Well I was hoping to do a really special 250th recipe, but due to my busy schedule I didn’t get round to it. Instead what I had to do was try and empty my freezer of as many things as possible before I left for Texas, which meant a lot of fish after my big order from The Fish Society (an excellent website, by the way). So it is quite bizarre that this little landmark recipe has to have the least English name! The ingredients are very English and despite the French name, the dish was created by an Englishman called Christopher Snow. The exciting thing about this recipe, is the inclusion of the smoked cod’s roe – quite a cheap ingredient, but tricky to find, and one I’ve never eaten before. It looked quite scary and alien-esque in its packet and I wasn’t sure about it, but it is part of the fun of this experiment. Plus none of the meat or fish has been bad thus far….
This is a very easy dish to prepare as there is hardly any cooking required at all. The recipe serves four, but it can be easily increased or decreased in ratios for any number:
Start off by boiling four large eggs; Griggers is very precise about this, so listen good. Place the eggs into already boiling water and leave for precisely six minutes (seven if they are extra large eggs). Remove and run under the cold water to cool them down. Meanwhile, cut four slices of wholemeal bread and cut them into circles, removing a smaller circle from the centre and butter them and then place them in the centre of a plate. Now prepare the roe: peel away the skin of a four ounce roe and beat the pink centre with four tablespoons of double cream until thick, this should only take thirty seconds and then season with black pepper. Peel the cool eggs and wrap a piece of smoked salmon around each one and place it in the little brown bread stand you have made. Lastly, spoon the roe sauce over the egg (this is quite tricky as it is quite thick, so I did a quenelle instead, pretty posh, eh?).
#250 Oeufs Mollets Christophe. “Occasionally when one goes out for a meal, some dish appears which is so delicious and simple that one is angry not have thought of it oneself” says the Grigson. Well I wouldn’t go that far, but it was pretty good. The eggs were cooked to perfection using her method – the yolks were still runny and creamy and complemented the smoked salmon very well (a classic combination, of course). The smoked cod’s roe was really delicious too, rich and heady with natural hot smoke, the only problem was that it was so very rich and it needed some lemon juice to cut through it, I think. That or just less of it. I think with a little alteration, this could be really excellent. 7/10.
I had a few friends round for my 33rd birthday last week and thought it would be a good excuse to do some of the finger foods in the book. This is a slightly strange one and the anchovy-based recipes have been pretty hit-and-miss. I couldn’t really see anything that was hit about this recipe: anchovies, boiled eggs and cream. However, I’ve been surprised more times than disappointed doing this blog….
To make your very own anchovy matchsticks, start off by rolling out 8 ounces of puff pastry into two rectangles thinly. Place anchovy fillets in rows, spacing them around 1 ½ inches apart on one piece of pastry. Next, make the egg filling: mash together 2 hard-boiled eggs with a tablespoon of cream and a little salt and pepper. Carefully add a stripe of egg over the fillets, before painting egg wash over the gaps and placing the other piece of pastry over that. Press down and cut into ‘matchsticks’. Glaze with more egg and bake in the oven at 220⁰C for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot.
#247 Anchovy Matchsticks. These were absolutely vile. The combinations of the hot boiled egg and salty fish made my stomach turn. Horrible, horrible, horrible. 1/10
‘An inexpensive luxury’, says Jane Grigson of smoked sprats. That sentence should be now changed to: ‘An expensive luxury’. How times have changed. I’m not sure why smoked sprats aren’t more widely available because fresh sprats certainly are, so it’s not like they are hard to come by. The only place I’ve seen them is The Fish Society’s website. You eat smoked sprats whole, rather like whitebait, the difference of course, is that they are quite a lot bigger than tiny whitebait.
Anyways, my friends Simon and Rachel came over to visit after their super-amazing trip around South America. They blogged it, natch, have a look-see at it here. I thought smoked sprats would make a great starter. Because my friend Stuart – a staunch vegetarian – came along too so I served some pickled eggs, remember them? Have a look here to see they were made.
To cook the sprats, simply grill them and serve them with lemon wedges and brown bread and butter. To eat them, pull off their heads and tails and eat. If that seems a little too much, you can remove the fillets from each side with your thumb.
#240 Smoked Sprats. I really liked these alot. The problem of bones/guts was, in the end, a non-issue. The bones were just the right side of not being too crunchy or sharp. They were quite strongly smoked, but also sweet in flavour and not over-powering like some cured fishes can be. If you see some, be sure to give them a go. 8.5/10
#232 Pickled Eggs. These were also very good – they required a little wait for the viengar to work its pickling magic, but were worth it. If you’ve had vile pub pickled eggs, don’t be put off by these. the white wine vinegar made them very subltly sharp and the chillies in the pickling liquor lent a decent spicy-punch to them. 7/10.
