British Eccentrics: A Postscript To Eggs Like Fanny’s


Following on from yesterday’s comments, I took another look at Fanny. At the heart of her cookery were Escoffier’s rules, so this morning I followed her technique for plain simple scrambled eggs and suddenly realised the difference, and why she became an influence on chefs. To a postwar rationed bankrupt nation her food was aspirational.

The recipe only works if you defy all the techniques you’ve learned about gentle heat and light cooking. You use an scorching iron skillet, fresh red-yolk farm eggs, smoking butter and oil, no milk, a sharp-edged fork, an enormous amount of vigour and a very vigilant eye. The second the eggs start to coagulate you churn without disturbing the mix (some French chefs mix eggs with the blade of a knife) and turn off the heat. The result is deep orange, lumpy and full of variant colour and texture – so unique-looking that I couldn’t find an online shot remotely like them (I did not have time to stop for a pan-selfie). I once had a dish of parsi eggs on the roof of an old fort in India that had the exact same colour – that’s the only reference I have.

Or you could eat these. This is the Wikipedia photo entry for ‘scrambled eggs’, like someone emptied a packet of crisps into a bowl. Fanny wasn’t pretty but she was no fool.

64 comments on “British Eccentrics: A Postscript To Eggs Like Fanny’s”

  1. Jan says:

    I could just kick myself now there’s a crab apple tree near the green where I bowl over in Charmouth. Tons of windfall crab apples late last summer not long before the summer bowls season ended that I dutifully picked up thinking I can use them…never did did i ? In fact just to prove I am one of the UKs leading numpties I put them down at about the same time I planted my first lot of winter bedding. To distract the creatures that shall not be named. The nameless foe must have treated them as a sort of starter before they set about the pansy flower main course.

    How do you mean Wayne are they not selling pectin or preserving sugar that’s been treated with pectin any more? Cos I don’t bother so much making a big store of jam now I haven’t noticed.

    Snows is right really if you take care to use I’d reckon about a third of fruit (blackberrys in my case) that’s a bit underripe the problem sorts itself out. Or as Snows says add crab apples to your jam pan instead of feeding them to the permanently hungry and ungrateful creatures that will in time nibble + totally nobble your garden anyroad. Just peel em crush them up a bit and retrieve any noticeable bits from the mixture when you are pouring it out of the jam pan. That’s the crab apples not the deer…gone and said the word now….Even easier if you are making bramble jelly you’ll strain it off anyroad. And squirt a good drop of lemon juice in mid way through the rolling boil.

    Tell you what Trafford Park is another place massively changed Wayne. Caught between the BBC complex and the Trafford centre. Bits of it namely the Kelloggs factory with THAT BIRD
    (And what a cock it is )crowing outside haven’t much changed but most of it…

    When I was a girl and it was foggy up the moss (Barton moss + Chat moss) which it was A LOT with it being so damp you used to hear all the boats on the Manchester Ship sounding their horns as they went up toward Barton locks. What a noise! Cos it was relatively close by it almost sort of reverberated. I always used to fall asleep with my right hand flat against the bedroom wall and I used to believe I could feel that deep deep sound in my hand.

    What with that and the blast furnaces from the steel works making the night sky turn a deep dark orange and then flare up into bright orange to crimson it makes it sound dire. Like Mordor ! But it wasn’t as a kid I used to think it was like wonderful that we made steel something that was that important and that the canal helped move stuff that was really vital to everyone. Some little lass or lad in industrial China probably goes to sleep thinking that now.

  2. Jan says:

    I put that badly you can’t peel a crab apple just split it and push the inside bit out with your thumbs.

  3. Wayne Mook says:

    I’ve not been doing any real cooking for a while, but my mother-in-law asked about getting her some, and we couldn’t find it, I could get it on that internet thingy, but I don’t food shop online. There is a liquid apple pectin but I didn’t like the look of it, plus my mother-in-law wanted powder. I know Silver Spoon do a type of it, but I’ve not seen it about. Preserving sugar I could find OK.

    Sorry Snowy for pushing the thread into Turnip territory.

    So what are people thinking of growing this year? Dia seems at a loss this year, she’s says she may leave things fallow, or as she actually put it, ‘I may grow weeds.’

