Gojuchang Meatballs on Tortillas with a Fried Egg. Because, JOY.
Fusion for many is a dirty word, because it is often done so badly. But most days are a fusion day for me as I combine my favourite ingredients to make breakfast, brunch or dinner.
Gojuchang Meatballs on Tortillas with a Fried Egg. Because, JOY.
Fusion for many is a dirty word, because it is often done so badly. But most days are a fusion day for me as I combine my favourite ingredients to make breakfast, brunch or dinner.
This recipe is the second in a series of four that was written in partnership with Wyevale Garden Centres who sponsored this post. Come back for more detail on planting courgettes, an edible flower garden and a herb garden, with lots of recipes too. I am posting daily updates on snapchat also, where you can also follow Game of Slugs (aka SLUG WARS). All editorial is mine, as always. (Read more about sponsored content on Eat Like a Girl). If you are just starting, see my first post on How to Plant an Edible Garden.
Courgette flowers were a key reason for my fierce desire to plant a kitchen garden. They were always so unavailable and expensive, when I found them they would never last very long. Many times I would trundle home from the farmers market with a tiny expensive clutch of them, only to discover them wilted and sad the next day when I went to cook with them.
When I was in Dublin last week I cooked with Lily Ramirez-Foran. I have known Lily for years online and met her at Electric Picnic, an Irish music festival with a fun food stage, the Theatre of Food. Lily is Mexican, from Monterrey, but based in Ireland with her Irish husband whom she met in Japan. Ireland is very lucky to have her and her gorgeous Mexican shop and kitchen Picado, in Portabello in Dublin. It is a joyful place where Lily serves the best Mexican produce (food and other bits like handmade Mexican pinatas!). She also has supper clubs and cooking classes there on a weekly basis.
I remember when I first had prawn toast from a Chinese takeaway and I was mesmerised. Just how do they make this, and how do they get the prawns to stick to the toast? Very much a guilty pleasure, I can’t actually order it as the supermarket bread used turns my guts into knots (real bread is no problem, as for most!), so I turned to my stove as I always do, and figured it out.
I do good brunch. Forgive my hubris, but I do a bloody great brunch. This is one thing I know for sure. I devote a lot of energy to it. It is my favourite meal of the day and I have it most days. It is one of the perks of working from home (there are a few downsides too, trust me). I have never been one for eating straight out of bed in the morning. I have a coffee and a couple of hours later I turn my attention to the stove. It is often egg based, eggs are one of the most magical things in the world.
When my brunch is egg based, I think about what I want to dip into it that day. Earthy marmite buttered toast soldiers, bright asparagus wrapped in bacon or ham, something dippy, something firm, something that tastes great. I have made soldiers of sesame crusted tuna and salt and pepper tofu, shaped into perfect egg soldier size, perfect for dragging through a glorious runny yolk.
This Sunday my first thoughts went to a simple sourdough soldier, quick and earnest, it would get the job done. I also spied my tub of yeast flakes, something I love since my university vegetarian days (YES, really!), something used as a cheese substitute by vegans, but loved by many for the joy it brings on its own. I had a cauliflower too, and all I could think about was how awesome that would be cut into steaks and fried in butter with an egg on top and a yeasty crumble. I would baste the cauliflower gently with butter as it cooked. And, what about crisp sage leaves, to bring it to the next level?
Cauliflower is having a moment. It is everywhere right now. Carb avoiders love it and turn it into cauliflower rice and cous cous (which are pretty much the same thing, just blitzed cauliflower, and they taste good), and even make pizza bases from it, stringing it together with cheese. This makes sense, cauliflower and cheese covered with pizza toppings, and more cheese? What is not to love? (Although don’t ever give me one instead of real pizza, please). I still love it as a simple cauliflower cheese, I love it spiced and fried to dip into a runny egg (turmeric, cumin and chilli work really well).
Yeast flakes? Cheesy joy and a complete protein packed with vitamins and minerals. It is not a surprise that yeast flakes are favoured by vegans for the cheesy nirvana they deliver, they are a wonderful ingredient which should be embraced by all for their wonderful unique and intense flavour. Yeast flakes an umami bomb, they have such intense flavour they taste like they could not possibly be good for you. Yeast flakes are also loved by exercise fanatics as they are a dense with nutrients. (Someone please save me if I ever start eating powdered protein or something similar. Where is the JOY?!).
A big tub of yeast flakes will go a long way. Combined with butter and chilli they make a terrific spread for toast. Like try and have just one slice of that, I had four. Combined with nuts they make a terrific crumble topping for anything savoury. Pounded to a powder and mixed into a béchamel or beurre blanc you get something deeply addictive. And they are very good for you too, packed with vitamin B.
Note – don’t confuse yeast flakes with bakers yeast and brewers yeast. They are different animals! I use these yeast flakes from Engevita enriched with extra B12.
Melt the butter and fry the cauliflower in it over a medium heat turning occasionally in a large frying pan or skillet. This will take about 15 − 20 minutes.
For the last 5 minutes, first crisp your sage leaves by frying them in the butter until they speckle, turn darker and start to stiffen. Remove and keep to the side.
Add a bit more butter if needed, then add the small cauliflower pieces, hazelnuts and yeast flakes.
