food for thought

by michelle

Archive for the ‘eggs’ Category

black truffle

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When in France I spent some time in the Dordogne, the home of the Périgord Black Truffle. I felt compelled to bring one home and here’s what I did with it.

60º eggs on potatoes fried in duck fat with shavings of black truffle.

Actually, these were really 62.8ºC (145ºF) eggs as I prefer my whites a little opaque. They need to be cooked in a water bath at this temperature for at least an equal number of minutes to their metric weight. That means an 58g (2oz) egg will take 58 minutes to cook. While the eggs are cooking, dice some potatoes and cook them very slowly in some duck fat until they are golden brown then season with salt. When the eggs are ready, place the potatoes down first then very carefully peel the eggs and place onto the potatoes. Season to taste and top with shavings of black truffle. A truly delicious combination!

How about a truffled cauliflower gratin?

Preheat your oven to 190ºC (375ºF). Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a sauce pan, then stir in 3 tablespoons of flour. Stir and cook for a few minutes making sure there are no lumps. Whisking constantly, slowly add 2 cups of heated milk. Bring to boil and cook until it thickens. Remove from the heat and add 1 teaspoon of salt, plenty of freshly ground black pepper, ½ a cup of grated Gruyère, ½ a cup of grated parmesan, some shaved black truffle to taste and a little freshly grated nutmeg. Mix thoroughly and set aside. Cut the cauliflower into florets and cook them in some boiling salted water until just al dente. Butter your oven dish, spread the cauliflower evenly on the bottom and cover with the sauce. Finally, top with a mixture of grated Gruyère, grated parmesan and breadcrumbs. Bake until golden brown.


Written by michelle picker

October 4, 2017 at 12:16 am

mushroom, walnut and lentil loaf

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Not in the mood for meat? Here’s a high protein, gluten free loaf that everyone will enjoy.

Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Line the base and sides of a 1.5 litre loaf tin with baking paper. Heat 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and butter in a saucepan and add a mirepoix of finely diced onion, celery and carrot in roughly equal portions. Cook until the onion is translucent and soft. Add 240g (8½ oz) of finely chopped mushrooms. I used Swiss brown mushrooms and added a sprinkling of powdered porcini mushroom for added flavour. Cook until the mushrooms are soft then add 2 finely diced or crushed cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1 teaspoon of smoky paprika and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. Continue to cook for a few minutes more before adding ½ a cup of red lentils and 1¼ cups of vegetable stock. Cook over low heat until the lentils are soft and all the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to col a little. Finally add 150g (5 oz) of crushed walnuts, 100g (3½ oz) of finely ground (instant) oats, 100g (3½ oz) of grated sharp cheddar cheese, 3 lightly beaten eggs and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and mix well to combine. Transfer the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and press it down. Bake covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for a further 15-20 minutes until quite firm. Serve with tomato sauce and a fresh green salad.


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Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish (banchan) made from salted and fermented vegetables.There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi but it is most commonly made with napa cabbage and Korean white radish (mu) and a variety of seasonings including Korean chilli flakes (gochugaru), garlic, ginger and often dried seafood. Traditionally kimchi was stored underground in jars but today most people in Korea have dedicated kimchi fridges. Mary and I finally got around to making some.

For a large jar of kimchi, cut 1 large Napa cabbage into chunks. Dissolve ⅛ of a cup of salt in warm water and immerse the cabbage for 30 minutes. Meanwhile process 4 cloves of garlic, an equal amount of ginger, 1 tablespoon of unrefined sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of fish sauce to make a smooth paste. Add 1 cup of Korean chilli flakes. Cut 350g each of carrots and white radish into julienne and cut a bunch of spring onions into similar lengths. Drain the cabbage and without rinsing pat it dry. Combine everything in a large bowl and pound or knead the mixture to get the vegetables to release their juices. When there is a reasonable amount of liquid in the mixture transfer it to a large jar and weigh it down so that the vegetables are all submerged (a smaller jar full of water makes a good weight). Stand the jar in a tub (liquid will escape) and allow it to ferment for 1 week at room temperature. If you prefer a sourer flavour you can leave it for longer. When you’re happy with the flavour and texture transfer it to the fridge. It will keep for some months.

As well as being eaten as a side dish, kimchi is often used in cooking. Here’s a delicious noodle stir-fry.

First cook 150g (5½ oz) of cellophane (bean-thread) noodles and set aside. Chop 1 onion, 4 large mushrooms, 2 rashers of bacon and some spring onions. In a bowl combine 2 finely diced cloves of garlic, 2 teaspoons of Korean chilli paste (gochujang), 3 teaspoons of soy sauce, 3 teaspoons of honey, 3 teaspoons of raw sugar, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar and ½ a cup of hot water. Heat a wok over medium heat and fry the bacon then the onion and the mushrooms. Add 1 cup of kimchi, the sauce and the noodles. Cook until everything is hot and well combined. Remove to a plate and sprinkle with the chopped spring onions. Turn the heat up and add more oil to the wok. Fry 3 lightly salted eggs until they are cooked and then place them over the noodle stir-fry. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and toasted seaweed (kim in Korean or kankoku nori in Japanese).

