They’re the beating heart of a kitchen, the ideal bed partner for many ingredients, and breed endless possibilities for the curious cook. Yet eggs are strangely undervalued. With the launch of my book, EGG, in the U.S. it feels like the right time to give eggs the praise they deserve.
Eggs are magical things. These beautiful ovoid forms are one of the greatest gifts nature ever gave to the cook. No other ingredient can perform in such a complex way. They are simple and yet protean, indispensable but taken for granted, sometimes treated harshly and misunderstood, and yet continue to be the cornerstone of cookery.
Underneath the shell – that perfect vessel both to store and protect it – the egg gives us not one, but two ingredients: yolk and white. These parts can be separated and used either individually or together, both of which offer unique elements that perform in completely different ways. Yolks can emulsify to make thick, creamy sauces, while egg whites can be whipped into a foam and grow into great clouds. Whole eggs can be poached, fried, boiled, baked; or beaten together to give body and lightness to cakes.
Nowness, the video channel premiering the best in global arts and culture featured a film of me at work..here’s what they say and a link to the short film:
July 13, 2015
A Woman’s Work: Blanche Vaughan
The lauded British chef reveals her culinary inspirations
For the third episode of A Women’s Work, we venture into the kitchen with British chef and food writer Blanche Vaughan, who has quietly created her own delectable take on English cuisine. Director Errol Rainey captured Vaughan’s elegant handiwork at her West London home and Devon country escape, which she shares with her art dealer husband, Hugo de Ferranti.
As a young chef, Vaughan sharpened her knives at some of London’s most revered institutions – Moro, St. John and River Café – before publishing an acclaimed kitchen handbook, In One Pot: Fresh Recipes for Every Occasion. A serious car accident left her with temporary memory loss and an inability to multitask; in the face of adversity, however, the remarkable chef developed recipes influenced by the personal constraints she was facing.
This past spring, Vaughan released another successful book, Egg: The Very Best Recipes Inspired by the Simple Egg – a celebration of her refreshingly uncomplicated approach to British produce.
This month, my new cookbook Egg was released, or should I say hatched? It’s an exploration and a celebration of this wonderful, simple and perfectly packaged ingredient. We have been cooking with eggs for thousands of years and during that time, we have come up with some ingenious ways to use them: to make risen souflees and cakes, crisp meringues, rich custards, thick mayonnaise and even foamy cocktails. When I sat down to write this book, the hardest part was choosing which recipes to leave out.
Piedmont in northwest Italy is famous for some of the finest foods – white truffles, buttery pastas enriched with egg yolks, creamy sauces of Fontina cheese, and pedigree red wines such as Barolo, Barbera and Barbaresco. However, there is another important ingredient that plays a major role in Piedmontese cuisine, which is yet to find the fame outside of Italy of some of these other foods.
Fassone or Razza Piemontese is a breed of cattle used for centuries to provide meat, milk and labour. The pasture-grazing cows provide rich milk, which is used in the local cheeses – Castelmagno, Bra, Raschera and Tome, and until the introduction of tractors, these useful animals did much of the manual work too. But it is the meat that these cattle produce which sets them apart from other breeds.
I don’t know about you, but I love a good kitchen shop. I could happily spend hours browsing beautiful French casserole pots and handmade serving dishes or aspiring to a set of Japanese knives. Just as enjoyable is seeking out an unusual and extremely useful piece of equipment (a chinoise sieve or pastry scraper) and get the satisfying feeling of having found it.
We have three beehives at the bottom of the garden. Sometimes there are four, depending on whether a colony outgrows a hive and needs a second home. This warm summer has meant there has been plenty to forage so the bees have produced lots of offspring and honey. Next week we will take our first harvest and I think it’s going to be a bumper crop.
While the bees have been buzzing around during these last few months, I’ve been reading some excellent books to learn a bit more about them. Since people have been writing about bees for thousands of years, there’s plenty of literature to choose from, so I’ve narrowed it down to three of my current favourites.
I have spent the last few weeks shooting the photographs for my new book, Egg, to be published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in the Spring of next year. A book that celebrates eggs, the wonderfully diverse yet simple ingredient, and all my favourite ways to cook with them.
Props for the shoot