Tag Archives: memory

Egg in the Hole

4 Jul

This was one of the first things I ever learned to make. Fried bread and egg, yes. Good breakfast (if a little ott). But cut a square (or circle) out of the bread, and drop the egg into it, and you suddenly have magic. Children love this (I know I did) – they are fascinated by it and love to dip the bread into the golden yolk. I remember making this on seaside trips, for parents’ birthdays, and just because I could!

Its wonderful as breakfast, but its also awesome for a light supper (with a salad of tomato and onion perhaps), or even a late snack whilst watching the World Cup! Its very satisfying because there is something playful about this meal – but its also really really tasty.

If you can, please try and make this with an organic egg. Because the ingredients are so simple: bread, egg, butter and seasoning, it is imperative that you use the best quality ingredients. An organic free range egg is a thing of beauty. Its yolk is a golden orange, and the taste is completely totally eggy. The white is bright and tastes clean and clear. These may cost more, but they are so worth it. The creature that gave you her egg is living a good life, rather than battery raised chickens, and you can taste that lack of stress and sadness in the egg. When I do eat animal products (egg, milk, cheese, etc) I do try to get the organic, free range variety. Not only are there stronger protections in place for the animals to ensure that they lead happy lives, but quite simply, the taste cannot compare. It is just so much better. I would rather have one egg in the hole every two weeks, and have it taste 20 times better. Its about the choice, but its also about my sensual pleasure.

For each egg in the hole you will need:

  • 1 strong slice white or brown bread, preferably home made
  • 1 tsp (or more) softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Take the bread, and cut a hole in the centre. I usually make a square, but you could cut a circle, or even use a cookie cutter to make an interesting pattern.

Butter the bread on both sides, as well as the cut out square.

Sprinkle a tiny bit of salt and pepper over the bread.

Place bread on a non stick pan, over low heat. Let the bread fry/toast in the butter on both sides, until browned to your liking.

As soon as both sides of the bread are brown and toasted (dont forget to flip the cut out square!), crack the egg into a pouring cup measure. Salt and pepper the egg.

Take a small amount of butter and drop it into the open hole in the bread. With your spatula, lift one side of the slice of bread, and pour the egg white through the hole. The lifting will allow the white to flow around the edges of the bread. Try and pour as much of the white  out as possible, creating a layer of egg white on the bottom side of the bread. Once all the egg white has been poured through, gently pour the egg yolk straight into the hole. Let the yolk cook for as long as is your preference. I personally like it a little liquid, but also slightly squidgy.

Salt and pepper just before serving.

Enjoy!

Banoffee Pie

2 Jul

This is not the traditional recipe for Banoffee Pie. For that, you will have to go here.

But this is the banoffee pie of my childhood. A cookie crumb crust made with HobNobs and melted butter. A thick dark golden brown slather of dulce de leche. Bananas. And a mound of unsweetened vanilla whipped cream. Each on its own, good. Combined together. Nirvana. Honestly. And its one of those desserts that you learn to make from very young, and because its so easy (given the preparedness of the ingredients), you feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction when it is served to ooohs and aaahs.

Assembly is easy, and you can certainly make this divine pudding over a few days, and assemble a few hours before serving. Its really good as breakfast too. Heh.

Crust

  • 3/4 roll of Hobnobs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Put about 3/4 roll of HobNob cookies in a zip loc plastic bag. You should have may be 5 or 6 left (good for a cook’s tea!). Break them up a bit using your hands, and then, using any heavy object (the bottom of a wine bottle will come in handy here) smash and crush the biscuits to a fine pebbly sand. You might need to do this in two batches.

Pour the crushed biscuits into an 8 inch round, non stick, springform cake pan. Pour the melted butter over, and mix. Using your fingers, create a crust at the bottom, and about half way up the sides of the pan. Put in the fridge for about 20 minutes to harden up a bit.

Whipped cream

I stabilise my whipped cream with agar agar, which is a vegetarian gelatin made from seaweed. Its totally flavourless, and about 1 tsp of agar agar to 1 cup of cream ensures the cream stays whipped and high, even after 12 hours in the fridge.

