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'Although I cannot lay an egg, I am a very good judge of omelettes' - George Bernard Shaw

‘Although I cannot lay an egg, I am a very good judge of omelettes’ – George Bernard Shaw

It is funny what can make you feel happy. I just found myself thinking: finally, finally it is cold, grey and rainy again – how fabulous that the weather is so dismal and I am so tired, that I want to stay inside, sit behind my laptop and finally write a post again. 🙂

The summer has been filled with long sunny days that were just too short for cooking extensive meals. Therefore the last weeks have been all about quick and easy dinners fixes. This dish has been one of my favourite discoveries: a simple silky omelette with plump and juicy prawns. The flavours are a combination of the saltiness of soy sauce and the delicate garlic of chives. It makes a lovely lunch dish or a light dinner with some fried rice and steamed paksoi.

I came across this Asian dish in the most roundabout way. It all started with a visit to Spain earlier this year and a day trip to Gibraltar. On a lunch menu full of rich and heavy dishes, the “Prawn Omelette” caught my eye.  The combination made so much sense. There I was looking forward to a delicate fluffy omelette, when my plate arrived piled high with these odd crispy fritters. Unfortunately they were greasy and lacked favour, but they had caught my imagination.

I discovered that Tortitas de Camarones, shrimp pancakes, are a specialty of Andalucía. They are made from an egg-less batter of (part) chickpea flour and of course shrimp.  Once home I almost became obsessed with turning, what sounded like a winning combination of ingredients, into a tasty dish. Obstinate as I am, I tried (and failed) over and over again. When I was mean with the oil the results was rubbery, almost slimy. When I gave in and cooked the fritters in generous amounts of oil, the texture was lovely, but the fritters were sickly greasy.

As I was about to make another experimental batch when my eye fell on the beautiful plump prawns I had bought (a variation on the tiny shrimp I had been using until then, in the hope it would improe things). And I realized I just didn’t have the heart to waste these beauties on another failed dish. So instead I decided to make the omelette that I would have wanted to have been served that day. Simple and plain but so satisfyingly delicate. 

The thing I like best about the island of Gibraltar …….is that it inspired me to make Asian Prawn Omelettes....and how it looks in the distance

The thing I like best about the island of Gibraltar …….is that it inspired me to make Asian Prawn Omelettes….and how it looks in the distance

Ingredients
(based on ‘Wokking Mum‘)
Serves 1

Marinated prawns
1 tsp shaoxing rice wine (or dry pale sherry or at a pinch some vermouth or sake, use a little less)
1/4 tsp tapioca- or corn starch
salt
pepper
6 large prawns

Omelette
1 small tomato
1 spring onion
optional: oil
1/2 tbsp tapioca- or corn starch
2 tbsp milk or chicken stock or water
1 tsp soy sauce
optional: a few drops of sesame oil
2 eggs
salt
pepper
chives
optional: oyster sauce

 

Recipe

  1. Combine the rice wine with the starch and mix until smooth.
  2. Add the salt, pepper and prawns. Refrigerate until ready to use. .
  3. Skin the tomatoes (bring a small pot of water to the boil. Cut a cross into the skin of the tomato. Briefly drop into the hot water. Remove and skin.)
  4. Dice the tomato. If it is very juicy you might want to discard the seeds.
  5. Chop the spring onion.
  6. If using, heat a little oil small pan. Fry the prawns until 80% cooked. Remove from the pan.
  7. Combine the starch with the milk, stock or water and mix until smooth.
  8. Whisk in the two eggs.
  9. Season with soy sauce, sesame oil (optional), salt and pepper.
  10. Add the tomato, spring onion and prawns to the egg mix.
  11. Pour the mixture back into the pan.
  12. Reduce the heat and cook until the egg is 90% set.
  13. Chop the chives.
  14. Plate and sprinkle with chives and oyster sauce, if using. 

