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Posts Tagged ‘eggs’

Asparagus mimosa

In Brunch, gluten free, snacks, spring, vegetarian on 26 December, 2012 at 9:49 pm

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So with Christmas come and gone we’re approaching high summer (thirty degrees in Wellington yesterday! Who would’ve thought it?!), suddenly tomatoes and courgettes are cheap, sweetcorn is… well… if not yet cheap, at least available, and asparagus season is getting ready to wind down. I’m sure for many of you the initial excitement around the appearance of one of the most-celebrated spring vegetables has died down. But not for me: I was in Japan for most of asparagus season this year and I’m in serious catch-up mode now.

I adore all forms of asparagus (except tinned ones and those that have been boiled to death), but more often than not you’ll find me eating them with eggs. I know, not the most imaginative combination, but there’s something just so perfect about the contrast between bright, earnest green and runny yellow yolks that, given the option between doing something new with asparagus and having some with topped with a poached egg, I’ll almost always choose the latter.

Which is probably why it took me so long to try out this recipe for asparagus mimosa from everyone’s* favourite Ottolenghi cookbook, Plenty. Because who can be bothered looking up new recipes for asparagus when you can just chuck some spears in the oven drizzled with olive oil, or in a pool of garlic butter sizzling in a skillet, then sprinkle over some salt and pepper, top with a poached egg, bam. Need variation? Lemon zest/juice, or parmesan, or pine nuts or all three. Or soy sauce and butter, or miso butter. Too easy.

So I almost always skip the asparagus recipes, and I don’t really think too much of it. But today I thought, it’s Boxing Day, why not do something a little special? And now I’m kicking myself for not having made this before: it’s incredibly simple, I almost always have all the ingredients at hand, but it feels a bit fancier than my usual poached egg on asparagus. Ottolenghi suggests adding some chopped tarragon to make it extra nice and I couldn’t agree more – the subtly aniseedy flavour adds a sort of haunting sweetness that ties together the sharp saltiness of the capers and the soft grated egg. If you have tarragon in the garden, don’t leave it out. (If you don’t have tarragon in the garden, I suggest you plant some asap.)

I ate this greedily, messily, alone in my lounge following an afternoon swim at the beach, and it was the best thing ever. I’ll be doing this again before asparagus season’s up.

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Ottolenghi’s asparagus mimosa
(adapted from my favourite cookbook of all time, it’s probably safe to say)

For 1-2 people as a starter or a snack:

Boil an egg. Ottolenghi suggests simmering it for 9 minutes or so; I lost track of time and cooked mine for about 11, but even still it was only just hard-cooked, so use whatever timing/method you trust the most. (You don’t want it to be overcooked, but you want the yolks to be cooked through so you can grate them.) Let the egg cool down in a bowl of water. Peel the egg; grate it on a cheese grater.

Take a bunch of asparagus – ten or so thick stalks will do, more if they’re slender – and snap off the woody ends. Bring some water to the boil in a pot wide enough to hold the asparagus stalks. Simmer the asparagus for a couple minutes or until tender. Drain and run some cold water over them – not enough to cool the stalks completely, just enough to slow them down, they’ll continue to cook if they’re still hot.

Coat the spears with the best olive oil you have – something with clean, grassy notes will play off the herbaceousness of the asparagus quite nicely – using your hands to roll the tips in the oil if you need to. Season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and top with the grated egg and capers. Sprinkle with chopped fresh tarragon if you have it.

Best eaten alone**, with your hands, dipping and smushing the asparagus into the grated egg, scooping up capers with your fingers, pushing each spear into your mouth, licking your fingertips afterwards. Or just use a fork.

*well, if you’re me or anyone I know who owns this book, anyway
**or in the company of someone whom you don’t mind witnessing this slovenly spectacle

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banana smoothie with maple syrup & nutmeg

In drinks, eating in, gluten free, year-round on 9 April, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Really, really quick post for today, because I’m in the middle of cooking dinner (well, I’m not physically in the kitchen right now – I’m waiting on some beef cheeks I’m braising, so I’ve got this window of time) and I really want to share this recipe for the smoothies I’ve been drinking all Easter weekend long, and I’m pretty sure if I don’t write this now it’ll never happen, because I’ll stuff myself full of tacos and do the dishes and put the sheets on the bed and then it’ll be time to collapse into the deepest sleep I can manage before throwing myself into the (thankfully short) week ahead. So.

The Easter holiday has gone by in a flash and I don’t even think I’ve eaten a single chocolate egg all weekend, though I have had more than my share of hot cross buns. I came into the weekend with a hangover and a list of about eighty-five things to do and this idea that since the weekend was twice as long I was going to get ten times as much done. It doesn’t take much imagination to guess that I was wrong.

But what I did do this weekend was far better than what I’d planned: I sat in the sun with a beer and a book, went for a walk in the woods, ate too much cake at an afternoon tea-party which culminated in the type of Easter egg hunt where you do half-assed looking because you’ve already eaten far too much to even think about putting chocolate in your mouth, watched David Attenborough narrate the South African sardine run and then, appropriately, cooked some salt-crusted whole sardines the next day. Fixed my car. Went for a drive around the south coast. Visited the ever-generous Sue‘s garden and had a bit of garden-envy at… EVERYTHING. Went home with my arms full of beautiful produce.