You will need to whip:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp agar agar
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence

together until they hold hard peaks. Set aside for the assembly.

Assembly

Take the crust out of the fridge, and pour in the cooled dulce de leche. It should completely coat the bottom of the crust, and be about 1/4 inch thick. If you want more, go ahead and add more, just remember it is VERY sweet.

Take about 6 -9 small pisang mas bananas (or whatever is available for you), and slice lengthwise. You should get about 3 long slices from each banana. Layer the bananas over the dulce de leche. Put in the fridge for about 20 minutes to firm up again.

Cover the entire pie with the unsweetened whipped cream, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 24.

When you are ready to serve, run a knife around the edges, and unmold the springform pan gently.

Serve with love and gratitude.

Dulce de leche

2 Jul

This is so simple, I feel silly posting it as a recipe. I have always loved this stuff. Sweetened condensed milk cooked for so long that it becomes a rich dark toffee caramel. Its the base for banoffee pie, and to banish sweet cravings, there is nothing better than a teaspoonful.

Most people recommend boiling cans of unopened sweetened condensed milk over the stovetop for 3  hours or so. This is the easiest way to create dulce de leche BUT its also very dangerous. When I was about 13, I was overnighting at an Aunts house in St Johns Wood in London. I was flying out the next day, and she was not there. I was craving something sweet, so decided to make dulce de leche the traditional way. I put my cans of unopened condensed milk in a deep saucepan, and covered with water. And then I proceeded to fall asleep on the couch! I woke up to a HUGE bang and could not, for the life of me, figure out what had happened, until I walked into my Aunts gorgeous gourmet kitchen to find caramel dripping from the ceiling, and every available surface. It took me HOURS to clean up (and I dont think I got everything because a few weeks later, had a very uncomfortable conversation with her!).

Ever since then, I have been a tad nervous about making this. You can pop steam vents into the top of the cans, so that they dont explode, but you still have to check for water every fifteen minutes or so. I prefer this way. Safer, and you can leave it for up to an hour at a time.

Unfortunately, here in Malaysia, we only have sweetened condensed filled milk – which has palm oil as a stabiliser and additive. This method still works, but the preference is obviously for sweetened condensed milk which is just milk and sugar.

You will need one deep roasting pan, filled about 1/3 with cold water, and one smaller roasting pan which can fit inside the deeper one.

Preheat your oven to 170 F.

Place the deep roasting pan into the oven to heat gently.

Pour up to 3 cans of sweetened condensed milk into the second roasting pan, and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Place this second pan into the first and leave in the oven for up to 3 hours. I would certainly check every hour or so to make sure the water is still there, and to mix the slowly caramelising milk well.

Be careful when you open the oven. A lot of steam gets generated from the water bath, and everything is really really hot.

After about three hours, when you take it out of the oven, dont worry. It will look curdled and lumpy. Some bits will be dark caramel brown, some bits will be lighter and smoother, and some bits will look like milk curds. Just pour and scrape into a clean bowl, and beat with a wire whisk until smooth. Let cool before even thinking of tasting it!

You can flavour this with some vanilla if you like. Unspeakably delicious.

Mushroom and Chili Pasta

27 Jun

Angel Kitten asked if we could have some chili in the food (I think I might make a veg curry soon…) It made me think about why I havent made a lot of spicy chili dishes. I think its because when I was quite small, I was in the kitchen with my Kak Gee. She was preparing a meal for an embassy function, and she had some sesame seeds next to the chopping board where she was preparing the chili. I was sneaking finger-fulls of the sesame seeds, and of course accidentally consumed some chili seeds as well. Oh my good goddess, they were so bloody hot! I cried my 5 year old eyes out! I think I have been nervous about cooking with chili ever since! But I decided today I was going to face my fears (unlike the England team), so AngelKitten and I had a chat and dreamed up a pasta we wanted.

We thought up a mushroom, chili and blue cheese pasta, because we were so enamoured with the blue cheese bread pudding from the other night. However, once we started cooking, the blue cheese just didnt go with the chili and mushrooms, so we left it out. This is an example of cooking on the fly 😉 If we had stuck with our initial daydream pasta, it would have tasted totally crap (kind of like England’s play) so we adjusted, and it was yummilicious.

