Fried egg crumpets

About 20 years ago, when I had just moved into my first flat, my flatmate Geoff specialised in what he called ‘egg windows’ – a fried slice of bread with an egg in the middle of it.

Geoff’s dad, an army major, had showed him how to make them when he was a kid and Geoff was a total pro. Then an architecture student, he cut the ‘window’ out of the bread with exacting precision, and he had the timing down pat. Alas, that was probably the apex of his cooking skills. His other memorable culinary moment was the time he came home drunk, put a tray of oven chips on to cook and fell asleep on the sofa. We were saved by the neighbours calling the fire brigade, but the chips were not so lucky.

I’d forgotten all about Geoff, egg windows and the fire until I saw Maya Adam show how to make what she called ‘Egg in a hole’ as part of the Child Nutrition MOOC run by Stanford University. Here was the egg window, transformed into a fast, nutritious breakfast for a child. It was genius. But even more genius is my fried egg crumpet – a fast, nutritious(ish) and utterly delicious anytime meal for everyone. Here’s how to do it.

Egg In A Hole Using Crumpets

Fried egg crumpets
One of these might do for breakfast, but I think you need two for lunch. The holey nature of the crumpet means it soaks up a) butter and b) egg, so there are lots of textural contrasts – soft, silky egg and crunchy crumpet edges. Add something green on the side and you might even be able to call it dinner.

You need:
An equal number of crumpets and eggs – let’s say two per person
A good knob of butter and a splash of olive oil to stop the butter from burning
A heavy frying pan with a lid
A round cookie cutter or small glass (about five cm in diameter)
Salt and pepper
Sriracha sauce or some other spicy condiment
Grated Parmesan, optional

Cut the middle out of the crumpets with the cookie cutter or glass. You can eat the middle bit as a cook’s perk now, or toast it to eat later, or (sacrilege!) throw it away.
Melt the butter and oil in the heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. Put the crumpets in, holey side down, and cook for a couple of minutes, until golden. Flip over and let the smooth side cook for a minute.
Carefully crack an egg into the hole of each crumpet. Don’t worry if some spills over the sides, this is no big deal. Put a lid on the pan and cook, covered, for about three minutes, until the egg white is set and the outer edges are getting nice and crunchy. Carefully flip over to cook the other side until it is just set to ensure a runny yolk (obviously cook it for longer if you prefer egg yolks to be firm).
Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with salt, pepper and grated cheese, if using. Dollop on the spicy sauce and enjoy!

 

Little & Friday’s famous doughnuts

After a truly hectic month, in which I spent far too much time out of my kitchen (not to mention being slightly out of my mind), I spent most of Easter weekend pottering between stove, sink and vegetable garden. It was great.

I even managed to make a menu plan and I only made one emergency dash to the dairy (in which I bought the last bottle of cream in the eastern suburbs). I managed to use some of my recent cookbook acquisitions AND my fancy new cake tin. The cake I made in it was a disaster, but that’s another story. My hot cross buns – Dan Lepard’s spiced stout buns – turned out a little heavier than I expected too, but anecdotal evidence tells me that a lot of people struggled to make decent buns this year. Let’s blame climate change, shall we?

Dan-Lepard-Hot-Cross-Buns
Buns, blue cheese and rose petal jelly

Anyway, today I achieved a longheld ambition and made the Cream Doughnuts from Treats From Little & Friday. For non-New Zealanders, Little & Friday is an Auckland cafe with a cult following. The cafe’s owner/founder Kim Evans published a gorgeous book of some of her best recipes last year and I’ve been dying to make the famous doughnuts ever since. I won’t reproduce the recipe here, but essentially you make brioche dough (about 900g flour, 3 eggs, 140g butter, milk, yeast, sugar, salt etc), which is then deep-fried (!) and filled with jam and creme diplomat (a half-half mixture of creme patissiere and whipped cream) until they are at near-bursting point. Then you roll them in icing sugar and eat them, until you are near bursting point (and covered with icing sugar).

Little-And-Friday-Brioche-Doughnuts-With-Creme-Patissiere

They are seriously, seriously good. I took a basket of them to an annual Easter bun-fest/chocolate frenzy at a friend’s place and while the kids ran amok hunting Easter eggs, the adults just ate doughnuts and reclined with beatific expressions. I can’t wait to make them again. But perhaps I’ll sign up for the Wellington half-marathon first…

What did you make this Easter? Have you made the L&F doughnuts before?

What to do with leftover egg yolks

Last week I ended up with 14 egg yolks in my fridge. I’d like to say I had no idea how this happened, or that it was the work of a particularly talented flock of chickens, but in truth it was directly related to the three pavlovas that were cooking  v e r y   s l o w l y  in my oven. I’ll tell you about them another day.

