Tag Archives: eggs

Chorizo Scrambled Eggs

Well.

That was a turn up for the books.

Here was I thinking it would be nothing but scrambled eggs on toast for supper* when my beady eyes alighted on some chorizo; the sort that comes pre diced and packed into cryogenically sealed plastic bags. (Expensive, I know, but they keep for ever and can be thrown into all manner of things when you’re having one ogf those “I hate my job and can’t be ****ed” evenings.)

So, fried these up in a small pan ’til crispy, tipped in the eggs (beaten with a splodge of milk) and after the necessary scrambling, onto toast. And a splendid combination it is: creamy unctuous egg but with all the upfront fire and more subtle notes of the chorizo.

Three eggs, two tablespoons milk, 50g chopped chorizo/pancetta/bacon.

I should do this more often.

__
*by this I mean an evening meal, and not some clutch of braying poshos gathered around a lasagne.

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Crème Caramel

Creme Caramel, a.k.a “flan” and “pudim”, has much to recommend it: you use whole eggs (so no separating and then wondering what to do with the whites) and you can prepare it completely in advance, so no need to stay sober until you wield the blowtorch as with crème brûlée.

This will produce four servings assuming, like me, you’re using four 150mL china ramekins. For the custard you’ll need:

  • 3 eggs (this is where free range will really make a difference)
  • 400mL full cream milk (semi skimmed will do at a pinch, but consider adding a splodge of cream)
  • 25g caster sugar for the custard
  • another 100g of caster sugar for the caramel
  • 1tsp vanilla extract or stuff to infuse, e.g. spices and peel

Start with the caramel, but first, have your ramekins ready at one side. You’ll need a scrupulously clean stainless steel saucepan; under no circumstances try this with non stick. Put the sugar in and add just enough water to cover; two or three tablespoons. Get the heat up to medium and stir gently until dissolved, that is, until you can’t see any sugar crystals, nor feel them crunching under the spoon. The liquid will go clear. This ought to take a minute or two. Once that’s done, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle but constant bubble. From time to time, use the handle of the saucepan to gently swirl the contents around, but do not insert a spoon or anything else. The liquid will stay clear for around ten minutes, but within the space of a minute will go from being the colour of weak tea to being burnt and horrid.

Don’t wait for that to happen, but take it off the heat when it’s the colour of dark honey, and tip it into the bottoms of the ramekins that have been waiting patiently to one side. Working quickly, swirl each of the ramekins around to make sure the caramel is in an even layer. Put them somewhere to set, at room temperature; not in the fridge.

Whilst they’re setting, pour the milk into the saucepan in which you made the caramel. Heat it gently, but take it off the heat before it boils, and add anything you’re infusing, although if you’re using vanilla extract, I’d be inclined just to beat it in during the next step. Leave the milk to cool for about ten minutes, so it gets down to a whisker under 50°C. (Get the oven going, now.) You’ll notice the remains of the caramel will have been absorbed into the milk – this is a trick from Delia. (Boil the kettle, now.)

Plonk the eggs, the vanilla extract, and the 25g of caster sugar into a large bowl, beat well, and gradually add the hot milk, still stirring.

Put the ramekins into a roasting tin, pour in the custard, almost to the top, and then add enough hot water from the kettle to come two thirds of the way up the outsides of the ramekins. Generally easier to do this with the baking tray already on the shelf in the oven.

My fan-forced oven needs to be set to 150°C for this, and the custards take around half an hour, although start to check every few minutes after the first twenty minutes have elapsed. You can tell they’re done when they go from splashy to wobbly when you very gently nudge the roasting tin. Any sign of bubbling or puffing and they need immediate rescue. They will also tend to form a rubbery skin in a fan-forced oven if left too long, not really sure I have an answer for this.

Take the ramekins out of the roasting tin (tongs!) and leave them to cool. When mainly cold, cover with cling film and pop them in the fridge for a at least a few hours so the caramel softens and merges into the custard. You can happily leave them overnight, or even for two nights.

Unmoulding them needs a little practise, and expect at least one to land upside down on your first attempt. The custard generally sticks to the ramekin just around the edges at the very top, so detach gently with a butter knife. You’ll probably then need to run the knife down to the bottom all the way around around the edge. Put a small deep rimmed plate upside down on top of the ramekin and invert. It may come out, otherwise slip the butter knife in between the custard and the wall of the ramekin, and it will come slithering out. Serve immediately.

