Smashed Avocado on Toast with Pesto and Poached Eggs

Australian restaurateur Bill Granger served his first plate of smashed avocado in 1993 at his informal café Bill’s, located in the Sydney suburb of Surrey Hills.

Roughly mashed and seasoned with lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper he served the avocado on toasted sourdough bread. The dish took off to become a global phenomenon, indicative of the rising popularity of Australian-style breakfasts and brunches.

In this recipe I have added some pesto and poached eggs, to create a more substantial dish for lunch. If liked, serve two poached eggs per person.

1 large ripe avocado
2 Tbs pesto (preferably home-made)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Lemon or lime juice, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
2 poached eggs
2 thick slices sourdough bread, toasted

Remove flesh from avocado onto a plate and mash roughly with a fork. Leave it nice and chunky. Roughly mix in the pesto and season to taste with salt, pepper, lemon or lime juice and olive oil.

Arrange toast on two serving plates. Top with the avocado, then the poached eggs. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and some cracked pepper.

Serves 2

Note: make pesto at the end of summer when basil is cheap and plentiful – you may even have some in your garden. Freeze in ice cube trays, then tip into a container or plastic bag and keep in the freezer to add a taste of summer to your winter recipes. Spread over pizza bases instead of the usual tomato paste. Use in pasta dishes such as this one.

Prawn Scramble with Crispy Shallots

Looking for a quick and easy lunch or light supper?

This is my variation on a dish I have ordered several times at my favourite lunch-time café, Deakin and Me. It’s basically scrambled eggs with prawns and salad served on toasted sourdough. Sometimes I ask them to skip the toast and serve mine on a large piece of roasted pumpkin with the skin on. Either way it’s delicious.

I got distracted and overcooked the crispy shallots but they still tasted good. If preferred, buy some crispy shallots sold in Asian stores and some supermarkets, in a packet.

I think they use raw prawns, but I used cooked ones. The photo is of my serving, which I had without the toast.

4 eggs
2 Tbs milk
2 Tbs butter or oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g cooked prawns (about 125g shelled weight)
¾ cup beansprouts, trimmed if necessary
½ cup each coriander leaves and flat parsley leaves
Green part of a spring onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal
3 Tbs mayonnaise
1 Tbs Sriracha sauce (or another chilli sauce, such as harissa)
2 slices sourdough bread, toasted (& buttered if you like)
1 Tbs lime juice
2 wedges lime (optional)
Crispy shallots:
3-4 shallots
Vegetable oil

Peel prawns, cut into chunks and season. Mix mayonnaise with sriracha sauce and lime juice.

Beat eggs and milk with a fork and season. Heat butter or oil, add prawns and stir fry until hot (if using raw prawns this will take a little longer). Remove prawns and keep warm. Add the eggs and gently scramble them, stopping when they are still quite soft. Gently fold in the prawns.

Place toasted sourdough on two warmed plates. Arrange scrambled eggs and prawns on the toast, buttered if you like. Top each serving with some beansprouts, spring onions and herbs. Drizzle some spicy mayo around the edge and sprinkle with crispy shallots. Garnish with lime wedges, if using, and serve immediately.

For the crispy shallots, place the peeled and chopped shallots in a small frying pan. Cover with cold vegetable oil. Cook over medium heat until they are golden and crunchy. Drain and leave on paper towels to cool.

Serves 2

Ottolenghi’s Turmeric Fried Eggs with Tamarind Dressing

While in London for a weekend last month we caught up with some old friends over dinner at one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s six restaurants. Tucked away in a narrow Georgian alleyway, Spitalfields is the largest of his restaurants and it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Apart from the restaurant, there’s a deli which sells salads, pastries and other delicacies for customers to take home.

Plates at Spitalfields are designed to be shared. Many but not all are vegetarian. We enjoyed the meal so much we came back on our own next morning for breakfast. I had the Quinoa, Chia Seed and Cardamom Muesli with Raspberries, which was delicious and not too heavy after our feast the previous evening.

When we paid the bill we were given a card with this fried egg recipe from Ottolenghi’s latest cook book Extra Good Things. I made it, it was delicious and here it is. Serve it for breakfast, brunch or as a light lunch or dinner.

