I have, currently, a top three favourite foods. Don't quote me on this after about a month as it might have change - though in general these three are mostly a constant. Here they are, in no particular order:1. Sandwiches. - See here for a diatribe
.2. Pasteis de Nata - beautiful Portugese custard tarts. You'll never eat anything better. 3. Eggs Benedict.I don't know wh
y I love Eggs Benedict so much - but I do. Perhaps it's the mixture of creamy Hollandaise sauce, creamy rich egg yolk and sharp, acidic lemon juice. Nor is the salty bacon to be forgotten about. Luxurious, rich, deeply deeply satisfying on a deep, human level. Make me it in the morning and I'll propose on the spot.
FYI - Hollandaise is a classic french sauce made from butter and egg yolks. It is an emulsion based sauce, like a mayonnaise and is very easily split
However - time for the tragedy. You hardly ever get a good one. Many lower end restaurants tend not to make their Hollandaise fresh because...well it's quite precarious and tricky and you can't really multi-task it. If you're making a Hollandaise, you're making a Hollandaise. You can't keep it either - it has to be made fresh and so many restaurants used cheats, not real Hollandaise's - and I can always tell. Either that or there isn't enough lemon. You need the lemon badly, to cut through the rich butter sauce and the yolk - without it the balance of the dish is thrown irrecoverably off tilt.
Anyway - here is my recipe for it. I think it's perfect but achieving perfection with this recipe is only achievable up to a point when following a recipe. What lifts it from great to special is in the fine tuning of the Hollandaise. Once it's made you need to taste it and use your intuition as to how much lemon juice and salt to add - just taste, taste, taste and when its creamy but with a definite acidic twang to it - it should be perfect. I serve 2 eggs each....serve one if you are weird.
Ingredients (Serves 4):
8 large free range eggs
8 slices bacon
4 english muffins, halved (or just slices of bread if you like)
For the Hollandaise:
2 egg yolks
1.5 tablespoons white wine vinegar
juice of one lemon (get two just in case)
110g butter, melted
salt and pepper
1. Start with prepping your eggs for poaching. What follows is the most fool proof method in the world for poaching eggs - if you take one thing out of this blog post, take this. Take a large square of cling film and lay over a teacup. Poke the clingfilm a little bit inside the cup so there is a bit of a dip, where you can crack an egg into. Oil the clingfilm with some vegetable oil. Crack an egg into it. Gather the sides of the cling film up, squeezing out any air and twist to make a little egg parcel!! Do this for all your eggs and set to one side. This way you can cook all of your eggs at exactly the same time and you have no risk of them coming apart in the water/sitting around while you cook the rest!! Plus they are always, consistently the perfect shape. See photos for a bit more help.
2. Set a pan of water on to boil.
3. Fry your bacon in oil until crispy and cooked. Set to one side.
4. Now, it's time to start your Hollandaise. This is where things get tricky and you have to be in the zone with your timings! Take a small saucepan and put the vinegar and peppercorns in it. Reduce over heat for 30 seconds until it has reduced by half. Remove the peppercorns and set to one side.
5. Set up a bain marie - place a sauce pan with about 2 inches of water in it over medium heat and get a glass bowl that fits in the top of it without touching the metal bottom of the pan ready. In the bowl place the vinegar and two eggs, place over the saucepan and continuously whisk until the egg yolks thicken, and go pale and creamy. Make sure that the heat doesn't get too fierce and occasionally take it off the heat to whisk it. You want the eggs to reach a 'ribbon' stage so that you can see the trails that the whisk has left in it, after the whisk is removed. This will take about 2 minutes.
6. Remove from the heat and add about 2 tablespoons, or a trickle, of the melted butter to it and whisk immediately to combine it in. Then put it back over the heat and continue to whisk. Repeat. Back on heat, whisk. Do this continuously, always always whisking until all of the butter is combined. Be very careful not to add the butter to fast or to get it too hot. If you do this the sauce will split - the butter and the yolks (oil and fat) will come apart from each other and it will look like scrambled egg - not what you want and totally irredeemable!!! Take your time with this stage - it's the tricky bit! Don't worry if it is very thick - when you add the lemon juice it thins it out.
