Archive for the 'Eggs' Category

Fabulously chocolatey gooey pavlova with raspberries and whipped cream – if you don’t try this you are a fool!!

February 15, 2011

Honestly I mean it. You would have to be slightly mental not to absolutely love this Pavlova. Many many years ago one of my friends handed me a tatty photocopy of a Nigella Lawson Chocolate Pavlova recipe and made me promise that I would make it. She assured me that I would not be disappointed. And was spot on. I have no idea where the original recipe is now but this makey-uppy version is now one of my “old faithfuls”. Meringue is honestly not difficult to make. The best thing about it is even if it cracks and looks like an absolute disaster it still tastes and looks amazing as soon as you cover it with whipped cream and fruit. Perfect!

Ingredients serves (8 – 10)

6 egg whites (large eggs ideally free range organic)
400 grams caster sugar
teaspoon of white wine vinegar
2 tbsp of best quality cocoa powder (I used Green and Blacks)
100 grams best quality dark chocolate finely chopped (I used Green and Blacks 70%)
2 teaspoons of corn flour
600 mls double cream
2 punnets of fresh raspberries

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees

Take a large mixing bowl and wash it thoroughly with hot soapy water to ensure there is absolutely no oil in it. Meringue hates oil!!

Separate the eggs and add only the white to the bowl – do not get ANY yolk in the egg white this will affect the whites from whisking properly.

If you do get some yolk or egg-shell in your whites use one of the halved egg shells to remove it rather than a spoon – sounds daft but it makes getting the shell/yolk out much easier.

Weigh out your caster sugar.

Whisk whites until stiff peaks form – I used an electric whisk – you can use a manual whisk but prepare for arm burning.

Slowly add sugar a couple of table spoons at a time and whisk. Keep doing this until all the sugar is combined and mixture is shiny and thick.

Add tsp of white wine vinegar, 2 tbsp of cocoa powder, finely chopped chocolate and 2 tsp of corn flour and gently fold through until combined.

Dollop mixture onto a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper, spread out into a round or oval (consider what you are serving the pav on and try to make the shape suit the serving dish). Remember the meringue will spread out a little bit so make it smaller than the serving dish.

Pop it in the oven and immediately reduce the temp to 140 degrees (fan forced).

Bake for 45 mins and then allow to cool in the oven. The centre should still be squidgy a little like a baked chocolate mousse.

Once cool remove from oven and pop onto serving dish flipping the meringue over so that the bottom side is up.

Whisk cream until soft peaks form and spread over the Pavlova, cover the top with raspberries and voila – joy on a plate!

You can grate a little chocolate over the top too or dust with icing sugar if you are feeling “creative”, I have also made these as individual small meringues which is great for a party – they do not need as much time in the oven – about 20 mins.

Just to say again – you have to try this recipe!!!!!

Lemon meringue pie – and oldie but a goodie!! This ones for you bro.

January 11, 2011

My brother-in-law is a little bit of a sweet tooth, actually he is a lot of a sweet tooth. His absolute favourite dessert is Lemon meringue pie (LMP as I prefer to call it). He loves it so much that I think he could turn violent if someone threatens to take a piece of “his” pie. It was his birthday last week so I decided to make his day by tackling the LMP. I have made plenty of lemon tarts and brulees and tons of meringues but never actually combined them to make an LMP (shock horror!) With a little bit of pre-pie research I decided to “wing it” and make it up as I went along. My research uncovered an excessive use of lemon curd for the filling – what’s that all about! I do love lemon curd but how much better is a lemon tart? This dessert does have a rather high “faff” factor but it is well worth it.

Ingredients

Pastry: See “Ginger and rhubarb brulee tart” for ingredients and method

Lemon filling:

4 lemons
350 mls cream
6 whole free range eggs
120 grams caster sugar

Meringue:

4 egg whites
280 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar

First things first follow the recipe from the “Ginger creme brulee tart” pastry case (only), bake it blind as per the recipe ensuring that there are no gaps in the pastry (if there are holes or gaps the filling will pour through and it will make a right mess of your oven).

