Turning Japanese: 1 egg tamagoyaki (卵焼き)

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Making 卵焼き (Japanese omelette)

After some failed attempts (I was using a pan that was way too big), I finally managed to make a Japanese omelette of which I wouldn’t be embarrassed to post a picture! 🙂

Instructions come via Maki of Just Bento, a wonderful site if you’re into Japanese food (as I am).

It is also a wonderful alternative to hard-boiled eggs if you are planning a picnic.

 

いただきます! (Bon appétit!)

Jubilee picnic food

 

 

Everybody seems to be in Jubilee picnic food mode. Nigella has come up with a whole bunch of Jubilee-themed ideas and so has Jamie.

I didn’t want to be any less (as if…) so I decided to make my humble contribution to the festivities…

Even though the weather is not with us this weekend apparently (translation: it is v. wet and rather chilly today) we can still celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee with some tasty food.

 

Croquetitas de pollo © Gabriela R.

This is so typically Spanish, I am not even translating the title. It is a traditional component of the tapas where you would get a selection of both hot and cold nibbles. A relative of that would be what we in Argentina know as picada.

 

Ingredients:

 ¾ cup leftover roast chicken, chopped as finely as you can

½ cup thick béchamel sauce

1 tbsp grated onion

1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped very finely

1 tbsp. red pepper, chopped very finely (optional)

1 egg yolk

Salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste

 

To coat:

 flour

1 or 2 eggs, whisked

Breadcrumbs, sifted

Vegetable oil for frying

 

 

Mix everything and shape them into small (golf sized) balls. Dust in flour, making sure to get rid of the excess, dunk them in the egg and roll them in the breadcrumbs. Put them on a tray and place them in the fridge until you’re ready to fry them. That way, you minimize the risk of them falling apart as they fry.

Fry them in hot oil and drain them on kitchen paper before you eat them. Nice hot or cold.

Scotch eggs © Gabriela R.

 

Scotch eggs are ideal for picnics as portable food. They are also a lot more interesting than a plain boiled egg, of which I have fond memories of eating at the beach in Miramar (if the weather was particularly windy, we would always invariably have it with a rather unwanted and sandy seasoning!). In Britain, it is traditionally made with sausage meat which is shop-bought (even Jamie uses it so if he condones it, it’s fine by me). In Argentina, however, this product is not commercially available (and I would be mad to make it from scratch just for this recipe).  I had, however, leftover mixture from the croquetitas (see above). So instead of turning the whole batch into croquetas, I had an eureka moment and wondered how it would taste if I used it in lieu of the sausage meat for an impromptu snack with a British vibe. It was spot on.

 

Ingredients:

 

Boiled eggs, as needed

Leftover chicken croquetitas mixture

 

To coat:

 

Flour

Egg, whisked

Breadcrumbs

 

 

Poach the eggs in boiling water for 5 or 6   minutes. You want them quite soft as this stage because they will continue to cook as they fry and cool down. The egg white has to be firm enough for you to be able to peel them but the yolk has to be very runny. That way, you will still get a runny yolk at the end.

Peel them under cold, running water and, once cold, wrap them in the chicken mixture. I simply used my hands to do this but a very handy trick can be to put the mixture on a piece of clingfilm and place it inside a cup (bigger than the egg, obviously). Then place the boiled egg inside and, using the clingfilm to help you, wrap the meat around it. It must cover it completely. Peel the clingfilm, dust each egg in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Place in the fridge for at least 15 minutes and then fry in vegetable oil.

 

 

French tomato salad © Gabriela R.

This is so simple it’s not even a recipe. I was told, however, that the traditional way of serving tomato salad in France is with some fresh, chopped garlic.

 Slice beef tomatoes into fine slices and arrange them nicely however you want. Chop some garlic and scatter it on top. You can finish it off with some fresh chopped parsley.

 


The Alternate Fondue

 

 

With Valentine’s Day right on your doorstep I thought it’d be fun to share recipes which don’t necessarily yield 6 + servings.