    I used to stay at my grans next to the railway in one of the fire houses on Park Road just by Kellogg’s (They bought Zippy Christmas from Manchester Council (the new Father Christmas looks like he’s begging according to a friend when he was sat in Piccadilly Gardens) and the put Zippy Christmas right next to the cock head sign.). When I stayed at my grandparents I used hear the trains roar through at night when I stayed there, lovely images of where they were going but kept you awake, I was told off for sliding down the embankments on bread trays.

    We lived on the South Side of Trafford Park, I remember when it was desolate, roads with the odd building usually a lone pub on the corner with no other building near it. There will still quite a few firms, Andersons, Massey Fergusons. I lived just past Lostock Park (nr the cinder track that passed by the Park and Barton Clough (scruff) school) and we used to be able to walk across rhubarb to the railway line that went to Kellogg’s straight into Trafford Park. Thinking of some of things we did I’m surprised we weren’t killed.

    It’s quite odd to see the Salford Quays/Media City & it’s retail, leisure & museums as the flows toward the Trafford Centre mixed in with factories like LUR engineering , the Hovis flour mill (taken over by Whitworth’s a few years back but I can’t but think of it as Hovis) and Kellogg’s. The modern Trafford Park is quite an odd mix of stuff, there are even a few banks thrown into the mix.


  4. snowy says:

    Jan, you need not ‘peel’ them as half the pectin is in the skin, [and you’ll get sore thumbs]. If you quarter them you can lift the skins out of the result, or put it through a very coarse sieve, [chip-basket – charity/pound-shop].

    [How the… proverbial, has a post about Scrambled Eggs run to 53 comments??? and indeed ? The World has run completely Mad!]

    [I should have known the ‘End Times’ were at hand when I spotted the local supermarket were knocking out jars of Mincemeat, [Best Before Nov. 2022] at 16 for the price of 1!]

  5. snowy says:

    It is still about, you will find it extremely well hidden in the baking section, [top/bottom shelf outside what they call the ‘prime visual zone’].

    A quick trawl for powder: Waitrose & Morrisons both have it. [It is a heavily processed, derived from the citrus waste from fruit juicing. Invented around the 1920’s]

    Apple pectin in liquid form looks a bit murky, but is less fiddled about with, it’s the slight browning of the apple pulp that looks a bit off when it is concentrated, triggers the ‘disgust’ factor.

    [An absolute doddle to make at home, can be frozen or stored in jars, anybody that can make jam can make it. You only have whizz up one batch and then use it as required.]

    *Awaits the deluge of comments about what to grow, in what now appears to be the ‘Domestic Goddess’ thread!*

  6. Jan says:

    Where’s Helen? I hope all is ok Helen you’ve not been about for a day or two.

    Here Wayne do you remember St Turogs wholemeal bread? It was like a local version of Hovis (there’s a big advert for it painted directly on a old bakery shop wall now a minicab office wall in Irlam nearly opposite the Nag p.h. On the Canal side of Liverpool Road.) Wasn’t half chewy you needed hobnail boot type protection for your teeth to chew it. They never took much in the way of husks and seeds out of that bread I’m telling you. How and why this workout for the jaw came to be named after some local Welsh saint is anybody’s guess. Unless he became the Patron saint of dentures.

    Snows as I am restricted to containers it’s mainly herb planting for me. Rosemary, winter savoury, sage, basil , thyme. Tons of the stuff. I do grow nasturtiums as a salad veg beautiful peppery stuff. Like rocket without looking so much like dandelion leaves which always put me right off that rocket stuff. And tomatoes which I buy from Chardstock bowls club house really good and cheap. Growing cherry toms in hanging basket works really well.

    Tempted to leave one of my very best recipes here but maybe not. Next time! I think I am going to have to stop writing on this particular wall not for fear of falling foul of the Fowler but because I am back on me maths course come friday. Which involves me sitting for hours watching U tube videos really intended for 12-15 year olds starring Mr Bergdorff and annoying Tiffany. In an attempt to try and understand stuff that goes straight over me head in class. They all want to be stand-ups these maths teachers. Drives me bleeding bonkers. Like cramp for the brain cells. The jokes are even worse than the maths.

