7 June 2011

like collard greens and whole eggs I got soul

Last time I said I was going to be posting a recipe for Snickerdoodles next. Oh, how I lied. Because instead I became distracted by this inconceivably good recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi.

I'm sure I've told this story a squillion times already and, depending on your mood, it may go some way to illustrate how nauseatingly/adorably (take your pick!) zany/useless (also take your pick here!) Tim and I are, but here goes anyway. In the summer of 2007/2008 we went grocery shopping. At first we looked at the cartons of a dozen eggs. Not enough for us! So we looked at the trays of 20. And there, on a clearance trolley beside the trays, was a plastic wrapped, many layered stack of egg trays. Tim, being handier with mathematics than I am, worked out that even though 80 eggs was kind of a lot to get through, the saving on cost per egg compared to the single tray or dozen carton was so tremendously significant - especially considering they were free range eggs - that we'd be completely unintelligent not to buy the huge tray. Of 80 eggs. Congratulating ourselves on such a bargain, we left the supermarket.

When we got home, a cursory glance at the label revealed the reason this multitude of eggs was so reasonably priced. According to the use by date, we had just under 10 days to eat all 80. Somehow we made it happen and with protein coursing through our veins came out the other side with not one egg wasted. The reason I bring this up is that, on a free weekend, to use up some of said eggs I made Nigella's Strawberry Ice Cream and Chocolate Mousse Cake from Forever Summer and How To Be A Domestic Goddess respectively. These two recipes saw me successfully separate 18 eggs in a single day.

But while I can coolly part yolk from white eighteen times over and turn them into such delicate treats as mousse and ice cream, I have always been terrible at poaching eggs. It kinda sucks.

Luckily, thanks to this immensely delicious recipe I found in Ottolenghi's book Plenty, poached eggs can sit down, because these baked eggs eclipse any ambition I have to be a decent poacher.

It's so gorgeous. The first shamefully conservative thought that crossed my mind was "eggs and yoghurt? AND green stuff?" but I'm glad I squashed that thought down. Here is the recipe to recreate it yourself, even if - maybe especially if - you think you're not the sort of person who could veer away from plain eggs on toast.

Baked Eggs with Yoghurt and Chilli

Adapted slightly from Ottolenghi's Plenty

4 eggs
300g rocket (although I'd recommend curly kale)
2 tablespoons olive oil
150g Greek yoghurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
A generous knob butter
1 red chilli, finely sliced, or 1 spoonful sambal oelek
A pinch smoked paprika

Set your oven to 150 C. Heat the oil in a large pan, and gently cook your greens till they wilt a little.

Tip this into a small oven dish - I used an old pie plate - and make four indentations in your greens so that the eggs have a place to go. Carefully crack an egg into each space - being careful not to break the yolk - and bake for about 10 - 15 minutes. Don't overcook, but make sure the egg whites are no longer translucent. The very low heat means you don't have to stress about this too much.

While they're cooking, mix the yoghurt and garlic together and set aside. Melt the butter in a pan (the same one you cooked the greens in if you like) and add the chilli, paprika, and let it cook away till the butter foams a little.

Spoon the yoghurt and the butter over the eggs. Serve on toast or just as is.

The thick, luscious garlicky yoghurt and the almost chewy greens, gorgeously verdant against the golden eggs, which yield to the fork's prod, the salty-hot butter merging with the rich, slowly spilling yolks and coating the astringent leaves...it's really something.

Ottolenghi says to use rocket as the green stuff but I definitely recommend curly kale, if you can get hold of it - its crisp leaves stand up to the heat, without getting all limp and watery and gross. While it might be a bit harder to find, it's no more expensive than spinach, and it's not one of those stupid leafy green vegetables that perishes floppily in the fridge the day after you buy it. Kale is built to last. If you wanted to make this dairy-free, you could just use olive oil instead of the butter and I bet tahini would be so, so good instead of yoghurt. Assuming you're more likely to have tahini than yoghurt, that is.

On that note, does anyone have any particularly reliable tips for poaching eggs? Mine is to pay someone in a cafe to do it for you.

It was so, so dark when I got out of bed this morning, and the sky had barely lightened its shade to something daylight-resembling when I left for work. I'm surprised at how glum it made me feel. I will have to keep that in check, I mean if I'm feeling this way in early June, the bleak midwinter July mornings will probably be greeted with a howl. Unless I can get up early enough and make myself this for breakfast every morning. Might be time to look for another clearance tray of eggs...

Title via: Southernplayalistikcadillacmusic by the tremendous Outkast from their album of the same name.

Music lately:

Honestly...I haven't had enough time to listen to anything much since my last post, which possibly indicates that time was used badly. I've been listening quite a bit to the Godspell soundtrack and cast recording for what it's worth, which could be seen by some as still a bad way of using time. I'm clearly the only person in New Zealand who likes to listen to it, because whenever I go to a music store there's usually at least five copies of it in their second-hand clearance section.

Next time:

Probably definitely the snickerdoodles...and I will endeavour to listen to something other than Godspell. Victor Garber was just so dreamy back then.


  1. These look bloody good, and so do the pictures! I'm going to try and get Jason to make me this, along with more snickerdoodles (he made them on Monday and I only got one! Tragedy!). I've never tried kale before either so keen to use it.

