Eggs, The Great Convertible


‘An Apple a day keeps the Doctor away’ was the famous slogan of the 1960s and 70s – no longer so widely used because doctors and dentists nowadays both stress that many of the modern varieties are so high in sugar they are no longer beneficial to our health or our teeth but how about ‘An egg a day keeps us in fine fettle’…
Eggs are a magic food – incredibly nutritious, widely available, super versatile, the quintessential fast food and surprisingly inexpensive, considering their food value and satiety. Years ago, what’s now seen as a flawed study, warned us not to eat more than 4-5 eggs a week because they were too high in cholesterol and would be counterproductive to our health.
The study didn’t mention that the eggs came from intensive production systems, the hens were not free-range or grass fed which alters their nutritional value.
My grandfather ate several eggs every day and lived well into his 90s. That’s not exactly scientific evidence, however several other peer reviewed studies have concluded that a couple of eggs daily appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular heart disease and stroke and boosts the HDL, the ‘good’ cholesterol in our system. In 2022, almost 1,000,000 people were involved in the study conducted by Peking University in China.
But as ever there are eggs and eggs, and the flavour and nutritional content can be very, very different. The ultimate are eggs from free-range, organic hens, ranging freely on rich pasture. The grass not only enhances the flavour and nutritional quality of the eggs but keeps the hens healthier and indeed happier.

Eggs are a rich source of protein, folate B vitamins, antioxidants including lutein and zeaxanthin. Egg yolks are also rich in choline, particularly important for pregnant mothers and linked to higher IQ in infants.
I’ve kept a flock of hens for over 60 years. In fact, I wouldn’t be without our own eggs, and I regularly urge anyone who is prepared to listen, both urban and rural dwellers to consider, keeping a few hens for a supply of beautiful fresh eggs for the household. Anyone with even a small patch of lawn in a garden can keep a few hens. Four hens in a movable chicken coop would lay plenty of eggs to supply a family of four and you‘d occasionally be able to gift a few eggs to your friends when you’re going to a dinner party, a much more exciting ‘pressie’ than a dodgy bottle of wine…
Actually, keeping a few hens is win-win all the way – the food scraps from your kitchen can be fed to the hens and will come back as eggs a few days later. How cool is that? Apparently, Irish households waste €700 on average on food each year.
Plus as you move the ark around your lawn, the hens act as ‘lawnmowers’, and their poo fertilises the soil.
Kids of all ages love hens and it teaches them where at least some of their food comes from.
If you want chicks, you’ll need to include a rooster with the hens, I love the sound of a cock crowing proudly but it may not endear you to your neighbours in an urban estate.
I forgot to mention that I have several friends who legally keep a few hens in Manhattan – what they called ‘backyard chickens’. They are inordinately proud of them, can you imagine it’s the subject of conversation at many a dinner party, and super cool.
Back in the kitchen, there are countless ways to enjoy your eggs from a simple boiled egg and soldiers to a fried egg with crispy sage leaves, my favourite comfort food.
I want to share a couple of new recipes with you, all include eggs – what would we cooks do without eggs?

Maheshwari Scrambled Eggs, a recipe I brought back from Ahilya Fort in India plus this Irish Farmhouse Cheese Soufflé with Garlic Chives recipe which we tested last week. It also got a rave response.
We’ve got masses of chive flowers in the garden. Sprinkle some of the pretty chive flowers over the top. Add a salad and that’s supper sorted.
We also love this rhubarb tart, a new addition to our repertoire which Kaelin Whittaker, of Awn Kitchen in Edmonton, Alberta shared with us on a recent trip from Canada, so easy to make. It’s always brilliant to have a new rhubarb tart recipe. Enjoy it before the end of the season. We all love this one, I think it may become a favourite in your house too.

Maheshwari Scrambled Eggs

I came across this delicious dish on my last trip to India.

Serves 1 

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 

1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped 

2 tsp chopped red onion (20g)

3 tsp chopped tomato, 5mm dice (50g)

1 tsp cumin seeds, dry roasted and roughly chopped

½ tsp ground turmeric 

2 eggs, organic if possible

½ tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 

1 tbsp finely grated cheese, could be mature Cheddar and Parmesan (20g)

finely diced fresh turmeric (2-3g)

2 tsp coarsely chopped coriander 

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.

Add the garlic, onion and tomato and stir and fry. Add the cumin and turmeric (both dry) and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion softens.

