Sunday, 28 September 2014

Welcome Home Breakfast Eggs


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I spent most of the summer, with a little back and forth, in south west France. You’d think a person couldn’t live on oysters, peaches and rosé alone but I’m here to tell you if you try very hard and put in the hours, you really can. As delightful as that sounds and, hell, is, I miss Hackney - my dearest, dirty, cranky and sometimes just plain weird belovèd - when we’re apart too long. I miss being able to eat lunch whenever you want, a petition on every counter and a pop-up on every corner, I miss the bearded boys and the tattooed girls and being able to buy five different kinds of anything you want at midnight.

And I definitely miss Turkish food. When I come home, I like to have breakfast at one of the many cafés on Stoke Newington High Street. In summer, I’ll take the trad plate of olives, feta, tomatoes, cucumber, tomato, boiled egg and simit bread with honey. Around about now, I choose menemen, a combination of hot peppers, tomatoes and chillies with scrambled eggs.

Even on cold days, I sit at a pavement table. This isn’t just because I usually have my dog with me, but because it’s all the better to watch the neighbourhood theatre: the boys in the barbers’ having precise and elaborate patterns shaved into their hair, skateboarders whizzing past (cue Barney: ‘BARK BARK BARK’), young couples with buggies, old ladies wheeling bags of laundry, the women in the flower shop arranging their pavement display and old men absent-mindedly working colourful tesbih, or worry beads, through their fingers. If I’m really lucky, I might see a Turkish wedding – so much mascara, so much hair, so much satin, so many metres of ribbon looped into festive decoration on newly-polished cars.

This weekend, as I sat over my breakfast menemen, I thought about how I always feel more inclined to make new resolutions in autumn than I do in the dreary milk-thistle-laced days of January. I may not have name tapes, new socks and sharpened pencils but I have new ideas and intentions. One of these is to post more here about my favourite things: daily life here in east London and all of the time I spend in France. I hope you’ll come along with me, jump in, comment, and tell me about some of your own favourite things. I’d love to hear about them.

Autumn in East London

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Graffiti in Abbot Street, Hackney.


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Tree with a hole in it, Clissold Park.

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The beginning of the football season, Emirates Stadium, when we still dare to hope.

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Chillies, autumn flowers and leaves in the kitchen.


Yellows and Golds at Columbia Road Market

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Yellow mums.

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Chinese lanterns.


Turkish Breakfast Eggs

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You can add spicy sausage or bacon to this if you like. You can also poach the eggs in the sauce rather than scramble them. You sometimes see this described as menemen, but it’s really shakshouka. If you’d like to make a poached version, make small wells in the thick sauce with the back of a spoon, tip an egg into each well and put a lid on the pan for a few minutes until the whites are just set.

1 tablespoon olive oil
A knob of butter
2 red onions, halved and finely sliced
2 red peppers, halved, cored, deseeded and sliced (it’s more usual to use a combination of red and green, but red its what I had and I prefer it anyway)
3 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 red chilli, finely chopped – leave in the seeds and membrane if you like a little heat
4 large, ripe tomatoes, cored and finely diced – don’t bother to skin or deseed them
A good pinch of sugar
Some chilli flakes (optional)
4 eggs, seasoned and lightly beaten
A small handful of parsley, tough stalks removed and chopped
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Warm the olive oil and butter in a frying pan approximately 20cm diameter over a medium heat until the butter has melted and stopped foaming. Add the onion, peppers, garlic, chilli and a pinch of salt and fry, stirring from time to time, until everything is softened. This should take about 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and sugar. Stir and continue to cook, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is thickened – you want it to be rich, and not watery at all. Taste, season and add a pinch or two of chilli flakes if it’s not fiery enough for you.

Season the eggs with salt and pepper and pour them onto the vegetables. Don’t stir them at this point. You want them to set a little before you stir them into the eggs. At the last minute, just before serving, give everything a brief stir, scatter with parsley and eat with bread.

8 comments:

  1. Hurrah! I always enjoy your posts, food, and photos.

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  2. Thank you so much D. I hope you enjoy the eggs. X

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  3. To spend most of the summer in France, that sounds fabulous. I must work out a way that means I can transport the garden with me to another part of the world. I love my garden and plot dearly but the height of the growing season does, rather annoyingly, coincide with the desire to jump in a camper van and disappear for a few months!! ;) I'm with you on autumn being the time for resolutions. January is a hideous month to try and muster the enthusiasm for anything. Maybe I spent to much time in education but I always feel the need for a set of new notebooks and some pens at this time of year - perfect for all those new ideas.

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  4. Missing the garden (and the cat) are the most difficult things and it did mean I had to limit the produce I grew this year a bit, but it was lovely to be there for so long. As for resolutions, I count leaving the house with my hair brushed a success in January. This is certainly the time of year when I'm brimming with new ideas and schemes - and with that, obviously delicious new stationery.

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  5. That looks delicious. I wonder where you stand on the whole breakfastdinner thing?

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  6. Hi PL, If I'm not awake for one I hope I'm awake for the other... As for menemen, I see it as a breakfast dish that will do a double duty at pretty much any time of day and can, conveniently, be made with ingredients I usually have hanging about the place. I believe strictly speaking menemen made for breakfast doesn't have onions. But I like onions so I add them. I also sometimes add some sucuk spicy sausage and/or some crumbled feta, which certainly makes it more substantial.

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  7. Brilliant to see you exploding back into the blogosphere, dear lickedspoon, Hackney is coming back to delicious tasty life with the help of your pen. mxx

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  8. You're back! How lovely. One can indeed live on oysters, peaches and rose alone - but lickedspoon's wonderful provisioning and cooking is what made the feast. I miss it very much.

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