Category Archives: Eggs

What to do with left over pancake batter

This is my creative take on using up spelt pancake batter mixture from “pancake day” or Shrove Tuesday as it’s more traditionally known.

Oven baked Vegetable flan

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Ingredients

(For the batter)
100g spelt flour
150 ml almond milk
1 egg, separated (whisk the egg white until fluffy)
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp sesame oil

(For the mixed vegetables)
1 head broccoli, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
65g chickpeas
2 tbsp omega seed mix
50g tofu
100g spring greens with bean sprouts
5 spring onions,  finely chopped
1 tbsp each cumin, coriander and fennel seeds
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
A small bunch of mint leaves, finely chopped.
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 170 C. Mix the batter ingredients together and set aside in an oven dish.
2. For the vegetables, heat the oil in a medium pan over a high heat and fry the broccoli for 5 minutes, turning consistently.
3. Next, add the rest of the vegetables, tofu, garlic and seeds and cook for a further 2 minutes.
4. Combine the vegetables with the batter in the oven dish and bake
for 20 minutes.
5. Serve with a sprinkling of chopped mint leaves.

Veg box delivery services

I was reading recently that sales of Organic food and beverages in Europe and the US are on an upward trend going into 2016. This is great news.

As some of you may know Scotland has some of the best produce in the world – particularly, in my view, when it comes to the organic root vegetables – largely due to the quality of the soils.

With that in mind I’ve been thinking recently about East Coast Organics – the fresh veg box delivery service and farm from Pencaitland in East Lothian, Scotland. They provide us with a fortnightly delivery of the freshest and most delicious vegetables – nothing like the bland, treated stuff you’d buy in supermarkets.

In choosing a well-run service I was inspired by their business model, sourcing and commitment to ethics and sustainability.

Organic vegetable box

Their produce is grown in 10,000 square feet of polytunnels giving the company a wide potential for growing organic vegetables; such as carrots, beetroot, kale, mushrooms, spinach, leeks, garlic, onions and peppers – to name a few.

We always receive always a nice heap of wrinkly biomass with all sorts of earthly surprises – such as the occasional snail nestled in a head of broccoli – or salad leaves which are often “on-the-turn” before we’ve even opened the bag e.g. the lettuce can sometimes be quite mushy – but who cares: it’s only a lettuce!

The carrots and beets are often caked in soil – having been freshly pulled out of Mother earth. Supermarkets in the UK are restricted from selling “wonky carrots” to the consumer due to some harsh EU regulations on vegetables – with the vegetable box this rule simply does not apply. Also, I personally feel much healthier; there’s a certain vitality that comes with knowing that your vegetables haven’t been heavily treated with insecticides.

We do, however, reach a slight saturation point with the amount of potatoes in the veg box each week. I like a variety of carbs during the week and so, although I love roast tatties, it’s not going to fly night after night.

Overall, the service saves time on the ‘big food shop’ for the convenience of home delivery. It also helps to circumnavigate supermarket supply chains which often involve enormous air miles and spoilage.

On that note I’d like to invite you to sign up for a service with East Coast and check it out for yourself.

Sri Lanka

Eggs, Dhal curry, string hoppers, pol sambal

Eggs, Dhal curry, string hoppers, pol sambal

“What’s the difference between Sri Lankan food and Indian food?”

This was possibly the most prevalent question from friends and family on return from my honeymoon in Sri Lanka last month.

It’s quite simple really: the fundamentals of Sri Lankan ingredients are rice, coconut and native tropical fruits and vegetables.

(If you ask a local, however, they will invariably state rather playfully that Sri Lankans subsist simply on “Rice and curry”).

The food itself is therefore not as eclectic as the typical Indian dish might be – no sign of any saag paneer, rogan josh or vindaloo but there were certainly many stunningly flavours, interesting textures and very heavy spices (most Sri Lankan food is unapologetically hot).

The information and images in this post provide a culinary snapshot of how myself and my loving new wife experienced this fascinating country.

The Curries, rice and other carbohydrates

(from left) bananas, pol sambal, dhal curry, coconut roti, rice hoppers, vegetable omelette

(from left) bananas, pol sambal, dhal curry, coconut roti, rice hoppers, vegetable omelette

The curries of Sri Lanka take the form of chicken, beef, fish or vegetable all served with boiled rice.