When the cauliflower is almost there, poach your egg. The trick to poached eggs is to use very fresh eggs (try your farmers market, by the time they get to the summer market they are often a week old) and to only just simmer the water, don’t let it boil. Light bubbles like champagne barely breaking the surface is all you need. If you are worried your eggs aren’t fresh enough add a little vinegar to help tighten the white and swirl the water with a spoon to create a whirlpool before dropping the cracked egg into it. I always find it easier tic rack the egg into a ramekin or cup before hand. Poach to your liking, I like a set white and very runny yolk.
Season to taste. Serve the cauliflower steak with the egg and crumble on top, and a scattering of the sage leaves.
Hot avocado seems a misnomer. The joy of avocado is its effortless smooth creaminess, always cold. I first saw warm avocado on the menu of a rural Italian restaurant when I first moved to London. It was roasted with a light covering of gorgonzola. I thought it curious and not offensive but I wasn’t inspired to replicate it at home.
Lately, baked avocados have erupted all over this internet. Paleo folks love them (did the cavemen really eat their avocados this way?! Ahem!). I was curious. I decided to have a go. An egg simply roasted inside an avocado didn’t appeal, I felt it required something else. Something porky, or spicy, something that would give it a little edge. I opted for sobrassada, a gorgeous spreadable pork sausage from the Balearics (and in my case specifically, Menorca), very gently spiced. ‘Nduja would be ace here too, as would some chorizo or some chilli and tomato if you wanted something vegetarian.
To fit a whole egg in half a hass avocado is a challenge that requires removing much of the avocado flesh, so I opted instead to put in a quails egg. Fiddly, yes, but straight forward when you gently pierce the shell with a sharp knife and remove enough shell to coax the quails egg out without breaking the yolk. I did remove a little flesh (which I ate immediately and with glee). Some sobrassada first, raw quails egg on top, and salt and pepper and a splash of extra virgin olive oil on top, before roasting in the oven under a cover of foil to protect the egg from crusting.
The verdict? Yeah, these are good! And even better with some toast. Spread some of the avocado and sobrassada on, and top with that gorgeous egg.
Follow me on instagram! (@eatlikeagirl)
To see more recipes and to see them first come follow me on snapchat! I share video recipes from my kitchen, almost daily, along with my other London and travel based food adventures too. Add eatlikeagirl on snapchat using this link: http://www.snapchat.com/add/eatlikeagirl
Preheat your oven to 180 deg C.
Cut the avocado in half and remove the stone. Scrape out a little avocado from where the stone was, creating a slightly deeper hole. Put a tablespoon of sobrassada or ‘nduja in each. Carefully shell the quails eggs (I find it easiest to do this by piercing the shell gently with a sharp knife, taking care to just pierce the shell and therefore not damage the yolk). Season with salt and pepper and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the egg and avocado.
Put in a small roasting dish, ensuring that the avocado is stable again the side. Add the tomato if including, and season and drizzle some oil on top. Cover the aluminium foil and roast for 15 minutes. Check and if the white is set it is done, put it back in and keep an eye on it.
Eat hot with toast. Enjoy!
Yes, I know. Now, lets sit right back down and get on with business. You need to make these.
Crispy parmesan eggs are a joy and they are so easy. Can-make-with-a-hangover easy. Will bring a rainbow to your breakfast table joyful. Rich deep crisp parmesan, and an egg on top. Now, finish that with some wild garlic pesto and take it to the next level. Have a seat and congratulate yourself before you inevitably make another one.
Wild garlic pesto is a perfect fridge ingredient. So versatile, have it with pasta, on toast, your morning eggs. Spoon some on some tomatoes and add more parmesan before you roast them. Drizzle some on top of potatoes, or put a little in between layers of potato dauphinoise. If you are lucky you will have a free source which no doubt you keep secret. I managed to find some in Cardiff on the weekend near a friends house. Gorgeous tufts of wild garlic huddled in tight beside a stream. It is early in the season there and so most of the flowers had yet to breach their husky cocoon and the leaves were small and tender.
With wild garlic pesto, you can look to the traditional ligurian pesto and make a version similar to that. Parmesan, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil and wild garlic. I like to make some changes. This time, I used hazelnuts instead of pine nuts, I love the flavour but almonds work very well here too. Instead of extra virgin olive oil, I use a cold pressed rapeseed oil. It feels more appropriate and works very well. Taste and adapt yours if you need to, some patches of wild garlic are more pungent than others. I don’t blanch the leaves as I want the full blind force of the wild garlic.
The parmesan eggs are very straight forward, you just need to make sure you are using a non stick pan or a well seasoned cast iron one. I like to start mine in bacon or guanciale fat, why stop with parmesan underneath, but you can use an oil of your choice too. Extra virgin olive oil, rapeseed or groundnut are what I generally use.
Put the wild garlic, parmesan, hazelnuts and a tablespoon of the oil in your food processor or blender. Pulse or blend intermittently in short bursts, adding the rest of the oil bit by bit. Season to taste with wild garlic.
Put the oil or bacon fat in a non stick or well seasoned pan. Add the parmesan then crack the egg on top and sprinkle some sea salt on top. Cook until it is at your liking (for me: a set white and very runny yolk).
Serve immediately with the wild garlic pesto drizzled on top, and some toast for dipping in that yolk.
I like to cook in batches. Even though I am generally cooking for just one or two. Some stuff just makes sense that way: big pots of stock, beans, a roast hunk of meat that can become 4 dishes in the day after, pizza. One big bowl of dough will keep well if you let it rise gently overnight in the fridge. And you can eat it for every meal that day. And you really can, you know? Or you can have a pizza party.
