food for thought

by michelle

Archive for the ‘eggs’ Category

tocinillo de cielo + almond and orange florentines

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My good friend Daniel Aguera introduced me to this traditional Spanish dessert. Although similar to a crème caramel, this rich custard is non-dairy and is made with only eggs, sugar and water. In the early 20th century, the wineries of Jerez de Frontera clarified their wines with egg whites. The left-over egg yolks were donated to the local nuns who created this magnificent dessert. The name translates to something like heaven’s little pig (or bacon).

As Spain is known for its almonds and oranges, these incredibly crunchy and delicious almond and orange florentines from Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi made the perfect accompaniment. 

For the custard I slightly adapted Daniel’s recipe. Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350°F). Combine 100g (3½ oz) sugar and 100ml (3½ fl oz) of water in a small saucepan, cover and cook over medium heat until it becomes a deep amber colour. Keep an eagle eye on this caramel as it can burn. Remove it from the heat and quickly pour into the bottom of your baking dish. I used a rectangular dish and layered the caramel for serving. You can also make this in individual ramekins. In another small saucepan combine 300g (10½ oz) of sugar with 250ml (8½ fl oz) of water. Bring to a boil and cook until sugar reaches 105º – 108ºC (220° – 225°F). If you don’t have a thermometer the cooled syrup should coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Meanwhile separate 8 eggs. In a large bowl, whisk the yolks plus 3 more whole eggs. Whisk in the cooled sugar syrup until well combined. Pour the mixture into the baking dish or ramekins. Place the baking dish into a larger dish and pour hot water into the outside dish making sure the water comes up the sides of the dish or ramekins and no water gets into the custard. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the custard is set. You will still see a slight jiggle in the custard when it is cooked. Carefully remove the custard from water bath and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. To serve, slide a sharp knife around the edge and invert onto a serving dish.

To make the almond and orange florentines lower your oven temperature to 150°C (300°F). Line an oven tray with baking paper and brush with a little oil. In a bowl combine 2 egg whites, 100g (3½ oz) of confectioners’ sugar, 260g (9¼ oz) of sliced almonds and the grated zest of 1 orange. When the ingredients are well mixed wet your hand and place portions of the mix in little mounds on the lined tray, flattening them a little and making sure they have some space between them. Bake for about 12 minutes or until they are golden brown and cooked through. Allow them to cool completely before removing from the baking tray with a spatula. They will keep for 4-5 days in an air-tight container.

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Written by michelle picker

August 14, 2019 at 12:14 am

goat cheese soufflé

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It’s been a while since I made a soufflé but a glut of egg whites and this recipe inspired me. My version was adapted for goat cheese and more egg whites and had an excellent light and fluffy texture.

Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F) and place the oven shelf in the lowest position. Grease a 4-6 cup straight-sided oven dish with softened butter and add grated parmesan so that it sticks to the buttered surface. If the weather is warm set it aside in the fridge. In a small saucepan melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat then add 28g (1 oz) of plain flour and whisk to form a paste. Stir and cook until the flour no longer smells raw. Add 1 cup of milk bit by bit, maintaining a lump-free texture by whisking continuously. When all the milk has been added simmer until thickened then reduce the heat to low and cook for a few minutes more. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer this béchamel sauce to a large mixing bowl and allow it to cool slightly. Whisk in 200g (7 oz) of soft goat cheese followed by 3 egg yolks, one at a time, until thoroughly blended. Set the mixture aside. In another large mixing bowl or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment combine 5 – 6 egg whites with ½ a teaspoon of cream of tartar and beat until you have firm peaks. The cream of tartar is optional but will prevent the egg whites from becoming over-whipped. Using a silicone spatula gently fold the egg whites into the soufflé mix just until well combined. Set the prepared baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and transfer the mix into it, filling it up to the inner ridge but not quite to the top. Gently smooth and level the surface. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until well risen, nicely browned and set. The soufflé may have a wobble but the centre should be the same as the outer edges. Serve immediately.

Written by michelle picker

July 17, 2019 at 12:16 am

Posted in eggs

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christmas 2018

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Only four of us this hot Christmas day, so we decided to have a Chinese hot-pot. Cooking everything at the table is the ultimate slow food but very satisfying and delicious!

Our home-made stock was made with pork bones, chicken and ginger. Before serving we seasoned to taste with salt and added a black cardamom pod, star anise, black peppercorns and Sichuan peppercorns. To cook we had: prawn and ginger dumplings; shiitake, king oyster and enoki mushrooms; a variety of fish balls; prawns; beef; pork; fried beancurd and beancurd skins; Choi sum and Chinese broccoli; quail eggs; and mung bean noodles. For dipping we chose our ingredients from soy sauce; black rice vinegar; sesame oil; sesame paste; minced garlic; minced ginger, chopped coriander (cilantro); chopped spring onions; and finely sliced fresh chillies. And some chilli oil.