And, for once, I didn’t even care that it was Easter and everything was closed* because I’m not eating out this month** and so there was no chance I’d be visiting any of my favourite cafes anyway.

So instead of brunch at a cafe (and to fortify myself before leaving the house, just in case a growling stomach led me astray) I made myself one of these smoothies one morning. It was so good, I had it the next day. And the next. And I probably won’t forget about this one anytime soon.

Banana is such an obvious smoothie flavour that it’s almost silly posting a recipe. And I wouldn’t normally think to make a smoothie from a recipe. But hear me out: this particular combination of ingredients is good. It’s like a banana-tinged eggnog, or a creamy, slightly tangy version of a banana ice cream mixture. And despite how good it tastes, it’s actually pretty good for you – just banana, yoghurt/buttermilk, egg yolks (protein!), as much maple syrup as you like.

And, the most important part? It worked. I was full for ages, didn’t get any weird cravings, managed to stay awake despite not having had coffee. I didn’t even miss my cafe brunches. (Er, okay, maybe just a little bit.) But on a sunny weekend morning it was pretty hard to beat a nice, cold, sweet smoothie. This is a recipe I’m holding onto.

(Right. Now I’ve told you about these smoothies, and just in time, because my beef cheeks should be ready just about now. Back to taco-making!)

*though I did do some Easter-closure-induced panic buying at Moore Wilson’s that was probably wholly unnecessary.

**For whatever reason I’ve set myself this challenge of not eating out this month (you can read all about it here!) and so far it’s been a bit of a challenge, but mostly okay.

BANANA SMOOTHIE WITH MAPLE SYRUP & NUTMEG

(adapted slightly from this book*) 

1 banana
2 egg yolks**
1 tbsp coconut oil
3/4 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 tbsp maple syrup
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
a handful of ice

Chuck everything in a blender*** and blend until smooth. Taste, adjust spices/sweetness to taste, pour and serve. Makes enough for two tallish glasses.

*It’s by Sally Fallon Morell, who recently gave a series of talks in New Zealand – rather interesting stuff about the benefits of raw milk and butter and that sort of thing.

**Fresh is good. Now if you’re a bit squeamish about the egg yolk you can leave it out, but if you’re at all the type of person who eats raw cake batter or sneaks spoonfuls of custard before you’ve cooked it or if you like eggnog or, heck, I dunno, if you like your smoothies a little bit richer and, well, smoother, and if you want that little extra protein to keep you going for longer, just do it. Trust me. I was uncertain about it at first, but it really is delicious, and as long as your eggs are from a good source and they’re reasonably fresh you’ll be fine.

***I find it helps if you have the ice towards the bottom of the blender (put it in first!).

leaves and broth

In soup, year-round on 27 August, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Just a very quick post today: it’s the most beautiful day outside, I’ve been sitting in the sun eating kedgeree at Nikau and gelato on the waterfront, riding my bike around after three months of a flat tyre, just popped home to do some chores* before going back out for a walk in the town belt. I’m happy to say I’m embracing the advent of spring now, in contrast to last week.

Speaking of last week: it was intense. It culminated in me consuming a Wellington on a Plate burger at Bisque on Bolton, a three-course set dinner at Fratelli and an incredible Malaysian lunch at Kayu Manis (with the sensational Chef Wan, no less) within 24 hours. If you add a pizza on Saturday night and a massive Sunday brunch you’ll start to understand why I needed this soup.

It’s the perfect thing for coming down off an eating marathon, for trying to restore some sense of balance. It’s also all I want to eat when I’ve got a cold or when I’m so exhausted I can barely stand at the kitchen counter without my eyelids falling shut. It’s soothing in a non-guilt-inducing way and when you’ve had a long day or an overwhelming month it just barely whispers: “settle down now, everything’s fine”.

At its very simplest this soup is so incredibly easy to make: some garlic, some good-quality chicken stock, some herbs and seasonings, a handful of fresh greens. This time I added a fried egg and some toasted bread for a little more substance: had to ease myself off all those enormous meals I’d been eating.

Because there’s not much more to it than leaves and broth (especially if you leave out the egg and bread), you want to make sure you use the best stock possible. Homemade, if you can. If you haven’t roasted a chicken lately you may be able to buy chicken frames for stock-making (in Wellington, I get mine from Moore Wilson’s for about a dollar apiece). I usually toss one of these in a big stockpot along with the end bits and pieces of vegetables I’ve chopped and stashed in the freezer in a ziploc bag labelled “friends of stock”, some peppercorns, herbs, a few cloves of garlic, bay leaves, whatever else I have that might be happy to be tossed in a stockpot. Celery, carrots, onions, the lot. Bring it to the boil and let it simmer for a few hours. Your house will smell amazing.

*(and what better way to procrastinate from doing chores than writing a quick blog post?)

