Confession: this was lunch, not dinner. Does it count that it was the most memorable meal of the day, and in fact one of my favorite meals of all time? Because we went to Mike’s mom’s for dinner, and my thinking is if you don’t have anything nice to say, maybe stick to the lunch story.
Sue went back to Vernon at about noon, so before she left we poached some eggs from the market – todays’ eggs came from one of the colonies, but when the lamb farmers are around we get our eggs from them – so big they have to be staggered in their carton and it’s impossible to close the lid, most of them with a double yolk, each the size and color of a plump dried apricot. I had just baked a crusty loaf of no-knead bread, which we toasted and buttered thick slices of and slid the softly poached eggs on top. (Note: I do not add vinegar to the cooking water when I poach eggs. I don’t like my eggs tasting vinegary, and the ragged whites don’t bother me one bit. Did you know you can pre-poach your eggs, and keep them in a dish of their cooking water in the fridge? Reheat them by slipping into a pan of simmering water for a few seconds. Which isn’t to say poached eggs are so high-maintenance they require advance preparation, but it’s good to know if you’re ever cooking for large numbers, or want to do a few at a time to stash in the fridge for a small child.)
There is really no better combination than a good quality egg, good bread and butter, sprinkled with crisp, flaky salt. We shopped at The Cookbook Company yesterday, and because when I teach classes part of my payment comes in the form of store credit, we decided to go and be frivolous, picking up things like $12 smoked Maldon salt and fig-caramel sauce. You wouldn’t think that your choice of salt would make one iota of difference here, but the crunchy flakes were wonderful.
I am a fan of crunchy pan-fries, but when I eat a large pile of them for breakfast, inevitably as an accompaniment to some bread product, I feel like I swallowed a sack of potatoes afterward. The very best company to a poached egg on toast, in my humble opinion, is a fresh bunch of spinach, lightly sautéed in a little butter and olive oil, with a clove of garlic. Heaven.
Add a small knob of butter and a drizzle of olive or canola oil to your skillet, get it hot and as everything is melting, slice a clove of garlic in. Swirl the pan around until the foam subsides and everything starts to turn a pale golden color. At this point, if you want just the flavor of garlic to delicately adorn your spinach (or kale, or chard), you can pull out the slices of garlic; because it hasn’t been crushed, they will be easy to fish out and won’t burn. Otherwise, just rinse your spinach and tear it roughly into the pan; the water left clinging to the leaves is enough to help it wilt, which will take all of about a minute. No vegetable side dish could be faster or easier. Sautéed spinach would also make a fantastic omelet or panini filling, along with some grated cheese.
All told, this meal came out to around $2 for all three of us. Not bad.
I’d like to mention here that all of these photos are authentic, of our actual plates of food as we are eating them, or before beginning; Mike is getting used to not being allowed to start eating until after I’ve had sufficient time with his dinner and my camera. (The exception: last week’s party, for which I forgot my camera in the chaos, and so instead used photos I already had of the same food.) The photo up top I stopped to take mid-bite, and then when Sue got up to answer her phone, I pulled out my camera and took a picture of her plate, without rearranging anything: