Mix up your eggs this Easter
Now, given the heavy merchandising I see in all the supermarkets you may have had enough of eggs, even though we are weeks away from the Easter eggfest. But hold on - I'm not talking about the Cadbury variety.
REAL eggs are nature’s best fast food. Ask all the Paleo folk. Everything you need all wrapped up in one convenient shell. A multi vitamin in a super-fast meal and they don't taste of orange chalk like the kid's multi vitamin I was forced to chew every visit to my beloved Aunt Renee's house *Shudder*.
They are brain food and contain loads of the stuff that keeps us mentally ticking. And all that 80's crap about avoiding the yolks for cholesterol reasons? The clue is in the word crap in that sentence. Let's all get cracking. Now we all already know about the chicken kind, but what about the others we could be scoffing?
Over the last three or four years I've noticed a wider variety of eggs in supermarkets. Outside the standard chicken variety I sometimes saw quails eggs available, mainly around Christmas time; sometimes duck's but now I’ve seen a few more. I had a little shop around and discovered that I could get turkey, goose, bantam, pheasant, ostrich, gulls and even rhea's eggs.
I've been lucky enough to eat gulls eggs in a couple of the restaurants I’ve worked in and I love them, but retailing at nearly four quid each they are not an indulgence for all of us. They have a very short season (April and part of May) and are available from game dealers and good fishmongers (fishermen collect them usually) and they do indeed have a delightful marine tang. They shouldn't be used in complex recipes as you will waste the flavour and it shouldn't be over powered; eat them boiled with a dollop of good mayo or a sprinkling of celery salt, or maybe an anchovy or two. Mmmm I dribble as I type.
I adore, so rich they feel naughty. They give plain old Victoria sponge cakes the most pleasing yellow colour, like sunshine. Interestingly they are apparently more adhesive than a hen's egg so stick better to stuff, like the potatoes in a Spanish tortilla for example or the ingredients in a frittata.
are so pretty, snowy white with the odd freckle but they are blooming huge. A lovely treat though, and at least affordable compared to the other more odd varieties. Rich, very like a duck egg in my opinion. I fancy I might have one for Christmas breakfast this year. That sounds the perfect day to indulge in them.
are lovely.They taste like a very good hen's egg. Indeed they are in some ways, the word bantam is used to describe a miniature variety of most breeds of hen - they're usually a quarter of the size of the standard chuck. There are true varieties of bantam too though that don't have a big counterpart. There is a marvellous one called the booted bantam that looks like a mini chicken in ugg boots. Their eggs have bright, bright orange yolks, almost red. Good if you are feeling posh. I last had one atop a beetroot, watercress and walnut salad concoction. Soft boiled and split open, oozing enticingly.......can you tell eggs are in my top three fave foods yet?
are becoming more available, laid by a variety of bird beguilingly called the plumpie on a farm in Essex. Waitrose are now stocking them from April to the end of August. Buy some to try and let me know what you think. They used to be more common in the UK pre-war, but went out of fashion. My granddad liked them I recall and lamented not being able to get them anymore. The fashion for them faded when battery farming became the norm, now that's out (thank goodness) maybe they will come back.
The big daddy of all the eggs is the ostrich...
approximately the equivalent of 24 hen's eggs. I have once tried one, I had to scramble it as my friend and I totally smashed it trying to get in. We used a hammer in the end; I suggest a hacksaw would've been more intelligent. In my defence there was beer involved in the hammer decision. They have a hefty price tag, over £20 and to be honest they do taste great, fantastic even. Deep flavoured but it's for the novelty factor only really. Fun if you want to give it a go but not a serious ingredient for your pantry.
are starting to become available but at £25 each I’m not sure I’ll be trying one. Rheas are a relative of the ostrich. Clarence Court sell them and describe them as being lighter and fluffier than a hen's egg but stronger tasting. They are the equivalent of almost a dozen standard hen's egg.
Finally onto pheasant eggs...
I had never tried until last night. I found them for a pound each in my local organic shop. They are a fabulous shade of green; I want to keep the shell of one to ask someone to mix me that colour of paint. It's sort of olive but I’m calling it combat. Sounds cooler. They are seasonal and available from April till the end of July. They are bigger than a quail's egg but smaller than a hen's.
I made the recipe below last night which I thought would show them off. And it did. They have a nice flavour, very pronounced and I will try them again. An article I found online tells me they make a good light textured mayonnaise.
However you like your eggs, maybe it's time to give them another look and try something new.
Try my Purple sprouting broccoli, chorizo and roasted heirloom tomato bruschetta with pheasant eggs recipe would make the perfect light supper for two. Throw a candle and a nice chilled bottle for added romance. Quick to make, your other half will be very impressed with you. Brownie points guaranteed.