Tag Archives: eggs

Kaya!

Get excited and enthusiastic about your own dream. This excitement is like a forest fire – you can smell it, taste it, and see it from a mile away.
~ Denis Waitley

After a futile search through two supermarkets, I was delighted to finally locate some pandan leaves in the Asian grocery shop on Dixon Street! I also took the opportunity to practise my (now very rusty) Mandarin with the lady there.

In between preparing dinner for my flatmates tonight (garlic-mustard-red wine-rosemary-salt-pepper-treated lamb which they will be subjected to shortly), I googled kaya recipes and ended up making my own jumbled version of kaya with pandan, coconut cream, eggs, sugar and a tiny bit of salt. This was my first time making it – it took around 40 minutes and lots of endless stirring. Bad photos aside, I think it turned out alright – creamy and sweet, and not overbearingly so. Though I think there is room for improvement, I am happy with it as a first attempt.

Mmmm, kaya and butter on toast, what a cure for homesickness. :-)

Miles from Ya Kun Toast

Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.
~ Charles Dickens

Living in New Zealand, my breakfast on extravagant days = poached eggs with sides; french toast with bacon & banana; a cream cheese bagel… to name a few. Some days I have toast, a muffin, or nothing. We are fortunate in Wellington to have many splendid cafes, so I usually have coffee out a few times weekly with friends.

Yesterday, I thought I would try to make kaya toast for breakfast. Found Dad’s recipe for microwave kaya (a shortcut method for the jam of my childhood) and was dismayed that the New World I went to after work did not have pandan essence. No kaya, noooo!

I awoke abruptly this morning to my phone ringing, head confused from a busy dream and body tired from a busy week. ALL I could think about was kaya, soft-boiled eggs, Grandma.

Good heavens. I shall have to try to locate pandan essence elsewhere sometime later today.

Meanwhile though, I could at least (try to) make soft-boiled eggs. You’d think they were easy to make. Well, eggs are difficult to cook perfectly as it is, and soft-boiled eggs are the hardest of all to perfect in my opinion. The egg needs to be exactly midway between raw/inedible and hardboiled – soft runny yolk, runny (but not like mucus) white, etc. It’s one reason Singaporeans go to places like Ya Kun to have them made for them.

(This is my oops version – try Googling “kaya toast” for more accurate depictions):

Breakfast in Singapore, by the way, is a colourful affair. There are so many choices you could probably spend at least a month trying out all the different things you could have, like the aforementioned kaya toast, which is usually served with soft-boiled eggs and coffee or tea.

There are a few variations of commercial kaya now available on the market, ranging from avocado-green to pale brown in colour (Grandma’s homemade kaya is a crazy bright green, takes hours to make and tastes beautiful). It’s an egg jam, rich and unlike anything else you call jam, except you can spread it on bread too. Its main ingredients are coconut milk, pandan leaves and eggs. A Nonya/Malay (Straits Chinese) specialty, some sources say it was inspired by the Portuguese who had established major trading outposts in the Straits of Malacca during the peak of the spice trade.

Eggs. Supposedly, 3 (minutes) is the magic number when it comes to how long you should cook them to achieve perfect soft-boiled eggs. A problem when you live in a place with 4 seasons, I think – different room temperatures affect the temperature of the water on your stove, and though my Grandma heats the water to a rolling boil then turns it off while she cooks the eggs for 3 minutes in the hot water before cracking and slipping them quickly into a bowl… I leave the stove on very low heat in cold, late-Autumn New Zealand. There may be other factors besides this too, but it’s the main one I thought of today. It is not uncommon for Singaporeans to splash a little soy sauce and shake some white pepper on to the eggs.

As a side note, something I LOVE about having grown up in Asia is the way it truly opened my palate and senses to the sharp, piquant flavours of sweet, spicy, salty, sour – and the ability to appreciate combinations of what might seem like an appalling clash of opposites in NZ. :-)

Alright, last thing – coffee. Here, I love the sweet and robust espresso topped with creamy New Zealand milk steamed/frothed by exceptional baristas. In Singapore, you either drink Starbucks/Coffee Bean frappuccinos, or traditional kopi in coffee shops/food courts (the latter being the type you must have with kaya toast and eggs). Twists on kopi include having it black, with condensed milk, with evaporated milk or with sugar.