This follows a basic pasta outline that I have used before. Infused oils, seared mushrooms, sauce, and quick mixing with angel hair. Mainly its what you do with your similar ingredients which changes the taste, flavour and texture.

For 6 people you will need:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil + 2 tbsp for cooking
  • 4 red chilis (NOT chili api)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 10 – 12 portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Butter
  • Red wine
  • 1 packet or less angel hair pasta

Put olive oil in a clean small bowl. Clean your chilis, and cut off tops, and (depending on the heat you prefer) clean inside – split chili in half and clean out chili seeds and stringy bits with the tip of a butter knife. Be careful here because the chili seeds are the most hot part of the chili and you could do harm to yourself if you rub your eyes or mouth while doing this job. The more chili seeds you leave, the hotter the finished dish will be. Dice the chili finely and put into the olive oil to infuse.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add minced garlic. Let it soften. Clean and chop the mushrooms roughly. Add about half to the hot oil (the garlic should be sizzling) and sear it – mixing it well in the oil and making sure that it burns a bit. Add the sugar to encourage caramelisation. As the mushrooms burn slightly, add the rest. This will encourage the mushrooms to let go of their juices. Add a few splashes of red wine and a couple small slices of butter to the top of this mushroom mixture, and a wonderful rich sauce will start pooling at the bottom of the pan. Add all the chili and olive oil and mix through for richness and heat. Season with salt and pepper and taste to adjust seasoning.

If you want it creamy, feel free to add milk or cream, but it really doesnt need it.

Prepare 3/4 packet or so of angel hair pasta. Drain. Add pasta to pan with tongs and mix well. Enjoy your comfort food even if your team does crap 😛

Paul’s Black Forest Birthday Cake

24 Jun

Since I posted the best cookie recipe ever, I thought I would stick to that sweet theme today, and post my dear friend, Paul’s birthday cake. Paul liberated me as a cook many years ago when I presented him with his first Black Forest Birthday Cake. I was shy because the cake was a bit wobbly, and listed to the side. When I told him this, he laughed and said to me that that was the perfection in my cakes – he could tell they were home made and created with plenty of love and sayang BECAUSE they were a little imperfect, and they were full of my energy and my love. I realised that people taste and see and feel and smell the love that you put into food, and it doesnt have to be visually perfect for it to be satisfyingly lovingly perfect. He made me a braver and more confident cook, and when he was here for his birthday, I couldnt resist making him another Black Forest Cake – this one even MORE wobbly than the last!

This cake is a bit of a major undertaking, BUT its easy peasy if you make it in stages. I made the alcoholic version, but you could easily substitute cherry juice in place of cherry brandy, and have a delicious non-alcoholic cake as well. Make the cherry filling, and cherry sauce the day before. You can bake the cake up to two days ahead as well. The whipped cream should be prepared on the day of serving, though if you really need to, you can make it up to a day ahead, given that its stabilized with agar agar.

Cherry filling + Cherry sauce

  • About 5 – 6 cups cherries, pitted (I used fresh frozen because we had none in the shops)
  • 1 bottle cherry brandy (or 1 bottle cherry juice or other dark berry juice)
  • Sugar (to taste)
  • Water
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon

In a large bowl, drain and defrost the cherries. Pour off any juice into a measuring cup. You should have about 2 cups. If you don’t, make it up with water (or cherry brandy!).

Pour the juice into a small saucepan, add about 3 tablespoons of sugar and about 1 cup of cherry brandy. Boil until syrupy. Cool and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, put the cherries in a large saucepan and add:

  • 1 – 2 cups cherry brandy
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Boil until cherries release their juice, and the entire beautiful heap becomes soft and jammy. Cool. Pour about 1/2 cup of brandy over and refrigerate.

Chocolate sauce

  • 3 bars of extra dark, bittersweet chocolate,
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 3 tbsp butter

Break the bars into small chunks, and put all in a small saucepan, over very very low heat. Stir until melted.