    Farewell and prosper hopefully we can reconvene @ half term or Easter. It’s good fun this like talking @ the back of the class.

    Oh I know wot I forgot Snowy I have wandered up the field to find the sloes + bulasses aren’t looking too lively. I haven’t really got nearly enough to get sloe gin started and it’s way too late anyroad. Do you reckon your concoction originally starring sloe slops and dark chocolate would work with some tinned pitted prunes plus some dried prunes soaked in sloe gin to rehydrate them? Altogether mixed into this melted dark cheapo chocolate I have purchased from Lidl. Could also add a few cubes of that 85% green + Blacks dark choc which tastes about as bad as raw sloes to eat and draws all the saliva out of your mouth in a similar fashion? Awaiting your reply with interest.
    Prunes and chocolate go really well together I reckon.
    Best wishes Jan

  7. Jan says:

    I do grow sweet peas from seed + nearly spent about £8 quid today in Crewkerne hardware shop on lots of what promised to be very fragrant sweet peas – old fashioned varieties.
    Then I caught myself on and decided to see if the seeds I harvested last year will grow first.

    I’d like to say I was a prize winning sweet peas grower but in fact I am only a 3rd prize sweet peas grower. (Due mainly to the efforts of some bloke who grows absolutely monster size purple sweet peas on the THICKEST stems I have ever seen) Funny I haven’t thought about him in months. Now he’s back and the nefarious goings on in the world of village shows rears it’s ugly head once more.

  8. snowy says:

    Forget sloes until Autumn, use the choc to sustain you through your studies instead. But before you get you head down and disappear, [don’t worry we’ll keep your seat warm], you could prepare yourself a treat for when the exams are finally over.

    Plum Gin

    800g Plums, [about 2 punnets]
    700ml Gin, [a standard 70cl bottle]
    200g Sugar, [any sort you like]

    Prepare plums by freezing [or just re-enact the shower scene from Psycho with a fork]

    Place all the ingredients into a very clean jar, [about 2l or split it across 2 x 1l]

    Shake well and rest overnight

    Shake morning and evening until the last of the sugar is no longer visible and then hide it away in a cupboard for 3 months

    After 3 months strain, check sweetness level, add sugar if required, bottle up and allow to stand for 28 days

    The left over plums can be used to make you know what

    Since ‘all work and no play’ will make you more ‘miserable’ than ‘Les’, [that famous french bloke], here is an excuse to get out in the garden/sunshine.


    “There are two ways to grow sweet peas:

    The amateur’s way (aka the “I just want a bunch of sweet peas in the house for most of the summer” way) or the exhibitor’s (“I want perfect blooms with immaculate straight stems and am prepared to put in the time to achieve this”) cordon way! If you have not grown sweet peas before, we would recommend you begin with the amateur’s way.

    Amateur sweet pea growers plant one or two plants about 5 cm away from their intended support by digging a hole that is about twice the size of the rootball that you have received. If you are gardening on very dry sandy soil it is worth putting some strips of damp newspaper at the bottom of the hole. Plant the sweet pea plug in the hole and cover it with soil up to the first side shoot. You need to firm in the soil so that good contact is made with the root but you don’t want to compress it so much that you compact the soil. Water in well.

    As soon as possible you should tie any shoots onto the support using flexi tie/sweet pea rings/garden twine. Doing this makes them grow faster and stronger. To start with you will do this every couple of weeks. Later in the season you need to do this more often and may even feel moved to remove a shoot or two if your framework is becoming very crowded.

    As the flowers develop, pick them, and then pick them again. Picking the flowers actually encourages more to grow and obviously prevents them turning into seed pods. If you have the time, cut out at least some of the little curly tendrils that the sweet pea uses to grip the frame because the plant is putting lots of energy into producing these rather than flowers.

    Sweet peas need lots of water so if it is dry, make sure that you keep the soil moist. Dry soil will encourage the flowers to go to seed more quickly and your sweet pea season will be curtailed. If your soil is poor you can use some of the potash fertilisers that you might have handy for your tomatoes to keep the crop blooming.

