Happy hens = lots of eggs. That’s my theory and it seems that ours are thriving once again. It may be cold and wet, as winter has us firmly in her clutches, but our girls are laying contentedly. Oh and our daffodils are about to burst into flower even though we are currently shivering and snow covers much of Europe. Talking of the white stuff, I am sending our warmest thoughts to anyone in Chicago; I cannot imagine such cold.
Our Araucanas, who certainly prefer the warmth, are happily coping with the chilly conditions and are regularly producing their blue eggs to enhance the colour scheme in our kitchen!
The other day we purchased a couple of new additions for the flock, two new Marans, the medium size dark, almost black hens you see in the photos. These are the ladies who lay the beautiful rich deep chocolate brown eggs and they lay quite reliably all winter long. They originate from Marans (hence their name), the most northern town in the Charente Maritime, which is about an hour to the north of us and situated on the river Sevre Niortaise close to the marshlands of the Venice Verte. In other words these birds come from a location and a climate very similar to our own here, which is one of the reasons why I am sure they thrive so wonderfully in our little oasis.
But I digress, on arriving home with our new arrivals, we found a freshly laid egg in the transport box! Their first. What a way to start life in their new home!
Anyway, what to do with a glut of eggs? I can think of many things (small girls love to bake, of course) but one of our favourite ways to enjoy them is to make frittatas. Now, Roddy will be pedantic and say they’re not really frittatas, but they’re close enough for me to stick a fancy label on them.
Roddy is a frittata chef par excellence, though my opinion may be biased as I know not any other frittata chefs, of course. A while ago he collected a small pile of tiny 6″ Green Earth ceramic pans specifically for his offerings and after chopping up a selection of ingredients, he then starts making frittatas to order, almost like a pizza bar; there’s a frenzy of beating of eggs, sautéing of lardons, and stirring of bits in his tiny pans.
Of course he always has a couple of sous chefs on hand to catch any spillages!
The result is a rip roaring success – except, and there always has to be an exception, for one member of our family (I won’t name him but he is the only boy amongst the children!!) who doesn’t like frittatas. He does love fried eggs though, so Roddy conjures up a little treat just for him and everyone is happy.
But let’s get back to the frittatas. Typically, there’s a jug of beaten and seasoned eggs (about one and a half per frittata), some lardons, onions, peppers, tomatoes, sometimes some diced smoked fish, mushrooms, goat’s cheese, peas, small cubed potatoes (typically cold roasties), chopped herbs and anything else in the fridge that needs a home in a welcoming stomach. Asparagus in season is excellent, and so is cold chicken (which I’ve left to last so any live chickens reading this may not get this far). There’s almost nothing that cannot be used!
Eggs are whisked by hand or with a beater, but not over-done. A little salt and pepper is added to the mix.
According to the customer’s order, Roddy will pre-sauté the add-ons,
and then add the eggs over a medium heat.
If cheese is part of the order this goes on a minute later. Cheddar is tasty, of course, but of the cheeses available in France, Roddy will plump for very old Cantal, or an aged Gouda before fresh Emmental and Gruyère. Your choice may be very different, of course – Millie LOVES goat’s cheese with hers.
A couple of minutes of medium heat to set the underside and sides,
and then the whole pan goes under the grill for a minute or two until it’s all puffed up and golden brown. Fritattas at this stage are very French, and soft in the middle. If you want yours slightly better done (as I do), let them sit on a low heat on the ring for a minute or so longer.
I love mine with smoked salmon slices and goats cheese,
whereas Gigi’s favourite is lardons, tomatoes and cheese.
The beauty of the little ceramic pans is that offerings slide straight out onto plates with ease. A salad and some crusty bread and butter are all that is really needed as an accompaniment.
That’s just one of the things we do with our eggs; we also adore egg mayonnaise sandwiches, tomatoes and egg salads, a good variation of a salade niçoise, and all sorts of other things, but what do YOU do when you have a glut of them?