Ah, the pickled egg, one of England’s most traditional and bizarre delicacies; and they are certainly not to everyone’s tastes. Usually to be found in the fish and chip shop or the pub, they are strange creatures; like little biological specimens bobbing about in their brown malt vinegar jars. I reckon that people automatically expect to dislike them, and they probably would do; however, this recipe in English Food seems very good. The main reason why a pub pickled egg is snubbed that they are pickled in pure malt vinegar which makes them far too harsh. This recipe uses white wine vinegar and quail’s eggs over hen’s eggs, which means they are tiny and bite-sized rather than a great big chore. You can use hen’s eggs for this recipe though as the spiced vinegar seems so much more subtle and sweet. In fact if you ever do get a load of hen’s eggs, this would be a good way to store them. They take two weeks to pickle, so I don’t actually know what they taste like yet; we shall have to wait and see (see here
how they were).
First of all, you need to make your pickling vinegar and the amount you required will depend upon the number of eggs you want to pickle. I had dozen quail’s eggs and so only needed half a pint to fill one large jar. I’ll give you the amounts for two pints of pickling vinegar as provide by Griggers herself, you can alter amount as required. Pour two pints of white wine vinegar into a pan along with half an ounce each of fresh peeled ginger, mustard seeds and white peppercorns plus three small dried chillies. Bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes. Strain the vinegar and allow to cool. Meanwhile, place the eggs in another pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for two minutes for quail’s eggs and ten minutes for hen’s eggs. You would do well to time the simmering, you don’t want to guess the times and have over-cooked black-ringed yolks. Let the eggs cool also. Shell the eggs and arrange them tightly in a sterilised jar – if hen’s eggs arrange them upright; if quail’s don’t bother as they are far too fiddly. Pour over the spiced vinegar, tuck in the dried chillies and seal tightly. Make sure you use non-metal lids as the metal will be corroded by the acidic vinegar. Leave for two weeks before using in salads or as an hors d’oeuvre, says the Grigson. I might use them as an excuse to have fish and chips.
A quick one this one.
I made this vegetable soufflé for my mates Stuart and Jamie when they popped round to watch a DVD and have a few drinks. Stuart is a vegetarian and has never had a soufflé, which I find unbelievable as they appear often as the veggie option on menus. It’s like being vegetarian and saying you never had a mushroom risotto! I’ve not added a photo – there’s been a few soufflés now and they all seem to look the same.
Anyways, to make it, soften some onion and a garlic clove in some butter and add to it some cooked, pureed vegetables, about 7 ounces – spinach would work well. I went for mushrooms; I didn’t puree them, instead I diced them and softened them in the pan with the onions. Now follow the method for the cheese soufflé, though I used half the amount of cheese in it. Fold the vegetables into the mixture before adding the whisked egg whites.
#229 Vegetable Soufflé. These soufflés have all been great thus far. The mushroom and cheese combination is a great one; happily marrying the rich creamy salty tang of the Cheddar with the earthy mushrooms. Very good. 8.5/10
A quickie. I knew that we would have plenty of leftover Bradenham ham from Christmas so I knocked this one up. Follow the recipe for the cheese soufflé but use half the amount of cheese and fold about 8 ounces of chopped ham into it. Alternatively, soften a couple of ounces of onions in butter and add 8 ounces of blanched, minced sweetbreads or cooked brains if you like your offal. You might not wish to include cheese though. Make sure you add some herbs too.
#214 Meat Soufflé. The best way to use up some leftover ham, I reckon. The cheese- ham combo is a classic. The salty-sweet ham and cheese and the creamy egg were perfect. If you’ve never made a soufflé before have a go, they are not as scary as people make out. 8.5/10.
Here is another recipe from Alexis Soyer – the first celebrity chef and all-round (though slightly pompous) good guy. I have mentioned him before in previous posts. I thought I would try this recipe as a test for the veal I bought from Winter Tarn. This seemed like a good mid-week meal as it is quick to cook that seemed nice and satisfying; just what one needs of a Wednesday in rainy Manchester.
Begin by chopping a small onion and a clove of garlic and softening them in a generous ounce of butter. Once soft, turn up the heat to brown them slightly and then add 8 ounces of minced veal. Fry until it has browned slightly. Now add some seasonings, herbs and spices: a rounded teaspoon of salt, half a teaspoon of black pepper, a pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg and a teaspoon of thyme leaves. Next stir through a heaped teaspoon of flour and when that has browned slightly pour in a quarter of a pint of milk (full fat if you can!). Simmer very gently for fifteen to twenty minutes until the mince has become soft and unctuous in its now creamy sauce. Whilst that is happening poach an egg and fry a slice of bread per person. Taste the veal and add more seasonings and ‘sharpen it’ with some lemon juice or white wine vinegar.
Place a slice of fried bread on each plate, then a helping of the veal and finally a poached egg on top.
#204 Minced Veal and Eggs. What seems like a bizarre recipe turned out to be absolutely delicious, the delicate milky veal melds perfectly with the milk in the sauce and the fried bread and poached eggs added to the comfort food kick that I really required. Great stuff. Give it a go; quick and easy. 8/10.