Variations

All sorts of fun to be had:

  • replace some of the milk with cream
  • add a yolk or two for extra richness
  • infuse the custard with lemon or orange peel
  • infuse with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg etc
  • maybe a splash of rum?
  • intriguingly, Portuguese recipes seem to use half milk and half condensed milk, although I’ve never tried this

Frittata

With all those leftovers floating around, it’s only right to write a few notes about making a frittata.

  • you won’t be able to fry everything at once, so have a holding bowl at one side
  • it’s difficult to tell how many eggs you’ll need, so always have a few spare
  • beat the eggs only enough to combine, the final product will be fluffier as a result
  • if you’re using potatoes, they’ll need to be cooked first (waxy ones like Charlottes are the best as they’ll hold their shape when sliced up)
  • if you’re using mushrooms, fry them until they’ve exuded loads of liquid, then pop them into your holding bowl, and reduce the liquid as far as you dare
  • cheese is mandatory, Comté doubly so
  • once under the grill, it will puff up alarmingly, so don’t have the oven shelf too high, or tragedy will ensue

Good things to include:

  • onions or leeks
  • potatoes (cooked, cooled and thinly sliced)
  • pancetta or bacon
  • stuffing (this is awesome if crumbled into the mix)
  • cold roast meat, shredded
  • a splodge of cream never hurt

Art of the Tart

This is a rough and simple tart; not as refined as a quiche. The addition of egg to the pastry makes it remarkably forgiving. No blind baking, rolling, or faffing required.

For my 10″ diameter, 1½” deep pie dish, I use:

  • 220g plain flour
  • 110g butter, cold and cut up into small cubes
  • pinch salt
  • one egg
  • some milk

In a large mixing bowl, rub the butter into the flour and salt until the consistency of breadcrumbs. Beat the egg and mix it in with a palette knife, or failing that, a spoon. You may be able to coax it into a ball with your hands, but more than likely you’ll need to mix in a tablespoon of milk; maybe more. Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

The basis of the filling is three eggs and 250mL double cream. For a richer consistency, you can replace one egg with two yolks. This produces a fluffy, but set consistency, for a more wobbly version, increase the cream.

Today, I’ve got some pancetta (10 wafer thin rashers, about 70g) so I fry that gently until crisp, and set aside. No need to drain on paper towels, as the fat is flavoured with the spices in the cure, and we want it to infuse the rest of the filling.

Push the pastry into the pie dish with your hands. (I don’t need to butter my ceramic dish, your mileage may vary.) You could roll it, but there’s really no need. If it tears, just patch it. If you end up with more on one side of the dish than the other, just rip some off and patch. As I said, it forgives much, although if you work it too hard, and it’s a hot day, the butter will start to melt, so whack it back in the fridge if this happens.

Today I spread the pancetta in the bottom of the pastry case, and beat together the remaining ingredients, with some salt, pepper, nutmeg, and some grated grana. Any kind of Italian hard cheese will do.

Into the oven at 150°C for an hour. The case looks underfull.

…and then the filling puffs up, alarmingly…

…before relaxing at the end. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. You’ll see that the pastry shrinks away from the sides of the dish, so easy to rescue.

Variations

This is only the beginning. You could:

  • peel and slice 750g of brown onions, and gently gently gently fry them in butter for an hour or so, with salt, pepper, and maybe a clove – allow to cool and pour over the cream/eggs
  • do the same with some leeks, and add some goat’s cheese to the mix
  • replace the goat’s cheese with some salmon, smoked or otherwise
  • add some steamed (and vigorously squeezed) spinach to the fray

Pancakes

Three things.

One. Don’t feel you should only have pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Unless you’re into shriving, and will be observing Lent sans eggs and butter. Have them often: sweet, savoury, stuffed, simple, or on fire. (The ideal Sixties dinner party should feature Delia’s cherry duck, and conclude with Crêpes Suzette.)

Two. Don’t buy ready made pancakes. Honestly. Even if your pancakes are the saddest, lumpiest, and most rubbery things to ever come forth from a frypan they will still smell good and taste good. In my case they evoke early memories of making a nuisance of myself in the kitchen, whilst Mum was busy firing up the (square!) Sunbeam electric frypan and agonising over the consistency of the batter. We could never tell, and they were always good.

Three. The procedure outlined here by Saint Nigel is stupidly easy. Any old frypan will do. (Him What Knows has six iron crêpe pans which he has been known to use all at once, but that’s when he’s feeding forty.)

That is all.


Hollandaise


It is worth making Hollandaise yourself from time to time, if only to remember how sinful it is. My arteries are hardening as I type, but I feel very little guilt, so probably just the espresso talking.

