The first time I’d ever heard of humous was in the movie Don’t Mess with the Zohan, starring Adam Sandler being a complete hairdressing-sex predator. Not the best way to encounter food I know. Apart from wrecking my brains trying to figure out what that gloppy mushy substance might be, I came to London a couple of years back and took a leap of faith, buying a pack of humous at the store.
Made of mainly chickpeas and tahini, there’s an amazing variety of that stuff these days. I got the dodgiest looking pack though, plain and uninspiring, and had it alongside Scrambled Eggs on Toast for breakfast yesterday morning.
Still can’t figure out which creamy gloopy mush wins at breakfast.
I got real sick of sitting at my desk doing readings, and it wasn’t long before I found myself thinking about food again. Story of my life. Then, I started thinking about making mayonnaise. I was craving some egg mayo that day but didn’t have any mayo, so why not make my own?
This was so easy to do, I’m never looking back at store-bought mayo again.
- In a DRY bowl with a whisk, beat a single egg yolk till it’s creamy and pale yellow.
- Then beat in a small amount of oil (any will do: vegetable, olive, rapeseed, go crazy experimenting) until the mixture starts resembling mayonnaise.
- At this point, you can add oil at a steady pace till you have the desired amount.
- Flavour and season with lemon juice/white vinegar, mustard, salt and white pepper powder. Dilute with drops of water if necessary.
- Bottle it up and eat potato salad and egg mayo non-stop till there’s no more. Then, repeat from step 1.
I don’t know how people feel about sausages in particular but I do know having a piece done well is never a bad thing. Sausages should be browned with a nice tan, but not burned; when you sink your teeth into a one, it should be toasty but not shrivelled, succulent and not dry. This morning, I’ve just discovered the best way to cook sausages, so that you get that crispy exterior enveloping juicy mince. Here’s how I did it:
- Place your sausages into a pot with a small drizzle of oil.
- Turn up the heat to medium and put the lid on, keeping any steam released within the pot.
- Let the sausages fry about by rolling them about in the pot with the lid still on. Check occasionally.
- Once the sausages are nicely browned, turn down the heat to the lowest setting and let them steam slowly for a couple of brief minutes before serving.
Remember, crispy yet juicy.
There’s word of this fifth basic taste going round, a taste alongside salty, sweet, sour or bitter; it’s called umami. According to Wikipedia, it means ‘pleasant savoury taste’ in Japanese. It’s the taste most common in Japanese food, which makes it so well-loved. ‘The human tongue has receptors for L-glutamate, which is the source of umami flavour. As such, scientists consider umami to be distinct from saltiness.’ So you ask? How and where do you get umami from? Tomatoes.
I believe having tomatoes at breakfast is a great way to start your day, awakening your belly with wholesome savoury goodness, not just salty ham or bacon.
Have them with your sausages today.
This is essentially a puff pastry tartlet of everything you put into a shepherd’s pie, without the hassle of cooking the filling first. Make a dumpling with cut squares of cold rolled out puff pastry and well-marinated meat. Brush it with an egg wash before baking in a preheated 200ªC oven. Place it on the top rack for 10 minutes or so until the pastry has puffed up, then place down on the lowest rack for another 10-15 minutes at 180ªC.
Another one to add to the list of this and that.
In addition to Tomato Tartlets, this is another one of them recipes that if so simple and so quick to do.
Mushroom & leek puffs, with cheddar and damson jam
- Preheat the oven to 200ªC.
- Cut out rectangles from pre-rolled puff pastry and score a smaller rectangle in each piece, about 5mm from the edge, so you get a border all around.
- Place the pastry rectangles on a large baking sheet, prepped with parchment paper. Here, you may choose to brush the rectangles with egg wash, so you get that lovely shine. I’m lazy most of the time.
- Line up mushrooms, chopped leeks and cheddar within the small rectangles of the puff pastry pieces.
- Bake on the top rack for 10 minutes, before moving down to the bottom rack for another 10 minutes.
- Serve with a dollop of damson jam on the side, or mini-dollops within the puff. Any mildly sweet slightly sourish berry jam does the job.
Pleasant tea-time snack.
Puff pastry sold in supermarkets is a genius intervention. I know some people believe firmly in making everything from scratch. but puff pastry is one of those things which the homemade handmade version is no different from the ones sold ready-made in supermarkets. In fact, sometimes the former falls short of the latter. So with making your own puff pastry being so time-consuming, why not just pay a little and make your life easier?
Then again, that’s just me.
Well then, back to topic, these little babies are so easy to make, you’d be smiling from ear to ear by the time they’re on your dining table. They’re also one of them quick treats you can whip up if you’ve got guests coming round on short notice. Here’s how:
- If your pastry is already pre-rolled, that’s good. If not, roll it out till it’s about 5mm thick.
- Cut them into little rectangles and score a border around all four sides of each piece.
- You can brush them with an egg wash, if you want. Then, lay pieces of sliced tomatoes atop, fitting them within the scored borders.
- Crack a little sea salt on each and pop them into the pre-heated oven, top rack at 200ªC for about 10 minutes before lowering to 180ªC for another 10 minutes or so. Remove once the pastry is nicely browned.
- When fresh out of the oven, drizzle with good extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle a small pinch of dried basil.
- Let them cool on a cooling rack and serve when no longer piping hot.
This is so incredibly easy to do, it will knock your socks off.
All you got to do is blitz a small handful of walnut in a food processor, then dump in an avocado, followed by a small chunk feta cheese, tasting as you go along, and adding more accordingly. Finally, don’t forget that lug of good quality extra virgin olive oil to hold everything together. What you’re aiming for is a lovely creamy dip.
For those who prefer the old school method, or don’t own a food processor – like me – a pestle and mortar does it easy. Less hassle washing up as well.
Great with carrot sticks.
Out of this world with sausages and toast.
Mushrooms, tomatoes and basil are a winning combination.
- In a hot skillet, melt a knob of butter till it foams. When the foaming subsides, it means the pan is hot enough and ready.
- Toss in the chopped brown chestnut mushrooms and sautéed them till almost brown.
- Then add the chopped cherry tomatoes.
- Crack in a pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
- Add a small pinch of basil.
- Also, add in a small clove of garlic, finely minced.
- Mix it all up, and remove from the pan once the tomatoes have shrivel slightly.
- To deglaze the skillet and toast up some bread, toss in a small knob of butter and swirl it round.
- Likewise, once the foaming subsides, place the pieces of bread on. Flip as soon as they’re golden.
- In the meantime, roughly chop up some mixed salad leafs.
- Serve the bruschetta (pronounced as [brusˈketːa]) with a small drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.
This was just an excuse to use the new plate, really.
This only requires one step.
One compound step:
- Using this recipe for the pastry, make a thick concoction of finely sliced mushrooms, a beaten egg, grated cheddar and some milk.
Easy as pie.