Sunday, 23 March 2008

Baked eggs: friend of the leftover

I’ve mentioned before how my parents hated food wastage. Sunday night presented a prime opportunity for all of the week’s leftovers to be transformed into a cohesive meal that was called dinner. As you can imagine this clearing out the fridge approach to cooking had mixed results, but on the whole, positive. Leftover meat became a curry, any combination of cooked vegetables was smothered in white sauce or breadcrumbs and baked, and there were endless variations on risottos and pasta sauces.

I’ve developed my own version of the Sunday night leftover dinner, discovering that there aren’t that many dishes that can’t somehow be turned into a base for baked eggs.

Baked eggs are almost obligatory on breakfast menus in Melbourne cafes. I remember Birdman Eating on Gertrude St in Fitzroy had four ‘baked eggs of the day’ which were always really interesting and unusual combinations of ingredients like chilli jam and green beans or braised fennel and trout. Now I think I may have stumbled upon the secret to their popularity - baked eggs are a great way to use up leftovers.

Here are some of my experiments

First life: Mint and pea crostini

2 cups of frozen peas
clove of garlic
squeeze of lemon juice
handful of roughly chopped mint
couple of generous glugs of extra virgin olive oil
couple of tablespoons of finely grated parmesan plus shavings for ganish

Cook peas in boiling salted water for 2 minutes – drain, run cold water over the peas, and drain well. In a (largish) mortar and pestle, pound garlic to a paste with a good pinch of sea salt. Add the peas, lemon juice, mint, and mix to a coarse paste in the mortar and pestle. Add the olive oil as you go to loosen the mixture until it looks like it can be spread on crostini (bread toasted and rubbed with cut garlic). Season with salt and pepper and top crostini with pea spread and shaved parmesan.

Roasted butternut squash with thyme and garlic

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Cut squash into wedges, toss with olive oil, whole cloves of garlic, salt and pepper and sprigs of thyme and roast until tender: around 30-40 minutes.

Caramelised onions

Heat 2 tbls olive oil and 1 tbls butter in frying pan. Add 2 peeled and sliced onions and cook over gentle heat until they are soft- 10- 15 minutes. Add 1 tbls brown sugar and heat until the sugar melts and caramelises. Add 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and stir together.

Second life:
Minted peas and broccolini baked eggs
Roasted butternut squash and caramelised onion baked eggs

Preheat the oven to 220°C (430°F). Grease a small dish/ramequin, lay the leftovers at the bottom.

Make a little hole and break an egg into it. Drizzle with olive oil. You can also add 1 tablespoon of crème fraiche or yoghurt before you add the egg (as I have done here) which is the way the French do egg croquette.

Put the dish in a baking tray and pour hot water in the dish to about half the height of the dish. Put in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how runny you like your eggs.

First life: Chickpea, eggplant and chorizo stew

1 medium eggplant salted for 20 minutes, drained and cut into 1 cm dice
1 red onion roughly chopped
about 50 g chorizo cut into 1cm dice
clove of garlic finely chopped
2 tomatoes peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 can chickpeas
½ cup chicken stock
good dash of white wine
handful spinach
Greek yoghurt to serve

Cook the eggplant in some oil and remove from pan. Cook chorizo and diced red onion in the pan over medium heat until onion is soft (no need to add oil as the chorizo will release its fat as it cooks). Add garlic and cooked eggplant to pan- stir for a minute. Add tomatoes and drained chickpeas and stir to combine flavours. Add a dash of white wine, stock and let stew simmer for 10- 15 minutes. Before serving, toss through a handful of baby spinach until it wilts. Serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt.

Second life: Chickpea, eggplant and chorizo baked eggs with greek yoghurt

Cook leftovers in a dish with the egg following the sam recipe as above. Before serving, drizzle the baked egg with greek yoghurt.


Caitlin Ryan said...

Def one for the menu- i like the look of that a lot - Dad would be proud. xc

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