I love eggs. Boiled, scrambled, poached, fried… They’re delicious and nutritious, and one of my all-time favourite breakfast foods.
You know what makes an egg more delicious? When the bird it comes from has a good life. I like to know that the animals are outside and eat good food and breathe good air and are treated properly.
Heritage Breeds are one of those good life egg providers. Their birds live in small flocks, on hand-picked British farms that are about a third of the size of standard free range farms. This means they have more outdoor space to roam around in, which makes for happier animals and yummier eggs for us.
An eggs-ellent situation for everyone!
It’s not just chickens, either. Heritage Breeds provide a variety of specialty eggs, which yes, includes chicken eggs, but also large duck eggs and teeny-tiny quail eggs.
A few weeks ago I got to go down to Food at 52 cookery school and try aaaaall the eggs. All of them.
They taught us which eggs are best used in which recipes, demonstrated these five fab ways of cooking with eggs, and then we got to eat everything. It was all delicious, and I’m so egg-cited to share it all with you.
So let’s get cracking! (Sorry, I’ll stop now.)
We started the night with softly scrambled eggs, dolloped on crunchy toast slices, and topped with fresh herbs and roasted peppers.
Scrambled eggs is one of my specialties. As long as I can remember, my family has always had scrambled egg and smoked salmon for breakfast on Christmas day.
It’s one of our traditional treats, and my job has always been to make the eggs:
Crack some eggs into a bowl, add a dash of milk and a very generous amount of salt and pepper, then pour it all into a hot, deep, buttery pan, and stir until it flakes. So simple, so delicious.
These crostini are best made at the last minute, so they don’t congeal (shudder), so maybe one to keep to small gatherings, or even just a simple supper on the sofa.
I’m not much of a pastry chef, but the one type I can do very well (thanks Mum!) is a shortcrust pastry. Even though I’ll buy packs of pre-made puff or filo pastry, if I’m making mince pies or jam tarts or anything that requires shortcrust, I always always always make my own.
It’s so simple, and the extra flavour you can add in makes it so worth it! I always use Delia Smith’s basic recipe, and add in my own herbs and spices to make it extra special.
For this pastry, we used Heritage Breeds’ Copper Maran chicken eggs, as their rich golden yolks gives the pastry a stunning color and depth of flavour. Then we added red paprika and finely grated parmesan, and mixed it all in carefully with our hands.
The trick with shortcrust pastry is not to work it too hard. You’re not kneading it like bread, you’re just sort of crumbling it together until it juuuust sticks.
You also have to work pretty fast, as you don’t want the butter to melt!
Quail’s eggs are teeny tiny. I’ve tried them on canapes and stuff before, but I’ve never actually worked with them myself. They’ve always looked too fiddly and a bit too fancy for my kind of cooking, you know?
But I got a chance to try them again at the Heritage Breeds event and it was definitely interesting. The Food at 52 team had pre-made some asparagus and smoked trout tartlets for us (using the paprika and parmesan pastry we’d just learned to make), and then they taught us how to poach the tiny quail’s eggs to serve on top.
It’s… tricky. I’m not good at poached eggs anyway. I just can’t get the science behind it, so I tend to stick to boiled or scrambled at home. If you ever spot a home-poached egg on my Instagram feed, I can tell you right now that Gary cooked it.
So yeah, I’m going to be 100% honest and say that the technique for poaching quail’s eggs went right over my head. I did very well on the eating side of it though!
The small size of the eggs works perfectly with the miniature tarts, the richness of the yolk is so good with the smoked fish and green asparagus, and I would 100% recommend something like this for a fancy dinner, maybe on Christmas Eve, with a glass of bubbles?
MY FAVOURITE BREAKFAST EVER. Seriously. This is the one breakfast I will wake up extra early for.
The Heritage Breeds eggs pictured above are the pastel-shelled Royal Legbar eggs, but my personal favourite for soft-boiled are the Copper Marans. There’s just something about their super rich golden yolk and deep copper shell that looks so appealing in an egg cup!
I have a very specific routine when I’m boiling eggs. Gary knows not to interrupt me because it’s super scientific:
First, put a big pan of water on to boil. Once it’s bubbling, carefully slide your eggs in using a spoon. Set a timer for 5 minutes, and throw your bread in the toaster. (This is when I usually make coffees/teas).
Once the toast pops up, spread it with butter and/or Marmite, and slice it into soldiers. When the timer goes off, use a slotted spoon to lift your eggs out of the water and into your waiting egg cup.
Then I just use a teaspoon to bash them and slice the top off, and serve!
I usually avoid Nicoise salads in restaurants, because they have olives in them, and you know how I feel about olives. But this one was too good to pass up, so I just left the olives off my plate!
Grilled tuna, green beans, lettuce leaves, new potatoes, croutons, anchovies, cherry tomatoes, olives (shudder), and those perrrrrrfectly boiled duck eggs. Hard whites, soft yolks, and a whole lot of olive oil and cracked black pepper as a simple dressing. Utterly delicious.
The Heritage Breeds duck eggs are slightly bigger than chicken eggs, so just make sure you adjust the timings when you’re cooking them. If you usually boil chicken eggs for 10 minutes, then I’d make it 12 or 13 for the duck eggs.
*This post is sponsored by Heritage Breeds eggs.