Sunday, January 9, 2011

My New Go-To Comfort Food

I launched into back-to-work-after-the-holidays mode last week with some certainties in mind. Firstly, there were many bad habits that would be difficult to unlearn after a fortnight of sloth, such as keeping ludicrous hours (waking up at 12 in the afternoon actually came as quite a shock to me on one particular afternoon) and eating meals that revolve solely around cheese. There was going to be great potential for Achievement-hindering actions, such as excuse-making and procrastination. Finances would have to be closely monitored, and it was likely that I would be too wrecked and lazy in the evenings to cook proper meals, not to mention plan what I was eating and then get up off my backside to go to the shop and buy the ingredients. I shopped bearing all of these things in mind at the start of the week, and I'm pleased to report that my planning ahead paid off; I neither went hungry nor had to resort to doing anything drastic or hideous such as buying a dodgy roll from a third rate deli counter for my lunch. Now, that is not to sound snobby, it's just that the nutritious potential of such items is highly dubious, and if I'm going to eat something unhealthy I'd rather have made it myself. As I made do with what I had bought, what was in my garden and what I had tucked away in the freezer, I came up with this little beauty, and it has very quickly become a comfort food that I crave when it's cold and dark and I'm pressed for time.

Having herbs to hand in the garden is something that makes leftovers and random ends of bits of veggies and lentil packets and the like far more versatile, not to mention tasty. This spriggy, twiggy thyme is still holding its own after the two snows that we were hit with. 

The mussies were on cheapie markdown in the shop, and I just grabbed them as an afterthought, knowing that I'd find a handy lunch dish to make with them at some point. The world appears to be divided into mushroom haters and mushroom lovers. While I can see how the fact that they are a fungus could be a tad offputting, I find their meaty saltiness irresistible. When I was small they were quite a treat; I can't quite remember why, if it was because they were hard to find or because they were expensive, but they tasted truly delicious to me from a young age. I love chopping mushrooms - that texture, the noise that the knife makes as it breaks through the top and then slices down through it. Though washing the muck from them is a bit of a pain. 

Butter and garlic are such perfect companions to mushrooms, they enhance the texture and flavour beautifully. Clearly I'm being very slow about easing myself back into the post-Christmas world of healthy eating, but I couldn't resist. 

In with the mushrooms, and the lovely low-maintenance lot pretty much cooks itself, with the odd stir, as they turn from off white into that browny-grey shade that really shouldn't be as appealing as it is.

As that transformation takes place on the pan, I'm poaching the eggs. I had never poached an egg in my life until recently, and now no egg is safe in my presence but for I'm looking to poach it and plonk it on top of something, particularly since I have mastered the art of getting the yolk nice and runny.

Steamy, dreamy, buttery, thymey, garlicy mushrooms, mmmmm.

On to the plate with it all, carefully assembled on toast - thank goodness for my oh-so-frugal habit of freezing half the bread everytime I buy a loaf.

And the all important ooze test, to see if I have calculated the poaching time to ensure a lovely runny yolk.

I have to say that I cannot recommend anything more for inexpensive, squidgy, speedy comfort on a plate for a cold January evening after a long day at work.

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