I have always loved eggs. As a little girl, I loved eating Dad’s scrambled eggs; of course I had had my own, but they were much nicer when I perched on his knee, eating them off his plate. He loved his eggs on buttery toast and topped with a good sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper. Another “egg” memory associated with Dad, and which I’ve mentioned before, is my (actually Dad….) bidding for the winning egg and succeeding, at the Gonubie Agricultural Show. I guess those eggs must have been quite expensive in the grand scheme of things. Why was I besotted with those particular eggs? I have no idea, except that they were generally a beautiful white, not the brown we are used to, now. And always double yolkers.
Eggs feature quite a bit on our menu; fortunately, we both could eat them for breakfast, lunch and supper! There was a time when an egg-rich diet was considered potentially dangerous. Not so, nowadays, and for two key reasons, it seems: they don’t contain “bad” cholesterol, and it would appear that there are now even questions about whether cholesterol is the consequence of too much unsaturated fat. Adding fuel to this fire is the move to a low carbohydrate, high-fat diet – people are Banting bonkers at the moment. I’m not knocking it as I have been leaning in that general direction for a while…
Eggs are an essential ingredient in many things we eat, often without realising it, for example mayonnaise, cakes and cookies, rich pastries and of course, in custards, including the savoury custard in a quiche. My home made pasta is egg-rich. So, we eat eggs, often, and not just for breakfast.
Over the weekend, have sort of a ritual. I loathe early mornings and am virtually non-functional, so what needs to be done must be done in “auto pilot”. On a Saturday, because there is no alarm, things are a little more leisurely, but we still need to be at the McGregor pop-up market, and set up by nine o’clock, so our day begins without breakfast.After the market, we get home and unpack the bakkie (also known, depending on where you live, as a pick-up or ute), and Tom does breakfast: soft boiled eggs, toast and coffee. He’s a real egg-boiling pro, and if the batch of eggs contains a speckled one – it’s always mine! The speckled egg is another throwback to my childhood and Alison Uttley’s wonderful stories about Grey Rabbit and Speckeld Hen; stories that my granny read to us when she visited South Africa in 1969 into 1970. A “speckeldy” egg always gets me clucking with childlike delight!
Sunday is a whole different ball game; breakfast is the full catastrophe! Fried egg, beautiful, homemade bacon, fried tomato, mushroom, brinjal, potato… And, needless to say, toast or croissant, and coffee. We love our Sunday brunch which, weather permitting, we usually eat on our lovely, sunny veranda.
So, if that was breakfast, what about lunch, you ask. Well, ever since I was a tot, a favourite sandwich was egg mayonnaise – it still is. I even enjoyed the ones we got at boarding school! There can be few things more delicious than lovely fresh bread, hard boiled egg, grated and mixed with home made mayonnaise, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Jazz that up with some fresh parsley, a lettuce leaf and some sliced tomato, and you have a feast!
But you don’t have to stop there: firm, but not quite hard-boiled eggs (so that the yolk is not quite cooked and a lovely rich, orange colour), added to a green salad are delicious, on a hot summer’s day.
On a cooler day, here’s a thought: poached eggs on freshly picked spinach, wilted, with tomatoes, topped with a dollop of cottage cheese, grilled. Fresh fennel goes well with all of these components, so I use it both as a garnish and as an element in the meal – with or without lovely crusty bread.About poaching eggs: make sure that your eggs are as fresh as possible, and add a little vinegar to the water when you cook them. Once they’re cooked to your taste, remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on a cloth (not paper towel – it sticks to the egg and is hard to get off). Allow them to drain for a little while – there is nothing worse than a poached egg that deposits puddles of water over your plate!
A regular supper, one night during the week, has egg as the main protein, in one form or another: an omelette, a Spanish Omelette, a frittata, or a quiche, accompanied by a garden salad. A two-egg omelette, with a filling of your choice, which includes cheese, is a really filling and easy meal.If you’re nervous about folding an omelette, and other than practice, my technique is to make sure that I use a pan that is the right size, and I don’t believe anything is non-stick, so I always add a knob of butter and olive oil. Don’t overheat the pan…. Once the eggs are in the pan, don’t fiddle with them until you see that the edges are cooking. Then, with a small egg lifter, draw a little egg towards the centre and allow the runny egg to flow out to the edge. Once the egg is mostly cooked, add your filling – on one side and then gently lift the other over it.
Another tip about folding omelettes over their fillings: make sure that you have the pan handle at nine o’clock. Put the filling on the same side, between twelve and six o’clock. Then you can comfortably hold the pan and gently lift the other side of the omelette over the filling, and then slide it onto a warm plate. If you’re left handed, do it the other way round, i.e. have the handle at three o’clock, etc…
Have a look at another supper that includes eggs, cooked in a tomato sauce….