Eggs. Fanny Cradock loves them. She has a myriad of recipes that she can whip up with them. Actually she boasts that she has five hundred. She doesn't cover them all in this new partwork, instead, showing only a little of their versatility on a fairly modest level. Eggs, Fanny tells us, are a nutritious investment which 'open sesame' to a vast range of sweet and savoury delights. Fanny has 'knitted' as much of her recipe repertoire into the cookery programme as she can manage, but to cover them all would be like, well, trying to mop up the Niagara with a baby sponge!
Fanny urges us to think for a moment about how many culinary methods can be applied to a humble egg. They can be boiled, poached, fried, grilled, scrambled, baked, stuffed, pickled or, erm, roasted on a spit. This is not a technique I am familiar with, but Fanny assures me it is. She says she will not waste any time on it however, before starting to explain. For Oeufs à la Coq, the eggs are spitted onto a slender set bar and then something happens which is all a bit chi chi, which instead of elaborating on, Fanny suggests we learn some of the basic rules of eggs. We are left high and dry wondering how on earth to spit roast a chi chi Coq.
Fanny has something much more straightforward in mind. Full warning. It involves Aspic. She calls them Cocotte Eggs with Pâté and Aspic. It doesn't help. I'm imagining individual oven baked eggs, which is what Cocotte normally means. However, as always, Fanny has other ideas. Firstly, she soft-boils the eggs, by which she means for precisely four minutes. Precisely. She then makes up a batch of Aspic 'for masking'. Masking what, she is not so clear on. What she is clear on is that once made it should be mixed with some mayonnaise. I fear it is myself who needs the mask.
For the pâté, any simple shop bought or pâté familial (home made) will do. Fanny whips up an appropriate amount of double cream and blends most of it into the pâté along with a large spoonful of sherry. Well, at least there is booze. She pipes this mixture, once the seasoning is corrected, into individual cocottes, or miniature soufflé moulds. I'm using some plain old tea cups. Fanny plonks the perfectly soft-boiled egg in the middle. Then it is time for a horror of the aspic'n'mayonnaise.
Fanny spoons the still 'syrupy' aspic over the egg to set, being very careful not to let it run onto the pâté. It glides smoothly over the already smooth egg white, making a shiny white surface of the already shiny white surface. Another layer makes it even shinier. Fanny sets half a stoned Black Olive in it to garnish, but as I am absolutely terrified of them, and frankly this is all bad enough, I substitute for some slivers of tomato. It doesn't end there. Remember that cream we whipped up earlier, and saved a little behind? Fanny takes a small nozzle and pipes it around the egg as a thin 'thread' of border. It makes it look pretty, but there is no masking the fact that it is an egg, covered in mayonnaise-y aspic, plunged in pâté. Pass me the sherry instead. Just the one, as Mrs Wembley taught me. Hic.