Tips & Variations
After you have cooked the prawns add some thinly sliced onions and/or bean sprouts to your pan


Serve with
Fried rice and paksoi or sugar snaps

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An effortless, spectacular breakfast treat.  Oh baby, what a discovery!

An effortless, spectacular breakfast treat.
Oh baby, what a discovery!


I love to travel – an even bigger hobby than food (ok, that is cheating as travel always involves food).  Usually travelling is about discovering faraway places and exotic lands. Which makes it even more special to discover a hidden gems on my own doorstep.  Again, I am not being accurate… this discovery was not quite THAT close to home, to be honest.

I was visiting friends up in the north. They took me to visit this little town so far off in the northern corner of the country that my navigation system actually took me through Germany on my way home. But back to this amazing place, the fortress town of Bourtange.

A short history of the place: it was built, it fell into ruin and it was rebuilt. To add some dates to that 1593, 1851, 1967. But those facts really do not say much. That is why I borrowed the below picture from the town’s website.

 

 

Stellar discovery - Bourtagne fortress

Stellar discovery – Bourtange fortress

 

The reason for the fortresses star shaped design was the increased use of the canon in battle in the 15th century. The old medieval ring shaped fortresses proved vulnerable to cannon fire, which resulted in the rise of the star shaped fortress first in Italy and then throughout Europe.

But as I said at the beginning of this post: travel always involves food and this little trip was no exception.  Before we set out in the morning I was treated to a fabulous breakfast. It has become quite a tradition that, whenever I visit, we start the day in the kitchen were HMM and I get to chat whilst JMM conjures up the most amazing treats for us – like those tasty scones I posted a while back.

So here I am sitting in a Dutch kitchen about to discover the skillet pancake which in the States is apparently also known as Dutch Baby Pancake or German Pancake. As I have never seen one of these babies either in the Netherlands or in Germany I was a little puzzled, but Wikipedia is quick to explain that these pancakes were the invention of a Seattle restaurant in the first half of the 19th century and that the use of “Dutch” was s a corruption of the German, “Deutsch”.  But enough talk of faraway places, time for food:

These pancakes are whipped up within no time and are much less effort than regular pancakes as they cook all on their own in the oven. The pancake puffs up magically whilst baking and it is at its best if the crust is lightly crispy whereas the center still has a custardy texture.

These fluffy make a great vehicle for any type of topping: I was treated to icing sugar and apple sauce, but you could add fresh berries, oven-roast strawberries,caramelized pear – the variations are endless.

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Ingredients
Serves 1-2

 

1 tbsp oil or 2 tbsp butter
3 eggs (room temperature)
60g all-purpose flour
120ml milk
a few drops of stevia (maple syrup, or sugar)
a pinch of salt
a few drops of vanilla essence
optional: a pinch of cinnamon


Recipe

  1. The batter can be prepared the night before and kept in the fridge. (I find they turn out even better when rested.)
  2. Heat the oven to 200C. Place a skillet or oven dish in the oven to heat up.
  3. Once the dish is hot add a few tablespoons of oil or butter.
  4. Whisk the eggs until well combined.
  5. Add the milk, stevia, salt, vanilla and cinnamon if using.
  6. Add the flour. Combine well.
  7. Pour the patter into the piping hot oven dish.
  8. Bake for 20-30 min. It should rise beautifully. You are looking for a golden center and a lightly dark edge.
  9. Serve hot as it will fall very quickly
  10. Toppings are endless, but I adore strawberries and icing sugar.