Whisk the eggs, add the onion and tomato mixture. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Film the base of the pan with the olive oil. Stir and cook the egg mixture for 15-20 seconds.  Sprinkle on the grated cheese, cook for 15 to 20 seconds, the texture should be soft. Spoon onto a warm plate. Sprinkle with diced fresh turmeric and fresh coriander.

Serve immediately with flat bread or toast.

Irish Farmhouse Cheese and Garlic Chive Soufflé

We love to bake this soufflé in a shallow oval dish instead of the traditional soufflé bowl until golden and puffy, a perfect light lunch or supper dish.

Serves 6

300ml milk

300ml cream

a few slices of carrot

1 small onion, quartered

4-5 peppercorns

sprig of thyme, a few parsley stalks and a little scrap of bay leaf

75g butter

40g flour

5 eggs, free-range organic, separated

110g crumbled goat cheese (we use Ardsallagh goat’s cheese)

75g Gruyère cheese, grated

50g mature Coolea farmhouse cheese, grated (alternatively, use 25g freshly grated Parmesan)

a good pinch of salt, freshly ground pepper, cayenne and nutmeg

4 tbsp garlic chive leaves, finely chopped


garlic chive flowers if available

30cm shallow oval dish (not a soufflé dish) or 6 individual wide soup bowls with a rim

Preheat the oven to 230°C/Gas Mark 8.

Brush the bottom and sides of the dish (dishes) with melted butter.

Put the cream and milk into a saucepan, add a few slices of carrot, a quartered onion, 4 or 5 peppercorns and the fresh herbs.  Bring slowly to the boil and allow to infuse for 10 minutes.   Strain and discard the flavourings, (we rinse them off and throw them into the stockpot if there is one on the go.)

Melt the butter, add the flour and cook for a minute or two.  Whisk in the strained cream and milk, bring to the boil and whisk until it thickens.   Cool slightly.   Add the egg yolks, goat cheese, grated Gruyère and most of the grated Coolea (or Parmesan if using.)  Season generously with salt, freshly ground pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Add the garlic chives.   Taste and correct seasoning*.

Whisk the egg whites stiffly and fold them gently into the mixture to make a loose consistency.   Put the mixture into the prepared dish, sprinkle with the remaining Coolea or Parmesan cheese. 

Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the sides and top are nicely puffed up and golden, the centre should still be creamy. Garnish with garlic chive flowers if possible. Serve immediately on warm plates with a good green salad.

*The soufflé can be prepared ahead to here (cover and refrigerate but, if possible, allow to come back to room temperature before cooking, otherwise it will take longer in the oven). Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites

Auntie Lil’s Rhubarb Pie

Thank you to Kaelin Whittaker from Awn Kitchen in Edmonton for sharing her Auntie Lil’s rhubarb tart.

23cm round tart tin


175g plain white flour

1 dsp of caster or icing sugar

75g butter, diced

1 large organic egg, whisked


2 tbsp butter, melted (30g)

85g light Muscovado plus 85g soft light brown sugar

1 organic egg

1 tbsp cream

2 tbsp flour (40g)

450g rhubarb, cut into approx. 7mm pieces

First make the pastry.

Sieve the flour and the sugar into a large bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour, rub in with the fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg with 2 teaspoons of cold water and add enough to bind the mixture. But do not make the pastry too wet – it should come away cleanly from the bowl. Flatten into a round, wrap in parchment paper and rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Roll the pastry out thinly on a lightly floured worktop and use it to line the tart tin. Line with parchment paper and fill to the top with dried beans. Rest for 15 minutes in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.

Bake the tart base blind for about 25 minutes in a moderate oven or until pale and golden, remove the beans and paper.  Brush the pre-baked tart shell with a little beaten egg and pop back into the oven for 3-4 minutes or until almost cooked. Cool.

Be careful not to overcook because if this pastry gets too brown, it will be bitter, hard and unappetizing.

Mix the melted butter, brown sugars, egg, cream and flour together. Scatter the diced rhubarb evenly over the base of the blind baked tart. Cover with the topping.

Bake in a preheated oven 220°C/Gas Mark 7 for 10 minutes, reduce the temperature to 180°C/Gas Mark 4, bake for a further 30-40 minutes. Cool.

Serve on a flat plate and sprinkle lightly with icing sugar.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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