What to do with lots of lovely eggs…Bacon and Egg Pie!

Last week I found this lovely little enamel bowl in Twice, a charming little store in St Andrews.  It was just the perfect place to keep all our new-found egg bounty. It also prompted a friendly conversation with another BHWT hen rescuer…they are everywhere!  The hens seem to be laying an average of two eggs between them daily.  This is about twice as many eggs as we are accustomed to eating over the course of a week.  So by the end of the week, the egg bowl was FULL.  Kazuo asked to ‘see the eggs please Mama’ at the end of every meal…and I knew it was time to start using them up.  What better place to start than a Kiwi staple, the Bacon and Egg pie.  Of course, not being a carnivore, I did not have a recipe.  So after trawling the ever-so-helpful interweb,  I discovered a recipe from Blokes Who Bake that was perfect for the ingredients I had on hand.  Here is the (apparently) tasty bacon from Balgove Larder all chopped up on the eggs and ready for topping:

The pie got another sheet of pastry on the top, and here it is ready for 20mins in the oven:

The Blokes who Bake recipe was a little vague on quantity, so here is what I finally ended up with:

Bacon and Egg Pie

2 Sheets of pre-rolled Puff Pasty (Yes, it is nice and easy to make one’s own, but I am in practise-for-working-mother-mode right now)

100g grated cheddar cheese

10 eggs

5 rashers of bacon, lightly cooked (fried in this case) and chopped in to medium sized cubes

liberal application of salt, pepper and dried basil

Lay out the first sheet of pastry in a greased pie dish (I used a small casserole as I am yet to acquire a pie dish!) layer the cheese, then break the eggs to cover the base of the dish (add more eggs if your dish is bigger), add liberal seasonings, top with cooked bacon, lay the second sheet of pastry over the top and pinch it to seal.  Cut some breathing holes on the lid pastry.  Pop into the oven at 200degC for about 20mins (or until crispy and golden).

Hey presto – eggs used, carnivore satiated. Last night the pie was accompanied by smashed Charlotte potatoes with olive oil and lots of seasoning. 

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Keeping Warm

Currently we are snowed in for the fifth day running here at Newbridge House.

The doctor drove to work on Monday in our good-for-commuting-but wholly-unsuitable-for-rural-snowfalls Civic and it got stuck in the ice and snow in the drive leaving and returning.  Tuesday he worked from home.  Wednesday he trudged over knee-deep snowy fields to wait for a bus that never came since the Forth Road Bridge was closed for the first time EVER due to snow. Today we are all here…waiting desperately for the gas tanker to come and fill our tank (hopefully in the morning – fingers crossed) and trying to keep warm without central heating or hot showers.

Although there are staples in the the pantry, it is getting a little low.  But we are still managing proper sustenance for now.  And tonight the wonderful people at Ardross Farm Shop will replenish the larder for us.

In an effort to fill our tummies and add extra heat to the house via the oven (old trick from student days, bake something and leave the door open when you are done), I made these ugly-but-tasty numbers:

They are a hybrid of an Alison Holst Pinwheel Scone recipe and my US-favourite scones from Martha Stewart.   I only had wholemeal flour, so here is the recipe:

Winter Emergency Pinwheels

2 C Wholemeal Flour

1 T Baking Powder

65g Cold Unsalted Butter, cubed

3 T Raw Sugar

3/4 C Milk

I chucked it all in the food processor until it formed a loose dough, then rolled it into a ball and then rolled out into a thinnish flat rectangle.  (Not too thin, this is a very crumbly recipe.)

THEN

1/4 C Brown Sugar

1 t Cinnamon

25g Cold Unsalted Butter

Chop up in the food processor and add about 1/4C Sultanas once processed.

Spread this mixture over the dough, roll the dough up into a tube, cut into about 6-8 sections, lay each piece on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 12-15mins at 200degC.

We are toasty and warm and full of wholemealy goodness…though the little one did think they were a bit ‘hard Mama’, so perhaps it will be back to ‘muffin-cakes’ tomorrow!

Tasty Treats and Wild White Washing

Since we arrived in the cooler climes of North East Fife, Kazuo and I have spent rather more time indoors than usual.  This is partly climate-related, partly due to having to wait for my driving licence renewal (the tediousness of being mildly epileptic and having to rely on the doctor to say it is OK to drive, when I have been safely driving for over 20 years…)

This has probably resulted in Kazuo being a little less tiredy than he should be, and thus a little more reluctant to fall asleep for naps etc (though he still sleeps long enough when he gets there) and it has also resulted in a little more domestic goddessery on my part (though resources in that domain are still a  little limited).

Yesterday I baked some of these little darlings:

They are a slight variation on Allyson Gofton’s Fudgy Banana Muffins, I used raw sugar and added tiny white chocolate chips…and the pop and I have gobbled them all up in a couple of days, so you will probably see me searching for bigger trousers soon too!

