This year Colin and I embraced our ex-pat status, choosing to spend Christmas day entirely on our own for the first time. We travelled down to the Hunter Valley wine region, rented a rustic cottage at Cedar Creek Cottages for four nights, toured and tasted with Two Fat Blokes on Christmas Eve, and generally had a marvellous time (more in a post to come).
Christmas morning dawned cool with a delicate rain that continued throughout the day – perfect weather for snuggling down to tackle Kate Grenville’s The Secret River. Besides opening presents in bed (how indulgent is that!) my only other plan was to follow my recently established Christmas tradition by preparing a special breakfast for the two of us. Last year’s breakfast was sweet, and while delicious, its richness edged on overkill for us both. This year I looked for a savoury recipe, and since we were in wine country, I decided on Heidi Swanson’s elegantly simple Poached Eggs in White Wine.
Special breakfasts demand photographs, and I embraced this obligation with such gusto as to take over 90 minutes to prepare the dish, ultimately serving it up stone cold and lacking seasoning. A clear case of technology and social media gone mad, I mused later, with “record the life to display the life” taking stupid precedence over the life itself. Not my finest moment but a good reminder nonetheless of the role of blogging, for me, as a leisurely enhancement of being. I’m clearly a little out of practice, again, (more on that later too), but luckily it was only Colin and I after all. The two of us expressed wry amusement at my crappy execution (or, in Colin’s case, it was more like “what the?”), ate the eggs anyway because we were so hungry, then left the dirty dishes to moulder in the sink all day long. Happy Christmas everyone!
Poached Eggs in White Wine
1 cup dry white wine (I used the fresh and citrusy Stonehurst 2011 Semillon supplied at the cottage)
1 cup water
2 shallots, finely chopped (I could only get red onions, hence the pinkish tinge to my sauce)
1 bay leaf
A few sprigs of fresh thyme (or a pinch of dried)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon salted butter
1 teaspoon flour
Toasted sourdough bread, sliced avocado, and chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or chives, to serve.
Combine the wine, water, shallots or red onions, bay leaf, thyme, and salt in a large frying pan. Place over medium-high heat, bring to the boil then boil steadily for five minutes to merge the flavours. Drop the heat until the water sits at a gentle simmer then poach the eggs until cooked to your liking (barely set yolks for Colin, and just beginning to harden yolks for me). Remove the eggs to a plate using a slotted spoon, and set to one side.
Allow the liquid in the pan to continue simmering until there is about 1/2 cup of liquid left. Strain the liquid into a small saucepan and place over a low heat. Mash the butter and flour into a paste, then add this to the strained sauce, whisking until smooth and glossy. Don’t forget to check the seasoning before assembling the eggs.
If your efficiency is lacking, you may need to give the eggs 20 seconds in the microwave to reheat them if they are cool. Serve each egg on a piece of toasted bread layered with a few slices of avocado. Drizzle with a little sauce, sprinkle with your chosen fresh herbs, and try to eat the eggs while they are still hot.