Friday, April 26, 2013

The Perfect Poached Egg

How do you cook the perfect poached egg? The many gismos and gadgets out there are enough to make you believe that poaching an egg is some kind of near impossible feat. It isn't, in fact it's pretty darn easy, here's how I do it.

The Perfect Poached Egg


Ingredients

An egg of course, plus a glug (about 1 tablespoon) of white wine vinegar and seasoning.

Vinegar helps to make the whites firm faster and keep their shape.

Method

Boil a kettle and pour the water into a saucepan (about 2/3 full).

Bring the water to a gentle simmer and add the vinegar.

Using a wooden spoon stir to create a whirlpool in the water.


Gently break the egg on the side of the pan and slide quickly into the water. You may find it easier to break the egg first and have it ready in a small dish or ramekin.

The water should not be boiling rapidly just simmering.

Allow the egg to cook for 3-5 minutes, allow 3 for a lovely runny yolk. This gives you roughly enough time to toast your bread and slather on some butter.

Remove from the water with a slotted spoon, allowing any excess water to drain away.

Place the egg on the buttered toast, season with sea salt and ground black pepper.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Recipe - Fabulous Fluffy Eggs

Fluffy eggs - an easy, eye-catching way to serve eggs and great for children.

 
Here is how to do it...

Recipe - Fabulous Fluffy Eggs

Ingredients (for one):

One large free-range egg (if the egg is not large, you may need the whites of two)
1 slice of toast (optional)
One dessertspoon of grated Cheddar cheese
Salt and ground black pepper

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 190C (gas mark 5)
 
Separate the egg, be careful to keep the yolk in tact.


Place the yolk in a ramekin dish and the whites in a mixing bowl.

Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks.




Lightly toast the bread and place on a baking tray.

Spread two thirds of the whisked egg white on to the toast.

 
 
Make a small well in the egg white and slide in the yolk.



Season, then cover with the rest of the egg white. Ensure the yolk is sealed in.

Sprinkle the grated cheese on top.


Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes, until the top is slightly golden.



This should give you a lovely oozing, runny yolk. Ta dah....


 
I like mine with a big dash of Lea & Perrins.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Recipe - Baked Eggs

Baking is not one of the more popular ways to cook eggs, I don't know why, it's a healthy method and gives them a lovely texture. Baked in individual ramekins until the whites are just set, with a creamy, pudding-like consistency and runny yolks. Perfect for dunking soldiers. Here's how...

Recipe - Baked Eggs
 
Ingredients (for one)

One free-range egg
Sea salt and ground black pepper
A small amount of butter to grease the ramekin

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180C (gas mark 4).

Grease a ramekin dish with a little butter.

Boil a kettle of water.

Break the egg into the ramekin, be careful not to break the yolk.

Season with salt and pepper.

Place the ramekin into a suitable oven-proof dish and pour in a couple of inches of hot water from the kettle.



Place in the oven for approximately 12-13 minutes for an oozing, runny yolk.

Eat at once.

You can bake as many as you like in one go, the only thing holding you back may be how many ramekins you have. Alternatively, you could always use a bigger dish and more eggs.

You could also try lining the base of the ramekin with a tasty addition such as fried mushrooms, caramelised onions or cooked bacon then bake the egg on top.


Baked Egg with Asparagus Spears

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Recipe - The Ultimate Omelette

As promised, here begins my series of egg-centred recipes. First-up is the king of all omelettes, most delicious and yet simple, The Ultimate Omelette.

Recipe - The Ultimate Omelette


The Ultimate Omelette (it's looks don't do it justice)
Ingredients (for one omelette)

Omelette:
2 free-range eggs
1 dessertspoon of crème fraiche
1 dessertspoon of grated Cheddar cheese
Salt and ground black pepper
Oil for cooking


Filling:
 1 large dollop of crème fraiche
Several strips of smoked salmon
A squeeze of fresh lemon
A generous grind of black pepper

This is my favourite filling, use the ingredients that you like best.

Method:

In a bowl pop the eggs, cheese, crème fraiche and seasoning. Whisk with a fork until will mixed.


Heat a non-stick frying pan to a medium heat and add a drop of oil.

