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. Continue reading
I fell off a wagon that I wasn’t even properly on this evening. You could say that I tripped. On an innocent wander to the shop, I spied some curious lentil crisps, all bagged into nice tidy individual portions, so you know, they assume that we can all behave. I never buy six bags of anything like this, as I have no restraint when it comes to bags of crispy things, be they innocently low calorie or proper actual and delicious crisps. But I can’t resist something new, especially lentils masquerading as crisps. I had to try them.
You see I have a problem with crisps, and this has nothing to do with January. This is a commitment that I had to make to myself years ago, the only wagon I hop on, the NO-6-PACKS-OF-CRISPS-WAGON, and I fell off it today. Spectacularly. I inhaled that six pack of crispy intensity in 45 minutes. Guilty bag after guilty bag. I put them away, I took them out again. Eventually, I gave up, surrendered, finished the lot, and felt sick for a bit.
And, I was doing so well, too.
As for the January wagon, well why bother? January is a grey month and everyone is spent. If there is any month that needs an injection of joy, it is this. Moderation is for the whole year, and while I am terrible at putting this into practice, this is what I need to do. I want to exercise more restraint all year round, not just for a few weeks now. I say restraint, this means I aspire to live normally, and exercise a bit more.
Real food, full fat, occasional but not too much sugar. Food that has little distance from the hands that made it, reared it, or planted it. Lots of lovely real life affirming food that I put together myself at home, and take pleasure in doing so. And January is a great time to go to restaurants, with everyone else feeling guilty at home, it is so easy to get a table. January is, if anything, a month for comfort, culinary trips down memory lane, plans for the future and cleaning out the clutter from the past. Continue reading
Shall we talk again about another much maligned dish? And more than that, a breakfast concept that some love and others think is bonkers. Even though over a billion people eat it! I am talking about Egg Curry and curry for breakfast (or any manner of spiced breakfast at that).
People, you are really missing out if you have not tried both of these things. It is my mission to open your eyes to it. Why is egg in curry even a funny thing? Eggs in curry are rich, light & gorgeous and curry makes the perfect breakfast (curry being a general term for over a thousand diverse dishes).
I often use leftover curry or make a simple curry fresh to poach eggs in (a la huevos rancheros, but Indian style). I love spice for breakfast when I am in Asia, and often at home too. A meaty congee (chicken or pork) pepped with chilli oil, nuts and tofu is a perfect start (would you like a congee recipe too?). One of my favourites was one I had in a small town outside Bangkok on the street. There was a queue of people, so I joined, and shortly after was eating a divine bowl of pork and pumpkin congee with shreds of deep fried tofu. All for less than £1.
Why sous vide an egg? Is it really worth it? Yes, yes it is.
Sous videing them? Isn’t that just ridiculous? (Is that even a word?). Maybe, but ponder this. You can make a yolk that is custard rich and spreads like mayonnaise – my favourite way, or that is elastic enough to roll to fill something else. You can also create your ideal breakfast egg bringing the yolk to the texture you desire and never beyond, a perfect egg.
Delicious, no,and a perfect egg? Yes, but also consider this, you never have to eat an undercooked bit of egg white again. Now call me precious, and wonder how exactly I write about food, and eat duck webs in Beijing and all of the other randomness that I do, yet bawk at an egg white. Well, I do.
So much so that my mother brought me to the doctor when I refused to eat egg whites as a child. In my head I was thinking, there is no way they can make me eat them, I will starve first (I was very stubborn)! But, the doctor just said: that is fine, the yolk is the best bit anyway. Ain’t that the truth? I do eat egg whites now, but I need them cooked just so. Or in meringue or marshmallow, even better.
I received a Sous Vide Supreme to review and the first thing that I did was dump 6 eggs in it. I knew the temperature that the white set at and that the yolk set at, so I played with temperature ranges around this, achieving the perfect egg yolk but with a ghostly slippery white.
Good, but not perfect. What to do? I tried dipping it in boiling water, ok but not perfect. I tried popping the egg in the oven for a couple of minutes at a high temperature. Finally, I discovered that the perfect egg is cooked sous vide at 64 deg C for 45 minutes, and then cracked into salted simmering water. The white tightens up and the ghostly bits leave, the yolk is still custard rich and gooey.
The perfect egg, indeed.
The perfect egg requires a delicious sauce. I made this rich, sticky and hot pork and chorizo sauce to go with it. I liked it so much I made it the next day too.
The sauce is pork heavy with bacon, chorizo and minced pork shoulder but hey, it is the perfect egg, it demands a porky sauce to go with it.