Written by michelle picker

May 21, 2017 at 6:01 am


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The history of flan begins with the ancient Romans who spread their culinary traditions throughout Europe. Originally a savoury dish, it became popular as a sweet dish of slowly cooked custard with caramelised sugar. Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America brought flan with it and nearly all of Central and South America loves flan in one form or another. It has become particularly associated with Mexico where it is an absolute classic. This rather more modern recipe comes from a Mexican family member.


Blend 1 can of evaporated milk, 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract and 4 eggs. Allow this mixture to rest. In the pan in which you will cook the flan, put 8 tablespoons of sugar and heat carefully to make a caramel. Allow the caramel to cool then pour the milk mixture over it. Cover the pan with foil and place it in a large baking tray in the oven. Pour boiling water around the flan dish at least half-way up the sides and bake in a moderate oven until the custard is set. If you have a pressure cooker, place the covered flan on a trivet with some water below and cook at pressure for 20 minutes. Chill before turning out and serving.

Written by michelle picker

January 17, 2017 at 5:48 am


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A traditional Greek pastry, Spanakopita is made with filo, has a filling of spinach and feta cheese and is normally triangular in shape. Here’s a round version.


First you will need plenty of filo pastry. The bottom and sides should have at least 7 or 8 layers. Grease the bottom of your pie dish and as you lay the pastry sheets in, brush every second one with oil or, if you prefer, a mixture of oil and melted butter. For the filling, wash and dry a large bunch of English spinach. Chop into smaller pieces and cook with some garlic in a little olive oil until just wilted. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine 700g (25 oz) of fresh ricotta cheese with 200g (7 oz) of feta cheese, 2 or 3 eggs, some rigani (oregano) or other herbs of your choice and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Process, then mix with the cooked spinach, a finely chopped bunch of spring onions and some toasted pine nuts. Taste the filling for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Fill the prepared pastry then top with 7 or 8 crumpled sheets of filo pastry. The crumpling will allow more air around the pastry and make it crisper. Brush the top with oil (or oil and butter) and bake in a moderate oven until set and golden brown.


Written by michelle picker

October 7, 2016 at 5:53 am

salade niçoise

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I’m enjoying a sojourn in Provence, in the south of France, where the local produce and hot weather make this salad a perfect choice for a meal. Of course, fresh tuna would be fantastic but this version is the kind you can make with ingredients you have to hand.


First prepare some potatoes and place them in a saucepan of cold water. Bring to boil and simmer until the potatoes are just cooked. Remove them and allow them to cool. If you want to save on saucepans, you can carefully add some eggs to the same saucepan once the water has boiled. Cook them for 10 minutes, remove and shock them in an ice bath and set aside. Trim some green beans and steam them until just tender. Run them under some cold water to stop them cooking further. Slice some tomato into wedges and chop any soft fresh herbs you might have. Now you’re ready to assemble. Start with a bed of lettuce, roquette or any salad leaves you prefer. Place pieces of potato, green beans, sliced tomato and hard-boiled eggs around the plate and scatter with the fresh herbs. Drizzle with a vinaigrette dressing. Drain a tin of good quality tuna and place some in the middle of each salad, topped with a spoonful of good mayonnaise and some capers. A few anchovy fillets and some black olives are a good traditional addition if you have them.

Written by michelle picker

June 27, 2016 at 5:59 am

chicken and sweetcorn soup

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Every culture has it’s chicken soup and this classic Chinese one is my kind of comfort food.


First, make a good chicken stock from a boiling fowl or some chicken carcasses with a few slices of fresh ginger in it. When the stock is ready, strain it into a saucepan. If you have cooked a whole chicken then you may be able to use some of the shredded meat in your soup, but fresh chicken will taste better. Add a few skinless chicken thighs to the stock and gently poach them until just cooked. Remove them to a plate and set aside. Now add some corn kernels (either fresh or frozen) and cook for 5-10 minutes until soft. Now the soup will need a little processing, but not to a smooth purée. Thicken the soup with a slurry of cornflour and cold water – just enough to allow the corn to float throughout the soup. Shred the chicken and return it to the soup. Bring to a rolling boil and, while stirring, slowly pour in some beaten eggs. Finally, season with salt to taste, a generous amount of ground white pepper and a little sesame oil. Garnish with spring onions.


Written by michelle picker

May 10, 2016 at 6:01 am