Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sublime, Sublime Simplicity

With my presence being chronically absent in my cosy l'il kitchen thanks to a 5-week long 'boomerange' flu hitting Layla and I repeatedly in the head, I've wrested back control and have designed my week's feasts. And though money is as chronically absent as my presence in the kitchen, there is a blessed return to mindfulness in the act of choosing ingredients, preparing them and, finally, savouring the simplicity of flavour and texture combinations. And so, the rustic little supper I've chosen that's brand new to my tirelessly experimental repertoire is Eggs in Tomatoes. Even the name doesn't tickle much of an exotic fancy, but again, the unfettered, uncontrivedness of the ingredients is refreshing! Perhaps the biggest culinary challenge in elevating this dish from boring to feasty is the freshness, ripeness and free-range/organic quality of the eggs and tomatoes.
(designed by lisarobertscarter)
Tomatoes, in general supermarkets, are pale, plastic versions of the plumply blood red tomatoes that must've been enjoyed before refrigeration and mass-production. They're awful, and make me sad. So, if you can hunt down the reddest, most voluptuous beef tomatoes in an organic market, this little dish will magically transport you to Tuscany: a languid, family-infused breakfast at the rough oak table beneath the trees on the family olive farm. (The same goes for the eggs. The violence of battery chickens is something my heart can't bear to even think about this morning as I write...)

Soundtrack Recommendation: Cesaria Evora (They call her the Barefoot Diva, for all her philanthropic workfor her people. She broke my heart with her humble joy when my dad and I saw her performing at the Cape Town Jazz Festival a few years ago...)

The Ingredients
  • beef tomatoes : as many as each person might be hungry for!
  • eggs : the same number of tomatoes (make sure they won't overflow out of its tomato house)
  • butter (or olive oil)
  • salt : Himalayan rock salt crystals, Maldon flakes (or like moi at the mo: simple, plain ol' table-salt!)
  • ground pepper

Modus Operandi
  1. Turn up your oven's heat to 200degC.
  2. Slice off the tops of the tomatoes, and scoop out the inner seeds&pulp.
  3. Salt&Pepper the insides of the tomato, before breaking an egg into each one. 
  4. Crown with a knob of butter, and season once more.
  5. Bake for 20 - 25min, or until eggs are as soft, medium or hard as you desire!
Serve on a bed of rocket, or baby spinach anointed in olive oil and : either, balsamic vinegar / Worcestershire sauce / a freshly squeezed squirt or two from a sun-ripened lemon.

Other variations: blanched asparagus to dip into the sunshiney yolk. Or perhaps even wrap the asparagus in a decadent slice of parma ham? Or dust the tops of the eggs with fresh, grated parmesan or slivers of pecorino.

And - if you've got any more variations on this farmy little brunch, add your deliciousness in the Comments box below. (And if I publish this as a *gorgeously glossy* recipe book one day, I'll whisk you and your ideas along with me on my skyrocket to gastronomic fame, waving adios to Nigella behind us!)

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