Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday Morning Jiggery Poachery

I've never poached an egg before. There, I've said it. Maybe that's why it's my favourite way to have eggs; because I can't just have poachers on demand, and because there still exists an air of mystery around how the hell you crack an egg into a pot of boiling water and it re-emerges a silken blob of misshapen beauty.

Until yesterday morning, that was. I'm conscious that most people abhor Monday mornings. I, however, have the approach to it that I do the month of January - a brand new clean slate lying ahead, full of opportunity and better-ness. Just in case my optimism isn't enough to perk up the morning, I like to give it a lift with a slightly indulgent breakfast, one that would be considered worthy of a lazy Sunday. With some eggs in the fridge leftover from the baking efforts of last week, I thought I would give Sopie Dahl's poached eggs on mushrooms a go. Now, Sophie Dahl's TV show was utterly irritating, I found; all of that sighing and self-conscious stirring and gazing into the distance - very affected indeed, and not entirely convincing. The book, however, is a delight - Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights, in fact. Again, I find the title very affected, but there are some (very simple) gems of recipes in there. One of these is the poached eggs on portobello mushrooms with goat's cheese. Very straightforward and speedy, perfect for a Monday morning. I also, however, had to stretch my fuzzy little morning brain to the making of lunch, so there were a couple of operations on the go in the kitchen at the one time. Nothing too taxing, mind you, all very pleasant and undemanding.

While the kettle was boiling and the lovely roundy flat mushies were under the grill, I set about making some hummus for a sandwich. Hang on - did I use singular there? Yeah, sorry - sandwiches. Because I'm never quite full and happy with just the one. Anyhow, I haven't been able to get my hands on tahini of late, for some reason (answers on a postcard), so I thought that I'd attempt to make my own by whizzing up some sesame seeds, and then adding a little water. It didn't quite work to be honest; maybe there weren't enough seeds in the little plastic blender bowl thingy (I do like to dazzle with my terminology), and maybe I should have used olive oil, but I just didn't get that thick gunky oilyness that you expect from tahini.

Hummus-making proceeded nonetheless. I got my very first hummus recipe from the first Jamie Oliver book. It's one of the few things I can make without having to look up the recipe, though that particular page in the book is absolutely covered in bits of food, gloriously and satisfyingly used, the ultimate justification for forking out for a cookbook. As long as there is a tin of chickpeas in the press I know that I will never go hungry (farrrrrrrrr too lazy to set about soaking and boiling and blah de blah blah - though I may do my maths at some point and see if it is cheaper to go to that effort), and with a bowl of hummus in the fridge the options are speedy and tasty. I tried Nigella's peanut butter version recently, and while it is delicious and very conveniently used up some peanut butter that was sitting in my fridge, it was rather tangy and didn't lend itself as well to the cumin as regular hummus.

Anatomy of a sandwich:

Having eaten a lot of meat lately, I felt it was high time for a veggie day, and there was a selection of complementary ingredients in the fridge to make it a day of joy rather than a Monday penance. Me and The Batch have gotten along famously, so famously, in fact, that I haven't resorted to breadcrumb-making or freezing of slices and there are only two slices left, two of the small ones from the end of the loaf at that. This is thanks in large part to the leek and potato soup and the hummus. And, as it was getting a teeny weeny bit tough around the edges, I decided to toast it, to give a texture that would make a fitting contrast to the crisp spinach leaves and juicy tomatoes and creamy goat's cheese and thick hummus and grainy mustard. Mmmmm.

In the meantime, the water was boiling away in the saucepan, so I dutifully splashed in a teaspoon of white wine vinegar (it's suggested that it increases the success of the poachery, though the science of this eludes me), took a deep breath and cracked in two eggs.

To add to the virtue of this well balanced brekkie, I quickly steamed some spinach leaves in the colander over the pan of water.

When I scooped out the eggs I was absolutely thrilled (though I remain mystified as to how the hell it happens) to find that the white had wrapped itself around the yolk to create two delicious plops of eggs. I layered up the spinach with the mushrooms (topped with goat's cheese) and then crowned it all proudly with my first attempt at poached eggs.

Since I had overdone them slightly, and as I had the makings of the same brekkie in my fridge again this morning, I decided to give it another try to get a lovely oozy soft yolk. As you can see, I'm getting there, but I'll have to keep plugging away until I make the perfect poached egg.

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