A Spring Breakfast Recipe:
Shirred Eggs over Kale and Garlic with Espelette
As most of my readers will know, I keep chickens, and therefore, as a consequence, I always have plenty of eggs at my disposal. My hens are totally free-range and have the full run at the bottom of the garden, underneath the fig, cherry and walnut tree – their hen hut is rather “Des-Res” as it’s an old stone “bothy” with thick cut stones that keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer……a large oak perch stretches from the front to the back of the hut and their nest box is an old wooden wine box piled high with sweet hay and straw. They are aways locked away at night, in case of any nocturnal visits by Mr Reynard, and it’s fair to say that they have a good life. In return, they lay golden-yolked eggs for us on a daily basis, and sometimes we are lucky enough to be the recipients of “Double Yolkers” which always cause a stir when they are cracked into the frying pan.
So, when I was looking for recipes to make from the blog I was assigned for The Secret Recipe Club, I was instantly drawn to all the egg recipes. My assigned blog for March was The Wimpy Vegetarian, a blog that I follow and know well; Susan is the author behind the blog, and she has a fascinating and wonderful array of recipes to choose from in her recipe index. Susan is mostly vegetarian, but married to a mostly carnivore eater, and is constantly on the hunt for healthy, delicious recipes that they’ll both like. Most of her recipes are vegetarian with tips for adding meat or fish for any meat-eaters at the table, which makes them wholly usable and accessible to all. As someone who has a vegetarian mother, sister and niece, and who was vegetarian for several years myself, I love any cook or author who is inclusive with vegetarian recipes and isn’t too sanctimonious about the whole thing!
Susan writes with passion and verve and you are never left feeling grubby or bad for eating the odd sausage or for adding a slice of meat to one of her recipes. Her recipes shine with seasonal ingredients and wonderfully interesting combinations of local produce – in short, her blog is a pleasure to read and is one of my favourite “to go” vegetarian recipe sites. I made a beeline for her egg recipes and was tempted with the following:
But it was her recipe for Shirred Eggs over Garlicky Swiss Chard that finally caught my eye – and, I’ve always been fascinated about shirred eggs, so shirred eggs it was. For those of you who like me, were slightly unsure what shirred eggs are, here’s the recipe definition…….
“Shirred eggs, also known as baked eggs, are eggs that have been baked in a flat-bottomed dish; the name originates from the type of dish in which it was traditionally baked. Shirred eggs are considered a simple and reliable dish that can be easily varied and expanded upon. An alternative way of cooking is to crack the eggs into individual ramekins, and cook them in a water bath, creating the French dish eggs en cocotte.”
I hope Susan will forgive me, but I had to change a few ingredients due to availability – I thought I had some Swiss chard, but it was in fact Kale that I had in the pantry; and in place of “heavy whipping cream” which is unavailable in France, I used crème fraîche – for a spicy flourish, I added some espelette to the kale, and in place of Swiss cheese, I used some English Red Leicester cheese. Other than that, the recipe was made exactly to Susan’s version. American readers can check out Susan’s original recipe here: Shirred Eggs Over Garlicky Swiss Chard. My adapted recipe is shared below and please do visit Susan’s fabulous blog for more “almost vegetarian” recipes, and tell her I sent you! Karen