(ps – those with keen eyes and I KNOW YOU ARE READING! :) I forgot the coriander in the photo but it was in the recipe, promise)
Recipe: The Perfect Egg and Chilli Chorizo and Pork Sauce
feeds 4 as a light lunch
4 large eggs, at room temperature
500g minced pork shoulder (or minced pork generally, I just like this cut)
200g chorizo, diced small
4 slices streaky bacon, chopped to the same size as the chorizo
2 tbsp Chinese chilli oil (I like this as it has such richness but substitute fresh chilli if you can’t find it)
3 sticks celery
4 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic
handful of fresh coriander
500ml good chicken stock
oil for frying (I used chicken fat because I had it but it is hard to come by unless you render it yourself – worth the bother)
Sauté the celery, shallots and carrots over a low heat for 10 minutes until starting to soften. Add the bacon, chorizo and minced pork and cook, stirring, until the mince is browned. Add the garlic and chilli oil for a final minute.
Add the chicken stock, raise the heat until it is bubbling, and reduce the heat until low. Leave to cook slowly while you prepare your eggs.
Raise the heat of your sous vide to 64 deg C. Add your eggs for 45 minutes. When the eggs are almost done, bring a pan of water to a gentle simmer. Crack the eggs in for thirty seconds until the egg white tightens, no longer or you will over cook the yolk.
Serve on top of the pork with some coriander. Eat.
Life is busy. Life is crazy busy. I’ve left my job and written a book (I am so excited to even type that!). It all happened in 6 months. In the middle of this my Dad has been seriously ill and I have been going home a lot. I have also been travelling elsewhere more than before. I have moved flat too.
I’ve chosen this life, and I love it, I wouldn’t change a thing. Working doing what you love means that work never stops, and being so busy does take a toll. I have been ill more than is normal and I am growing pretty tired of it. I hate being ill at all.
So today as I sat here coughing and wheezing with a scratchy throat, I felt depressed. I needed to eat something that would make me feel good and really wouldn’t take any time to cook or much effort to source the ingredients. I dragged my carcass to the local Waitrose and my face lit up when I spied there on the shelf Laverstoke Park Farm Buffalo Ricotta.
HOORAY! I adore this stuff and when I visited the farm last year I asked if they had any plans to make it, to be met only with an echoing NO. Disappointed. But now they are making it and joy of joy I can get it less than 10 minutes away. So into the basket it went and I skipped/coughed my way home.
I combined some eggs with the ricotta and whisked it with a pinch of salt until the ricotta was the size of breadcrumbs. I then sautéed some sweet small tomatoes and some fiddleheads (I still have a mini stash!) with a clove of finely chopped garlic. When soft I added the egg mixture and popped it into the oven to bake. 15 minutes later a puffy joyful frittata awaited me. It made me smile.
Now why haven’t I done this before? It was so lovely and light a perfect summer dish and very quick too. No fiddleheads? Increase the tomatoes or add some asparagus, whatever works for you. This is perfect quick lunch food for friends to be eaten in the sunshine with some salad.
Recipe: Ricotta Frittata with Tomatoes & Fiddleheads
6 large eggs (free range organic if possible)
200g good ricotta
150g good cherry tomatoes, halved
12 fiddleheads, trimmed and washed (or asparagus spears)
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Preheat your oven to 180 deg C.
Sauté the tomato and fiddleheads in some oil for about 5 minutes until softening. Add the garlic and after a further minute take it off the heat.
Combine the eggs and ricotta and beat or whisk until the ricotta is the size of breadcrumbs. Season with some sea salt.
Add the tomato mixture and the basil and stir through. Pour into an oiled frying pan with oven proof handle or large pie dish and bake for 15 minutes.
Check progress (it will depend on the size of your pan). When the frittata is set and golden and all puffed up it will be ready to devour.
The first time that I had Turkish Eggs at The Providores in London, I was hooked. Hooked and a little obsessed. I ordered it as I just didn’t know how it could work, but knew that it wouldn’t be there if it didn’t, right?
The Providores version is non traditional, poached eggs on thick yogurt with chilli butter. It is utterly divine. It prompted me to go home and do some research on Turkish Eggs. I wanted to know more, I wanted to make it, I needed to eat them often! What would I get in Turkey? I found out, and this brings me to this recipe, traditional Turkish Eggs.
The rewards are huge for such a simple dish. Greek style yogurt at the bottom of a bowl, 2 poached eggs on top, and sage leaves fried until crispy in a decent chunk of butter. You won’t regret the extra butter I promise you! Scatter the crispy sage leaves around the eggs and drizzle the butter. And swoon and eat. Now I want some more.
Well, make hay while the sun shines, as they say, and asparagus is in season right now, so I am eating a lot of it. I’m a big fan of the Sunday brunch. The lazing and grazing, the paper, the giant cafetiere of coffee, the pj’s… I love it all. Add asparagus to my list and that’s a near perfect weekend morning.
I’ve always had a taste for fried potatoes, leftover boiled ones that I store in the fridge, waiting patiently for the day that I fry ’em up! This particular brunch day, I also had an heirlom tomato, the size of a normal tomato but packed with flavour. I had a slice of rosemary pancetta, which I finely chopped and some flat leaf parsley. It needed no more. Fried pancetta and potatoes with some tomato glue, some greenery and a couple of spears of fried asparagus crowned with a fried egg. Glorious.