Keep aside until ready to assemble cake

Chocolate buttermilk cake

Prepare 3 baking pans, lining the bottom with parchment paper, and buttering bottoms and sides. Preheat oven to 170 C

Beat together:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cup sugar

until fluffy, creamy and light yellow.

Beat in

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp vanilla
  • About 1/2 cup of melted chocolate (which you have put aside)

To this mix, beat in

  • 3 cups flour mixed with 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt and 1 cup cocoa powder

alternately with

  • 2 cups buttermilk

Taste. If its not chocolately enough for you, add up to 1/2 c cocoa or melted chocolate.

Divide equally between 3 cake tins, and bake for approximately 10 – 15 minutes each tin, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool, in the tin and if you are not using the same day, refrigerate, wrapped tightly in grease proof paper.

Whipped cream

Beat together

  • 4 – 5 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla

As the mixture just reaches stiffness, add

  • 1 tsp agar agar to every cup of cream

Whip until very stiff peaks hold. The agar agar acts as a vegetarian gelatin – it ensures the whipped cream holds its stiffness and does not leak or become watery. It can stay this way for hours and hours and there is no added taste or influence from the agar agar.

Assembly

Turn 1 cake onto serving platter, and with a fork, poke holes in the cake … everywhere! Brush the reduced cherry (brandy) sauce on to cake, and if you like sprinkled with a little more neat cherry brandy.

Cover with a thin layer of chocolate sauce, then spread the cake with a layer of whipped cream. Heap cherries on top, and sprinkle with crumbled chocolate (I use Flakes).

Repeat for remaining layers of cake, finishing with whipped cream along top and sides, sprinkles of chocolate and maraschino cherries if you like.

Refrigerate for at least two hours (and up to 12) to let the cake set well before serving.

Memories of a Vegetarian Thanksgiving

23 Jun

A Thanksgiving for everyone – even the turkey!

M + I cooking together, for Z’s first Thanksgiving…

  • Honey glazed carrots
  • Green beans with crispy friend onions
  • Cornbread stuffing with jerusalem artichokes, mushrooms, kale, and dried cranberries
  • Cranberry honey whiskey sauce
  • Puff pastry roll with mushrooms and pine nuts
  • Garlic mash potatoes
  • Red wine onion gravy
  • Roasted butternut and sweet potato with a maple glaze
  • Berry crumble
  • Pecan pie
  • Red wine and honey poached pears dipped in bittersweet chocolate with vanilla ice cream

… and there are only 4 of us sitting down to dinner!

This was the first Thanksgiving I celebrated in my sister, M’s house in Washington DC. I was there helping to look after Z, my beloved niece. My sister is vegetarian too, and with the advent of her daughter, we found that she was pretty intolerant to milk and dairy products. So we held back on layering the butter everywhere, though we didn’t completely do without it. It was a sumptuous meal, redolent of the most beautiful produce of the season. The colors where phenomenal, and M’s non-vegetarian BSA and our TBH didn’t even miss the turkey!

One of these days, I will try and recreate it and post the recipes. But the menu itself is pretty phenomenal!

The Lodge Egg Sandwiches

20 Jun

When I was a child, we used to visit The Lodge on our way up to Fraser’s Hill, a resort just outside Kuala Lumpur. I used to obsess about the egg sandwiches at The Lodge – they were the highlight of our trip! I thought about them for ages, and finally decided to make them one night when we were watching the World Cup. So easy and quick, but totally satisfying.

This recipe makes 4 sandwiches

  • 8 slices white bread, toasted on the lowest setting
  • Soft butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dash of milk or cream

Toast the bread very lightly – you basically just want to warm it and get a crisp exterior going. As soon as its been toasted, butter well.

Meanwhile, beat eggs, egg yolk, salt and pepper and a dash of milk or cream together. Use a fork, and don’t beat too crazily – you just want it combined gently.

Over medium heat, add a bit of butter to a non-stick pan, and add the eggs. Use a rubber spatula, and mix very gently. The eggs will be golden colored and very creamy because of the extra yolk. It should take only a few minutes before you have very gently scrambled eggs. Divide between four pieces of bread, top with a buttered slice of bread and press down well. Cut into half and serve immediately to grateful and hungry hoards.