Rice flour in Sri Lanka is also shaped into rice flour pancakes (called ‘hoppers’) or rice noodles (‘string hoppers’).

Hoppers are a breakfast staple. These round bowl-shaped pancakes, cooked in a rounded pan (like a miniature wok), are best with an egg fried into the bottom. Made from fermented rice flour, they are used to pick up many of the same curries and accoutrements that rice would, especially the sweetened seeni sambals (sweet caramelised onion).

Bread was commonly served at breakfast. There’s a uniquely Sri Lankan version of roti, made with coconut flour, which forms a thick disk and can be found at breakfast and throughout the day.

Sides, snacks and ‘short eats’

(top left) dhal curry, (top right) grated coconut and carrots, (bottom right) curried aubergine, (bottom left) mallum

(top left) dhal curry, (top right) grated coconut and carrots, (bottom right) curried aubergine, (bottom left) mallum

Sri Lankan food is served with all sorts of condiments. Pol sambal (spicy, scraped coconut); mallum (a dish of shredded leaves: kale, mustard greens, cabbage with scraped coconut, lime juice, onion, chili, and Maldive fish) and lentil curry (‘Dhal’) were prevalent among these.

Some of our meals were served with ‘Gotu kola’ (pictured right), a small herb which has been used to treat many conditions for thousands of years in India, China, and Indonesia. It was used to heal wounds, improve mental clarity, and treat skin conditions such as leprosy and psoriasis.The herb itself had a strong taste, not unlike watercress – probably with similar quantities of iron, too.

Sri Lankan snacks are usually called “short eats” which consist mainly of samosas and vadai (deep fried chickpea patties) sold in newspaper cones on many of our public train journeys.

Hot, hot, hot!

As previously mentioned Sri Lankan food is known to be very spicy. If you are a foreigner it’s probably worth inquiring as to the level of heat in a dish before you order. Common spices used in Sri Lankan cooking are cumin, coriander, fenugreek, ginger, garlic, turmeric and cinnamon.

Interestingly, black pepper used to be the most powerful spice on the island until peppers arrived on a colonial trade ship.

Where to find Sri Lankan food

Now that I’ve gotten you all excited about Sri Lankan food, here’s the bad news: it isn’t that easy to find elsewhere!

After arriving back in the UK I searched the local libraries for cookery books on Sri Lanka with no joy. Restaurants are not exactly a dime a dozen either – certainly none that I know of in Edinburgh.

Even in Sri Lanka, the best way to eat good, authentic meals is to knock on the door of “rests” (the local version of a guesthouse) and ask them to cook you dinner later that night. Tourist hotels and guesthouses catering to Westerners tend to do watered-down versions of local food or pretty terrible attempts at Western food.

Wherever you find it, the key to enjoying Sri Lankan food is simple: don’t be afraid of strong flavours.

Something sweet…

Having done a few posts on this blog up to now, I realised that the majority of them have focused heavily on food of the ‘savoury’ variety. I can’t think why this is – other than the fact that I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.

In any case, I thought I’d redress the balance, and focus this week’s post around a couple of familiar and comforting pudding recipes, starting with the nation’s favourite: Ice Cream.

Ice cream in the UK has had a makeover; we are now blessed with an alluring range of flavours to choose from. Gone are the days of the ubiquitous “raspberry ripple”, “mint choc chip” or “chocolate soft scoop”, to be replaced by a new breed of adventurous concoctions like cardamom and pistachio, bitter almond and salted caramel or double rocky road. Hold on, did somebody say bacon and egg?

References to Heston Blumenthal aside, the UK ice cream market is in rude health. The combination of thick double cream, egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk in this new myriad of flavours is enough to excite anyone.

There are some seriously good ice cream outlets around the UK, nestled away in small market towns throughout the country. Growing up in Scotland, we would often take family trips to Giacopazzi’s in Milnathort, Fife, usually for a gigantic tub of vanilla, with raspberry sauce and ‘sprinkly bits’. More recently, during regular trips to Portugal, my fiancee and I have been blown away by the incredible gelato from Santini’s Gelati in Lisbon.

But before I get all giddy espousing the wonderful qualities of the white stuff I’d like to offer a caveat on some of the underlying issues of commercial ice cream production.

I think it is taken for granted that all ice creams are created equal. Not so. Much of the bulk ice cream packs found on our shelves in the UK, or from any Mr Whippy dispenser, are made with non-dairy fats like vegetable oil or palm oil. In other words, they contain no actual milk content whatsoever.

