Courgette flowers continue to be a joy. Cheering my mornings with their generous wide open petals reaching for the sky with happy abundance. Greeting bees and then once the bees have had their turn, they come into the kitchen for me. Such a versatile ingredient, cooked until wilted just so and still retaining texture, they taste a little of courgette and mostly of themselves.
Ramen eggs. Deep joy! Let me introduce you to your best friend in your fridge. It just takes a little time and organisation, not much.
Gorgeous rich flavour bombs, soothing as intense, and oozing. Ramen eggs take little time to prepare, the time is all in the marinade process. Ingredients can be as complicated as you like, some people add ginger, chilli or garlic, others add kelp for an extra flavour boom. I keep it simple, basic ramen eggs are everything I could want and they go with everything. A marinade of equal parts (decent) soy, sake and mirin (soft rice vinegar) bathing a peeled soft boiled egg, gently invades the yolk and eases it. Makes it richer, makes it gentler, makes it more intense.
I have been eating these on top of congee (the most absorbing and comforting Chinese rice porridge soup – recipe soon!), they are wonderful oozing gently into chicken noodle soup and they are perfect on their own too, eaten just as they are. Here, I had them on a sushi rice bowl. I chose sushi rice because I love their stubby short grain nature. They stay firm and retain bite when cooked, and are lovely dressed with (more) soy and mirin. On top, whatever you like. This week I have had pork and pumpkin, brussel sprouts and bacon, whatever veg you like, maybe some meat and a lovely ramen egg.
These make a great lunch, and are perfect packed up for work, for picnics, for train journeys, whatever you like. Play around and come back and tell me your favourite toppings. I am always looking for inspiration.
Note on the recipe: I like my eggs really runny, but they are tricky to peel and for some dishes I like them a bit firmer. Cook your eggs to your taste and I recommend you cook extra, adjusting the recipe accordingly. You will never regret having extra (they will keep for 3 days in the fridge) and you might over zealously damage one as you peel (I did and still do on occasion).
Recipe: Sushi Rice Bowl with Pumpkin, Kale & a Ramen Egg
50 ml sake
50 ml soy sauce
50 ml mirin
a sandwich bag, or freezer bag
100g sushi rice
1 tbsp good soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sesame seeds (and a little extra for sprinkling at the end)
75g diced peeled pumpkin (more if you like)
4 leaves kale or cavolo nero, the leaf stripped from the stem, washed and patted dry
a pinch of chilli
light oil for frying
The night before, boil the eggs to your likeness. I boil large eggs for 6-7 minutes, adding the eggs (at room temperature – I never store eggs in the fridge, in Europe we don’t need to). Refresh immediately in cold water (with ice if you have it). Peel when cold, gently taking care not to damage them. Prepare the marinade and put it in a sandwich bag or freezer bag with the eggs for minimum 2 hours, preferably 8 hours. The longer you leave them the more the yolk takes in, and the firmer it becomes. The eggs in this picture are 5 hours marinaded. If making more eggs, use a lunchbox or similar. You can reuse the marinade, or reduce it by half over heat and use it as a sauce (teriyaki!).
Cook the rice according to packet instructions. I cover the rice with twice its volume of water, bring it to the boil and then put a lid on it. I add more boiling water if I need to, a little at a time, when the rice is tender but still has bite, there should be little water left. I cover it with the lid again and let it absorb the remainder. There is no need to add salt as the soy sauce will season it. Don’t stir it too much as it has a lot of starch and will become sticky like risotto.
While the rice is cooking, sauté the pumpkin in a teaspoon of oil with a little chilli. When it is almost tender, add the kale or cavolo nero, tearing it as you do. When wilted take it off the heat.
Add the soy sauce, mirin and sesame seeds to the rice. Top with the pumpkin, cavolo nero and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. This eats very well warm or cold. Perfect lunch! Enjoy it.
I love potatoes. They are just the best thing. I have always been a fan, as a child I had a phase where I would eat nothing else, and I have found a myriad of things to do with them since. I grew up surrounded by potato fields and we would collect the unwanted baby ones to make things with at home. Now of course they are trendy and more expensive than the bigger ones. Life is a funny thing.
My potato joy expanded when I discovered that there were more types than just the potato that grew in the field behind my house. There were waxy and floury, red skinned and blue fleshed. There are even yellow fleshed potatoes from Peru. Of course all potatoes are from Peru originally, but you know.
Occasionally I can get my mitts on purple potatoes at my farmers market. They used to be at the supermarket too but I guess maybe I was the only person buying them as they don’t sell them anymore. It is hard to beat a purple potato, both for visuals and flavour. They have wonderful sweet rich flesh (although nowhere near as sweet as a sweet potato, they are still quite savoury too).
I have made crisps with them before (I love crisps), and served them with a chilli mayo dip. This time I went the hasselback route, cutting the potato into thin long wedges and roasting until crisp. Increasing the surface area this way not only looks superb, but it tastes great too. Especially when you baste them with butter relentlessly. And I did. They also look a lot more complex than they are. They are just potatoes that are not quite sliced through, and carefully.
Of course you can use normal white potatoes and they will be just as good, but do keep an eye peeled for the purple ones just to try them. They are addictive and I think would be perfect for Halloween too, no?
Recipe: Hasselback Purple Potatoes with Chorizo, Squash, Green Chilli and Cheddar
Serves 2 (or you know one for now and one for lunch the next day as I did)
4 medium potatoes, skin on, washed
125g butter (yes it is a a lot but the potatoes don’t absorb all of it)
75g chorizo, sliced in half lengthways and then chopped into horizontal slices
1 small pumpkin or squash (not a munchkin though!), deseeded, peeled and diced
1 mild green chilli
a few sprigs of thyme
100g cheddar, finely grated
fresh ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200 deg C.
Prepare your potatoes by slicing them with a sharp knife not quite through to the end every 3mm or so.
Grease a baking tray and place the potatoes in. Divide the butter in 5 and firmly squish one fifth on top of each potato. Leave the remaining to the side. Sprinkle with sea salt and some of the pepper.
Put in the oven for 20 minutes, after which you should baste the potatoes with the melted butter, and continue to do this every 20 minutes. They should be finished after 60 minutes but this will depend on the size of your potatoes. They will be done when nice and crisp on top and soft within (test with your sharp knife gently).
While the potatoes are cooking, in a separate oven proof dish add the remaining butter, chorizo, chilli, pumpkin, thyme and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix well and put in the oven once the potatoes have been in a half an hour or so. Take them out after 10 minutes and give them a good stir. These should be cooked (when the pumpkin is tender), once the potatoes are done. If done before the potatoes, remove them and put back in the oven for 5 minutes before serving.
Serve when done with a quarter of the cheese on each and the chorizo and pumpkin mix.