 

Tips & Variations

  • add some berries to the batter
  • add some lemon zest instead of the cinnamon
  • make small pancakes by baking them in a muffin pan and reducing the cooking time slightly
  • want something slightly similar but savory – try this Yorkshire Pudding recipe


Serve with

  • apple sauce and icing sugar
  • fresh strawberries and icing sugar
  • fresh berries and yoghurt
  • lemon juice and maple syrup
  • brown sugar
  • caramelized pears
  • stewed (frozen) fruit or raspberry apple compote

Other pancake recipes

 

Pumpkin Quinoa Pancakes

Pumpkin Quinoa Pancakes

Pancakes Buckwheat

Pancakes Buckwheat

Pancakes Ryeflour Pear

Pancakes Ryeflour Pear

Oat Banana Pancakes

Oat Banana Pancakes

Buckwheat Blinis

Buckwheat Blinis

Socca Pancake

Socca Pancake

Oat Egg White Pancakes

Oat Egg White Pancakes

Rice Pancake

Rice Pancake

Rice Patties

Rice Patties

Apple Pancake Rings

Apple Pancake Rings

Buckwheat Crepe

Buckwheat Crepe

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

 

The first days of spring always feel so tentative and so restrained: watery sunshine, pale buds. I wondered what I liked so much about this insipid season last year. And then spring burst out in its full extravagance. Suddenly there are almost endless hours of day-light (none of that hopeless saving of time). Everywhere you look there are vibrant greens bursting into life.

And then out of the blue there is Easter (was it not only just Christmas?)

As a kid Easter was spent hunting for eggs at my grandmother’s.  Usually we first coloured them with those brightartificialdyes that came in tablet form, but I will never forget the year that my uncle arrived with all these littlesachet of natural dyes….including dried red insects. (The seed for my fascination for unusual ingredients was planted at a young age 🙂 )

Besides painting eggs we do not really have any family Easter traditions…Except for eating together of course. This means that I am free to experiment with other people’s foody traditions 🙂  One wonderful discovery has been this beautiful braided sweet bread circled around a dyed egg.

The tradition of eating sweetened bread for Easter may date back as far as the Homeric Greek period (ca. 1100–800 BC). The eggs echo the significance of Easter as they are traditionally connected with rebirth, rejuvenation and immortality. Or, viewed from a more practical perspective: eggs were forbidden during Lent, after 40 days there would have been plenty of eggs that had to be used up.

This bread tastes wonderfully sweet and light; it looks stunning on any Easter brunch table.

NB: Nowadays I tend to opt for slightly less exotic ingredients for dying eggs. For some ideas pop over to my post on dying eggs with natural ingredients.

Wishing you a Happy Easter!

 

 

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Ingredients
(from the blog ‘Italian Dish‘)
4 breads


230ml (1,25 cups) milk
80g (1/3 cup) butter
1 package of instant yeast (about 3 tsp)
pinch of salt
80g (1/2 cup) sugar
2 eggs
350-500g (3,5 cups) flour
1 egg
6 dyed eggs (they can be dyed raw as they will bake in the oven)

 

Recipe

  1. In a small saucepan, warm the milk and butter until the butter just melts. Do not let the milk get too hot (or allow it too cool before adding it to the yeast).
  2. In a large bowl combine yeast, salt and sugar.
  3. Add the eggs and mix.
  4. Add the warm (not hot!) milk and butter mix.
  5. Add about half the flour and combine using the dough hooks of your mixer. Mix until smooth.
  6. Slowly add the remaining flour to form stiff dough. (The amount of flour needed will vary. You are looking for dough that is not sticky any more.)
  7. Knead the dough (either by hand or in a stand mixer) until the dough is pliable and soft.
  8. Lightly oil a bowl. Place the dough inside. Cover with cling film and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled – for about one hour.
  9. Prepare two baking trays by lining them with parchment paper.
  10. Punch down the dough. Divide into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope (about 2.5cm / 1 inch thick and about 35cm/ 14 inch long).
  11. Taking three pieces at a time, braid them together. Loop into a circle, tucking the ends inside.
  12. Cover with cling film and allow to rise in a warm place until double – for about 30 minutes.
  13. Heat the oven to 175C (350F).
  14. Beat the remaining egg and brush over the bread.
  15. Place a dyed egg in the center of each bread, pushing it down slightly.
  16. Bake about 20 min until ht bread is golden brown.
  17. Allow to cool on a rack.
  18. Note: If you leave the bread out for a few hours you should no longer eat the eggs.