    As the season progresses you will find that your flowers are borne on shorter stems which is perfectly normal. Keep deadheading and feeding and watering to keep them growing as long as possible.

    Professional growers – including the amateur at your village flower show who manages to get six enormous flowers per perfectly straight stem and win first prize every year… use cordon training and layering and mainly grow Spencer varieties because their stems thicken up more naturally.

    Start like an amateur but plant a single plant about 5 cm away from the cane to which it will eventually be tied.

    Once the stems are about 20 cm long, choose the strongest, most sturdy stem and cut off all the rest from the plant with clean, sharp secateurs. Tie the chosen stem onto the cane using flex tie/sweet pea rings/garden twine and keep tying in as it grows. Remove all tendrils and secondary stems at the same time.

    The flowers will be large and on long stems. There just won’t be very many on a plant at once. But if you keep picking they will keep appearing. Keep watering etc.

    Now here is the clever/tricky bit.

    Once a sweet pea has reached the top of its cane, untie it completely and lay it and its neighbours carefully on the ground. Beware! The stems are quite brittle. Take the stem of the sweet pea along the ground at the base of the canes and then tie it onto a new cane further along the row so that the top of this sweet pea stem is about 30 cm up its new cane. Do the same with all the other layered sweet peas. You then repeat the process of tying in the stems and removing the tendrils and side shoots as necessary. The sweet pea will grow and produce yet more show quality flowers on straight stems. With a bit of practice, you might give your local “amateur” at the show a run for his money”

  9. snowy says:

    Wayne, are you and Dia growing for fun or results? Garden or containers/growbags?

    The answer varies depending…

  10. Wayne Mook says:

    I’m not a gardener Dia is, containers, some of them big, made from sleepers. She mainly grows for fun and food. Her green beans were taken by ants, so she was not best pleased. There is a small herb garden that is separate.


  11. Helen Martin says:

    I drifted away before I got back to this point. In spite of not getting fruit in punnets that looks like an interesting recipe and I’m delighted to learn about the sweet peas. I knew about the newspapers in the trench but what’s this “root ball” you’re planting? Do they actually issue started plants for contests? If starting from seed soak overnight before planting. That business about laying the plants down and starting them up again sounds like magic but I’ll bet it works fine. Go to it, Jan.

  12. snowy says:

    If you buy a seedling in a pot/container when you knock it out the loose dirt falls away leaving a round ball of roots twined with dirt which is the rootball.

  13. snowy says:

    Containers, much like my old setup, there is nothing wrong with having a ‘Flower Year’, if your fancy takes you, Sweet Peas even fix nitrogen in the soil, all legumes do.

    I tried various things, following the ‘Economist’s Maxim’, ‘Grow only what you like, but is expensive to buy’. But in a limited space the work is often not worth the reward, a 60 litre container only gets you 3 cabbages.

    So in the end I settled for going salad-map in the summer and the mostly ignored it the rest of the year.

    I grew: ‘cut and come again’ lettuce – a mix of red and green, spring onions, courgettes – only one they crop that much you will quickly grow tired off them, new potatoes – never cropped well for me, but I could get a couple of bowls over a season, tomatoes – for salad half a dozen sweet cherries are much better than the floppy wet things you find in supermarkets – for curries and pasta sauce a good large plum variety.

    Sweet peppers take up lots of room and don’t yield well, chilies do well in an 8″ pot the fruit can be frozen/pickled/dried/made into a paste. Herbs can be dried at home, harvested at the height of summer, bunched and hung indoors in paper bags until brittle, when quite dry crunch them up in the bag and pull out the unwanted stems. If they are still a bit coarse, put them into a herb grinder, [a cheap device most easily found in shops selling ‘Smoking Paraphernalia’].

    Radish, much hated, even if disguised as a slight Cubist looking flower, grate them up mix with a little salt and stand in the fridge for a few hours, it becomes a slightly peppery relish that brightens up a salad.

  14. Helen Martin says:

    Why would you buy a sweet pea in a pot when seeds are so easy to start? Even if you’re growing in pots you can do it easily from seed. I’ll be interested in how well yours from last year do, Jan. Would you let one stem/plant produce seed at the beginning of the season or late on?

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