Wednesday, June 30, 2010
My Favourite Chic Breakfast
One of my favourite breakfasts is poached egg on toast. It is nutritious, delicious and keeps me going until lunchtime.
I used to make it in an egg poaching pan we have which has four little cups, one for each egg. If ever there was a one-trick-pony it's that pan. It's very quick and useful, but I never felt chic eating an egg which was moulded into a perfect round shape, like a jelly. And I had to use an aerosol oil spray to coat the non-stick surface beforehand.
I just couldn't imagine my ideal French girl Sabine using that pan or spray oil in her Paris apartment!
So I simplified to a small saucepan, in which I pour boiling water and a dash of malt vinegar (if you don't already know, a tiny amount of vinegar helps the egg white emulsify quickly for a more successful poached egg).
I'd also just like to say please use free-range eggs. I can't bear the thought of those hard-working little chickens crammed into cages. They deserve better than that. It always makes me sad when I see battery eggs in folks supermarket trolleys. Free-range eggs look a lot healthier too - bright orange/yellow yolks.
Once the water is on a rolling boil I crack in an egg. After a broken yolk disaster and advice from a cafe-owner friend I now open the egg into a small dish and have it waiting. Every so often if the yolk breaks I then have scrambled eggs (better to have it break in a dish, than in boiling water).
What I also do before the egg meets the water (like 'the rubber hits the road', but the kitchen version) is to swirl the water around like a whirlpool with a spoon. Then, when the egg is introduced, all the white starts wrapping around the yolk to make a lovely round bundle, just like you would receive in a cafe.
Oh, and use a deepish pot rather than a flat pan to poach with. Have the toast waiting, as it's only a minute or two before the egg is done (I take it out with a big holey spoon as soon as the white looks done, and the egg yolk is still beautifully runny).
I often ask cafe staff what their secrets are and they are always happy to share. One of the chefs from my favourite cafe was shopping in our store once and when he said where he worked I fell all over him - 'what's the secret to your scrambled eggs there?' I asked. 'Lots of cream and butter', he replied. So when I'm having a more treat-y breakfast I always add a dash of cream to my scrambled eggs and cook them in a little bit of butter.
But back to my poached egg breakfast. Whereas scrambled eggs require two eggs and a dash of cream (so a few more calories), I can happily exist all morning on one egg poached, on a piece of lightly buttered whole-grain toast (Vogels is great bread available here, it's very dense and heavy, chock-full of seeds and grains, and the slices are a lot smaller in size. Nice and chewy too).
Lately I have been tearing up a few basil leaves over the plated egg/toast since our herb pot is growing well. Fresh parsley snipped over the top would be delicious also. The touch of green looks very designer-y. A sprinkle of salt and a crunch of black pepper and it is a dish that would do Sabine proud.
And of course breakfast is not complete without a cafe au lait. I make mine with a shot of strong coffee (brewed in a Bialetti) topped up with with milk, then microwaved hot. If I run out of real coffee, I make a very strong coffee with a teaspoon of freeze-dried coffee and a tiny amount of hot water, then top up and microwave as before.