    I'm both horrified and impressed you managed to use all those eggs! A mousse is something else I'd like to try making too.

  2. Baked eggs - it sounds so intriguing! although I do tend to take best before /use by dates with a grain of salt.. after all, eggs (whilst uncracked) are sterile :-) Another way to test them is to float them in water.. bad raw eggs will float and those ones aren't worth cracking . ..

  3. Ooo...I'm so going to try this! Since I had my first taste of baked eggs at Capitol, I've been wondering how difficult it was to replicate it. So yeah, I'm so going to try this! :)

  4. Ah I'm simple. I saw the photo and thought "those aren't collard greens!" Then I saw the recipe and thought "that isn't rocket!" Then I read some words and got with the program.

    I'm a big fan of poached eggs, but had never considered them to be troublesome. I suppose you just have to keep the heat pretty low so that the whites don't become all foamy and messy in the pan?

    And 80 eggs, wow. That's 80 times your recommended daily intake of eggs (at least here in the US)!

  5. Laura this recipe is incredible, I am going to fkn make this right now.

    FYI to make your eggs less rogue when you poach, I actually put them in a deep water not trendy shallow, they're smaller but perfect. Also put in 1 cap of white vinegar and stir the boiling water with a wooden spoon when I think they're done.

    Egg nerd! Lol
    See you in Wellington :)

  6. Yum! So happy someone else is as Ottolenghi obsessed as me ;) So going to give this a run on the weekend....chilli & smoked paprika so work for me. And yes my poaching of eggs is somewhat up & down...the method I use is a little vinegar & a little swirling of the water along with fingers crossed ;)

  7. Question for Maire@Toast (Comment above) Are the "fingers crossed" IN the swirling water on not? Just need to know these things...don't want to burn my fingers unnecessarily...but if it's in pursuit of the perfect poached egg... ah well...you can't make an omelette without cracking an egg... (Some of us take our recipes literally.)

  8. Like Mairi - a dash of vinegar always does the trick for me. If you use a deepish pot and get it spinning quite fast, that keeps the egg together. I usually just use a high-side frypan though, and lower them into it using a large dishing-up spoon (rather than cracking the egg straight in!). I digress though - Laura - eggs look amazing. Love Kale. Love Rocket. Love love love. Hello Saturday brunch.

  9. This looks so delicious. Thanks for the recipe, I'll try to make this. =)

  10. Oh my heavens. 80 eggs in ten days? My egg-tentative stomach just whalloped me. I think I would've made a billion meringues... though this recipe definitely sounds lovely too!

  11. Just made the cake to take for staff morning tea tomorrow..... will let you know the verdict. The only juice in the house was grape fruit, so that may make it interesting.

  12. Plenty of water in a pot, good big tip of white vinegar, slow slimmer, not really boiling water, and gently drop in, mine turn out lovely!

  13. These look lush. I cheat with poaching and use poach pods (sssh don't tell) which makes it super easy. I got loads of greens in my veg box this week so think these may feature on next week's menu.

  14. AnonymousJune 12, 2011

    Looks delicious and I wouldn't worry too much about the sell by date on the eggs, just retail regulations. Happy egg eating.

  15. Nothing like making a spoon indent in some good hot savoury mix and dropping an egg in to poach quietly. Try it with fried rice, left-over pasta, risotto... now that I think of it, you could drop eggs into soup too. Yum.

  16. AnonymousJune 13, 2011

    Holy Mildew! The two of us just went through a tray of 30 eggs in a week, but 80 eggs in 10 days is mighty impressive. Are you sick of them yet?

  17. This recipe looks delicious, I will definitely be trying it soon! My best tip for perfectly poached eggs is to use deep water, bring it to a rolling boil, do the swirling thing so the whites stay together when you put them in, put a tight-fitting lid on the pan and turn the gas off. Put the timer on for 5 minutes and you then have perfectly poached eggs.

  18. For brunch service, we have a monumentally large pot of water simmering away on one of the back hobs for poached eggs, with a hearty slug of white wine vinegar to assist. The depth & motion of the simmering water allows the egg to keep a lovely oval shape. Once cooked, it's whipped out of the pot, dabbed on a tea towel to dry, & then on to the plate.

    Oh, & your baked eggs with yoghurt & 'green stuff' looks well tasty!

  19. AnonymousJuly 02, 2011

    wow. 80 eggs.

    Also, these look incredible. I think I've been lacking in greens lately, because I can't stop staring at your photos.

    Poaching eggs? I'm like you, I pay someone in a cafe to do it. But I've cooked some good poached eggs recently, upon coming home from a night on the town (I know, I know, don't drink and fry! but drink and poach? maybe), I think the secret was in my slightly inebriated state I was pretty generous in my vinegar-pouring. worked a treat!

  20. AnonymousJuly 23, 2011

    Hiya. Thought I would share my egg-poaching tips in return for your awesome blog - especially that chocolate mousse recipe. 1) Use fresh eggs - laid that day - easy if you have chooks - not so easy if you don't. 2) Boil a big pot of water then turn off the heat, then add your eggs. Walk away for 10 minutes. When you come back your eggs will be done and there won't be any of that nasty froth!