Uova in purgatorio…

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Uova in purgatorio...

Eggs….the ultimate food packaging….universally loved from east to west. This painting by Bonnie Lalley is so redolent of spring..which, if the plethora of snowdrops gathering forces around our garden are anything to go by, is just around the corner. From earliest times eggs have been associated with rites and traditions…symbolic of new life, rebirth etc etc. Hundreds of years ago eggs were forbidden at this Lenten time because of their ‘richness’ and it was traditional in France to search for and collect eggs on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and have them blessed on Easter Sunday, ready for their prolific consumption over Eastertide.

And the egg dish inspired by Bonnie’s painting is rather appropriate, as perhaps I too should not be eating then at Lent, – but I am! And so, the recipe for this painting is as the title, Eggs in Purgatory! But I like to use duck eggs. Spring is the best time to get duck eggs and they are so good for you.

Duck eggs have twice the nutritional value of a chicken egg and stay fresher longer due to their thicker shell. Duck eggs are richer with more albumen making cakes and pastries fluffier and richer and they have more Omega 3 fatty acids.

And I did not know but duck eggs are an alkaline producing food, one of the few foods that leave your body more alkaline which is a great benefit to cancer patients as cancer cells do not thrive in an alkaline environment. Chicken eggs are an acid food leaving your body more acid….apparently! Anyway…before you nod off…here is the recipe!

Uova in Purgatorio

For 4

1 garlic clove
2 tbsps olive oil
400 gm passata
Fresh basil leaves
Salt and black pepper
4 duck eggs
About 50 gm of parmesan or pecorino grated

In a frying pan or skillet, cook the peeled garlic gently in the olive oil for about two minutes. Add the passata, several leaves of basil torn, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 15 minutes over a low heat until the sauce is thickened. Take out the garllc clove. Break an egg into a cup. Make a well with a spoon in the sauce and slide in the egg. Repeat with the other eggs. Sprinkle the parmesan over. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the eggs are to your liking – I like mine runny! You can spice up the sauce, which I do occasionally by adding a little chopped fresh red chilli.

If such dishes are served in purgatory…’twill be fine by me!

IMG_4924Duck eggs supplied by a nice lady called Jayne Latham from whom we get marvellous eggs every week!

Minty lamb in a red wine sauce on Parmesan mash…

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Minty lamb in a red wine sauce on Parmesan mash...

Just a really warming luscious simple lamb stew, perfect for autumnal nights. This is a favourite of mine though I do not make it often enough. Last night we had it for supper and we all remembered why we like it so much – velvety and filling and
soothing.

I used neck fillet cubed. 3 or 4 fillets should easily be enough for 4 of you
Plain flour for dusting / runny honey / half a bottle of a good red wine – I used a tempranillo / bunch of mint torn into shreds / 12 baby plum tomatoes / a clove of garlic peeled and left whole / black pepper / chicken stock cube / olive oil

I use a high sided stainless steel casserole with a lid – see my earlier blog on these highly versatile creatures. Coat the lamb pieces in the flour. Then drizzle over a little of the honey.
Pan fry the lamb in olive oil until browned lightly. Remove from pan and add to the casserole. Add the tomatoes and fry gently until starting to soften. Add to the lamb, pop in the garlic clove then add enough red wine to just cover the ingredients, then crumble in the chicken stock cube and stir.Toss in the mint but save some for last few minutes. Add a dash of tomato puree if you wish – depending on how strong you like your sauces. A dash of black pepper too. 

Bring to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer for about an hour and a half. Cover with foil first then put on the lid. Add rest of mint before serving. 

I ladled it onto a bed of pillowy soft parmesan mash – potatoes mashed with 100 gm of butter a tablespoon of cream and 50 gm or so of grated parmesan. 
Heaven on a plate.

Right, back to my wine and a bag of my favourite Seabrook’s Cheese and onion crisps! Enjoy your evening, people!