Category Archives: egg

bbt tortilla

bacon broccoli tomato tortilla

What a great year it’s been for tomatoes. The plants in my garden have been raving with fruit, and they’ve been bursting with sweetness. A really bumper crop. Most of them have ended up in pasta sauce and pizza topping but these ones were deserving of a little more.

And so I happened across a recipe for a “BLT tortilla” in the SORTED cookbook but didn’t fancy rocket in mine, so some frozen broccoli jumped in instead. Coupled with refreshing, sweet tomatoes what you get is a portable and tasty lunch that’d be great in a picnic or easily upgraded to main meal status with a decent salad.

BBT tortilla (serves 4 – 6):

6 rashers smoked bacon, diced

About 12 frozen broccoli florets

8 eggs

A couple of handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

A handful of grated parmesan

  1. Get a frying pan over a high heat and preheat the oven to 180°C. Add a dash of oil to the pan and fry the bacon briskly until coloured, and then add the broccoli. Stir fry until the broccoli has started to soften.
  2. Mix the eggs in a bowl with the parmesan, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Pour this and the tomatoes into the pan, and take this opportunity to space the veg around the pan evenly. When that’s done transfer to the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the wobble has just gone. Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out and serving.

heston blumenthal’s lemon tart

heston blumenthal's lemon tart

Hold on to your toques, this is a Blumenthal gadget-fest. Here’s a run-down of the Heston kitchen toys employed in this recipe:

That’s a hell of a list. The odd one out in this list is the Kitchen Wizz Pro, a beast of a food processor, but more on that in a future post. I’ve also used my trusty chef’s knife, easily the best knife I’ve ever used. Most of them are Salter’s / HoMedics to celebrate the launch of their new range of Heston gadgets. It’s fair to say they’re a mixed bag.

heston blumenthal kitchen gadgets

The initial range of Heston By Salter tools are all solid: the probe thermometer, kitchen timer, fridge thermometer, oven thermometer, measuring jug, scales; all good. Some of the newer items feel superfluous. First up the adjustable rolling pin. It comes with discs that adjust the height of the pin from the surface. Genius! I was looking forward to this. As someone who is mostly terrible at pastry the ability to roll out to a consistent thickness really appealed to me. Unfortunately the pastry stuck immediately to the pin and made a complete mess. After prodding it for a while I transferred it to the pastry dish for baking and rolled it up loosely around the pin. Again it all stuck to the pin and essentially turned my smooth-plasticine dough to a patchwork quilt. Just look at the pastry in the picture, that’s supposed to be 3mm but it’s more like a centimetre! Very disappointing.

The whisk is much better, being well-balanced, sturdy and comfortable to hold when whisking an egg custard over a bain marie. The measuring spoons are a cute gimmick, in that you slide the compartment to the right measurement (e.g. 1 teaspoon, ½ tablespoon) and then drag a little lid over the powder to level it off. But a couple of things bothered me: my fingers were a little greasy from handling butter and I just couldn’t work it without putting everything down, washing hands and re-measuring. And I can’t get past the price: £17.99 RRP for two spoons when the same thing is achieved with a £1 (or less) set of plastic measuring spoons available anywhere, with the help of any knife for levelling.

Rounding out the collection are the spatulas which are quickly becoming two of my favourite things in the kitchen: with one curved end for sculpting and smoothing, and a firmer end for flipping and scraping. I use a lot of non-stick bakeware, frying pans and saucepans so having something to poke at the edges of something to flip it over is really handy. Again though I have to wince at the price: £17.99 for two spatulas isn’t great value.

All the equipment in the range is well made and thoughtfully designed, but these items are just not as “must have” as the original kitchen gadgets. They’d make great gifts though.

I used all these tools and more in making Heston’s lemon tart. There’s an awful lot of Heston in this; he spent years at the Fat Duck perfecting the ‘wobble’ in his cakes. It comes down to temperature – a tart at 70°C is perfectly set. And of course, he’s right. It’s a brilliant dessert, and the probe thermometer is the most essential gadget of them all. Just one niggle: serving with creme fraiche is a complete waste of time. Totally gets lost against the lemon flavour – don’t bother.

