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.
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.
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.
As I’ve said many times before, Sunday mornings are times when you truly have the opportunity to make a good breakfast for yourself. Here’s what I had this morning – Mushroom and Brie Bruschetta (pronounced as [brusˈketːa]).
- In a hot skillet, toss in sliced mushrooms with a small knob of butter.
- Add a small pinch of basil and season accordingly with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.
- While that’s happening, toast your bread (preferably slices of a crusty loaf, but square slices work fine as well.)
- Once the mushrooms are just about browned nicely, add in a tiny bit of cream just to hold everything together, then turn the heat down low.
- The bread should be done, get it out. Half a clove of garlic and rub it on the toast.
- Spoon some mushrooms onto each slice and accompany with a small handful of fresh greens, holding them down with a small wedge of Brie.
- Serve with fresh cherry tomatoes, and without cutlery. All hands, all goodness.
Most people probably already know how to make pancakes. So I’m posting this for people who don’t and are afraid of trying for the fear of getting it all wrong. This pancake batter recipe is real simple and the margin for error is minuscule.
Ideally, you’d wanna be making the batter in a jug of some sort. It really helps when you’ve to fry the pancakes. Here’s what you mix in the jug:
- 1 egg
- 1 mug plain flour
- 1 mug milk
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Preferably, use a whisk to whip everything together because you don’t want any lumps in the pancakes.
- Next, fry them singularly or in twos on a good non-stick frying pan. It’s good to oil the pan slightly after each one. Also, try to get them all the same size; nothing like eating a tall and pretty stack of identical pancakes, with butter and syrup.
- Cool the pancakes on a cooling rack before stacking ’em up on a plate.
- Top with a knob of soft butter and maple syrup. Use honey as the alternative but do it discreetly without letting the Canadians know.
- Devour your breakfast layer by layer, or slice right through it like a cake – not forgetting the keyword here is ‘DEVOUR’.
I’ve always been wanting to make Hollandaise Sauce since I heard about it about say, four years ago. But there’d been no motivation nor inspiration all these days, right up till last week. Sarah got me Julia Child’s book Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Christmas and yes, in there was the recipe for the famous Hollandaise sauce. (If you don’t already own this book, get it at once. It will change your life.)
For a first attempt, I wouldn’t say making the sauce was an easy task, even though the stipulated cooking time in the book was five minutes. I took twenty. I don’t remember tasting Hollandaise sauce ever so there was no mental end product in mind, no idea what I was aiming at, although I do think it was a lovely job done nonetheless.
Hollandaise sauce is basically but not simply, a sauce made from egg yolk, beaten continuously over low heat until creamy before beaten further with lemon, and a chunk load of butter. It’s a painstaking process and technically challenging, but oh so rewarding when your palette meets with a rich creamy luxurious artery-clogging Hollandaise sauce. I won’t go into the details of how to make it here, because I’m sure you’d find excellent ones online and elsewhere.
You’d see Hollandaise sauce in Eggs Benedict, traditionally done as poached egg on ham or bacon on an English muffin, with a generous drizzle of the sauce.
Extremely extravagant, yet superbly satisfying.
- 2 eggs, cracked in a bowl, unbeaten
- ¼ mug of milk
- small knob of butter
- small handful of finely grated cheddar
- pinch of dried oregano
- freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Everybody’s got their own method of scrambling eggs but here’s how I like mine done:
- A small knob of butter goes in on a skillet, on high heat.
- Once the butter melts, put in the eggs and turn down the heat to low.
- Using a spatula, break the yolks and scramble the eggs erratically.
- Add the milk, cheese and oregano. Stir about till done.
- Season with salt and pepper accordingly.
I like my scrambled eggs with chunks of white and yellow, as opposed to having everything mixed thoroughly into a single colour. Then again, do it any way you like.
The scramble for scrambled eggs ends here. Hah.
This is a great lazy cheat for awesome slurpy food when you’ve got some soup leftovers. (Note: This only works for clear soups, mostly the Asian sort. And of course, minestrone soup.)
I know I’ve sorta made a post about this before but hey, this is specifically for Coucous in Chinese Chicken Soup. You might say it’s a level up from Couscous, Stocked.
- Get your chicken soup leftover into a bowl and chuck it into the microwave for 2 minutes.
- Yes, that’s TWO minutes on high heat; you want it piping hot.
- And then in goes the couscous, right into the blistering hot bowl of soup. TIP! The ratio for this a little tricky. But basically, you need enough liquid to cover the coucous. Since you’re doing the reverse i.e. adding couscous to liquid, add the grains just so that there’s still enough water to cover the coucous. In this case, it’s okay to put less than more. (When the couscous is done, the grains would have been completely swollen with tasty goodness.)
- Cover with a plate or lid for 5-7 minutes.
- Have it hot, like you would with chunky soup.
Photography: Sarah Lee
It’s tragic how I had my first Yorkshire Pudding only when I came to London some months back. It was about the size of my palm, and carried a scoopful of lovely roast beef, white onions and gravy. Definitely love at first bite. I always thought they were difficult to make until I came across Jamie’s Oliver’s Mini Yorkies recipe. Literally, a piece of cake.
Long story short, the versatile Yorkshire Puddings or Mini Yorkies: with a couple of tweaks, and some true advice from Yorkshireman Niall, here’s how I like mine done:
- 1 large egg
- half a mug of plain flour
- half a mug of fresh milk
- Into a shallow 12-hole muffin tray, liberally drizzle olive oil in one swift motion, from hole to hole without stopping. Stick into the oven and preheat to 180°C on the top rack. While that’s in there, prepare your pudding mix. It’s real similar to pancakes, so pay attention.
- Get the ingredients in a big bowl and mix away, till smooth.
- When the oil’s all hot (and maybe bubbly), get the tray out. Then, with the pudding mix, fill each hole to about half, give or take. At this stage, you’d be horrified to see the rings of oil surrounding the pudding mixture. Don’t worry, it beats using butter, hands down. (The amount should be just about right for 12 holes. Work out everything else in between.) Don’t take too long or the tray will cool down. Chuck it back into the oven for about 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, you can prepare a beef gravy or whatever you fancy in a yorkshire pudding. Personally, I think yorkies were created to caress beef.
- Keep an eye on them yorkies and you’ll see that they rise beautifully at the sides first, forming a little well of goodness. Done till golden. Brilliant. It’s plain physics, or so Sarah explains. If you forget to preheat the tray and oil till hot, the sides won’t rise.
This is what you’ll get:
I had this with a pork belly stew. More on that here.
A coupla months back, here’s how I had them:
After I’d gotten them out of the oven and out of the tray, this is what I stuck into each hole, and back into the heat:
- a slice of tomato, as the base.
- beef mince, marinated the way I like, with thyme and sage.
- half rings of white onion.
- cheddar, as the ‘glue’.
When the toppings were ready, on a chopping board, I plopped them onto the individual yorkies. Then, top off finally with a couple of leaves of arugula and a sprinkle of paprika.
With a snack looking this delish, you’d be a fool not to smile. (: