Kathie Auton - 23 March 2012
The best Easter Egg you can buy this year? Why, the mighty Organic Egg! And I’m not talking about single-estate, fairly-traded, 70% cocoa-solids chocolate (although feel free to send one of these beauties my way), but just a simple, wonderful organic egg. Yes, you probably already buy free-range, but let your eye wander a few centimetres across the supermarket shelf and you will move a long, long way in terms of goodness...
There has to be something inappropriate about celebrating the lightening of the days, the hints of sun, and the budding flowers by buying an egg from a bird who won’t have a clue about the changing of the season. Sorry to be emotive, but I’m pretty sure that the horror of battery farming is not something that many people feel steely hearted about. And in my extensive research and carefully-chosen control group (me wandering round the local shops), I found that it was only a few pence more per egg to buy organic. If you need any persuading along the free-range vs. organic lines, take a look here to find out more about the difference between the two.
My argument to you will be in the form of a few simple suggestions of what to do with your gorgeous organic eggs once you’ve got them, because the organic egg with its deep yolk, proper shell and taste of... actual egg, is a very special thing. There are a myriad of sweet little Easter recipes out there, but can I make a suggestion? Why not mark your Easter by revelling in the glory of the egg and all its culinary alchemy by trying one of these recipes - they are Easter Eggy Treats, but with few ingredients, so if you do want to go all-organic, it won’t break the bank. What it will do is allow you a moment of tasty reflection on just how good proper food can be - delicious and symbolically good too.
At this time of symbols of new life, think too about the image we present to our children at Easter. We read books and play with toys that present a view of farming that is either very ancient or very organic. I can’t see a plastic My First Battery Farm being a topseller. So, at Easter why not visit an organic farm, one that it likely to bear some resemblance to the ones your children have seen in stories. While there buy some organic eggs from the hens you’ve probably been tripping over. Now does that not feel properly Easter-y?
I think what I make aren’t really Gypsy Eggs but I like the name. Method: get your kiddies to put things along the lines of the following in a ramekin or small bowl: chopped tomatoes, ham, grated cheese, blob of crème fraiche, olives, salami, spring onion, cooked potatoes, fridge shrapnel that’s threatening to go off. Get them to crack an egg on top and bake it at 180° for about 10 mins for a cooked white and a soft yolk to dip toast into. This is a perfectly respectable thing to eat at breakfast, lunch or dinner time.
I cannot claim to have invented this, but it’s just too fabulous not to include. Some recipes suggest baking, but frying is the way forward.
A slice of pretty thick bread per egg
An egg per slice of bread
- Use a pretty cutter to cut out a shape from the bread.
- Fry the bread in oil until crispy on one slide, flip it and add more oil to the hole.
- Add the egg. Don’t crack it into the pan, but a cup first and pour it carefully, try to get the yolk in the middle for aesthetic purposes.
- Cook until the white is nearly cooked, take it out now (carefully!) because it will keep cooking. Fry the cut-out bread shape if you couldn’t fit it in before.
I made Hazelnut Praline Meringue Eggs because I found a pack of organic hazelnuts (same price as non-organic interestingly), but pure meringue is also a joy. Here’s how:
You need 2oz of caster sugar for every egg white you use.
- Whip your egg white - clean bowl, not yolk, you know the drill - until they are getting pretty stiff.
- Add the sugar in stages whipping well after each addition. No need to do this agonisingly slowly - be robust. Fold through the last few tablespoons of sugar.
- To form the eggs make ‘quenelles’ using two dessert spoons.
- To cook:
- For dry meringues cook at 110° for an hour and a half, turn off the oven and leave until cold.
- For marshmallowy meringues put in to oven at 130°, cook for 40 mins, then turn oven off and take them out about 30 mins later.
- Drizzle with dark chocolate if the urge takes you.
- To make praline version: make hazelnut praline by melting sugar in a frying pan (don’t stir) until it is caramel coloured. Throw in a handful of hazelnuts then tip out to cool on greaseproof paper. When fully cool, blitz in the processor and stir through your meringues in place of last bit of sugar.
A true celebration of the egg. Use it on your toast, in the middle of a Vicky Sponge Cake, on top of shortbread biscuits, etc etc
4 unwaxed, organic lemons – zest and juice thereof
4 eggs – (3 whole, one yolk)
Put the lot in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir and cook, stir and cook, stir and cook. After about 10 mins it will become Lemon curd. Store in fridge if you manage not to eat it straight from the pan.
Kathie has two young children and is taking a break from teaching to be a full-time mum. She is passionate about cooking and growing good food and takes any opportunity to get her kids involved in the kitchen.