Friday, 14 October 2011

Smoked Mackerel & Chive Scrambled Eggs

You may or may not know that I am fantatical when it comes to eggs.

I'm afraid I don't keep to the  recommended "an egg a day is ok" For me, an egg a day just doesn't cut it. I gave up fags so I'm entitled to my vices. Mines eggs, it could be worse in all fairness. 

The pairing of smoked mackerel and eggs is an oldie but a goodie. Have a read of my recipe. Everyone cooks scrambled eggs arseways in my opinion. I've never enjoyed scrambled eggs until about two years ago when I discovered how it's meant to be done. Believe it or not, scrambled eggs are not meant to be rubbery and sweaty. This dish is a sophisticated twist which turns the humble scrambled egg into a cheffy creation 

Served 2 as a big breakfast/supper/midnight feast 

2 smoked mackerel fillets, skin removed & chopped (mine had a pepper coating) 
4 large free range eggs. 
1 tablespoon of snipped chives, the smaller you snip, the better. The food's got to be pretty. 
1oz butter 
1 oz grated Parmesan (just coz) 
A squeeze of lemon juice to serve. 

On a cold pan, crack in the eggs (no need to pre whisk) add in the butter 

Turn on to a medium/low heat, and using a spatula, keep the eggs moving slowly, no need to over mix 

Add in chopped mackerel and chives and continue until the eggs are almost set, turn off the heat and the eggs will continue cook 

Consistency should be soft, but lightly set, add in Parmesan and a squeeze of lemon. It would be at this point you would season the eggs, but mine needed none, as the mackerel had enough salt in it and they were peppered too. 

Served on toasted brown bread a cuppa tea. I think this could be classed as comfort food, creamy, delicious, heart and belly-warming. 

Monday, 10 October 2011

Cheese & Thyme Soufflé

ALL RISE- well that's the goal
Prepare the ramekins with butter and a dusting
 of finely grated Parmesan
I'm a girl on a mission. It's the whole 'feel the fear and do it anyway' approach. Of course there's no fear as such, I'm tackling recipes that to most of us, are deemed difficult and should be left to the experts. I'm far from an expert and am under no illusions as to my weaknesses in the kitchen (the biggest being food). But one recipe I'd never even researched or attempted to consider was soufflé. Notoriously renowned for being finicky and sinky. Nope, let me dispel your fears. It's actually earned an unfair rep. Essentially, its a thick béchamel with folded egg whites. It's a puffy omelette in fairness. Give it a go and impress your friends.

I did my usual gig of reading a dozen recipes before creating my own.

Serves 6
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees-prepare 6 ramekins with butter and dust with finely grated Parmesan

Did I mention Thyme is my fav herb?
1 oz butter
1 oz flour
1/2 pint of milk infused with one sliced onion, a couple of peppercorns, a few thin slices of carrot, a bay leaf and sprig of thyme.
2 oz of grated Gruyere (all recipes seemed to use this, but all I had was a strong market bought cheddar, so used that)
2 oz grated Parmesan
freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
a couple of sprigs of Thyme leaves, leaves picked
salt & pepper
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites

Firstly, put the milk and the ingredients listed above on the hob under a medium heat and bring to a simmer.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and when it begins to foam, add the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes over a medium heat.

Add the milk (strained) and stir using a balloon whist until a thick smooth consistency is achieved. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, and add the cheese, grated nutmeg, thyme leaves, cayenne pepper and season well. Remember the flavour needs to be concentrated as it will be diluted with the egg whites. Add the egg yolks and whisk well.

Transfer the mixture to a big bowl that will eventually host the egg white folding exercise.

Whisk the egg whites in a clean dry bowl (I feel I have to say that as all recipes harp on about clean bowls with egg whites-I've yet to whisk mine in a dirty bowl) until stiff peaks are formed

Transfer a couple of tablespoons into the silky cheese mixture and fold in. Don't be heavy handed but don't be scared either. Add the remainder of the egg whites in two batches. I used a spatula and turned the bowl to help fold as lightly as possible. It's all about keeping the air in, and not over mixing. Don't over think it.

Working swiftly, transfer the mixture into the 6 ramekins, filling almost, but not quite to the top.

With a clean finger, wipe around the top of the ramekin to leave a groove around the mixture, which will help them rise well.

Place on a baking tray and cook for about 8-10 mins, or until golden brown on top. Serve immediately with a tossed salad, and a round of applause from your guests...

Creamy Tomato, Chilli & Prawn tagliatelli

Prawns and chilli are as good together as tomato and basil, so fuze the four ingredients and you've got a serious taste sensation that packs a punch.This delivers, there's no doubt in that but I'd suggest you discover your chilli tolerance by adding in half what I've suggested, and taste before adding the rest, or more if your palate likes it. I sprinkled mine with more flakes before serving, as I love the kick.

I've potentially two dishes in one here, as the base sauce for this is a simple tomato sauce, which, when tossed through pasta, mozzarella, and torn basil is just such a wonderfully simple clean dish.  It's like pasta was invented for it.

Serves 4
For the basic tomato sauce:
Knob of butter and splash of olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 fat garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
I dessertspoon of muscavado sugar
2 tins of chopped plum tomatoes
I teaspoon of dried basil (or if you can get it fresh, even better- 3 tablespoons, chopped)
Season to taste

2 tablespoons cream (or creme fraiche)
500g  raw prawns
1 heaped teaspoon dried chilli flakes

Over a very low heat, sweat the onions and garlic in the oil & butter until soft. Turn up heat and add balsamic and stir continuously until reduced by half.

Add sugar and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce for about 15 mins. Add in basil and season.

This is my basic tomato sauce as I mentioned above.

Continue the dish by adding in the chilli, cream and prawns. Cook for a couple of minutes until the prawns turn pink.

Toss through freshly cooked tagliatelli and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Busy people- why not double the tomato basic sauce recipe and freeze it? Healthy fast food. Can't beat it with a big stick!