While the pastry case is baking blind you can get the lemon filling prepared. Zest and juice 4 lemons and pop in a non reactive pan with the 120 grams of sugar. Warm through until sugar has dissolved then remove from heat. Heat the cream but do not boil.

Whisk the 6 eggs together until combined (not fluffy) in a large bowl.

Strain the lemon mix through a sieve into the eggs and whisk making sure to squeeze all the liquid out of the pulp/zest. Then add the cream and whisk through.

Drop the oven temp to 140 degrees Celsius once the pastry case has been removed.

Place pastry case (in loose bottom tin) onto a baking sheet and then fill with the lemon mix. Place in the oven and bake for 25 – 30 mins until set but not firm.

Once the lemon filling has set remove it from the oven – remember it will continue to cook in it’s own heat AND it is going back into the oven with the meringue on top so a little wobbly is good.

It is now time to whisk up the egg whites for the meringue. Make sure your bowl is spotlessly clean. It there is a scrap of oil the whites will not whisk properly.

Separate the eggs ensuring that you do not get any of the yolks in the bowl. Use an electric whisk (you can use a hand whisk but prepare to have a burning arm!). Whisk until soft peaks form then slowly add the 280 grams of caster sugar. The meringue mix should be shiny and thick. Once all the sugar has been whisked in fold in the teaspoon of vinegar.

You are now ready to pop this on top of the lemon tart. You don’t need to be delicate here – just get it on with a spatula. You can swoosh it around a bit to make some peaks which will crisp up when cooked.

Pop it in the oven and drop the temp down to 120 degrees.

Cook for a further 20 mins or so until the meringue is firm but not hard.

Let the pie cool in the oven with the door slightly a jar this will stop the meringue cracking up too much.

Voila you now have a delicious tooth rotter of a dessert – a good old LMP!!! It is great warm and cold and will last for a few days in the fridge (if Euan doesn’t eat it all in one go that is!)

Note: if you are feeling lazy you can use shop bought short crust pastry. I wouldn’t use the sweetened one as they are always too sweet and try to use an all butter one if you can.

Peach and amaretto frangipani tart

August 30, 2010

Slice of peach amaretto and frangipani tart

When I made the last batch of dribble-fest creme brulee tarts I made a spare tart shell baked it blind and then froze it (this works really well surprisingly!!). Anyway I decided to use it the other night and had brought some sweet ripe peaches so decided to make a frangipani tart. I checked out a few recipe books to get a frangipani recipe and James Martin had a pretty easy one to follow so gave that a bash adding some amaretto to jazz it up a bit and ended up with a fab dessert. My friend Renee makes a cracker of a raspberry frangipani tart, she is one of those people who whips up a bit of delicious baking without any fuss or mess. Actually I must pester her for her cream scone recipe……

Ingredients

Filling

3 medium sized ripe peaches or nectarines

4 eggs
225 grams caster sugar
225 grams butter
175 grams ground almonds
50 grams plain flour

50 grams of pinenuts

1 tart shell baked blind (for recipe see creme brulee tart recipe)

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Cream butter and sugar

Cream butter and sugar until well combined.

Almond meal and plain flour

Measure out the flour and almond meal and combine.

Creamed butter and sugar

Add egg and flour mix

Add one egg at a time to the butter and sugar beating in with some of the almond meal and flour mix. Keep adding until all flour and all eggs are combined.

Add approx 3 – 4 tablespoons of amaretto and mix through.

Slices of peach layered in tart shell

Slice peach and layer over the bottom of the tart shell.

Peach frangipani tart

Fill tart with frangipani batter.

I placed a few slices of peach on top for decoration.

Bake in oven for 20 mins then sprinkle pinenuts over the top and continue to bake for another 15 mins.

Peach frangipani tart

Check to see if the filling is cooked through by inserting a skewer or knife. The skewer or knife should come out relatively clean, not totally clean though.

You may need to bake the tart for a little longer – just keep checking it. It will also cook a little when it comes out of the oven too remember.

Once cooked leave to cool a little before eating – lovely warm or cold and will last a few days. Serve with whipped cream, clotted cream or vanilla ice-cream.

