Egg and Onion: A Monday Morning Cooking Club essential
It’s hard to believe it is already this time of the year! I quite like it when both Easter and Passover occur simultaneously – doesn’t happen that often but when it does it really highlights the cultural diversity in Australia.
As the entire nation is feasting on Easter eggs (in every shape, size, composition and quality) as well as hot cross buns from the (ordinary) now-choc-chip-filled supermarket varieties in neat half-dozen plastic bags to the irresistible spice-scented glazed sourdough version at the local organic baker – it is hard to resist. And we’ve even decorated our celebration chocolate cake with tiny candied Easter eggs!
At the same time, members of the Jewish community are buying up boxes of matzo (unleavened bread), matzo meal, matzo flour, matzo cakes (I could go on) and many many MANY dozens of eggs. Everyone links Easter with the egg, but really Passover should be called the FESTIVAL OF THE EGG.
I think for my mum’s Passover Seder (the traditional meal on the eve of Passover), she must go through at least 10 dozen. Eggs are the main ingredient in matzo balls and flourless egg ‘noodles’ for soup, boiled eggs with salt water are served as part of the Seder to represent the hardened hearts and salty sweat and tears of the Jewish slaves.
Eggs are essential in most Passover cakes which, containing no flour or rising agents, require stiffly whisked egg whites to give them volume and substance. Macaroons are made with egg whites and nuts to give a luscious chewy Passover biscuit. A favourite Passover breakfast is ‘Matzo-brai’, a dish somewhere between French toast (using matzo instead of bread) and scrambled eggs.
So at least we know why we are all talking about the egg!
Without a doubt, my favourite egg recipe is the simplest one I have, and probably the oldest one I know. It’s known as ‘Egg and Onion’, or ‘E & O’ if you have been eating it for over 40 years, as I have!
Egg and Onion has been part of my parents’ Shabbat (Friday night) dinner for as long as I can remember and it is now part of mine. I serve it in bowls on the table so everyone can help themselves. It makes me smile to think of my mum who always serves each person at the table one whole scoop of egg and onion (using an ice-cream scoop!) on a piece of lettuce on each individual plate.
The recipe originated from my Buba (grandmother) Shendel in Poland in the 1920s. She taught it to her daughters, but not to her son (my father), who in turn taught it to their wonderful housekeeper, Pat. When Pat started helping my mother in the kitchen on Friday afternoons, she passed it on (or rather, back) to my mother and eventually to me. It won’t be long before my kids will be making it.
One of my best food memories from my years at school was walking in on a Friday afternoon to the aroma of frying onions and being allowed to help Pat and Mum season (and of course taste!!) this wonderful dish.
Check out our new recipe video for the #UltimateShabbatLunch which of course includes egg and onion!
Egg and Onion
- 4 onions (brown) chopped
- 185 ml vegetable oil ¾ cup
- 12 eggs
- Put the onions and oil in a large frying pan and fry for about 20 minutes on a medium to high heat, until golden brown and very soft. Meanwhile, boil the eggs for 8 minutes until hard-boiled. Remove the pan from the heat, drain and then cover the eggs with cold water. When just cool enough to handle, peel the eggs and grate into a large bowl using the coarse side of a grater.
- Spoon the onions onto the egg, leaving most of the oil in the pan. You may need this oil so don’t discard yet. Season generously with salt and pepper, and combine the onions and egg with your hands or a wooden spoon, tasting as you go. If too dry, add a little oil from the pan. The mixture should stick together if pressed with your hand, but should not be overly oily.
- Until ready to serve, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it onto the surface of the egg and onion so it doesn’t dry out. Keep at room temperature and serve with challah or bagels. It is also delicious eaten on crackers or matzo at Passover time.
- Serves 12 as a starter. I use the guide of 1 egg per person for a shared first course.