Pour in the egg mixture and tilt the pan so that the mixture spreads and covers the base.
Use a spatula around the edges to ensure it doesn't stick and to keep it loose. Quickly (after approximately 20 seconds, you have to move fast!) reduce the heat to low.

Cook until the omelette has formed but still runny. Pop your filling on half, then fold the other half over the top. Remove from the heat and slide onto a plate.

In my opinion the omelette should be just turning golden on the bottom but remain runny inside.
The key to getting the omelette just right is to turn the heat down quickly and cook on a low heat.

Eat at once.

Most eggscellent.

  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The humble hen's egg

The humble hen's egg, a staple item in any kitchen and, as a non-meat eater, eggs are completely and utterly indispensable to me.


An inexpensive source of quality protein, eggs are versatile, nutritious and a key ingredient in baking, many sauces and so on and on.



Once believed to be cholesterol bombs, experts now acknowledge that eggs should be a part of a balanced diet. In fact, recent studies show that eggs do not significantly affect cholesterol levels in most individuals.
 
 
 
One egg is considered to roughly provide the equivalent protein as one ounce of meat. A large egg (about 50 grams) offers approximately 70 calories and 4.2 grams of fat. An egg offers no trans fat, carbohydrates, sugars or dietary fibre, but about 70 milligrams (mg) of sodium and 211 mg of cholesterol. The cholesterol is contained in the yolk of the egg.
 
One of the egg's most important nutritional benefits is that it is a source of a B vitamin called choline. Although the human body makes choline, it's not enough to meet your needs without food sources. Eggs are rich in riboflavin (vitamin B2). One large, fresh egg offers 0.2 mg, or 15 percent of the RDA for this nutrient. They also provide vitamin B12, one of the few non-meat food sources of this nutrient.
 
Eggs are also an important source of the minerals phosphorus and selenium. They also provide lutein, a carotenoid, that acts as an important antioxidant.
 
If you need any more encouragement to eat eggs, as if! I am going to share with you a (free) range of  simple, exciting and delicious egg-centred recipes, including fluffy eggs, THE omelette and more...

 

Monday, April 15, 2013

London Loves

A weekend in the city, and boy did it feel big and busy, proof (as if I needed it) that I have become well an truly ingratiated in loch-side life.

A full two days of college lectures was the intention, but Saturday's lectures were cancelled. I, therefore, found myself with a day free to roam the streets, in search of scintillating food and shoes.

Overwhelmed by the shoe hall in Selfridges, I made my way downstairs to the refuge of the food hall.

A feast for the eyes...



 
Cakes and pastries almost too pretty to eat, almost!

A range of insect snacks from "Edible", who claim their aim is " to revive the childhood nostalgia, and take you back to a happy time when eating your own garden collected delicacies, such as these salt and vinegar grasshoppers, did not revolt you. "



 
 
Sorry, but I don't remember eating grasshoppers or worms for that matter.

The delicious looking dried insects were enough to make a girl hungry...

Rather than back garden, I decided to go Middle Eastern for lunch with a vegetarian Levantine Moussaka and Manakeesh Haloumi. Manakeesh is a small flat bread with a topping, in this case haloumi cheese, but often topped with spices or meat, similar to a small pizza. They are popular at breakfast in Syria and Lebanon topped with zaatar (blend of herbs). It may not look that appetising, but trust me it was, I felt re-fuelled and ready to hit the shops again.


Levantine Moussaka and Haloumi Manakeesh
After losing a couple of hours of my life but at the gain of two pairs of Kurt Geiger shoes, greatly reduced in the sales I might add, I decided to treat myself to my favourite afternoon treat, a pot of tea and a scone.

Spelt, Quinoa and Currant Scone

In the name of research, I chose the Spelt Quinoa and Currant over the classic plain scone.  This was probably a mistake but I enjoyed it nonetheless, a recipe I may have to experiment with.

Sunday, it was even warm enough to eat Al-fresco. OK, that sounds too glamorous for Euston station, make that eating outside...

Al-Fresco Dining...Euston style
 


True enough.
 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Riverhill Deli & Cafe, Helensburgh

In what feels like another life, before I moved up here, Riverhill Deli & Cafe became a favourite place to eat when visiting Helensburgh. Now that it is my local town, it is still very much a firm favourite for eats or just a flat white.

