Little comes close to the satisfying plunge of toast (or 'soldiers') into the liquid gold centre of a boiled egg. Although the addition of buttery bread and the simple salt and pepper accompaniments are the most Anglicised an egg can get (with the exception of the Sunday-morning fry-up), there are myriad ways to spruce up this most simple of bites.
Bearing in mind that the best kind of egg is arguably one with a runny yolk, it's recommended that you cook the egg from room temperature in rapidly boiling water for 4 minutes. For a medium-soft yolk, 5 to 6 minutes are sufficient, but be sure to submerge the egg in cold water immediately after boiling – this prevents the yolk oxidising and aids in removing the shell. The (large) eggs used in all these recipes are free-range and boiled from room temperature.
green eggs and ham
Thinly slice a small baguette into rounds, brush with a little olive oil and toast under a hot grill. In the meantime, fry up a few rashers of bacon until crisp. Spread basil pesto over the toasts, top each with a slice of bacon and grate some Parmesan cheese over them. Place the toasts back under the grill and brown until the Parmesan is bubbly and golden. Serve immediately alongside a soft-boiled egg or two.
sunny side up
Peel and slice half an avocado over a slice of brown seeded toast and spoon over a dollop of red pepper pesto. Add a tablespoon of chargrilled pickled artichokes and a crumbling of goat’s cheese, such as chevin. Finish off with a peeled and halved medium-soft egg, a drizzle of olive oil and a crack of black pepper.
Combine fresh dill, black pepper and a squeeze of lemon with a tub of crème fraîche. Slice a small baguette into rounds, toast them, and dollop a generous amount of the crème fraîche mixture on each slice. Top with thin ribbons of salt-cured or smoked salmon gravlax and a peeled and halved medium-boiled egg. Finish off with another squeeze of lemon, a few caper berries, a crack of pepper and a garnish of fresh dill.
In a bowl, combine four tablespoons of softened butter with a tablespoon of fresh cream, a crack of black pepper, a small clove of garlic – crushed – and four anchovy fillets. Mash with a fork until well combined and spread over hot toast. Slice the toast into soldiers and serve immediately alongside a soft-boiled egg. The umami flavour of the anchovy butter means that seasoning the egg won’t be necessary.