7. When your sauce is just about finished toast your muffins and put on your eggs to poach for 3 minutes.
8. Finish the sauce by adding the juice of one lemon, whisking again and seasoning with salt and pepper. Taste to see if you need more lemon or seasoning!
9. Remove the eggs after 3 minutes, remove the cling film and serve. They should have beautiful molten centres!
9. Plate by laying the toasted muffins on a plate, then a slice of bacon on top of each, then the poached egg. Finish by spooning the sauce over generously. YUM.
lay the clingfilm over a tea cup, press into the space to form a dip and oil!
gather up the slides, squeeze out the air and twist to form a little parcel
reduce the white wine vinegar
whisk the egg yolks and vinegar
whisk whisk whisk to ribbon stage!
season and lemon juice
poach the eggs
perfect poached eggs
on with the eggs
oozing, molten, decadent centres
For a recent radio show, I was asked to cook a dish in homage to the colossus that is cheese. Cheese is one of my favourite foods. Scrap that - it is more than one of my favourite foods; it is one of my favourite things in general, period.
Souffles on the other hand - nah. I'm sure that sounds somewhat plebish, but I'm not afraid of admitting it. I do not like souffles. In my view, they are pointless. In order to reach their lofty, impressive heights, they need to trap oodles of air inside. And guess what - air tastes pretty, damn bland. And such is my experience always with souffles - bland, bland, bland. Spongy, inconsistent, insubstantial, style over substance.
However, this is where the Twice Baked Cheese Souffle dives in and saves the day. Composed of strong, pungent cheese, dense and rich, smothered in a sharp cheese sauce and fragrant with chives. Ideal! Nor does it's name have to strike fear into the hearts of cooks - because it's twice baked it doesn't even have to be towering! You bake it once, deliberately let it sink, drown it in dairy and gulp it down. Beyond ideal.
Anyway - give this a try. Totally achievable and you'll give pretentious people a thrill if you cook it for dinner.
See below the recipe to be linked to the episode too - why not cook along to me cooking this!
Ingredients (makes 6 souffles):
1 tablespoon chives, chopped
3 eggs, separated
40g butter, plus extra to grease
100g strong, mature cheddar, grated
1 onion, peeled and cut into wedges
275ml whole milk
1 bay leaf
40g plain flour
1 tsp mustard
salt and pepper
For the second baking:
6 tbsp double cream
50g strong cheddar, grated
1. Heat the oven to 200 Celsius. Butter 6 ramekins and line the bases with baking paper.
2. Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the bay leaf and onion. Simmer over a low heat for 5 minutes, making sure it doesn't boil over. Remove from the heat and set to one side to cool for a few minutes.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan, remove from the heat and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. When smooth return to the heat and cook for a minute until it begins to bubble, stirring. Then remove from the heat.
4. Strain the milk through a sieve and discard the onion and bay leaf - they are just used to flavour the milk! Make sure you have around 250mls of milk - if you need more or less, just pour some away or add some fresh milk. Stir the milk gradually into the roux (flour and butter mix). Return to the heat and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until it comes to a boil and thickens.
5. Once it has thickened add the cheddar, mustard, salt and pepper and cook until the cheese has melted and you have a thick, smooth mixture. Stir in the chives and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
6. Once cooled beat in the egg yolks gradually.
7. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until they form stiff peaks. Now add a large spoonful of the white mix into the cheese mixture and very gently fold in. This first spoonful prepares the thick cheese mix to receive the rest of the egg whites. Then gradually fold in the rest. You want to keep as much air inside the mix as possible so it rises and is light, so be very gentle.
8. Spoon the mix into the ramekins and bake in the centre of the hot oven for 15-20 minutes until it is well risen and golden brown on top. Do not open the oven, especially during the first 12 minutes of cooking or your souffles will collapse. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
9. When they are cool, slide a knife around the edge of your souffles and spoon out. Place into a baking dish upside down.