More Easter and egg recipes

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I have mentioned before, that I started blogging because I wanted to keep a record of what I cook (just for myself) and wanted to find a way of sharing my recipe with friends and family (without bombarding them with endless emails). Little did I know that blogging would introduce me to a whole new world of blogging friends that share my passion for food. I have met so many lovely new people, like Vanya who I have really been enjoying to get to know through her stories,  recipes and the comments she leave on my posts.

And then one day Vanya took me by surprise by invting me for a visit – blogger style. A few weeks back she hosted me as a guest on her blog and I brought some Beet Muffins to celebrate the occasion. Of course I immidiately wanted to return the honour, by inviting her to do a guest post on my blog. She had a few suggestions for recipes of which one immidiately caught my eye: Arabian Fried Eggs. I was mystified and curious. But let me make way for Vanya to explain this magnificent recipe further:

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Fried hard boiled eggs are a common feature in many Middle Eastern households but you will find this most commonly in Egypt. I first came across this recipe in the Middle Eastern cookbook, Traditional Arabic Cooking by Miriam Al Hashimi. According to the author, if you take a walk through the markets of Cairo, you can find traders selling tiny packets or conesof blended spices which are used for flavouring the fried eggs.

There are several different variations based on the blend of spices. The one I decided to try was the sumac-sesame seed blend.

Sumac is a flowering shrub and the dried fruit drupes of this plant is ground to get a crimson red tangy spice that is used extensively in Middle Eastern cooking. This spice has a tangy, lemony, citrusy flavour that goes well in salad dressings and with grilled meats. Sumac is easily available these days at most supermarkets or in specialty Middle Eastern food stores.

This dish makes a delicious and pretty accompaniment or starter to any meal. So here’s the recipe for Baid Mutajjan or fried hard boiled eggs rolled in sumac-sesame seed spice blend.

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Ingredients

5 fresh eggs
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp sumac
2 tbsp sesame seeds
salt – to season
fresh coriander leaves – finely chopped, for garnish


Recipe

  1. Hard boil the eggs, remove shell and cut into halves. Season lightly with salt.
  2. Dry roast the sesame seeds till light golden; make sure not to burn.
  3. Coarsely grind the sumac and sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle and keep aside.
  4. In a flat pan, heat oil (on medium heat) and place the eggs yolk side down. A bit of splutter is expected. (You can fry the eggs whole too without cutting into halves but ensure that you prick a couple of holes with a fork to avoid the eggs from exploding.)
  5. After a minute or two, turn the eggs over and fry another minute. Remove from flame.
  6. Roll or dust the eggs with the sumac-sesame seed blend. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves just before serving.

 For more of Vanya’s amazing recipes visit her site Skinny Chef de Cuisine.

 

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Xin Nian Kuai Le! Happy Lunar New Year and welcome to the Year of the Wooden Horse!

Eggs for prosperity - the state of flourishing, thriving and good fortune

Eggs for prosperity – the state of flourishing, thriving and good fortune

I do not know anything about Chinese astrology, but I read that “Horse energy is free spirited, wild, willful, and independent. Horse has a refined instinct that acts fast, on the spot. (….) The Wood Horse year is a time of fast victories, unexpected adventure, and surprising romance. It is an excellent year for travel, and the more far away and off the beaten path the better. Energy is high and production is rewarded. Decisive action, not procrastination, brings victory. But you have to act fast in a Horse year. If you are not 100% secure about a decision, then don’t do it. Events move so quickly in a Horse year that you don’t want to gallop off in the wrong direction.” (Source: Susan Levitt)

Whilst I was googeling info on the Year of the Horse I (re)discovered that apparently I am a horse, and it is going to be quite a ride for me this year. (Actually the predictions vary from an excellent year, to dramatic ups and downs, to a down-right challenging year 🙂 ).