I don’t think I can add much to the recipes given by Delia, Pomiane or Nigel, but it is useful to illustrate how it fits into the rest of the proceedings, essentially an exercise in multitasking. (Quantities for sauce make enough to serve 2, maybe 3.)

Time Sauce Steak Frites
00:00 3 tbsp white wine vinegar, six black peppercorns lightly crushed, 1 tbsp finely chopped onion and a bay leaf into a small saucepan on a low heat to reduce. Rub the steak in olive oil, roll in black pepper, and leave at room temperature. Get the oven going. My frites need 180ºC.
00:02 Get another small saucepan, half fill with water, and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, chop up 150g unsalted butter into half inch cubes, put somewhere near the oven or stove to soften up.
00:03 Hardly any liquid in the vinegar saucepan, but give it a swirl from time to time.
00:04 Separate two eggs, and put the yolks into a glass bowl, which you’re going to put on top of the saucepan with the water in it. Put the fries in the oven.
00:05 Once the water has boiled, reduce temp to the merest simmer.
00:06 Place glass bowl with yolks on top of simmering water, add the strained contents of the other saucepan (should only be a tbsp left) and start whisking, slowly, gently, continuously, adding the butter a few pieces at a time. If the butter melts really quickly, remove bowl from water, and keep whisking, add more butter, and only return to heat when new butter stops melting. If you’re using a cast iron griddle to do your steak, now would be a good time to put it on a low heat to warm up.
00:10 Once all butter is incorporated, keep whisking. Test the temperature with your little finger, if you can comfortably leave your finger in the sauce it’s too cold, if there’s pain, it’s too hot.
00:12 The sauce will start to thicken. Turn the heat off, and keep whisking.
00:13 Keep whisking. Slap the steak in the pan.
00:15 Keep whisking. Turn the steak and salt. Check the frites. If they’re done, pop them onto some kitchen towelling to drain.
00:17 Keep whisking. Turn the steak again.
00:18 Keep whisking. And again.
00:19 And serve. And serve. And serve.

A green salad if you must.


Individual Bread and Butter Pudding

Like chocolate fondant, bread and butter pudding is something that can be whipped up from things likely to be lurking in the kitchen. If you’re only doing dinner for two, it’s easier to do in individual ramekins.

(For reference, my ramekins are 4cm deep, and 150mL in capacity.)

For each person you will need:

  • one egg
  • 20g caster sugar (maybe a touch more if you have a sweet tooth)
  • a teaspoon of marmalade
  • 60mL milk (i.e. egg:milk ratio is 1:1)
  • approximately two slices of white bread, a day or two old, crusts cut off
  • butter

The best way to do this is to place the slices of bread upright in the ramekins, and curled around into a spiral. So, cut the slices of bread into strips whose width is about one centimetre less than the internal height of your ramekins.

Generously butter all the strips of bread on one side, and put marmalade on half of them. We only want a hint of orange, so go easy on the marmalade. Place the butter-only strips, buttered side out, around the edge of the ramekins, and then roll up the marmaladed strips and pop them in the middle. We want to pack the ramekins reasonably tightly.

Lightly whisk the eggs, milk and sugar together, and pour over each ramekin. Start by pouring in enough to cover the bread, that is, come up to a centimetre short of the rims. At this point, you’ll have plenty of egg/milk mixture left over, but don’t worry, just pop it to one side.

Let the ramekins sit for at least half an hour at room temperature, for the egg/milk mix to soak into the bread.

Get the oven going at 180ºC, and pop a baking sheet in the middle to warm up.

After half an hour, you’ll see that the liquid level in the ramekins has dropped, as it has been absorbed, so now top up with the rest of the mix.

Once the oven has reached the desired temperature, put the ramekins on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. The bread will puff up alarmingly, and the custard will seethe, but shouldn’t escape. Retrieve once the tops are nicely browned.

You could:

  • just use the egg yolk, maybe more than one per person, for a richer texture
  • add a smidgeon of nutmeg or cinnamon
  • add a teaspoon of currants and/or peel
  • add a teaspoon of mincemeat if it’s Christmas and you have some handy
  • do it with torn up pieces of brioche (idea pinched from Martin Dibben)
  • maybe add a small amount of chocolate
  • Ed reckons blueberries or cranberries are good

DIY Pasta

Thinking about my throwaway comment about using fresh pasta with aglio e olio, I see Ms Cloake is at it again in her “How to Make the Perfect…” series. This time, it’s pasta. A good article. My tuppence worth below.

