I got off to such a promising start with the International Incident Parties, what with the umami gnocchi, poached pear pizza pie and plum dumplings, but then it went slightly downhill with my next contribution involving sleeping through the cooking of but then waking up to eat Mardi’s contribution to the noodle party. Next thing I knew I had completely missed the next two parties – tacos and scones – so I was determined to make it to this next party.
I would not be too busy being overseas or sick or washing my hair or watching Midsomer Murders (even though it’s John Nettles’ last season! Tragedy!). And so, here we are, at the new International Incident Party – Eggs! I’m ova the moon to be here, these photos are definitely going in the photo albumin.
They say that children need clear boundaries to really thrive. In many ways I’m still a child, and I found myself feeling quite overwhelmed at the theme of “eggs”. Eggs are used in many, many things. My first thought was party eggs, but I’d already blogged about these so they were off the cards. It didn’t take long for my brain to then move onto desserts – cakes, custard, ice cream, macaron, meringue, pavlova – and I was quite taken by the thought of making something like crème brûlée and serving it in egg shells.
After some more consideration however, I thought I would make something that I make often but have never blogged about, and what is probably the first thing that comes to mind when I think of eggs – good old poached eggs.
I think it is truly unacceptable to be served hard poached eggs in a restaurant, and am sure many friends who have been unfortunate enough to be dining with me when one of us is served up some pale yellow pucks have heard me say something along the lines of “if I am able to make soft poached eggs, then surely a professional cook or chef is also able to do so”.
I do realise though that poaching eggs is one of those skills that can be a little daunting, as when it goes wrong it goes horribly wrong, and as such I am sure many people either don’t feel confident enough to attempt it or they have tried it once and after ending up with a saucepan full of lumpy eggy water they decided to stick to scrambled googies at home.
So, for those of you who are seasoned egg poachers, I hope that you enjoy my simple little tasty breakfast for what it’s worth. For those of you who are new to the egg poaching game however, I hope that you might find this post a little useful and you can soon be enjoying your own little bundles of soft oozing googy joy in the comfort of your pyjamas.
First, some pointers to help you out in your poaching endeavours:
- the fresher the egg, the better it will cling together, so use the freshest eggs possible;
- if you remember, bring your eggs to room temperature before poaching so that they won’t lower the water temperature so much when you add them to the pan (I never remember to do this, but thought it was worth mentioning);
- the timing is going to be a personal trial-and-error exercise the first few times, but I’ll tell you what works for me;
- you can TOTALLY do this, it’s really quite easy once you know how!
Things you will need:
- eggs, as fresh as possible,
- white vinegar
- enough small cups/bowls/ramekins for the number of eggs (or just one, if you want to stagger the poaching)
- a slotted spoon
- a saucepan, size depending on how many eggs you plan to poach at once – I use a small to medium one to poach two eggs simultaneously
- a stopwatch or microwave timer or clock or extremely good sense of timing or a song that goes for exactly the amount of time you want to poach your egg (a quick Google search reveals that I could listen to The Who’s Pinball Wizard, House of Fun by Madness, or Bad Bad Leroy Brown by Jim Croce while I wait for my eggs to be done)
- plate or bowl to put the eggs onto once cooked, before plating them properly (optional)
What you need to do:
1. Fill your saucepan with enough water to easily cover an egg – around 8cm or so deep.
2. Give the water a decent slug of the vinegar – I use around 2 Tb (40 mL) for my small – medium saucepan.
3. Bring the water to a strong simmer, but not up to a boil.
4. Crack each egg into a ramekin or whatever little dishes you are using. Be careful not to break the yolk when doing this.
5. Many people use the whirlpool method, but I find this only really works for poaching one egg at a time and I’m too impatient for that. So, simply tip your eggs very gently into the simmering water, one at a time and not directly on top of one another.
6. Start your stopwatch/timer/Leroy Brown!!!
7. The length of time you want to poach them is dependent on the size of your eggs and probably your altitude, so it’s hard to give any strict rules, but I poach my XL (~60g) eggs for 3 minutes and have soft gooey innards so use this as a guide.
Note: you can see a few little strands of egg white in the above photo – although the eggs aren’t perfect little balls, the main bulk is holding together very well and those tendrils are inconsequential. If you use the slotted spoon to spin the water around into a mini whirlpool before dropping your egg into the centre, this will be lessened. As I said previously though, I find the whirlpool method unnecessarily complicated when poaching multiple eggs and I’m pretty comfortable with having a little errant egg tendril or two. Gives them character. Leroy Brown would approve.
