Spring onion eggy crumpets

The title of this is pretty much self-explanatory, so this post is less of a recipe and more of a oh-my-god-you-need-this-breakfast-in-your-life call. Forget eggy bread, eggy crumpets are the future.

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Spring onion eggy crumpets

Ingredients (serves 1):

2 crumpets
1 egg, beaten
1 spring onion, very finely chopped
Salt (I use smoked) and freshly-ground pepper
Butter, for frying

Beat the egg and add onion, salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a non-stick pan. Dip each crumpet in the egg to soak, and place hole-side-up in the frying pan. You’ll probably have some egg left which you can pour on top of the crumpets. Fry on relatively high heat till the bottoms go brown and crispy, then flip and cook till the tops turn golden.

Enjoy as part of a balanced breakfast.

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(cake recipe to come)

Soy salmon

Like the self-respecting grown-up that I am, I spent the last month indulging in pretty much every kind of food and drink that is bad for you. And now, I’m trying to eat all the greens, in a desperate attempt to get my body to forgive me. I haven’t been able to give up the carbs and I never will, but there has been minimal meat, lots of vegetables and always a poached egg.

This is one of the slightly more involved things I made last week (which tells you a lot about the levels of effort around here). I fancied some salmon as apparently those omega-3 acids are good for you, but the rest pretty much fits the pattern. The recipe below is intentionally/lazily (delete as appropriate) vague, as I never really measure things like garlic or chilli. More fun that way.

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Soy Salmon

Ingredients:

salmon fillets (one per person), cut in slices if you like
soy sauce
brown rice vinegar
fresh ginger
chilli flakes
garlic
one spring onion per person
rice or noodles
vegetables of your choice
one egg per person
black and white sesame seeds

Marinate the salmon in soy sauce, rice vinegar, some chilli flakes, ginger, and an indecent amount of garlic. Add also the white part of the spring onion, thinly sliced.
Set the rice to boil. Rice noodles or udon would also be good here.
Cook the vegetables — I stir-fried mushrooms and boiled some cavolo nero.
Heat a small amount of sesame oil in a non-stick frying pan and cook the salmon, together with the marinade. When it’s done, mix with the vegetables, serve on your carbs of choice and top with a poached egg, the green part of the spring onion in slices, and sesame seeds. Feel slightly healthier than before.

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Croque Madame

This is one of my favourite sandwiches ever and so great for a weekend lunchtime treat. I’ve been trying to recreate my favourite version for a while and I think I’ve finally got the balance right – turns out you can have too much bechamel sauce. Would would have thought it.

Anyway, since I’m running out of words (unless you want to hear about fracturing toughnesses and patterned grounds) I’ll go straight to the recipe.

Croque Madame 

Ingredients (makes 4)

3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp olive oil (you can use butter, but I’m Greek)
less than a pint of milk (excuse the vagueness but I never measure – you should be able to tell from the consistency of the sauce)
1/2 to 1 tsp of english mustard (to taste)
pinch of nutmeg
salt and black pepper

8 slices of bread
lots of cheddar (about 2 cups when grated)
4 slices of ham

Quickly fry the flour in the fat over medium heat until you’ve got a paste – do not overcook or your sauce will taste biscuity. Take off the heat and add a splash of milk and incorporate until you’ve got a smooth mixture. Turn the heat on again on low-medium and keep adding milk and mixing until the mixture is thick. You want it to be slightly thicker than normal bechamel so make sure you don’t add too much milk. Stir in the mustard, salt and pepper, and let it cool slightly.

Start preparing the toasties: spread about half a tablespoon of bechamel on one side, top with grated cheese and a slice of ham, and toast them using a panini press or a griddle pan. If you’re doing it on the hob, make sure it’s on medium heat as you don’t want the bread to toast before the cheese is melted.

Turn the grill on to preheat. When the toasties are golden on both sides, top with a tablespoon of bechamel each, and then more grated cheese. Place under the grill for a few minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is starting to brown. In the meantime, fry 4 eggs – I did them all in one large frying pan, so it didn’t take long.

To serve, just top each sandwich with a fried egg.

Happy Easter!

There is something really quite magical about being back home, and it’s not just that the beach is 5 minutes away and the sun is almost always shining at this time of the year. Although it helps.

