Every now and then in life, one is lucky enough to enjoy a really good boiled egg. I really enjoy a boiled egg for breakfast, especially at the weekend, yet I make them all too rarely. And I virtually never order them when breakfasting away from home. The reason being that I am usually disappointed. In fact, there is only one person I trust enough to cook me a boiled egg and that is one of my sisters. She likes hers exactly the same as I do and she understands the horror that is 'white bogeys'. I'm very particular, you see. I like a really runny yolk but if there is even so much as a hint of uncooked white, then I am quite upset. There is nothing worse than 'white bogeys' in your egg first thing in the morning. In my book, anyway.
A couple of weekends ago, a friend took me for breakfast in Marylebone. It was a good chance to take in the farmers' market and mooch round the various foodie shops in the area. But best of all, it was a chance to visit La Fromagerie. This wonderful cheese shop is apparantly one of the best in Britain - the selection is stunning with many of the cheeses made and matured by the owner. But it is not just a cheese shop. Oh no. The Marylebone branch is a gourmet paradise, stuffed to the gills with homemade cakes and bakes, oversized meringues, French goodies (rillettes, foie gras, celeriac remoulade), specialist ingredients, homemade jams and chutneys and much more besides. Perhaps best of all is the small café area at the back where you can enjoy wonderful light meals in a convivial atmosphere (think shared benches and an opportunity to get friendly with those dining to your left and right).
I had a sudden overwhelming urge to order a boiled egg. I just sensed that it would be perfect. Fresh as a daisy, organic and oh-so-tasty. It tasted like eggs used to taste in the olden days. At least I imagine it did (!). My breakfasting companion went down the more appropriate route and ordered the Alpine breakfast - an array of cheeses, live yoghurt, wonderful bread and cold meats. There was plenty for me too, so that was fortunate. The parma (I think) ham was the meltiest I have ever eaten and the cheeses were divine. As one would expect. What was unexpected though, was the wonderful marmalade that accompanied our bread. It was truly superb - so good that I'd make a return visit just for the pleasure of slathering it on some bread accompanied (of course) but the really wonderful Normandy butter that arrived as a natural partner to our feast.
This weekend, I have my two-year-old nephew staying. He arrived at 4pm today and I hand him back on Sunday afternoon. I love having him to stay as he is pretty much the cutest little boy that ever existed (...but then I guess I would say that...) and it gives me a great excuse to do all sorts of fun things like going to London Zoo. So far, so good. He is tucked up in bed and fast asleep. Hurrah!
It does mean that I won't be spending much time in the kitchen this weekend. Having said that, I have just finished making two shepherd's pies - one packed with herbs and flavours and one far plainer. This is the first time I have cooked for him as my sister usually brings food for him with her - I hope he will like it as I found it quite difficult holding back on the strong flavours in his version! We've both got delicious potato and parsnip mash on top though - yum!
Working from home on Fridays, I'm always looking for new ideas for speedy lunches that are really tasty and satisfying yet don''t take me away from the desk for too long. This has become a bit of a staple...
Mustardy mushroom pasta
Take you preferred pasta shape (I used tagliatelle) and cook according to pack instructions. Chop a large handful of mushrooms and half an onion (red or white). Finely chop a clove of garlic. Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan, add the onion and garlic and soften. Throw in the mushrooms and fry until soft. Stir in one heaped teaspoon of wholegrain mustard. Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the mushroom mixture. Add one heaped tablespoon of low-fat creme fraiche. Stir to combine and heat gently. Stir in a handful of chopped parsley and serve with plenty of pepper and salt plus some grated cheese.