I had read about these a few months ago and had slightly dismissed them thinking they are a little gimmicky! However, to my delight a very dear friend of mine who has been suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis for many years has just gone to see a nutritional therapist and has very bravely given up all those inflammatory, toxic foods. We were having a good old girly chat the other night over bath time with her beautiful baby boy and a sparkling Elderflower and she was mentioning how much she disliked having to eat eggs without something underneath them. I told her about some yummy sweet potato and beetroot rosti that I had made that went down a treat with the oldies but of course not really thinking she would never have the time to rustle up some in the midst of baby juggling and getting to work. I was thinking through my other fall backs all too time consuming for a busy mum; celeriac hash brown or zucchini fritters or gram pancakes or any of the things that I had discovered to fill that well known hole of the toast. Well here it is! All the above are incredibly delicious and I will share those recipes with you too but if you want an egg for breakfast and want to pop something in the toaster to have underneath that isn’t a processed gluten free version then sweet potato is the answer! I suggest serving them with a nice portion of greens and they take the same amount of time to cook as the egg so time shouldn’t be a constraint on this element.
· 1 good size sweet potato (I would stick to the orange variety as the white and purple tend to be starchier and I would imagine would cook as easily)
· 4 free range eggs – must be FRESH
· 1 green zucchini
· 1 yellow zucchini
· handful of curly kale
· 1 clove of garlic
· squeeze of lemon juice
· mixture of fresh mint, coriander and parsley
· 1 tbsp scent free coconut oil
· Himalayan pink salt
· 1 Avocado
· Sprinkle of de-hulled hemp seeds
For the toasts
1. Start by peeling the sweet potato and chopping off one of the ends. Stand it up on the chopping board so you have a flat stable surface to work with. Slice into 1 inch thick slices. I usually stick with the middle 4 slices and leave the off cuts for a few chips later with dinner.
2. Pop the slices into the toaster and turn onto its highest setting.
3. Once done I popped into the warning oven of the Aga – I realise not everyone has this luxury and to fair nor do I – it belongs to my parents!! However an oven turned onto 50 will suffice or lay them on top of the toaster to keep warm.
4. Melt the coconut oil in a non-stick frying pan, roughly chop the vegetables and mince the garlic (try and have a pot in the fridge ready to go to save yourself time) and add to the frying pan with a few tablespoons of hot water. Go wild here and add whatever vegetables you have in the fridge; runner beans, mange-tout, fennel, broad beans even brussel sprouts all work well here.
5. To begin with you will hear the water begin to boil off and steam through the vegetables after a couple of minutes you will hear that sound increase in frequency as the water evaporates and you are left with the oil sizzling.
6. At this point add in a squeeze of lemon a good handful of herbs, salt and pepper. If you’re quick you can do the poached egg at the same time but for the first couple of goes lay the vegetables to one side and pop a lid on them until your egg is done.
It always upsets me that so many people attempt poached eggs with such trepidation! It’s so incredibly easy as long as your eggs are FRESH! Many years ago I read Delia’s “How To” chapter on eggs and it really did revolutionalise my understanding and have trained many chefs on the art of eggs since. So if you don’t have the luxury of a sous vide do not despair this will work just find where you can source good fresh eggs. We have the most wonderful lady up the road from us who sells her eggs at the end of the lane and we are so lucky – they are truly scrumptious. Might have to look a little further afield when I move to London! Let me know if you have any good tips!
7. Pop the kettle on, enough to fill a deep saucepan with boiling hot water and a good teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt.
8. Place your saucepan on a low heat – you want to see a few gentle bubbles but nothing that is going to disturb the egg.
9. Crack your egg into a ramekin dish or similar – this simply allows you to lower the egg into the water slowly and carefully without burning your fingers; just to clarify you are not placing the dish in the water just the egg.
10. Turn off the heat and cover with a lid for 4 minutes. For four eggs simply make sure you have a big enough saucepan to fit them all in.
11. Whilst you are waiting for the eggs, assemble your plate! Lay the toasts out and top them with your vegetable medley, slice the avocado and sprinkle with hemp seeds and get a slotted spoon and kitchen paper at the ready!
12. Ding ding ding! Eggs are ready! Lift them from the water and whilst cradled in the spoon dab on the kitchen paper wicking away any excess water.
13. Slide on to the toasts, top with a sprinkle of pink salt and alfalfa sprouts and voila!
14. TIP! I tend to pierce my eggs fairly early on sometimes by the time you get to the table the residual heat can result in the yolk continuing to cook and there’s nothing more heart breaking than a poached egg with a solid centre!