The thrifty cooking is going well – Charlotte and I having been very shrewd. However, when it comes to Sunday dinnertime, I did want a nice big hearty (and pricey) roast. Instead I went for kedgeree. I don’t recall ever having eaten it before, even though I knew exactly what is required to make it. I had high hopes for it: curry, eggs and Finnan (smoked) haddock. What can’t be good about that!? It used to be a breakfast dish, but these days it’s eaten for dinner or tea.
I have been researching the origins of kedgeree, and there seems to be two differing stories: the Scots reckon that it hails from there, and when the lovely British Empire decided to pop over to Asia and add India to its collection, the Scots brought it over too and the curry element was added. The alternative story is that the dish started in India, but then when colonialists came over, they added the smoked fish. I’m going with the latter story – the best evidence is the etymology of the word: kedgeri is the name of a similar Indian dish containing rice, lentils and eggs.
To make kedgeree, start off by poaching a pound of Finnan haddock in barely simmering water for ten minutes. You can use any good-flavoured cured fish, of course, for example kippers, smoked salmon or bloaters. Meanwhile chop a large onion and fry it in olive oil until it browns. Add a teaspoon of curry paste (I used Madras) and fry for a minute. Remove the fish from the water, remove its skin and flake the flesh, removing any bones. To the pan, stir in six ounces of long grain rice and when translucent add a pint of the poaching water. Cover the pan and let it simmer gently until all the water has been absorbed. Gently stir in the flaked fish along with a large knob of butter. Plate out the kedgeree and decorate with quartered hard-boiled eggs, prawns and chopped parsley. Serve with a lemon wedge and mango chutney.
#184 Kedgeree. This did not disappoint – the food was substantial and well-flavoured, but light. The combination of curry and eggs, and of smoked fish and eggs is great. Plus the extra addition of the lemon, prawns and mango chutney; not something I would normally associate with this dish really makes it special. This is a high-scorer – the only gripe (and it is a minor one) is the use of long grain rice, I am a Basmati man myself; it has a nutty flavour and doesn’t go as stodgy. 8/10.
The fishmonger in the Arndale Centre in Manchester was selling sea bass for £1.50 each! What a bargain. I know that they’ve probably been dredged up by one of those massive trawler nets and by buying them I’ve surely helped seal the fate of several marine species, but ignorance is bliss so I won’t try to find out.
To go with the sea bass, I had samphire (see previous entry) and also made some hollandaise sauce. Not technically English, of course, but we’ve used it for so long in our cuisine it seems English – more English than, say mayonnaise anyway – and it is one of my favourite sauces. The trouble is, me and hollandaise has a chequered past; it’s a tricky sauce that is either amazing and delicious, or splits and is awful and goes in the bin. My success rate is around 50%. Griggers’ recipe is slightly different to the classic way of making it as it doesn’t use melted butter, but uses cubes of butter added gradually instead? Is this a foolproof recipe? We shall see…
FYI: hollandaise sauce first appeared as simply melted butter in eighteenth century France, but soon became the complex emulsion of butter and egg yolks we know and love and was added to the list of mother sauces of French cuisine by Escoffier in the early twentieth century (the others being béchamel, veloute, espangole and allemande).
This is the Griggers method (you can multiply up or down depending upon how much you need to make):
Begin by boiling down 3 tablespoons each of water and white wine vinegar and 10 crushed white peppercorns until just a tablespoon remains. Strain it into a bowl and allow to cool. Bring a pan of water to a simmer and place the bowl over it. Beat in three large egg yolks and beat in 6 ounces of unsalted butter bit by bit using a wire whisk. Do not over heat, or the eggs cook and the sauce splits. Season with salt and lemon juice.
#177 Hollandaise Sauce – 9/10. Well that was easy! This may be the fool-proof method I have been after (either that or it was a fluke). The sauce is beautifully rich, with a piquant tang of lemon and vinegar that cut through it so well that you easily drink a pit of the stuff. My only gripe is that this method doesn’t seem to make a very thick sauce, but that is being very nit-picky.
This one is just a quickie: With the bit of smoked trout Butters and me had left over from our trip to the Cheshire Smokehouse, rather than just scoff it au naturelle, I made this smoked fish trout. The recipe is exactly the same as the cheese soufflé I did a wee while ago, the only difference is that the cheese is omitted from the mixture and flakes of up to 8 ounces of any smoked fish you like are folded in after the egg whites are incorporated. The soufflé is topped with a tablespoon each of Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs for a good crunch.
#168 Smoked Fish Soufflé – I gave the cheese soufflé high marks and this was good – if not, better – so I reckon it’s a 9/10. This soufflé recipe is really good – the egg and smoked fish combination in this case really was sublime; the perfect way to use up any off-cuts or leftovers. Brilliant stuff.
P.S. No photo! My stupid camera takes pictures and then they aren’t there when I come to view them.