“I ate a dozen hard boiled eggs all the way on my 8-hour ride from Guangzhou back home” my dad proudly announced.
As you can tell, my dad loves eggs.
I had heard this story many, many times. So often at the dinner table or over the phone my parents would share stories from their childhood as they fondly reminisced their youth. The 20th century Hong Kong that they knew was no longer the modern, thriving city that I grew up in. The simplicity of life; the century of old Chinese traditions and the reign of the British government was a world I had only read about in books.
At the age of 8 my dad assumed his role in the kitchen, learning how to cook and to prepare meals for his numerous cousins, siblings and grandparents – all whom lived under the roof of my great-grandfather’s home on the island of Cheung Chau. Despite his young age, grabbing a butcher’s knife chopping a whole chicken was a task he was very familiar with. During the late 1900s, meat or eggs was a luxury. So often there was scarcely enough to be divided among the younger children and the elderly. His mother and the other women in the family would stand meekly, awaiting their turn to eat what was remaining at the table. As strict tradition dictated, women were not regarded as equal to men or their children. It was a time where our culture heavily emphasized the favoritism of sexes – a time far distant that I never knew. Despite it all, having food in their stomach and food for their family was a generous blessing from the heavens in itself.
Although times have changed, the love for food and the love for a warm meal is still part of our innate human desires. Of course,”what we eat” now has shifted into a more luxurious form of refinement and enjoyment than an act of survival. Thus, rather than eating hard-boiled eggs or runny rice porridge for breakfast; we now enjoy a delicious array of cereal; warm oatmeal with seasonal fruit: papaya, apples, oranges, guava; scrambled eggs on toast; cinnamon rolls for breakfast. I personally never really fancied a sweet, calorie-packed breakfast of pancakes or waffles as some do, but I do appreciate a hearty, warm savoury meal to start off the day. I would have to admit that with time constraints it is so difficult to prepare an elaborate breakfast, however when the occasion did allow for it – brunch was always our favourite meal.
Today this gorgeous Mediterranean Poached Eggs is just the kind of breakfast I’m talking about. The vibrant contrasting colours of peppers, tomatoes, eggplant is not only a feast for the tongue but a feast for the eyes. For those of who may be wondering what this tastes like, let me have the honor of describing this delectable one-skillet breakfast: deliciously creamy, silky eggs accompanied by the sweet crunch of the peppers; soft flesh of eggplant and juiciness of the tomato – lightly spiced with hints of fresh basil/coriander and of the flavors of the Mediterranean. As much as I wish to be halfway across the globe on a beach in Greece, this delicious brunch is definitely making up for my desire to travel. Whilst it may not be your traditional “weekend” brunch, but it is a wonderful vegetarian meal to share this Valentines Day. We are excited to bring you a little part of France and the Mediterranean this upcoming February 14th!
“Both Zoe and I absolutely love eggplant and this tomato based “vegetable ragout” with oozy, runny eggs is the perfect winter breakfast. Our particular rendition is inspired by the flavours of the infamous french ratatouille, as well as the flavors of the Mediterranean. A biteful of the delicate, creamy yolks with softened vegetables and you are in absolute heaven. This is simply perfect for those of you looking for something warm, comforting and healthy. The combination of allspice, curry powder and cinnamon adds a little kick to this somewhat simple but addicting one-pan meal. Best of all it features fresh produce and is packed full of nutrients and vitamins. Served with a fresh salad and grilled toast, this is the ideal valentines brunch for you and your special date.”
Ingredients – Serves 2-3
- 3 cups eggplant, cubed
- 1 can of tomatoes** (fire roasted, no salt added)
- 1/2 green/yellow bell pepper, small chunks
- 1/8 red onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 4 eggs (free range, organic)
- Salt and Pepper
- Garnish: fresh basil or coriander, Yoghurt, Harissa, Toast
How to Make:
- Rub your eggplant with salt. Set aside for 10 minutes. Use a paper towel to wipe up the excess moisture.
- In a small saucepan, add your allspice, curry powder and cinnamon. Toast over low heat till fragrant, then remove from pan.
- In the same saucepan, saute the cubed eggplant for 2-3 minutes till slightly softened (it should still hold up well and have a slight bite). If the pan looks a little dry, add in a some water to de-glaze. Take out and set aside.
- Add your garlic and onion and saute till fragrant. Add in your tomatoes to the pan. Allow it to soften and simmer.
- Add in the eggplant, bell pepper, dried herbs and season to taste.
- Using 1-2 tbsp of water dissolve the toasted ground spices. Mix and pour over the vegetables.
- Stir gently and cover the pan. Lower the flame to low heat. Allow it to cook for 4-5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Make 4 wells, and crack one egg into each hole. Sprinkle a little salt on each egg.
- Cover the pan for 6-8 mins or until the egg whites are set and the yolks are still runny.
- Sprinkle fresh herbs and serve immediately with yoghurt, harissa and toast.
For the tomatoes: In the pictures we used fresh tomatoes but we re-made it one more time with a can of fire-roasted tomatoes and it turned out much better. It is also more accessible to get.
Herbs: mix and match your favourite spices together! I love this particular “Mediterranean” spice blend but this recipe so versatile so feel free to change it up! Cumin, paprika, curry leaves, Italian herbs would be great in this too!