In the meantime, I want to share with you what I did with them. First, I considered doing what my mother-in-law does and tipping them down the sink. Then I came to my senses and asked Twitter for advice.

There were many suggestions relating to custard and hollandaise, but Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes came up with the most useful tip: freezing them. I knew you could freeze egg whites, but making yolk iceblocks was new to me. Jen said to freeze them with a pinch of salt or sugar (depending on their final use) – so that’s what I did with eight of them.

Four then went into dinner – I’d forgotten what a seriously easy and delicious dinner spaghetti carbonara is: four egg yolks stirred together with a good splash of cream (maybe four tablespoons?), some Parmesan, some finely chopped parsley and some crispy bacon or ham tossed through hot spaghetti.

Two somehow ended up on the floor – oops – but if they hadn’t I could have made mayonnaise or used one as a face mask (egg yolks are full of vitamin A, which is found in all the best beauty treatments, don’t you know?). Or if we had a dog I could have mixed an egg yolk into its dinner for a pelt-improving protein boost.

But the next time I end up with a bunch of egg yolks – or at least 10 – I’m going to make like my lovely friend Andy suggested and whip up this creme brulee ice cream. Well, wouldn’t you?

What do you do with leftover egg yolks? Or whites, for that matter?

Pancakes, 1970s style

Given that it’s Shrove Tuesday tomorrow, I thought it was about time I showed you a pancake-related relic from my childhood….

No, that’s not me, though I did think the woman in the foreground was very glamorous. It’s a shot from the box of the Monier Crepe Maker, straight out of the 1970s.

I don’t recall my parents hosting huge crepe-related soirees, though I do remember Mum using it occasionally (and letting me use it, when I was deemed responsible enough. I definitely remember reading the accompanying recipe booklet and wishing we could have Crepes Suzette. I was less keen on some of the other suggestions, such as ‘moistening a little corned beef with milk, then wrapping it in a crepe’.
It might seem a ridiculous, mono-use tool, but after trying it out yesterday I can confirm that it really does work just as easily as the box claims it will. Not bad for something that must be at least 35 years old (according to this Sydney Morning Herald advertisement). I’ve never been particularly good at making light, lacy crepes, but switching on the Monier yesterday gave me new confidence. Maybe it was the recipe on the box.

Monier Crepes
All batters are better after a resting period, but this one was good to go after 10 minutes. I’ve yet to try it out in a normal pan, but I’m sure it would still be fine, you just won’t look as cool as I do when you make them.

3 eggs
1 cup flour
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup milk

Whisk the eggs and flour together, then slowly add the milk and melted butter until you have a smooth batter. Rest in the fridge for at least 10 minutes before using. Makes about a dozen crepes.

Is there a Monier Crepe Maker in your past? What’s the secret to your best pancakes?

Treat me: Lemon meringue ice cream

I don’t know what is wrong with me but all of a sudden I have become the world’s worst maker of meringues.
I’ve made two batches now that have gone from fluffy peaks of snow-white mixture to dull beige piles and I’ve lost my nerve completely.
It might be my oven, which doesn’t do low temperatures very well (surprising, given that the door has taken to falling open of its own accord). Anyway, the good thing about this is that I’ve worked out a really good way to use up my meringue disasters.

Lemon meringue ice cream
Don’t worry – you don’t need to go through the trauma of making a deliberately bad batch of meringues to make this ice cream. In fact, you don’t need to make them at all. But you do need meringues of some sort (I won’t judge you if you buy them) to fold through this tart, marmalade-streaked frozen wonder.

110g icing sugar
140ml (1/2 a cup plus 1 Tbsp) lemon juice
300ml cream
1/3 cup good lemon curd or marmalade
6-8 meringues, crumbled

Put the lemon juice and icing sugar in a large bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the cream and whisk until it forms soft peaks. Fold in the marmalade or lemon curd and crumbled meringues.
Pour into a lidded plastic container and freeze for at least four hours. Let soften for five minutes out of the fridge before serving.
If you want to be really fancy, pour the ice cream into a loaf tin lined with cling film. Top with a layer of marmalade or lemon curd, then a layer of meringues (obviously, you’ll need more of both if you’re doing it this way). Cover loosely with plastic and freeze as above. To serve, lift the whole contraption out of the loaf tin, whisk away the plastic wrap, and transfer to a serving platter.

Have a great weekend, everyone. If you have a fail-safe meringue recipe, especially one designed for temperamental ovens, I’d love to see it…