  • for each serving, 50g strong white bread flour, 50g semolina, one lightly beaten egg, and a pinch of salt
  • alter the flour:semolina ratio to suit your tastes
  • if you want a richer pasta, start replacing whole eggs with an equivalent volume of egg yolks: for example, if you were working with 400g flour:semolina, you could use four whole eggs, or perhaps three whole eggs and two yolks, or two whole eggs and four yolks – the more yolks the richer and more decadent the result
  • egg:flour ratio will vary depending on flour, humidity etc so be ready not to add all the egg, and have some extra egg on standby
  • when you’ve kneaded the pasta – sorry folks, has to be done – form each 100g into a stubby sausage rather than the whole lot into a ball – much easier to roll out later
  • once kneaded, it will need an hour, somewhere cool, to rest – I presume this is so the gluten can develop and so it doesn’t fall to pieces – so I guess the fridge is probably too cold
  • alternatively, it can go in the fridge at this point for an overnight stay in cling film, should that be more convenient
  • make sure you’re chucking plenty of semolina around when you’re rolling it out
  • yeah, rolling – machines are for wimps
  • when you’ve rolled and sliced each sheet into tagliatelle, give it a good shake to dislodge the excess semolina
  • three minutes on the hob ought to do
  • a simple sauce is best

My thanks to Ms Rachel Prejudice for introducing me to The Dark Arts all those years ago.

Pain au Raisin

I’m sorry, but the pain au rasin in England are rubbish. The worst are made from puff pastry and loads of sugar: they’re dry and oily at the same time. The better ones are made from bread dough, but more often than not glazed in a layer of gelatinous sugary goo. In any case, they are then trucked from one end of the country to the other, until they’re stale, at which point they can be sold.

So sometimes, it’s worth making one’s own. The basis is a fairly austere brioche dough: the origins of this one are lost in the mists of time, but I think it originally comes from the BBC website, although I could find no trace of it when I looked recently.

Here’s what you need.

  • 225g white bread making flour
  • 1 sachet dried yeast (5g)
  • 50mL milk
  • pinch salt
  • 20g caster sugar (maybe more if you have a sweet tooth)
  • 50g butter (maybe more if you fancy)
  • 2 large eggs
  • about a tablespoon brown sugar
  • about 80g raisins or sultanas

Start by warming the milk to about 50ºC – hot enough that when you poke your finger in it you feel you might burn if you left it there. Add 25g of the flour, 5g of the sugar, and the yeast. Stir well, and let this sit for about 15 minutes. (Why? Yeast and butter don’t get along, so this gives the yeast a sporting chance. Other brioche recipes would have you make the dough without the butter, and then work it in between rising and proving. St Julia, bless her, has a brioche recipe that takes a full cycle of the moon.)

Meanwhile, combine the remaining 200g of flour, the remaining 15g of sugar, and the salt in large bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes, and rub in, as though you were making pastry. You’re aiming for the texture of breadcrumbs.

Break the eggs into the (cooled) yeast/milk mix, and attack with the a whisk until it’s smooth. Add this into the flour/butter mix, and mix into a ball of dough. If the flour isn’t all absorbed, a teensy splash of milk will help. (Likewise, if it’s too gloopy, just let it sit for a few minutes and it will sort itself out.)

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. If it’s warm, and the dough starts to become greasy and slippery, which it may even before you knead, then the butter is melting, so pop it into the fridge for 20 minutes to rest. (It was 30ºC outside and 25ºC inside when I was testing this, so the pastry/dough required two rests in the fridge, and I got lots of washing up done.)

Once the dough is suitably elastic, pop it into a bowl to rise, covered by a damp teatowel. It’ll take about an hour, depending on how warm the room is. An overnight rise in the fridge is also acceptable.

Once risen, punch the dough down, and knead it again for a few minutes. Your kneading and folding should be done with the cunning plan of getting it into a rectangle, about the size and shape of a piece of A4 paper. A rolling pin helps at the last stage – I use a wine bottle.

Lightly sprinkle the rectangle of dough with brown sugar, and press in the raisins/sultanas. It may seem like a lot of raisins, but quite a few will fall out when you slice the thing up in a moment.

Now. How greedy are you feeling? You could roll the sheet along its long axis, and slice it into twelve. That will give you some quite little pain au raisin, something to serve on the side. You could roll it along the short axis, and slice it into eight, or if you want some big chunky fellows, into six. Regardless, the slicing should be done with a very large sharp knife, using lots of sideways action and minimal downard pressure.

Arrange these on two baking sheets with a respectful amount of room on either side. Squish down lightly with the palm of your hand. If your baking sheets aren’t terribly non stick, then a light greasing, or some baking paper will help.

