If you have not read When French Women Cook, by Madeleine Kamman, I commend it to you. Originally published in 1976, this book was reprinted by Ten Speed Press in 2002. Ms. Kamman draws vivid portraits of eight French women, from eight regions of France, who influenced her and her cooking. One of the women profiled in this lovely book, Marie-Charlotte, was Madeleine Kamman's great grandmother. Marie-Charlotte lived in Paris, but longed for her country home of Poitou. The young Madeleine spent quite a bit of time with her in the 1930's.
Marie Charlotte combed the markets for the foods of her loved home, and whenever she could she hopped a train back to visit and supplied herself with regional ingredients. She recreated her kitchen of home in her Parisian flat, filled with crocks of salt pork, preserves, and ripening fruit. She had a knack for la Cuisine de Misere, defined by M.K. as "making something from nothing."(!) On a Sunday afternoon, the old woman and the little girl would often take a train to Nanterre, where they could pick dandelions to bring back to the kitchen.
When I saw some nice looking dandelions at the market, I thought I'd try Marie Charlotte's Scrambled Eggs and Dandelions-one last addition to Something Out of Nothing. As this is a very simple dish, I think it is particularly important to use the best ingredients you can manage. This is how I made it (slightly adapted). This amount will feed 2 to 3 people.
dandelion leaves, blanched and finely chopped 1/4 lb
unsalted butter (I used plugra) 1/4 cup
bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled 2 slices
freshly ground black pepper
nice fresh free range eggs 6
heavy cream 3 fluid oz
good bread, nicely toasted and cut in triangles-I used pita
Suggestion: If you have a nonstick pan, use it. I do not generally favor the nonstick pan, and do a lot of my cooking in well-seasoned cast iron. However, I do keep one large flattish pan with a nonstick finish for intractibly sticky things. This stuff even tried to stick to the nonstick. I had to soak it. Be warned.
Heat 1 tbsp of the butter, and cook the greens until they begin to exude their juices, and continue to cook until quite nearly dry. Mix with the bacon and set aside. Clean pan. Beat the eggs with the salt, pepper and cream. Heat the remaining butter, and cook the eggs over a low heat, quite slowly, until they are half done. Add the greens and bacon, and continue to cook until the eggs are done, but still quite moist, and everything is heated through. Serve over the toast points.
I cooked the eggs very slowly, which is not exactly required in MK's original. However, I was entirely converted to the slow scrambling of eggs, when I tried it after reading about this method in The Wednesday Chef. They are so purely delicious this way. I can't believe I didn't know how to make scrambled eggs properly til now. And yes, I did stir them clockwise. I was luckily warned off trying to make my slow scrambled eggs in a cast iron pan, based on Luisa's experience with her eggs.
I had this for what I thought was a pretty elegant supper, with herbal tea, followed by a really outstanding pear. I think these eggs would also make a nice starter, spooned onto some bruschetta. I'm very taken with the dandelion flavor. The book has another dandelion recipe, also from Marie Charlotte, for a cream of dandelion soup. I may have to go back for more dandelion greens.