Added sweeteners, flavours and stabilisers have muddied the waters even further.

Ultimately, this bears little similarity to the real thing, other than the temperature. One could argue that this keeps costs down and prolongs the shelf life of the product but, for me, this compromises on the overall taste.

Therefore, I think we need to exercise due diligence to make sure we’re getting ‘proper’ ice cream as opposed to the cheap stuff that you often see dripping down a drain on a hot summers day.

On that bombshell, I’ve composed one incredible ice cream recipe below* which really does the stuff justice.

Alongside one further pudding recipe.

*ice cream maker not required. 

Pistachio ice cream with blueberries

Pistachio ice cream

Serves 1 – 2

Recipe for “no-churn Pistachio ice creeeam!”

courtesy of BakingMad.com –

Ingredients

  • 397ml condensed milk
  • 600ml double cream
  • 80g pistachio nuts, shelled
  • A small handful of blueberries

Directions

  • Place half of the pistachios in a food processor or spice grinder and process until fine. Roughly chop the remaining half. 
  • Place the double cream and condensed milk in a bowl with the ground pistachios and whisk until thick (an electric whisk would save time). 
  • Fold in the roughly chopped pistachios and place in a freezer proof container. 
  • Place in the freezer overnight.

Blueberry and lemon cheesecake

Lemon and blueberry cheesecake closeup

Hom, nom, nom!

Serves 4 -6

Ingredients

  • 200g all-butter shortbread, finely crushed
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 85g butter, melted

For the filling

  • 300g half fat cream cheese
  • 300g full fat cream cheese
  • 150g sugar
  • 250ml pot soured cream
  • 4 eggs, 2 egg yolks
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • blueberries, to serve
  • 2 tbsp blueberry or raspberry jam

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 180C
  • To begin making this cheesecake recipe crush shortbread in a food processor, put into a bowl and add the almonds and melted butter.
  • Mix well, then press into base of the tin. Put in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
  • The filling is easy; just put all the ingredients into the food processor and blitz until well blended.
  • Put a double layer of foil around the tin, as you are going to bake the cheesecake in a water bath. Put the lined tin in a roasting tin, pour in the filling, then put it into the oven and pour around 2cm (¾in) boiling water from the kettle into the roasting tin. Bake for 1 hour, then turn off the oven and leave the cake to cool in the oven for 1 to 2 hours. Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge overnight.
  • For the topping, cook the blueberries with a few spoons of water and the jam in a medium pan for about a minute.
  • Leave to cool before pouring on top of the cheesecake.

The greatest anchovy recipes

Anchovies are a small oily fish best utilised as a salty additive to some dishes. Part of the herring family, their taste is of the intensely savoury ‘umami’ category, otherwise known as ‘the 5th taste’, a characteristic shared with marmite.

Anchovies marinated in oil

Anchovies marinated in oil

Speaking of which, anchovies also have the ‘Marmite efffect’; the propensity to split people into fiercely opposing love/hate camps.

I love them with a passion – for the very same reason I love marmite, chilli and wasabi: the sensation, the sheer unusualness of the taste, the fact that its neither one thing or the other. For me, if they’re eaten on their own or as a pizza topping they can be a bit overpowering but used in a sauce or cooked down to a ‘paste’ with garlic, chilli and olive oil and there’s noting better.

Anchovies have found their niche in many varied dishes across Europe; in Spain, they are known locally as Boquerones, where they pair well with tomato-based dishes with plump Spanish olives. In France and Italy, they are used to great effect in a Salade Nicoise (see below) recipe or in a puttanesca pasta sauce, respectively.

I’ve tried to be as eclectic as possible with the recipe choices below; one vegetable, one salad, one nibbles and one pizza.