Heston Blumenthal’s lemon tart (serves 10 – 12):

For the pastry:

120g icing sugar

3 large egg yolks

300g plain flour

150g unsalted butter

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla paste

Zest of ½ a lemon, grated

For the filling:

9 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

Finely grated zest and juice of 5 lemons

300g double cream

390g caster sugar

To serve:

80g caster sugar

Creme fraiche

  1. Start with the pastry: blitz the icing sugar and yolks together and set aside. In a mixer mix the flour, butter and salt until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the vanilla, lemon and yolk mixture and continue to mix until you have a smooth, soft dough. Mould into a rectangle and allow to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. After resting, roll the pastry to 3mm (ha ha) and line it in your 20cm tart tin. Prick with a fork all over and freeze for 30 minutes. Blind bake the base for 40 minutes and trim off the excess pastry. Drop the oven to 120°C.
  3. Place the eggs and egg yolks in a bain marie and whisk together until it reaches 62°C (mine took about 10 minutes). At this point strain through a sieve, remove the bubbles from the surface with a metal spoon and pour into the pastry case. Bake until the filling reaches 70°C. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. When ready to serve, sprinkle over the caster sugar and caramelise with a blow torch. Serve with creme fraiche if you like.

chocolate and passion fruit baked alaska

dark chocolate baked alaska

Photo copyright Waitrose

What a show-stopper this recipe is. How I came to get the recipe is still utterly bewildering to me.

Would you like to go to the Waitrose Cookery School and have Heston Blumenthal cook for you? Um, let me think about that fo- yes please. So I rock up, where they are filming an Easter show for Waitrose TV. I’ve been to the Cookery School a couple of times before, but not in these circumstances. The whole thing is hosted by Sue Perkins, who I’ve always wanted to best friends with. It has the recipe to be a completely amazing afternoon.

It begins very strangely. I pretty much walk in off the street and take a quick visit to the gents (I promise, not too much detail here but the context is important). I’m there not a minute, doing my thing, when someone takes up the urinal next to me. I’m not sure if you know the rules of public toilets but you don’t budge your neck an inch. But I do. And I can’t help but notice relieving himself next to me is Brian Turner.

What do you do in that situation? I’ve admired Brian Turner for years, for me he reaches back to Ready Steady Cook days and he’s never really gone away. Whenever he’s on TV I know whatever he makes is going to be brill. But do I say hi mid-flow?

I elect not to, hoping to get a chance to introduce myself in a more normal surroundings. Making my way back into the school itself a Waitrose rep introduces herself and says I’m going to be on the top table with all the chefs. Urp.

So the scene is set: Heston Blumenthal, Brian Turner, Dhruv Baker are cooking the food alongside Cookery School stalwarts Gordon and Eleni, while Sue Perkins presents. At one point during the afternoon, Sue Perkins is sat next to me, shovelling lamb on to my plate that has been roasted by Heston Blumenthal who is opposite explaining his mustard gravy, with Brian Turner sat on the table positively barking that we Brits must return to our roasting greatness. As I sat there with a glass of ridiculously good Lebanese red wine, I was momentarily lost in a moment of surreal stupor: how the hell did I get here, eating this, with these people? I felt stupendously unworthy.

heston blumenthal, brian turner, sue perkins waitrose easter lunch

My left ear’s moment of glory as noted vegetarian Sue Perkins shovels lamb on to my plate.

Needless to say, the afternoon was complete magic. Sue cemented herself as the witty professional, Brian was exactly the person he is on TV, and Heston cooked lamb for me.

The whole video featuring Heston’s roast lamb, Dhruv’s accompaniments and this recipe, plus more besides, can be seen on the Waitrose TV website.

However in tribute to that afternoon I cooked the dessert served up by Eleni: a stunning baked alaska that looks like far more effort than you actually put in. With a few choice ready-made ingredients propping it up it’s a great one for a dinner party.