Fab!!!

Traditional Spanish Tortilla so very delicious

August 30, 2010

Spanish tortilla

So there is practically nothing in the house to eat. Some eggs, some potatoes and some onions. (home-grown onions and potatoes by the way – quick brag!) So what to make? Kind of a rhetorical question really as in the real world there is only one option. Spanish Tortilla of course! Or chips and fried eggs I suppose (also delicious but slightly less sophisticated.) That actually reminds me of a holiday my sister went on to Andalusia staying at her friend’s parents holiday house. Fiona is a mad foodie like myself. Prior to leaving for the holiday she was given the “top tips” on the local food and best places to eat. There were many lovely places and meals to experience however Fiona’s friend had made her promise that she would try her all time favorite meal at her favorite restaurant. So with a lot of anticipation Fiona went to the recommended restaurant and ordered “las patatas y huevo fritas” and was presented with chips and egg. She said it was delicious however not exactly what she was expecting.

Long story cut short – I am a massive fan of Spanish tortilla (and chips and egg for that matter!)

Ingredients: serves 4

4 large potatoes
3 medium sizes brown onions (I only had red ones)
8 large eggs
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

Method

Potatoes peeled

Peel and thinly slice the potatoes (approx 2-3 mm slices). Toss the potatoes in a large pinch of salt and steam until tender.

Finely sliced potato seasoned with salt

Peel and finely slice the onions and saute in a non stick frying pan in a good quantity of olive oil and a large pinch of salt.

Finely sliced onions

Saute until they are soft, sweet and have a bit of colour.

Sauting onions

Sauted onions in bowl

Crack eggs into a jug season with salt and pepper and whisk with a fork – try not to get too much air into the mixture, just whisk until combined.

Eggs in jug seasoned and whisked

Heat a non stick omelet pan with approx 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Spanish tortilla

Add layers of potatoes and fried onions then add the egg mix. Keep approx 1/4 of the egg mix to the side. Cook on a medium heat until the tortilla is cooked through and the base is golden.

Flip the tortilla onto a dinner plate.

Add a little bit of oil to the pan again. Slide the tortilla back into the pan with the cooked side up.

Slide tortilla onto plate prior to flipping

Pour the rest of the egg mix into the pan – down the side so that it fills in any gaps on the base.

Cook until base is golden brown then flip out onto a plate and leave to cool for approx 30 mins.

Slice and serve with some mixed salad leaves. Or cut into small squares and eat as a tapas dish with drinks.

It is really important not to skimp on the salt with this dish – salt is the key to success!!

Corn and ricotta fritters – easy, cheap and super versatile

August 18, 2010

Corn and ricotta fritters

I recently catered for a party, the brief was no warm food – in Scotland!!!! Certainly a challenge. One of the things I decided to try was corn fritters. My mum used to make them for us when we were kids and I loved them. However they were warm….so I did I test run and I am pleased to say that they are just as lovely cold as they are warm.

So I made about 70 of them, little weenie bite sized ones and topped them with a herby cream cheese and a baby roasted Roma tomato.

Success, every single one of them was gobbled up.

Now you don’t have to have them cold obviously, they are great eaten straight from the frying pan or toasted the next day or dare I say microwaved for little bit to warm them. Actually toast them – I hate microwaves!!!

Corn fritters are easy quick and tasty and can be eaten as a snack, for breakfast with some crispy bacon or as a light lunch or dinner with a salad and a tasty tomato and mint salsa….yummy:

Ingredients (makes about 20 mini ones or 8 – 10 larger ones)

7 tablespoons of plain flour
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
Salt and Pepper
200 grams of fresh full fat ricotta
50 grams of finely grated Parmesan (fresh not dried of course)
1 large onion
1 large egg
2 cobs of fresh sweetcorn
Milk (approx 500 mls)
50 grams of unsalted butter

Method

Flour egg cream of tartar bicarb

Sift flour, cream of tartar and bicarb into a large mixing bowl. Add the egg and some milk and beat until combined. Add more milk, a large pinch of salt and several grinds of the pepper mill. The batter should be relatively thick – about the same consistency of drop scones (Scottish pancakes) or picklets.

