Tuesday, 28 February 2012

February Breakfast Club - Ziploc Omlette

Since today is the 28th February, and it's been a hectic month, I've been a bit slack with my blogging, and leaving all my challenges to the last minute. I've just blogged my Random Recipes challenge, and now it's on to the Breakfast Club.

This challenge is organised by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours - have a look at the challenge archives if you're ever short of breakfast inspiration! And this month it is hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage with the theme of eggs.

I'm always intrigued by random sounding cooking methods, and the weirder, the more likely I am to give it a shot. So we eat some odd things in our house from time to time! But often they work out well too - just like my Egg-sperimentation this morning!

I had seen the idea of making omelette in plastic ziploc bags  a few times, and was intrigued, so decided this was a good excuse to give it a go. The premise is simple - you put all your omelette ingredients into a ziploc bag and then simmer it in a pan of boiling water until it is cooked. I vaguely remember reading some cautionary tales of melting plastic bags, so I went for the thickest bag I could find, and kept the heat low - it worked a dream!

Now I know, this is not an omelette in the traditional sense, since it's not made in a frying pan, but the end result is closer to an omelette than scrambled eggs, so I'm going with that title!

Ziploc Omlette (Serves 1)

  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 baby sweet pepper
  • 2 cooked small meatballs
  • 1 medium ziploc bag

Put a medium pan of water on to boil.
Chop the pepper and meatballs into small pieces and put them in the ziploc bag. You can chop them on the serving plate to cut down on washing, since neither need to be cooked to be safe.
Crack the eggs into the bag.

Seal the top and squish it all up until the egg is 'beaten' and the contents are well mixed.
Squeeze out any extra air.

Once the water is boiling, add the bag to the pan and simmer for about 3-4 minutes on each side.

Take out of the water and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before opening the top of the bad and sliding onto your serving plate.

I ate mine with a slice of yesterday's cider bread toasted. It worked really well. Minimal mess, since the ziploc goes in the bin. That felt a bit wasteful, however I'm consoling myself that it was already on it's second use, having previously been used to hold scones.

This recipe is infinitely customisable to whatever ingredients you like or have to hand. It would also be a quick and easy way to make omelettes with different fillings for different people at once, all ready at the same time, no cross contamination and minimal mess. I've got a feeling it would work on a camping stove too, making a protein packed breakfast without the usual 'burned on egg' issues. Believe me, trying to clean burned on scrambled egg off a stove pan in a stream is not fun!

Happy 1st Birthday Random Recipes!

This month, the Random Recipes challenge, hosted by Dom at Belleau Kitchen turns 1! Happy Birthday! I can only hope there is as much cake for its first birthday celebration as there was for Mini-M's :o)

The challenge this month was to return to the book you used for that first challenge and pick another random recipe. Or for those of us that were't there 'in the beginning' to return to the book used in the first challenge we participated in, and make another randomly selected recipe from that.

My first challenge was magazine clippings. I selected randomly and came up with a Prune and Whisky tart. Which shockingly I vetoed, on account of it looking incredibly difficult to successfully de-dairify, since it was rather cream heavy, and I could foresee a good amount of stress and ingredients being thrown at something that was destined from the outset to be a bit of a disaster. When a recipe calls for whipped double cream, it generally wants you to use whipped double cream, and nothing else will taste or work in quite the same way.
Random recipe selection... take 2!
So I selected again, and ended up with "Topinambours a la Barigoule" or Provencal style jerusalem artichokes. Based on the formatting and typesetting, I had a suspicion that it was from a Waitrose Food Illustrated Magazine, which after a bit of googling turned out to be correct. So you can find the recipe here on the Waitrose website. I followed it pretty much exactly (Shock horror, I know!).

The jerusalem artichokes are slowly simmered with black olives, white wine, thyme, and garlic with fresh parsley and breadcrumbs added for the last 5 minutes to thicken it up. Apparently it is named after the 'barigoule' which is a summer truffle, as the ingredients combination gives it a truffle-y flavour. Having not ever eaten truffle, I couldn't comment, but it does taste lovely - I generally don't like olives and was worried they would be over powering, but I like them in this dish. A new discovery, that may well be resurrected whenever jerusalem artichokes appear in the veg box.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Daring Bakers' February Challenge: Quick Cider Bread

The Daring Bakers' February 2012 host was - Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavour profiles.

