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A taste of spring


‘Laid With Love’ poached egg, asparagus velouté and Allerdale goats cheese

It was actually at the Cumbria Life awards a few years ago that I learnt the astounding fact that every egg served in every single McDonald’s restaurant in the UK comes from a family run farm near Penrith!


Afterwards I looked the company up online and loved what I saw. The ethics, principles and industry leading methods of Laid with Love are like no supplier, producer or business I had ever come across in my career. I can’t begin to list all the plus points in this article, but I would encourage anyone who cares about where their food comes from to visit their website and take a look for themselves.


Mind you when you do just ignore the picture of me looking really miserable with Helen, Nick and Oli (I had a horrendous headache in my defence) and have a read. I can guarantee just like me you will never buy another brand of eggs again! One slight benefit for my children is it also changed my view of McDonalds and the food they produce, putting the occasional ‘Happy Meal’ back on the menu.

Laid With Love was set up by David and Helen Brass in 1997, since then it has gone on to lead the egg production industry not only in this country but also by setting an example to other egg producers around the world and has a long list of awards to back this up.

For me at the moment the biggest movement in the food industry is the sustainability movement, both customers and chefs are really starting to look at where their food comes from, but also how those people produce it and who they are. It’s something I care deeply about and as a result it’s something I mention a lot in this column. Laid With Love, has however, taken this to another level, not because they are being trendy, but because they are pioneers in their field. Which is why their business is used as a case study for environmental sustainability by McDonalds.


Their commitment to the environment through recycling, reusing and reducing as a company means that they produce zero landfill waste and have also reduced their water consumption by 50%. But it doesn’t stop there as they’ve also installed biomass boilers, ground source heat pumps and solar arrays to help create their own renewable energy. All of which means that they have one of the lowest carbon footprints in the industry.

Alongside this their bio-diversity action plan benefits local wildlife and their use of larger ranges for their chickens also means much higher animal welfare standards, and consequently much happier, more productive birds. But probably the thing I love most is that 70% of the turnover of the company remains in the local area and 40% of their staff walk to work! Their eggs are available right across the UK through a number of retailers including Tesco and Sainsburys, as well as Booths in the North West.

When I decided to do an egg recipe, I was initially planning on outlining how to cook my style of scrambled eggs that I cook at home, but when I came to jot down the recipe it started to look more complex than it actually is, so I had a rethink and decided to keep that recipe to myself for the time being and roll it out just for my wife’s birthday and Mother’s Day, which as it goes are the only days I ever make it.

Instead I’ve decided to serve up a poached egg with a seasonal soup made with one of the highlights of spring; British asparagus, finished with a Goat’s cheese made by Carolyn and Leonie Fairbairn at Thornby Moor Dairy, Crofton Hall, near Thursby.


Poached egg, asparagus velouté and Allerdale goats cheese


Serves 4


Ingredients:


50g Butter

1 small onion

500g Asparagus

500ml vegetable stock

200ml double cream

A handful of fresh spinach or wild garlic

100g Allerdale goat’s cheese

4 as fresh as possible Laid With Love eggs


Method:


Start by finely slicing the onion and set aside, finely slice the asparagus discarding the tough woody ends.


Warm up the vegetable stock and fill up a deep pan with water and bring it up to the simmer.


In a large pan gently melt the butter until it starts to foam; add the onion and cook until the onion softens. Then add the asparagus and season with salt. Turn the heat up, cook for 1 minute and then add the warm vegetable stock. Boil aggressively for 4 minutes until the asparagus is tender. Then add in the double cream. Bring back to the boil and boil for 1 minute. Pour the soup into a blender then add the spinach or wild garlic and blend until smooth.


Whilst this is blending poach your eggs, to do this some people add vinegar but if your eggs are fresh enough you don’t need to do this. What I do is use a whisk or spoon to stir the simmering water until it starts to create a vortex. Then crack the eggs into the centre of this and allow to cook for just two minutes.


Pour the soup from the blender into 4 bowls and the place a poached egg in the centre finish with crumbled Allerdale goats cheese.

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