Category Archives: Eggs I love you!

Soft-boiled eggs

Maybe the problem with success is that we don’t take enough time to define it for ourselves.
~ Eric Karjaluto, co-founder of smashLAB

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I find this terribly simple and profound: soft-boiled eggs cracked into a bowl, topped with a mini mountain of toast fragments and too much black pepper.

Sometimes I think I could eat this every day.

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Oeuf cocotte

One needs something to believe in, something for which one can have wholehearted enthusiasm.
~ Hannah Senesh

Once upon a time, I thought that making oeuf cocotte was fussy and “much work for little return”. Now, I make them occasionally and each time I am always surprised by how simple they are to prepare, how (deceptively) fancy they look and how comforting they are to eat.

Just chop up some of your favourite veges, herbs, bits of ham or anything you like to eat with eggs (and that will like being in the oven)… sometimes I like to first sear some tomatoes with a splash of balsamic vinegar and a bit of muscovado sugar.

Then dot the bottom of a few ramekins with butter, throw in your veges/ham/whatever, crack an egg on top and crown the lot with some cheese. Place the ramekins in a deep baking dish, and fill the baking dish with hot water till it comes halfway up the side of the ramekins.

Bake them for a few minutes, then serve as breakfast/lunch/a light start to dinner. Easy, huh? I think so too.

The recipe I include below documents the way I made it recently, but you can make delicious variations with ham, bacon, mushrooms… some recipes I have come across also use cream. This is a versatile dish that lends itself well to some experimentation!

    Oeuf cocotte
    Ingredients:
    1/4 onion, diced
    1 clove garlic, smashed and finely chopped
    3 tomatoes, cut into 4-8 small wedges
    Handful of cooking spinach, roughly chopped
    1 large pepper or capsicum
    3 eggs
    1 heaped tbsp feta cheese, diced
    1 tbsp parmesan shreds
    1 tbsp butter
    Olive oil
    1 tsp balsamic vinegar
    1 level tsp brown sugar
    Salt
    Pepper
    Method:
    Preheat oven to 200°C. Boil some water.
    Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet set over a medium-high flame. Once the oil is warm, add in the onion – sauté till golden brown and fragrant, then throw in the garlic, capsicum and tomatoes, sugar, and balsamic vinegar. Stir for a minute or two, till you can see the skins on the tomatoes begin to collapse gently.
    Place a pat of butter at the bottom of each ramekin, and add in the spinach, cooked vegetables and feta cubes. Roughly level the surface of the vegetables, then crack an egg into each ramekin. Add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.
    Put the ramekins into a deep baking tray and fill the baking tray with hot water till the water level reaches halfway up the side of the ramekins.
    Place the tray into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes.
    Yields 3 servings.

Other yummies of late: (1) a particularly delicious chocolate fondue involving, I found out later, mascarpone added to the warm chocolate mix. Mmm! (2) a generous and very tasty chicken sandwich at Willow Glen in Gordonton. (3) my sweet brother’s “brownie cake” (midway between brownie and cake). Cute imagining him in the kitchen, probably looking very serious the whole time. (4) farmers’ market salad leaves. Crunch crunch crunch.

P.S. Happy Waitangi Day!

A Spanish omelette, as inspired by Nigel Slater

If you’ve broken the eggs, you should make the omelette.
~ Anthony Eden

In “The Kitchen Diaries” (page 117), Nigel Slater wrote about his version of a Spanish omelette – “lighter and crisper than the traditional one that uses thick slices of potato”, and which incorporates parsley, mint and tarragon.

It sounded delicious, and through some unplanned, beautiful coincidence, I had exactly those herbs in my fridge right as I read this page and found myself hungry. The tarragon was a complimentary gift from the kind man at the farmers’ market, and I had some mint and parsley left over from a dinner last week. I also had potatoes and eggs – whee!

I skipped the flour and broiling my omelette, and replaced six chopped scallions with a clove of garlic, some diced onion and a sprinkle of paprika (to suit what was in my pantry), and had myself a lovely late lunch while it poured outside.

And on that wet note, the lovely summer sun has departed, leaving crazy rain in its place. But not all is dismal: I attended my first rainy barbeque last night, at my friend Cam’s place. The meat was excellent, as was the company, and there was dancing and crazy conversations… the rain shall not take away the joy of summer.

