Sunday, February 13, 2011

Laying the Foundations

This next recipe is quite a stunner - definitely suitable for a starter when entertaining. As this dish is basicallyj a layer of mashed potato (instant is used but you could use 'real' mash), with a layer of green vegetable (ou could use a different green vegetable if you have no spinach - or consider using well-seasoned 'crushed' cooked peas, or change the colour and substitute mashed cooked carrots. This choice I leave to you. The final layer made with eggs and cheese.
Fluffy Eggs: serves 4
1 packet (or 100g) instant mashed potato
2 lb (1kg) fresh spinach
good pinch freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
2 oz (50g) butter
4 eggs, separated
4 oz (100g) Cheddar (or other) cheese, grated
half level tsp Cayenne pepper
Make up instant potato as per instructions, and pipe or spoon this over the base of four individual ovenproof dishes. Place in a hot oven (200C, 400F, gas 6) for 10 minutes to brown.
Meanwhile trim stalks from the spinach, and cook leaves in a little water until well wilted and tender. Drain through a sieve, pressing down firmly to remove excess water, then melt a good ounce of the butter in a pan with the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste, then add the spinach and stir until heated through. Divide this into four and add to the top of the browned potato. Keep warm whilst preparing the eggs.
Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and beat until stiff. Using a metal spoon, fold in the grated cheese and the cayenne. Spoon this mixture round the sides of the dishes of spinach/potato leaving a small hollow in the centre, and into each of these 'nests' drop an egg yolk, topping each with a knob of the remaining butter.
Bake for 10 - 15 minutes until golden. Serve immediately.

A noodle omelette is a good way to use up left-over cooked noodles. These noodles are the Italian 'ribbon' pasta (aka tagliatelle) - not the Chinese ones, but see no reason why a variety of different pasta/noodles couldn't be used instead.
Omelette with Attitude: serves 4
6 oz (175g) ribbon noodles, cooked and left to get cold
3 oz (75g) butter
1 onion, sliced
4 tomatoes, skinned and sliced
finger length piece of cucumber
4 eggs
salt and pepper
5 oz (150g) Cheddar cheese, grated
Melt half the butter in a frying pan, add the onion and fry until softened, then add the tomato and cucumber and continue cooking for 1 minute. Remove from pan and keep hot.
Beat the eggs with seasoning to taste, then stir in the cold cooked noodles and mix well. Melt remaining butter in the frying pan and pour in the noodle mixture, cooking over low heat until the underside in browned and the sides have set. Arrange the onion/tomato/cucumber mixture over the noodle omelette and sprinkle the cheese on top, then place under a pre-heated grill and cook for a couple or so minutes until golden brown and the cheese is bubbling. Serve immediately, either straight from the pan or (if you want to be posh) first slide onto a pre-heated plate before taking to the table.

list of substitutes when cooking/baking:
instead of breadcrumbs for coating used crushed cornflakes or cream crackers/water biscuits/crisps.
instead of 1 tlsp cornflour when thickening, use 2 tblsp plain flour
instead of half pint (300ml) single cream use 8 oz/225ml milk mixed with 2 oz/50ml melted butter.
instead of 8 oz (225ml) honey use 8 oz (225g) sugar plus 4 tblsp water OR golden syrup.
instead of 1 tsp lemon juice use half teaspoon vinegar or lime juice.
instead of ice-cream use frozen yogurt.
instead of half pint/300ml whole (full cream) milk use half pint skimmed milk with 3 teaspoons melted butter.
instead of tartare sauce use 7 tablespoons mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons chopped sweet pickle.
instead of tomato sauce use condensed tomato soup, or packet tomato cuppa soup made with half quantity of water.
instead of gravy use packet soup of flavour wished (oxtail, chicken etc) made up with half the usual quantity of water.
instead of red wine use red wine vinegar sweetened with a little sugar.
instead of balsamic vinegar use raspberry vinegar.