We always assumed I was going to be taller. After all, you don’t see many ten-year-olds with size six feet roaming around the joint, and my grandmother on my father’s side was tall herself. She used to inspect me and say with a knowing nod, “yes. You are just like Mah-Mah. You will be tall”. When I entered secondary school I was one of the tallest in my class, lined up towards the back of the group during fire drills feeling proud, holding my head high and my spine straight.
The following summer I came back to school and suddenly the rest of the girls had grown a foot whilst I had stayed, disappointingly, at a mere five foot two. One school mate came running up to me to tell me her summer news, only to stop short, giving me a quizzical look as she found herself looking down at the top of my head. “Oh,” she mused, raising an eyebrow, “I thought you were taller” – I never grew again.
At first the disappointment at going from one of the tallest in the class to the shortest, bar one girl who was only a couple of inches taller than that of a classified midget, made me incredibly bitter. I measured myself obsessively – the pencil marks covered the wall behind the kitchen door, the spot we had measured ourselves at since we’d moved in five years previously – but I remained at that minute height, wishing for just a couple more inches.
However, after a while I started to discover the benefits of my diminutive size. I could slip through big crowds by ducking under arms and squeezing between bodies; I almost always managed to find a seat on the tube; men were always taller than me, even in heels; and people assumed that I was fairly sweet and innocent, which meant I could get away with most things! And then there were the miniature things.
This is going to sound a little odd but when I realised I wasn’t getting any taller my love for miniature things suddenly became a lot more significant. Things that were small were cute – I even had two sets of miniature tea sets, out of which I often had afternoon tea – and, more importantly, things that were small were smaller than I was.
These days I’ve come to terms with my entire being and am perfectly happy how I am (give or take a few pounds). I still love miniature things, however. My favourite cook shop in Chiswick, Whisk, has many a cute thing and on one browsing occasion I came across a terracotta egg “carton”. After seeing it an idea suddenly bloomed for a miniature oeufs en cocotte – baked eggs, usually in a ramekin or similar container, with various other ingredients like cream – using quails’ eggs.
This dish would be a perfect amuse bouche, served with buttery toast soldiers. Be sure not to overcook your eggs – you want them runny and delicious. You could also use a regular hen’s – or duck’s – egg in a ramekin for a more substantial starter, but if you can find a smaller container why not? Great things come in small packages, after all – just look at me.
MINIATURE OEUFS EN COCOTTE
6 quail’s eggs
200 ml double cream
3 tsp truffle butter, plus a little normal butter for the container
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chives or parsley for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
2. Use the normal butter to grease the insides of your ramekin/container then crack a single quail’s egg into each cavity. Add about 2 tbsps of double cream, season to taste and top with 1/2 tsp of truffle butter.
3. Place in the preheated oven for about 7-8 mins – keep an eye on it, depending on how runny you like your eggs. Snip the chives/parsley with a pair of scissors and garnish the tops of the cooked eggs.
4. Serve with buttery toast soldiers and enjoy!
Until next time, peace and love.
PS: Don’t forget to enter my give-away to win a George Foreman Heritage Family grill! See here for details. You’ve got until midnight (GMT) on the 31st – what are you waiting for? Go, go, go!