8. At the end of your poaching time, remove the eggs from the water with the slotted spoon, gently shaking any excess water off. You can then put them directly on your plate or toast, or you may want to first put them on another plate/bowl to make sure they aren’t too wet when you plate them up. Some say to use a paper towel to remove excess water but I have never found this necessary.
9. Relax in front of the cartoons/morning paper/Midsomer Murders and enjoy your googy egg with whatever tasty delights you’ve chosen to eat with it.
The tasty delights I chose to have with my googy eggs this morning were some fresh rocket leaves, lightly grilled asparagus and smoked trout. Difficult not to have a good day when you start it off with this and a cup of 5 Senses Dark Horse coffee (recent discovery that I’m enjoying with my plunger, and my sister and brother-in-law are loving with their espresso machine).
Sometimes though, a coffee just doesn’t quite cut it. Some days, for the sake of argument, you may be trying to counteract the effects of getting into the spirit of an ultimately perplexing footy grand final and so something a little stronger is required. Something a little more naughty. Something that needs a syringe.
I came across these Bloody Mary-nated tomatoes on Hannah’s blog a very foodly diary some time ago. They really struck a chord with me because for some reason I love the idea of a Bloody Mary, but I just can’t stomach the tomato juice. Or rather, I can’t mouth it. My stomach doesn’t get a chance to give its opinion.
So, I’ve taken the components of Hannah’s rather fabulous idea and created my own little version of it, somewhat of a solid cocktail that goes beautifully with a hearty poached egg breakfast.
Mary’s Bloody Balls
- 24 baby roma or small truss tomatoes
- 6 celery swizzle sticks, made from the tops of celery stalks
- Inner, pale celery leaves, chopped finely
- Half a celery stick, finely diced
- A lime (cut 6 wedges out of 3/4 of the lime, reserve the remaining 1/4 for sauce)
- Chilli salt (I made mine by grinding some sea salt and dried chilli with a mortar & pestle)
- 1.5 Tb olive oil
- 1.5 Tb balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
- 60 drops Tabasco
- pinch pepper
- Absolut Citron vodka (or any other vodka)
- Cocktail (martini) glasses to serve
- you will also need a syringe – some pharmacies or vets will sell these but many pharmacists will not unless you have a prescription for insulin. The ones I got were 1 mL syringes.
- You need quite a lot of chilling time for this recipe so start a couple of hours or a day before you’d like to serve.
- Preheat your oven to 140 degrees C. Place the tomatoes on baking paper in a baking tray, spray/drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and then roast in oven for around an hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before the next step with them (I placed them in the fridge to cool).
- Meanwhile, make your sauce by placing the oil, balsamic, stock, Worchestershire sauce, Tabasco and pepper in a small saucepan. Give it a good stir, then bring to a good simmer and allow to bubble away for around 25 minutes or until it starts to look syrupy and reduced. Remove from heat, squeeze in the lime juice from the reserved 1/4 lime. Allow to cool completely.
- Prepare your tomatoes! This is the fun part! You need to use the syringe to inject the vodka into the tomatoes. I had a larger gauge syringe that I used to first extra any excess tomato juice sitting in the tomatoes before injecting the vodka, but this wasn’t always necessary and Hannah had success without doing this step.
- To inject the vodka in, first pull the vodka into the syringe, then insert the needle into the tomato through the skin at the top. Slowly inject the vodka in until you get some leakage, then insert elsewhere and keep injecting until you are satisfied your tomato is tipsy enough. I managed to get 2-3 mL into each tomato. Chill the tomatoes until ready to serve.
- To serve each glass – rub lime around the rim of cocktail glass then invert glass onto plate holding chilli salt to allow the glass edge to be covered in the chilli salt mix. Place the chopped celery leaves/stalk in the base of the glass, then place four tomatoes in before drizzling with the reduced sauce. Add the celery swizzle stick and lime wedge, and serve with a little spoon for scooping. Encourage your guests to squeeze the lime wedge over the tomatoes before eating.
Note: I liked these but I think I’d like to try again using fresh tomatoes – very ripe, sweet cherry or grape ones. I’d like to try the method of sucking out the juice using a larger gauge needle, then injecting the vodka in. I think this way would allow for more vodka and less seepage out from the skins which were somewhat compromised through the roasting process. The roasting did however give a beautiful sweetness and silky texture to the tomatoes, so I guess it’s going to be a compromise of sort either way.
Please check out the links below to see what my fellow party guests came up with to celebrate Humpty Dumpty and his kindred. Also, a very happy birthday to fellow egg heads and birthday celebrators Trix, Natasha and Honey, and thanks to Penny for hosting the party.