Life in the Loire on lock-down. 11th April. Day twenty eight.

Our meeting went well yesterday with the company that’s going to provide us with the on-line booking platform. Now the work begins for me, getting to grips with the ‘back-end’ of the site and updating the calender (well that shouldn’t take long should it?)

Slightly concerned about Sally starter this morning. She looks a bit forlorn and has few bubbles despite having 2 feeds yesterday. She also smells a bit vinegary. I’m assured by ‘The Boy who Bakes’ that this is perfectly normal. I just have to hang on in there.

As it’s the Easter weekend I decided to make something appropriate for lunch today. Scotch eggs. One of Nigel’s favourite things in the world. A Scotch egg is a cooked egg, surrounded in sausagemeat, dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and then deep fried. The ultimate picnic food.

You need patience to make Scotch eggs and they are a bit of a faff but shop bought ones are a million miles away from home made ones. So that’s my task this morning. I’ll be in the kitchen making Scotch eggs.

Pesto is loving the sunshine and is spending much more time outside. It’s proving a bit of a problem leaving our doors open as Bigi and Monza are now nonchalantly popping in for a snack when the mood takes them. It seems we are feeding all the cats within a 3 house radius.

Back to the Scotch eggs. What a palaver that was. Ok, I’ll admit it, I made one perfect one and 3 (how shall I put this), less than perfect ones.

I’ve made Scotch eggs lots of times in the past when the mood takes me and on the face of it, nothing could be easier. You cook an egg, you wrap it in sausagemeat, you dip it in flour, egg, breadcrumbs and fry it. I was however, searching for the perfect Scotch egg today. One where the egg is still runny inside. Suddenly, what seemed an easy task became a bit of a nightmare.

I did quite a lot of research. How long should you boil the egg? The answer seemed to be anything from 3 and half minutes to 7 and a half minutes. I plumped for Felicity Cloake’s 5 minutes, set the timer, removed the eggs to iced water, waited 1O minutes and then tried to get the shells off. Tried is the word. It was practically impossible. The eggs were so soft and the shells so attached (probably because they were very fresh eggs, old eggs are best, now you tell me). So, the end result was 3 very wobbly eggs with the yolk leaking out before I even got the sausagemeat around the outside. Grrr.

One egg went in the bin, I persevered with the others. I’d prepared enough sausagemeat for 4 so I boiled one more egg, this time for 7 minutes, chilled it, peeled it and phew, this time is was perfect.

I dipped them in flour, wrapped them in sausagemeat, flour again, then egg, then breadcrumbs, egg again and breadcrumbs again. In the fridge to rest, deep fried them for 6 minutes, left them to cool and then we had one each for lunch with a glass of very needed Crémant de Loire from Leduc Frouin.

This is the 7 minute one that worked out perfectly. It still has a soft yolk.

All this stress required a serious snooze after lunch. Or was that the 2 glasses of wine?

So, here is my recipe for the perfect Scotch egg. I know they’re a fiddle but they are sooo good when you get them right.

You need 100g sausagemeat per egg. As I was making 4 I used 400g of sausagemeat to which I added, a tablespoon of dijon mustard and a couple of tablespoons of chopped herbs from the garden (sage, thyme and winter savoury). I then divided that into 4 balls and put them in the fridge while I assembled everything else.

You need 3 shallow bowls. One with seasoned flour, one with two beaten eggs whisked together with a tiny drop of milk and one for your breadcrumbs. I used crumbs that I keep in the freezer but you can also use panko crumbs for extra crunch. Make sure you have plenty.

Boil the eggs for exactly 7 minutes. Drain them into a bowl of iced water and leave them for a minimum of 10 minutes. Shell them carefully.

Take a square of clingfilm and put it on your work surface. Put one of the balls of sausagemeat on the top and then place another square of clingfilm on the top. Using a rolling pin, roll them out to an even thickness. Big enough to cover an egg (roughly).

Dip each egg into flour then, removing the top layer of clingfilm and using the bottom layer, put the egg on the rolled out sausagemeat and bring it up around the egg. Use your hands to mould it into a ball making sure the egg is fully enclosed.

Dip this into the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. Then into the egg again and into the breadcrumbs again. This gives a really crunchy outside. Repeat with the other 4 and then put them in the fridge until you’re ready to cook them.

When you’re ready to cook, preheat your deep fat fryer to 175°C and then lower them in two at a time. They take about 6 minutes each to cook turning them over once. They want to be golden brown on both sides.

Leave to cool for 15 minutes before serving with a lightly dressed salad.

Pour yourself a very large glass of wine. And breathe.

Dinner this evening was a chicken breast wrapped in Prosciutto with fresh sage leaves in between. Served with new potatoes and a roquette salad. We kept it simple this evening as we didn’t want the Easter weekend to peak too soon.

Our wine choice for this evening was Les Perruches 2017 from Gerald Vallée. Really beautiful fruit on this Cabernet Franc from St Nicolas de Bourgueil. It’s another wine from that ‘crazy foot treader’ and this one has had the foot treatment. Lovely smooth tannins extracted by his feet! Delicious!