Place in the fridge covered in cling wrap.

onions and butter

Finely dice onion and saute on a low to medium heat with the butter and a pinch of salt until soft sweet and translucent. Leave to the side.

Removing corn kernals from cobs

Remove husk from corn and wash the cobs. Cut the kernels from the cobs.

Batter corn onions ricotta and parmesan

Add sautéed onion, corn, ricotta and finely grated parmesan to the pancake batter and stir through to combine.

Batter mixed through

You may need to add a little bit more milk to loosen the batter if it feels a bit too stiff.

Fritters in pan

Heat a non stick frying and grease with a little butter.

Dollop spoonfuls of the pancake batter into the pan giving each spoonful a little room as they will spread a bit.

Keep the temp at a medium heat as you do not want them to be burnt on the outside and uncooked in the middle.

Turn fritters when golden

Turn when golden brown and bubbles have formed and burst on the top side of the pancake/fritter.

Cook until both sides are golden and the pancake is cooked through. If the outside is cooked and the inside is not you will need to reduce the temperature.

Cool in a clean tea towel – it will absorb any moisture and keep them nice and crisp on the outside.

Eat straight away or cool completely in tea towel then seal in a Tupperware box and refrigerate until you want to eat them. They should keep for a couple of days and I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to freeze them actually….

My version of the Bourke Street Bakery ginger creme brulee tart – with rhubarb

July 6, 2010

Rhubarb and ginger creme brulee tart

Just even thinking about this dessert is making my mouth water. The first time I had the “original” creme brulee tart was about 6 or 7 years ago. One of my friends brought a box of pastries over when I was cooking dinner for a chick night. I completely forgot about them until after everyone left. I opened the box to find 5 gorgeous tarts, a brulee tart, a chocolate one, lemon and I think there were a couple of fruit and almond ones too.

Even though I was full to the point of bursting I couldn’t resist tasting them. About ten minutes later I had eaten 3 of them!

Oopps!!

The creme de la creme was the ginger and pistachio creme brulee tart (pardon the pun).

From that day onwards I have been addicted to them. The pastry is very light, crisp and flaky and the filling is lushiously smooth and creamy with a crunchy layer of thin toffee in the top. Dribble!!!

Recently I google searched “Bourke Street Bakery Brulee Tart” and managed to find a recipe on someone’s blog.

SCORE!!!!!

I have made it twice now with great success. I made individual small tarts the first time and one large tart the second time.

The pasty first time was better as I followed the instructions to the letter – second time I rushed it a wee bit and also had an oven malfunction mid way through baking the pastry blind.

Never the less both worked well and were absolutely delicious.

I am going to give you the recipe for the single larger tart which will serve about 8 – 10 portions depending on how greedy you are…..

Ingredients:

Pastry

330 grams of plain flour
200 grams of unsalted butter
50 grams of unrefined caster sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tablespoon of white vinegar
80 mls of icy cold water

Filling – Custard

700 mls double cream (make sure it is pure cream not thickened creme)
10 egg yolks (ideally organic free range)
80 grams of caster sugar
1 vanilla bean
Fresh ginger (1 medium to large root which is approx 1/2 fist size)

Filling – rhubarb

1 bunch of rhubarb
3/4 cup unrefined caster sugar

Brulee

Icing sugar
Blow torch (this is kind of essential)

I recommend you make the pastry the day before and leave it chilling in the fridge over night wrapped in cling wrap.

Pastry – method

Remove butter from fridge 20 mins before you need to use it – if you are in very hot weather (Oz in summer) do this 5 – 10 mins before you need it.

Mix the icy cold water with the sugar and the vinegar (ideally chill down the vinegar in the fridge) I added a little less water and an ice cube to make sure that the mix was VERY cold. Stir well to combine and leave for 10 mins.

Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Chop the butter into 1 cm cubes and add to flour mix. Very gently rub the butter into the flour. You do not want the usual bread crumb look, it should be chunkier than that so do not over mix/rub the butter in. You should still be able to see the butter pieces. Once you have the mix to this stage turn out onto a clean work top (ideally stone or marble as it is colder).

Stir the sugar, water, vinegar mix to make sure it is well combined and sprinkle over the top of the flour mix. Not it is important to work quickly here and also it is VERY important not to over work the pastry.

Take the heel of your hand and smear the pastry mix across the bench. Gather and do this again. You should only need to do this a couple of times and then press the pastry together into a ball.

Flatten to a disc and wrap in cling wrap and leave in fridge over night (if you are not able to make the pastry the day before you can do it on the day but make sure you leave it to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours).

Bring pastry disc out of the fridge 20 mins before you wish to roll it out. Lightly sprinkle the bench top with flour (not too much). Gentle roll out to a large disc about 3 – 4 mm thick. Place pastry on a grease proof paper lined baking sheet and wrap in cling wrap and place in fridge again for another 2 hours.

This is REALLY important and will ensure that your pastry does not shrink too much and that it is crisp.

After 2 hours take a 24 cm loose bottom flan tin and grease with softened butter, I use a non stick one and grease it too just in case.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and line the flan tin. Press the pasty into the tin and push the pastry down the sides – this will also reduce the likelihood of the pastry shrinking.

Cut the pastry slightly about the top of the flan tin and pinch the edge to finish.

Wrap in cling wrap and place in the freezer for 20 – 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius.

Remove the flan tin from the freezer, line with grease proof paper and fill with pastry weights. (I use rice however I have just watched a cooking show where they use coins – this helps cook the pastry case from below and above which I think is an excellent idea – will try that next time.)

Bake in oven for 20 mins or until golden and crispy.

Remove greaseproof paper and cook for another 5 mins.

Remove from the oven and cook.

Custard – method

Put cream, washed/scrubbed and sliced ginger and vanilla pod and seeds into a heavy based pot. To remove the seeds from the vanilla pod flatten it as much as you can then cut it down the middle (like filleting a fish) and scrap the seeds out with the back of a knife. Scrap seeds into pot and add the pods too.

Bring cream to the boil and then remove from the heat and rest for 10 mins.

Separate eggs and put egg yolks in a large metal bowl, add sugar and whisk to combine.

Take a medium sized pot and 1/3 fill with boiling water, bring back to a simmer.

Pour the cream mix through a sieve and into the egg/sugar mix whisk to combine. Put metal bowl on top of the simmering water making sure that the water does not touch the base of the bowl.

Whisk continuously until the custard thickens. Every couple of minutes make sure you take a spatula and scrap the sides down into the mix to ensure you do not get “scrambled” egg at the sides of the bowl.

The custard should get really quite thick and will take 10 – 15 mins approx to get to this stage (about as thick as salad cream)

Once the custard is at this stage remove from the heat making sure you do not scald yourself with steam.

Whisk ever 5 minutes until the custard has cooled.

Decant into a bowl and cover with cling wrap. Make sure the cling wrap is laying directly on top of the custard mix to prevent a skin forming.

Leave in fridge over night ideally or 4 hours if making it the same day. You can put it in the freezer for an hour to speed things along but make sure you stir it and replace the cling wrap after you then put it in the fridge.

Rhubarb – filling

Wash and finely slice rhubarb and add to a heavy based pan with the sugar. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer until rhubarb is fully cooked and collapsed – this should take 10 – 15 mins. Leave to cool slightly then strain through a sieve. Remove as much of the syrupy liquid from the rhubarb as you can but make sure you keep this as for a pouring sauce.

Once the pastry case has been baked and is ready, the custard is made and has been in the fridge for at least 4 hours (ideally over night), the rhubarb is strained and cooled you can assemble your tart.

Spread the rhubarb puree evenly over the base of the tart then fill the tart with the custard and use a spatula or palate knife to spread evenly over the top and right to the edge. Ideally you want it to be flush to the top of the pastry edge even slightly covering the edge. This is to prevent the pastry burning when you brulee the top of the tart.

