After a week and a half of a funky tummy, I'd had a gutful of potatoes and rice. Pun intended. A limited diet couldn't have happened to a worse person. The first meal back was a big deal: ideally it would consist of some kind of trough arrangement with different kinds of pastas, roast meats and dumplings all ready to be gorged upon. Shit was about to get real.
In the end the pressure was too much. Anything with chilli, dairy or caffeine and I'd be back in Toilet Town. And I couldn't play favourites with my roasts, so I decided to keep it simple. A poached egg on toast. A better choice couldn't have been made. The yolk was runny, the white just set. A sprinkle of sea salt and a grinding of pepper was all that little beauty needed.
In our household, we go through a good dozen eggs each week. They gotta be free range: because the yolks are a sunny orange colour, and because I'm not the devil incarnate. This week, I've decided it's Egg Week here at Pretty Tasty. The first recipe's a little experimentation that went so well. That almost never happens.
You know it's springtime when broad beans start appearing at farmers markets. I spied these ones at David Jones Food Hall last week and pounced. I was there to buy a banana to snack on, but ended up leaving with an armful of these delightful little pods. Story of my life, right there. This weekend I ventured out to buy some cheap fabric for cushion covers, and arrived back home hours later with four pie dishes, seven pots of ranunculus, two tomato plants and a packet of frozen chicken stock. At least this time I also bought the banana.
Broad beans are ridiculously easy to grown. Throw a bean in the grown and watch it climb, a la Jack and the Giant Beanstalk. But that's about where the simplicity stops. I'm an avid broad bean fan, but insist on the double-podding action. They come in a long leathery pod, which when peeled back reveals small pale green beans. Boiled for a minute or two, they white outer layer slides right off. The second podding has Matty's name written all over it (albeit begrudgingly).
The jar's an idea I pinched from Monsieur Truffe on Lygon St in Brunswick - an egg with potatoes and truffles, which was as amazing as it sounds. It's a slow, gentle cooking process, which means the rice really only needs to be half cooked when it goes in.
Over the next couple of days we'll see a couple more eggy dishes that should - nay, will - knock your socks off. In the meantime, dig into this little ripper and celebrate the commencement of spring in all its beany glory.
1/3 cup carnaroli rice
1 tsp olive oil
1 red shallot
2-3 cups chicken stock
10 pods of broad beans (or 1/2 cup podded beans)
2 tbsp grated parmesan
8 spears of asparagus
Heat the olive oil in a frypan over medium heat. Finely dice the shallot and saute in the olive oil until transparent. Add the rice and stir through for a minute or two. Add the chicken stock gradually, around 1/2 cup at a time, stirring regularly.
Meanwhile, pod the broad beans. Heat some water in a saucepan until boiling and add the broad beans. Add to the boiling water for a minute and drain, running under cold water for a minute until cold. Slide the skins off the beans and put in the food processor. Blend until smooth, adding a little chicken stock to loosen up.
Cook the rice until it still has a bit of bite and there is still quite a bit of liquid. Turn off the heat and add the parmesan and broad beans. Fill your mason jar (1/2 litre jar should do the trick) with the rice. Slice 5cm lengths off the top of the asparagus. Pop them in the rice with the heads pointing upwards. Crack the egg in the middle of the jar and seal.
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and carefully place the jar in to poach the dish. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until your egg appears set and the asparagus is cooked. Serve with a small slosh of olive oil and a grinding of pepper.