Did you know that a chef’s hat originally had one hundred pleats in it, supposedly because any self-respecting chef should know how to prepare an egg in one hundred ways? I think my hat would have at least — like — forty-seven pleats, and I’m not even a pro chef. Go ahead, test me. After this contest, I’ll be able to add many more… I’d better get sewing!
Okay, I’m blabbing without even telling you why I’m on about eggs. Back to task. The best contest ever is on again this year. It’s not one of those, “hey, somebody gave me some money so if you follow me in five places I may or may not give you an elastic band organizer,” kinds of contests. It’s a real one, initiated by super-cool Scottish chefs who I met initially when they helped me learn to make haggis, and who later coached me through preparing sea urchin. They’re guid fowk (that’s how you say it in Scottish, anyway, according to my handy translator). And they want to encourage cooking with organic, local eggs, which is the inspiration behind the contest.
A two-Michelin-Star chef from Spain (Dani Garcia) won the Egg Award last year, and can you believe that I came in fourth? I felt honoured that my recipe sat alongside theirs and was judged in other mouths in other countries. Here’s what I won, which still hangs proudly in my kitchen.
It’s a signed print by Ulrika von Sydow, and I love it like crazy. It has now been added to the mental list I keep of things to grab if we should happen to be evacuated from our home due to nearby fire (This has happened twice since we moved in if you can believe it, so the list is highly relevant. My print is the list item right after “the cat”).
So I was all set to enter the contest again when the Egg Award peeps gave me an even higher honour than last year — they asked me to be a judge! I really can’t wait to try out all of the recipes. They’ve also divided the award into categories, so that home chefs, pros, and juniors can all enter and are judged separately. As much as I truly enjoyed bragging about being counted among professional chefs, this may help this year’s entrants feel more confident about kicking the rump roasts of their peers.
Here are the details for the contest if your egg timers are already turning. Mine certainly were before I became a supreme oeuf justice, so I went ahead and cooked what I had planned anyway, which I’ll share below. I wanted to incorporate a few dangerous ingredients as per my usual odd-food theme, so I experimented with…
It’s not just for dresser drawers anymore. The flowers, the leaves — all provide pungent floral possibilities for cooking, rumoured to fight anxiety, restlessness, and stomach ailments. I was excited by the idea of a lavender creme brûlée, but Google quickly told me I wasn’t the first to think of such a thing. I decided to add what I hoped would be a complementary ingredient, and went with…
I imagined a dollop of green tea mousse topping my creme brûlée, but couldn’t figure out how to flavour it with straight tea leaves. I read about this lovely powdered green tea from Japan. It has the same antioxidant properties as regular green tea, but when taken as a powder it’s more potent. I loved the idea of being able to control the amount of flavour with the powder, but nearly laid my own egg when I popped into the health food store and saw the price. Twenty bucks for a teensy can of the stuff! Luckily I went back a few days later and they had tablespoon-sized pouches for $1.50. Unfortunately, I might just be addicted enough to spend the whole twenty bucks tomorrow.
Now. Let me take a brief pause to stress that Egg Award entries don’t need to be this complicated. I cooked with weird ingredients because I dream about odd foods at night. I actually think I might have been penalized in the contest this year for having too much going on in this dish. So follow your eggy hearts and do your own thing. Here’s what it takes to enter:
1. Organic eggs, including where they come from, the producer’s ethos, and a picture of the farm, bird, or eggs. I got my eggs from our farmer’s market — I live in downtown Toronto, so visiting an actual farm is tricky. No worries! The farmers come to me! (I bought my 12 lovelies from these guys who are with Country Meadows in Queensville, Ontario)
2. The recipe ingredients, method, and a photo of the finished dish. You don’t even need your own blog — just e-mail your entry to TheEggAward@mail.com by September 30, 2014. For further instructions and contest postings, check the Egg Award 2014′s blog.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
Lavender Creme Brûlée with Matcha Green Tea Mousse
For the Creme Brûlée…
- 2C whipping cream (35%)
- Handful of lavender sprigs (mine wasn’t blooming, so I didn’t use flowers)
- 3 vanilla pods (you could probably do with fewer — mine were older and so quite dried out)
- 8 egg yolks
- 1/3C granulated sugar
- 1/2C granulated sugar for topping
Directions: Preheat oven to 325. Bruise lavender in your brand new mortar and pestle
(now I’m bragging, but I always wanted one) but try to keep it mostly whole so that it’s easier to remove later. Add it with the vanilla to a heavy pot with the cream (slit pods and scrape out beans if your pods are fresher than mine as they should be),
and heat until just bubbly around the edge.
- Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks with sugar
until lighter in colour and frothy and boil a full kettle. Put empty ramekins in a rectangular baking pan with a rim that will allow water half-way up the ramekins.
- Pour cream into egg mix slowly, whisking carefully so that the egg doesn’t cook. Stir. Pour mixture through a fine sieve into another bowl, removing the lavender and vanilla pods. Fill ramekins with custard to the tops.
- Add boiled water to the baking pan so that it reaches a level half-way up the ramekins.
Cook in pre-heated oven about 25 minutes, until the centres only jiggle very gently. Cool in the fridge until set
- Sprinkle tops of each custard with about 1 Tbsp of sugar. Torch (or broil) the tops until burnt,
cooling in the fridge briefly to harden. I found that more sugar looked uglier but gave a lovely thick crunch.
For the Matcha Mousse… (based on recipe here)
- 1 Tbsp gelatin powder
- 2 egg yolk
- 4Tbsp water
- 1C milk (1%)
- 1/2C sugar
- 1C heavy cream (35%)
- 3Tbsp warm water
- 3/4Tbsp matcha green tea powder
Directions: Dissolve gelatin in 4Tbsp water. Mix yolks with sugar. Heat milk over medium heat until bubbly around edge, slowly adding gelatin. Add milk mixture to yolks, whisking carefully so that yolks don’t cook.
- Dissolve matcha in warm water. Add to milk mixture.
- Whip cream. Fold into mix. Cool in an ice bath.
Pour into bowls and refrigerate to set. Spoon over creme brûlée. I ended up adding more than a dollop (I probably got over enthusiastic and spooned before it had completely set).
(Don’t look too closely at the purple flower. My lavender wasn’t blooming, so it may or may not be a mint flower from our garden)
I always love when my kids eat my dangerous creations. Tonight my husband cleaned up my little guy’s last few spoonfuls of the lavender matcha masterpiece and he cried for about 20 minutes. This was a good sign. The matcha worked perfectly — it wasn’t overpowering, but clearly expressed green tea essence. I’d make it on its own. I also loved how the crunch of the creme brûlée topping separated layers of differing creamy consistencies. The creme brûlée could have used more lavender. I might even try processing the leaves and “leaving” them in next time, although I didn’t today because I wanted the custard smooth. Still, I think this was a fun tribute to the Egg Award.
I can’t wait to try your creations. Burger Nerd, I want to see your best egg burger. Midwesternbite and Gentleman Homestead — I can’t think of a contest more up your bird-raising alley. Fudgingahead, bring on that sweet tooth. Purple Fig, get your chickitas on it.
I’m cracking up with eggcitement!! (sorry, but eggs are just SO pun-ny). I was going to sign off by saying na-nu, na-nu because now I’m grasping at anything eggy. I’m getting so old that probably very few of you will even get that reference. I feel like anyone who does will get a little bonus prize, but Google’s collective human consciousness has now ruined the trustworthiness of spontaneous memory. Sigh. (and na-nu, na-nu)