Purple sprouting broccoli with chilli, garlic, toasted cashews and anchovy dressing

Purple sprouting brocolli recipe

This is a great recipe to have just on its own or as a side dish for roast lamb or another type of meat. You could also serve it as a starter or toss it with linguine.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 200g purple sprouting broccoli
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 red chillis, roughly chopped
  • 6 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Half a lemon, juice only

Directions

  • Boil the broccoli for 4-5 minutes until cooked but still with a nice bite to it.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan on a low-medium heat and add the cashew nuts. Stir them in the pan for 4-5 minutes until beginning to colour. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Add the garlic cloves with the chilli and chopped anchovies. Turn up the heat and add a splash of water to help the anchovies break down into a  loose ‘sauce’ consistency.
  • Season, add the lemon juice and drizzle the sauce, with the toasted cashews, over the broccoli.
Salade Nicoise

Tuna and anchovy salade nicoise with prep

This French classic is one of my firm favourites. Colourful, packed with protein and one of the best dishes to order if you’re dining out. It also isn’t short of ingredients: tuna, anchovies, green beans, black olives, tomatoes, boiled new potatoes, crunchy walnuts and salad leaves, served along with a vinaigrette dressing.

Serves 1 – 2

Ingredients

  • For the salad:
  • 200g canned tuna
  • 4 new potatoes, cooked and quartered lengthways
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 100g Green or runner beans, topped, cooked and drained
  • Handful of mixed salad leaves
  • Handful of walnuts
  • 1 boiled egg, halved
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • Handful of sliced black olives
  • A few sprigs of dill

For the vinaigrette dressing:

  • 100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Black pepper

Directions

  • To make the dressing or marinade whisk together the white wine vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Lay the salad leaves onto a large plate and pile on the tomatoes, potato, tuna, walnuts and anchovies. Drizzle over the dressing
  • Finish by adding the egg, black olives and the dill.
Anchovy, rosemary and chilli popcorn

Anchovy and rosemary popcorn

“Popcorn for breakfast! Why not? It’s a grain. It’s like, like, grits, but with high self-esteem.”

– James Patterson, The Angel Experiement

This is an interesting take on salty popcorn. Don’t knock it ‘till you’ve tried it. Rosemary has a wonderful pine scented aroma and goes well with the anchovies in many dishes. So next time you’re thinking of having a movie night make sure you prioritise this.

I’ve adapted this recipe from Steve Parle’s original.  You can make the popcorn from scratch by heating up the kernels or use readymade (unflavoured) popcorn.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sunflower or peanut oilAnchovy and rosemary popcorn how to make
  • 60g popping corn
  • 25g butter
  • 5 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • 3 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chilli powder

Directions

  • Pour the oil into a large, heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the corn and shake the pan gently so the kernels are in one layer and coated in oil. Cover with a lid and leave on the heat, shaking the pan gently every 30 seconds. When the first kernel pops, turn the heat down to low.
  • The popcorn is ready when the pops are about 2–3 seconds apart. Tip into a large bowl. Place a plate over the top to keep warm.
  • For the anchovy sauce, heat the butter in a pan with the until bubbling. Add the anchovy fillets (careful, it may spit)
  • Cook on a low heat, stirring constantly, for 5-6 minutes. Squash the anchovy fillets with the back of a spoon.
  • Stir in the rosemary and chilli powder and pour the sauce over the popped corn, cover the pan, and shake to combine everything.
  • Serve warm.
Anchovy and Egg pizza

Anchovy and Egg pizza

Both are slightly unusual toppings to see on a pizza. Its quite rich, nutritional and very tasty. Just don’t expect to find this one at your local kebab shop.

Serves 2 – 3

Ingredients

For the pizza base

  • 150g ‘00’ flour
  • 25g butter
  • 2 tbsp milk

For the toppings

  • 2 free range eggs, segmented
  • 8 anchovy fillets
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • a handful of pitted green olives
  • a handful of spinach leaves, shredded
  • a handful of basil leaves, shredded
  • 2 tbsp passata or tomato puree
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Black pepper

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 200C
  • For the pizza base, in a food processor mix together the flour and butter. Add the milk and mix into a dough.
  • Lightly flour a clean kitchen surface, and take the dough and flatten into a disc, approximately 1/2 cm thick.
  • Spoon the tomato passata or tomato puree onto the pizza base and ‘dress’ with the remaining toppings. Place in the oven for 18 – 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and serve.

Apricots

Apricots

I love apricots; not only for eating fresh but also for cooking with. There are just so many ways to bring out their incredible tartness. For instance, poaching them in a sugar syrup and served along side a blob of Chantilly cream; or baked with honey, lemon and ground spices like cardamom or cinnamon to really bring a warming glow.

Apricots sold in the UK are most commonly of Turkish, Cypriot or French origin. We usually enjoy them whole, like any other fruit, or made into cakes, jams or stewed in puddings. Dried apricots are great for snacking or added as part of home-made granola to have at breakfast.

