Eggs à la St. James

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Preparation info

  • Serves

    6

    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook

The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook

By Annie Gray

Published 2019

  • About

Delicate molded individual creams and egg-based items appear on the table at Downton at many meals. Sometimes sweet but more often savory, they are far removed from modern dish presentation. Instead, they are ideal for service à la russe, for they look good presented on a large dish en masse but are easily portioned out. Any self-respecting country house kitchen would have had a wide range of molds in copper, tin, and ceramic, and a bewilderingly large number of foods were cooked in them. Visitors to historic kitchens today may be forgiven for thinking that the Victorians and Edwardians ate vast amounts of aspic, but while that’s nearly the only food we habitually mold today, in the past if it could be molded, then it was. These eggs are best done in dariole molds, which are tall and narrow, but if you don’t happen to have a full complement of gleaming copper molds, they can also be made in a muffin pan.

Ingredients

  • Butter, for the molds
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 6 anchovy fillets in olive oil
  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or 1 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce
  • Boiling water, for the bain-marie
  • 6 thin slices white sandwich bread
  • Small watercress sprigs for garnish (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Butter 6 standard muffin cups (about 3 inches/7.5 cm in diameter and ¾ inch/2 cm deep) or metal dariole molds. Sprinkle the bottoms with the parsley and smoked paprika, dividing them equally, and curl an anchovy around the base (if you are using muffin cups, you may need to cut the anchovy fillet in half lengthwise to make it go fully around). Add teaspoons of the cream to each mold, then crack an egg into each mold.

Combine the remaining cream and the cayenne in a bowl and, using a whisk or a handheld mixer on medium speed, whip until stiff peaks form. Set aside in a cool spot or in the fridge.

Set the muffin pan or molds in a roasting pan and pour boiling water into the pan to reach two-thirds of the way up the sides of the muffin pan or molds. Bake until the whites of the eggs are fully set and the yolks have thickened but are still runny, 10–12 minutes, or until done to your liking.

Meanwhile, cut out a circle from the center of each bread slice, making the circle about 1 inch (2.5 cm) larger in diameter than your eggs. Toast the circles.

Arrange the toasted bread circles on a large plate. Turn out an egg onto each bread slice. Garnish with watercress, if using. Just before serving, spoon or pipe some of the whipped cream onto each egg. The cream will start to melt immediately, so serve quickly.

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