Dark chocolate and passion fruit baked alaska (serves 8):

750g dark chocolate ice cream

8 slices Madeira loaf

For the passion fruit coulis:

Pulp from 8 passion fruit (about 250ml)

150g caster sugar

8 cloves

1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways

For the Italian Meringue:

4 egg whites

300g caster sugar

  1. Using an ice cream scoop, form 8 large balls of the ice cream. Place on a plate or tray and return to the freezer, so that they are as frozen as possible. Meanwhile, take the slices of madeira cake and using a 6cm round pastry cutter, cut into 8 discs, and set aside.
  2. Make the passion fruit coulis, place all the ingredients with 4 tbsp water in a small pan and bring to the boil. Continue to boil for about 4-5 minutes until the mixture has reduced to a nice thick, syrupy consistency. Allow to cool then refrigerate until needed.
  3. To make the Italian meringue, place the caster sugar in a saucepan and add a little water until a wet sand texture is achieved. Then heat the mixture and bring to the boil and continue to heat until the temperature reaches 118°C. Using a an electric mixer start to whisk your egg whites on a medium speed. Once the sugar reaches 121°C, remove from the heat and gradually add the syrup to your whisking egg whites and increase to maximum speed. This will take approximately 5 minutes to whip up into a smooth, glossy meringue. Place this mixture into a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle, about 6mm or simply cut the piping bag at an angle and set aside.
  4. To assemble, place the ice cream balls onto the sponge discs and pipe around the Italian meringue and smooth over with a palette knife so that none of the ice cream is exposed. Take the piping bag and pipe peaks around the Alaska starting from the bottom and working your way up to the top. Once all the surface space has been covered return to the freezer and leave there until ready to serve.
  5. When you are ready to serve, preheat the oven to 220°C, gas mark 7. Then place the Alaskas in the oven for about 5-7 minutes or until the meringue turns a nice golden colour. Spoon the passionfruit coulis onto the plate and place the baked Alaska on top. Serve immediately.

mulled wine macarons

mulled wine macarons

This photo is of easily the worst one of the bunch. I figured you can Google macarons and get a million results of perfect Parisienne treats. But I bet you’d struggle to find another that looks like Audrey.

I have been very lucky – expert tuition on how to make macarons, from the excellent Waitrose Cookery not once, but twice. This time Kenwood were laying on an event to promote their Boutique range. It’s a range of vivid and colour-themed small appliances. At the school each colour was arranged on a table with well-matching items which were very eye-catching.

They are gorgeous items, but here’s what else was eye-catching: the price. Each of these things are well made but I certainly can’t justify spending £55 on a kettle. Or £85 on a toaster. And when you have one item in the range, you’re going to want the rest… ouch.

I teamed with Helen to make macarons. The coloured cocktails had got to her a little, and she started piping little green nipples onto our pukkah pink blobs. We had a whale of a time.

mulled fruit juice waitrose

These macarons are made not with mulled wine, but mulled fruit juice from Waitrose. Heavy with spice and warmth, this juice made the perfect accompaniment to super-sweet and chewy macarons. The macaron recipe is Waitrose Cookery School’s, and I was inspired to make the mulled reduction by my previous trip to the macaron class.

Thanks to Z-PR for the fruit juice, and Clarion Comms for hosting the Kenwood event.

Mulled wine macarons (makes loads):

1 litre mulled fruit juice

1 tablespoon icing sugar

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon cornflour

275g caster sugar

95g egg whites (approximately 3 egg whites)

½ tbsp red food colouring

275g ground almonds

275g icing sugar

95g egg whites (approximately 3 egg whites)

  1. Pre heat the oven to 145ºC. Cut out two sheets of parchment paper, the same size as the baking tray and set aside ready for piping.
  2. Boil the mulled fruit juice over a high heat with the cinnamon stick until reduced by half, and then add the icing sugar. Mix the cornflour with a splash of water and whisk into the fruit juice, and continue to reduce until thickened. Put aside to cool.
  3. For the Italian meringue: In a small saucepan, add the sugar and 100ml of water and mix until there are no lumps. Add the food colouring and place the saucepan over medium to high heat and place the sugar thermometer inside. The required temperature is 114C.
  4. In the electronic mixing bowl, add the 95g of egg whites with the whisk attachment. This will then be ready for the sugar syrup when the required temperature is reached.
  5. Once the sugar syrup has reached 110C, start whisking the egg whites on a medium speed and once the temperature has reached 114C, (the whisking egg whites should be frothy at this stage) lift the thermometer out and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl ensuring not to splash yourself! Turn onto full speed and after approximately five minutes, the Italian meringue will become glossy and whipped.
  6. Meanwhile, whilst the meringue is whisking, we can make the paste. In a separate bowl, combine the ground almonds and icing sugar and add the other 95g of egg whites and mix with a wooden spoon until a paste has formed. The paste should be stiff.
  7. Once the Italian meringue is ready (soft peaks will form) this is combined with the paste in three stages. If it is over mixed the mix will become too liquid and the macaroons will become very flat once cooked. It is important to ensure a nice gentle mixing motion. The first addition of the meringue to the paste will be the most aggressive in order to ensure there are no lumps. The second amount of meringue must be folded in gently and the final addition of meringue must be extremely gentle.
  8. The macaroon mix is then ready to be piped. Using a spatula, fill the piping bag half way. Pipe some mix into each corner of the baking trays in order to stick the parchment paper onto the tray. Pipe in straight lines going from left to right leaving a 2cm gap in between each macaroon. These are now ready to be baked for 17-19 minutes at 145C.
  9. Once they are cooked, take the trays out of the oven and leave to cool. Pipe some of the sticky fruit juice inbetween two halves, before downing in one.