Riverhill Deli & Cafe, 64 Sinclair Street, Helensburgh, G84 8TP
Today, I had the pleasure of meeting one of the owners, Johnny, to talk "food".

Fabulous, fresh produce

I was was shown the tiny kitchen where the magic happens. Johnny must be some kind of wizard, when I say the kitchen is tiny, I mean TINY, there is hardly room to swing a haggis. In his cupboard of a kitchen Johnny conjures up an array of delectable baked delights, lunches and evening meals.


Just try to resist...
 
Riverhill has outgrown it's current home, and is moving onwards and upwards but fortunately it is staying in our town. For those of you that may be visiting our fair land but may not make it here, they now have a sister store in Glasgow (24 Gordon Street).

The good news is you can visit and sample the delights at pretty much anytime of day in Helensburgh. It is open early for coffee, lunch and on a Friday and Saturday evening dinner.



Today's display included "Riverhill Teacakes" with marshmallows and wild berries and extra special Empire biscuits with a jam and buttercream centre along with the usual macaroons, scones, and a wide variety of cakes and scrummy goodies. I resisted, only because I had a ridiculously indulgent day yesterday (featuring two scones, carrot cake...) and at 10:30 I was a little early for lunch.



As I was about to leave Johnny called out, "Rebecca, have you seen all the wild garlic growing here at the moment?". My kind of place and my kind of people.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Recipe - Amaretti biscuits


Tomato, basil and mozzarella, strawberries and cream... some of the best flavour combinations are the simplest. Last night in a little Italian in Glasgow, faced with the dilema that is the dessert menu, I did what I don't normally do and opted for the simple vanilla ice cream, I'm usually more of a chocolate fondant or sticky toffee pudding kind of girl. I thoroughly enjoyed the ice cream although it wasn't quite that simple, with crushed amaretti biscuits soaked in amaretto. Served with two spoons, my company declined, and I had it all to my merry little self. Inspired, I thought I would share my recipe for amaretti biscuits.

Amaretti is said to mean ‘little bitter things’ in Italian. The small, almond biscuits should be light and airy, crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle.


Recipe - Amaretti biscuits

Ingredients (makes approximately 25):

1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
145g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 egg whites
30g icing sugar, sifted for dusting

Method:

Sift the flours, cinnamon and half the caster sugar into a large bowl. Add the lemon zest and ground almonds.

In a mixing bowl beat the egg whites with electric beaters until they form soft peaks.

Gradually add the remaining caster sugar to the egg whites, beating continuously until the mixture is thick, glossy and all the sugar has dissolved.



Fold this into the dry ingredients with a metal spoon, until the mixture is combined and forms a soft dough.


With wet or oiled hands roll 1 teaspoon of the mixture into a ball and arrange on baking trays, leave approximately 2cm of space as they will spread. Leave uncovered and set aside for about an hour.




Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 180C (gas mark 4).

Liberally sift icing sugar over the biscuits.


 Bake for approximately 12 minutes until crisp and lightly golden.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serve dusted with icing sugar.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Recipe - Cranberry and Pistachio Cookies dipped in White Chocolate

Yum yum yum, these are lovely, chewy cookies decadently dipped in white chocolate. Go on treat yourself...

Cranberry and Pistachio Cookies dipped in White Chocolate


Ingredients (makes approximately 20)

160g unsalted butter softened
170g caster sugar
185g plain flour
1 tablespoon of strawberry jam
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
80g dried cranberries
200g of broken up white chocolate
80g of chopped pistachios

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C (gas mark 4).

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl (you may want to use a mixer or electric beaters) until pale and fluffy. Mix in the strawberry jam, dried cranberries and chopped pistachios. 

Sift in the flour and stir until it forms a soft dough.

Place tablespoons of the dough onto baking trays and flatten slightly with a spoon. Ensure they are placed approximately 2cm apart, as they will spread. 

Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Leave to cool.

Place the white chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, ensuring the bowl does not touch the water. Keep stirring the chocolate until it has melted.


Dip each biscuit in the melted chocolate, place on a wire rack until the chocolate has set.