dress the greens with a splash of champagne vinegar, a few wisps of the green olive oil, a crack of black pepper and a pinch of fleur de sel. Mix gently, taste and adjust the seasoning, and divide on to the two plates next to the toasts, creating a little “nest” for the egg to sit in.
  1. Transfer each egg, narrow end up, to an egg cup, or un coquetier, if you have them, and gently crack the top off with the side of a spoon. Place the egg gently in the “nest” of greens. If you don’t have egg cups, the eggs will balance nicely on top of napkin rings. Top the soft boiled egg with another wisp of green olive oil, a pinch of fleur de sel and a little fresh cracked black pepper. You’re ready to enjoy, but don’t forget the wine!

Cook Like le Chef Recipes

About the Chef
Caroline Schiff is a chef based in Brooklyn, NY with a decade of experience in restaurants and bakeries. In May 2018 she launched her culinary consulting firm ParadigmSchiff, offering recipe and product development, menu consultations, concept development and corporate events. In winter 2019 Caroline will take on the role of Pastry Chef at the re-opening of Gage & Tollner, the legendary Brooklyn restaurant. She has been featured on Vice: Munchies, Food Network’s Beat Bobby FlayGenius Kitchen,, Hulu’s Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi and stars in the documentary series, Her Name Is Chef. Follow Caroline here: @pastryschiff.