There is something so simple yet complex about the humble egg.
It’s so small, but holds a world of possibilities. It is the glue of spongey cakes, becomes a hangover cure when fried on toast, fuel to face your inbox in the morning, and comfort food as an omlette in the evening. Every country seems to have an egg rescue recipe. My German friends used to cook up bacon and eggs after a long night of drinking, while my Turkish friend would make ‘egg in bread’. My American friends insisted on early morning omlettes filled with ham and cheese.
Whatever way you have them – I love eggs. I think I’ve mentioned that before.
Another person who loves eggs is the animation director, Hayao Miyazaki. Food, especially Japanese food is beautifully portrayed in all the Ghibli movies. Eggs, especially take on a whole new form in the animation. They always seem to make an appearance when storms are raging, or people need comforting or as a respite from a harrowing adventure. Some famous Ghibli recipes include: ramen noodles with hard boiled eggs (Ponyo), fried eggs and bacon (Howl’s Moving Castle) and fried egg bread (Laputa, Castle in the Sky). The Baby King Kitchen in Japan even serves these up on its regular menu.
I was delighted when I stumbled across another Ghibli offering. This time featuring an egg as the main character.
Mr Dough and the Egg Princess (パン種とタマゴ姫 Pan-Dane to Tamago-Hime) – is mostly unknown outside of Japan and was originally shown in the Studio Ghibli museum in Mitaka Japan in 2010.
“In a lonesome water mill deep in a forest of briers and brambles lives a witch named Baba Yaga. There the witch keeps her servant the Egg Princess confined and forces the tiny egg-girl to do all the hard daily chores around the mill. One night, a large batch of kneaded dough resting in a trough suddenly comes to life from the witch’s spell. Fearful of the witch, the Egg Princess and her new friend decide to run away. What will lay ahead for the two of them…?” (Source)
The movie starts with the witch (Baba Yaga) flying into her kitchen to fry up an enormous saucepan of fried eggs. Only one egg won’t crack. Puzzled she examines the egg and dresses it up. It becomes the Egg Princess – forced to cook and clean and make the daily bread.
One day, the dough comes to life, and together the Egg Princess and Mr Dough make a daring escape through the wheat fields. The witch catches Mr Dough and tries to cut him into loaves of bread. The Egg Princess desperately tries to save him, squishing the dough pieces back together again. But the witch is too quick and throws him into the oven. Mr Dough however, comes out of the oven, cooked and stronger and rescues them all.
Their story is weaved in with the story of making bread – and you see the whole process from harvest to baking. Miyazaki was apparently inspired by Pieter Bruegel’s “The Harvesters” pictures and he brings to life these beautiful images of European castles and enormous wobbling haystacks.
The witch is mainly ‘boob’ – who knows how she manages to fly with her enormous air bags in front of her! And she has tusks! This witch is a mash up of Miyazaki’s Witch of the Wastes (Howl’s Moving Castle) and the Zaneba from Spirited away. She is fantastically revolting and is named after Baba Yaga from the Russian and Polish folk tales.
So, here is my egg recipe – with mustard and chia seed muffins and covered with ham, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.
Eggs Benedict on Mustard Muffins
For the muffins
(Adapted from The Fabulous Baker Brothers)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried yeast
2 tbsps chia seeds
2 tbsps mustard
450g strong white flour
Pinch of sea salt
Semolina or polenta, for dusting the table (or you can use flour)
- I used my lovely bread maker and threw in all the ingredients to make the dough.
- To make without mechanical help; in a pan, soften your butter and mix with the sugar, then add your yeast.
- When this is mixed in, add the milk, chia, mustard and salt.
- Put the mixture into a mixer and add the flour and salt. Keep in the mixer for a good 10 minutes.
- Then, leave your dough to rest in a nice warm place for 30 minutes.
- Then, dust your surface with semolina or polenta and stretch the dough out; you want it about half an inch thick.
- Sprinkle more semolina on top of the dough and using a round cutter cut out the muffins.
- Heat a frying pan until hot then dry-fry the muffins for 5 minutes on each side until they are crisp and golden.
- Top the muffins with a bit of butter and some crumbed ham, then top with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce.
250g unsalted butter
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 egg yolks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Squeeze of lemon
- Melt the butter in a pan.
- In a bowl whisk the eggs.
- Fill another pan with water and put a bowl on top of it. Add the eggs and vinegar into the bowl and whisk over a gentle simmer.
- The eggs will gradually start to thicken. As they do, trickle in the melted butter until you get a consistency like mayonnaise.
- Add in the squeeze of lime to loosen up the sauce.
- Scoop onto your poached eggs.
Check out my new Egg-board on Pinterest.
Oh and another egg-tastic cartoon.