I have been holding onto the image of spherical objects in a pale sauce on a white plate for years. The gleaming sauce was spread over everything, clinging to the indiscernible objects and covering the whole plate. There was nothing else on the plate either, no respite from the uncanny uniformity of its pallor. I felt nerves before investigating with knife and fork and then the creeping delight of new flavours giving pleasure.
I forgot about it for a while, but later the dish of boiled eggs and potatoes in a hot white sauce returned to me and I yearned to taste it again. – However, I struggled to recall the precise flavour of the sauce enough to recreate it. In the gradual movement towards cooking this dish that unfolded over subsequent years, I boiled or steamed various vegetables (leeks, carrots, potatoes, celery) and egg in a white cheese sauce a number of times. Or with a plainer béchamel. No good, or, not quite the thing. Then, yesterday an online search for the recipe developed thus:
eggs and potatoes in cheese sauce
eggs and potatoes in cheese sauce german
hard boiled eggs and potatoes in cheese sauce german
hard boiled eggs and potatoes in mustard cheese sauce german
The addition of mustard to the search-recipe led me to the site ‘A Sausage Has Two’ belonging to German food expert and writer Christie Dietz, with whom I am loosely acquainted via the internet. I made a slightly adjusted version of her recipe, allowing more sauce per person (as per my memory of the dish). I served the sauce with a selection of boiled things and it was more or less as I had tasted it the first time, a wonderfully subtle yet potent dish. I recount the recipe here.
Eggs and Vegetables in Mustard Sauce
2 eggs per person
3-5 new, or smallish potatoes, per person scrubbed or peeled
1-2 smallish carrots per person, scrubbed or peeled
½ an onion per person
(a generous quantity for 2 people)
200ml whole milk
250ml stock (vegetable, beef or chicken)
2 heaped tablespoons of plain flour
3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
Bread and butter
How to make:
Place the scrubbed potatoes, carrots and halved onions in a saucepan. Cover well with cold water and add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil and simmer until cooked through (check the biggest potato with a sharp knife to see if cooked).
Put a small pan of water on to boil for the eggs.
Meanwhile make the sauce.
Heat the stock and add it to a jug with the milk.
Melt the butter in a saucepan on a low-medium heat, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon and allow it to foam and cook the flour for 30 seconds or so. Slowly pour in the milk-stock mixture, stirring well until incorporated between each pour. If it becomes lumpy use a whisk or beat with your spoon to smooth it out.
Put the eggs onto cook at just below boiling for 7 minutes.
Once it is all incorporated, allow it to bubble gently for 5 minutes or so, stirring so that it does not catch on the bottom. Then stir in 3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, taste, and season with salt and pepper and a pinch of allspice or nutmeg.
Peel the eggs, then lay the potatoes, eggs, carrots and onion onto a serving dish. Pour the sauce over so it covers everything. Serve immediately, with bread and butter. Drink a flavourful beer or white wine with it.