I am not sure if this is slightly inspired by Easter and conversations and traditions arising about eggs, but I have had the urge to share the wonderful things you can do with eggs. I personally did not grow up with egg traditions (or religion) at Easter, beyond hunting for chocolate eggs. My interpretation of these happenings is that in the northern hemisphere Easter and Spring coincide and Paegan or general celebrations of new beginnings entangled themselves with the story of Jesus, feasts, some rabbits and chocolate. Well whatever you believe, I believe it is always good to get together and share food- and that’s what we did! So back to eggs-
It is so good to keep chickens and with some love, a good house, some perches , you can have protein converted from your veggie scraps and some extra grain and some furry friends that you know are treated well. I have written all about suburb chooks here- ..
There are no official commercial egg producers in the Darwin region (The Berry Spring Eggs are only packed there!) So they journey a long way if you don’t find a backyard grower or orchard producer. Greenie has eggs that work in a system fertilising his lime orchard, and you can do the same integrating poultry and fruit production !.
Because we have 12 and a half chooks (one is bantam), of all colours and none are too old to lay, we get about 5-6 eggs a day (they produce less as they get older) and along with a lot of (not so local) grains and a hint of cheese and kangaroo, this is our main source of protein. So in honour of our 12 and a half chooks, I have come up with 12 and a half of the most simple and delicious ways to use an egg or two and I found a great stash of photos illustrating all of these-
1) Boiled and then steeped in tea
Boiled eggs go a really long way, but how about cracking then gently and then re- boiling them in tea and leaving them to cool and steep in the tea. This has amazing effect, adds a little tea hint to the eggs and is fun (and a little fiddly) These are known as Chinese Tea Eggs
2) Boiled and then curried
There are so many variations of this, but one the best ways is with fresh chilies, ginger, garlic, sugar and tomatoes.
3) Boiled and then added to awesome salads and sandwhiches
How about this wrap- home made flat bread, and seasonal (this was dry season) roast veggies, like pumpkin tomatoes, heaps of herbs and a dash of spring onion- oh yeah!
4) Boiled and then pickled
This is actually a huge tradition in the UK, where in every good traditional pub there and fish and chip shop there is a jar of pickled eggs. In the pub you have them in a bag of crisps (chips) with your pint. I love them and when we first got our chooks and had less dogs to share our eggs with we would pickle the excess. You can toast up pickling spices (star anise, pepper corns, all spice, cumin and coriander seeds) and then add to apple cider vinegar to be really flash. Put the cooled boiled eggs in , in a preserving jar and leave. The flavours and vinegar seep through to perfect pickling perfection after about 4 weeks. I was under the impression that pickled eggs could be pickled forever, but in Darwin where that noted ‘cool dry place’ is often hard to find I think 6 months could be the maximum for pickling. When I worked at Alawa Primary the students and I pickled eggs and then forgot them, a couple of years later, they had gone past their best and king of dissolved. Having said all this I highly recommend this amazing snack.
Who can resist a fried egg, especially on a Sunday morning. My localizing suggestions are to add local garden greens, like Amaranth, cosmos leaf, Basil and many more depending on season. I have had home made baked beans made with Jackfruit seeds in tomato sauce, but these are not the ones in the picture and yes this fried egg has a funny form, it is fried just not too an oily crisp! Don’t forget the cup of tea- garden tea if you fancy.
The more healthy option over frying, use vinegar or lime juice in the water and twirl it into a little vortex so that the egg stays together, it only takes a couple of minutes in boiling water until cooked enough and still retaining the dripping yolk. Don’t forget the garden greens and a splash of olive oil, lime juice and or soy sauce, chilli is also a great topping.
And in the later dry season, with local tomatoes, garden basil and olive oil!
6.5) Poached with hollandaise, served on splat- chat sweet potato
This is one of my favourite decadent breakfasts. And below is a dish I served on Christmas day- a great day for a fancy breakfast, with champagne (must explain the slightly dodgy photo) Hollandaise is basically butter melted in a pan and then added to whisked egg yolks, which are whisked while being heated over the stove, then when it all becomes really thick and fluffy, lemon juice is added, along with pepper and salt. Its all very rich and involved heaps of eggs. The whites can then be used for meringues, or even Jon’s favourite- Whisky sours (a cocktail with egg whites, whisky and lemon!) which happened this day, as it was Christmas.
I used to make this dish all the time and serve the eggs on what is known as ‘Chat potatoes’ – Boiled potatoes, smashed or squashed flat, so some of the middle splats out, in an oven tray with olive oil, slat and herbs and then roasted. This is then the base for the eggs and topped with sauce. WE cannot of course grow potatoes, so our local root of choice for this is sweet potato. I got small (orange) ones and did the same and it was delicious and sweeter and yummier (but not quite as crispy) as with potatoes and I served it on wet season salad greens, including cosmos. You can also use steamed local spinaches (Ceylon, Brazilian etc) which is also fabulous and has some fancy name like “eggs Florentine’ but of course this is a sweet potato Tropical twist, so we need a new name, like eggs Darwinese…
7) Scrambled eggs
Ok, so before we get into anything too fancy, the old classic, whisk all eggs in a bowl, and pour into a pan, move around, turn off while still not quite soild (in colour) and they will finish themselves off. The best local twist on this is to add heaps of home made garden basil pesto and herbs- yum!
Frittata, possibly also known as Spanish omlete, and with a pastry bottom known as quiche. Basically eggy slice type thing, with yummy veggies. These can be made in the pan or oven. Fry, saute, roat or all the bits that go in (eg onion, spinach, pumpkin, eggplant, etc. Then iin the pan add in eggs whisked with milk and spices, add cheese if you wish and finish off in the grill, or pop the whole thing in the oven (in a baking dish) after pre sauteing all the ingredients. Alternatively grated veg can go in raw and will cook much faster because they are smaller.
9) Egg in Soup
Asian styley- add into clear broths, whisked first and allow to cook in soup, like this egg and loofa soup that the Burmese ladies taught us to cook through My Sister’s Kitchen and the GULP project.
10) Asian omelette – thinly sliced
Egg in stir-fry dishes or noodle salads. Whisk eggs with tamari and rice wine vinegar and cook thin simple Asian Omelettes, slice thin and add to stir-fries, noodle soups and even add to Sushi or rice paper rolls.
Pretty much anything can go in omelettes, whisked eggs, in a pan over pre sautéed filling. Allow to cook through and then fold in half or roll. Below is a very simple pesto omelette with feta. Other fillings can be feta and spinach, roasted veg etc.
12) Crepes/ Pancakes
A batter of eggs, flour and milk is made, in different consistencies make crepes or pancakes- crepes poured thin, pancakes fat- sweet or savory! Your perfect opportunity to fill them with local fruit, below a simple crepe with Red Dhakka banana and local honey filling.
Below was an experiment for the local food challenge, using only local ingredients, so no flour. I used home made coconut milk and coconut fluff- it was quite rich but pretty good!
12 and a half?) Don’t forget the mayo!
Ok so we may have gone past 12 and a half already, but you can’t forget this classic and pretty easy to make. I am still perfecting getting this thick, but it is egg yolks, olive oil and lemon, whisk whisk whisk. Perfect with Cassava chips!