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Items tagged "breakfast":

  1. I thought I’d share some of what I know about free range eggs and the criteria I use to make my purchase decision.

    I love eggs.Yes, even after judging the free range eggs category for the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria’s Fine Food Awards I had a snack of a poached egg. It’s quick and nutritious.


    POACHING

    Don’t be afraid of poaching an egg. If you have a fresh home laid, farm gate purchased or accredited farmers market egg, you can make it in the time it takes to toast a piece of sourdough bread. Always use a room temperature egg. Drop it into gently simmering water 5cm deep, seasoned with a little salt. By the time you’ve buttered your toast the egg white will have solidified - done!

    When the egg is fresh you don’t need a coagulant like vinegar, or to make a whirlpool in the water because the albumen in the whites - egg protein - is still strong.

    In supermarkets the eggs are rarely this fresh as they have been part of a system of logistics and storage which make it take longer for them to reach the customer. You may need to use pods to get these to hold together in the pan as they will likely spread very quickly once the membrane that usually holds them has broken down in transit.

    FRESHNESS

    How do you check for freshness? Hold a torch against an eggshell to gauge what’s going on inside. The air pocket at the broad end will get bigger over time as moisture evaporates through the shell. You’ll also see the yolk and any fine cracks that it may have, these may have been caused by the hens themselves poking around their nest.

    Another fun test is to drop an egg into a glass of water. At the extreme, if the air pocket is large it will make the egg buoyant enough to float. If it is fresh it will sink to the bottom.

    If you crack a very fresh egg onto a plate you will see an inner, firm round of egg white sitting up and an outer runny round. The yolk will sit high and domed above the inner white. The perkier it looks, the better.

    If after a while the inner white spreads into the outer, it means the albumen is weak. This can indicate it length of time since laying or can be due to the style of production, it may not actually be true pasture roaming free range.

    When poaching these eggs they will quickly absorb water and take on the vinegar flavour or salt, making them less enjoyable to eat. But this weakened membrane could be ideal if you want to quickly truffle infuse eggs to be scrambled.

    Eggs where the albumen is weak are suited to recipes like lemon curd and custards, some cake recipes work better too with this thinner membrane.

    COLOUR

    The colour of the shell is an indication of either the age of the hen or the stage in the laying season.

    Later in the season, there is less pigment so shells become paler, likewise with the older the hen. In cage and barn raised eggs, bright heat lamps are commonly used to simulate summer all year, so you may find these can be paler, forcing the hen into an unnatural cycle. Another indication of the age of the hen are double yolks. These are laid by pullets - young hens.

    An orange yolk is not necessarily a benchmark for better. A natural egg yolk is lemon yellow.

    Orange yolks occur when there are colour enhancers in commercial grain poultry food. The additives are natural carotenoids or capsanthin which can also occur in kitchen scraps and flowers eaten by backyard chooks. Egg farmers use colouring because marketing has convinced us that orange is an indication of true free range or quality.

    So if you’re evaluating a yolk, look at how high it domes when cracked and how it tastes, rather than colour. Look at the thickness of the runny poached yolk is it velvety and rich textured?


    TASTE

    To me the measure of a good tasting egg is that the white has flavour on its own. Many don’t, so to evaluate I try the white of a poached egg first and then the yolk and then the two together. Does it have a true egg flavour or has it picked up the salt, or vinegar, from the water? Is it truely tasty without any additional seasoning?

    Another criteria is how does it feel in the mouth? I like an egg white that is slippery but has enough resistance to chew without being rubbery. If an egg white dissolves quickly in my mouth or creates a chalky residue, I will not buy that brand again.

    Egg flavour can come from the hen’s diet and can be like wine in that it depends on the terroir. That flavour can come from the soil, the bugs, weeds, grasses and flowers that a free roaming pasture hen enjoys. In a barn raised hen it can be influenced by the manure it is pecking in within the confined space.

    If fish meal has been used in the commercial poultry feed there will be a vague fishiness to the flavour and can be hazardous to people who have an allergic reaction to seafood.

