The jury’s still out on the spiraliser. Is it the latest must-have kitchen gadget? I think that depends on your style of cooking and the sort of food you enjoy. If you like raw, healthy salads and want to replace spaghetti with courgetti then by all means go for it. The effects are pretty, spiralising gives veg a pleasing texture and you can whizz them through the machine in the blink of an eye, handy if you’re catering for a horde.
But if you already have a mandolin or just sharp knives, a good grater and a vegetable peeler, you can achieve similar results without the outlay. Would I buy one again if and when this one breaks? Probably not.
And after a week of healthy, spiralised salads etc I was longing for a good dollop of fat, starch and protein. This is what I came up with. It makes a good brunch dish and I think would be appealing to small children (although, obviously, not the cat). If you don’t have a spiraliser, roughly grate the raw potato instead, but don’t omit the bit where you squeeze out the excess liquid.
Eggs in Potato Nests
5-6 medium-sized waxy potatoes totalling about 450-400g, peeled weight
50g salted butter plus more to grease the muffin tins
6-12 quails’ eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7. Grease a six-hole muffin tin liberally with butter. Melt an extra 50g of butter over a low heat.
Put the peeled potatoes through the smallest of the spiraliser blades, the spaghetti-sized one. Sandwich the potato spirals between two clean tea towels and press down to extract as much moisture as possible. The dryer they are, the crispier the end result will be.
Pile the potato into the buttered muffin tin, covering the bases and pushing it gently up the sides. The potato will sink back as it cooks so make sure you build up the sides as high as they will go. Brush well with melted butter.
Make a small well in the centre of each and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the potato is cooked through and the nests are browning and crisping round the edges. Your oven may be different to mine so start checking after about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently lift the nests from the muffin tin.
Reduce the oven temperature to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5. Place the nests on an oven tray lined with baking paper, break one or two quail’s eggs into the middle of each and bake again for another 8-10 minutes or until the whites are set but the yolks still runny (see above for your oven v. my oven).
You can bake the eggs with the nests still in the muffin tin but they don’t crisp as well and if the egg white runs through to the bottom of the tin it’ll be a swine to clean. Eat straight away with your choice of accompaniments.