Sunday, July 01, 2007

Go To Work on an Egg

Picnic suggestions are tortilla wraps (fill with salad and cheese if vegetarian, cooked meats if not), instead of using flour tortillas, use a pancake . Either choice, these can then be wrapped individually in baking paper, to prevent unfolding, and should travel well.

Tortas: Mexican sandwiches - makes four
4 large crusty rolls
8 oz (225g) refried beans (see note below)
4 slices of processed cheese (or cooked meats)
1 small (Webbs) lettuce, shredded finely
half an onion, thinly sliced into rings
2 tomatoes, finely sliced
1 avocado. sliced and dipped in lemon juice
creme fraiche
2 Peppadew (pickled peppers) optional
Cut each roll in half and remove the centres (freeze these to use for crumbs in later dishes). Spread the bottom with the refried beans and then top with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion rings and avocado. Finish with a dollop of creme fraiche and strips of Peppadew. Cover with hollowed out bread lid (which can also have been spread with the beans. Wrap tightly with clingfilm if needing to transport.
Note: Refried beans (Frijoles Refritos) are cooked red beans which have been mashed and fried with a little oil and finely chopped onion. If you like a touch of spice add a drop or two of Tabasco to the beans.

Walnut and Vegetable Pitta Pockets: fills 6 - 8 pitta breads
2 oz (5og) red cabbage, finely shredded (or use white cabbage)
2 oz (50g) carrots, grated
2 oz (50g) baby courgettes, finely sliced
2 oz (50g) beansprouts (optional)
juice of 1 large lemon
4 tblsp walnut or olive oil
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 oz (50g) walnut pieces, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
6 - 8 pitta breads
Mix the vegetables together. In a separate bowl mix together the lemon juice, oil, mustard, stir in the walnuts and season to taste. Pour this over the vegetables. Toss to coat. If using to fill pitta breads, drain the salad , and smear the inside of the pittas with a little butter to prevent the filling softening the bread.
Variation: Very similar in part to coleslaw, this could be used instead. Also try a Waldorf Salad filling (sliced or grated apple with celery and walnuts bound together with mayo).

To use up eggs:
Make up piles of pancakes, interleave and freeze. Make up jars of lemon curd (keeps for up to six weeks in the fridge). Make home-made ice-cream to freeze. Quiches are another good way to use up eggs. Here is a recipe for a classic dessert which has a spicy kick. Freeze left-over whites to use another day.
Creme Brulee with a Kick: serves 6
1 pint (600ml) double cream
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 egg yolks
5 oz (150g) caster sugar
3 tbslp finely chopped preserved ginger
Put the cream in a pan with the cinnamon stick and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave to stand for 15 minutes, then remove the stick. In a bowl beat the egg yolks with the ground cinnamon and 2 oz (50g) of the sugar then pour on the cream. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until it thickens - this will take about 15-20 mins. Stir in the chopped ginger. Pour into six ramekin dishes and chill in the fridge overnight. Next day sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top of the brulee and place under a pre-heated grill for 3 - 5 minutes until the sugar has melted, turned brown (caramelised). Place back in the fridge until ready to serve.

Curried Eggs:
Take the easy way out and serve freshly cooked (i.e. hot) hardboiled eggs (on a bed of savoury rice) covered with a ready-made curry sauce. Or for something a little more exotic...
Kerala Egg Masala: serves four
8 eggs
pinch of salt
150g tin coconut milk
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 oz (50g) mushrooms, chopped
2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder
Beat the eggs with the salt and the coconut milk. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and stir-fry the onions until golden. Add the spices, stir for one minute then add the mushrooms, chillis and finally the tomato, stir until cooked. Pour the egg mixture over and reduce the heat to low. Leave until set. Serve, cut into slices and eat with hot naan bread.
Note: if you don't have individual Indian spices, you could substitute a basic curry powder. Instead of using green chillies, use half a tsp of chilli powder. In the absence of tomatoes, either use half a can of chopped tomatoes, or 4 canned plum tomatoes, or even a spoon of tomato paste.

Sweet Pepper and Potato Omelette: serves 6
Best made in a large, non-stick frying pan. Be generous with the oil.
5 or 6 eggs
0live oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 red or green (bell) pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 - 2 potatoes, thinly sliced
Fry the vegetables in olive oil until just tender but not overcooked. Drain well. Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt and add this to the vegetables. Wipe the pan clean then put in two tblsp. olive oil and heat until sizzling. Pour in the egg and vegetable mixture and reduce the heat to medium/low. When the egg begins to set at the sides run a spatula around the egg to release the omelette from the pan. Shake the pan from time to time and cook until the bottom is firm. Place a plate over the omelette and upend the pan so the contents fall onto the plate. Add a little more oil to the pan, bring to sizzling then slide the plated omelette back into the pan (cooked side up). Continue cooking until the underside has browned slightly but the centre is still slightly moist. Serve hot or at room temperature. Traditionally cut into wedges.

Avgolemono (Greek Egg and Lemon Soup) serves 6
Use a good, well-flavoured, pref. home-made chicken stock for this soup.
3 pints (1.8 ltrs) chicken stock
4 oz (110g) vermicelli or rice
salt and pepper
large bunch parsley, finely chopped
3 eggs
juice of 2 lemons
Bring the stock to the boil and add the vermicelli or rice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the parsley. When ready to serve, beat the eggs with the lemon juice plus a little of the hot stock then pour this mixture into the pan stirring vigorously until thickened. Do not boil. Remove from heat before the eggs get a chance to curdle. Serve immediately.