Tuesday 1 March 2016

Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music... Ad Infinitum

According to one of my favourite cooks,Yotam Ottolenghi, "there’s something about eggs as the essence of life, the start of it all, that inextricably links them to that first spark of romance". That is why I immediately thought of using one of his recipes for my regular food and music section tonight. The melodies you will find below have that rootsy, earthy feeling. This is a let-go-back-to-the-start sort of post.

Braised eggs with leek and za’atar

This is delicious with crusty white bread for dipping. To braise the eggs (the method used in all today’s recipes), cover the pan after breaking them in; they will cook relatively quickly, in five minutes or so. The downside is that the yolks in the finished dish will be obscured by a thin layer of opaque, cooked white. If the sight of bright, yellow-orange yolks is important to you, cook the eggs uncovered, and for longer, on the lowest possible heat, while at the same time taking care that the sauce doesn’t catch. Serves six.

30g unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
4 leeks, trimmed and sliced 0.5cm thick
Salt and black pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
1 small preserved lemon, seeds discarded, skin and flesh finely chopped
300ml vegetable stock
200g baby spinach leaves
6 eggs
90g feta, broken into roughly 2cm pieces
1 tbsp za’atar

In a large saute pan for which you have a lid, melt the butter with a tablespoon of oil on a medium-high heat. Once the butter starts to foam, add the leeks, a half-teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper. Fry for three minutes, stirring often, until the leeks are soft, then add the cumin, lemon and vegetable stock, and boil for four or five minutes, until most of the stock has evaporated. Fold in the spinach, cook for a minute until wilted, then turn the heat to medium.

Make six indentations in the mixture (a large spoon is the best tool for this), then break an egg into each space. Sprinkle the eggs with a generous pinch of salt, dot the feta around and about, then cover the pan and leave to simmer for four to five minutes, until the egg whites are set and the yolks still runny.

Mix the za’atar with the remaining oil, brush gently over the eggs so as not to break the yolks, then take to the table at once, to serve straight from the pan.

The first clip I bring you tonight is by one of Senegal's finest musicians: Baaba Maal and his unmistakable, sweet-toned voice. Splendid.

My second song tonight combines ancient Persian music and poetry and it is performed in the trance-like cadence of Mamak Khadem. Spellbinding.

My last track on this food- and music-themed post comes courtesy of Show of Hands, a duo-cum-trio (with the occasional collaboration of double-bassist Miranda Sykes). This is a lovely, folksy, foot-tapping number that will hopefully warm your heart in the same way our recipe has done tonight. Enjoy

Next Post: "Saturday Evenings: Stay In, Sit Up and Switch On", to be published on Saturday 5th March at 6pm (GMT)


  1. I am very interested in African music genres. Thank you for the tasty receipt too

  2. I love Show of Hands - one of the very best. You've brightened a cold day.

  3. Show of hands was a good one indeed. The other two weren't bad either.

  4. Food for the belly, ears, soul and mind.
    Thank you.

  5. This looks so good! I really like Yotam Ottolenghi's creativity, especially the way he uses vegetables.

  6. The recipe is one I shall definitely try in future... will come back to listen to the music as the kidling is busily catching up on past Walking Dead episodes on our telly, lol.

  7. That does look tasty and I'd love to sample it.

  8. Never thought about braising eggs, but I like this idea and am likely to give it a try. First I have to figure out the preserved lemon, though. Somewhere I believe I have some info on that. Love Mamek Khadem; do you think that was filmed in northern Iran?

  9. Hi ACIL - the recipe looks positively delicious .. I have a total affinity with cumin - love it! As too the other ingredients - my type. I'll be back to the music ... but Baaba Maal .. is wonderful ... cheers Hilary

  10. Show of Hands... wonderful, and yes definitely foot tapping.

  11. Hi ACIL - loved the first two Youtube clips ... delightful ... love that sort of music .. cheers Hilary

  12. Una buena mezcla, los huevos van con mucha variedad de ingredientes, buena comida con deliciosa música.

  13. That sounds delicious! I might try it.

  14. Sounds yummy. Thanks for sharing.

  15. You use some of my favorite ingredients. I love za'atar, cumin, preserved lemon (so hard to find in this country), and feta! I am hungry now. Smiles.

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  17. I wish I could digest butter because your egg dish sounds delicious. Thanks for introducing me to musicians new to me. Maal sound is so evocative and Show of Hands makes me crave a campfire sing along. Sadly the Persian clip wouldn't load, which sometimes happens internationally.

  18. Now...you've made me seriously hungry...this recipe sounds absolutely delicious!
    I can't wait to try it.
    A really great selection of music too...can't stop my feet tapping!
    Many thanks.:)

    Greetings from Hampshire.:))



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