Feel like cheese fondue but there’s only two of you to share it ? This is a great and original alternative to get it out of your system.

I was strongly influenced by Nigel Slater when making this recipe although I have to say I’ve seen mutations of it practically everywhere, there’s even one in the Desperate Housewives cookbook. I can’t  really remember who was cooking it but my guess would be Bree? LOL

 

 

Fondue de Camembert – © Gabriela R.

Serves 2

1 good-quality camembert in a wooden box

½ garlic clove (or a whole one if you really like it!)

about 1 tbsp. white wine

To serve:

pickled gherkins (optional)

torn white or brown bread

 

 

Take the camembert out of the box and put it aside. Rub the bottom of the wooden box vigorously with the half clove of garlic.  Take the camembert out of the paper wrap and discard it. Place the camembert inside the wooden box. Make a hole in the middle with a skewer and pour the wine inside (a medical syringe works wonders for this). Bake in a preheated oven at 150C for about 15 minutes or until the cheese starts to burst. (When it happens, you’ll know, believe me). If it’s properly done, the cheese will have melted completely and the only thing holding it together will be the white crust.

Serve immediately with some warm bread and pickled gherkins.

Note: whether you cover the cheese with the wooden lid before baking it in the oven is up to you. It works both with and without it.

My Big Fat Greek Lunch II

This time I made Mαριναρισμένες ελιές, that’s marinated olives for you. And darn tasty they were too. I don’t know if this is authentic Greek cuisine or not but it’s the way I made them and they were really, really good.

There are two ways of making this. Either you make the marinated olives, leave them for a week and then add the feta cheese (before serving or with the olives) or you can do the marinade first, divide it in two and add olives to one and cubed feta cheese to the other. Both ways are delicious.

There’s only one drawback: you need to leave them for a week (yes, A WHOLE WEEK!) before eating them and I can assure you, it is really hard when you have that jar of freshly-made olives and cheese looking at you just waiting to be eaten as part of a  Μεζεδάκια, perhaps as a prelude to Σουβλάκι?

The wait, needless to say, is well worth it.

Mαριναρισμένες ελιές

Marinated olives (with feta cheese)© Gabriela R.

Make a basic vinaigrette with salt, pepper, vinegar and about 1 cup olive oil. Add whole garlic (or crush them a bit if you like it more garlicky). Add some dried chilli pepper and herbs torn by hand. Add green olives, mix well and add some feta cheese, cubed. Place in a sterilized jar. Add a slice of lemon and top up with olive oil. Make sure it is completely full of oil and has no air gaps. Close the lid and leave it for a week before eating.

As part of this little meze, I also made some olive paste which turned out to be delicious but not very photogenic, so I decided to do without a photo.

If you have a food processor, you’ll be laughing with this recipe. I don’t have one so I wasn’t laughing. I used my very reliable pestle and mortar.

That’s why there were some olive chunks in the paste but, since it was only for me and not for a function or a customer, I didn’t mind. I actually prefer it like this.

Olive paste – adapted from a recipe by Vefa Alexiadou

This is a delicious meze served with ouzo.

Makes 250ml

50g cashew nuts
400g stoned black olives, sliced
3 tbs olive oil (optional)
1-2 tbs red wine vinegar
½ tsp dried oregano
1 small garlic clove (optional)

Put the nuts into a food processor and grind to a smooth paste. (I used the pestle and mortar).

Add the remaining ingredients and process for 1-2 minutes, until the mixture is well blended. Serve with crackers, spread on sandwiches, or use as a sauce for cooked pasta.

Magic in the kitchen

I cannot begin to tell you how log it’s been since I’ve had warm garrapiñadas… I was longing to make them. And finally the time came.

I made them this morning and it made me think of why I am passionate about what I do for there is a bit of magic in the process. One minute you have all these nuts swimming in syrup, then sticky caramel when you start to wonder whether you’ve ruined the whole thing and then, there they are, in the blink of an eye everything is transformed.

But without further ado I leave you… THE RECIPE.