Use a small sieve and liberally dust the top of the tart with icing sugar.

Brulee the top of the tart with a blow torch.

Put the tart back in the fridge for another couple of hours to set again – the custard will liquify a little from the heat of the blow torch.

Once chilled serve in slices with the rhubarb syrup poured over the top.

Yummy yummy yummy….

It does seem like a right palaver but it is DEFINITELY worth it.

You do not have to add the ginger if you do not like ginger and you can use different fruit if you do not have rhubarb e.g. Plum, quince, pear, apple, peach, strawberries other berries. If you are using berries you do not really need to cook them you can just blend them with some icing sugar then strain through a sieve. You may need to do this a coupe of times, first to remove excess seeds then secondly to remove water (maybe through a bit of kitchen paper).

Delicate and delicious strawberry pavlova (meringue is not difficult – I promise)

June 8, 2010

Stawberry pavlova

Meringue seems to send shivers up the spine of people who have not made it before. My brother-in-law LOVES meringue and keeps asking me to teach him how to make it. So here goes. All you need to remember is to be patient!! I usually wing it with my meringue recipes – approx 80 grms of sugar to each egg white a wee bit of vinegar and that’s it. However I was consulting my trusty “Cook’s Companion” cook book and Stephanie puts corn flour in hers so I thought why not give it a bash. AND just to let you know I will never look back!

Ingredients:

4 egg whites (large eggs)
240 grams caster sugar (I prefer to use the golden caster sugar rather than the white one)
2 teaspoons of cornflour
Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of white vinegar

Approx 750 grms of beautiful strawberries (or other berries)
Caster sugar
Liqueur (I used Cointreau)

500 mls double cream

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

First things first get a large ceramic or Pyrex bowl – no matter if you think it is clean wash it again with lots of hot soapy water. It is essential that there is no hint of oil in the bowl or on the whisk as it will stop the egg whites from whisking properly.

Separate the eggs and add the egg whites to the bowl (making sure there is absolutely no egg yolk). Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, add in the sugar table-spoon at a time and whisk. The egg whites should become shiny and the silky looking. Add a teaspoon of white vinegar, two teaspoons of cornflour and a splash of vanilla extract (about 1 teaspoon) and fold through the whisked egg.

Put some baking paper onto a baking sheet and dollop the meringue onto the baking paper making a rough circle approx 20 cm diameter. Try to ensure that it is quite even.

Pop it straight into the oven and reduce the heat to 150 degrees Celsius. Cook for 30 mins. Reduce heat to 120 degrees and cook for another 45 mins.

(if you have a fan assisted oven reduce the temps by about 5 degrees each time)

Cool in the oven. This is really important as it reduces the likely hood of the meringue cracking (it will still crack a bit but not too badly).

While this is all happening finely slice the strawberries and put in a glass or ceramic bowl. Add a tablespoon of caster sugar and a slash of liqueur of your choice. Pop in the fridge to macerate.

Whisk double cream with a dessert spoon of caster sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extra – whisk to soft peaks. Do not over whisk.

Once meringue is cool place upside down on a serving plate (so that you have a nice even base) dollop the cream over the top then spoon over the strawberries.

Strawberry pavlova

Serve immediately (6 large portions or 8 “normal” portions)

Leek and Gruyere Tart (not for those on a diet)

June 8, 2010

Leek and Gruyere tart

Quiches, tarts or flans are great to serve for an easy lunch or dinner . There is no last-minute flapping they can be made in advance and warmed through or even eaten cold. Savoury tarts/Quiche are extremely versatile, so long as you have pastry, eggs and milk or cream you can pretty much add anything as your filling. My favourite is leek and Gruyère. However there are many many many more fabulous combinations you can try:

sautéed mushrooms and carmelised onions
Broccoli and blue cheese
Smoked salmon and spinach
Roast tomato feta and basil
Pea and feta
Roast pumpkin feta and spinach
Char-grilled courgette red onion and roast tomato

The list goes on…..

