Friday, 14 June 2013

Mushrooms on Toast (with a poached egg on top)- A Halleluja moment

So they don't have to look like and taste (as I imagine) like slugs!
The holy grail of egg and no slugs

When I was younger (I normally say little, then hilarious people say 'But you're still little!') I thought mushrooms = slugs. I was once given mushrooms on toast, and the slimy, squishy, soggy, quite frankly revolting mushrooms that somehow didn't slide off the toast they were slopped onto, basically put me off for life. Well that's an exaggeration because I love them now! Not being a foragey knowledgeable type, I have a preference for what is classed as a wild mushroom (surely they can all be wild somewhere in the world?) and a particular devotion to oyster mushrooms. The mushroom is another foodstuff that falls into the category of things The Boyfriend would rather stab his own eyes out than eat, which makes them all the more special for me. Like a sordid sneaky love affair that is neither sordid or sneaky when I come to think of it. I digress. To wrap it up, as soon as I realised mushrooms didn't have to resemble homeless snails, they became a true love of mine, and I love this little recipe for breakfast/brunch/hungry times. I'm afraid Hovis won't do it here, you need a handsome but dense slab of rye or sourdough for your base, at the very least some chewy ciabatta. 

Feeds one indulgent person, cheating on her other half with erm, mushrooms. Toast, or if, like me, the Little Dinner Lady, your kitchen is as small as your stature, and can't fit a toaster in it, grill a slice of sourdough bread so it's good and crunchy. Get a small saucepan of water at just about ticking over at a gentle simmer. Add a dash of vinegar. Meanwhile, melt a little butter in a small frying pan on a gentle heat and add half a clove of sliced garlic (save the other half). Fry gently for one minute, DON'T let it burn. Add a hand-full of cleaned mushrooms of your choice, stir so the butter gives everything a lick and gently crack and drop an egg into your pan of water. Make sure the water is just about simmering, nothing more. Stir the mushrooms around for a couple of minutes and don't forget your toast. Rub your toast with the saved half clove of garlic. Squeeze a few teaspoons of lemon juice into the mushrooms and season, and by now your egg should be poached to perfection. Pile the mushrooms onto the toast and gently lift the egg out of the water, let any drips erm, drip off, and gently place on top of the mushrooms. You are a sprinkling of chopped parsley and a drizzle (yes I hate that word too, suggestions for a new word please) of extra virgin olive oil away from perfection.

I am 30 years old and I have only just realised the key to a good poached egg is a gentle touch and faith (and fresh eggs and a drop of vinegar). Be gentle with it and believe it will be ok. You with your cling film and your weird poaching cups and your witchcraft can bugger off because  I have finally figured it out. 

Imam Bayildi - Beautiful Aubergine Goodness

A bit like a fragrant ratatouille, ace with lamb
The Boyfriend has been away quite a lot recently. Instead of lamenting his absence, and feeling lonely and sorry for myself, I've been stuffing my face with ALL the things he turns his nose up; principally, aubergines. How can you not love them? The meatiest of all the veg, the shiny, taught smooth dark skin that makes you HAVE to touch them, wow this is verging on sexual...anyway. Originally from Turkey, this particular recipe for Imam Bayildi comes all the way from Australia, written by (and these words may not all be mine) Michael Adams QC, the late Chief Magistrate of Victoria, escoffier extraordinaire, champion of soppy girlies, philosopher, lover of dogs and the occasional pussycat, piggy, chook, horse and pygmy cow, and one of my Dad's greatest mates ever who kept him on the straight and narrow. So now you know. So I had a couple of sexy aubergines lolling on my work surface and I cooked this: (As I am writing this in England, it seems only right to change eggplant to aubergine and cups into 'very rough, I'm sure it will be ok' metric measurements. Weird Aussies. 

Feeds about 4 as a side dish. Slice 2 aubergines in half lengthways and then into long slices about an inch squared and the length of the aubergine. Place in a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt, let it stand over a basin for at least 30 minutes to de-gorge the bitter juices. Rinse and pat dry with a clean tea-towel or kitchen roll.  Gently heat an indecent amount of olive oil in a heavy based saucepan and add the aubergines. Cook over medium to high heat until they brown, (they will initially take up a lot of oil but they will let it out again). Add the one large sliced onion and cook for a further 3 or 4 minutes, then add two or three cloves of chopped garlic, and cook for further 2 minutes. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes, a squirt of tomato puree, juice of half a lemon, a cinnamon stick, two bay leaves and a generous tsp of dried oregano. Cover and reduce heat to a very slow simmer and cook for about 45 to 60 minutes or it's good in the oven too, although the pot will be a pain in the arse to wash up. This can be served hot, warm or at room temperature and is amaaazing with lamb. Just before serving, stir a good hand-full of chopped parsley. 

Michael has written some wonderful recipes, always with great charm. My favourite being his recipe for sweetcorn fritters, one part which read something like 'Whatever you do, don't fuck them up. If you do, give up cooking.'