This morning, I had no kaya, no perfect eggs, no kopi-o. But I had butter, bread, yummy eggs, black coffee, a good imagination… and some day soon, hopefully, I will have some very delicious kaya (maybe from my kitchen?) to share.

How to cook an omelette: Julia Child

No clever arrangement of bad eggs ever made a good omelette.
~ C. S. Lewis

I watched this last night just before I went to bed.

No dream last night could distract me from my Julia-omelette-making-mission this morning.

Everything went well until I got to the swirling and jerking bit (a little tricky on the kind of stove we have too which isn’t a flat surface). Good heavens, I was glad none of my flatmates were there to witness it. It was hilarious, especially at 7.15 in the morning! I made myself laugh. Try as I might, it didn’t quite look like how it did in Julia’s video either…

By the time I rolled it onto a plate though, it appeared to look almost like Julia’s… (albeit slightly overdone in my bid to jerk the omelette into a roll… sigh!)

Modifications: I added fresh rosemary leaves to the herb sprinkle on the omelette (see previous post for current-rosemary-obsession-explanation).

Oeuf cocotte

I myself prefer my New Zealand eggs for breakfast.
~ Elizabeth II

3.30pm, eggs on the bench, ramekins in the cupboard and trusty Google open on my laptop – this is how I came to have some magnifique oeuf cocotte for lunch today.

It was so simple to make, and this recipe is one I anticipate being able to easily tweak and experiment with without devastating consequences!

I ate my oeuf cocotte standing in the kitchen, reading an e-mail from a friend, feeling a tingle of pleasure travel slowly up my spine… the melted cheese, a warm wave of comfort and gentleness, slipped slowly over and under my tongue. The eggs were just cooked – not rubbery in the slightest. The bits of broccoli were soft, capsicum slightly crunchy – both were oh-so-sweet. The herbs, salt and pepper provided subtle and necessary flavour.

And of course, all this goodness was contained inside my white ramekins (I’m glad I made 2 small portions to double the goodness) – what can I say? Food served in ramekins mysteriously increases in tastiness and elegance.

    Ingredients:
    1 egg
    handful of diced broccoli
    handful of diced capsicum
    handful of grated cheese
    1 tbsp cream cheese
    salt
    pepper
    dried parsley
    dried oregano
    Method:
    Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Grease a small ramequin, lay vegetables and cream cheese at the bottom, and break the egg on top. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Top with cheese and dried herbs, rubbing the herbs between your fingers as you sprinkle them to release the flavour.
    Put the ramequin in a deep ovenproof dish, and pour hot water in the dish to about half the height of the ramequin. Put in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how runny you like your eggs (mine were perfect at 10).
    You can sprinkle on paprika and fresh herbs, and serve with warm crusty bread as suggested on Chocolate & Zucchini – but I ate them just the way they were, and it was perfect for me.
    Yields 1 serving (I made 2 of these today).

Fancy Home Dining

Although I cannot lay an egg, I am a very good judge of omelettes.
~George Bernard Shaw

    Ingredients:
    5 minutes
    some olive oil
    2 eggs
    handful of chopped parsley
    knobs of havarti cheese
    mixed herbs
    salt + pepper to taste
    bread (I used some leftover sourdough)
    asparagus
    All ingredients can be substituted with food you feel like eating on the day, and what you have on hand.
    Always use a fork and knife, even for the most casual and underdressed of foods. It makes it all very different.
    Method to my madness:
    Drizzle olive oil into the pan. Sprinkle with mixed herbs. Crack eggs in when the oil is hot.
    While the eggs are cooking, slice the bread and dress with thin knobs of cheese. Arrange asparagus stalks on the side.
    Eggs should now be ready. Put these on top of the cheese. Season with fresh parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

It is fancy dining at home, summertime food and all. Delicious, and very simple.

Tired now from a day of walking in the seriously BLUSTERY windy countryside (but the spread of beauty was amazing and made it worthwhile). And for now, sunset to watch, book to read & eggs to eat make me a heartily happy girl.

PS. Happy New Year readers, whoever you are! (Gladly my visitor counter on the sidebar does let me know I HAVE readers…… yippee). Leave a comment or 2 in the new year won’t you, so I can say hello back? ;-)