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I meant to share this when I made it but I got side tracked with other things between then and now. It’s a sunday morning recipe and I’m on the couch with my laptop for a change so it seems appropriate to write it up now.

Avocado on toast is not a new concept and neither is a poached egg but it took a zealous bout of emptying the fridge of left 0vers for me to consider combining them. The warm creamy egg turned out to be a happy marriage with the cold creamy and crunchy guacamole and salsa left over from the previous evening’s meal. You could use shop bought or homemade dips but I like the fact that this uses up the smidges left over from a dinner of fajitas that you don’t want to through away. You can also multiply the amounts to feed more people but I tend to make poached eggs only when I’m cooking for one or two so I have written the recipe below to make everything from scratch for one. It occurs to me now that this would make quite an elegant canapé if made with quails eggs and mini toasts if a little to prepare.

Poached Egg with Guacamole and Salsa on Toast

I love the science behind cooking and find it frustrating to be given an instruction without the reason behind it so it pleases me to know that the freshest eggs make the best poachers because an egg white is made up of what’s called thick and thin whites and the fresher the egg the more thick white it has which holds together better when dropped into the water. So do use fresh eggs if you can, not just for the sake of it. Having said that if you’re cooking for yourself and you wont be offended by an egg with a bit of bed head then dont stress about it if your eggs are a bit older.

  •  1 large free range egg
  • 1 large or 2 small chunky slices of good bread, toasted
  • roughly 2 heaped tbsp salsa
  • roughly 3 heaped tbsp guacamole
  • sea salt flakes to finish

Salsa

  • 1 small tomato or a few cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 a shallot finely chopped
  • a drop of olive oil
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Guacamole

  • 1/2 an avocado scooped into a bowl
  • 1 spring onion chopped
  • a squeeze of lime juice
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Mix all your salsa and guacamole ingredients together in two bowls and set side. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Crack your egg into a tea cup or small bowl. When the water is ready, stir it with a spoon to make a whirlpool in the middle and drop in the egg. Cook for about 3 min until the white is set but the yoke is still runny. Meanwhile make your toast and spread it first with guacamole and then salsa. When the egg is ready lift it out, drain off the water and place on top of the toast. Sprinkle with salt and serve.

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So Christmas was a success, more or less anyway. Creamy Pea Soup and Prawn Cocktail with melba toast to start, one Citrus Butter Turkey and all the trimmings, and finally boozy (and I do mean boozy) Grand Marnier Chocolate Mousse topped with Spicy Cocoa Biscuits. All prepared and served to guinea pig family with no adverse effects (besides the adverse effects of eating a three course meal only a few hours after polishing off a proper salmon and scrambled egg breakfast, several Bucks fizz and an Apricot Queen), although I was still disappointed that despite all my efforts of butter under its skin and a white wine bath it was still on the dry side so that will need some tweaking and practising but not bad for a first attempt.

Its a little late to share all the recipes with you as I’m sure you need 12 months to recover before you even contemplate another Christmas dinner but since the theme of this post is a little break from all the decadence before new year finishes us off, I decided I would give you the pea soup recipe (at the end of this post) as it was definitely a keeper. It works really well as a little side with a prawn cocktail but a big bowl and some crusty soup would be just as good as a simple healthy meal on its own. The creaminess comes from adding half a can of coconut milk which isn’t exactly low fat (I did use the light version though) but definitely feels lighter than cream and has a much fresher, less cloying taste. You could add chilli or different spices as well but I quite like the full and unadorned pea flavour and brilliant green colour.

Despite a brief pea soup respite, after three days of drinking and eating I had to give my poor body a chance to get back on the band wagon before I bludgeon it over the head with a bottle or six of champagne so this week  I raided the healthy end of the store cupboard and made up a couple of new granola recipes in an attempt to restore normality.

Dark chocolate and chilli granola might not sound like normality but trust me it works. I got the most brilliant cookbook for my last birthday, The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit. It gives you suggestions for flavour combinations by grouping ingredients into flavour families and it’s so useful when you are trying to come up with a recipe or use up ingredients and cant decide what to pair them with. Some of the pairings like chilli and chocolate are more common but I’ve learnt some unlikely new ones or finally found an explanation for why some things work together. This granola recipe is great because apart from barely requiring any cooking at all, you can add anything you want to the basic granola to make different versions and you can actually try the raw ingredients rather than having to cook them first and hope for the best.  I developed these combinations by tasting bits of fruit, chocolate and spices before I started to see what works the best. I was originally going to put cinnamon in with the white chocolate and cranberry but nutmeg was just perfect because the nutmeg adds a fresh balance to the extreme sweetness of white chocolate (think about what it does for a creamy white sauce). The ginger in the dark chocolate version is another classic pairing which adds a second gentle heat behind the chilli and brings out the orange flavour from the zest grated into the oats.

Anyway I’m getting a bit scientific about granola. Here are the recipes, enjoy the rest of your holidays and I hope you have a wonderful New Year!

 

Dark Chocolate and Chilli Granola

If you are making both of these at the same time then you can half the ingredients but I’ve given amounts for a full batch of each.

  • 250g rolled oats (preferably jumbo)
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 50g sunflower seeds
  • 50g butter (if I am halving the recipe then I use 30g butter)
  • 6 tbsp runny honey
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • a large handful of dark chocolate chips (or as much as you like)

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Combine the oats, nuts, seeds and spices in a large bowl. Melt the butter with the honey and add the grated orange zest. Stir into the oat mixture until the oats are properly coated. Spread over a baking tray lined with tin foil and bake for 15-20 min, stirring every 5 to 10 min so that the oats brown evenly. When toasted, remove the granola from the oven and allow it to cool completely before adding the chocolate chips and storing in an airtight container.

White Chocolate and Cranberry Granola

  • 250g rolled oats
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 50g sunflower seeds
  • 50g butter (if I am halving the recipe then I use 30g butter)
  • 6 tbsp runny honey
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • a large handful of white chocolate chips

Repeat as above, adding the white chocolate and cranberries once the granola has cooled.

Creamy Pea Soup

This recipe makes enough to serve 4 as a light meal or at least 6 as a starter, depending on how much you serve. You can make it ahead and freeze as well if you are pushed for time.

  • 1/2 a leek, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 1 litre good vegetable stock
  • 50g butter
  • 750g frozen or fresh peas
  • 200ml coconut milk

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and fry the onions and celery over a low heat until soft (do not brown). Add the leeks and fry for another 2 min. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then add the peas (I run the frozen peas under water for a bit before I add them to get rid of some of the ice). Boil the peas for about 4 min until just cooked and then add the coconut milk. Allow the soup to stand for a couple of minutes before blending in batches. You can now store in the fridge or freezer (defrost before you try to heat it) or put it back on the heat straight away to warm slightly. Just avoid boiling at length at any stage or the peas will lose their bright green colour and fresh flavour.

Happy eating! ♥

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