Don't be an egg...

👋 NOT an email explaining what we're doing to keep you safe in Level 4.

Ata mārie lockdown whānau!

Well, we’re back here again. It’s not all bad – massive socially-distanced non-contact *high fives* to the people getting tested so we’re sure we’re not staring down the barrel of widespread silent community transmission.

You don’t need us to tell you that the novelty has worn off though… there’s plenty of uncertainty and I know that lots of us are thinking about the communities around us… what this means for our favourite hospo businesses, the pressure on essential workers and how we keep out kids learning and engaged at home… all big tricky challenges.

But, experience tells us that playing our part works. If we do this right, it’s short and sharp and we can get back to normal ASAP.

While we’re all muddling around at home for a few days, we thought a few tips and ideas on egg-based eating might help inspire some good meals. Read on for Peter Gordon’s guide to a good scramble, and some hugely customisable eggy bread ideas!

We’ve also tucked in wee list of things that help keep our spirits high… it’s good to have a few ideas to break up the inevitable doom-scrolling that happens in lockdowns.

Take care everyone – we’ve got this.

Hilary, Anna, Gregor and Cameron

If you’re not familiar with Freedom Farms… we’re a 100% NZ-owned company that set out over a decade ago to bring you bacon farmed the Freedom way… from NZ farmers who care about the same things we do. Simply put, that is farming that is kinder for farm animals, and takes it easy on the environment. When you buy our bacon, eggs, pork, sausages and ham you are supporting a wonderful little group of NZ farmers… and for that we’re really really grateful!

Playing Scramble

Scrambled eggs – silky eggs seasoned just-so, served with a side of hot, buttered toast… Could be simpler! Or could it? While it’s not hard to put a decent plate of scrambled eggs on the table in very little time, a wee moment pondering the details can make a big difference. Minor variations in the ingredients and method can make all the difference to settling on perfect scrambled eggs… and by perfect, we mean a style that suits you – people have different preferences. 

Chef and owner of Auckland’s Homeland Peter Gordon knows how to cook an egg. Homeland is a hugely popular brunch spot, and showcases a wide range of food producers from around Aotearoa and the Pacific. We’re particularly partial to the creamed Chatham Islands pāua on toast – just wonderful. Peter has shared his go-to method for making scrambled eggs here, and as you can see he’s a proponent of the gentle-gentle approach and there’ll be no gumboot brekkie here – he recommends keeping the eggs over the heat until 70% cooked – residual heat will continue to cook the eggs once they’re off the stove. 

“I beat up a few eggs with more cream than you’d think you should have  – around a quarter of a cup”, says Gordon. “Heat up butter until it turns golden in a pan, add a slosh of extra virgin olive oil and a good pinch of Aleppo chilli flakes, then the eggs, and gently stir until 70% cooked. Add flaky salt and serve on toast.”

The Kitchn’s Ann Taylor Pittman has done the hard yards for us, with a useful write up of seven methods of cooking scrambled eggs… TL;DR? Taylor Pittman concludes that a ‘starting from cold’ approach results in the most evenly creamy, dreamy result. Beat your eggs, a little milk and a pinch of Kosher salt together with a fork, pour into a cold pan with a wodge of butter, heat to low-medium and gently push the eggs round the pan with a silicone spatula until almost done – before turning off the stove and letting residual heat continue to cook them. 

Simple scrambled eggs on generously buttered toast must be one of life’s great pleasures, but consider, too, the many delicious dishes scrambled eggs can lend themselves to: 

  • Rolled up in breakfast burritos with grated cheddar, crisp bacon, sliced avocado, and a peppy salsa.  

  • Served on top of steamed short-grain rice with a pinch of kimchi, and seasoned roasted nori squares to scoop up each bite (a fave Korean breakfast).

  • Stuff them between halves of a scone, with diced Freedom Farms Smoked Pork Chorizo, a handful of rocket, and crumbled sheep’s feta. 

  • Cut an avocado in half, remove the stone, and carefully scoop out the flesh so you have two ‘cups’. Fill the hollows with scrambled eggs and top with crispy grilled Freedom Farms Streaky Bacon, watercress, and a sprinkling of Hawke’s Bay Harvest to Hand hemp hearts

  • Roll them up in a sheet of flaky butter pastry, with caramelised onion, Freedom Farms Shaved Manuka Ham, and grated gouda, sliced into 3-4cm wide pieces, place on a lined baking tray and bake at 180℃ until pastry is cooked and golden. 

Lucky Dip

Bread dipped in beaten eggs, with or without the addition of milk or cream, sugar, and cinnamon – then fried until crisp and golden on the outside and silky in the middle. It’s a dish that goes by many names...we tend to go with French toast here in Aotearoa, while the Brits might call it eggy bread or gypsy toast. In Spain, torrejas is the term, and depending on who’s cooking the bread might be dipped in sweet wine rather than milk (okay, it’s more a dessert dish there, but Spaniards are not averse to a glass of red at breakfast time, just saying... ). Next time you’re in Madrid (!) we recommend a visit to La Casa de Las Torrijas to sample their speciality). But perhaps the most charming is its French name, pain perdu, which translates as lost bread – a nod to the fact it was traditionally made with stale bread that might otherwise go to waste. 