10. 2nd baking: Preheat your oven to 200 Celsius.
11. Sprinkle your souffles with grated cheese and spoon over the double cream. Bake for 10 minutes until the cheese has melted into the double cream and it is golden brown on top. Serve immediately.
Good with a simple side salad and garnished with some chopped chives.
onions and milk infusing
folding in the egg whites - gently does it
rise baby rise
ready to be cheesed up
Happy Pancake Day from the FoodGoblin kitchen!
Try this for a change. Sweet crepes are beautiful, fabulous things, but so are savoury. Mint, pea, bacon, parmesan - the most erotic of foursomes. Uber quick too - make the batter in advance and you can whip this up in about 5 minutes.
I took my pancake recipe from Gizzy Erskine and it's actually very very good. I think it's the extra egg yolk - it makes it richer and have a good eggy flavour.
Good for a lunch or light dinner!
Ingredients (makes about 8 small pancakes):
For the pancakes:
110g plain flour
1 egg yolk
butter for frying
6 rashers bacon, cut into lardons
handful of mushrooms, chopped
handful of parmesan, grated
300g frozen baby peas
6 fresh mint leaves
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
1. For the pancakes: place the dry ingredients into a bowl. Gradually whisk in the milk, egg and yolk and whisk until smooth, with no lumps. Adding in the liquids gradually helps minimise lumps too. Place covered in the fridge and leave to sit for 30 minutes.
2. Fry the bacon in some oil until crispy. Add the mushroom in and saute for 3-4 minutes until cooked through. Set to one side.
3. Plunge the peas into boiling water and leave for 2 minutes to soften. Sieve and blend the peas with the milk until smooth. Add the mint leaves and sieve again until smooth. Taste - add more mint if needed.
4. Add your pea puree to a saucepan and put over low, medium heat, stirring, to warm through. Add the lemon juice and season - taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.
5. For the pancakes: take a crepe pan or non-stick frying pan and put over medium heat. Add a knob of butter and leave to melt and sizzle. Then add a ladle of the pancake mix and tip the pan to spread it thinly over the surface of the hot pan. Leave on this side for around 2 minutes, shaking the pan every now and then to keep the pancake loose and stop it sticking to the pan. Flip the pancake onto its other side (use a spatula if you're not confident tossing it) and cook for another 30 seconds. Each side should be lightly golden and soft. You can make these in advance and then reheat later.
6. Make sure your pea and bacon mixes are hot and ready. Return your crepe to the pan over low heat to rewarm. Scatter the Parmesan over it and warm for 30 seconds. Remove from the pan, scatter some bacon and mushroom and roll up. Repeat with the other crepes, keeping them warm in an oven until all are ready (or serving in batches). Drizzle with the pea and mint puree and serve!
