October 24, 2011
Egg and Soldiers
My Dad is a Military Man.
He started off in cadets as a school boy, served his country at war, and retired young as a Colonel to take up Gentleman Farming.
Dad is also a traditional man. Dad did everything outside the home- gardening, growing amazing vegetables, mowing, handyman, even BBQ'ing but rarely anything inside like cooking.
Whenever my Mum was ill, and us kiddies were left to Dads tender mercies, he would invariably fall back on his military roots. You remember MASH, don't you, well remember the chow line? That was our house.
Dad would fire up the electric fry pan, throw in some dripping, rummage through any leftovers in the fridge, chop up lots of cabbage and garlic and fry it all up together.
There would be a stack of plates by his side, the cutlery drawer pulled out, and us kids would line up and file past as Dad ladled a big splat of dinner on our plates.
Dad did have a few more culinary secrets up his sleeve though,- Cockies Joy, Vegemite mixed through mashed potatoes, Chapattis on the BBQ... and Egg with Soldiers.
A perfectly boiled egg with runny yolk and little strips of crisp toast to pull dipping from it's depths and gobbled up in our PJ's before bed. Mmmmmm....
This is a much better food memory of my Dad, than the infamous 'Squish my pills up on a gherkin to get me to eat them' Incident, which got messy- very messy.
This is a twist on the traditional Egg and Soldiers- not for Breakfast, not for Supper, but for Dessert. Yes, Dessert.
A rich and creamy Creme Brulee with shortbread Soldiers, served in the eggshell for fun.
To make the little emptied eggs, crack them very carefully, or use an Egg Topper Tool to make a clean crack around the rim of the egg. Empty the egg and separate as usual. Rinse the shell carefully but don't worry too much as it's going to be baked in the oven.
3 Egg Yolks
50 gr Sugar
250 ml Lactose Free Cream
Place the cram and vanilla in a saucepan on medium heat and bring to the boil, turn the heat down low and simmer for a few minutes to let the vanilla infuse.
Meanwhile beat the eggs and sugar until the sugar is dissolved and they are light and fluffy.
Slowly while beating all the time, pour the hot cream onto the egg mixture. Don't pour too quickly, or stop beating or you'll end up with sweetened scrambled eggs- yuck!
Pour the mix back into the saucepan and heat very gently until the mixture just coats the back of a spoon.
Pour the mix carefully into 6 1/2 cup ramekins, or some cute little emptied eggs.
Place the vessels into a baking tray with a folded kitchen cloth on the base. Make sure the sides of the tray reach to at least 2/3 of their height. The cloth is just to insulate the bottom of the ramekins so they bake evenly, otherwise the metal base heats quicker than the sides once filled with water. For the eggies, I just left them on in their cardboard carton sides as it just happens to be the perfect size for them- go figure!
Fill the baking tray with hot water from the kettle to come halfway up the sides of the smaller containers. The easiest way to do this is to place the tray in the oven FIRST, then moving quickly, pour in the water then shut the door. You can certainly pour the water in elsewhere, but then you run the risk of splashing it into the brulee mix and it not setting well, so why run the risk? The water is to give the little lovelies a nice, gentle bath, without a blast of heat, so they bake slowly and set nicely. Make sure you use hot water, otherwise you'll be waiting hours for the water to heat enough in the oven to start cooking the creme brulees. Trust me, I learnt the hard way.
Bake for about 30 mins at 160*c or until just set but with a soft wobble in the middle. The little eggies take from 15 minutes, but you'll need to keep a close eye on them so they don't overcook, or you'll have the equivalent of hard boiled instead of soft boiled yolks.
When they're done, pull the tray out and let them cool enough to pop into the fridge to cool and set.
Sprinkle the tops with a thin even layer of castor sugar. I prefer to build up my layer of toffee gradually rather than try and melt a thick layer that would be easy to burn before it melted. Use a culinary blow torch to caramelise the sugar so it melts to a crisp layer of toffee.
Pop them back in the fridge for a bit to set again. I never like to rush and serve them straight away, as once I got a creme brulee that had a warm liquidy layer under the toffee that wasn't very nice at all. Just give them a little bit to settle back down.
Serve in an egg cup with little shortbread soldiers on the side for dipping. If you don't have a cute little cutter, just make them into fingers like toast ( Shortbread Recipe coming next post ) Cracking through the crisp toffee is just like cracking the top off the egg with a spoon, but much more satisfying!
Otherwise serve in the ramekin with a spoon, still yummy, but not as cute.
So Dear Readers, so you like cute food and what's your favourite childhood food memory?