Cover them in cling wrap, and let them prove for about an hour.

They may unravel when proving, so a little stage management, and tucking in will be called for. I squeeze the ends and tuck them under the coil.

To make the glaze beat one egg, and about a teaspoon of milk. Brush lightly all over before popping in the oven. (Why the glaze? Otherwise they look a bit pale on the outside.)

For the little ones, 15 mins at 180ºC should do, maybe as little as 10. The bigger ones will need about 20 minutes.

Onto a cooling rack.

Freezing

I’ve had a go at popping them into the freezer between the slicing and proving phases. They’ll need all night in the fridge, and maybe a few hours at room temperature to thaw. They baked up OK. Obviously you’ll need room in the fridge to put the baking sheet, and don’t forget to cover them in cling wrap.

Obviously

You might not bother slicing the thing, once rolled up, but merely let it prove and put it into the oven whole.

You might not bother with the sultanas at all. Just punch down, shape into a loaf, prove, glaze, and bake for about 25 mins. Knock underneath to test, of course.

Crème Brûlée

Allegedly, this dish has its origins at Trinity College, Cambridge, where to this day it is known as Trinity Cream. I fell in love with it when I lived in Paris.

There are probably more constructive ways of spending Springtime in Paris, but I was compelled to try every crème brûlée in my arrondissement. This resulted in significant weight gain, but a finely honed appreciation of what makes a good one. You’re going to have to forget all mention of flour or cornstarch to stabilise the egg yolks. Yes, that works. Yes, that’s good enough for custard and for pastéis de nata, but the nicest crème brûlée is the one where the custard has a very light texture, to offset the crunchy sugar, the added starch just makes it too solid; too safe.

I’m afraid the temperatures and durations are a bit vague. You will need to experiment to discover the optimum for your oven and your ramekins. Do not even think about serving this to guests on your first attempt.

Start by eyeing up your ramekins, and working out how much custard you’ll need. Some people like very wide shallow servings, to maximise the crunchy toffee layer, other people prefer theirs deep and creamy. For each six egg yolks, you’ll end up with about 600mL of mixture.

Assuming six average sized portions, you’ll need:

  • the yolks from 6 large eggs
  • 250 mL milk
  • 250 mL double cream
  • 50g caster sugar
  • things to infuse, typically a vanilla pod (split), plus…
  • 100g of Demerara sugar for the topping

Mix the yolks with half the sugar.

Put the cream and milk, together with the remaining sugar, and whatever you’re infusing, bring to the boil, immediately turn off the heat and leave for 10 minutes.

Get the oven going at 140ºC – mine’s a fan forced so you may need to go higher for gas – or lower if you’re using very shallow ramekins.

Beat the yolks and sugar until thoroughly combined. If you use an electric whisk you’ll end up with a lot of foam on the surface, which isn’t useful.

After fishing out whatever you’re infusing, pour in the cooled milk/cream/sugar mix into the egg/sugar mix. If it’s still hot, do it gradually so you don’t cook the eggs!

Mix well, and scoop/pop/eradicate any bubbles and/or froth. This is important: if there’s a layer of bubbles on top when you bake, it will go hard and leathery.

Pour the mixture into ramekins in a baking tray, and fill the tray with hot water coming to halfway up the sides of the ramekins. (I’m paranoid, and put the ramekins on top of a folded up teatowel, so there’s water underneath as well. This may be unnecessary.)

Bake for around an hour, but start watching them like a hawk after 45 minutes. They’ll probably colour slightly on top. If they start to puff up, they’re done, and in need of rescuing. However, before that, you can tell if they’re done by giving the baking dish a poke, and they’ll still wobble, but only slightly.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. I leave the ramekins in the water bath, mainly out of cowardice, as extracting hot ramekins from scalding water isn’t my idea of fun. Once cooled, cover with cling film and refrigerate.

Once properly cold, you can then sprinkle the custard with Demerara sugar, and have your wicked way with the blowtorch. Caster sugar works just as well, although it will produce a thinner crust. To my lasting shame, I have a salamander given to me by a friend, which has seen no successful action.

(Photos? Sorry. Greed got in the way.)

Variations

My local French restaurant, sadly fallen upon hard times and no longer a going concern, used to serve a dégustation des crèmes brûlées, which was a platter of them, each having been made with a custard infused with different things: lime zest, orange zest and cardamoms, lemon zest and cinnamon, etc.

I’m sure you can get creative, but don’t forget to share with the group.