When I first read of the combination of yogurt and poached eggs, I was quite sceptical. Really? I just couldn’t get my head around the liquid yolk paired with the tangy yogurt. But then more recently, this photo on Flickr had me wondering again. The answer is a resounding yes as I decided to make it at home topped with a chili spiced melted butter for a light supper one evening. The original dish is called Çılbır and comes from Turkey though I’m not sure what time of the day it’s normally eaten over there; I imagine it’s excellent for brunch. Garlicky thick yogurt, poached eggs with centres of liquid gold, and chili infused butter, all mopped up with accompanying slabs of Turkish bread; proper Turkish Aleppo pepper was not used but it was still good.

Turkish Eggs with Yogurt

In London, a version is available at the Providores and Tapa Room where whipped yogurt is use (I’ve not tried it). I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s also offered up in the many Turkish cafes in Dalston.

And this is what I put together at home; what follows is not so much a recipe as just general guidelines. If I remember correctly, we had a salad of chopped cucumber and tomato on the side to cut the richness.

Turkish Eggs with Yogurt

Allow at least two eggs per person. Poach them. Crush a small clove of garlic into a generous amount of plain Greek yogurt. Divide the yogurt between your serving dishes. In a small pan/pot, heat approximately 1-2 tablespoons of butter per person. When the butter has melted, add some hot paprika, allowing it to be cooked into the butter, colouring it a deep orange-red. Top the yogurt with the poached eggs and drizzle over with the melted butter.

I didn’t have anything green to sprinkle on top but I reckon chopped fresh mint or flat leaf parsley would be lovely. Serve immediately, while the contrast between the hot eggs and the cold yogurt still exists, with some Turkish bread or pita on the side to mop up the yogurt and yolk.

There’s a stand at my local market that sells the most beautiful free-range eggs; the farmer’s name is David Emmett but it’s usually a woman or a boy manning the stall. I’m not sure what they feed their chickens but the yolks are consistently a gloriously, rich orange that I’ve not seen in any of the supermarket free-rangers. While they usually sell their eggs (medium or large sizes) by the dozen or half-dozen, about two weekends ago, they had small eggs. And not only that, they were selling them by the tray (30 eggs!) for only £2! I couldn’t help myself and walked, no, skipped off with a trayful.

But at home, where my tray seemed to take on mammoth proportions, there was the problem of what to make with them all. Well, for a start, cheese soufflé, one of the few dishes that Blai’s actually requested for me to make. I’ve made individual chocolate soufflés in the past but never a big one and so I turned to a blog whose recipes have never done me wrong: Orangette. Molly’s recipe is that of Julia Child’s, the doyenne of French cuisine, and with two such ladies backing this soufflé, I knew it should turn out reasonably well. Incidentally, I looked up the recipe in the Larousse Gastronomique and it’s pretty much the same.

Cheese Soufflé

We ate the light and fluffy, yet deceptively rich, cheesy soufflé with a simple salad on the side, with lots of vinegar in the dressing to cut through the creaminess from the main dish. Despite the richness, the two of us somehow managed to put away the whole thing, normally meant for four.

Soufflé and Salad

Cheese Soufflé
adapted from The Way to Cook, by Julia Child via Orangette.
serves 3-4.

2 tbsps finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano (I used another hard cheese – Grana Padano)
2 1/2 tbsps unsalted butter and more for buttering
3 tbsps plain flour
1 cup (250 mL) milk
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
a few grinds of black pepper
6 small egg yolks (or 4 large yolks)
7 small egg whites (or 5 large whites)
1 cup coarsely grated Gruyère cheese

Preheat your oven to 200C, with the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Prepare your baking dish – I used a deep, round stoneware dish about 20cm in diameter. Butter the inside well and then dust all over with the grated hard cheese.

Now make the bechamel. Heat the milk and keep hot. Heat a small pot over medium heat and melt the butter in it. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and cook for a minute or two, taking care to keep stirring and not letting the mixture burn. Take off the heat and pour in all the hot milk at once. Stir furiously, you don’t want lumps! Place back on the heat, reducing it to low, and slowly cook for a few minutes until the bechamel is thick. Stir in the salt, pepper and nutmeg. When thick, take it off the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Beat in (you can still use the wooden spoon) the egg yolks one at a time, incorporating well.

In a large clean bowl, beat the egg whites until firm peaks are formed. Fold about a quarter of the egg whites into the bechamel mixture to lighten it first and then fold in the rest, alternating spoonfuls of egg whites with small handfuls of the grated gruyere. When everything is incorporated well, gently pour the souffle into the prepared baking dish. Use your spoon or a spatula to trace a circle in the souffle along the side of the dish.

Gently place the soufflé dish into the oven, closing the oven door as carefully as possible (do not slam it!). Now follow all the primary rule for good soufflés: do not open the oven door while it is baking! Bake for 25-30 minutes. The top should be golden brown and the souffle risen at least a couple of centimetres, maybe more – of course, if you’re unable to see through your oven door, I guess you’ll just be timing.

Take it out of the oven, marvel at the soufflé’s puffiness and serve immediately! A soufflé waits for no one! But really, if it doesn’t work out this time, a fallen soufflé is just as delicious as a risen one. As you can see, mine didn’t rise very evenly; there’s always room for improvement!

Cheese Soufflé

More excellent soufflé tips can be found at 101 Cookbooks. And also a thank you to Kim Kian for the lovely stoneware dishes!

You could call this breakfast for dinner, albeit a Mexican style one.

Beans and Eggs

I made a batch of these quick beans with cumin and oregano but used pinto rather than black as in the recipe. At least, I think they were pinto beans… As they were cooking, I took my trusty potato masher and gave the beans a good smash here and there and ended up with pseudo refried beans. Of course, you could always make truly refried beans from any leftovers from the recipe.

A few flour tortillas were heated up in my frying pan and the same pan was then used for frying a few eggs. Onto the plates went a couple of tortillas, a few large spoonfuls of the beans, some grated cheese, the fried eggs, sliced avocado and a sprinkling of chopped coriander. Can’t forget the salsa and sour cream on the side! It took almost no time at all and satisfied any Mexican food cravings I had!

Scrambled eggs aren’t just for breakfast! I only discovered this when Blai suggested a revuelto, a Spanish scrambled egg dish, for dinner not long after we’d moved into our current flat. We had not much in the cupboards at the time and I think I stepped out to buy eggs and spinach and bread. I softened the spinach in a hot pan and then stirred through some beaten egg come up with a simple dinner that only required that bread on the side.

I found myself alone again one night and needed something quick for dinner, having come home late from work and hungry. I’d found some young garlic (each was a small tender bulb attached to a long tender stem) at my local Middle Eastern shop a few days before and had to use them up so that went into my revueltos. Other ingredients would be lovely too – the aforementionned spinach, or chorizo, potatoes, ham, anything really. Along with some sauteed courgettes on the side, I had dinner on my plate in about 15 minutes.

Revueltos with Young Garlic

Revuelto with Young Garlic

Chop a few shoots of young garlic (include the young head and peel the tough outer layers beforehand) and soften them in some butter or olive oil over a low heat. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Break three eggs into a bowl and beat them a little just to break up the yolks with the whites. Pour them into the pan with the now soft garlic and immediately start stirring and lifting the cooked parts onto the uncooked. A silicone spatula is perfect for this task; it’s all just flip flip flip. Don’t let the eggs brown – you want them soft and still creamy. Any residual heat will continue to cook the eggs. Plate and serve.

After enjoying my plateful, I came across this great article by Amanda Hesser on the joys of revueltos in Spain. I’ll have to keep eggs in the flat at all times now!