Halved hard-boiled eggs, stuffed with a paste of anchovies, butter, egg yolks and seasonings is one of the oldest traditional recipes in Europe.
Apicius records a recipe that included garum, garlic, olive oil, pepper and wine.
From imperial Rome to modern Italy the recipe evolved, anchovies replacing the garum for a less punguent taste, butter replacing oil for a creamy texture, chopped parsley adding an artistic touch.
This exact recipe is found in Sweden, made simply with anchovies, butter and seasonings, arranged on a bed of lettuce with a garnish of chopped anchovy fillets and sliced tomatoes.
It is also found in Poland and Russia, where it disappears into a collection of a hundred variations on the theme – from the exquisite lemon juice, mustard and sour cream paste (popular in the Baltic states) to the esoteric salmon and liver paté (popular in Scandinavia) and the enigmatic creamed caviar (popular among celebrity chefs).
In Kaliningrad, as in mother Russia and other northern European countries, hard-boiled eggs are part of the festival culture, when unpeeled eggs are decorated, shelled eggs are coloured, and egg halves are stuffed with every kind of filling imaginable.
This is the basic recipe, with one suggestion for colouring, with anchovy paste. Other fillings below.
1 litre water, boiled
4 eggs, hard-boiled
2 red beets, peeled, grated
75 g butter
10 anchovy fillets, minced
10 g parsley, chopped
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
Water, for boiling eggs
Boil eggs timed according to size, from five minutes for small eggs to seven minutes for large eggs, immediately plunge into cold water until they are cold, about 15 minutes, peel, halve along their length, set yolks aside.
Grate beets into a large bowl, pour in boiling water, add egg halves, leave for an hour.
Sieve yolks into a bowl, cream with butter, add anchovies, black pepper and parsley, retaining some for the garnish.
Remove halves from beet water, dry.
Spoon anchovy paste into halves.
Other Stuffed Eggs
… with anchovies, capers and olives
… with apples and mackerel
… with capers
… with carrots and onions
… with caviar
… with cheese (any hard raw milk cheese)
… with chicken livers
… with cream cheese
… with green peas
… with ham (bacon, ham, pancetta, prosciutto)
… with ham and onions
… with herring mousse
… with horseradish
… with mint and tarragon
… with mushrooms and peas
… with mushrooms and tomatoes
… with mustard
… with nuts (almonds, pistachios, walnuts)
… with paprika
… with radish
… with raisins and cheese
… with raisins and grape juice
… with raisins and wine
… with sardines
… with shrimp
… with smoked bacon
… with smoked salmon
… with sour cream
… with spinach and white cheese
… with sprats
… with squid
… with tarragon and Mascarpone
… with tuna.
Note — one or more of brandy, butter, cream, lemon juice, milk or olive oil will loosen the yolk.
This traditional broccoli dish is believed to be one of the first to be made with broccoli when the Romans or possibly the Etruscans realised the flower heads on wild brassica plants had a delicate flavour, broccoli coming from the Italian word brocco = shoot. This dish is still traditional in the central provinces of Italy, especially around Rome.
2 litres water
1 kg broccoli, whole heads, hard stalks removed
450 ml broccoli cooking liquid
12 garlic cloves, crushed and mashed, chopped small
45 ml olive oil
30 g anchovies (optional)
2 garlic cloves, for cooking water
15 ml wine vinegar (optional)
10 g salt
Bring a pot of salted water with one clove of garlic to the boil. Add broccoli pieces, cook for five minutes.
Drain, reserve liquid and keep warm.
Mash the broccoli. Put oil in a frying pan. Over a low heat sauté garlic with broccoli.
If using anchovies fry them with the garlic.
After 10 minutes add a splash of wine vinegar.
Loosen the mixture with a few ladles of the broccoli cooking liquid.
Once upon a time travellers on Norwegian Railways sleeper trains were handed special tickets by the train chief. ‘These are for your breakfast, go to the hotel across from the station,’ the chief would explain to bemused travellers. The sight on arrival in the grand hall of the grand hotel was a grand breakfast, an assortment of hot and cold foods that had no rival anywhere in the world. Sadly this tradition has lapsed. On the sleeper trains between Oslo, the capital of Norway, and Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim and between Trondheim and Bodø in the far north, a modest breakfast is served onboard. The grandiose buffet breakfasts are becoming a thing of the past, but some hotels are clinging to tradition by presenting modest grand buffets. Think of every possible breakfast food that is served across Europe, add the Norwegian love for loaves and fishes, cheeses and crispbreads, bacon and eggs, pickles and potatoes, and then something you never imagined.
