My Mom grew up with what she calls “Depression Era” food. The sort of get-as-much-fat-in-you-while-you-can-because-you-don’t-know-when-food-will-be-around-next. The sort of food inspired by the hardships her parents faced when they were young. She had never had a green bean not cooked in cream sauce until her twenties. It wasn’t food that was based around quality ingredients, or fresh ingredients, or local produce, except incidentally. In fact I’ve only really heard her talk about a handful of things she ate as a kid. Mostly we talk about her moms “cloud” biscuits, which are legendary in my family. They are outrageously good. As are Grammy’s gingerbread cookies and her pies. The other food-things that my mom talks about from when she was wee, is corn and trout, which are things her dad made.
For corn, my Grampy would have a pot of water boiling on the stove, and then, and only then, would he go outside and cut the corn, shuck it, and bring it inside to boil. The pot had to be boiling. It’s the only way to eat corn.
The other thing my Grampy did was go trout fishing. He’d wake up at the crack of dawn and escape the kids and watch the sunrise. And then he’d fry up trout for breakfast for the family. My mom starts smiling when she talks about those trout.
I’ve been thinking an awful lot about Grampy lately. I cleaned out my desk the other day and found a slew of cards I’ve written him and never sent. Which is ridiculous. I’ve got stamps, I’ve got envelopes. I’ve got cute little cards. They have thoughtful notes written out. Why haven’t I sent them? They do no good here.
The other thing I found was all these letters that he’s sent me. His is so witty, and smart, and funny and charming. There is so much of his personality in those letters, a personality I don’t know very well because we live so far apart.
So the other day I was thinking about him, still kicking it at 94, when I walked by my local fishmonger and there were the most beautiful little trout in the window. And I knew I had to get some for breakfast.
I’m sure this is not how my Grampy made trout. I can’t imagine him making a pesto or poaching an egg, although it’s possible that those are two skills he has that I don’t know about. But it’s a very me breakfast, poached eggs and beans and pesto, with a bit of him thrown in, in the form of little river fish.
And it was wonderful.
Poached Eggs with Seared Trout and Minto Pesto and Green Beans
- 1/2lb Green Beans, cleaned with the woody ends picked off
- 2 small Trout, or one larger one. Gutted and filleted.
- 2 good quality Free Range Eggs
- 1 small Handful of Mint
- 1 large Handful of Parsley
- 1 small clove of Garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped.
- 1 Lemon
- 1/3 cup Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
In a food processor blitz together the parlsey, mint, garlic and ¼ cup of the olive oil. Zest half of the lemon in and add in a healthy pinch of salt. Pulse a couple times. Check for seasoning. Put aside.
Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of salt.
Meanwhile bring a small frying full of water to a boil. Add the beans and cook for 2 minutes. Strain and set aside.
Rinse out the frying pan and put it back on the stove over medium heat.
Let it warm up and then add the remaining olive oil.
Season the trout liberally with salt.
When the pan is quite hot (but not smoking) put the fish fillets in skin side down. Immediately shake the pan a bit to move the fish around. That will make sure they don’t stick.
Cook the trout on the skin side until it’s about ½ way cooked. Flip them over, and cook for 30 more seconds.
Put the fish on a plate.
Once you’ve flipped the fish crack your eggs into your boiling water. Turn the water down to a simmer. And cook for about 3 mintues for nice runny eggs.
Put them on top of the fish with the beans and spoon the sauce on top. Serve Immediately.