Baked Eggs with Mushrooms and Spinach

I love making baked eggs!  They feel special, but are so easy to make and are not nearly as much effort as poached eggs or an omelette.

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For a perfect Sunday brunch dish, these really hit the spot and are full of flavour and pretty substantial too.

I’ve used Gruyere cheese here as its such a good melting cheese, but cheddar or any other melting cheese would work well.  The vegetables I’ve used with my eggs are sauteed onions, mushrooms and wilted spinach, with just a little cream to give it a rich and decadant feel.

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You really need to serve this with hot buttered toast to mop up the creamy mushrooms and runny yolk and my favourite is always sourdough, which I think makes the best toast.

This recipe is so easy and can be scaled up or down.  Use a ramekin for one egg, or a large oven-proof dish to serve a crowd.

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Here, I have made enough for 2 people with 2 eggs each.

Ingredients:
4 extra-large eggs
1 large bunch of spinach leaves, washed and spun dry
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 punnet of mushrooms, sliced – wild/Portobello/button – the choice is yours
150g gruyere cheese
Small pat of butter and a little oil
4tbs double/heavy cream – 1tbs per egg
Salt and pepper
Some nice bread for toasting, I’ve used sourdough

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Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F and lightly butter the dishes

Melt the rest of the butter with a tiny splash of oil and sauté the sliced onion with a pinch of salt and pepper until translucent.  The little splash of oil will help ensure the butter doesn’t burn.

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Add in the mushrooms and continue cooking until everything is softened and the mushrooms are just starting to colour.  Stir in the spinach, it will wilt really quickly and then remove from the heat and set aside.

Divide the vegetable mixture between the dishes and add half the cheese.

Break two eggs per person into each dish – taking care not to break the yolks.  Season with a little salt and pepper, add 2tbs cream and top with the remaining cheese.

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Place the dishes on a baking tray and bake until the white is just set and the cheese is bubbling. You want the yolk to be runny enough to dip the toast in, so don’t overcook.  It should take around 10 minutes, but keep an eye on them.

Serve immediately with hot buttered toast.

Baked Eggs

Perfect for brunch, lunch or add a salad for supper. I’ve added some roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine here too.

Butternut, Kale and Sage Derby Quiche

I love all kinds of cheese and experimenting with recipes that contain cheese. When I was a child I used to look at Sage Derby in the delicatessen and think because it was so green, it must be really strongly flavoured, or pungent. However, when I actually tasted it, I loved it. Not strong at all, but a lovely fragrant, herby cheese that’s good for eating and cooking with.

butternut quiche

I discovered Fowlers Sage Derby cheese recently and it caught my eye as it didn’t have the usual bright green marbling. It was however, full of sage. I tried it and absolutely loved it, so of course I had to try and cook with it.

The autumnal weather we have been having lately has been making me think of the flavours of autumn – kale and butternut squash and of course sage goes so well with it. I decided the best way to showcase the cheese was in a quiche. Roasted butternut squash, wilted kale cooked with a little fresh sage and lots of the Sage Derby cheese. The result was completely decadent and delicious.

Butternut quiche side

Crust:
300g/10.5oz plain/all-purpose flour
1tsp salt
227g/8oz butter cut into cubes and chilled
1 large egg, beaten
1-2tbs iced water

Ingredients:
1 small butternut squash, peeled, halved and seeds removed (a small pumpkin would also work well)
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 bunch of Cavalo Nero/Tuscan Kale, washed, ribs removed and roughly chopped or torn
5 fresh sage leaves, finely shredded
6 extra large eggs
280g Sage derby cheese – grated
¾ pint double/heavy cream
Salt and pepper
A few scrapes of fresh nutmeg
A little olive oil and butter

Method:
Add the flour, salt and butter to a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the butter is the size of small peas, or rough breadcrumbs.  Add the iced water a little a time until the dough just comes together.  You might not need all of the water.

Form the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic. Leave to chill for 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry and, without stretching, line the base and sides of a 10inch/25cm tin. Return to the fridge and chill for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F

Line the pastry with parchment paper or foil, leaving plenty to come up the sides. Fill with baking beans and place in the oven to blind bake for 15-20 minutes.  Take the pastry shell out of the oven, remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for further 5 minutes or until the pastry feels dry.  Leave to cool a little before adding the filling.

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/430°F and slice the butternut squash just under 1cm thick and cut the slices in half. Toss in 1tbs olive oil with 1tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper and roast in the oven until the squash is tender and catching on the edges. This will take around 25 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, heat ½tbs of oil and a small knob of butter in a pan and sauté the onion slowly with a pinch of salt and pepper until they are soft and golden. Set aside to cool

Then in the same pan, add a tiny bit more butter if the pan is dry and sauté the kale and shredded sage until wilted, set aside with the other vegetables.