tortilla de patatas

tortilla de patatas rustic style, OK?

It was all ready to go so well.

Only the night before I’d watched talented, charismatic and effortlessly handsome chef Omar Allibhoy throw together one of his childhood favourites: Spanish omelette. Just eggs, onions and potatoes required, but his version contained chorizo and olives. Myself and a host of other foodie people were attending an event laid on in celebration of Olives from Spain. We’d gathered at The Lounge in Balham to enjoy some great food and try olives in a three course meal. I’d quickly found a corner with two bloggers I’d not had the pleasure of meeting before, affable Ally from Dinneraholic and the splendidly-named Gary from London Foodaholic. We downed Tio Pepe whilst enjoying some fine tapas, which was followed by the omelette demonstration. We then settled down to a sardine salad with olives, sea bass with olives, chicken with olives, chocolate-olive truffles… all of it was so good. Look at my happy face!

It was clear from Omar’s presentation that beyond a PR event he truly loved olives and they’ve always been part of his life. I had to smile when he said to try them on small children so they develop the taste early on: my 2 year old girl adores them, nibbling round the stones; and my son has a legendary appetite for them, even receiving jars of them as Christmas presents. It can honestly be said olives are a big favourite in our house.

omar allibhoy cooks up a Spanish feast

Note Omar’s perfect tortilla at the front

I managed to snaffle a piece of Omar’s omelette. It tasted amazing. It was still a touch runny in the centre – perhaps “moist” is a better word. I’d always had them thoroughly cooked and struggled to achieve the right results. His way – taught to him by Ferran Adria – was to not bother the eggs at all, and cook them gently. I had to try cooking it myself, so that was dinner sorted for the very next day. I had some leftover roast pork belly from the weekend so with a little paprika seasoning that substituted for the chorizo. So far, so good.

It was all going really well, until it came to flipping time. I’ve been using the same non-stick frying pan for the past 5 years, and I probably cook with it at least twice a week. But tonight, when I need the non-stickiness more than ever so I can flip it over, it gave up. It just wouldn’t turn out.

my poor destroyed, beloved 30cm non-stick frying pan

my poor destroyed, beloved 30cm non-stick frying pan

If you browse round this site you may well see the frying pan holding many of my dinners. It’s had to go. I will miss that pan.

How could I rescue dinner then? Lee had specifically asked about putting it under the grill, which Omar flatly rebutted. Flipping was the way to go. But flipping was out, so it had to go under the grill. And then getting it out of the pan was a scraping affair. Hence the raggedy mess in the lead photo. That aside, it tasted great. Tender potatoes, sweet onions, oozy eggs… and of course sweet, salty olives. If only I could’ve cooked it the way I meant to. See you on the other side of a new pan, I guess.

Based on a recipe by Omar Allibhoy. His version can be seen here. Thanks to Storm Comms for putting on a great night.