Fishes – Klippfisk (cod), Lutefisk (lyed cod or ling), Sild (herring)
Leverpostej (liver paste)
Lefse (potato flatbreads)
Smoked bacon, grilled to a crisp
Smoked salmon, with lefse or toast
2 Welsh Breakfast
Bacon and eggs are a traditional breakfast throughout Europe, cockels and laverbread less so. In south Wales the sands stretch the length of the Gower peninsula. This is the cockel shore – a place of the laver. Laver is a soft purplish sea vegetable found at Atlantic shores, picked from rocks at low tide. It is thoroughly washed in two changes of water, drained, cooked and sold dried or fresh.
8 slices smoked back bacon
400 g laver pulp
100 g oatmeal
Combine laver pulp and oatmeal, shape into 5 cm wide, 2 cm thick cakes. Fry bacon, remove, allowing fat to drip into the frying pan, keep warm. Bring heat up, wait until the bacon fat is starting to smoke, then fry the laver cakes, two minutes each side. Serve with bacon, sausages and poached (or fried) eggs … And fresh cockles.
3 Irish Breakfast
4 mackerel, filleted
90 g butter
Boil the potatoes in their skins. Pan-fry the mackerel in half of the butter, skin-side down first. Serve with the potatoes, split in half, a little butter in each.
4 Sicilian Breakfast
2 squid, cleaned, cut into small pieces
2 lemons, juiced
45 ml olive oil
5 g chilli flakes
Water, for boiling
Bring water to the boil, heat oil in a deep frying pan. Place squid in the boiling water, boil for 90 seconds, then transfer it to the frying pan. Flash fry squid, about three minutes, adding the chilli after two minutes. Deglaze pan with lemon juice, pour over squid, serve.
5 French Breakfast
4 slices thick country bread
4-6 slices streaky bacon
1 lemon, juiced
15 ml anchovy sauce
Pepper, large pinch
4 wooden skewers
Shell the oysters, soak in the anchovy sauce and lemon juice. Season, wrap a piece of bacon around the oyster, skewer, four to each stick. Toast the bread and place the oyster wraps under a hot grill for two minutes.
6 English and Scottish Breakfast
600 g haddock / smoked haddock, cut into chunks
500 ml chicken stock
350 g long grain rice
2 eggs, hard-boiled
75 g onion, chopped
25 g butter
5 g parsley, chopped
5 cardamoms, crushed
3 g cinnamon
Turmeric powder, very large pinch
Water, for boiling
Sauté onion in butter in a large frying pan for ten minutes, add bay leaf, spices and seasonings. Stir rice into the onion mixture, add stock, bring to the boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Simmer haddock in water for five minutes, flake and set aside. Chop eggs into small pieces. Stir the eggs, fish and parsley into the rice, heat through, season.
7 Swedish Breakfast
2 litres water
250 g smoked salmon, sliced thin
4 slices wholewheat bread
10 g salt
Black peppercorns, crushed
Salt the water and bring to the boil. Break an egg into a small bowl, carefully let it slip into the water, reduce heat and poach for three minutes, remove with a slotted spoon onto kitchen paper. Repeat with remaining eggs. Toast bread, place a poached egg on each slice, garnish with equal amounts of the salmon and a sprinkling of black pepper.
8 Turkish Breakfast
1 kg Black Sea anchovy fillets
250 g corn / maize flour
4 lemons, juiced
Pour flour into a large bowl, dredge anchovies through flour, place side by side on plates. Heat oil, fry anchovies until crisp, drain. Serve with lemon juice.
9 Greek Breakfast
The art of preparing octopus for the grill has consumed the time of Greeks for centuries. The tenderising process alternates between pounding, freezing, baking, marinating and slow cooking. Yet the one method that remains infallible is drying the whole fish under a hot sun in a light breeze.
1 kg octopus, sun dried
60 ml olive oil
30 ml vinegar
2 lemons, juiced
1 tbsp oregano
Blend the oil and vinegar, cut the octopus into pieces. Marinade in this mixture for an hour. Grill under a high heat for three or four minutes until the flesh is tender. Serve with vinaigrette of lemon juice and oregano.
