CLASSIC COMBO Hard-boiled eggs, mayo, mustard and cress on crusty white bread makes for a simple and delicious lunch.
A fond childhood memory of food is of supper with my grandparents at Tara Hall in Sandycove on Sunday nights. It was always simple, eggs and toast on side plates. Boiled eggs, in white egg cups with bands of blue rings, a pinch of salt on the plate. No messing around. But it was always great.
Another cherished memory belongs to a stormy night at Fermoyle Fishing Lodge at Costelloe in Connemara, then owned by my chef friend Jean Pierre Marie. We arrived unexpectedly, ravenous. JP quickly rustled up soft-boiled duck eggs with buttered toast soldiers. An unforgettable feast, eaten as we watched lightening strike over Fermoyle Lake. For the same, put your duck eggs in cold water. Bring to the boil, and simmer for four to five minutes. Plenty of butter on the soldiers!
The French do not shy away from utter simplicity. Their menus still offer egg mayonnaise as a staple. Hardboiled eggs, halved, a dollop of mustardy mayonnaise on their heads: all atop a simple leafy salad. Sweet tomatoes are always nice with this.
I sometimes think we forget we are not contestants on Masterchef. There is nothing wrong with cooking something completely quick and easy – especially if the weather is too good to waste time indoors. Nothing is quicker to cook than an egg.
The other day, Penny brought home a pot of mustard salad she’d grown in school. It got me thinking; afternoon tea, and lunch! Egg sandwiches. Preferably on white bread. Hard boil your eggs (but not to within an inch of their lives), mix with mayo. Trim mustard and cress and add.
To get the mustard and cress – buy a pack of seeds, grow in a few days on moist tissue on your windowsill. You can add some chives for an allium flavour (onion is too strong.) Better still, pick some of the wild garlic now growing in the hedgerows and river banks. Watch out for the spherical clusters of white, star-shaped flowers and broad, long leaves. Add to your sandwich filling. Season with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Crusts or no crusts – up to you! Have scones and jam for dessert.
Spanish scrambled eggs
Like the French, the Spanish are not too proud to serve simple egg dishes in their restaurants. Revueltos (a Spanish dish of scrambled eggs mixed with other ingredients) cook in minutes. Some of their pairings include mushrooms and prawns, potatoes and chorizo, chilli and tomatoes. Use whatever you have to hand.
What you need
- Two tablespoons of olive oil
- Knob of butter
- Eight free-range eggs (if you give the duck eggs a shot, use six)
- 1 bunch of thin asparagus
- A handful of parsley
- Handful of wild garlic flowers
- Salt and pepper.
- Some feta or crumbly cheese – optional.
What you do
Break off the woody bits from the ends of the asparagus and steam the stems for about four minutes. Don’t let them go soggy. Chop into one- to two-inch pieces.
Heat the oil and butter in a pan, mix your eggs in a bowl, add to the pan and cook on a lowish heat, continuously stirring. You want to keep them relatively moist, so careful not to let them dry out. Lift the pan off the heat occasionally, always stirring.
Add the chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Mix in the asparagus. Serve on hot plates. Crumble the feta on top and sprinkle liberally with wild garlic flowers.
Served with green salad and good bread. If you’d like something a bit more substantial, a pot of basmati rice will cook in ten minutes. Olé!
Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.