Hartford House

The Home of Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses

Award-winning hotel and restaurant situated at Summerhill Stud on the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander, South Africa.

WHAT COMES FIRST? THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG?

Deviled Eggs

'Deviled' or Stuffed Eggs
(Photo : Jackie Cameron)

"For me it's breakfast so I believe the egg precedes the chicken!"

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

In the Hartford House kitchen, I impress upon all that an order should take as long as the eggs take to cook. A good few hours are spent preparing for this important meal and I believe an aspiring chef should spend his / her first month on the breakfast shift because it teaches precision, speed and the importance of maintaining a high standard. No one wants a badly fried egg first thing in the morning.

Slow-cooked, creamy, chive-flavoured scrambled egg is top of my breakfast list. This is best served with a smoked salmon rosette. A classically-poached soft egg with tart mustard velvety sauce and wilted baby spinach comes a close second.

Some believe that adding water, rather than cream, to an omelette mixture increases steam and results in a lighter omelette. Call me old fashioned but I believe there is no substitute for cream's richness. An omelette is defined as beaten egg cooked in a pan in a round shape which can be rolled or folded. Childhood memories include soufflé cheese omelettes prepared by my mother. We, however, serve a Japanese-styled omelette at Hartford House. Both preparations have their place. Fillings can include mature camembert and chunky cranberry sauce or hand-pressed basil pesto with sundried tomatoes, Buffalo mozzarella cheese and hot thyme-seared cherry tomatoes.

Other fond recollections I have are making and eating 'toad in the hole', and boiled eggs with toasted dipping soldiers. I am amazed at how many people are unfamiliar with these dishes.

I refuse to accept orders such as a 'four-minute boiled egg' from the front-of-house team. I need to know how the guest wants the egg done and then we cook it accordingly. The size of the egg, its age, inner temperature, water temperature and altitude all play a part. The higher the altitude the slower the egg cooks; the reason being that water boils at lower temperatures the higher the altitude. In the kitchen we have a list of boiling times for our specific location, and the outcome for boiled-egg 'doneness'.

A French-toast sandwich, filled with carved gammon and finely sliced pecorino with a spicy tomato relish, is always impressive. It's a grand way to start a weekend.

And who could forget Devilled or stuffed eggs? These are regulars on a 'grown-up's' cocktail or snack menu. Dating back to ancient Roman recipes, Devilled describes a dark food, spicy and highly seasoned which is either chopped or ground and served hot or cold.

I tried a Parma ham and chive 'oeufs en cocotte' recently. It was baked in a ramekin and could be called baked or alternatively shirred eggs. Another idea is a one-dish, baked breakfast topped with whole eggs. As a refreshing change I suggest a perfectly-poached egg and crispy bacon in an individual toasted-bread basket.

Use these recipes to add a completely new dimension to your breakfast table.

Egg Basket