This recipe makes a delicious breakfast or light lunch, the asparagus roasts away nicely leaving you free to focus your attention on the eggs. The sight of new season asparagus in the shops always fills me with joy, not just for the taste – it signifies the true start of spring. Spring holds so much hope and positivity, the long, dark nights are finally over and the breeze is filled with the sweet scent of blossom, freshly cut grass and the gentle heat from the sun, that teases us with the promise of so much more to come.
I’m really hoping my blog will encourage people who haven’t previously cooked a great deal to have a go in the kitchen. Regardless of whether or not you’re affected by anxiety or depression. If all my years of working on food magazines has taught me anything it’s how important it is that the recipe works! Nothing’s more frustrating that spending money on ingredients and even more importantly time in the kitchen to produce a disastrous result.
When people find out I’m trained as a chef I’m always surprised by the amount of requests for advice on poaching an egg. It’s clearly something which people have an interest in doing but lack a little confidence and so need a few tips. I myself used to struggle a little before I finished my training, fortunately poaching what felt like hundreds of eggs a week has put paid to that.
Eggs are such an amazing ingredient; with a box of eggs in the larder (don’t keep them in the fridge) you’re never more than 10 minutes away from a nutritious meal. They’re often overlooked as good for breakfast alone, but this is far from the truth. So what’s so great about an egg I hear you ask? Well they’re a brilliant source of inexpensive protein, which helps to stimulate the brains production of those all-important chemicals that can improve our mood. Protein increases the production of dopamine, which can improve alertness, motivation and mental energy. They’re also a source of good-fats, the fats that are essential for the absorption of certain vitamins.
Eggs are also incredibly versatile; I think it’s essential to have a few go-to egg recipes under your belt. So ill be posting a few simple to master, egg recipes over the next week and I hope this can start to build up your confidence in the kitchen. Confidence is everything when cooking, a little bit of confidence goes a long way in the kitchen, so try not to panic or overthink think too much, just have a go. It’s a great way to clear your head, I find when I’m concentrating on a recipe my mind stops wandering and worrying about other things. This is great as I have a tendency to worry, a lot.
If you follow these rules every time you poach an egg you’ll be a lot less likely to go wrong. The eggs must be really fresh, or the whites wont form around the yolks, this is so important! I only have poached eggs at home the day I buy the eggs. If you can get them from a farm or farm shop that’s even better as the supermarket eggs tend to hang around a bit longer before you take them home. Don’t try and do more than one egg at a time at first. I like to add a splash of white vinegar to the water, even though others claim it’s not necessary. Keep an eye on the temperature; you want small gentle bubbles, not a rolling boil. It also helps if you crack the egg into a small pot or ramekin first. Good preparation is the key to success in any kitchen, regardless of the scale. Right I think we’re ready to begin
Poached Eggs with Roasted Asparagus and Parma Ham
About 5-6 asparagus spears
2 really fresh eggs
1 tsp white vinegar
2-3 slices prosciutto or Parma ham
a few mixed leaves
drizzle of olive oil
½ lemon, cut into wedges
Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 8. Snap the ends of the asparagus, if you take each spear in turn, a hand at each end and gently bend it will naturally snap where the woody stalk begins, discard these keeping the tips. Place tips in a small roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil and some salt and fresh black pepper. Roast for 5 minuets, then remove and toss, lay the Parma ham on top and cook for 10 minutes more.
Take a small pan and fill it with about 4 inches of water, add the vinegar. Bring up to a simmer; you should see small bubbles around the edges.
Break your egg into a ramekin or small cup. Use the thin end of a wooden spoon to swirl the water to create a whirlpool. Pour the egg into the middle of this, allow the egg to set around the yolk like a white cloud.
The egg should float to the top when the white is set about 2 minutes for a runny yolk but leave longer if you like your yolk harder. Use a slotted spoon to remove the egg from the water. Repeat with the remaining egg.
Plate up: Tip any juices from the roasting tin in a small bowl and squeeze in a couple of wedges of lemon, add a drizzle more oil and some black pepper and whisk. Pop your leaves in a bowl and dress with some of the dressing, put on a plate and arrange the asparagus alongside. Gently put your eggs on top and then add your crispy ham. Give everything a final drizzle of dressing and dig in.