Friday, 18 December 2009

Oh, Diana!

Here's another back-post from the "drafts" queue.

Diana Lampe writes the vegetarian kitchen column for the weekly Canberra Times food and wine pages. She's a very nice person and I usually like her recipes. Back in October, she had a recipe for "Anglesea Eggs", a recipe from north Wales. You can tell that it's Welsh, because it has both Caerphilly cheese AND leeks in it! I not only have Welsh ancestry but I also had some nice leeks on hand, so I decided to make it. And I have to say - never again!

It's not that it's bland, though it is. It's warm cheesy comfort food, and you don't usually want that sort of thing to be highly spiced. (Or if you do, then some chutney, HP or chilli sauce at table will do well.) The problem is that you really don't want to use so many saucepans, or do so much prep, to achieve just a simple bit of comfort food.

Recipe: Anglesey Eggs
2-3 medium leeks
500g potatoes
6-8 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
20g butter
1 round tablespoon plain flour
300ml milk
100g Caerphilly cheese
2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
nutmeg, salt, pepper
butter to grease baking dish

* Hard boil and shell the eggs. (saucepans: 1)
* Peel the potatoes, and boil them, then mash them. (saucepans: 2)
* Clean the leeks well, and cut into slice about 1cm thick.
* Saute them gently in the olive oil. (saucepans: 3)
* Add a pinch of salt, a dash of water, cover and stew gently until soft.
* Remove lid and reduce liquid.
* Combine leeks with the warm mashed potato, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a dash of milk if it's too dry. It should be soft, but not sloppy. Enough to hold a shape.
* Warm the milk. (saucepans: 4)
* Melt butter over a gentle heat, and stir in flour to make a roux (saucepans: 5)
* Remove from heat and add the warm milk gradually, stirring well each time.
* Return to heat and cook, stirring often, until thickened.
* Add all but 2 tablespoons of the grated cheese, and stir well to melt the cheese.
* Grease a baking dish, and spoon in the leek mash mix. Flatten it and hollow it out in the centre to make a sort of pie shell shape.
* Halve the eggs and lay them on top of the mash.
* Spoon over the cheese sauce.
* Grate on a little nutmeg, and sprinkle remaining cheese and breadcrumbs over the top
* Bake at 180C for about 30 minutes.

Final count: 5 saucepans, one baking dish. Of course you can reduce the saucepan count by re-using the egg pan (which needs only a quick rinse) for the spuds. And a jug in the microwave works well to warm the milk. But don't forget you've also peeled hardboiled eggs and potatoes and washed and chopped leeks, and grated cheese and made a mornay sauce. And maybe cooked some bacon strips to add to the mash, like I did. You can just see them in this part-way picture. So that's six saucepans! All that for a homely simple meal. As I said, never again - unless I happen to have a lot of leftover mash and veg from some other meal.

Diana suggests serving this with baked asparagus on side, which is an excellent idea.

She also suggests cheddar instead of the Caerphilly. Now, Caerphilly is quite hard to find, though one of the Belconnen delis gets it occasionally. It's a slightly sharp firm white cheese, which will crumble rather than grate. White Leicester is not a terrible substitute, especially if you mix it with a quarter amount of fetta to add some sharpness. Cheddar is just different.

By the way, if you're reheating this for another day, pop it in the oven. Or remove the eggs before nuking. Microwaves make hardboiled eggs go rubbery.


Diana said...

i always heat the milk in the microwave - so one less saucepan!

Cath said...

Is that actually you, Diana Lampe? It WAS yummy!

Diana Lampe said...

yes it is me! pleased you enjoyed it.