Ingredients

Pastry (this is Stephanie Alexander’s pastry recipe and uses quite a lot of butter but it is worth it – a lovely flaky pastry)

240 grms plain flour
180 grms unsalted butter
Salt
Ice cold water

Filling

5 eggs
150 mls double cream
150 grms of Gruyère
4 large leeks
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Pastry Method:

Kick off with making the pastry, pop the flour into a large bowl and chop the cold butter into cm cubes and add to flour. Add a pinch of salt and rub the butter through the flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add cold water – bit by bit – until you form a soft dough (but not sticky or wet at all – if it is sticky add a little more flour). Try your best not to over work the dough.

Wrap dough in cling wrap and pop in the fridge for about 30 mins.

Once chilled roll out on a floured surface and line a 24 cm loose bottom flan tin. If possible try to leave at least 1cm of pastry above the edge as the pastry will shrink when baked.

Put the pastry back in the fridge or freezer to chill down again for at least 20 mins.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Line pastry case with foil and pastry weights or dried beans.

Bake in oven for 15 minutes then remove foil and beans and brush pastry with beaten egg white and bake for a further 5 minutes (this seals the pastry case to prevent the filing leaking out).

This sounds like a lot of work but you can do all of this whilst preparing the filling.

Filling Method:

Peel off the tough outer layers of the leeks and cut off the toughest part of the green part – not all the green bit through as this is really tasty and adds colour.

Slice down the middle and wash really well to remove any dirt/grit.

Finely slice and add to a large heavy based pot or deep frying pan with a large pinch of sea salt and about 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

Saute on a medium heat – do not brown – reduce heat if necessary.

Stir regularly and cook for about 35 – 40 mins, when ready the leeks should have reduce to about 1/4 of the original size and be soft and sweet. You may need to add a little more oil or a splash of water to prevent the leeks sticking/burning. Cover the pot with a lid most of the time so that it doesn’t dry out too much.

Leek

Crack eggs into a jug, add cream, a pinch of salt and a few turns of the pepper grinder. Lightly whisk with a fork trying not to get too much air into the mix.

Grate the Gruyère.

Evenly spread the leeks into the flan case. Sprinkle over the Gruyère and pour over the egg mixture. Do not over fill with egg.

Pop into the preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius and bake for about 20 – 30 minutes.

You want to bake the Quiche until the egg is almost set in the middle as when you remove from the oven it will continue to cook – you don’t want the egg being rubbery.

Serve with boiled new potatoes and a green leafy salad.

Fantastic!!!!!

TIP: Always put the flan tin on a baking tray just in case the filling leaks out – it is a bit of a pain having to clean the filling off the bottom of the oven (have done that a few times!!)

Quick and easy spinach, tomato and Parmesan omelette

May 27, 2010

Spinach tomato and Parmesan omelette

Omelette is one of those things that vegetarians get for dinner when people don’t know what to cook for a vegetarian. Flooded in cheese and resembling a big greasy rubbery frisbee – delicious (note heavy sarcasm).

It just doesn’t have to be that way.

A good omelette is fabulous. It’s quick and tasty.

I don’t make them very often and when I do it is usually for breakfast – it kind of feels like a bit of a cop-out to make it for dinner.

The success of a good omelette, I believe, lies in the pan. It has to be a good non stick frying pan or omelette pan.

Another essential is not to over cook the omelette. It will keep cooking when it is on the plate so make sure that you remove it from the heat before it is “ready”.

Anyway I cooked a cracking omelette the other day and thought I would share it with you, I had it for breakfast but I won’t judge you if you want to cook it for dinner – honestly.

Ingredients

3 free range eggs
Approx 100 grams of baby spinach
1/2 medium red onion
1 ripe tomato
Parmesan (Reggiano or Padano)
Olive oil and/or butter
Salt and pepper

Finely dice onion and saute in frying pan with a little olive oil, a little knob of butter and a pinch of salt.

Sauted onion

When cooked through and soft add tomato diced.

Add tomato

Crack eggs into a bowl and lightly whisk with a fork. Add a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper.

Add roughly chopped spinach

Roughly chop spinach and add to the frying pan with the onion and tomato, cook until wilted then remove from the pan.