PS. Real recipes coming back soon – promise :)
It’s such a relief when the world starts to wake up again after Winter. Flowers bloom releasing their soft scents in the air, and fruit and vegetables become more lively and interesting. I love Winter vegetables, but they are few, and the bright and broad range offered by late Spring is very welcome.
Favourites for this time of year are varied, but asparagus has got to lead the pack. I love it fried and dipped in molten egg, whether that’s boiled, fried or poached is irrelevant, but that egg yolk has got to be soft. I like to fry the asparagus spears, sometimes wrapped in ham but most often on it’s own, so that I can savour the flavour.
This particular brunch, I wanted a poached egg, sometimes with a tender tum there is nothing better. It was my breakfast of choice on the morning of exams in University, when my stomach would be shredded by adrenaline and needed the comfort of something soft, comforting and delicate, that would also power me through the morning, as I desperately tried to kick start brain cells into action after very little sleep and way too much caffeine. Poached egg on toast it was. Now, as a wage earning member of society, I decadently accompany it with asparagus and savour every morsel.
Poaching eggs requires a little dedication, although not much. You need very fresh eggs, as fresh as you can get, or they won’t form that lovely oval shape when you drop them into the water. The water should not be boiling, it should be just before, when delicate bubbles rise to the surface, not unlike a glass of champagne. Add some vinegar to the water, about a tablespoon, white is best so you don’t discolour the egg. . Some salt for seasoning, and you’re good to go. Stir the water quite vigorously (without splashing yourself!) until you get a whirlpool effect. Drop your egg into the middle, it might be easier if you’ve cracked it already and have it in a glass or ramekin. The whirlpool will pull it together into a nice oval shape, the vinegar helps the egg white congeal quicker and take that perfect shape, and if it’s fresh enough, it will obediently follow, and form a perfect poached egg. It doesn’t take long to cook, I keep an eye on it, and when the white is set but the yolk still wobbly, I retrieve it, and add it to my plate.
My lovely local Italian deli had more chanterelles and I couldn’t leave them there. They’re like a little golden treasure and with their subtle flavour are delicious. I was tempted to make the tagliatelle again but we’ve been eating alot of pasta lately. One thing we haven’t had for an age is a Frittata, so I decided on one of those.
So, where from here? A frittata is an Italian omelette with fillings. These vary and unlike the Spanish Omelette, you can really put anything you like in there. A brunch favourite of mine, I often make a leek and mushroom omelette so I thought that I would replicate it with the chanterelles. The leek is very sweet and the chanterelles very delicate so it works well with a bold flavour like rocket on the side. Often frittata recipes have milk in but as I’m lactose intolerant I don’t bother. If you’re not please feel free to add a few tablespoons of milk to the egg. Sometimes there’s cheese on top but I didn’t want to distract from the deliacte chanterelle flavour. This is very easy and very quick! Continue reading
Hash is one fo my favourite things to eat. It’s a popular dish in the US and is said to have originated from Ireland, travelling to the US with the migrants around the time of the great Irish Famine in the 19th century, particularly to Boston where hash houses became commonplace. It’s particularly associated with Cork where it was a principal export in the 17th & 18th centuries. All that history stuff aside, it’s a dish I grew up with, well, without the corn beef as I wouldn’t touch the stuff as a child.
Hash to me is leftover potatoes fried with whatever’s in the fridge, whether that’s sausages, peppers, beef – whatever you have, it’s leftovers. Left over potatoes always taste amazing the next day, especially when fried. I just love them! They’re great for weekend brunches or quick dinners. I grew up in quite a rural part of Ireland surrounded by farm land. The predominant crops were potatoes, cabbage and sugar beet. We loved when potatoes were in season. It was before baby new potatoes were popular so they used to be left behind the field to be collected by us for food-play. I remember one particular day cutting them in half and carving faces in, the faces never survived the deep fat fryer much to my disappointment. We would do whatever we could with them. I remember trying to make crisps and being very disappointed when they all stuck together. That didn’t stop me trying again though.
This particular hash, like most of my recent dishes, has a Spanish flavour, chorizo being the spanish flavour of choice. I had hoped to use Morcilla (Spanish black pudding) but the one I brought from Spain didn’t survive the journey. It’s a shame as I think it would have worked really well here. For veggies, you could substitute red pepper for the chorizo, I frequently do, in fact it works really well with the chorizo too so feel free to add it. The recipe doesn’t absolutely require onion, but I love the sweetness of the onion with the sharpness of the chorizo. If you want to exclude it for whatever reason it will still taste good. Continue reading
Hello! I’m Niamh (Knee-uv! It’s Irish).
You are very welcome here. Eat Like a Girl has been my place to scribble online since 2007. That’s 14 years of recipes and over 1000 posts to explore.
Eat Like a Girl? It’s simple, we love to eat too. Anything else you’ve heard about women and only eating salad? It’s noise and misogyny.
But, we really love an excellent salad too. Shouldn’t everyone?!
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