The recipes on this page reflect a distinctly British approach to using this wonderful fruit. You wont find any exotic Moroccan tagine recipes but I think these will make a suitable alternative.

Apricot, almond and sultana scones

A wonderful tea time creation from the Scots traditionally made with flour or oats and leavened with baking powder instead of yeast. I absolutely love scones especially packed with dried fruit as you see here. Queen of baking Mary Berry’s scone recipe is also real treat.

Makes 20 scone triangles

Ingredients

  • 250g flour
  • 150g sugar
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 150g butter
  • 250g chopped dried or fresh apricots
  • 150g raisins or sultanas
  • 200g chopped toasted almonds
  • 200ml plain yoghurt or milk
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Directions

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Pre-heat the oven to 230C.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter.

Scones with apricots, raisins and almonds flour, sugar and butter

Cut into it with a knife until no large pieces remain and the mixture is coarse and crumbly (or you can ‘rub in’ the butter and flour with your finger tips to get the same result).

Scones mix

Add the chopped apricots, raisins, ground almonds and yoghurt.

Scones with apricot, raisins and almonds

Once all of the liquid has been added, beat together with a wooden spatula until the dry and wet ingredients are combined.

Scones with apricots, raisins and almonds mixed

On a floured work surface, use your hands to finish combining the ingredients and knead together gently.

Scones mixed onto floured surface

This should form a large ball of dough.

Scones with apricots, raisins and almonds kneaded into dough

Divide the ball of dough in half and shape each half into a round disc, about 3/4″ to 1″ thick, on one of the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of one comes out clean.

Slice into even sized triangles and serve.

Once cool, keep scones in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Scones with apricots, raisins and almonds  baked and portioned

Apricot flapjacks

Apricot flapjacks

Makes 15 slices

Ingredients

  • 110g porridge oats
  • 225g plain wholemeal flour
  • 75g dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 150g block butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 350g ready-to-eat dried apricots (or dried dates), chopped

Directions

  • Combine the flour, oats, sugar and cinnamon into a bowl and add the melted butter. Stir thoroughly.
  • Distribute half of the mixture onto the base of a 20cm/26cm/4cm tin.
  • Arrange the filling carefully all over this. Distribute the rest of the mixture evenly over the filling and press this down firmly with your hands or with the back of a spoon.
  • Bake near the centre of the oven (or just above) for about 20–25 minutes until golden brown. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then cut into 15 squares, cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight tin.

How to make… homemade mayonnaise

It may seem like an enormous effort for a small dollop of the stuff on your sandwiches – but real homemade mayo is well worth the effort. It’s a great condiment and yet is so simple to make as it only requires two ingredients: oil and egg yolks. Other flavourings help, obviously, like mustard, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper, but they are not mandatory.

Mayonnaise how to makeThe texture of this mayonnaise recipe is velvety and smooth without the overpowering taste of vinegar which you’ll find from many bland shop-bought varieties.

If you are simply looking for something quick and easy from the shops, then Hellman’s is pretty tasty and there are a few good organic options out there which have a nice creaminess and tang. However, when you get into the ‘reduced-fat’ territory then, for me, the game is up. I don’t understand how ‘low fat’, ‘reduced fat’, ‘nonfat’ or anything else can constitute anything like real mayonnaise. Don’t even mention salad cream!

Preparation

Make sure all of the ingredients are the same temperature before you set about combining them as it helps the emulsification process (take the eggs out of the fridge around an hour before you start).

Ingredients

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • A few drops of white wine vinegar
  • 250ml olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  • Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and save the whites in a suitable fridge container.
  • Place the egg yolks in a large, clean bowl and add the mustard and vinegar.
  • Blend the mixture together using a whisk.
  • Add a very small amount of the oil and whisk until it’s well blended in.
  • Continue to add small amounts of oil and whisk rapidly until the sauce thickens and emulsifies. This will take a few minutes.
  • When you reach a thick consistency the mayonnaise is ready (If it is too thick you can thin the it by adding a drop of warm water).
  • Add salt and pepper to taste

Great alternative recipes:

  • For tartare sauce, add some chopped gherkins, capers, dill and a squeeze of lemon. Add this to your fish and chips, vegetables, potato salad, or spoon it onto your scrambled eggs in the morning.