Whatever it may bring, to ring in this New Year a little Asian dish that I like to prepare ahead for a quick weeknight dinner. Although the recipe looks long, this meal is not a lot of work. The meat does need to marinade so I like to throw it together the day before. After a long days work, I just pop it in the oven and have a feast ready in just over half an hour.

If you are looking for a speedy dinner, just steam a little rice and stir-fry some (oyster) mushrooms with spinach as a side. This chicken is also lovely with vermicelli noodles mixed with a lot of fresh herbs. Or cold soba with mango and spring onion. The variations are endless; just keep in mind that the dish comes without sauce so it is important to serve it with something fresh and crunchy or something juicy.

By the way, I have made this dish with quail eggs (special), with regular eggs (nice) and without any eggs (fabulously fuss-free). Another festive variation is to serve the chicken with some Marbled Tea Eggs. They are not much more work but take a little more time to prepare.

Wishing you peace and good health in the Year of the Horse! (馬年安康)

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Ingredients
(found on the blog ‘Cooking in Sense‘)
Serves 3-4

For the chicken

5 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp sake (or Chinese rice wine or dry sherry)
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar
4 garlic cloves
a piece of ginger as large as 2 garlic cloves
1 mild green chilli
8-9 chicken drumsticks (2-3 a person)
spring onion
sesame seeds

Optional: For the eggs
9-12 fresh quail eggs or 3-4 regular eggs
6 garlic cloves
1/2 red chilli
1/2 green chilli
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar
 

Recipe

To prepare the chicken:

  1. Make a marinade by combine the soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar in a freezer bag or bowl.
  2. Slice the garlic, ginger and chili into slices and add to the marinade.
  3. You can leave the skin on the chicken, I prefer to remove it (loosen the skin with your fingers. Pull back over the leg. Grab the skin with a piece of kitchen paper to pull it off easily.)
  4. Wash and dry the chicken and add to the marinade. Refrigerate overnight or at least 3 hours.

Optional: To prepare the egg:

  1. Cook the eggs (quail: 4 min, regular: 10 min)
  2. Remove the eggs from the water. Keep the water. Rinse the eggs under cold water and allow to cool until you can peel them.
  3. Add soy sauce, mirin and sugar to the hot water.
  4. Place the peeled eggs into the sauce. Simmer for 15 min.
  5. Halve the garlic cloves and add to the water.
  6. Slice the chili and add.
  7. Simmer another 5 minutes.
  8. The eggs can be served warm or at room temperature. They can be made the day before and stored in the liquid in the fridge.

To finish the dish:

  1. Remove chicken and eggs from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature for 15 min.
  2. Heat the oven to 200C (390F).
  3. Line an oven dish with aluminum foil.
  4. Place the chicken in the oven dish.
  5. Roast for 20 min. Turn and roast another 15-25 min.
  6. Cut the spring onion into thin rings.
  7. Plate the chicken with the eggs (cut regular eggs in half) and sprinkle with spring onion and sesame seeds.

 

Tips & Variations

For a simpler meal leave out the eggs, for a more special dish make some Marbled Tea Eggs the day before


Serve with

  • Stir-fried (oyster) mushrooms with spinach and steamed rice.
  • Cold salad of vermicelli with chopped herbs and red capsicum (bell pepper, DE/ NL: paprika) with a dressing of fish sauce, lime and chili and a sprinkling of cashew.
  • A cold salad of soba noodles with mango and spring onion and a dressing of sesame – and chili oil.
Tea and soy infused eggs

Tea and soy infused eggs


Although the snow outside makes it look more like Christmas, it is Easter again. To go with the non-traditional weather we are making some unconventional Easter eggs: Marbled Chinese Tea Eggs. They take little effort and look absolutely stunning.  You can use regular eggs or try quail eggs for an even cuter result.

