We’ve have just hatched out a clutch of fluffy chicks in time for Easter. A few weeks ago, we put a batch of fertile eggs into the incubator, plugged it in and hoped for the best. Twenty one days later we heard faint cheeping and eventually a few damp little chicks pecked their way out of the eggs. After several hours they fluff up and get perky enough to be moved out under the infra red lamp in the Palais des Poulets. After a few weeks they’ll grow pinfeathers and eventually proper plumage. Well have to wait to see which grow little tails, those will grow into fine cockerels and the others will mature into
hens. We’ll fatten up the cockerels for the pot and the hens will keep us supplied with beautiful eggs. A few weeks ago I was in New York and guess what were the coolest new hobbies- keeping chickens in your backyard and bees on your roof, can you imagine?
Public demand is such that the by-laws have changed in many areas to enable people to keep their own fowl. At one dinner party in Brooklyn, guests spent over half an hour comparing notes on how to keep chickens!
At the Farmers Market in Union Square they were selling eggs from several different types of rare breeds of hens, the beautiful blue-green eggs of the arucanas were selling at several dollars a dozen more than the others and at Dean and Deluca in Manhattan, beautiful duck eggs sell individually for two or three dollars each.
Eggs were starring on restaurant menus too; at the Green Table in Chelsea Market I had a beautiful plate of devilled eggs on a bed of peppery watercress, with crusty bread from Amy’s Bakery next door. Scotch eggs were everywhere with even quails eggs wrapped in a succulent mix of heritage pork sausage meat. Expensive heritage meats from traditional breeds are the hottest thing and the mantra ‘eat less but better meat’ is gaining momentum as is ‘meat free Monday’
At Buvette a chic little French café on Grove street in the West Village I had a bowl of slow cooked kale topped with a poached eggs and some grilled bread with crumbly pecorino, for breakfast and Ino in Bedford Street serve truffled egg in toast that worth flying over for.
Like many people who keep their own hens, I’m frightfully fussy about eating eggs away from home but nowadays in New York there are actually places where you can trust the quality of the eggs, they may even come from someone’s backyard or the roof garden in the neighbourhood.
Happy Easter to you all.
A Selection of Devilled Eggs
4 free range eggs
2-3 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped chives
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Lower the eggs gently into boiling salted water, bring the water back to the boil and hard boil the eggs for 10 minutes in boiling water, drain and put immediately into a bowl of cold water. (Eggs with a black ring around the yolk have been overcooked). When cold, shell, slice in half lengthways. Sieve the yolks, mix the sieved egg yolk with mayonnaise, add chopped chives and salt and pepper to taste. Fill into a piping bag and pipe into the whites. Garnish with a sprig of parsley or chervil and serve on a bed of wild watercress leaves.
Country Relish Eggs
Makes 8 halves
As above, add 1 tablespoon of sieved Ballymaloe Country Relish to the sieved egg yolk with the mayonnaise. Season well taste for seasoning. Decorate with a sliver of gherkin and a cheeky chive.
Makes 8 halves
As above and add 4 black Kalamata olives stoned and finely chopped to the sieved egg. Continue as above. Decorate with a sliver olive and a sprig of chervil.
Makes 8 halves
As above – add 2 – 4 finely mashed anchovies and 2 teaspoons of finely chopped parsley to sieved yolk and proceed as above. Garnish with a sprig of fennel and a fennel flower if available.
Makes 8 halves
Add ½ teaspoon of wasabi mustard to the sieved egg yolk with the mayonnaise, taste and correct the seasoning. Garnish with salmon roe and wild garlic or chive flowers in season.
Choose rectangular plates if available. Arrange a few wild watercress leaves on the plate and top with four devilled eggs of different flavours. Garnish each and serve with brown yeast bread.
Fried Eggs with Sage
Simple but so delicious.
2 freshly laid organic eggs
clarified butter or extra virgin olive oil
4-6 sage leaves
Heat 3-4 tablespoons of clarified butter or extra virgin olive oil in a heavy frying pan over a high heat. Crack the egg one at a time into the pan and allow to sizzle for a minute or two. Baste with the hot butter or olive oil or flip them over. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Transfer to a warm plate, add the sage leaves to the pan and allow to sizzle for a couple of seconds in the butter or oil. Pour the contents of the pan including the sage leaves over the eggs. Serve with lots of sourdough toast.
Scotch Eggs with Tomato and Chilli Relish
Scotch eggs are having a huge revival. As ever the flavour depends on the quality of the sausage meat and the eggs. One can add lots of exciting ingredients to the sausage meat to introduce new flavour – ginger, sweet chilli sauce, freshly roasted coriander and or cumin, lots of fresh herbs, grainy mustard…They are best served warm but can also be reheated. Great for a picnic, lunch or food served with a little salad of organic leaves and herbs.
450g (1lb) best-quality sausage meat (or homemade sausage meat)
6 hard-boiled or semi-hard boiled eggs (preferably free-range)
1 tablespoon freshly chopped herbs, eg. parsley, chives, thyme
1/2 teaspoon English mustard
1 beaten egg
dry, white breadcrumbs (but not too fine)
best-quality oil for deep frying
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and put in the eggs carefully, one by one. Bring back to the boil and simmer for 5-7 minutes. (The eggs should be covered with water.) Pour off the water and cover with cold water. The time depends on whether a runny or hard boiled yolk is required.