Way back at the beginning of February I made some strawberry yoghurt bread - it was yummy and duly photographed to be included in this post, however said photos were on the laptop that met with the unfortunate hot chocolatey end, and whilst the data is thankfully backed up and not lost forever, it's not quite made its way back onto the replacement.

So suddenly yesterday I realised that today was DB blogging day, and despite having baked, I had pretty much nothing to blog, since I can't even remember what recipe I used for the strawberry yogurt bread. Not to worry - super fast cider bread to the rescue!

I've made beer bread before on a couple of occasions and been pleased with the results, and last night decided to take the experimentation a step further and make cider bread. It gets a massive thumbs up from me :o). Unbelievably quick, very very easy, just 3 ingredients, and minimal effort.

It's a fairly sweet bread, but fantastic toasted, and great with something slightly salty - it made delicious bacon sandwiches - of a bowl of hearty soup.

Quick Cider Bread (makes 1 loaf)

  • 3 cups of self raising flour (this is cake flour that already has some baking powder in it)
  • 3 dessert spoons of granulated sugar
  • 375ml cider

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a loaf tin.
Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl then stir in the sugar.
Pour in the cider (it will froth like crazy and make you feel like you're doing chemistry, not cooking!) and mix well.
Tip it into the prepared tin and bake at 180C for 30-35 mins until risen and golden brown. It should pop easily out of the tin, allowing you to tap on the base to see if it is cooked through - if it is it will sound hollow rather than dense.
Cool on a baking rack.
The easiest bread in the world! It also works just as well with lager and beer, although they obviously impart a beery rather than cider-y taste to it.

It cuts really well, has a lovely soft texture, isn't too dense and has a fairly fantastic effort to reward ratio.

Next time you need a quick baking fix, make this! It'll make you smile. I made this one in 38 minutes total from opening the cupboard to get the ingredients to tipping it out onto the cooling rack, so as far as baking goes, and especially bread baking, it's pretty much instant gratification!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

"What to do with a squashy avocado" noodles for 1!

Last night tea was a bit fragmented in our house. And without wanting to start the whole tea vs dinner vs supper debate, for us tea is our main meal, eaten in the evening at about 6pm. Just to clarify!

Mr E had some hot and spicy Singapore noodles, but they had coriander in them so I was staying well clear. Coriander and I have a very bad relationship! Mini-M was having spaghetti hoops (nutritional purists cover your ears, but at the moment there are so few things she will actually eat, we're just going with it). So I was left with a blank canvas to make dinner for one. Preferably in 5 mins, since everyone else's food was ready. And with a very ripe avocado and a large flat mushroom that was definitely passing its prime.

So I had low expectations on the taste front and was very happily surprised - hence the reason my 'sling it all together and eat it because you know it's good for you' tea has ended up being blogged.

The very ripe avocado turned into almost a sauce, and the mushrooms were, well, mushroomy which was enhanced by the sesame oil and lemon.

Mushroom and Avocado Noodles (serves 1)

  • 1 nest of medium egg noodles
  • 1 small very ripe avocado
  • 1 large flat mushroom
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tsp hot sauce

Heat the oils in a small frying pan, and whilst they are coming up to temperature, peel and chop the mushroom into chunks.
Fry until cooked, then take off the heat and stir in the hot sauce.
Put the noodles on to boil in salted water and cook for 3 mins (or whatever is recommended on the packet), then drain.
Meanwhile cut the avocado into chunks and mash roughly with the lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
Once the noodles are ready, mix everything together and enjoy!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Happy Pancake Day!

It's pancake day, which is generally a happy occasion, and doubly so because I have a laptop again. Woop!

To celebrate, I made a Hungarian style layered pancake cake. It its made from 4 pancake layers, which are made with whisked egg whites to make them a bit lighter and puffier, sandwiched with ground almond filling, and topped with soured cream (or in this case, plain soya yoghurt) and then baked in the oven.

No recipe, since I'm too busy amusing myself with the smart scrolling options on the track pad, and generally finding my way around.

But a picture (of course) and a little Mini-M anecdote. She's getting pretty (scarily!) good with words at the moment. There's not much she doesn't understand, or have a word for, and her confidence in stringing them together is skyrocketing.

