Last year I had my annual stay with Alex James at the back end of the festive period. While mooching around the Blur man's kitchen, I spotted a set of cute little cast-iron skillets, each the perfect size for a single, Aga-top egg. Of course, we got a bit creative with how we garnished them. I did a few takes on what you might call oeufs en cocotte – except these were really more eggs en skillet.

There are always a few random ingredients knocking around in Alex and Claire's kitchen – on this occasion, we had the livers and hearts left over from the pheasants they'd got in for Christmas, which, with a spoonful of celeriac purée on the base, made for extremely tasty little cocottes.

I'm not using pheasant hearts in these recipes, but have employed some equally interesting if slightly more obtainable ingredients.

If you don't have an Aga, then a heat diffuser – which along with the skillets you can find in many kitchen or hardware shops – will do the trick and give you a nice even cooking heat. With a decent-sized one, you should be able to get four mini-skillets on at a time.

Quail eggs with scallops and chanterelles

Serves 4

If you can't get hold of chanterelles you could replace them with any wild or cultivated mushroom. Cep or oyster mushrooms are also good choices.

A few good knobs of butter

4 medium scallops, quartered, or 12 queen scallops

100-120g chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1tbsp chopped chives

12 quail eggs

Heat a little butter in a frying pan, season and quickly cook the scallops on a high heat for 20 seconds. Remove from the pan and put to one side. Lower the heat, add a little more butter, and gently cook the chanterelles for a couple of minutes, seasoning and stirring as they are cooking. Stir in the chives.

Put the skillets on the edge of the Aga ring or on a diffuser on a low heat. Carefully crack the quail eggs into four cups or pots (3 in each). Add a little butter to each pan, then pour in the eggs and cook on a low heat until they are just set. Remove from the heat, arrange the scallops on top, spoon over the mushrooms and serve.

Hen eggs, black pudding and apple

Serves 4

This is a classic sweet and savoury combination. Try to buy the best black pudding you can; I prefer the French and Spanish style puddings as they have more flavour and a softer texture.

1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped

½tbsp caster sugar

A couple good knobs of butter

4 good quality hen eggs, such as Burford Browns

120g or so of black pudding, broken into nuggets

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the apple and sugar in a pan and gently cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring every so often until the apple has become a stiff purée. Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.

Put the skillets on the edge of the Aga ring or on a diffuser on a low heat. Add a little butter to each pan then crack in the eggs, season lightly and place the nuggets of black pudding on the eggs. Gently cook them until just set. Spoon a little of the apple sauce on and serve.

Duck eggs with devilled lamb kidneys

Serves 4

This version of the old Victorian breakfast dish makes for a delicious and different breakfast, brunch or even dinner party starter. You can replace the kidneys with chicken livers or hearts, or indeed a combination of the two, if you wish.

For the sauce

A good knob of butter

1 small shallot, peeled, halved and finely chopped

1tsp coarsely ground black pepper >

A good pinch of cayenne pepper

1tbsp red wine vinegar

1tsp flour

½tsp Dijon mustard

150ml beef stock (half a good cube dissolved in 150ml water will do)

Salt to taste

4 lamb kidneys, halved, de-veined and each half cut into 3

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

50g butter

4 duck eggs

First make the sauce. Heat the butter in a pan and gently cook the shallot, pepper and cayenne pepper for 30 seconds, then add the vinegar and reduce completely. Stir in the flour and mustard and gradually whisk in the stock, then simmer gently for 5-6 minutes until it's nicely thickened. Season, cover and remove from the heat.

Heat a little butter in a frying pan and season and quickly cook the kidneys on a high heat for 30 seconds, giving them a nice colour, then drain on some kitchen paper. Put the skillets on the edge of the Aga ring or on a diffuser on a low heat. Add a little butter to each one then crack in the eggs, season lightly and gently cook them until just set. Meanwhile reheat the kidneys in the sauce, spoon on to the eggs and serve immediately.

Duck egg Lyonnaise

Serves 4

If you can't get your hands on guanciale, which is an Italian cured meat prepared from pork cheeks or jowls (the name comes from the Italian word for cheek), then you can substitute chunks of pancetta or smoked bacon.

A little vegetable oil for frying

A 120g piece of guanciale or pancetta, cut into 1cm chunks

1 medium onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

A few good knobs of butter

6-8 medium-sized new potatoes, cooked, peeled and cut into ½cm slices

4 duck eggs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a little vegetable oil in a small frying pan and fry the pieces of guanciale for 3-4 minutes on a low heat, turning them as they are cooking until lightly coloured.

Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Add the onion to the pan and cook gently for 2-3 minutes until it softens, then remove from the pan.

Add a little butter to the pan and cook the sliced potatoes on a high heat, seasoning and turning as they are cooking until they are lightly coloured. Mix together with the onion and divide into the four skillets.

Put the skillets on the edge of the Aga ring or on a diffuser on a low heat. Add a little butter to each pan, then crack in the eggs, seasoning lightly, and cook on a low heat for a couple of minutes until just set. Divide up the guanciale between the skillets and serve. µ

Upcoming events

Food Rocks, 5-6 Sept; foodrockssouth.co.uk Wild food week, Hix Mayfair, 28 Sept - 4 Oct; hixmayfair.co.uk

Dartmouth Food Festival, 23-25 Oct; dartmouthfoodfestival.com

Padstow Christmas Festival, 3-6 Dec; padstowchristmasfestival.co.uk

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