Mix the fresh herbs and mustard thoroughly through the sausage meat. Divide the sausage meat into 6 even-sized pieces. Put a piece of sausage meat onto a floured board and flatten it with your hand into an oval shape, large enough to cover an egg. Shape the sausage meat around the peeled egg with your hands, making sure that the egg is evenly coated and there are no cracks. Cover the rest of the eggs in the same way.
Roll the eggs in seasoned flour, beaten egg and finally coat them with dry, white breadcrumbs. Coat all the eggs in the same way. Heat the oil for deep-frying, making sure it is deep enough to cover the eggs. The fat should be a medium heat, 180C\350F, because if it is too hot, the outside will be brown before the inside is hot. Put the Scotch Eggs into the basket (a few at a time) and lower them into the fat. Fry them for 5 or 6 minutes, then lift them out of the pan and drain on kitchen paper.
Serve warm with a good Green Salad and perhaps a Tomato and Basil Salad.
Split the scotch eggs in half and serve with a green salad and a little bowl of Dijon mayonnaise and tomato and chilli jam (see recipe).
Scotch Egg Salad
Serve the scotch eggs on a salad of mixed leaves – Rocket, Watercress, whole cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper and chunks of cucumber.
Tomato and Chilli Relish
Makes 2 x 200ml (7fl oz/) jars
900g (2lbs) tomatoes, chopped
400ml (14fl oz) white wine vinegar
200g (7oz) caster sugar
1-2 red chillies, depending on heat, chopped
10 allspice berries, crushed
First chop the tomatoes into 7mm (1/3 inch) dice, no need to skin. Put the chopped vinegar, sugar, chilli and crushed all spice berries into a stainless steel saucepan. Bring to the boil then simmer stirring regularly until it reduces and thickens to a jam-like consistency (about 20 minutes approximately). Pour into sterilised jars, cover and allow to mellow for 4 or 5 days at least before.
Crispy Deep-fried Eggs
This technique takes a bit of practice but the crispy white is irresistible.
extra virgin olive oil, sunflower or peanut oil
really fresh organic eggs
salt and freshly ground pepper
Tomato and Chilli Jam (see recipe)
Heat the oil in a deep sided frying pan. It should be really hot, test by dropping in a tiny cube of bread – it should brown in seconds.
Break an egg into the hot oil. Tilt the pan immediately so the egg slides down into a pool of oil. Use a tablespoon to lift the white over the yolk so the yolks is completely enclosed between two layers of white. This will prevent the yolk from overcooking and allow the white to get deliciously crisp and slightly golden. Cook for a minute or two more.
Lift the egg out of the oil with a perforated spoon, drain well on kitchen paper. Serve on warm crisp croutons with tomato and chilli jam and some rocket leaves.
Rachel’s Baked Eggs with Creamy Kale
Taken from Rachel Allen’s Entertaining at Home
These are delicious for brunch or a casual supper. If you can’t get kale, use spinach. I love to use the Irish farmhouse cheese Glebe Brethan for its delicious flavour and melting texture, but you could use Gruyère instead.
25g (1oz) butter
900g (2lb) kale with stalks removed before weighing
Salt and ground black pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
350ml (12fl oz) single or regular cream
350g (12oz) Glebe Brethan or gruyère cheese, grated
Six 100ml (31⁄2 fl oz) ramekins or ovenproof dishes
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°f), Gas mark 4. Add the butter to a large wide frying pan and place over a medium heat. Add the kale and season with salt and pepper. As
soon as the kale wilts and becomes tender, add the cream and nutmeg, then allow to bubble for 3–5 minutes until thickened. Divide the kale between the ramekins or dishes, placing it around the inside of each dish and leaving a small well in the
centre. Break one egg into each dish and sprinkle (50g) 2oz of the grated cheese over the top. Bake in the oven for 8–10 minutes or until golden on top and bubbling around the edges. Scatter over a little pepper and serve immediately with a little toast on the side.
Easter Egg Painting Competition at Midleton Farmers Market today at 10:30am with yummy chocolate prizes from O’Conaills Chocolate – rabbit lollypops, chocolate nests, Easter bunnies… 021-4373407
Biccies for farmhouse cheese – the best new product I have tasted for a while is Sheridans Irish Brown Bread Crackers – made in Ireland with stone-ground wholemeal flour, butter and buttermilk from Cronin’s family dairy in Belgooly, Co Cork. Sheridans Cheesemongers Dublin – Tel 01 6793143 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Spring Foraging course at Ballymaloe Cookery School – you’ll learn how to identify and use over forty wild food, plants, wild flowers, nuts, berries, fungi, seaweeds and shellfish depending on the season. Suitable for chefs or for anyone with an interest in foraging for pleasure or to earn a living.Saturday 28th April 9am to 5pm 021 4646785.
Food for the Gods – The Chocolate Shop at the English Market stocks chocolates from Valrhona, Amedei, Cluizel and Pralus. The 10 inch high 1kg solid Easter Eggs from Skelligs Irish Chocolate will keep you going until next Easter!. Niall Daly also has Easter Eggs from French chocolatier Michel Cluizel. So difficult to choose from such a mouth-watering range of flavours – strawberry, champagne and vanilla ganache, caramel, hazel nut praline, mint… The Menakao 100 Per Cent Chocolate is a bold choice. Tel: 021 4254448 Email: email@example.com – www.chocolate.ie