1 shallot or half a small onion, finely sliced into rounds
2 tsp lime juice
3½ Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
200g baby spinach
½ tsp ground turmeric
4 large eggs
1 green chilli, finely sliced into rounds, seeds and all
Fresh coriander
Tamarind Dressing:
2 Tbs tamarind paste
1 tsp fish sauce
1 Tbs lime juice
2 tsp brown sugar

Place the shallot or onion rings in a bowl with the lime juice and a pinch of salt. Mix well then leave to pickle. Place all ingredients for the dressing in a small jar with a lid and shake well. Add between half and 1 tablespoon of water and shake again, so it’s not too thick.

Heat 1 Tbs olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and stir for a minute, then add the spinach, a good pinch of salt and stir fry for a couple of minutes, or until wilted. Remove to a warm plate and wipe out the pan.

Add remaining oil to the pan with the turmeric and stir to combine. Add the chilli slices and stir fry for a minute or so, then push them to one side. Break in the eggs, using a spatula to keep each one separate. Spoon the chillies and some of the oil on top of each egg, then season with salt. Cook the eggs  to a point where they are crispy underneath but the yolks are still soft. Don’t turn them over.

Divide the spinach between two warmed serving plates. Top with two eggs each, the chillies, a few onion rings and any oil left in the frying pan. Drizzle with some of the tamarind dressing and garnish with coriander.

You will have some onions and dressing left over – use on roast potatoes or grilled steak.

Serve with warm flatbread, pita bread or naan to mop up the juices.

Serves 2

Tortang Talong

This Filipino eggplant omelette is delicious. In the Philippines they use long thin Asian-style eggplants which are not easy to find here. I used one medium to large globe eggplant to replace two long Asian ones and served one each.

With steamed rice and a salsa this makes a satisfying vegetarian main meal.

4 medium to large globe eggplants
olive oil
5 eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small onion, very finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Vegetable oil to fry the omelettes
1 avocado, diced
1 small cucumber, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 cup diced tomatoes (quartered if small, diced if large)
Small handful fresh coriander, chopped (optional)
1 small red chilli, deseeded and very finely chopped (optional)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs white balsamic or white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
To serve:
Steamed rice
Sweet soy sauce (kecap manis), ordinary soy sauce or fish sauce
Fresh coriander and thinly sliced green part of a spring onion

Brush or spray eggplants with a tiny bit of oil, then grill or barbecue until blackened and collapsed. Place in a dish and cover with a plastic bag. Leave until cool, then carefully peel off the skins and discard. Leave the stalks on as they are useful for picking up the eggplants to dip them into the egg mix. If necessary flatten the eggplants a bit with a fork – mine were already fairly flattened and I didn’t want to risk them falling apart.

Make salsa by mixing all ingredients together.

Beat eggs with a fork and add onion, garlic and season to taste. Using two non-stick frying pans, heat a little vegetable oil in each and cook two omelettes in each pan. Dip each eggplant in the egg mix, then place in the pan and cook over moderate heat. When all four are in the pans, spoon remaining egg and onion mix on top of each omelette. When crispy on one side, turn over and cook the other side.

Serve the omelettes with the salsa, steamed rice and kecap manis, soy sauce or fish sauce.

Serves 4


Pumpkin and Leek Frittata

Frittata is a quiche without the pastry. Delicious straight out of the oven and leftovers make a tasty lunch the following day.

1 kg butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
2-3 leeks depending on size, white part only, sliced
6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbs fresh chopped thyme
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 eggs
1½ cups cream
½ cup grated parmesan
1 cup ricotta or cream cheese (optional)
Chopped parsley to garnish

Preheat oven to 220°C. Place pumpkin, leeks, garlic, thyme, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Spread out on a shallow baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 25-30 mins or until cooked and starting to brown. Meanwhile whisk eggs, cream and parmesan in a bowl and season.

Tip vegetable mixture into a non-stick frying pan with an oven-proof handle. Choose one measuring about 28cm in diameter. Pour the egg and cream mixture evenly over the vegetables, then if using put blobs of ricotta or cream cheese all over.

Bake for 25 minutes or until puffed and golden. Garnish with parsley.

Serves 4-6

Pickled Eggs

When I was growing up in England, pickled eggs were a popular snack in local pubs. I remember seeing them on the bar in huge jars. Along with meat pies, Cornish pasties and sausage rolls, they go down well with beer. I can’t remember if I ever tried one back then.