It’s that special feeling you get when you know a place inside out and every street brings back a different memory. Easter is a particularly good time of the year to be here too; I’m glad to have escaped the awful weather back in England and be able to smell all those lovely spring smells.

And Easter is still celebrated in a very traditional way. A week of fasting or at least moderate eating is followed by feasts right after midnight on Saturday. Eggs are dyed bright red and the egg wars are a favourite post-Sunday-lunch game.

There’s been a silly amount of meat-eating, not that I’m complaining of course! We got a whole spit roasted lamb and, since there’s just four of us, something tells me it’s going to take us a while to get through all of it. Even when the novelty wears out, there’s so many things you can do with it: use it in sauces, omelets, salads. Mum likes to eat it straight out of the fridge, Nigella-style.

I am not a huge fan of liver, but when it’s wrapped in intestines and then cooked on a rotisserie until crispy (kokoretsi) I can be tempted.

But apart from the meats, appetisers are also an important part of the Easter table. Salads, cheeses and dips go perfectly with the salty meat. One of my favourite ones is the one I’m about to share with you, and it’s so simple I’m not sure I’m even allowed to call this a recipe.

Roast Peppers

Ingredients
 
long peppers (as many as you like, including a spicy one for a bit of a kick)
olive oil
salt
red wine vinegar

Wash and prick the peppers with a knife. Dry them with a kitchen towel and place them on a baking tray. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt and shake the tray to cover them all over. Place under a medium grill until soft and brown in spots, turning round once to let them cook on both sides. Serve either hot or cold, with a splash of vinegar.

Homemade pasta

Ah, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve just come back from a skiing holiday in Austria and I am still trying to recover from a silly amount of muscle pain and a salty food and beer overdose. All in all, a successful holiday. Photos (mainly of food and snow) will follow.

I took my netbook with me hoping to write a couple of posts and keep up with a bit of work, but in my search for wifi all I found was giggles from the locals. I managed to locate a computer with The Internet on it, in a hotel basement, but I couldn’t bring myself to stay down there for long when the sun was shining and the pistes were waiting!

Anyway, enough with the Austria talk, since it (probably) belongs to a different post. I though I’d tell you about a little adventure I had before I left. It was after a long day of work so I came back completely exhausted and brain-dead. Alex wasn’t around which can only mean one thing: pasta for dinner! It was going to be an easy, straightforward meal, until I read this post.

I had tried once before to make my own pasta and decided to dive into the most difficult recipe I could find: Soft egg ravioli. Well, the egg wasn’t too tricky, but the pasta was so difficult to roll out that I spent literally hours trying to make half a dozen of them. I decided I would not try it again without a pasta machine. But Dawn claimed that it was pretty straightforward even by hand, and I decided to give it a go.

Well, she was right! It was actually so good and so easy that I made it again the next day. Here is the recipe, although I haven’t done anything different than she did.

Pasta Dough (from Kitchen Travels)

Ingredients (1 egg per slightly greedy person)

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling
4 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Sift the flour into a large bowl or a clean surface. In another bowl, beat the eggs, olive oil and salt until smooth. Mix with the flour until it has all been incorporated. Knead until smooth. 

It didn’t take me more than 10 minutes of kneading until the dough looked smooth and elastic. Wrap in cling film and let rest for half an hour. I took advantage of that time to make the sauce.

Cut in 4 equal pieces and roll each one out onto a thin sheet. The pasta will get thicker when cooked so make sure you make it thin enough. Dust your surface and rolling pin with flour so the dough doesn’t stick.

It only takes 5 minutes to roll out and the dough is very nicely behaved.

I cut it into strips using a pizza cutter but you can use a knife or cut them into circles/squares and fill them with whatever you fancy.

Cook in salted water for about 4 minutes, although it depends on how thick they are. Serve with your favourite sauce.

The taste and texture is so much better than dried pasta (although I’m still a huge fan of course!) or even store-bought fresh egg pasta. You can easily make a very simple tomato sauce while the dough is resting and you have yourself a really tasty and surprisingly quick meal! I had mine with a roast tomato and aubergine sauce and loads of grated cheese on the top. For two days in a row.

I suppose the point of this post is to urge all of you pasta lovers to go ahead and make your own pasta if you haven’t done it before. Do not be intimidated if you haven’t got fancy equipment. Kneading and rolling is pretty therapeutic and the result will be worth it!