This morning as I looked at the bowl of dough that I had just retrieved from the fridge I was thinking, oh yes, egg & lardo pizza. Because you know those are two of my very favourite things. I quite like to cover my egg yolks with lardo anyway. And I have lardo in the fridge. (Lardo? Cured gorgeous pork fat, mouth melting and divine. Not lard. Which is also great but for different reasons). But I have something even better too. Guanciale! Roman cheek bacon, the very best bacon there is. I consider myself an expert after all the testing that I did for my next book Project Bacon (which is in the final stages, and I know I have said that before but it really is).
I didn’t have a meat slicer (and oh how I want one!), and what I really wanted was a thin sheet of guanciale, rich with fat and weak with a quiver of pink meat. It would protect and coat the egg as it roasted in the most gorgeous way possible. It drives me crazy when an egg on a pizza hardens and blisters as it roasts. I tried my food processor and it did well enough. All systems go, pizza for breakfast was going to be a thing.
I am lucky, I have gorgeous Roman tomatoes, bursting with ripeness. If they could speak they would be exuberant and you might not want to sit next to them, but as a tomato they are a perfect thing. Chopped into large enough dice so that they still had personality and texture and shape, they were the first layer on my breakfast pizza. Thrown cautiously over a carefully teased piece of dough, shaped into a careless circle with my fingers. On top, a little chopped fresh rosemary. I cracked an egg into the centre where there was enough of a lack of tomatoes to hold an egg, with a wall of tomatoes around it. On top, three carefully placed slices of guanciale joy.
Into the oven at its highest setting, and about 6 minutes later there it was. My perfect breakfast pizza, bacon and egg at its most joyful. You must make it. I promise it is worth making the dough. Have a breakfast pizza party!
Make your dough. Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and add the oil. Add the water a little at a time, mixing it through. When the flour has come together to a ball there is enough water. Add more a little at a time if you need it (each brand of flour is a little different). if it gets too wet just add a little more flour. Knead for 10 minutes or 5 minutes if you have a mixer with a dough hook. Cover with cling film and let it rise slowly in the fridge overnight or let it rise in the warmest part of your kitchen until it has doubled in size (about 40 minutes to an hour). Knock the dough back by literally knocking the wind out of it, and let it rise again for another 10 minutes at room temperature. It is now ready to use.
Preheat your oven to its highest heat.
Divide the dough into 6 balls and using your hands, gently shape it into a circle. I like it when it isn’t too thin, liking it to be approaching foccacia but not quite. You should have yours as thin as you like it. If you find hand shaping awkward you can use a rolling pin.
Put the dough on a floured or oiled baking tray and add the tomatoes, making sure there is room for an egg in the middle. Season the pizza at this point (the bacon will have enough salt. Sprinkle on the rosemary and crack the egg on top. Carefully put the guanciale or lardo or bacon over the egg, making sure the yolk is covered. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top and sprinkle with some black pepper.
The pizza shouldn’t take long. Keep an eye on it after 5 minutes.
Eat hot and enjoy! I love it :)
It was St Patrick’s Day this week, and I hope you all had a good one. I love this day, it is a simple celebration of everything that it means to be Irish, and a chance to stop, take stock and spend time with Irish friends and quell any feelings of homesickness. I still feel as I did when as a child when I would be putting on my green and white jumper which a baby sitter had knitted for me, and when visiting my granny’s house to be pinned with soggy shamrock, which would make me feel bright and excited.
Chef John Relihan with Irish pork and beef smoking low and slow over turf, at the Bord Bia St Patrick’s Day food market in Trafalgar Square
St Patrick’s Day is a national holiday in Ireland, but in London the celebrations are the Sunday before. They are quite large with a parade that finishes at a stage in Trafalgar Square where selected Irish bands play throughout the day, and where there is an Irish food market. There are thousands of people watching, from everywhere. I always find it really positive and fun and pop down when I am in town for it.
St Patrick’s Day Celebrations in London, 2016
The internet positively erupts with Irish recipes this time every year. I love seeing the world embrace and celebrate our culture. We are a small island but with a large global footprint following centuries of emigration and chatter. We love to talk. There are many posts of Irish stew and beef & guinness stew, and these are two I should share my versions of at some time (it seems strange that I haven’t!). Today I want to share a recipe for my take on an Irish breakfast bread, a twist on the humble soda farl.
You know soda bread, I am sure. A simple flour and buttermilk bread using bicarbonate of soda as a raising agent. The acidity of the buttermilk activates the soda and fluffs the bread. Buttermilk isn’t always available here, in Ireland you can get it by the litre almost everywhere as it is a large part of our cooking culture. When I don’t have it, I substitute it with whole milk and lemon or whole milk and yogurt which gives enough acidity and creaminess and results in a still excellent bread.
A simple Irish breakfast bread, soda farls are simply soda bread that is flattened in a circle, and cut into wedges and fried instead of baked. I love to have these to dip into runny eggs. I like to fill these on occasion, and this morning I added some softened leek, Italian sausage and fresh sage. I make the dough first and then I add the fried sausage, leek and sage, weaving it in.
These are speedy and very tasty, and a little bit different too. If you are vegetarian, try coarsely mixing in some goat’s cheese with the leeks and sage, or another cheese of your choice. If you are dairy free, substitute any milk substitute, and include lemon to wake the soda up.