After tea tonight she was given a bit of said pancake cake (which she didn't eat - no surprises there) for pudding. She looked at it (or rather prodded it disdainfully with her spoon) and said 'Mummy make cake' to which Mr E and I looked at each other in amazement! He said "Very good!" and she gave a little not of satisfaction and said "Well done". Sadly, since she didn't put any of it in her mouth, and mainly shoved it around the plate, I'm pretty sure the congratulation was at herself for getting the words right, and not at my cake making skills, but either way, it left us fairly gobsmacked. She also was very interested in the new "lap-pot"... there's a sign of her generation - just about 19 months old and already tech savvy.

Monday, 20 February 2012

February No Croutons Required: Warm Roasted Potato and Onion Salad with Rosemary and Lavender

I'm back! I'm currently hi-jacking Mr E's laptop and waiting impatiently for my replacement to arrive, hopefully later this week.
I'm getting back into the blogging swing with February's No Croutons Required challenge, hosted by Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes, and the theme this month is fresh herbs.
I went with a fresh and dried combination approach, using fresh rosemary, and dried lavender to create a warm roasted potato and onion salad, as a hybrid inspiration from this lavender roasted potatoes recipe at Boulder Locavore, and this lavender roasted onions recipe at Veggie Belly.

I've been intrigued by cooking with lavender in savoury dishes for a while, but never felt brave enough, and this was the push in the right direction that I needed.

On Saturday evening, Mini-M was getting a bit grumpy after a hectic day of relative visiting and a long time in the car, so after tea we went on an evening buggy walk over to Ocean Terminal to look at the boats. After 15 mins rampaging around the top level of the shopping centre (there were no boats) we headed in to M&S in search of herbs. Mini-M was quite taken with the rosemary and chewed the packet all the way home in the buggy, as well as very proudly handing over the money to pay. She's quite taken by money at the moment - yesterday as we were getting ready to go out, she wouldn't leave until she had a penny (2p to be precise) to put in her pocket, and made a show of patting her pockets to check - must be something Mr E and I do! At least she's happy with small change (for the moment!).Anyway, rosemary was the only fresh herb left, so rosemary it was.

The rosemary and lavender combination was a hit - and it made the house smell seriously gorgeous whilst roasting. According to Mr E, the smell would sell houses better than fresh bread.

Warm Roasted Potato and Lavender Salad (Served 2-3)

  • 1 large potato
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil infused with lemon
  • 1 tsp dried lavender (make sure you use culinary lavender, otherwise it may be sprayed with inedible chemicals)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • salt and pepper

Peel your potato and onion, and cut both into chunks.
Pour 1 tbsp of the oil into a small casserole dish or roasting tray.
Sprinkle over the herbs, salt and pepper, then drizzle over the other tbsp of oil.
Give it all a good mix.
Heat the oven to 180C and cook for 30-40 mins until the potatoes are cooked.
You'll need to give it a stir every 10 or 15 minutes to stop any bits of onion burning.

Oops... I seem to have two 'raw' pictures and none of the finished dish. Imagine the above, looking golden and cooked with some crispy potato corners, and caramelised onion edges and you'll be spot on
Allow to cool to warm or room temperature, and serve with a drizzle of oil and vinegar. Yum!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Turns out Laptops and Hot Chocolate don't mix!

On Monday night I was very tired, after a lovely buy long day of Mini-M refusing to sleep en route back from a long weekend away with family in Dumfriesshire.
Very tired and uncoordinated, so that whilst Mr E did bathtime upstairs, I knocked a cup of hot chocolate over the laptop (and the sofa, my leg, the coffee table and floor, but they are a bit less critical!).
It has had time to dry out but alas laptops and hot chocolate are not a match made in heaven. Last night it 'worked' just that the delete key didn't the return key didn't really (but sometimes you could get a return to happen by hitting the delete key) the space bar was mainly out of order, and it scrolled up and down the screen randomly and sometimes wildly. Oh, and you couldn't select the menu bar to type, so could only visit pages you could select from history. Today, it wont turn on.
Sad times, since all my photos are on it! And there were a lot of lovely things waiting to be blogged! And my book. And well, a lot of things really. However I'm hopeful that all is not lost, since it was set to back up regularly via Time Machine, so in theory, it should all be sitting there waiting for me at some point in the future when a long term computer replacement is found.
In the short term today, I have commandeered Mr E's laptop, therefore I have internet, and the like, but no photos. Sob.
So this is not a post of sauerkraut burgers, or artichoke and pea humus, or apricot and lemon curd, or cinnamon shortbread, or another beautiful cake, or indeed any of the other things in the 'to be blogged' queue I've momentarily forgotten about.
It is just some boring old words, to let you know that I've not deserted blog-land, but am just on an enforced holiday!
And to let you know that hot chocolate an laptops are a bad combination, just in case you were thinking of trying it!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Teatime Treats gets all Romantic

Blog posts have been thin on the ground this month, as February is also Thing-A-Day month. Last year I cut a Kirigami heart each day. This year I'm making something handmade each day to be sold at a charity craft fair on the 9th March. So there is a lot of making going on! And each day there is a mini Thing-A-Day blog post, which means that time and energy for real blog posts are very low!