What a colour
Pancake flipping time
For those of you who don't follow regularly, I do a weekly radio cooking show for InGoodTaste a station called ZoneOneRadio. It's absolutely amazing and I love doing it but this week really took the proverbial biscuit. The station landed a massive interview with the food legend Michel Roux Jr. Michel has always been an absolute idol of mine. When I was growing up and first discovering my love of food I read about
his food, saw photos of the beautiful classic dishes coming out of his kitchen and learned about the legacy of his family, the Roux's. Albert and Michel, his father and uncle, arguably were responsible for bringing British food to prominence in the 60s and 70s. Before they set to work, British chefs were actually laughed out of French kitchens. Though, not that they ever got to set food in them - getting a prized apprenticeship in a French kitchen was an impossibility to young UK chefs at this time, before Michel and Albert came along and changed all of this. Michel had giant footsteps to fill and fill them he did with beautifully crafted, intrinsically tasty French classic cookery. And although he has now managed to reach the masses through main stream television shows such as Master Chef Professionals and Food & Drink, he remains in essence and in actuality, a true chef; a chef that actually sees the inside of his own kitchen more than the bright lights of a TV set. In this week's radio show I travel to Le Gavroche to interview Michel Jr on his career, food loves, history and aspirations. We have a great chat about salt, MasterChef
, his father and uncle and Le Gavroche. For my first big, celebrity interview (and for me, it couldn't have been bigger) it has come out well!After chatting with Michel, I head to Balham Farmers Market to show for and cook one of his classic French recipes Oeuf poche Meurette, eggs poached in red wine with mushrooms, bacon, butter fried bread and a red wine glaze. Have a listen below :)http://www.mixcloud.com/InGoodTaste/ingoodtaste-meets-michel-roux-jr/
Forgive me for this recipe. I only graduated 6 months ago; the student is still strong in me. Ahh, the days of punch, spiked with miscellaneous alcohols, still reek strong in my nostrils and consequently combining rum and cognac in an ice cream seemed like a great idea to me. And guess what - it tastes bloody good too, so pipe down. Warmth that steams up your sternum, spreading along the ribs, heating the throat. All washed down by lots of cream. Double cream. Greg Wallace, eat your heart out. Oh, except don't - you're the face of Weight Watchers now apparently. All this with a bit of bites from the hazelnuts. Altogether quite a delicious ice cream.
Brilliant alone, or as a side to something like apple tart.
Ingredients (makes about 1 litre):
550ml thick double cream
225 ml milk
60 ml cognac
60 ml rum (dark or amber - not light)
200g caster sugar
Required - an ice cream machine.
1. Heat a frying pan (no oil) over medium/high heat. Tip in the hazelnuts and toast, tossing, until golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. If they have their skins on, wrap in a tea towel and steam for a few minutes, then rub with the towel to scrub off the skins. Chop coarsely. Set to one side to cool.
2. Whisk the eggs until pale and frothy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, whisking, until fully combined and then whisk for another 2 minutes until pale and frothy and thick.
3. Add the cream, milk and alcohols and whisk to combine.
4. Tip the liquid into your ice cream machine and churn following the instructions specific to your machine. Churn to freeze. Once churned place in the freezer for about 2 hours to firm up so you can scoop it.
I love pickling at the moment! So much fun! Delicious and they last for ages :). And mushrooms are perfect for pickling - nice and soft so they are receptive to all that lovely brine. They soak it up like sponges! This is a great side to anything that needs a bit of a zing of acidity. I like it with meaty fish or in salads.
Works with any mushrooms but especially beautiful with nice, interesting wild mushrooms like shimeji ones.
Ingredients (Makes about 1 cup):
200g mushrooms e.g. shiro or hon shimeji mushrooms, cleaned
200 ml white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 dried red chilli
a couple of peppercorns
1. Place the vinegar, salt and sugar into a pan and bring to a boil.
2. Add in the mushrooms, chilli and peppercorns. Simmer for about 4-5 minutes for small mushrooms like shimeji ones. If using larger mushrooms increase the simmering time to about 8-10 minutes. They should be just about cooked through.
3. Pour into a dish and leave to cool and infuse. When ready to serve pick out of the brine and plate. If wanting to jar them, pour straight from the pan, hot into a jar and seal.
Recently on a trip to Rome I made an epic discovery in a little bakery, down a shady side street by the Pantheon: Brutti Ma Buoni. Exquisite little biscuits made from a meringue base and nuts. Crisp outside like the shell of a meringue, a chewy, nutty inside. Melting, yielding while still firm with a toffee like chew. They are a sort of cross between a meringue and a cake - the meringue mix brings the crisp and the ooze, the flour the chew. Brutti Ma Buoni literally translates as 'ugly but good' - a fitting title for these knobbly, awkward looking treats. In taste however, quite frankly, they blew my mind.
On returning to the UK I was determined to capture Rome's biscuity secret for myself. I searched the web for the recipe and adapted it to fit my experience of these sensational little treats. The result; good. Still not perfect. But then again - this bakery had won awards for their brutti ma buoni. I currently have not.