These eggs are super tasty and not only for Easter. They make a great snack or little side dish for a dim sum style dinner; or add them to a salads and stir fries.

 

Ingredients
6 regular eggs (or 18 quail eggs)
6 tbsp light soya sauce
2 tbsp dark sweet soya sauce
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
3 pieces of whole star anise
8 black peppercorns, left whole
1 long cinnamon stick
1 tea bag or 2 tbsp loose black tea leaves

Recipe

  1. Place the eggs in a large saucepan or pot, and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil, and then remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. (Place quail eggs in boiling water for 4 minutes)
  2. Use a slotted spoon to place the eggs in an ice bath for a few minutes. Leaving the hot water in the pot.
  3. Once the eggs are cool enough to handle, tap and roll them to break the shells all over.
  4. Add the soy sauces, salt, sugar, star anise, cinnamon, pepper corns to the hot water.
  5. Hang the tea bag into the water (or sprinkle in the tea leaves.)
  6. Return the cracked eggs to the pot.
  7. Cover and bring to the boil. Cook at a low simmer for 2 hours. Ensure that the eggs are covered in liquid, adding water if necessary.
  8. Turn off the heat and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate the eggs in the liquid over night.

Tips & Variations

Consider some of the following

  • Chinese five spice powder
  • mandarin rind or juice


Other Easter egg recipes

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A cake as ligth as a cloud carrying the scent of lemon

A cake as ligth as a cloud carrying the scent of lemon

Happy blog birthday to me! Not only that, this is actually also my 100th post!

It is incredible to realize that a whole year has passed since my first post.  It has been such a fabulous experience: it began with nothing more than my passion for food. I simply decided to start an on-line recipe collection; as I was constantly chewing everyone’s ear off about recipes and food anyway. I was actually taken by surprise when I read the first comments from strangers and I was completely blown away when I got my first followers. It really is a fantastic feeling to know that your passion has touched someone else.

Whilst hunting for new taste experiences to share, I became more and more interested in healthy food. Dishes that not only taste good but that truly nourish my body. It has been a great journey with some marvelous discoveries. I found out you can replace the fat in baked goods with apple sauce (Zucchini  Apple Muffin, Oat Blueberry Muffin). Also quite unexpectedly cauliflower became my new favourite vegetable (Mash, Hummus, Tabouleh, Couscous, Pasta).

So for my birthday I decided to bake myself a cake that tastes decadent but is low in fat and easy to make . It’s a good thing that this recipe is relatively healthy as I had way too much of it already; it is just so beautifully light and airy. Great with a cup of coffee in the afternoon, as desert or as a snack (and I have tested all of the above!)

Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving your messages and comments – I so enjoy reading your thoughts and feedback. I am looking forward to the year ahead and many more great discoveries and experiences!

Ingredients
(found on the blog ‘O Pistachio‘)
Two 15cm cake tins or one 22cm tin


butter for greasing cake tin
4 large eggs
110g (1/2 cup) superfine (caster) sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose (plain) flour
500g (1 2/3 cup) fat free Greek-style yoghurt (see tips for alternative)
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon

Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 175C (350F).
  2. Cut out a round disk of parchment paper to cover the base of two 15cm (or one 22cm) round cake tins. Grease the tin well.
  3. Separate the eggs. Whisk the eggs whites until they are stiff and form soft peaks.
  4. In a separate bowl beat together egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy.
  5. Beat in the flour.
  6. Then beat in the yoghurt, lemon zest and juice.
  7. Carefully fold the egg whites under the yoghurt mix.
  8. Pour into the baking tins.
  9. Bake for about 50-60 minutes (for one large tin you might have to increase the baking time).
  10. The cake should be moist but springy to the touch. (The cake will rise at first, but will then collapse again.)
  11. Best served cold (although you might also like it warm).

Tips & Variations

Instead of Greek yoghurt you can also strain regular yoghurt in a cheese cloth for a while.