Wipe out frying pan and add a little more butter and olive oil.

Pour eggs into pan and stir a little

Pour egg into pan and stir a little bit.

Sprinkle Parmesan on omelette

Sprinkle about a tablespoon of finely grated Parmesan onto the omelette and place the spinach down the middle and then fold over.

Add spinach

Pop onto a plate and eat immediately.

Tiramisu Jamie style with a few tweaks

May 12, 2010

Tiramisu

My sis, her hubby and a few mates rented a lovely wee house in the middle of nowhere for New Year. It was really rather snowy and was touch and go there for a while whether or not they were actually going to make it. On there first night Euan woke up in the wee hours of the morning to a faint hissing noise and knew immediately that there was a “problem”.

The pipes had burst and there was water pouring everywhere – yes it was that cold!

Euan (who happens to be a plumber) came to the rescue and with a torch and a shovel managed to dig his way through the snow and ice to the decking where the water shut off valve was.

Well done Euan. The next day he wove his magic and repaired the pipes.

Anyway the whole point in this story is that due to the water dramas the owners offered the crew a free weekend, how lovely.

The free weekend was last weekend and I was invited.

What an excellent excuse to cook. There were a few likes and dislikes to attend to so we settled for a simple Italian menu.

Tomato and basil Bruschetta

Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto
Watercress, Rocket, Fennel and Apple Salad

Tiramisu

I have only made Tiramisu once before and that was for my 30th and was for 80 people….what a laugh.

My sister and I had watched Jamie Oliver’s “Venice” show during the week where he made Tiramisu so this recipe is inspired by Jamie.

Ingredients

1 1/2 x packets Savoiardi biscuits (sponge fingers)
500 grams Mascarpone
6 free range eggs
Approx 5 – 6 table spoons caster sugar
150 ml double cream (make sure it is not thickened cream)
Pinch of salt
Madeira wine (Pedro Ximenez sherry would also be nice)
1 cup of strong coffee (ideally freshly ground)
300 grams of good quality dark chocolate 70% cocoa solid (I like to use Green and Blacks but Lindt will do)

Finely chop 200 grams of dark chocolate, gently warm cream in a small pot – when hot but not boiling take off the heat and stir in chocolate. The chocolate should melt and create a beautiful smooth chocolate sauce. Leave off the heat to cool.

Separate eggs, yokes into one mixing bowl and whites into another. It is VERY important to make sure that the bowl for the whites is spotlessly clean – if the bowl has a hint of oil the whites will not whisk.

Egg yolks whisked with caster sugar

Add sugar slowly to egg yolks while whisking, whisk until pale yellow and creamy – this should take about 5 – 8 mins. I have said 5 – 6 table spoons of sugar because it really depends on how sweet you want this dessert to be. I like it to be sweet but not sickly. Taste as you go, you can always add more sugar but you can’t take it away. Remember the biscuits, chocolate and Madeira are all quite sweet.

In a separate bowl beat the Mascarpone with a wooden spoon until it is smooth, add in the egg yolk mix and gently stir through.

Whisking egg whites with pinch of salt

Add pinch of salt to egg whites and whisk until forms stiff peaks. Stir egg whites through egg yolk and Mascarpone mix. Taste for sweetness.

Egg yolk and Mascarpone mix being added to egg whites

Choose a low dish ideally glass but not essential, layer 1/2 the biscuits on the base. Sprinkle the 1/2 the coffee over this layer followed by a healthy slosh of the Madeira wine. Once the chocolate sauce is cooled (can be warm but not hot) pour 1/2 over the biscuits. Top with the Mascarpone/egg mix then follow with another layer.

Layering sponge fingers

Dollop the creamy Mascarpone mix on the top and then shave chocolate all over the top.

Dolloping the Mascarpone mix as a topping

Pop in the fridge and leave overnight for best results.

Eat in large quantities and try not to feel sick (like I did).

Tip: I honestly recommend that you do leave it in the fridge overnight – I know it is tempting to eat it straight away but it is so much better when it has been left for the biscuits to soften and the flavours to develop.