(The recipe follows below)
From the archives:
Another Irish bread recipe: the Blaa from Waterford. My story of tracing it through emigration from Waterford to Newfoundland and a recipe for you to make it at home. It is a wonderful fluffy roll – give them a go!
Links I loved this week:
Retsina braised shoulder of goat with whipped feta from Helen at Food Stories
Preperation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Sausage & Sage Soda Farls
Slice the leek finely and saute in a little butter and oil until soft over a medium heat (about 6 minutes). Add the sausage and fry until cooked through. Add the sage for the last minute.
Now for the farls. These are very easy, you just need to use your hands. Put the flour, salt and the soda in a large bowl, ensuring there are now lumps in the soda (which will result in holes in your bread). Just squish them out with your fingers or through a sieve. Add the butter and mix through with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the milk and form a dough. Add the sausage and leek mixture and mix through well.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and flatten onto a circle. Cut into 8 triangles by cutting into halves and then further into quarters and eighths.
Heat a little butter and oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the farls over a low heat for about 10 minutes on each side so that they cook right through.
Serve hot, and with butter if you fancy it. Or just dip them into some lovely runny eggs.
Kimchi pork sesame meatballs, aka your path to your dream brunch. And lots of other things.
More Korean flavours, I can’t get enough. Here I introduce kimchi, which is Korean chilli pickled cabbage (trust me, you need to try it if you haven’t already) to minced pork, and tweak it with spring onion and sweet hot gojucharu (gorgeous Korean red pepper flakes, which of course it knows intimately already), and ease it all with a crisp sesame seed coating. Before I fry it all and use it as the ultimate egg soldier by dipping it in a glorious perfectly fried gooey egg.
I have been playing around with meatballs and dumplings and homemade sausages and all sorts of things requiring a little minced meat, a lot of imagination and not too much time. It always amazes me how much you can make, and how frugal cooking with minced meats can be, even when using the best quality.
I want more colour and texture with these meatballs, and a little more nutrition too, I also want to use up the leftover sesame seeds from the bowl where I rolled the meatballs. So I fry broccoli and carrot lightly with them, and serve these on the side. So far, this is my favourite brunch of 2016 and given how much I devote myself to the topic, and how dedicated I am to its daily exploration, this says a lot.
These are simple, speedy and pack a flavour punch. The sesame seeds give a lovely texture and flavour, as well as being a coating that people who can’t have gluten and dairy can enjoy. I have had these for lunch with eggs, in meatball sandwiches, with rice noodles with some shredded veg for accompaniment. I even had small ones rolled tight and cosied up to a perfect egg in a coconut egg cocotte. That worked so well, and I will share that soon too.
The beauty of these is not just the flavour and the deep satisfaction that you will get when you eat them. One batch goes very far, you can prepare it and leave it in your fridge, you can freeze what you don’t use and use it within the month. Or you can play as I did, and if you do, please come and share your ideas, as I too want to try!
Preperation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves: about 36 meatballs, depending on how large you make them
You can use your hands for this, but I prefer to use a food processor. If using your hands, finely slice the kimchi with a knife. Combine the pork, kimchi, gochujaru, the spring onions and some salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands or pulse lightly in a food processor (you don’t want t paste but I find it does bring things together very well). Fry a small amount and check for seasoning until you are happy with it.
Place the sesame seeds in a bowl. Roll ping pong ball size amounts of the pork and kimchi mixture in the palm of your hand and roll in the sesame seeds until fully covered. You should get about 36 balls but it depends on the size of them.
Heat some oil in a frying pan / skillet and fry the balls gently turning a few times until cooked through. This should take no longer than 10 minutes.
To serve as I did: sauté some broccoli and grated carrot lightly so that they remain crisp and add some sesame seeds. Serve with the meatballs and a fried egg.
I had a crisis this morning. Just a small one, but a crisis nonetheless. I could not find my peanut butter.
I just bought it the other day, where could it be hiding? While that tells you a lot about the state of my cupboards (which I hastily emptied the other day during a clear out, and the bulk of it is still residing in big plastic buckets), I solved it pretty quickly, which tells you more about how quick I am to adapt when I am hungry.
Very, very quick. Feed me now, I am hungry! And I needed something to smother my sourdough toast.
Late last year I visited a new London based Turkish restaurant, Oklava. I had a very pleasant lunch there, and the first bite stood out. It was a small dish containing one thing. Date butter. The creation of the patron chef, Selin Kiazim, this date butter was rich and more-ish. I immediately thought that I would love to create something similar at home.
This morning, in the absence of peanut butter and the overwhelming desire for something very-good-to-eat on my toast, I remembered the date butter. I had dates. Huzzah! And butter. And lots of maple syrup from Canada. The deal was done. Rich sweet dates, gorgeous creamy butter and that savoury-sweet maple.
Delicious! I will play with it further. For now, this is a little slice of morning perfection. Thank you, Selina, for the inspiration!
Date & Maple Syrup Butter
Makes enough for 4-6 generous slices
will keep well covered in the fridge for as long as the butter is good (check the BBD)
75g dates, stones removed
2 tbsp maple syrup
optional: hazelnuts, to top with (or nuts of your choice)
Put it all in your food processor or blender and WHIZZ! Scrape down the sides and whizz again. Until lovely.
Congee is one of the best expressions of enthusiasm food can muster. A pot of rice dancing and bubbling and then bursting with joy. A hug in a bowl, when we eat it, the calm and the joy infuses us. Sweet comfort, congee layered with anything you want, salty soy, hot bright ginger, peanuts, spring onions, whatever you want.
