Broken Yolk

Broken Yolk
Play with your Food!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Post Eggistentialism

"Evil is the product of the ability of humans to make abstract that which is concrete." - Sartre

So, to avoid the judgment of Sartre and the reality of the bleak nothingness of human existence, one has to merely to give the concrete an abstract form. I am well versed in this idea, having had my first existential crisis at the age of 9. This may seem a tad premature but you try growing up a Catholic. Although Sartre has fallen out of favour for, well, being too depressing, I find that there is a strange sort of comfort in his ideas. Facing the concept of your own meaninglessness, escaping from the egocentricism of religion, is incredibly powerful. It can either strengthen or destroy, much like Cameron's 'Bog Society,' where no one sees the aftermath of the government cuts in the wane eyes of disabled people, pushed even further onto the outskirts of society. At the apex of consumerism, with its grim landscape of laughing bankers and demand without need, it is only too easy to feel that existence has again withered away into faulting gestures and empty promises. 

But at such a time, nothing is more poignant than life. Which only becomes more real the more it detaches itself from the bigger picture and we see it illuminating every being on earth. Take the humble egg for instance. Sure it may only turn into a gammy chicken, but within its unique curvature is the potential for life. And for more recipes than most people could possibly imagine. 

An egg is one of the miracles of nature, the messiah of baking, for without it there would be no cake! They bind ingredients in recipes and on their own form dozens of substances, anything from meringue to an omelet. 

So when you feel an existential crisis looming. Perhaps if you’ve just invested in your education and found it to be worthless, or realize that there is no longer a left vote, the simplest fix is rustling up some eggs. They are adaptable enough to put in almost any recipe (you can test me on this if you want). The egg is a bastion for human imagination, the concrete thing that you can make into any abstract form you like.

In the Post-existential morning all you need are some fresh ingredients and a free mind. Here are my creations.

Serrano ham, Asparagus and egg stack

This is the simplest recipe in the world but it also looks visually stunning when you 'stack' all the ingredients on top of each other. All you need for this recipe are a few slices of serrano ham, asparagus and eggs and some finely sliced toasted bread.

1. Soft boil the egg in 400ml of boiling water. this is take about 4-5 minutes.
2. Place the serrano ham slices under the grill and allow to cook until browned and crispy.
3. Cook the asparagus. The best way is to plop it into the boiling water with the egg. 
4. Assemble all the elements together by stacking them on top of one another. Season to taste and serve.

Pea and Red-Berry Mustard Eggs Benedict

People shouldn't be scared of making eggs Benedict, it's the perfect way to flaunt your cooking skills whenever you feel like it, not just for special occasions. Here I have added my own twist to the traditional recipe to give it a sweetness and freshness from the introduction of peas, served with a peppery redberry mustard.

Pea Hollandaise
3 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 dash of Tabasco
1/2 cup butter
100g of peas
  1. In a blender, combine the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and hot pepper sauce. Cover, and blend for about 5 seconds.
  2. Melt the butter and then place into a glass measuring cup. Set the blender on a high speed, and pour the butter into the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream. It should thicken almost immediately. 
  3. Add most of the peas to the blender and blend until smooth. Save the rest of the peas for decoration.
  4. Keep the sauce warm until serving by placing the blender container in a pan of hot tap water.
  5. Serve with toasted English muffins spread with red-berry mustard and ham.

Mini Passionfruit and Black Pepper Meringue Pies

It is impossible to feel despondent when someone puts one of these petit tartlets in front of you. Whether or not you like it, your taste-buds will be stirred to life again. Ethereally whipped meringue with a peppery kick nestles on top of a zingy and decadent passion fruit curd in fine, crisp pastry. 

400g ready-made sweet pastry
12 Passion fruits
4tbsp of corn flour
140g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
200g caster sugar
1 tsp of ground black pepper

  1. Heat oven to 200C/fan. Dust the work surface with a little flour, then the pastry out to the thickness of a £1 coin. Use a cutter to cut out several circles of pastry. Use to line some small tart cases. Chill for 30mins. Line with greaseproof paper and a layer of baking beans, then blind bake for 20 mins. 
  2. Remove the paper and beans, then return the tart cases to the oven for 5 mins until pale golden in colour. Leave to cool.
  3. Then scoop out the pulp of 10 passion fruits into a sieve over a large jug. Rub the pulp and juice through the sieve and then discard the seeds. Scoop the pulp and seeds of the remaining fruit into the juice. You should now have 150ml in total - top up with orange juice if you don't have enough. In a pan, mix the cornflour with the sugar, then gradually stir in 200ml cold water followed by the passion fruit. Cook over a medium heat, stirring, until the mixture boils and thickens. Stir constantly. Take the pan off the heat and whisk the yolks into the hot mixture.
  4. Reduce oven to 180C/fan. For the meringue, whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks, then gradually whisk in the sugar until it leaves a peak. 
  5. Now add the pepper.
  6. Spread the filling over the pastry base. Spoon the meringue over the filling, starting from the pastry edge and working your way into the middle, then gently swirl the spoonfuls together. Bake for 20 mins until the meringue is lightly golden.

And how do I justify this rambling pseudo-academic jibberish? Well…

"For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it." - Sartre

Now, for the viewing pleasure of all you kitchen disaster voyeurs out there, this is what happens when your souffle over-achieves. Funnily enough I've never had this problem before. 

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