Ingredients (Makes about 20 biscuits):
4 egg whites
200g caster sugar
1.5 teaspoon vanilla essence
125g hazelnuts, blanched/skins removed
30g plain flour
1. Preheat the oven to 180 celsius. Toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan until they are golden brown and fragrant - about 5 minutes, tossing continuously. If they have skins; Tip into a tea towel and wrap it up - leave to steam for a couple of minutes and then rub to scrub off the skins. Chop skinless nuts up coarsely - not too fine. Leave to cool completely.
2. Set up a bain marie - a saucepan with an inch or so of water, with a heatproof bowl set over the top. Put the egg whites and sugar into the bowl and whisk continuously for about 5 minutes over the heat until the mixture is opaque and it is nice and hot.
3. Immediately pour the mix into a big bowl and whisk with an electric whisk/beater until it forms stiff, glossy peaks, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the vanilla essence and whisk to combine. Add the nuts and flour and fold in with a large spoon.
5. Lay greaseproof paper onto a baking sheet/tray. Take a tablespoon of mix and place it on the paper in rough, round, heaped loads. Space the cookies about 2 inches apart. Put into the oven for about 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown and firm.
6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Dust with icing sugar and serve.
Out of the oven and having a cool down
Sooooo.....my family got me the best present ever this Christmas. My very own ice cream machine :). I was incredibly pleased. A double edged present of sorts. Obviously, it's fabulous. The ability to make any ice cream or sorbet I want - and it's a really good machine. But on the other hand, it definitely marks the beginning of the end for my attractiveness and ability to attract men. No more will this bottom pertly beckon the male species from its 29 inch levis....though let's be honest....29 was always a rarity. At least a buxom bosom is a possibility. Look on the bright size, ey! And with all the cream and dairy I'll be consuming, at least I'll have good strong teeth and bones, clothed by walrus-cine layers of flabular insulation. And yes, I made the word flabular up.
This is the first ice cream of many to come. I love coffee ice cream and this is a good recipe for it - not too sweet, quite bitter which is how I like it. Still almost needlessly creamy though. Classic and delicious. I hope you enjoy!
Sadly you do need an ice cream machine for this - it needs to be churned as it cools, otherwise it will develop ice crystals within it that make the mixture gritty, not smooth. You can get basic ones off Amazon for about 20 pounds. The more basic ones have bowls that you freeze first, then attach to the machine. Better, more expensive, ones don't require this, but either work just as well in the end.
Recipe based on the one from the Ben and Jerry's recipe book - but I prefer my coffee ice cream stronger than theirs.
Ingredients (makes about 1 quart/ 1.1 litre):
550ml double cream
2 large free range eggs
150g white caster sugar
225 ml milk (semi or whole)
120ml strong espresso coffee (try to use real coffee, from grain or beans - not instant)
Tip: chill your liquid ingredients first. The colder the ingredients at the point of churning them, the faster they freeze and the fewer ice crystals.
1. In a mixing bowl whisk the two eggs until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add in the sugar, continuously whisking until fully combined. Whisk for a further 1 minute. You'll see that it will have thickened considerably and be a pale yellow.
2. Add the cream, milk and coffee and whisk to combine.
3. Taste - see if you want more coffee adding. Maybe a wee nip of brandy or whisky too!
4. Pour into your ice cream machine and churn according to your machine's instructions- mine takes about 50 minutes.
5. Want it served soft - dig in immediately. I prefer mine a little harder - when it first comes out it will be very soft. If you want it firmer so you can scoop it, tip into a container and freeze for a further 2 hours or so. Serve and love.
A great accompaniment for cold meats or fish - especially for Gravlax (click here
for the recipe)! This sauce is the traditional accompaniment for it. Pungent with mustard, a nice sharp twang of vinegar, fresh with lemon zest and dill. Creamy and tasty. Keeps in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Ingredients (makes about 1.5 cups):
4 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons runny honey
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup fresh dill, large stalks removed and chopped up
zest of one lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1. Whisk together the mustard, honey, vinegar, salt and sugar together.
