Monday, January 27, 2014

Variations on a Theme: Eggs & Paprika

So this is my take on three basic egg dishes that all incorporate one of my favourite spices, paprika. 

1) Paprika Roast Potatoes with Fried Egg:

A tasty combination of spicy roast potatoes and fried egg, and I would say this was a clear improvement on 'chips and egg', very good though that is.

The potatoes are cut into small chunks and roasted in the normal way, using whatever your favourite oil or roasting fat may be. 

Then when they reach the point that they all look cooked, and are turning to light brown but could do with a little more crisping and caramel colour you lightly crush the potatoes and sprinkle them liberally with paprika. 

Then pop them back into the oven for another 15 minutes keeping an eye on them, as you do not want the paprika to burn. Then about five minutes before serving, fry your eggs.  I like to add a few sprigs of chopped parsley and sprinkle some extra paprika onto the eggs too.

This makes an excellent work night supper, comfort food but not really heavy if you are careful with the amount of oil used.

2) Egg Mayonnaise

This is such a classic dish but with good ingredients it can be quite stunning. As a child I would often see this dish but usually on a bed of tired shredded lettuce and the egg with a sad dark line all around the yolk.  I much prefer to serve watercress than lettuce with the egg but if you are not a fan of the peppery salad then really fresh lettuce is good too. Those who are fans of watercress do try a watercress omelette as well. Lightly wilted watercress makes a delicious omelette filling.

To get my eggs cooked to the consistency I like I use one of these 'visual' boil in the pan egg timers. I really like them because you can cook the eggs gently and no need to worry about exact times you just wait for the 'egg' to change colour, and I tend to cook mine to just beyond the medium mark.

When peeled and cut in half this is how I like my egg to be, just soft in the very centre and no sign of that dark line around the yolk.

I always think the eggs keep a much better texture if they have never seen the inside of the fridge so I try to cook them shortly before I want to serve them. This seems to keep the egg and in particular the egg white much more tender in texture. I rarely make my own mayonnaise but would usually lighten a store bought one by adding a tablespoon or two of cold boiled water to get a thick coating consistency. Gently spoon this over the eggs and then place them on top of the watercress. Finally a good sprinkle of paprika.

This makes a beautiful light meal served with freshly bread. 

3) Eggs Fried in Bacon Fat and Seasoned with Paprika

The eggs are cooked in rendered bacon fat and then dusted generously with paprika. I used the fat from some locally cured smoked bacon which did really add quite a lot of additional smoky, savoury flavour to the eggs.

There is often quite a generous amount of fat on rare breed pork and I now cut a good portion of this off the bacon rashers to render down gently and use for cooking later. I leave just enough on each rasher to still give some crispy bacon fat when the rasher itself is cooked.

I served my eggs with sesame bread stick dippers but buttered toast may be more to your liking.

I am submitting these 'Egg and Paprika' variations to the  ''The Spice Trail' challenge created  by Vanester of Bangers & Mash blog

And finally thank you to my girls who lay lovely eggs:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Kumquat and White Chocolate Muffins

We Should Cocoa #41: New Year New Ingredient - Kumquat & White Chocolate Muffins

January's 'We Should Cocoa' Challenge run by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog, and this month hosted by Linzi at  Lancashire Food, was to combine chocolate with a new ingredient. That is an ingredient you have not combined with chocolate before, not so tough as having to find a 'never used it before' item.

 I also wanted to work with something seasonal, and after pondering a few combinations of chocolate with pink grapefruit I finally went with kumquats. Earlier in the month I had seen a lovely post from blogger London Bakes for roasted kumquat and buttermilk scones but as I already had quite a few scones in the freezer I decided to take the basic idea and work it into a muffin recipe.

I started with  a 150g pack of kumquats, but I think closer to 200g of fruit would have givne a more pronounced fruit flavour. These were cut in half, pips removed and then roasted in a moderate oven, (160-170c) with a tablespoon of butter for 20 minutes. The kumquat skin should be soft but you do not want to get much caramel colouration. This part can be done in advance if that helps.

For the basic muffin mix I started with a recipe from Roger Pizey's book 'Small Cakes'. I  do think this is quite a strange title for a book that has two chapters of  'large cakes' in it with titles of 'Cakes for Sharing' and 'Cakes for Slicing'. That is no criticism of the recipes, just the title.

Before you make up your muffins a quick read of this  muffin clinic  post by Dan Lepard could set you on the path to perfection; lots of hints on how to avoid less than perfect muffins.

So to make 12 large muffins:

75g unsalted butter
3 eggs lightly whisked together
225 ml of buttermilk or a 50:50 mix of yogurt and milk
450g  self raising flour
50g caster sugar
pinch of salt
200g white chocolate chips
150-200g previously roasted and cooled kumquats, chopped coarsely
extra caster sugar for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 180c and put paper muffin cases into a 12 hole muffin/bun tin

  • Melt the butter in a pan or microwave on a low setting.
  • Add the whisked eggs and buttermilk (or yogurt/milk mix) to the butter and whisk together.
  • Stir in the chopped roasted kumquats.
  • In another bowl mix together the flour, salt, and 50g caster sugar.
  • Gently stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture adding the white chocolate chips in about three batches. You want to work the batter as little as possible.
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 muffin cases and once all the mixture is in sprinkle the tops generously with caster sugar.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Leave the muffins for a few minutes in the tin before lifting each muffin onto a cooling rack.

Best eaten whilst still a little warm!

This week my first home grown freesia flowered and although the plant is quite scruffy the blossom is quite beautiful. I sat admiring it as I munched through my muffin.

Happy January!