Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More Ways to Make Things Easy

(1) Pastry made with lard actually IMPROVES after being frozen, and becomes much more tender. Don't ask me why, but it is a known fact.
(2) When wishing to bake jam tarts, to prevent the jam bubbling up over the sides of the pastry, always store the jam in the fridge. It then holds itself together whilst baking.

Although not often eaten this way, a French omelette is very good eaten cold, so can be made in advance and kept in the fridge, even overnight if you wish. Pour an oily or salsa dressing over, cut the omelette into strips, stir into the dressing, eat and enjoy.
An Italian omelette is called a frittata, cooked over a lower heat, and for a longer time than its French cousin. Normally thicker so cut into wedges to serve. The basic recipe is given, and to this add any of the suggestions shown, or whatever you feel will be to your taste.
4 eggs (larger the better)
salt and pepper to taste
good handful of grated Parmesan or any hard cheese
2 oz (50g) butter
Beat the eggs with a fork until well mixed, then beat in the seasoning and cheese. Melt the butter in a frying pan (at least 10"/25.5cm) in diameter, and when it begins to froth it is time to tip in the egg mixture.
Reduce heat as low as it will go (use a heat diffuser if necessary), and leave the eggs to cook for about 15 minutes, by which time the base will have set but the top still appear runny. Time then to remove pan from hob and place under a pre-heated grill for about one minute to set the top but avoid browning it. Slide onto a heated plate and serve cut into wedges.

Additions to a frittata can be little 'chunky' as the cooking time will soften them, but best to first soften in a little olive oil before pouring over the eggs that are already starting to cook in the pan. Here are some suggestions:
small auberines and/or courgettes sliced to thickness of a pound coin and first fried lightly with a chopped shallot
grated potato mixed with fennel seeds
left-over cooked (or canned and drained) new potatoes, diced and tossed with a little butter in which has been fried a good pinch of curry powder
red, yellow or orange bell pepper, deseeded and flesh cut into chunks, fried with a little chopped streaky bacon or ham
chopped sun-dried tomatoes with some crispy fried onions
goat's cheese or Feta cheese with chopped fresh thyme leaves
creamy blue cheese with toasted chopped walnuts

A 'piperade ' is a cross between a French and Italian omelette. The vegetables first being fried in the pan and the eggs added later. This recipe is a Basque (French) traditional, and makes a good lunch or light supper dish.

Piperade: serves 4
3 tblsp olive oil
3 red bell peppers, flesh cut into narrow strips
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 x 225g (8oz) cans plum tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
6 - 8 large eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
fresh basil and parsley leaves (chopped finely together)
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and over moderate heat fry the peppers and onions for about 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes.
Meanwhile drain the tomatoes (save /freeze the liquid to add to a soup or casserole), chop up the tomatoes and add to the pan. Simmer until the mixture thickens. Add seasoning to taste, then stir in the beaten eggs, as if intending to scramble them. When just 'creamy' add the chopped herbs, give one final stir and serve.