Overcook is a word that is tainted with failure and distress. But sometimes overcooking is a joyful thing with wonderful results. Congee is a shining example. Congee is simply rice that is cooked to the point of bursting, like a star, like a galaxy of them in your pot. I have been on a bit of a congee rush for the last few weeks. It is one of my favourite breakfasts when I am in Asia, and it is so simple, and so frugal, it just requires a little rice, salt and a lot of water, and time. You can flourish it as much as you want after that.
I usually top my congee with ginger, peanuts, coriander and soy. Sometimes with chicken. When in Asia, I often order pork and century egg congee. Although I struggle wiyth the translucent wobbly grey whites presented, but I suffer them for the yolks. For years I never made my own, I thought that it must be complex, otherwise it would be everywhere, right? If congee weren’t complex, why aren’t we all eating it, all the time? I guess, we never grew rice here, and so it isn’t in our culture.
For this one, I made a rich congee with chicken brother, but you can make it with just water too and a little salt and it will still be great. I eat a lot of chicken broth, especially in the winter. It is everything I want and easy to make. I use either raw carcasses or chicken wings. I will use leftover carcasses too if I have those lying around. If using chicken wings you can take the meat off and save it for a later use or add it to your congee. I have tried many different types of rice, from short grain brown rice to long grain white. I didn’t have a favourite in the end, they all have their own charm and I would encourage you to play around. One thing I did learn is that congee likes to form a feisty crust, and so I added a tablespoon of rice to it before boiling to prevent this. (Do you like the crust? I found it made the congee a little more high maintenance too).
This will make enough congee for 4 people and it will keep in the fridge for 3 days. Enjoy! I would love to know how you adapt yours! Do let me know.
Recipe: Chicken Broth Congee with Soy Cured Egg Yolk
1 litre chicken broth (fresh is best – you can buy it or make it 1kg chicken wings or 2 carcasses, 6 carrots, 6 sticks celery, 4 onions, 1 tsp pepper corns, 4 cloves garlic and 2 bay leaves covered with water in a large pot and brought to the boil, scum removed if any, and boiled for a couple of hours)
100g long grain white rice
a kettle of boiled water, just in case!
4 egg yolks
200ml soy sauce
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp peanuts (as you like them, I like them skinless and roasted)
a mild chilli, shredded or chilli oil
1 inch ginger, cut into fine julienne (small matchsticks)
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves
4 tsp soy sauce
The night before or at least 2 hours before, put the egg yolks (gently!) in a small bowl or lunchbox and cover them with the soy sauce. 8 hours is optimal but 2 hours will do. This firms up the egg yolk nicely, but keeps it runny, and cures it a bit.
The rice grows exponentially, so in a decent sized pan, put the rice and one tablespoon of oil in pan and stir it through ensuring all the rice is coated. Add the stock and bring it to the boil. Reduce to a simmer. Stir the rice occasionally and if you feel it needs more liquid (it should be soupy but not runny) top it up with water from the kettle. It will take approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes (maybe less maybe more). Check for salt (it should be fine if your stock was seasoned) and season if necessary.
When the congee is ready, pour into 4 bowls (or 1 or 2 or 3 saving the leftovers in the fridge) and gently place te cured egg yolk in the centre, sprinkling spring onion, chilli, coriander, ginger and nuts and 1 tsp soy sauce on top.
Eat immediately and enjoy!
This content was sponsored by lovepotatoes.co.uk and potato.ie for their campaign Potatoes: More than a bit on the side. This is a recipe that I created in partnership with them because, you know how much I love the humble spud, and I believe that they are under rated and under used. I adore potatoes and was delighted to work with the campaign.
Potatoes are my weakness. I adore them in all shapes and sizes. I look forward to the new potato season every year, I love little waxy ones in a salad, I love a boiled fluffy one with a little sea salt and butter, potato gnocchi are a joy, and crisps, well I am helpless in the face of some of them. Have you discovered purple potatoes yet? They are wonderful (but too hard to come by, lets change that!).
Potatoes get a bad rap, but they are a great source of energy, high in fibre, low in fat and rich in vitamins C & B6 and potassium. They are speedy to prepare too, and can be as easy or difficult as you like. I love them diced and roasted with an egg and some herbs for brunch (along with whatever I fancy that day, be it chorizo, egg, or some peppers). I think the potato is perfect for a midweek supper or speedy weekend lunch.
I grew up surrounded by potato farms, little pockets of joy in the Irish countryside. Now that I live in the UK I always seek out local varieties and try new things. Jersey Royals when in season, Maris Piper for mash, and in Ireland I love Kerrs Pinks and Golden Wonders. But I try everything, and I love finding heritage potatoes at my farmers market.
Potatoes are a terrific vehicle for other things. Simple mash is superb, but what if you turned that into a pancake? Yes, what if you did that?! So easy, and I like to boil extra potatoes so that I can pancakes with the mash the next day. I base my recipe on Irish potato cakes, one of our best speedy recipes. You can serve them with meat also, of course, and you can serve them with vegetarian options too, they are also wonderful with a poached or fried egg. Try them with some ragu or chilli beef some time. Perfect!
Tip: you can replace the cream cheese with creme fraiche for something a little lighter. Toss the leftover skins in a little oil and sea salt for wonderful crisp bites for after. Or even serve on top.