But, enough excuses and onto the cake!

I finished this cake last night and today it was a prize at my work for a fundraising quiz.

I used the same recipes I have previously posted for lemon and almond cake with white chocolate icing, and the icing technique I learned from this tutorial by i am baker.

I was much admired and photographed in the office and left a fair few folk sorely disappointed when the competition results were announced!

Anyway, I thought it would be perfect to enter into February Tea Time Treats - an monthly blogging event hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage, and Kate at What Kate Baked. This month it was Kate's turn, and the theme was Romance. If a whole cake-full of swirly white chocolate buttercream roses doesn't scream romance, the I don't know what does!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Mr E's Photo-a-Day: January Roundup

Last year, I took a photo every day, and posted a weekly roundup. Although it was fun, I didn't want the photographic pressure of doing it for another year - plus there's only so many emergency views out of the window at 11pm that folk want to see!

But Mr E was keen to continue to take over the daily photo baton, and has been diligently snapping and uploading since the beginning of January.

Here's his first month as an embedded Flick slide show (fingers crossed the technology works!)

The order has gone a little bit non-chronological - I'll work on that for February, and if anyone is really eagle eyed, they'll spot a few of a snowy Arthur's Seat right at the end... from 2005, but also tagged with January in Mr E's photo stream, so thrown in for good measure!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Big fat flying saucer pie

Time to share another weird and wonderful recipe corruption...

This time I started off with a recipe for Cheesy Leek and Potato Pie from the BBC GoodFood online recipe archive.

But I only had half the amount of pastry, which was fine, because I didn't want to feed 6.
And I had goats wenslydale instead of cheddar.
Lastly, and possibly most significantly, I had half a pack of marinated tofu that needed using up!

This was surprisingly quick and easy to make, although it did involved several pans making it a bit of a pain from a cleaning up point of view. Pretty much I didn't - Mini-M decided that instead of napping, she would just sing songs in her cot, then remove her sleeping bag and clothes, then shout that she was cold, so I made this as quickly as I could, before having to go and get her up halfway through, and complete the assembly whilst she unrolled freezer bags and sat on a tray in the middle of the kitchen floor. As soon as it was cooked, I switched the oven off, left it in, and we dashed off round to watch some friends starring on a TV quiz (I'm not kidding! You know who you are, and you were fantastic!!!), leaving a trail of floury destruction in our wake. Cue a confused text from Mr E when he got home, along the lines of 'Ummm tea? There is a lot of mess, but no sign of food'. Oops!

This pie looks awesome and tasted pretty good. Unless you happen to have a pack of tofu needing used up, I'd miss it out. It didn't detract from the dish, but didn't really add anything. Now if you happened to have some bacon needing using up, that would be a different story and I think would take it from good to fantastic.

Cheesy Leek, Potato and Tofu Flying Saucer Pie (serves 3)

  • 250g shortcrust pastry
  • 1 medium baking potato
  • 1 leek
  • 75g goats wenslydale
  • 1/2 pack cauldron marinated tofu pieces
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180C and lightly grease a baking sheet.
Wash and slice the leek fairly finely, then saute in the oil in a small frying pan until softened (about 10 minutes).
Peel and cut the potato into chunks, then boil for about 5 minutes until starting to become tender but not quite cooked.
Drain the potatoes and mix in the cooked leeks. Stir through the tofu pieces and crumble in the cheese.
Split your pastry into two not-quite halves, with one slightly larger than the other.
Roll out the smaller one into a circle that is roughly plate sized, then carefully put it on your prepared baking tray.
Pile your filling in a huge mound in the middle, leaving a gap around the edge.
Dip your finger in the beaten egg, and run it around the edge of the pastry.
Roll out the larger piece to be slightly bigger than the base, then drape it carefully over the top.
Use a fork to press the edges together all the way around, to create a good seal.
Brush the whole thing with beaten egg.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden, and allow to cool for 15 mins before serving.


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