    There are culinary uses for eggs that have little flavour in recipes that are highly seasoned and use egg merely to bind other ingredients. A pavlova may be an ideal way to use them. For a mayonnaise however, an egg that lacks the integral eggy flavour will create an emulsion that just tastes of oil and seasonings.

    STORAGE

    Egg shells are porous and fragile. They will lose moisture and absorb odours. As the membrane inside degrades over time they will be more vulnerable to both.

    Eggs are best used when they are at room temperature, and if you are regular eaters storing them out of the fridge will not be an issue.

    Store them in a cool, dry place away from appliances that vibrate or emit heat or humidity. Traditionally they have been kept in baskets or placed in a ceramic crock to protect them from breaking or absorbing odors.

    If you want to store eggs for months then keep them in the fridge in their cartons to help prevent them from absorbing the various odors that other food can emit.

    Remember though, while they may not rot in the fridge, they will gradually become weaker and drier. So my advice is to buy only as much as you will use over the short term and keep up the rotation.


    MY PREFERENCE

    I prefer to buy farmer direct eggs from producers who keep true free roaming hens, not those who have “cut some holes in a barn”. The reasons are numerous but ethical choices are at the heart of all my decisions. So I don’t mind paying more and using less, I think they are worth every cent.

    My circumstances prevent me from having a few backyard chooks but if I could, I would. They say one in four building permits here are for a backyard chicken coop, which I think is fantastic. Take the burden off the egg industry and raise some of your own.

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  2. Instead of yolk porn today it’s the lovely homegrown greens dressed with pomegranate molasses that graced our plates this morning with Mr Sticki’s regular Sunday fry-up of farmers’ market produce

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  3. Earlier today chez Sticki it was all about local produce - @pacdon_park white pudding, Istra bacon, Keans eggs, Jindivick tomatoes, homegrown greens and bread from Noisette prepared by Mr Sticki.

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  4. When the cat’s away, the mouse makes pain perdu - French Toast.

    It was just an excuse to use the last slice of my homemade milk bread and eat gooey fresh figs from the farmers market. On went super thick @schulzorganicfarms cream which in turn begged to have Heilala vanilla syrup poured over it.

    It’s been a big week. I figured I deserved it.

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  5. Kaya toast fusion for Shrove Tuesday.

    My spin on Malaysian kaya toast, featuring Hainan honey kaya smeared duck egg and coconut pancakes, free range bacon, a little maple syrup and a coddled egg with soy sauce. Salty, sweet, smoky flavours oozing and melting into soft yolk and fluffy pancakes.

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  6. My homecooked Chinese style bacon and eggs would possibly be a nosh-talgic meal for many South East Asians.

    A Weyhill Farm duck egg and garlic were deep fried and served upon steamed rice with crisp salt & pepper tofu puffs, blanched bak choy and a topping of Chinese cured bacon and sausage; spring onion, garlic shoots, oyster sauce and pickled chilli.

    Diving in, the rich egg yolk and oyster sauces mixes into the rice and is complimented by multiple textures and momentary highlights of fresh seasonings.

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  7. Because everything tastes better with bacon. Delicious breakfast at Station Street Trading Co. in my hood. Sourdough toast, smashed avocado, feta, tomato and pea shoots. And a side of bacon. Coming soon they’ll be serving croissants made with Pepe Saya butter.

    The venue sits well in the vicinity of fellow cafes Little Rose, My Sister Says and - a little further afield - New Lots, as offering food with good provenance and considered preparation.

    These cafes are injecting an interesting cultural vibe into the local scene, distinguishing my end of the suburb from the high-rise ‘Gold Coast bachelor pad’ crowd who frequent the businesses closer to the beach. We think of that area as Port Vegas.

    I really like that a village feel is finally returning to the leafy and quirky, historic streets of Port Melbourne. The bit where you know your neighbours and shop keepers, just like when I first moved here.

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  8. I never really was enamoured of eggs. I thought of them as just an excuse to eat bacon and I never had much luck making poached eggs. To me eggs had an odd slimy texture and not much taste. Then I bought eggs from a farmers market. Wow! I never looked back.

