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.

Bon appetit.


  1. Sounds very chic indeed, Fiona. I like that you picked up some special techniques to prepare your food even better.

    I make a green smoothie every morning; tons of fruit and spinach. Keeps me going till about 12:30 every day.

    Love your headshot, btw. You're adorable!

  2. I always thought I needed a special pan as well until I started making that recipe (in my book) with the asparagus and poached eggs. Yum. My mouth is watering for it right now.
    Also, like Marsi, love the new picture. You're so chic and cute and stylish!

  3. Oh I haven't had poached egg on toast for a long time. Maybe I'll do that for lunch today. Thanks for the lovely idea, and for the tips to make it chic!

    I love your photo as well, very chic! Nice to "meet" you, Fiona!


  4. I plan to try your green smoothie, LB, when the weather is warmer. Do you have it year-round?

    Kristi, I have never had a poached egg on asparagus, even though asparagus is one of my favourite vegetables. Shocking I know. I shall have to remedy this in asparagus season.

    Jackie, yes it makes a yummy lunch too. It's my Aunty's standby lunch if nothing else is around. She has bantam chickens so you get two tiny poached eggs on toast at her place.

    Thank you all for my nice comments about my photo. I'm officially blushing. My husband saw it and said 'how old is that?' incredulously.

    It was actually taken in April this year darling. I don't know whether it's a compliment or not. Do I look way more hag-like in real life?

  5. Just wanted to let you know that I truly enjoyed my poached egg on toast for lunch! Such a simple thing to make, and quite yummy! I must admit though to being quite un-chic and adding ketchup! ;o)

  6. Fiona, I've only been making smoothies every morning for about three months, but yep, I do intend to keep making them even when it's winter and cold outside. It just makes life so much easier for me to get all of those healthy fruits and vegetables into my body at the beginning of the day. I just get so bored with salads and the whole fuss of making them, and making a smoothie with spinach literally takes two or three minutes, no fuss. It sets the right tone for me for the rest of the day, too, food-wise. My husband has started making them for himself as well, and has given up his elaborate, massive salads at lunch. I'm really pretty evangelical about them, if you want to know the truth! ;o)

    By the way, you won the wool wash pack on my blog. Yay you! Send me a quick email with your mailing address and it'll be on its way.

  7. I have been poaching eggs in that little sectioned off pan, but will try your method of adding vinegar and swirling the water. The cook books don't tell you that, so thanks for the tip. Great pic of you!

  8. I love your photo, you are gorgeous! I've never poached an egg, how sad. Maybe I will try it with this technique.

  9. Jackie, go the poached egg! Being English, it would be unpatriotic not to put ketchup on it. In Corrie of course it's 'red sauce'.

    LB, I can tell you are a 'believer'. I'm almost too scared to try it now as I fear I will become unavoidably addicted. Like heroin, but better for you.

    Thank you for my prize - I honestly did not even realise I had entered! You don't want to be bothered sending it all the way down to me do you?

    Dot, thank you. Cooking them in a pan with the tips of vinegar and swirling water makes you feel like a real chef. And the finished result is very professional too!

    Stephanie, I used to be scared of making poached eggs (that is would be a big disaster and floating egg bits and watery toast). Is that why you haven't made them? And thank you for your compliment.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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