The first thing I learned to cook was scrambled eggs.
My earliest memories of the kitchen are cluttered among wooden spoons and measuring jugs. Bare feet swinging from where I perched on the counter top on Saturday mornings, my mother methodically running me through the cracking of egg shells (and scavenging of stray shell), the whisking, the adding of salt, pepper and milk, again whisking before transferring the precious mixture to a pot on the hob. More stirring, my clearest memory is of stirring – don’t let it stick, keep it moving – the weird sloppiness of the scrambling egg becoming more malleable, taking on a structure, forming a meal – it was a little like a magic spell.
Even at that young age, four perhaps five, I remember being frustrated with the regimented steps involved. Crack. Mix. Season. Mix. Mix. Mix. Mix. It seems I was born with my now well-worn attitude of just throwing everything together in one go.
It seems odd on reflection but throughout my teens I barely ate eggs at all. I learned to love garlic and mushrooms (on the persuasion of my uncle Jude who introduced me to garlic mushrooms on regular outings to his favourite restaurant, Floyds) but I barely ate an egg for seven years. Around the same time I acquired an aversion to certain untrustworthy textures (bread and butter pudding, porridge, creme brulee) so perhaps it was something to do with that but I’m pleased to say that with eggs at least, I fell back in love.
Probably not until I was in my third year of university (and properly skint) did I realise how wonderful omelettes were. And it was several years still until my cousin introduced me to the groundbreaking notion of adding hot sauce. Since then it has formed a key element of any egg dish to pass through my kitchen.
Now in my 29th year I feel I have mastered most eggs (although the elusive perfect poach still escapes me). Omelettes and scrambled eggs both follow the same preliminary steps – whisk eggs, season, not just with salt and pepper, but with mixed herbs, garlic powder, chilli flakes and a generous dash of sriracha sauce – and then in the pan to be scrambled up or allowed to settle around onions and mushrooms (sauteed in Worcestershire sauce and mixed herbs), spinach, topped with cheese and an additional flourish of sriracha to put a fiery cherry on top. Yum.
However, in recent months I’ve had to concede that the best eggs served up in Booky Towers these days come care of my other half who, inspired by Moose’s incredible Manolito (heuvos rancheros) has been mastering an adaptation of the classic recipe.
Inspired by Moose’s Manolito, adapted from various online recipes, improved through trial and error and hangover approved, I present DH’s Heuvos Rancheros:
This recipe serves 2 regular human beings or 1 very hungry/hungover human being.
Get a pan on hob over a low to medium heat and add one tin of baked and one (drained) tin of mixed beans (or butter beans, kidney beans, any pre-soaked bean of your choice).
Next you’re going to need to add a metric fuck-tonne of paprika. Cover the whole surface of the beans and then half again with the addition of cayenne or chilli powder (whichever your breakfasting taste buds prefer). Stir your spicy bean mix until soft and close to breaking down, you don’t quite want a mush, but something in it’s general direction.
Pop two tortilla breads on a plate to form the base of your breakfast, whack the grill on and get grating your cheese – you’re going to want at least enough to cover the surface of your tortillas and if you’re anything like us, enough to give a small elephant crazy cheese dreams for a week. We’ve been using cheddar, purely because it’s in ready supply in our fridge but anything that melts well will fit the bill.
Now, as mentioned above, I have a bit of a weird thing about certain textures which kept me off eggs for almost a decade so the cooking of my heuvos has to be done with extreme care. However, DH is happy to just crack on (excuse the pun) and skip the next step as you may also like to.
Fry an egg sunny side up until the base is cooked but the top remains a little runny. You’ll finish it under the grill.
Pour the spicy beans on your double tortilla base, sprinkle over with cheese, leaving a central divot in which to nest your egg (semi-fried or freshly cracked). Grill until your egg is cooked and the edges of the tortillas begin to curl and crisp – perfect for tearing and dipping. Serve up with avocado either flared for a touch of the theatrical or in deliciously tacky spoonfuls for the impatient alongside a pot of builders tea big enough to keep you in one, sedentary spot for the rest of Saturday Morning Kitchen.