Last weekend I hosted a Mexican dinner party here at Orchard Cottage. I called it Tamale 2.0 as it was a follow up to my first Tamale party last Easter. But this was more than a party; this was a Tamale Sleepover. On Friday night we feasted on all manners of Mexican goodies, from homemade corn chips and guacamole to the best black beans ever, salsa macha to go with flatbread and Homewood’s pickled ewe cheese, salads and, of course, the main event: butternut squash tamales with mole sauce, all the while enjoying some amazing beer and wine. We even had queso fresco thanks to Gringa Dairy and proper corn tortillas from the Cool Chile Company (it’s a joy and a relief that Mexican ingredients are becoming easier and easier to buy in the UK).
But as much as the Mexican feast was the main event, I found equal bliss in the “morning after”. A good handful of party-goers stayed the night and for breakfast I served up a few of my specialties: a healthy vegan breakfast salad, of course, one of my recent favourite combos with cucumber, tomato, red onion, carrots, tahini, lemon juice and lots of Tim Clinch‘s dukkah. Plus sourdough bread, some of Sharon’s exquisite homemade hummus and moutabal, and the centrepiece: braised eggs with potato, onion, sumac and tahini.
I learned how to make this dish on Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookery class at The Vegetarian Cookery School last year; he made braised eggs for breakfast while talking us through the class and imparting a few nuggets of wisdom. Two memorable quotes that I’ll never forget: “You can never have too many fresh herbs” and “I’m fortunate to be a part of the vegetarian world without having to suffer the consequences of actually being a vegetarian myself.” (Priceless!)
Eggs and potatoes are common companions but this dish brought them together in a way I’d never experienced: the potatoes get cooked with lots of onion and sumac, the eggs get cooked on top of the potatoes, and the whole thing is served with lots of tahini, greek yogurt, grilled tomatoes and chopped coriander (aka cilantro).
I’ve done simpler variations on this concept many time since, using spinach or chard instead of potatoes, and often skipping the tahini (which seems like sacrilege now). It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I made the recipe properly for Karen and Kanna: then Airbnb guests, now two people who feel very much like old friends. It had been a while since I’d actually eaten this dish, and felt like I was taking a real breakfast risk (poached eggs on toast is so much more reliable). But the hooting and hollering that resulted from this breakfast told me I’d struck guest-breakfast-gold (and for Karen, a life-changing obsession with tahini).
One of the great things about this breakfast is that it scales extremely well. It also is extremely good hangover food. So for post-tamale breakfast, I decided to break out the tahini jar and see how the braised eggs went down with a wider audience. They were still a hit, and we discovered two combo that work especially well: (1) tahini and dukkah and (2) yoghurt and salsa macha. You could do all four at the same time, but one could argue that’s a little over the top (as if the rest of Tamale 2.0, wasn’t?)
It’s a very special thing to be responsible for one person’s tahini obsession, but it’s even more special knowing that you’ve created memories for people that are good enough to write about, and so I was super chuffed to read about Tamale 2.0 across the interwebs after the event: see Karen’s A Flock of Foodies, Sharon’s Tamale 2.0 with Monica et al and Fiona’s Guacamole, salsa and a citrussy pale ale on Matching Food and Wine. Colour me humbled. Roll on Tamale 3.0!
In the meantime, here’s how to make those kick-ass braised eggs – be prepared to start your first ever tahini budget.
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 200g baby potatoes, cut into 5mm thick slices
- ½ red chilli, finely chopped
- ½ Tbsp sumac
- ½ tsp sugar
- 300g cherry tomatoes, on the vine
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander
- Greek yogurt
- salt and pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the onions, potatoes, chilli, sumac and some salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are completely soft and the potatoes are well and truly cooked. Stir in the sugar, taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed.
- Meanwhile, heat up the grill /broiler and grill the tomatoes on the vine until they are charred (you can also do this on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet on high heat).
- When the potatoes are cooked, spread them evenly over the base of the pan, then carefully break the eggs on top. Cover and cook until the egg whites are almost set. Drizzle a little tahini on top, avoiding the yolks, cover again and cook for another couple minutes until the egg whites are set (cook longer if you don’t want runny yolks).
- Sprinkle with coriander, place the tomatoes on top and bring to the table in the pan. Serve with extra tahini and Greek yogurt.