Tortilla de patatas (serves 4):

1 large onion, sliced

3 potatoes, peeled and sliced

200g cold roast pork belly

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon cornflour

About 12 olives, halved

8 eggs

  1. Get a pan really hot and add a splash of oil (olive oil, naturally). Add the onion and fry for a couple of minutes until starting to colour. Add the potatoes and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a bowl. Crack the yolks but don’t bother stirring. Season and move on to the pork. Put the paprika and cornflour in a bowl and add a splash of water to make a thick paste. Add the pork and stir well to get it coated.
  3. Tip the onion and potato mix in with the eggs, and add a little more oil to the pan. Fry off the pork for one minute and then add the olives. Tip the eggy-potato mix back into the pan, lower the heat and give it a little shake to distribute everything. After about 5 minutes, if you have a working non-stick pan, flip the tortilla over using a large plate and cook on the other side for another minute or two until set. Otherwise pop under a hot grill. Serve with a zingy balsamic salad.

strawberry pizza

strawberry pizza

This was supposed to be a strawberry roulade, but the meringue was too fragile for rolling! As a birthday treat for Mrs. Spud, she didn’t mind. When I cut into it, it held it’s shape nicely to the point where you could pick it up to eat – hence, Strawberry Pizza. Massively inaccurate, but makes me smile.

Strawberry pizza (makes a meringue approx 35cm x 20cm):

For the meringue:

3 egg whites

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon white wine vinegar

½ vanilla bean paste

200g caster sugar

1½ teaspoons cornflour

For the cream topping:

200ml double cream

½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste

For the strawberry sauce:

500g strawberries

1 tablespoon honey

For the strawberry garnish:

6 strawberries, quartered

1 tablespoon icing sugar

Zest and juice of half a lemon

½ teaspoon vanilla paste

  1. Heat the oven to 120°C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Whisk the egg whites, salt, vinegar and vanilla until soft peaks form; by hand if you’re bored or using an electric gadget like everyone else. At this point add the sugar and cornflour until stiff.
  3. Smear the meringue in one swooping layer across the baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 2 hours until it is a gorgeous ivory colour and crisp on top.
  4. While it bakes, combine all the strawberry garnish ingredients and leave in the fridge to macerate until needed. For the sauce put all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. Want it rough and ready? Mash with a fork. Want something smoother? Pass through a sieve.
  5. When the meringue has cooled and been removed from the paper, whisk the cream and vanilla together and layer on top of the meringue. Drizzle the sauce over and serve with macerated strawberries on top. If you have some knocking about, some holy basil dotted about would be awesome.

courgette carbonara

courgette carbonara

I am utterly aghast that I have not blogged this before. I must’ve made it half a dozen times and it never fails to delight, yet somehow it fell through the cracks. I was chatting with a colleague that I was having this for dinner and she asked if it was on my blog. “Of course,” I said, “I’ve cooked it loads of times.” And yet there it wasn’t.

This is a great twist on carbonara. It always nags at me that these delicious pasta dishes don’t have a veg component which means cooking something else on the side. You can’t fault the Italians; it’s the way they eat but I prefer to have everything together. I find peas a little too harsh against the creaminess but the addition of courgette is a great one. It’s an idea I’ve lifted from Jamie at Home and it’s really worth trying. I’m also a big fan of dishes where the sauce is cooked in the same time as the pasta so can be up and on the table in under 15 minutes. Brill.

Courgette carbonara (serves 2):

1 large courgette

6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, cut into small pieces

Leaves from a sprig of thyme

150ml double cream

A large handful of grated parmesan

250g penne

2 egg yolks

  1. Get a large pan of salted water on the boil and a big frying pan on a high heat.
  2. Slice your courgette in half, then use a spoon to scoop out the fluffy seeds and discard. Slice the courgette on an angle so you end up with pieces about the same size as the pasta.
  3. Chuck the pasta in to boil and keep checking for when it’s al dente. In your frying pan add a splash of oil and toss in the bacon. Keep frying until crisp on once side, then add the courgette and thyme and give everything a good toss to coat in bacony goodness. Meanwhile in a jug stir together the cream, parmesan and egg yolks and grind over loads of black pepper – it really helps cut through the cream. Toss your courgettes every now and then.
  4. Get a mug and scoop out some of the pasta cooking water to slacken your sauce in a minute. When the pasta is cooked drain, and when the courgettes are starting to go tender turn the heat off of the pan (this is important to avoid scrambling the eggs) and add your creamy mix. Keep stirring it to stop the egg clumping and add a dash of the reserved water. Toss with the pasta, check for seasoning and add a little more water if you need a bit more liquid in your sauce. Serve immediately with a dash more parmesan, this dish doesn’t hang around!