31 January 2012

Baked eggs with sage and chilli butter

OK baked eggs are a classic through loads of the world - from a Pakistani spiced version with tomatoes to the Turkish classic menemen, a chickpeas and feta based iteration and the North African staple shakshouka (also popular in Israel apparently, courtesy of the Tunisian Jews). You could easily do a nice UK themed one with leeks and bacon. This, wonder of wonders, is Ottolenghi's version with sage and chilli with a sauce whose taste and savour far exceeds the sum of its parts. It's flippin amazing.

You can peep the original recipe here but the basics are:

  • two eggs each
  • greens - rocket, spinach, tender leeks
  • yoghurt mix (with a little raw garlic)
  • butter mix (with chilli flakes and sage)

Pre-heat the oven to a medium heat.

Sweat down your greens in a pan until they are soft. Add them to an oven dish and crack the eggs between the vegetal bolsters. Stick in the oven.

Mix your yoghurt with a little crushed raw garlic. Make the spiced butter - melt in a pan with the sage and chilli flakes and let it cook for a minute or two so the butter solids start to brown slightly and move towards a state of hazelnut aroma, and the sage crisps.

When the eggs are looking done remove and plate up. I found it tricky getting to a point where the yolks were still liquid but the white was set. You may have more luck.

Combinate however you like with the yoghurt and a generous portion of the spiced butter and serve with absorbent Turkish bread.

Oh my days, sheer brunch based heaven. Don't hold back on the butter, it just doesn't make sense to do so. This should be served with some nice coffee (hazelnut?) and some fruit juice. One might even accessorise with some additional greens to balance the various fats and round out the meal. Whatever happens you are in for a treat. (The spiced butter would be great tipped over a fried egg sandwich if you can't be bothered to go the whole hog).

27 January 2012

Rose's egg in a basket


My other half cooked this over Christmas and it's quite an unusual recipe that I thought was interesting. It's inspired by a dish that she had as a youngster whilst spending some time in America - eggs in a basket. I've heard of the egg-in-the-hole type preparation with a slice of bread but having it in a full on pastry pie case with cheese sauce was new to me.


If you fancy making pastry then use your normal recipie for a standard savoury pie crust. Shape into pie shells and blind bake until nearly cooked. Add a raw egg to each pie and why not some vegetables in the bottom too? The egg, pastry and sauce are all quite rich, so having some mushrooms or steamed leeks in there could go very well. We had mushrooms.

Finish it off in the oven and add some black pepper which goes with the cheese sauce very well. Make whatever cheese sauce you fancy. We had a simple classic one, with a white roux followed by grated cheese.


17 January 2012

Mussels with celery, bacon, cream and cider

Mussels are something I don't remember to eat often enough. Wonderfully rewarding to eat and immensely easy to prepare they deserve cooking far more often. This is s simple way to do them, and Anglo-accented sidestep from the familiar moules marinieres with cream and white wine.
  • mussels
  • fatty bacon
  • celery
  • cream
  • cider
Fry your celery in slices with a little butter then chuck in the bacon. When the meat is browned and the celery softened but not totally surrendered add the mussels (do all the boring prep beforehand bla bla) and a bottle of interesting cider.


When the mussels have opened add some cream. Don't go mad. Make sure it's off the heat so it doesn't curdle. Add plenty of black pepper and serve with some bread.

My, that's an easy recipe. Needless to say more cider is advisable for drinking with the food. A little bit of parsley would be nice if you have some to hand but it's far from essential.

We had some amazing smoked trout with lentils to follow.

9 January 2012

Lentil and parsnip salad

This salad or assemblage is a rather nice combination of flavours which put me a bit in mind of an Ottolenghi recipe (well, perhaps a simplified one). Nothing too fancy, and lots of big, hearty flavours which come together nicely under a robust dressing.

  • stuff for a strong dressing: olive oil, sherry vinegar, lemon juice, a touch of raw garlic
  • parsnips
  • puy lentils
  • chilli flakes and mint
  • cherry tomatoes, other nice salad veg

First things first: chop the parsnips, dress with olive oil, dust with chilli flakes, season and roast on a medium heat for about half an hour. You want them to be very well done - the beauty of the parsnip lies in its sweetness and the sugar can not be well appreciated in an underdone root. Meantime put the lentils on and cook until al dente.

Whilst the main bits are cooking make the dressing directly in a big serving bowl. This saves on messing around with a smaller jar or other vessel. I have suggested ingredients above but anything robust is good. Steer towards a middle eastern vibe with sherry vinegar, pomegranate molasses, preserved lemons etc. rather than a French style, mustard based vinaigrette.

When the parsnips and lentils are done to your liking chuck into the bowl and finish the salad with some nice raw salad veg and herbs. I went for cherry tomatoes and mint. Also nice would be something crunchy like raw fennel, white cabbage or celery or something green and irony like blanched spinach or cavolo nero. Taste and finish off by adding salt, pepper, chilli flakes or any other dressing ingredients as you see fit.

This would be a lovely side dish to have with some grilled chicken, lamb or fish. It's pretty filling with the lentils in. At most you might need a scrap of Turkish bread - excellent with a smoky lamb kebabs and some good red wine I'd imagine. As it happened we had a vegetarian friendly version with a fried egg of top. Let me know if you try it!

5 January 2012

Xmas 2011

Apologies for the slackness, I was very busy doing nothing for quite a few days. Other days were spent touring around the country to Norfolk and Glastonbury, eating fish, spotting seals, watching Spiral, reading and drinking gin and ale. Now it's 2012, it's January, it's windy and it's back to work. So it goes. I'm ready to approach cooking and the blog once again with a manner befitting a new year and new resolutions.

Here are some snaps of xmas dinner.

 topside of beef

pigs in blankets

spuds being prepped

  • brown bread crumbs
  • mixed nuts
  • carrots, peas, onions
  • veg stock/marmite

Fry a couple of onions chopped with garlic in oil. After a while add the carrots chopped small and the peas. Add seasoned brown breadcrumbs and smashed up nuts. Top up with some veg stock and top with nuts toasted with sage. Bake. Delicious.
     carrot and swede purée

    This is the bomb! Take an equal amount of carrot and swede and boil until very tender. Blitz in a magimix, add a knob of butter, a couple of spoons of creme fraiche and a seasoning of cumin and black pepper. Don't be tempted to mash by hand - it's just not the same. The cumin and the pepper bounce of the sweetness of the vegetables wonderfully, and the dairy stuff rounds it all out. Very nice.

    The whole hog with sprouts, potatoes, yorkshire puddings and roast parsnips. I think having something mashed is great as otherwise everything is roast and crispy. Soft and giving mash compliments the crunch and heft of the other elements.

    Happy new year.