Garrapiñadas


For the syrup:


200ml water

200g caster sugar

150g nuts (I used a mix of walnuts, cashews and almonds but you can use pretty much anything you like including peanuts)

Put the water, sugar and nuts in a pan and stir over low heat with a wooden spoon until the water evaporates and the nuts are dressed in a beautiful coat of sugar.

That’s it.

Rainy days and lángos

Try as I might, I didn’t manage to find it during my short trip to Budapest where it’s a popular street-food.

But I do remember it from my childhood.

I remember rainy days in the seaside town of Chapadmalal, on holidays with my best friend and her five siblings and her mom coming to feed us. Now, practicity was always her strong point.

And what would you feed seven very hungry young mouths? It had to be something unfussy, quick to make, not messy to eat and the most important thing, it had to be good. The answer was, of course, lángos, a speciality from her native Hungary, which was simplicity itself.

You see, even at a young age, I was very inquisitive and I would pester everyone I knew into telling me in detail how something I had just eaten had been made. Luckily for me, Herminia, my friend’s mom, was always very generous and very patient with me.

She would simply fry pizza dough, drain and pile the lángos up while they were still piping hot, and my friend Alejandra, her siblings and me would gobble them up scrubbing a garlic clove on top and sprinkling some salt on them. I can tell you, to this day, I’ve never eaten something more delicious than this.

I know in Hungary they would sometimes do them  with cheese but I only knew the plain variety. Not that I am complaining for lángos will forever remain linked to beautiful childhood memories for me.


Thanks, Herminia, for teaching me how to make this tasty snack!!

Good old pestle and mortar



Jamie Oliver’s enthusiasm for the pestle and mortar is contagious.

Indeed, I confess to having bought mine after he enthused the virtues of such gadget in his earlier series of The Naked Chef. Then, it lay neglected for a long time until I moved on my own and I became its number one fan. I can’t think of any other thing which is so versatile: you can make pesto, bash spices, grind pepper and even, make mayonnaise. Well, aïoli at least. When you have as few gadgets as I do in the kitchen this one becomes invaluable.

So there I was the other day watching Jamie’s antics around several countries and having a go at cooking the local dishes.

As he was pounding ingredients in his pestle and mortar on an Andalusian beach he seemed totally happy. Apart from his knees (where he placed the chopping board), a knife, and the pestle and mortar he didn’t seem to need anything else to cook. And I can totally empathise with the lack of space.

So when I saw him making aïoli with just three ingredients I knew I had to try it.

Even though I had fulfilled my culinary duty of the day (I’d just made marinated olives), I set out to making aïoli with home-made nachos.

Now aïoli is not for the faint-hearted and you do have to love garlic. It is deceptively simple, just garlic, salt and oil, but as it’s often the case with seemingly simple things, it can go wrong.

Luckily mine didn’t split but you do have to have some patience (and some strength in your arm) if you’re doing it Jamie’s way with the pestle and mortar. It will be dead easy with a blender or a liquidizer but I haven’t got one.

I realised half way through doing it that Jamie’s programme had been brilliantly edited for mine took a lot longer. Nevertheless I was happy, as only someone who’s doing something productive can feel and I almost felt like Jamie, minus the beach, the sun and the Spanish sea of course.


Aïoli – adapted from Jamie’s website


For the aioli:


• 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled
• a pinch of saffron (I didn’t have any left so mine looks white, unlike Jamie’s)
• sea salt
• 50ml olive oil
• 50ml good-quality Spanish extra virgin olive oil

Pound and mush up the garlic, saffron and a good pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle until you’ve got a smooth vibrant orange paste. Use the pestle to mix in the olive oil, a drizzle at a time. Be patient and wait until you’ve got a smooth emulsion before adding the next drizzle. Do the same with the extra virgin olive oil. If it splits, pour the mixture out, pound some more garlic and salt together, then really slowly add the split mixture to that. Be patient! Have a taste. Initially it will be fiery and you’ll think you don’t like it, but it’s supposed to be that way. Add a squeeze or two of juice from your peeled lemon and taste again.

Serve with home-made nachos. Also brilliant with fish or in a tomato salad.