Written by michelle picker

December 26, 2018 at 12:43 am

mexican brunch

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We love our lazy late breakfast or brunch. And Mexican food is the perfect way to wake up your tastebuds.

Finely chop 1 onion, 1 red pepper, 1 chorizo and 1 fresh chilli and fry them in a little oil until the onions are translucent and soft. Add a drained can of kidney beans, some frozen corn kernels and 1 or 2 chopped tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes are at least a little melted, add plenty of coriander (cilantro) and season to taste. In a separate pan fry some eggs. To assemble, place some of the bean mixture onto the plate, top with a fried egg or two and garnish with crumbled tortilla chips. Serve with hot sauce.

Written by michelle picker

November 21, 2018 at 12:15 am

chèvre omelette

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A simple dish of eggs and cheese might only take 10-15 minutes to prepare but it can still impress. This omelette highlights light and fluffy just-melted goats cheese.

Break up 1 cup of fresh chèvre, mix through 1 tablespoon of finely chopped chives and set aside. In a small frypan heat some butter with a little oil and fry 10 -12 sage leaves until crispy. Drain them on a paper towel and set aside as the garnish. Whisk 4 eggs with a little milk or cream, making sure to season them well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Over medium heat, melt a generous amount of butter and oil in a large frypan. When it’s sizzling, pour the eggs into the pan. Break any bubbles that form in the omelette and allow the egg to run through. When the egg is nearly cooked, place the chèvre onto one half and carefully fold the other half over the top. Continue to cook just long enough for the cheese to melt before sliding the omelette onto a serving plate. Garnish with the crispy sage leaves.

Written by michelle picker

July 4, 2018 at 12:29 am

Posted in cheese, eggs

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mini breakfast frittatas

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Here’s a great breakfast for a crowd that’s easy to prepare ahead. These were simple ham and cheese but there are endless ingredient choices for mini frittatas and they’re excellent party food too. Try mushrooms, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, chillies, olives and truffle to name just a few. Let your imagination run wild.

Generously butter some muffin trays (silicone works really well) and place some chunks of good quality free-range ham and some shredded tasty cheese into each opening. Whisk all your eggs (1 per frittata) adding some cream, sour cream or just milk and seasoning to taste with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Divide the eggs evenly into the muffin trays then top each frittata with chopped fresh chives and some more grated cheese. Bake in a moderate oven for 15-20 minutes or until set.

And while the oven is on, why not roast a tray of tomatoes? Cut the tomatoes into wedges, sprinkle with chopped fresh basil, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Written by michelle picker

May 23, 2018 at 12:20 am

Posted in breakfast, cheese, eggs

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shiitake mushrooms

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Shiitake mushrooms are used widely in Asian cuisines and considered to have many health benefits. They are widely available in their dried form but are a little harder to find fresh, although Asian stores are a good place to try. We decided to attempt to grow them. This a lengthy procedure with some inherent difficulties for those of us living in urban areas. The first problem was finding living branches from a suitable tree. This took some time but we finally found some fairly large oak branches without any signs of fungus or mould. Shiitake are grown by drilling holes into the branches and hammering in dowels impregnated with the mushroom spores – we ordered these online. The holes are covered with beeswax and the logs then need to be kept damp and in a nice semi-dark place, similar to a forest floor. We waited approximately 18 months before we induced the first crop by soaking the logs for a day and then dropping them to shock them into fruiting. This can be done in Spring, Summer or Autumn. Hopefully they will now fruit twice a year. Although our first crop wasn’t very large it was exciting to finally see the mushrooms growing and they tasted amazing!

This recipe for a Chinese-style omelette is perfect for featuring shiitake mushrooms. Begin by slicing some medium to firm tofu and fry it in a little vegetable oil. Season with soy sauce and honey and set aside. Remove the stems from the mushrooms (Shiitake stems don’t soften when you cook them) and slice the mushrooms. Heat a pan and add some finely shredded ginger into the dry pan until it is fragrant. Add some sesame oil and the mushrooms, season with a minimal amount of salt and cook them until they are just softening. Add the tofu to reheat it along with some spring onions. Keep this mixture warm while you make the omelette. Whisk 3-4 eggs with a little water and a drop of sesame oil, and season them with soy sauce and white pepper. Heat a generous amount of vegetable oil in a wide frypan, add  the eggs and allow them to cook, without turning, until almost firm. Place the mushroom and tofu mix onto one half of the omelette and, using a wide turner, flip the other half over the top. When the omelette is cooked carefully slide it onto a serving plate and garnish with spring onions and toasted sesame seeds.

Written by michelle picker

April 11, 2018 at 12:33 am

Posted in eggs, tofu, vegetables

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