It’s not very ‘good modern blogger’ of me to tell you to ignore your kids for a few minutes, but sod it, I’m going to do it.
I know a lot of my readers have children and while I don’t have any myself, I understand that throwing together certain dishes when you are under the constraints of childcare is sometimes just not pheasible.
However, for your own sanity, the sacred serenity of solitude is warranted in such turbulent and uncertain times.
So I recommend, just this once, allowing yourself to make a lovely breakfast just for yourself.
Give the kids some toast, a few crayons and a piece of paper or some shit, just let them crack on, they’ll be fine – they’re not going anywhere. And treat yourself to this breakfast.
I don’t recommend ushering the children off to crayon land because this recipe is particularly fiddly or warrants any labour or undivided attention – in fact it’s a very, very simple and fairly hands-off recipe – but I just know that a few moments to yourself and to enjoy the comfort of food is what everybody needs right now.
Breakfast is allegedly the most important meal of the day – whoever wrote that has never experienced desperately eating a bag of cheesy puffs after coming home from work but that’s neither here nor there. But importance aside, it is the one time a day where your thoughts are at their most important.
It’s the moment you ponder on the past and prepare for the present. It’s the time where reflection meets anticipation. It’s the space where you possibly have the least amount of answers but have the most questions. And while your questions can forever remain unanswered (because nothing good is ever really complete) a lot of life’s temporary concerns can be comforted by a decent meal.
And some crunchy, leggy asparagus draped with a gooey, bursting egg and confetti’d with garlic punched bacon shards is often a good answer to any of life’s questions.
You have my culinary hero Nigella Lawson to thank for this egg poaching method, which is now my only method of poaching. You might think the straining is an unnecessary step but I promise once you’ve tried this method, you won’t venture elsewhere.
Preheat the oven to 200c and line a baking tray with baking parchment. At the same time, bring a pan of water to boil on the hob.
Take a few slithers of bacon – any bacon will do but I like streaky bacon for this – and lie them flat on the parchment.
Pour some oil into a small bowl or cup and grate in a garlic clove. Fork this together so that the oil is infused before brushing it over the bacon. I used my hands because little brush, be damned. I would say you can use garlic oil if needs be but I often find the garlic scent of the oil often vanishes in the heat of the oven, but it’s your call.
Slip the bacon in the oven for 15 minutes and after this time and the bacon is varnished and blistered in certain spots, take them from the oven and allow them to rest and harden a little on the tray.
While it rests, salt your boiled water, take some asparagus (trim off a cm of the hard bit at the end) and drop them into the pan to boil. Let them bubble away for 5 minutes.
During this time, prop a tea strainer over a cup or bowl and crack an egg into the strainer. This will let all of the unnecessary and unwanted water in the egg to drip out of the whites, leaving only the pure, wobbly white of the egg left in the strainer. That’s what you want. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the whites of the egg.
After the asparagus has had it’s five minutes, remove them from the water to a plate and drop the temperature of the pan down.
Yes. We are poaching the eggs in the greenish asparagus liquid. Bugger it. You could empty, rinse and refill the pan if you want, but you’ll have to bring it to a gentle bubble again.
Now carefully tip the lemony egg from the tea strainer into the water. It will look small and pert, but that’s what you want – none of that straggly, cloudy foam you get from usually poaching eggs.
Let it sit in the gentle bubbling water for 4 minutes before carefully straining out of the water.
Drape the egg on top of the asparagus, break up the now hardened shards of garlic bacon over them and perhaps a few gratings of Parmesan if you feel so inclined.
Scatter over some salt and pepper and you’re good to go.