Recipes from food stylist Nicolas Ghirlando: Fish fingers to Friday nights.

A spring in our step


Steamed egg in sorrel and cream sauce

There is a strange kind of calm in the house. Just the gentle hum of the washing machine in the background. I hear a car pass by and the clock ticking on the wall. It’s a special kind of silence now the children are back in school. I’ve even turned off the radio that I normally keep on for a kind of company so I can hear the quiet clearly.

The early morning sun on the walk to school this morning shone on one half of the road. Maya asked to not walk in the shade so she could feel it on her face. Our hands were a little chilly, the day still warming up. It is after all, only April.

All the trees round here are now full of leaves. Most of the blossom has fallen and some still carpets the pavements like the confetti in the aftermath of a wedding, fluttering around every so often in the light wind.

Last night we sat down as a family and ate a cottage pie with garlic green beans. A hearty meal eaten in the early evening still-light as the days lengthen toward summer. We can move on from these winter dishes now, so yesterday was a kind of farewell.

And as the wild garlic appears everywhere, like a surreptitious Frenchman in the hedges, other greens and shoots and tender vegetables fill the stalls at the market, colours taking over from the drab dullness that paint companies may call ‘dried turnip’. I bought a large bag of sorrel there this weekend. Usually I raid my mother-in-law’s plentiful supply from her garden, along with the garlic leaves and flowers, but as I was there, I though a few pounds for a plentiful bag was worth it.

This recipe comes, originally from my mother-in-law Sue. She is to take all credit for it and it is so delicious, zest, clean and fresh tasting that I’m sharing it here. It’s almost effortless to make and is everything good cooking should be. Simple, good ingredients, full of flavour all coming together to give you something more than the sum of its parts. No doubt, you could try it too with a bit of wild garlic added, or if you’re unable to get sorrel, spinach, a splash of lemon and some nutmeg would be equally tasty, but I urge you to try as hard as you can to find this lemony, fresh leaf.

Ingredients for two
A handful or two of sorrel leaves, any tough stems removed
250ml double cream
2 eggs. Duck eggs would be great as well
Salt and pepper to season
That really is all you need.

I have a steamer pan which is perfect for this, mine fits two steel ramekins on the steamer basket, but a tray on the hob filled with water and the eggs in ramekins on a trivet bain marie style works well too over a gentle heat. You could even poach them and transfer them to a ramekin if you fancy.

However you choose to cook the eggs, they should be just past the point of runny-yolked, and not quite at the set point, so keep an eye on them.

While they are gently cooking, Heat the cream to just below boiling in a saucepan and season it well. Put the sorrel in a blender and pour in the hot cream before blitzing to a vivid green sauce. Doing it this way keeps the colour bright. Taste and adjust the seasoning then pour over the eggs and just cook for a minute further to take away the rawness of the sorrel.

Serve immediately with some sourdough toast and salad. I drizzled a little green chilli sauce on mine with a dash of rapeseed oil. Not enough to change the flavour, but just enough to tickle the tongue.

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