Recipe: Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon, Chives and Cream Cheese
takes 30 minutes
serves 2 / makes 6 pancakes
300g boiled potatoes, mashed weight (approximately two medium potatoes)
85g plain flour plus extra for dusting
3 spring onions, finely chopped
150g smoked salmon
100g cream cheese
a little butter and light oil for frying
Preheat your oven to 180 deg C.
Mash the potatoes with the butter and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Add the flour and egg and mix throughly, then add the spring onions. Form a ball with the dough. Try not to overwork it, you just want it all to combine. Dust with flour and on a floured surface, shape the dough into a circle that is 1cm thick using your hands. Using a cutter or glass, shape the pancakes, reshaping the dough into a ball and flattening towards the end.
Heat a little butter and oil over a medium heat in a frying pan. Fry the pancakes until brown on each side, then place on baking parchment in the oven for 15 minutes until cooked through. This is primarily to cook the flour through.
Serve immediately with the cream cheese, smoked salmon and chives. If you like, chop about a tablespoon of chives and put it through the cream cheese.
Fans of Ottolenghi (and I am one) will be thrilled to discover that there is a new cookbook to explore from Nopi, their central London restaurant. The book has been co-authored by Yotam Ottolenghi and Nopi head chef Ramael Scully. I popped by to have brunch with them and chat about their book before I left to explore Canada a couple of weeks ago.
The first thing you notice when you chat to Ramael is just how enthusiastic he is about cooking. He loves it and has lots of little projects on the go in the Nopi kitchen. I tasted some fermented rice that he was playing with (and that was good, very interesting & complex flavour!), and chatted to him about his culinary influences. The food at Nopi is a little different to the food at their other restaurants, steered by Ramael’s cultural influences which include his Malaysian heritage. He is also clearly inspired by other Asian cuisines, the food and recipes that result are joyful and very interesting.
I cooked the Sweet Potato Pancakes with Date Molasses from the Nopi cookbook at home, with a cheeky substitution of cream cheese for yogurt as that was what my fridge offered up that day. I would recommend it, the sharpness of the cream cheese was wonderful with the date molasses and sweet potato pancakes. I also highly recommend the Black Rice with Coconut Milk, Banana & Mango and the Courgette and Manouri Fritters with Cardamom Yogurt (both of which I have had in Nopi but I have yet to cook at home.
Date molasses? A syrup that is made from pure date juice, wonderful, unctuous and thick. I am lucky that I can get it locally, but you can buy it online from Ottolenghi too (they deliver worldwide). Or, substitute maple syrup or honey.
Recipe: Nopi’s Sweet Potato Pancakes with Date Molasses
from NOPI: The Cookbook
2 medium sweet potatoes, unpeeled (about 700g)
200g plain flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp grated nutmeg (do this fresh – it makes a huge difference)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
150ml full fat milk
50g unsalted butter, melted (plus 80g extra cut into dice for frying)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp runny honey
coarse sea salt
160g Greek yogurt (or cream cheese if feeling indulgent)
60g date syrup
1 tsp icing sugar, for dusting (optional: I didn’t include this but it is in the original recipe)
Preheat your oven to 240 deg C (220 deg fan oven).
Place the sweet potatoes on a parchment lined baking tray and roast for an hour until completely soft and browned. Remove from the oven, set aside to cool, and peel. Discard the skin and place the flesh in the middle of a clean piece of muslin or j-cloth. Draw up the sides, roll into a ball and squeeze out any liquid that is released from the flesh. The drained weight of the sweet potato should be about 320g. Reduce the oven temperature to 180 deg C (160 deg fan).
Mix together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and cinnamon in a medium bowl with 1.5 teaspoons of salt. Place the egg yolks, milk, melted butter, vanilla and honey in a separate bowl and whisk well to combine. Fold into the dry ingredients and stir to combine before adding the sweet potato flesh. Whisk well until completely smooth. You can make the pancakes a day in advance up to this stage.
Place the egg whites in a separate bowl and whisk until stiff, this should take 3-4 minutes if whisking by hand or 1-2 minutes if using an electric whisk. Gently fold into the sweet potato mix and set aside.
When ready to serve put 20g of the diced butter into a large frying pan and place on a medium heat. When the butter starts to foam, ladle about a heaped tablespoon of pancake mix into the pan. You should be able to cook 3 pancakes at a time. Cook for 3-4 minutes, turning once half way through once the edges of the pancake are brown and the mixture starts to bubble in the middle. The pancakes are quite soft, so be careful as you turn them over. Transfer to a parchment lined tray and set aside while you continue with the remaining mixture, wiping the pan clean before adding 20g butter with each new batch. You should make 12 pancakes. Transfer to the oven for 5 minutes to warm everything through.
To serve place 3 pancakes in the middle of each plate (or create a ridiculous tower as I did ;) ), and spoon the yogurt (or cream cheese) on top. Drizzle with the date syrup, dust with icing sugar (if using), and serve.
Yes! I am back in my kitchen after 10 days in Italy. My trip was split between Abruzzo and Rome and was deeply inspirational, if a little hot. No very hot, and all the mozzies got the memo that the pink Irish person was in town. Little gits.
Italy always gets my cooking neurons firing, I go there as often as I can, but this trip was particularly interesting as I was travelling mainly with talented chefs and food writers. The trip in general was centred around one of my favourite things, pasta! But, more on that soon.
