She’s got eggs. Knows how to use ‘em

Like Mr Perry in last night’s BBC Emma (go here to discuss!), I am not altogether against eggs. We’re lucky enough to keep some chickens which crap free range all over the yard. Despite having pretty much the best eggs available to humanity, I’m not a huge fan of the breakfast egg. In fact while I love eggs in quiches, frittatas or a nice spanish-style tortilla, I almost never face off an egg straight up.

We often have two breakfasts on weekends. The first is emergency carbo loading of early waking children, usually porridge, often at an inhumane hour. A hour or so later is still a very long time before morning tea, let alone lunch. This weekend’s second breakfast was baked eggs, from a recipe in the Sydney Morning Herald/Age weekend colour magazine last month by Andrew McCo. I ripped the end of his name off, poor love, and the paper doesn’t seem to include the weekend recipes on their zhuszhy site. So sorry, Andrew.

You sweat some finely chopped onion with honey in butter, then add a tin of smooshed up tomatoes, allspice and cinnamon and let it simmer until thick. You can do that the day before because Christ knows you’re not going to do it dressed in your ugg boots at 5:45 am. What you do do at 5:45 is put the oven on about 180C, generously cover the bottom of a ramekin with the warmed sauce, crack on a couple of eggs and then cover with foil and bake until the yolks are still runny. His recipe says about 5 minutes, but his oven is obviously more obedient and reliable than mine. Do keep checking if you’re a fiend for runny yolk, as a couple of minutes can make a huge difference. When it’s ready, spoon on some thick plain yoghurt and dukkah. We were all out of dukkah as it happens, so I substituted sumac and some seriously grassy green olive oil. In my opinion, if you can’t pour a slug of olive oil on your breakfast before 6 am, you may as well just lie down in front of Video Hits and cry.

I first made this a week or so ago, and it was a big hit. When I made it a second time I decided to simmer some canned broad beans along with the tomato sauce. (They’re labelled “foul moudammas” but are not at all foul – a point made by The Canberra Cook’s Cath in a post yesterday covering her visit to Canberra’s middle eastern grocery “Cedars of Lebanon”.)

The beans were a mistake, which explains why Andrew McCo gets the big bucks to write in the Good Weekend and I am a suburban housewife. The heaviness of the beans robbed the eggs of centre stage and their skins added a toothy edge that worked against the silky texture of the original recipe. Also, they didn’t look very pretty:

baked eggs

That yellow is the oil, btw, the yolks are still intact underneath. We ate it scooped up with softened tortillas. And that yoghurty spoon in the photo is all about the pressures of trying to take a picture of your breakfast quickly under the disdainful eye of the folks. It always amuses me to see food blogs criticised for not having publication-standard photography. This food’s for eatin’, peeps.

11 comments ↓

#1 kate on 02.06.08 at 8:29 pm

Well I say the chef’s name is Andrew McConnell, and the Bloke says thanks for posting the recipe because it’s the one we threw out by accident.

Will get on to it when we recover from the Plague.

#2 Zoe on 02.06.08 at 8:56 pm

Thanks for that, Kate – hope the Plague passes soon. Nothing worse than a man-cold, as &Duck will tell you ; ) The eggs are really very good, but I think I was subconsciously trying to make them into some kind of bastard cousin of huevos rancheros because I wanted tortillas. There’s another baked egg recipe in the article, with sorrel and lemon cream (which is cream with lemon juice in it, should you be wondering).

#3 Kirsty on 02.06.08 at 9:43 pm

This reminds me of a Claudia Roden recipe from Tamarind and Saffron, or the New Book of Middle Eastern Food, I suppose, since the former is a lovely glossy but abridged version of the latter. The difference seems to be that the Roden recipe is a stove top number, where you crack the egg into the cinnamon tomato sauce and stir as much or as little as you like–though it’s not so picturesque as your ramekin eggs when you stir them. What about if you did a few cooked frozen or even fresh broad beans (if you can get em, which I suppose is quite unlikely at the moment)? They always look gorgeous and go nicely with yoghurt too. And think of the lovely contrast with the colour of the sumac.

#4 FDB on 04.06.08 at 10:16 am

Right on Kirsty – new broad beans would go superbly. There’s a little cafe up Sydney Road from me in Brunswick that does baked eggs a lot like this with them when they’re in season. They refuse to do it with frozen ones, so it’s a spring thing only.

I’ve only tried once, but when I did baked eggs the yolks cooked through, which for me is pretty much the death of a breakfast. Oh, well, back on the horse I suppose.

#5 Mindy on 05.06.08 at 12:53 pm

Thank you for showing real food, unphotoshopped or styled. Not only does it look delicious, it looks achieveable. Note to self: find some stylish ramekins.

#6 Zoe on 05.06.08 at 12:58 pm

You know, I don’t think broad beans of any variety would work here. Perhaps the tiniest new ones in spring, but I wouldn’t be slathering them in sauce and eggs, I’d be eating them out of the pod standing in the veggie garden.

And you should try again, FDB. It’s not like a cake, you can open the oven every 30 seconds if you like ;)

Mindy, I do occasionally crop or shop a little bit. I’ve been thinking about that comment of mine, actually – and hopefully we’ll have a post on the subject from Kirsty soon. I would really like to take fantastic photographs of beautiful food, but I don’t cook specially for the blog so I don’t want to faff around and let it get cold or have the kids (or bloke) get too whingey.

#7 Cath the Canberra Cook on 08.06.08 at 2:38 pm

Zoe, around about how much honey? Do I aim at a subtle hint of sweetness or a definite wallop?

#8 Zoe on 08.06.08 at 5:15 pm

You want the undertone rather than a wallop – the original recipe uses:

1 finely diced onion
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp honey
1 400 g tin tomatos
1 stick cinnamon
pinch allspice

#9 Cath the Canberra Cook on 09.06.08 at 10:45 am

Ta!

#10 Catching up on the photos « Inner City Garden on 30.08.08 at 9:22 pm

[...] Zoe posted on making Andrew McConnell’s baked eggs a little while ago. I made them too, and they were quite popular. I’ve now made them a few times, they got a warm reception when we stayed at the beach with friends last week, and they weren’t quite this messy the second and third time I made them. They were good at the beach house, but the unreliable ancient electric oven is no friend of this cook or the runny yolk. [...]

#11 kate on 16.12.09 at 6:19 pm

After a year of making these eggs on a semi regular basis I have pretty much memorised the recipe. I have also concluded that it’s quite ok to make the sauce and when it’s thickened and all hot, put the eggs into the saucepan. If you sort of smoosh the tomato sauce into a few cup-shapes you can keep each egg separate, and it’s easier to watch them for doneness. Spoon the egg and a bit of sauce very carefully into a bowl when you’re done.

You also eliminate the baked on egg washing up issue, and the hot ramekin with small child problem.

innercitygarden, here to serve etc…

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