Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Baked Eggs and a Finalist in the Blog Awards Ireland 2014

I am so thrilled to be one of the finalists in the Best Food/Drink category sponsored by Glenisk in the Blog Awards Ireland 2014. I have only been writing my blog for just under a year, so it is extremely humbling to realise that people read my recipes and food ramblings, let alone that the blog be one of the finalists in the awards.

When I started my blog, I was determined that it would not be contrived or gimmicky…I wanted it to be authentic in terms of the food I wrote about and the recipes that I posted.

This may be a slightly contentious thing to say, but all too often I strongly suspect that many recipes in books have not been actually cooked or tested by the people who write the books. This drives me mad, because it discourages the reader from trying out new things and from being more adventurous with what they will try cooking at home.

Every recipe that I give has been cooked by me, often a number of times so that it is tweaked and perfected before I post the recipe.

I photograph all the food, sometimes using my ‘fancy’ camera, but more often than not, using the camera apps on my phone. I really want to show people how easy it is to write about… well… whatever it is that you want to write about! With the various technologies available these days, it has never been easier and you don’t actually have to have any hi-tech equipment to be up-and-running. I firmly believe that the only pre-requisites are passion and enthusiasm for your subject matter. Write about what you love and what you, yourself would like to read about.

When I look at my early posts, I think that the passion is there, but there is also a nervousness present. As I continued to write and my confidence in myself grew, my posts became less self-conscious. Most importantly, what I have found is that the more I write, the more I enjoy writing. It can be difficult to find time to cook, test, tweak, photograph, write and post the recipes, but I have a great sense of achievement when I ‘get another one up’ that I’m happy with. To then receive positive feedback makes it all worthwhile. I feel a little guilty that before eating the food that I prepare, my children will ask whether it needs to be photographed first!!!
 
Since starting the blog I also find that I have become much more experimental about the things that I cook. Some of these ‘experiments’ don’t always work out and will not be pursued any further; others are works in progress, which may eventually end up on the blog… but throughout it all I’m learning new things all the time about cooking and how to use the wonderful produce that we have available to us here in Ireland.

I have met so many new people through writing the blog; fellow bloggers, food producers, enthusiasts and just ordinary people who like reading about and trying out new recipes and this in itself has made blogging a hugely rewarding experience for me.

The recipe that I am giving here is one of the simplest recipes to make but one that tastes totally delicious. In many ways it represents everything that I believe good food and cooking should be about which is using the best ingredients in a simple way to create flavoursome food. Baked eggs are so simple to make yet the result is elegant enough to serve at a dinner party or the like. This dish is probably better known as Oeufs en Cocotte and is a classic French dish.

The eggs can be baked with a little cream and a sprinkling of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a few chives but you can also add some sautéed mushrooms, spinach, a little smoked salmon or some Parma ham. A particular favourite of mine, but admittedly expensive and a little self-indulgent is to top them with some finely shaved black truffle when they come out of the oven.
 

Ingredients:

4 large eggs (preferably free-range)
100ml double cream
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
To finish:
Some finely chopped fresh chives
 

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/Gas Mark 4. Place 4 ramekins in a small baking dish. Set the baking dish on a baking tray.
2. Put a tablespoon of double cream in the bottom of each ramekin and then crack an egg into each. Spoon a little more double cream over each egg and then season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
3. Create a bain marie by pouring boiling water into the baking dish until it comes halfway up the outside of the ramekins. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes for a yolk that is still runny in the centre or a few minutes longer if you prefer a firmer yolk.
To finish:
4. Scatter over a few chopped chives and serve with some soldiers of toasted bread.
 
Serves 4.