Three seasonal stars come together in this week’s recipe.
The first is purple sprouting broccoli, a welcome sight at this time of year, which used to be known as “the hungry gap” in the British vegetable-growing calendar.
The second is brown shrimps, the tiny crustaceans – once commonplace, now a luxury – that are still traditionally caught in Morecambe Bay from spring until June, when fishermen trawl the shallows between the sandbanks.
The third, perhaps surprisingly, is eggs.
Of course, you can buy eggs anytime these days, but hens, left to their own devices, lay most of their eggs when the days start to lengthen. In fact, some eggs – such as goose, pheasant and turkey – are still only available in the springtime. Sometimes it’s good to remember the natural rhythm of things.
Ingredients (serves 2)
200g purple sprouting, trimmed, broken into florets
4 medium eggs with golden yolks
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1½ tbsp double cream
70g peeled brown shrimps
2 good pinches cayenne
3 good pinches ground mace
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
Hot buttered toast, to serve
Bring a pan of boiling salted water to the boil. Drop in the purple sprouting broccoli and cook for 3-5 minutes until just tender. Don’t let it go mushy. Drain thoroughly and keep warm.
Wipe out and dry the pan, then add two thirds of the butter and melt over a gentle heat. Add the shrimps, cayenne, mace and a small pinch of salt, then stir gently for a minute or so, just until warmed through. Stir in the parsley, then put to one side and keep warm.
In another, non-stick pan, melt the remaining butter. Beat the eggs together in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add to the butter and cook over a low heat, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes, or until the eggs are lightly scrambled. Stop when they are just underdone, remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
Divide the eggs between pieces of hot buttered toast and lay the broccoli either on top or alongside. Spoon the shrimps and spiced butter over them, add an extra grind of black pepper and serve.
Incidentally, if you can only find potted shrimps, melt those and use them instead, omitting the extra butter and spices.
Lucas Hollweg is an award-winning food writer, cookbook author and cook. A former Sunday Times journalist and cookery columnist, he writes for a wide range of food publications. His most recent book isGood Things to Eat.