|just a small part of the spread|
I really love having people over for breakfast. Well, really, I love having people over for any meal, but breakfast is just fun. And Irish breakfasts are especially satisfying...just the thing for a day's hard labor. Or, in our case, a day's hard pub crawl (our traditional activity on St. Patrick's Day proper....we are lucky enough to live within
We are also lucky enough to live within easy shopping distance of everything you need for a full Irish - and this year we put on a real winner. Whole Foods carries fantastic bangers (Irish sausages) as well as clotted cream, and this week had some of the best strawberries I have ever eaten in my life (which is why we needed clotted cream !) . Russo's has rashers (Irish bacon), and black and white puddings, which are also forms of sausage, using oatmeal as filler. White is pork meat and fat, and black is a blood sausage spiced with clove. I know what you're thinking...but calm down and try it...it really is delicious ! Corned Beef Hash from the boiled dinner leftovers of course, and Irish Brown Bread to round out the meal (with some amazing blood orange marmalade from Stonewall Kitchen). Oh, and eggs...keep reading for the eggs.
|Rashers, Black and White Puddings|
|Corned Beef Hash|
|oh, those strawberries !!|
|Irish Brown Bread |
The eggs, though...that was my department. The problem with serving eggs at a big breakfast is that they're not the easiest thing to make in advance, especially fried eggs which are the most traditional in a full Irish. I could have done a mess of scrambled eggs or something, but that seemed kind of boring. However, Mark had given me a cookbook years ago as a Christmas gift (I sort of collect them), and it had a Baked Eggs with Creamy Leeks recipe that I'd always wanted to try. The perfect thing about them is you bake them all at once and just serve them up...exactly what I wanted. Besides, I seriously love leeks....in soups, roasted, steamed, sauteed....any way you cook them, I want them. I adapted the recipe quite a bit - really, it was just the general idea that I liked - and oh my god, were these insanely good. So luxurious, and yet soooo easy. Definite Culinary Orgasm !
|Filling the cups|
Heavily adapted from "The Ultimate Christmas Cookbook"
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra to grease custard cups
3 medium leeks, white and tender green only, cleaned and thinly sliced (see note)
2 - 3 shallots, thinly sliced
3/4 cup heavy cream
salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg to taste
Preheat oven to 375. Grease bottom and sides of 12 custard cups or other small ovenproof cups. Melt the 2T of butter in a frying pan, and saute the leeks and shallots until soft (not brown), about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the cream and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring, until cream thickens a bit. Add salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg to taste.
Divide leek mixture among the cups (which you have placed in a large roasting / baking pan), and carefully crack an egg into each one. Drizzle the remaining cream on top of the eggs, and season lightly with additional salt, pepper, and nutmeg (go easy with the nutmeg or it will try and take over !) Fill the pan with hot hot water until it reaches halfway up the cups, and place the whole pan in the oven. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, or until the eggs are done to your liking.
Note : to clean leeks - cut the leeks in half lengthwise, and rinse well (leeks trap mud like crazy). Soak for 15 minutes in a bowl with water to cover, to which you have added a tablespoon of cider vinegar. Lift leeks out (leave sand in bottom of bowl) and proceed.