As many of us approach another month of self-quarantining, either partially or in full, and with the COVID-19 pandemic again on the uptick, it's hard not to look back and think about the things we miss. There's girls night out at one of your favorite restaurants with more than just a couple of friends; hopping in the car and heading to the grocery store without thinking about whether or not the shelves will be full; or eating out without having to worry if the table next to you is too close for comfort.

One of the things I miss most is brunch — gathering together with friends on a weekend morning and enjoying a spicy Bloody Mary along with those dishes that can pull double duty for breakfast and lunch. Just thinking about brunch makes me want to break out the sandals and a floral sundress — but by myself? I'm not yet at the point where I want to invite a crowd over, but as much as I love this late-morning meal, I still want to treat myself to a lazy weekend brunch — not in my sundress, but in my jammies. Egg boats are one of my favorite dishes, primarily since some of the work — baking the bread — can be done a day ahead.

Egg boats are similar to that childhood favorite — egg in a hole. Remember how much fun it was to bite a hole in a piece of bread, put it in the frying pan, crack an egg into the hole and fry it till the bread was golden brown and the egg cooked to your liking?

Egg boats follow a similar procedure, as you remove the middle of a small loaf of bread before filling it with a mixture of eggs, cheese, bacon and heavy cream. It's a luscious, simple, filling brunch entree that looks clever and beautiful on a plate with some fresh summer fruit.


Egg Boats

1 can (11 ounces) refrigerated French bread (slice loaf in half crosswise)

3 slices bacon

3 large eggs

2 tablespoon heavy cream

1/2 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

2 green onions, finely sliced

1 pinch kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place bread halves on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Remove loaves from oven, and slice a long hole in the middle of them, lengthwise. Pull out some of the dough filling inside each loaf, creating little boats (see note).

In the meantime, dice the bacon and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon from the skillet, and drain on paper towels.

Whisk together the eggs and heavy cream. Then add the bacon, cheese, scallions, a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Pour the filling into each loaf boat, and bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until set in the center and golden brown. Serve warm.

Note: Bake the bread the night before, and the rest of the work will take just minutes.


Top brunch restaurants

Open Table recently released a list of restaurants voted by its diners that serve the best brunch. The three in Chattanooga are FoodWorks, Tupelo Honey and State of Confusion. While I haven't had brunch at the latter, the other two — FoodWorks and Tupelo Honey — have excellent brunches if you're wanting to celebrate the reopening of area restaurants with a mouthwatering weekend brunch.

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Anne Braly