Following on from my last post, I decided to continue my study of traditional French recipes from the fabulous book French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David. This time, I am concentrating on eggs.
The humble egg – so versatile and nutritious and ever ready to offer you a meal. Amazingly, we have had domesticated hens laying eggs for us since 600 BC! I got to thinking about farmers wives cooking eggs from their own chickens in my farmhouse kitchen for the last 300 years and I wondered at which recipes they may have used. We are lucky to be able to get hold of amazing eggs very easily here. In fact, many of our friends keep chickens themselves and we have been the happy receivers of many kind egg donations! The quality and flavour of the eggs that come from these happy chickens is truly supreme and I would never dream of buying eggs from poor chickens that have had to live in cages it is barbaric.
So with eggs of such fine quality, it has been a pleasure to discover some new dishes that certainly break the mould. I urge you to give these recipes a go and make the most of your eggs!
First of all, I made a dish called Oeufs Mollets À La Crécy. Carrots are grated and sweated in butter whilst the eggs are soft boiled. Then the eggs are placed on top of the carrots in an oven dish and covered with béchamel sauce and breadcrumbs and finished in the oven for 5 minutes. The results were a revelation carrots and eggs, who knew? The carrots added a wonderful sweetness to the dish whilst the béchamel and oozy eggs were mega rich and creamy. Topped off with the texture from the breadcrumbs, every mouthful was an utter delight. My only words of warning would be to make sure you dont boil your eggs for too long or too little. I had to make 2 lots as my first attempt which I boiled for just 5 minutes, were too under done and impossible to peel, they just fell apart. And you run the risk of having no oozy yolk if you leave them too long. I boiled my medium eggs for 6 minutes in the end and found that they were perfect. Give this recipe a try instead of an Eggs Benedict, you will find it equally decadent and delicious, I guarantee it.
Next I made an Omelette Au Boudin De Nancy (omelette with black pudding). In this dish, you assemble a sort of omelette sandwich with the black pudding as the filling. This makes a substantial and tasty dish that you could serve anytime of day. I enjoyed it so much that I couldnt stop thinking about it afterwards and my husband said he wanted to eat it again, straight away! You need to make two flat omelettes with shallots and parsley running through and then the black pudding, fried in a little butter first, is layered between them. I think it looks as wonderful as it tastes and I am already looking forward to making it again very soon! This is arguably the best dish I have ever had with black pudding, it just works so well with the eggs. But if you are not a fan of black pudding, you could use Toulouse sausage instead and it would also be amazing.
Finally I made Oeufs Pochés À La Crème Et Au Gratin (Poached eggs with cream sauce). This egg dish is a bit like cooking en cocotte but actually, the eggs are poached first. The poached egg is placed into a ramekin with a béchamel sauce flavoured with Parmesan and Dijon mustard and then topped with breadcrumbs and flashed under the grill. Poaching the egg first ensures that the egg is cooked properly which is better than en cocotte where it is so easy to overcook or undercook the egg. This makes an exceptional breakfast dish with some toast to mop up the sauce. The béchamel is delicious with the hint of cheese and tang of mustard complimenting the richness of the soft gooey egg perfectly. This was a truly special Sunday morning breakfast treat; greatly enjoyed and deserved!
I found these egg dishes to be excellent and I have been inspired to do more exciting things with my humble eggs. Go on, celebrate your eggs people! Great things can come from small beginnings .