An old family recipe for 3 dozen eggs was sent to me by brother David who lives in Vancouver. Actually it came to me via my sister who lives in the UK. Thirty-six eggs seemed like a lot, so I decided to divide the ingredients by three and pickle 12. Traditional British recipes use malt vinegar and a little treacle so the eggs gradually take on a blackish hue. David says any vinegar will work, so I used balsamic. A bit upmarket for your average British pub – I don’t think anybody had heard of balsamic vinegar when I was growing up.

I buy large 865g jars of Maille Dijon mustard from Costco and found that twelve eggs fit perfectly in one of those jars. Our verdict? They’re a bit of an acquired taste but a good addition to a ploughman’s type lunch.


12 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
125ml balsamic vinegar or malt vinegar
¾ tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbs pickling spice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp black treacle
1/3 tsp salt
Extra balsamic vinegar

Place the eggs in a jar with a lid that they fit into snuggly. Place remaining ingredients in a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 3-5 mins. Pour over the eggs. Add extra vinegar to cover completely. Close the jar and invert to mix well. Keep for about a month before using.


Oeufs en Cocotte

A few weeks ago I was looking for good breakfast dishes on Café Cat to recommend to 2CC radio listeners who wanted to spoil their Mum on Mothers’ Day. As I looked through the Index I realised that, despite being into its seventh year, Café Cat had not yet published my absolute favourite egg dish, Oeufs en Cocotte, which is just a fancy French way of saying Baked Eggs.

Serve this for breakfast, brunch, lunch or supper to put a smile on everyone’s face. If you’re a fan of eggs I guarantee you’ll like this one. Once you’ve made them a couple of times you will know exactly how long they take in your oven.

Other delicious egg recipes you might like to try are Salad Lyonnaise à la Madeleine and Spanish Eggs with Jamon.

30g butter
Stale breadcrumbs (about 4 heaped Tbs or so)
4 large eggs
4 heaped tsp sour cream or crème fraîche
1 Tbs snipped chives
To serve:
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Hot buttered toast

Preheat oven to 180°C. Make the breadcrumbs by whizzing a slice or two of stale bread in the food processor. Don’t make them too fine. Butter two half cup ramekins and put a small piece of butter in each. Heat the rest of the butter in a non-stick frying pan and cook the breadcrumbs, stirring, until golden brown. Place half the breadcrumbs in the bottom of the ramekins, then two eggs in each dish, then top with the remaining breadcrumbs.

Place ramekins in a baking dish and pour boiling water to come halfway up the sides. Bake for 15 mins, or until whites are set, but yolks are still soft in the middle. Press the tops with your finger to check.

Mix sour cream with chives and dollop on top of the dishes, then sprinkle a few more chives on top. Serve with buttered toast and pass round a salt and pepper mill.

Serves 2

Variations: if you don’t have chives use finely chopped spring onion tops.

Kedgeree with Curry Sauce, Hot Smoked Salmon & Poached Eggs

I grew up on a fairly basic British diet of meat and three veg. However, my mother was a British Army kid and while living in Hong Kong and Malta she was exposed to some “foreign dishes”. She had two in her repertoire – Spaghetti Bolognese and Kedgeree. Nowadays these dishes are familiar to most people, but when I was a child they were pretty unusual to find in a British household – unless of course you were “foreign”, which we weren’t.

When one of my school friends came round for dinner and Mum served one of these my guest would push the food around the plate and eat very little. No doubt about it, back then this was weird food.

You can find my mother’s recipe for Kedgeree along with an Asian variation here. I found today’s version in an airline magazine some years ago and have been meaning to make it ever since. I have a huge folder and an email box dedicated to recipes I plan to make one day, so I don’t think I’ll ever run out of inspiration for this blog!

1 cup basmati or other long grain rice
300g hot smoked salmon (or substitute ordinary smoked salmon)
1 Tbs butter or Extra Virgin olive oil
2 Tbs snipped chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Curry Sauce:
1 Tbs butter or olive oil
2 shallots or spring onions, chopped
2 tsp curry powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbs vinegar
½ cup white wine
1 cup fish or vegetabe stock
1 cup cream or coconut cream
pinch of saffron or turmeric
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
To finish:
4 poached eggs (or soft boiled)
Chopped fresh coriander
Crispy shallots (a dried product from Asian supermarkets)
Lemon or lime wedges

Place rice in a saucepan with a little more than one and a half cups of water and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil then cover and turn down heat as low as possible. Cook for 10-15 mins, or until water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and leave it to continue cooking in the steam.