2. Gradually add and whisk in the olive oil until all combined.
3. Stir in the dill and lemon zest & juice. Taste for seasoning- add more lemon juice, salt or dill as required. Serve.
Whisk the mustard etc
In with the oil
And the dill
Bit of lemon
Gravlax is a traditionally Nordic dish of salmon cured in salt, sugar and dill. It is quite close to smoked salmon but without the woody, smokiness that you get from the smoking process. Historically, salting was used to make meat and/or fish last for longer periods of time. It would be salted and buried underground to ferment and cure. The name gravlax literally means 'buried salmon' in Scandinavian. Nowadays it isn't buried and is just generally damn good. Soft, cool in the mouth, slippy, salty and fresh with dill. Serve with bread and perhaps a lemon, mustard mayonnaise or a traditional Nordic Mustard and Dill sauce - click here for the recipe. But to be honest, it is equally good just plain. If you're going to cook this, make sure you leave yourself enough time - it cures for 48 hours! Based on the Gnolls recipe.
Recipe (and see photos below for further illumination)
Ingredients (makes 2 whole salmon fillets' worth....which will do you for a while!):
1 salmon (Ask your fishmonger to gut it for you and take its two fillets off. I'll tell you how to fillet it though below, in case you buy it whole like I did or get it from a generous fishing friend. It doesn't matter if it is scaled or descaled for gravlax). Use just one fillet too if you want to make less.
60g fresh dill, big stalks discarded and leaves chopped finely
7 tablespoons salt, sea salt best and finely ground
2.5 tablespoons of sugar
3/4 of a lime, diced
1. Fillet your salmon (skip ahead if you have done this): with a very sharp knife, carefully slice the salmon from anus (by the tail) to the head end about parallel with the gills. BE CAREFUL NOT TO PUT YOUR KNIFE IN TOO DEEP AND PUNCTURE THE GUTS. A sharp knife is key. Reach in and draw out the guts with a tug, discard. Take a teaspoon and scrape along the spine to remove the blood sac. Rinse out with a bit of water.
Chop the head off, just behind the gills. Place the fish with the spine side facing you and slice down the spine of the fish, cutting the top fillet off by sliding the knife in and along the top of the spine bones, following the natural line of them and making the cut in smooth, slices. Cut along like this to the tail and remove the top fillet. Turn the fish upside down and repeat with the other fillet. Done.
If making just one fillet's worth, cut the fillet in half (so you have two fat short pieces, NOT two long skinny pieces).
2. Take a plate large enough to hold the fillets and lay clingfilm over it. Mix the salt and sugar together and lay the fillets side by side on the dish.
3. Scatter the salt, sugar mix down the middle of each fillet. Don't scatter it out to the edges - keep it in the middle fat bit, it will spread out to the thinner edges while it cures and if you place it on the edges it will over cure them.
4. Take half of the dill and scatter it all over one of the fillets so that all of the flesh is covered. Then scatter the diced lime over it. Make sure the lime doesn't touch the flesh of the fish or it will make it go white as the acid 'burns' it. Keep it on top of the dill. Then cover it with the rest of the dill, making sure to cover all the lime and scatter a few bits on the other, fillet without any dill or lime on it.
5. Place the 'undilled' fillet on top of the other one, flesh to flesh (skin on the outside) like a salmon fillet sandwich! Wrap the clingfilm up and around the fillets, forming a tight parcel and trying not to get any air in there. Take more clingfilm and wrap it even tighter. Put a second plate on top of the parcel and weigh it down with something.
6. Refrigerate this for 2 days. Expect leakage and drain this off about twice a day and turn it occasionally, twice a day to make sure the brine (formed by the salt and lime) cures the salmon evenly.
7. After 2 days remove the wrapping, separate the fillets and scrape off the dill and lime. Slice diagonally in thin slices. Serve!!!