I got back last night, very late after lots of delays. I was tired, my luggage was heavy with wine, charcuterie, beans and maybe a small arrosticini grill. There may have been a chitarra too. I know, I know, I have a problem. It was a lot to lug home solo, but the people of London were awesome, as always, and so many total strangers offered to help me as I went. I got home eventually, hungry, and enthusiastic to cook. I needed to make something speedy with a punch. The answer to that turned out to be a steak salad with ‘nduja onions. And it was good.
‘Nduja onions? What even are they? Red onions, caramelised gently for half an hour or so, with firey ‘nduja stirred through. ‘Nduja is a magical concoction of pork, fat and Calabrian chilli, in a spreadable sausage. I mean, YES. I actually can’t have it in the fridge all the time as I find it hard to go past it. The ‘nduja goes perfectly with the sweet onions, and the onions disperse the chilli a bit? You will want to put them in everything. You will want to dry them, and grind them to a powder, and well… use as a rub? (Gotcha!). I think these are a perfect garnish generally, and I plan to make a big batch and keep them in a jar in the fridge to use as I go.
Along with my brazen onions, I also had a perfect Roman tomato that I had brought with three others in my hand luggage home. I had some sorry looking potatoes which I revived by peeling off the limp skin, dicing, par boiling, and then frying gently until completely crisp and fluffy inside. I love a fluffy spud, it tickles my insides and awakes childhood culinary memories as it does. Memories of fields and flowers and summers spend gathering leftover small potatoes to do whatever we wanted with. Usually we tried to make crisps, but we were always disappointed (I have mastered the craft now ;) ). Anything, a country childhood forces you to be creative and I am still grateful for that.
Almost there. (Puglian) oregano is about the only thing that can shout over ‘nduja and calm it down a bit, so I popped some of that on too. For contrast, a little bitterness and some texture, I wilted some baby gem lettuce in the last minute or so. Then an egg, fried until the white is perfectly set and the yolk still runny.
It is good to be back in the kitchen! And back at my desk too.
Happy Monday, all! I hope your week is a good one.
Recipe: Potato & Tomato Hash with an Egg & ‘Nduja Onions
‘Nduja onions – I would recommend quadrupling this and storing it in the fridge, if you can
1 red onion, peeled, cut in half and finely sliced
2 tbsp ‘nduja
Potato, Tomato & Lettuce Hash
1 average potato, peeled and diced
1 meaty tomato, peeled, deseed and roughly chopped (or a handful of good cherry tomatoes, halved)
1/2 tsp dried oregano (removed from the stem)
1 small head of baby gem lettuce, washed with leaves removed
light oil for frying
Heat a tablespoon of oil and add the onions. Cook gently for half an hour or so (longer if you have time), then stir through the ‘nduja. Leave for a further 5 minutes then turn off the heat.
Parboil your potato until just tender, which will take just a few minutes. Heat a further tablespoon of oil in a new frying pan and fry over a medium heat until crisp all over. Add the tomatoes and oregano, the potatoes will get a little squishy, but that is what you want. Cook them for a further 5 minutes. Add the lettuce leaves for just a minute.
At this point I would normally just crack an egg in the middle here, but this morning I fried it in a separate pan. Up to you! I find I get my eggs perfectly right when fried over a medium heat with a lid on top. This allows the white to set perfectly while still having a runny yolk. I am a bit freaky about egg whites, I must confess.
Season the egg and hash with sea salt, and serve the hash with the egg on top, and finish with those feisty ‘nduja onions.
Joy! Enjoy it.
What? You never thought of having almonds with your eggs? Well think about this: how good would a fried almond slick with chorizo oil be dipped into a runny egg yolk? Yeah! Lets get cracking. This is so simple and you will have your breakfast of champions on your table within 10 minutes.
First, lets tackle what is likely at the forefront of your mind. THAT poached egg. Let me let you in on a secret, I poach eggs all the time and my first poached egg for this dish was a disaster. I created my whirlpool as I always do, I even added vinegar as I knew my egg was not as fresh as I would like. I would need a very fresh egg for a great poached egg but vinegar helps tighten a tired white and pull it all together. My poor egg couldn’t handle the whirlpool and the yolk bolted away, the white clinging on only just. The yolk poached perfectly and it is the best bit anyway, but you know, that was a disaster of a poached egg.
Do you feel discouraged? Don’t, 95% of the time these work out fine. My second one was from the same box and so I let the water relax and be still then cracked the egg into a small cup before gently easing it into the water. This one was perfect. And there we are. None of the fuss was warranted, all this egg needed was some water that was not quite boiling (and that is very important too – tiny imperceptible bubbles are what you want). You can fry your egg or even boil it if this is too much of a pulaver but I would walk across hot coals for a perfect poached egg on the mornings that I desire one.
This requires less of a recipe, it is more of a conversation. Fry a handful of chopped chorizo until it starts to release its oil, then add a couple of tablespoons of almonds for a couple of minutes, stirring as you go, coating them in the lovely chorizo oil. This whole time your egg should be cooking, whichever way you want. Add the tomatoes and cook briefly so that they stay firm. Finish with a little salt, to taste, and a flourish of basil. Egg on top.
Lovely, eh? Enjoy!
It was one of those mornings. I was out of eggs – what, how could I let that happen?! – and out of coffee beans. I was staring glumly at a bag of Moomin coffee, a hasty Helsinki airport purchase, and wondering how nasty that might be and what I could have for breakfast. On my counter were some very brown bananas, barely a patch of yellow left. I had some buckwheat flour, but not a lot, and a bag of hazelnuts. I thought I might try a new take on banana bread.