Meanwhile for the Curry Sauce, melt butter in a frying pan and cook shallots for 2-3 mins until soft. Add curry powder and cayenne and cook, stirring for a minute. Add vinegar and cook until it has evaporated. Add wine and do the same. Add stock and cook until reduced by half. Add cream or coconut cream and saffron and cook until the sauce has a nice coating consistency.. Season to taste. (If liked pass through a sieve – see Note below)

Poach the eggs. Break the hot smoked salmon into large chunks and mix into the hot rice with the butter or olive oil and chives. Season to taste.

To serve, divide rice between four bowls. Top each serving with a poached egg and some Curry Sauce. Garnish with coriander, crispy shallots and a lemon or lime wedge.

Serves 4

Note: I used spring onions rather than shallots and decided to pass the sauce through a sieve to remove the bits. I mixed these bits into the rice, so they weren’t wasted. I just thought the sauce looked nicer without them. After sieving the sauce I reheated it to serve.

Green Vegetable Frittata with Pesto and Cheese

Frittatas are Italian omelettes. They make a delicious hot meal and any leftovers are perfect cold for lunch next day.

1 bunch asparagus and 1 small bunch broccolini
2 Tbs butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 eggs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
To serve:
About 6 Tbs pesto (bought or home-made)
Extra virgin olive oil
100g goat’s cheese or feta cheese, crumbled

Wash vegetables and cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) lengths, discarding the tough ends. Heat butter in a 25cm (10 inch) cast-iron or non-stick frying pan. Add the asparagus, broccolini and garlic and season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile beat the eggs and season lightly.

When the vegetables are cooked and starting to brown, add the eggs, pulling in the sides with a spatula as they cook, as you do with an omelette. When the frittata is mostly set, sprinkle the Parmesan over the top. Turn off the heat then either put the pan under a hot grill for a minute or so, or cover it with a lid and let it stand for for a minute or so. This is to set the top.

Mix enough olive oil into the pesto to make it pourable then drizzle over the top of the frittata. Top with the crumbled cheese. Cut into wedges to serve.

Serves 3-4 as a light meal

Mushroom and Spinach Frittata

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you will have noticed that we like to give meat and fish a rest about once a week and go vegetarian.

A frittata is an egg-based Italian dish, similar to an omelette. A vegetable frittata makes a tasty light supper and any leftovers are nice cold the next day. Choose a medium sized non-stick frying pan (mine is 25 cm or 10 inches) with a metal handle, so it can go in the oven.

When the frittata comes out of the oven the metal handle will be very hot. I forgot and have the blisters to show for it.

Mushroom and Spinach Frittata

1 Tbs olive oil
60g butter
200g mushrooms, cut into quarters or sliced if large
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
About half a bunch of spinach
6 eggs
½ cup sour cream or fresh cream
Grated rind and juice of half a lemon
2-3 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sour Cream Sauce (optional):
½ cup sour cream
2-3 Tbs finely chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Heat half the butter and oil in the frying pan and cook the mushrooms and garlic over moderately high heat for 2 minutes, stirring, then transfer to a bowl. Strip the spinach from the stalks and discard the stalks. Tear the spinach into smaller pieces. Add to the frying pan with the remaining oil and butter and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until wilted. Add to the bowl with the mushrooms.

In another bowl using a balloon whisk beat the eggs, sour cream, lemon juice and rind, grated Parmesan and salt and pepper. Pour into the frying pan, Scatter the spinach and mushrooms and any juices over the top. Place small pieces of goat’s cheese or feta all over the top. Place back on the stove until the frittata starts to set, then bake for 10 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Cut the frittata into wedges and serve with a mixed salad and the sour cream sauce.

Sour Cream Sauce: mix sour cream with chopped parsley.

Serves 2-3

Variations: use small broccoli florets instead of spinach; use Pecorino instead of Parmesan cheese; use a mixture of fancy mushrooms instead of the usual ones