CHICKEN BROTH WITH GARLIC, SPINACH & A FRIED EGG

The most important part of this soup is the chicken stock, so try to use a good one, or even better, homemade.

Take a few cloves of garlic, peel them and either slice or leave them whole. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and add the garlic. Fry gently over a medium-low heat until they go all golden but not so much that they start to turn brown (this will take a lot longer if you’re using whole garlic cloves, and you want to almost caramelise them, so don’t get impatient and turn up the heat. Or you could roast them).

Take the garlic out of the frying pan and add to a saucepan along with some chicken stock (about 1.5-2 cups per person should do – less if you’re not adding bread, since it soaks up plenty of liquid). Turn the heat to high; bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 10 or 15 minutes. Season to taste with sea salt & black pepper.

Meanwhile, toast some sliced crusty bread (day-old is fine: another way to use up all that stale bread in the pantry!). Once the broth is ready, ladle into bowls and float some baby spinach on top. Fry an egg. Float the toast on the soup and top with the fried egg. Sprinkle chopped herbs over everything – here I used parsley and dill but you could just as easily use sage, thyme, anything really.

scrambled eggs with smoked mackerel & chives

In breakfast, year-round on 5 August, 2011 at 3:42 pm

I have a confession: I’ve had this for dinner at least six of the last nine or ten nights. It started one night when I bought some smoked mackerel to make fish pie but got preoccupied doing other things, and bam! It was nine o’clock, I was ravenous, no fish pie anywhere in sight. So I did what I often do when I get into that night-time so-hungry-so-tired state: popped some bread in the toaster and cooked up some scrambled eggs. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, I found myself flaking a bit of smoked mackerel into the eggs.

I have no idea what was going through my head in that brief moment between sitting down and digging in, but I don’t think I was prepared for the overwhelming, eye-widening oh-my-god-why-haven’t-I-done-this before feeling that hit me with the first bite. You know, that stunned, amazed feeling you get when you’re at a restaurant or a friend’s house and have something cooked just a little differently to how you normally do it at home, and you kind of half-squeal with delight. Except I was eating this at home, alone, and is there really a point of squealing if you’re just doing it for yourself, for something you’ve cooked? It’s kind of smug, if you think about it. (I did go and have a bit of a squeal to my flatmates, excitedly offering them forkfuls of eggs. They were less than enthusiastic, something about having just-brushed teeth. Pshh, weak.)

I’m not going to get all spring-is-upon-us yet, because it’s still August and there’s till plenty of time for soups and stews and braises and warm puddings and hot drinks, but there’s no denying the days are getting longer and maybe, just maybe, this is a dish that starts to creep into spring territory. Okay, scrambled eggs can be enjoyed year-round. As can smoked fish and chives. But there’s something just so cheerful about pillows of bright yellow, flecked with grass-green chives.

 

Like porridge, scrambled eggs are one of those things people get pretty particular about: everyone I’ve talked to has their own method. So, like with the porridge, I’ll share my method in the hopes of winning one or two people over – but really, cook your scrambled eggs how you like. Just try adding smoked fish and chives. It may blow your mind. It did mine.

SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH SMOKED MACKEREL & CHIVES:

Crack an egg or two into a small saucepan, add a splash of cream and a little knob of butter. Heat gently over low to medium-low heat, using a heatproof spatula or flat-bottomed wooden spoon to stir it together, but not too much, scraping the bottom of the pan as you go. If it starts to cook too quickly, take it off the heat and give it a stir. Keep repeating this until it’s almost-but-not-quite set. Remove from the heat – the eggs should continue to cook from the residual heat in the pan. If they don’t firm up as much as you’d like, heat gently a little bit more. But be careful! Nobody likes rubbery scrambled eggs.* Once they’re at your desired consistency, stir in a spoonful of sour cream or crème fraiche, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, a tablespoonful or so of chopped chives (to taste), a couple of tablespoonsful of smoked fish (use whatever you like – for me, it was mackerel), flaked or shredded with a fork. 

Last night, nine-o’clock again and hungry and tired from packing for a weekend away** I had this with a pungent spoonful of homemade sauerkraut on the side, and a tall glass of stout. Aside from the fact that I felt a little like I was eating a breakfast fit for a North Sea fisherman*** it took the whole thing to a completely new level. Of  “oh-my-god-this-works-perfectly” triumph, and a little bit of anguish and insecurity that no one else was there to share this revelation. Which is why I’m sharing this little tidbit with you.

*I had some the other week at a cafe I usually like very much. I was so sad, kept thinking longingly of my home-cooked eggs. But that’s another story.

**I’m off to the mountain (yippee!) so this was more involved packing than my usual throw-some-underwear-in-a-bag-and-hope-for-the-best routine: climbing on chairs, pulling boxes out of storage, looking for snowboarding gear, etc.

***and here you discover my complete ignorance ofNorth Seafisherman and their typical breakfast choices. But, if I was some swarthy European fisherman in the cold, bleak sea (again, this is totally theNorth Seaof my imagination), this is what I’d be having for breakfast.