    Laid just a couple of days before I bought them, they were a world apart from what I was used to. Apparently supermarket eggs are weeks old and by the time you buy them the proteins have broken down. This is why the texture is different. This is why true fresh eggs don’t fall apart when you poach them and why they taste wonderful.

    The trouble is when we go to brunch, it’s rare to find eggs that fresh. So Mr Sticki is now reluctant to eat eggs when out in case they are below parr. After all who wants to pay for food that isn’t as good as what you eat at home?

    Take a look at that rich, bright yolk, full of goodness and flavour. It’s a joy of nature. A clear sign of a happy chicken that is free to roam pasture rather than be cooped up in a cage or confined to fight for space in a high density shed space.

    Under the egg is homemade light sourdough bread with local Victorian free range ham and plate licking good hollandaise that I made from scratch - no sauce sachets in my house, it also allows me to control how much fat and salt is in it.

    Also on the plate are homegrown heirloom greens: amaranth, baby chard, beetroot, oak leaf and rabbits ears, bursting with life giving goodness, made all the better because I nurtured them out of the ground without any chemical sprays. And I grew them via vermiculture, by throwing kitchen scraps into my worm farm which results in a wonderfully lush nutrient rich soil and liquid fertiliser.

    I really like that there’s a sustainable and ethical food cycle on my plate and I can taste the difference, while making a difference and respecting our food chain.

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  9. Hollandaise sauce is evil but so wonderful. An emulsion of egg and three times as much butter plus a little lemon juice, it is velvet deliciousness.

    Basically it is about getting the eggs to absorb the fat in order to make an emulsion, just as in mayonnaise.

    This batch was made with organic eggs, purchased the day before, from their farmer at Collingwood Children’s Farm Market. And that is truly the colour - wow!

    Today I tried a different technique. Three whole eggs went in the blender with lemon juice and white pepper. Once combined I poured in melted ghee - clarified butter and wizard it up again.

    Then the mix went into a bowl over simmering water and I whisked in a few cubes of butter until it thickened. Then I finished it with a little more lemon juice, to taste. Jaw dropping tastiness and so easy, I’ll use this method again.

    It went with roësti, asparagus, homegrown salad leaves and herbs, poached egg plus Tasmanian smoked salmon.

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  10. I was asked why do I bang on about sustainability? Why bother with it at all?

    My response was, because I give a damn about the future of this planet and the people who live here long after I am gone. We have a responsibility which shouldn’t be shirked because of a misconceived inconvenience. And I broadcast it to show others it’s both possible and desirable.

    But Mr Sticki’s response if asked is, “Why DON’T YOU bother?!”

    Our delicious - easy to do - restaurant quality Sunday sustainable brunch: local, farmer and artisan producer direct produce; homegrown heirloom greens & herbs; homemade organic sourdough rye bread; homemade lemon mayonnaise. You can do it too.

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  11. A simple breakfast at Truman in Albert Park. DiBella coffee beans from BrisVegas

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  12. Grateful is the word of the day. A day with the luxury of doing nothing. Where Mr Sticki made a Slow Food brunch to be enjoyed on a warm Winter’s day in our garden. I felt at peace with the tranquility of gentle tunes and birdsong, pets frolicking in a carefully tended vegetable garden and weekend papers spread across the table; bliss.

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  13. Phwoaar! There’s nothing like the vibrancy of a fresh, farmer direct egg yolk. Supermarket eggs just don’t compare.

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  14. Homecooked Brunch: pork & fennel sausage with zucchini pickle; Swiss brown mushrooms with hollandaise; Gypsy Pig bacon; poached egg. We’ll be having an early dinner and going to see ‘Mad Bastards’ while the rest of the world is glued to TVs for the royal wedding. (Taken with instagram)

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  15. Sweet, fragrant and succulent locally sourced persimmons on luscious porridge. Made in my rice cooker with organic oats and creamy raw milk. Just like in the old days, before marketers convinced a generation that packaged and processed sawdust constituted a hearty breakfast.

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