It is worth buying bananas and letting them go really brown to make banana bread and pancakes. This is when they are at their best for cooking, rich and syrupy sweet. I never do this intentionally. I buy bananas and let them sit on the side. I feel guilty when I see them every day. I worry about waste, and then eventually they go completely brown, and they become banana bread or pancakes.
I love the flavour of buckwheat, I use it a lot. For pancakes, waffles, bread and now banana bread, the nutty flavour goes very well with the bananas here. It is gluten free as it isn’t actually a wheat, and as I used coconut oil too, this bread is dairy free also.
A quick word on coconut oil, I know it is being heralded as a new discovery and superfood, but you know, in Asia they have been using this forever, and in Asian shops it is very easy to buy, and much cheaper too (ok, so it isn’t extra virgin, but you know). Often in bottles, which in Asia wouldn’t be a problem as it being warm, the oil would be liquid. Here, I put mine in a pot of hot water so that it melts a bit and I can pour it. You can get jars too.
Once I discovered that coconut oil was a good butter substitute (I am lactose intolerant so I must take care), I started using it for fruit curds and in cakes that demanded to be dairy free. Texturally it is similar, unlike oils, and so it works very well. I should really share my lactose free life hacks with you some day. I have many! Of course you can use butter instead, if you prefer. Buttery bananas are good.
Lets crack on with the recipe, shall we? This banana bread is dense and fruity with nutty pops of hazelnut. It didn’t last a day in my flat, and I ate most of it. I am going to make more this weekend.
Enjoy – recipes now have their own page in my new website design, so that you can save and print the recipe on its own. PDF downloads are coming soon too. Both reader requests, and good onse I think! Let me know if there are any bugbears or things that you would like to see changed too!
Oh and you know what, the Moomin coffee was actually ok! :)
Buckwheat and Hazelnut Banana Bread [Gluten & Dairy Free Recipe]
makes one loaf
175g buckwheat flour
100g soft brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp good vanilla extract
4 very ripe bananas, mashed (mine came to 250g when peeled)
75g coconut oil (or butter if you prefer)
50g blanched hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
one loaf tin, I actually used a pie dish as I couldn’t find my loaf tin :)
Preheat your oven to 180 deg C.
Mash the bananas and mix in the sugar and coconut oil. Beat with a wooden spoon until well combined.
Add buckwheat flour, a pinch of salt and vanilla and mix through until you get a well blended batter.
Stir through the hazelnuts and spread he batter into your greased tin.
Bake until a skewer comes out dry when the cake is pierced with it. Mine took 30 minutes, keep an eye on it from 25.
Lovely as is, hot, cold or toasted.
Got the buckwheat bug? Here are some more buckwheat recipes to try:
Buckwheat Pancakes with Plums, Almonds and Honey
Buckwheat Waffles with Rhubarb, Apple & Candied Hazelnuts
Homemade Matcha Soba Noodles & A Recipe for Matcha Mari Soba
Love Bananas?! Me too!
Black Sticky Rice with Banana & Coconut Cream
Banana, Coconut & Lime Bread
Chef Baka’s Banana Fritter Recipe (from Palm Island)
I never did love ketchup. I know everyone does. It is said to be the perfect combination of sweet, sour, salty and savoury, and tomatoes are one of my favourite ingredients, but I just find ketchup to be wanting, and something that is used to blanket other flavours not actually add to the dish. The flavour profile feels a bit two dimensional and dull to me, so I don’t have it in my pantry. Not out of snobbery, I love proper Asian instant noodles and all sorts of other things. I love good eating, and that comes in many forms, I am completely open when it comes to this.
Is it too soon for another pancake recipe? No, it is Pancake Tuesday, right? Right. It also feels only right to share a recipe for those who can’t have gluten or dairy – this recipe is gluten free and that can be adapted to be dairy free.
These pancakes are made with buckwheat (as Breton crepes are), which despite its name is not a wheat, it is actually in the same family as rhubarb. I adore the flavour, deep and nutty, and the gently softened plums as a fresh plum compote, sweetened and sticky with honey, and toasted almonds provide syrupy sweetness and bite. I use milk, but substitutes work perfectly (I like almond milk for theses), and coconut oil is a perfect substitute for butter, or any vegetable oil,
Good morning? Is it safe to come out? I have been in hiding, taking an enforced break, so that I could catch up with everything else (work, book writing, the small matter of publishing a book myself), for it was all becoming a bit overwhelming, and I was losing sight of myself. But I am back now, and I am not very good at taking breaks anyway. My break actually turned out to be an intensive whirlwind of writing, cooking and planning; plotting travels too, and lots to share here. Mainly in my pjs, but you can forgive me that. And maybe you are guilty of wanting that for yourself?
I wanted to just indulge myself this morning, and write forever about Australia. One of my favourite places to visit, but not just me, the Economist listed four Australian cities in the Top 10 best places to live. I could easily live there, maybe even move in the morning for a bit, but London’s tentacles tend to keep me here. I love London, but you know, the weather, and everything is expensive, and I will likely forever have to rent. Sometimes, it grates. As it should.
Australia, yes! But then I thought, maybe I should indulge & nourish you first? Set you up for a week of travel joy before I head to France, and share some more. I will share a lovely new waffle recipe, and then come back with stories, when you are comfortable and well nourished. For these are very good and healthy too.