It feels right to focus my first blog post on the eponymous egg. Eggs are an all natural source of high quality protein and other nutrients, wrapped up in a neat little 70 calorie bundle. They play an important role in muscle strength, brain function, eye health and many other bodily functions. According to the British Egg Information Service (who knew there was such a thing?), eggs are naturally rich in vitamins B2, B12 and D, along with selenium and iodine. They also contain vitamin A and a number of other B vitamins; all good stuff for growing kids and their brains! https://egginfo.co.uk/egg-nutrition
The best eggs I’ve ever tasted were at Frasca, an Italian neighbourhood restaurant in Chicago, where our family lived for a year. We were introduced to Frasca by my lovely friend Aimi, and our two families spent many a lazy Sunday morning brunching in style on eggs, pancakes and bacon, washed down with mimosas. At least that’s how I choose to remember it, not that we wolfed our food down whilst trying to stop our toddlers trashing the place! Their Eggs Florentine was to die for; spinach and eggs covered in a decadent cheese sauce, baked to perfection, served with garlicky hunks of bread to dip and mop up every last drop – I’m drooling at the memory right now! If there’s one foodie thing America does well, its brunch.
Closer to home, in sunny Sheffield, I’ve not found eggs to beat those served up at The Schoolrooms cafe in Lower Bradfield, www.theschoolrooms.co.uk/home. This award winning cafe, butchery and deli serves up locally sourced food in a beautiful rural setting, complete with a playground for the kids and a duckpond – bonus! Their perfectly poached eggs on doorstep thick toast are amazing, and the perfect way to refuel after a walk around the nearby reservoir. The kids don’t even bother to consider ordering anything different from the menu. The egg yolks are the brightest primrose yellow I’ve ever seen and they taste like eggs are supposed to, rich, creamy and comforting.
The rest of their breakfast menu is pretty special too, so even if eggs aren’t your thing, you can fill your boots on sausage, bacon and black pudding. My father in law, who knows his way around a cooked breakfast, completely demolished the meaty option. There are lighter options too, including a veggie breakfast featuring gorgeously squeaky and salty halloumi.
Here’s my biggest with his well earned breakfast…just look at those yolks!
Found better eggs somewhere? Tell me about it – I’d love to try them!
So, back in the kitchen, how to elevate the humble egg from its regular home in an egg cup alongside chunky toast soldiers, to something a little more inspiring? And can the nutritional load be increased further by adding vegetables, whilst still keeping this as a firm kids teatime favourite meal? Well, I think we may have cracked it with this recipe.
Cheesy courgette ‘fries‘ and dippy egg, serves 2
Prep time: a few minutes, depending on any ‘helpers’ you may have!
Cooking time: about 25 minutes
- 2 small courgettes, or 1 whopper
- 45g parmesan, grated
- 1 egg, whisked
- Salt and pepper, a pinch of each
- Paprika, a pinch (optional)
- 2 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 200°c (400°f, gas mark 6)
- Slice the courgettes into ‘soldier’ size batons
- Prepare the egg and cheese baths in shallow bowls
- Dip each soldier into the egg and then the cheese, and place on a baking sheet
- Sprinkle any remaining cheese over the top of the soldiers on the baking sheet (we had none left, as my boys were very liberal in their egg and cheese dousing and dredging)
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and paprika if using
- Into the oven for 15 mins before turning the soldiers carefully with a spatula, then turn the oven down to 170°c (325°f, gas mark 3) for a further 8 to 10 minutes until they are a crispy golden brown colour. *Warning, you will be salivating next to the oven door as the cheesy smell wafts through the kitchen!
- Whilst the soldiers are in the oven, soft boil the eggs. 3 minutes, once the water is boiling should do it
- Serve the soldiers immediately with the soft boiled eggs. Enjoy!
Now, like lots of kids, my boys have a love/hate relationship with courgettes, in that they love to hate them. My 3 year old refers to them as “those green things”, with a little inward shudder. I’ve tried stir frying them with colourful juicy peppers, roasting them with onions and spices, and hiding them in soups, curries and stews, but he can track them down like a pig snuffling for truffles in a forest, leading to much wailing at the dinner table. I was bracing myself for a similar reaction with these cheesy green fries, but they were devoured and declared ‘lovely’. I’ll take that!
Some alternative ‘soldier’ substitutes include lightly steamed asparagus spears (wrapped in parma ham if feeling extravagant), or parsnip dippers, baked with a seasoning of maple syrup and fresh rosemary – delicious.
Other eggy delights that are on my ‘to make next’ list include:
http://madeleineshaw.com/recipes/cauliflower-rice-and-beetroot-bowl-with-soft-boiled-eggs/ Super healthy and cauliflower ‘rice’ is one of my favourite things to make right now.
http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/eggs-recipes/charred-avo-eggs/ I could eat avocado with eggs for EVER.
http://www.thebodycoach.co.uk/blog/recipe_of_the_day:_cauliflower_drop_scones_with_smoked_salmon_and_poached_eggs_51.html Because I totally have the time to make a leisurely breakfast, haha. Maybe in 18 years time I’ll get around to this one!
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