    Spanish omelette
    Inspired by Nigel Slater
    Ingredients:
    2 eggs, beaten
    1 potato
    1 clove garlic, finely chopped
    2 tbsp diced red onion
    paprika
    salt
    pepper
    olive oil
    parsley leaves, chopped
    tarragon leaves, chopped
    mint leaves, chopped
    Method:
    Grate or chop the potato into matchsticks. Heat a splash of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, then add in the diced onion and fry till fragrant and lightly golden.
    Stir in the garlic, paprika and potato, and sauté for approximately two minutes. Then add in the eggs and scatter the herbs in a single layer over the omelette. Swirl the pan gently so you don’t trap puddles of uncooked egg in the omelette.
    Leave to cook for a few minutes, adjusting the heat if necessary, and flip the omelette if you can manage it (I haven’t quite mastered this). When the eggs are cooked nicely on both sides and the potato pieces are tender, move the omelette carefully on to a plate, add salt and pepper to taste and tuck in.
    Yields one serving.

Aioli, two eggs and a potato

When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.
~ Walt Disney

This evening, I stood across the road from the supermarket, caught in indecision.

I thought about the semi-bare appearance of both pantry and fridge, and the fact that grocery shopping might help that.

I reflected on my heightened state of laziness and the unpleasant idea of being crammed in a box with frenzied folk and bright lights and signs saying BUY ME BUY ME I’M ON SPECIAL [even though I’m crappy and unnecessary].

(I sometimes fantasise about a life free of supermarkets and glad-wrapped chicken and self-imposed walking up and down rows of stressed and tired people, boxed food and trolleys. Anyway, that’s a post for another time.)

The lure of fresh air and sunlight won over all supermarket-related thoughts in the end, so I walked on home.

Back at home, I found a forgotten (but more importantly: very edible) potato, a few eggs and some other bits and pieces. As I mulled over the question of the evening, “what shall I cook from not much at all?” I was reminded of a line someone once told me: “laziness breeds creativity”…

Laziness doesn’t usually seem to yield positive results in anything, but occasionally, it does.

And while I don’t think I’ll try calling my dinner tonight “creative”, I daresay I was pretty pleased with it anyway.

    Ingredients:
    1 potato
    2 eggs
    Handful of chopped parsley
    For the aioli:
    1 egg yolk
    1 tsp Dijon mustard
    1 or 2 tsp lemon juice
    200ml olive oil*
    2 cloves garlic
    Fine sea salt & cracked pepper
    A pinch of paprika
    A pinch of caster sugar
    Method:
    Make the aioli. Peel and smash the garlic with some salt – in a mortar and pestle if you have one, with a knife and a glass jar if you don’t have one (I don’t).
    Place the egg yolk, mustard and lemon juice in a medium bowl; whisk immediately. Keep adding a few drops of olive oil at a time** and whisking the mixture until approximately half of the oil has been poured in. Then pour the rest of the olive oil in a thin and steady stream, whisking as you go, until it is completely incorporated.
    Add in the garlic, paprika, caster sugar, and salt and pepper to taste – give it a last gentle stir. You should now have a glossy, creamy mixture which clings slightly to the whisk.
    Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Wash and slice the potato. Place the potato and eggs into the saucepan and boil for approximately 8 minutes or until the eggs are just hard boiled and the potato slices are soft, but not falling apart.
    Peel and slice the eggs, then place on a plate with the potato slices, chopped parsley and aioli. Mix and eat.
    Yields 1 serving. Keep remaining aioli*** in a glass jar for up to 7 days in the fridge.

* You may want to use some a mixture of light and pure/extra virgin olive oil or just light olive oil if you find the taste of pure olive oil too strong – I love the taste of olive oil, so I just used extra virgin.

** This was my first attempt at making aioli, but I have heard that it is crucial to add at least half the oil in very slowly so it doesn’t get ruined…

*** Lots of uses for aioli: serve with fresh vegetables, pan fried fish, crispy fries – mmm!

Breakfast, as of late

I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you till China and Africa meet and the river jumps over the mountain and the salmon sing in the street.
~ W. H. Auden

I have been eating this every day for breakfast this week. Kids, try this at home: lay a piece of your favourite bread on a plate. Cover it with fresh spinach leaves. Decorate with oily oh-so-good-that-you-want-to-swoon-over-it smoked salmon and healthy flecks of parmesan cheese. Squeeeeze a wedge of lemon over the whole lot. Poach an egg in salted water, and place on top of the lot. Sprinkle with black pepper if desired. Eat immediately with knife and fork.

Egg on toast

I’m youth, I’m joy, I’m a little bird that has broken out of the egg.
~ James M. Barrie

Eggsparagusart

The way you cut your meat reflects the way you live.
~ Confucius