Lower the oven to 180°C/360°F

Roll out the pastry on a floured board and line a 25cm/10inch tin, leaving an excess to trim off later.

Butternut quiche close up

Place baking paper in the tin and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and then return to the oven to bake for another 5 minutes.

Whisk the eggs and cream with the nutmeg, another ½tsp salt and a little more black pepper. Stir in the grated cheese.

Layer the onions, squash and kale in the pastry case and cover with the cheesy egg mixture.

Carefully place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until just set in the middle. The quiche will be puffed and golden brown and smelling delicious.

butternut quiche slice out

This is lovely eaten warm with a salad, but equally good cold. We had some of this one cold with some pickled shallots which went together perfectly.

Quiches are always good to take on a picnic or put in a lunchbox too. I think this one is good any time of year, but would be perfect for an autumn picnic and could easily hold its own on a festive table at Christmas.

Butternut quiche slice

It’s still summer now, but the butternut squash and sage combination is a precursor for all the Autumnal flavours – coming soon!

Choux Buns filled with Orange Crème Pâtissière

My youngest son William and I popped out shopping when he was on half term holidays recently and he asked if we could buy some pizza.  He was just choosing one when the lady in the shop asked if we wanted to get a meal deal which included a dessert option.  Of course we then found ourselves choosing one of those too.

We went for some little profiteroles with a white chocolate topping that looked pretty ordinary, but how wrong we were!  Absolutely delicious!  The insides were full of orange flavoured cream and I decided there and then to try and recreate at home.

These were going to be topped with white chocolate too, but when I came to melt my chocolate, I discovered my oldest son Sam had eaten it all!  Luckily enough, I had some dark chocolate and so we had a last minute recipe change which worked out really well.

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Pâte à choux buns:
250ml/9floz water
110g/4oz cold butter – diced
1 tsp caster/superfine sugar
150g/5oz plain/all-purpose
4 large eggs

Orange Crème Pâtissière:
1 vanilla pod, halved and seeds scraped out
300ml/11floz whole milk
2 large egg yolks
75g/3oz caster/superfine sugar
20g/¾oz corn flour
300ml/11floz heavy/double cream
Zest and juice of 1 large unwaxed orange
1tbs Nielsen-Massey Pure Orange Extract

Topping:
200g/6oz of good quality dark or white chocolate
60ml/2floz heavy/double cream

Method:
Start with the crème pâtissière and mix together the egg yolks sugar and cornflour in a heatproof bowl.

Add the vanilla seeds and pod to the milk and heat to bring up to a boil, taking care not to let it boil over. Remove from the heat and add to the eggs and sugar, whisking well.

Return to the pan and bring to a full boil, whisking all the time. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.  Remove the vanilla pod and squeeze out any remaining precious seeds.

Place the cream, zest and orange extract into a bowl and whisk into soft peaks. Fold into the orange custard and place into a piping bag fitted with a small attachment and refrigerate until needed.

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/430°F and prepare a lined baking sheet

Heat the butter, water and sugar in a pan until the sugar has dissolved then bring to the boil. Keeping the heat on low to medium, add the flour all in one go and beat with a wooden spoon until completely smooth and coming away from the side of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for one minute. You want the mixture to have cooled enough to add the eggs without scrambling them.

On medium speed add the eggs one at a time and carry on beating until thoroughly mixed.  The dough will be shiny and smooth.

While the dough is still warm, place into a piping bag with a large plain tip.

Pipe small mounds onto the lined sheet – at this point, you can go small for profiteroles or a little larger for buns. Use a wet fingertip to press down any pointed bits as they will burn.

Bake the buns for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190°C/375°F and continue to bake for about 15 more minutes until they are light and a lovely golden brown colour. Switch off the oven.

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Take them out and pierce a small hole with a sharp knife in the base of each one to allow the steam to escape and place each one on its side and return to the oven for a final 5 minutes to crisp up.

Place on their sides on a cooling rack and leave to cool completely. They must be completely cold before you fill them.

To serve, melt the chocolate. I normally do this in the microwave as it is less likely to seize. Heat the broken up chocolate on high for around a minute and stir well, keep heating for 10 seconds and stirring until almost melted. The residual heat will continue to melt the remaining solid pieces. Add the cream and stir well

Pipe the delicious, zesty orange crème pâtissière into the profiteroles through the little hole in the bottom and dip in the warm chocolate sauce.

You can serve right away, or refrigerate for an hour or two. I actually prefer them quite cold and think they are perfect for a summer dessert.

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Try not to eat too many!