Saturday, July 17, 2010

Poached Eggs, Haloumi and Spinach

Many years BC*, when dinosaurs walked the earth, Saturday morning often meant meeting friends for brunch. I'd order poached eggs with hollandaise, and for just a moment heaven and earth would collide. But now we're up at 6 with the kids, we need breakfast at 7 and the whole concept of brunch feels slightly silly.

Yet I missed those poached eggs. I tried every technique under the sun – lots of water, less water, still water, swirling water, vinegar water, salt water, fresh eggs, stale eggs, bigger pots, skillets – but I cannot master those soft little balls that you get in a cafe. After too many attempts, ending in too many pots of swirling egg whites, I gave up on cafe style poached eggs. Now I do them my way. As long as the eggs are very fresh, I get a soft dome of egg, distributed like a bell curve, with a golden runny raised yolk. It may not be as neat as cafe eggs, but once you plunge the knife into the yolk who cares? It tastes fantastic, and I'm happy.

And this morning when I picked up our veggie box just before lunch, I saw a bundle of baby spinach leaves, a carton of eggs, and a package of soft, salty haloumi lying on top. Inspiration struck! I carted it home, fired up the stove, and we had brunch for lunch.

*BC: before children.

PS: For an amusing account of one man's attempt to poach an egg, click here.

Poached Eggs, Haloumi and Spinach

- some very fresh eggs
- haloumi, perhaps 150g or a bit more for 2 adults
- a handful of baby spinach leaves each
- the juice of a lemon
- extra virgin olive oil
- dukkah (we used Wartaka dukkah; the lemon myrtle flavour goes beautifully with the haloumi.)

Arrange the spinach on dinner plates. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.

Heat a little olive oil in a wide skillet. Slice the haloumi into thick large bite-size pieces, then place in the skillet and cook until golden. Turn, and cook the other side. When it is done, drizzle with lemon juice, then place the cheese and any juices onto the spinach.

Meanwhile, boil the kettle. Pour the water into a wide skillet on the hottest burner of your stove and heat until it is barely simmering. Just the occasional tiny bubble should float up. Break an egg into a teacup, then ease the egg into the pan. You should be able to fit five or so eggs in a ring around your pan. Leave, barely simmering, until the white is just cooked; this takes three to four minutes.

Remove with a slotted spoon or egg slide, press the base of the spoon gently on a folded tea towel to remove any excess water, and slip onto the haloumi and spinach.

Sprinkle with dukkah, and serve immediately. A thick bit of grilled sourdough on the side rounds it out nicely.

Developed from an idea in Feast: Food that celebrates life by Nigella Lawson.

(Local: eggs, haloumi, spinach, lemon, olive oil. Made locally: dukkah.)

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