Play around with base ingredients and flavour variations to put your stamp on French toast:

  • Try different breads – brioche makes an ultra-decadent French toast as it already has butter and eggs in it! Sourdough holds up really well and is great for either savoury, or not overly sweet takes. A day-old baguette gets a new lease of life this way, as do any old rolls or buns that are past sando-stage.

  • Sweet versions can take a range of spices (cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg all work well), vanilla extract, orange blossom or rose water, citrus juice and zest – or even spirits and liqueurs like Cointreau, whisky, or Bailey’s. And while sweet notes are arguably best drizzled on after plating, you can also add them to the batter – maple syrup, honey, date syrup or coconut nectar. The classic icing sugar dusted on afterwards is always a pretty finish, too. 

  • Make the batter savoury, seasoning with a little salt and pepper and considering additions like finely grated parmesan, paprika, chilli flakes, zaatar to add interest. 

Keep ‘em happy

Our eggs are fine stored at room temperature until the date on the carton, but keeping them in the fridge will extend their lives. The egg-storing doo-dacky in your fridge door might seem practical but the door of the fridge gets exposed to room temperature far more readily than the inside shelves, so you’re better off keeping your eggs on the middle shelf in your fridge. Eggshell is porous… store eggs in the carton they came in, and away from any pungent food. Unless you happen to have a fresh truffle hanging around in which case, store your eggs in a container with that nugget of black gold, and you’ll have truffle-infused eggs on the menu in no time!

Take eggs out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature before cooking with them, especially when baking. 

Things to watch…

1/ Ted Lasso on Apple+ was an unexpected delight of 2020 – laugh out loud funny and the added bonus of zero mentions of Covid!

2/ We wouldn’t consider ourselves big Jeremy Clarkson fans… but Clarkson’s Farm is an endearing insight into what happens when someone who thinks they know a lot about everything tries to be a farmer… it doesn’t as planned. Some good laughs but also an eye opener if you’re not familiar with farm life. Find it on Amazon Prime.

3/ The Panthers and One Lane Bridge. Proof we don’t need huge international studios to make excellent drama. (Also, we’re not sure LoTR will ever look as good without NZ’s landscape as a setting… rural British landscapes seem a bit… flat?)

Things to eat…

1/ We’re counting on this lockdown not going on long enough to restart a sourdough starter… so we’re pretty excited about getting into this Shockingly Easy No Knead Foccacia for some ham sandos this week.

2/ We usually have a pork shoulder knocking around in our freezer… this is the week to thaw it out and slow roast it… the house will smell amazing and it’ll give you a few meals worth of deliciousness… our go-tos are this Momofuku Bossam recipe or this Mojo Cuban concoction.

3/ Bacon Vinaigrette is an excellent way to salvage those slightly sad looking greens in your fridge – top with a poached egg for an easy lockdown lunch. Cut six rashers of Freedom Farms streaky bacon into 2cm strips. Thinly slice one small red onion. Cook bacon in pan over medium heat for 4-5mins. Add red onion and 1/2 tsp pepper and continue to cook until onions are soft and bacon is crispy, about 3 mins. Remove pan from heat and deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, using a spatula to scrape yummy bits from the bottom of the pan. Add 2Tbsp of Sweet Sting Hot Honey (or a regular honey, if you prefer no heat). Allow to cool slightly, then use to dress your greens. We like a mix of cos, baby bok choy and watercress, with a big handful of herbs from the garden. Top with a poached egg and serve with crusty bread to mop your plate. Serves 2.

Things to read…

1/ All libraries are closed, but their online catalogs remain a treasure trove of e-books, audiobooks, digital magazines, newspapers and even documentaries and movies. Check out your library website to see what you can access via OverDrive, Libby, BorrowBox, Beamafilm etc. If you have wee kids, Tumble Book Library is also a great resource for read-along animated books.

2/ Substack has become our go-to for clever food writing recently. While many newsletters are for paying subscribers only, most writers publish free content which is easily accessible too. Some of our favourites include Alicia Kennedy, Vittles, Stained Page News and The Spirits. You can signup without being a paid subscriber to receive an author’s free content in you inbox.

3/ I’ve been working my way through To Asia, With Love by Hetty McKinnon. Whenever someone describes a cookbook as family-friendly, my assumption is always that the recipes could be a bit dull. This is not that. Recipes like Buttery miso Vegemite Noodles or Charred Cabbage Steaks are diabolically easy and addictive, while hitting all the right notes for kid-friendly eating.

That’s all from us this month. Stay safe, and be nice to each other. Feel free to hit reply to get in touch, and don’t forget to share The Breakfast Club with other foodies in your life. See you again soon 👋