10 Russian Breakfast
Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat describes caviar as ‘the last legendary food of modern times’. Traditionally caviar was made from the roe of wild sturgeon in the nutrient rich Caspian Sea.
It came in four varieties: –
Beluga (pale to dark grey eggs from the larger fish, up to 1000 kg).
Oscietra (various coloured eggs from the smaller fish, 300 kg).
Sevruga (dark grey to black eggs from the smallest fish, 60 kg).
Sterlet (a very small sturgeon that is almost extinct).
Seruga is thought to be too strong for a breakfast caviar, beluga too rich, which leaves oscietra, a light nutty caviar. Because of its flavour, roe from the Icelandic capelin is accepted as caviar and suitable for breakfast.
80 g oscietra caviar / black capelin caviar
45 ml kefir
45 g flour
10 g sugar
Baking soda, large pinch
Oil, for frying
Whisk the kefir into the eggs, season, add flour and soda to make a smooth batter, leave to froth. Heat some oil in a hot frying pan, pour a tablespoon of the batter into the centre of the pan, remove from heat. When holes form on the surface, flip over, and after a few seconds press with a spatula into the pan, putting it back on the heat for a minute. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with the caviar.
The fish pie of Britain is an enigmatic creation, the roux the only constant over the generations. Good mature cheese has always been seen as the secret ingredient by some cooks while others insist the true secret ingredient has always been anchovy essence. A covering of riced potatoes would appear to be more traditional than the pastry cover. A stock made with fish will give the pie more flavour, yet once again there is some dispute whether this addition is truly traditional. Fish other than cod or white can also be found in some versions, as well as mushrooms and tomatoes.
2 kg assorted haddock, hake, herring, mackerel, white fish, filleted, cut into large pieces
1 kg potatoes, cooked whole, skinned, riced
500 g smoked haddock, filleted, cut into large pieces
600 ml milk
200 g mature semi-hard cheese, grated
40 g butter
40 g flour
30 g oyster sauce
6 anchovies / sprats
30 g parsley, chopped
15 g black pepper, freshly ground
Make a light roux. Remove pan from heat, whisk milk a little at a time into the mixture. Back on the heat bring to the boil stirring constantly. Turn heat to low, stir in half the cheese. Add parsley and pepper, allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Arrange fish in ovenproof dish, pour sauce over fish and finish with potato and remaining cheese.
Bake for 45 minutes until crisp and golden, and piping hot in the middle.
A dish of Lazio, this is a creative way of binding melting cheese to bread and still create a traditional crostini. The anchovies are a touch of genius. This recipe is adapted from the Tor Tre Ponti Cultural Association Cookbook which lists it as a second plate. We think it is a perfect breakfast crostini or an antipasta crostini.
6 homemade bread cut into 2 cm thick slices, crusts removed, cut into 4 cm x 7 cm pieces
375 g mozzarella cheese, cut into 4 cm x 7 cm slices
160 g butter, melted
90 ml milk
6 anchovies, cut small
10 g black pepper
Preheat oven to 200ºC.
Sprinkle black pepper on the mozzarella pieces, place a piece of bread on the skewer followed by a slice of mozzarella, alternate for a total of 8 pieces of bread and 6 pieces of mozzarella, the bread bookending each skewer. Push together to adhere the mozzarella to the bread.
Repeat with remaining bread, cheese and skewers.
Place the skewers on the edges of a deep pan, raised above the bottom of the pan. Drizzle melted butter on the edges of each of the bread pieces.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Add the anchovies to the remaining melted butter, sauté until the anchovies begin to melt, add the milk, heat through.
Remove the skewers from the streamers, serve with the anchovy sauce poured on top of each one.
Salpicons are diced ingredients used in numerous food preparations including fillings, garnishes and sauces. In French cooking they are traditionally found in barquettes, canapés, croustades, cutlets, pies, rissoles and tartlets, and in European cooking in devilled eggs, stuffed poultry and game, and as the filling in flattened meat shaped into rolls.
If that was not enough, the salpicon assumed a new identity in the 1980s as a cheese-rich topping for slices of bread heated to a crisp under a grill.
The amount and choice of cheese is personal.
4 slices farmhouse loaf bread / 4 bread rolls each cut into 3 slices