White Choc Banana Muffins (courtesy of Allyson Gofton)

1 1/2 C Flour

1t Baking Powder

1/2t Baking Soda

1/2C Sugar

3/4C Mashed Banana

1T Golden Syrup (yes!  back in the land of golden syrup…)

1t Vanilla Essence

2 Eggs

150g Melted Butter

1/4C White Chocolate Chips (smaller the better!)

Sift dry ingredients.  Beat bananas, syrup, vanilla and eggs together.  Stir into dry ingredients and then fold in cooled melted butter and chocolate chips.

Spoon into paper cases in muffin tray, bake for 15mins (or so) at 220DegC.

Mmmmmmmmmm

Also…I have pretty much been doing a load or three of washing every day since we moved into Newbridge.  This is partly cos we are a grubby lot, and partly cos we have left our huge American washer and dryer set behind and are using a traditional British teeny front loading washer and NO dryer.  I am feeling environmentally virtuous about the dryer, but it does mean that the cloth nappies are a bit more of a challenge (enter obligatory nappy spraying activity…ugh!).

However, I have been without access to an outdoor line for over ten years now…so you may not begin to appreciate just how MUCH this image makes me happy , but it is a marvellous joy to be able to hang laundry out in the wild wind and find it nearly dry at the end of the day.  Shirley Hughes has a lovely poem in her book Out and About that ends… wild white washing waves at the sky/the birds are busy and so am I…and I am so happy to be busy with wild white washing right now!

Market Tastes

This past Saturday morning we made our usual foray to the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market.  Such a perfect family activity as the market is on the edge of the lovely fountain and playground area that we love to visit.  Fun for everyone.  While the boys pootled around the play area, I picked up fresh trout for dinner, some meat from our favourite Greenwood Farms stall and a punnet of these little beauties:

I also gathered up a pound of these quirky little fingerling potatoes that do sometimes look like pudgy little fingers:

I baked the fish with a basil and lime sauce – using up the ailing basil from the windowsill.  They were joined on the plate by the potatoes, combined with a chilli-mint sauce using the orange mint I have sprawling over the tub on the balcony and some broccoli that I lightly sauteed in shoyu for a few minutes after they were cooked.   A light and flavoursome summer meal that rounded off the day nicely.  (Though not quite right for tempting our little man who is pretty ill right now and very much off his food.  Well, worth a shot, and at least the parents were happy!)

Yesterday I was keen to find some way to make good use of the beautiful aubergines.  So I made a sort of ratatouille-style stew that was perfect over rice for dinner last night while the carnivore ate Japanese chicken curry.  The stars of this dish were the remaining fingerlings, the little aubergines and a jar of wonderful home-canned  tomatoes that our friend Denise left when she moved to Toronto in May.

Here is my cobbled together recipe:

Fi’s Market Stew

1/2 lb baby aubergines – chopped

1/2 lb fingerling potatoes – chopped

6-8 mushrooms – sliced

1/2 green capsicum – diced

1/3 summer-sized courgette – sliced

1 large can tomatoes

7oz cooked chickpeas

herbs to taste (I used basil and oregano from the garden)

1/2tsp cumin

2 cloves of garlic – minced

Sautee all veges in pot for a few mins until they are nicely soft and toasty.  Add the spices and tomatoes.  Simmer slowly for about an hour (add some stock if you need to…there was enough water in my can of tomatoes to take the whole hour to reduce).

Serve over rice.

Lets just say that this was so tasty I gobbled it down before thinking to whip out the camera…and that it was a sort of stewy mess, so you can imagine it well enough, it was not too glam, but a great way to use up the market fresh yumminess.

Instead, here are the boys enjoying peach-filled crepes on the rotunda steps at the market while a band plays jaunty little tunes in the background.  A lovely way to spend the morning!

Red Thai Curry

We had a killer curry for dinner last night.  The last time I made such a concoction I nearly died, choking on water I was gulping down to mitigate the fire at  the precise moment that Akira cracked a joke.  I sucked too much water into my lungs, I thought I was drowning (so did the baby…he looked VERY worried for a long time after!)  So, this is not for the faint hearted.

I guess this is not strictly a recipe, since I am no Thai cooking school graduate.  It is a general set of principles I follow, to concoct something that approaches the very fine red curries we had when backpacking round Thailand/Cambodia/Vietnam in 2005.

The best Penang Curry was had on Koh Samet, perhaps the most romantic meal we had – on little low tables with hurricane lanterns, under a large tree that was right on the beach.  The food was prepared at a restaurant across the road and the waiters ran across the road with our meals.  Sitting under the stars with the waves practically lapping our feet – magic.  Akira proposed to me on this trip, and I had my wedding dress made in Vietnam, so brewing up a Thai curry always holds a melting pot of mythical memories for me.

Anyway, the Delmar Loop is awash with Thai curry houses, our favourite being the very strange Thai Pizza house.  We have yet to sample the odd delicacy that is the Thai Pizza, since we are always seduced by their pick-and-mix style noodle bowls.  In true US style, the restaurant offers curries in varying degrees of hotness, from 1 – 5.  Akira usually orders a 5-strength.  So it is with some satisfaction that I have managed to out-5 the local Thai restaurant by using a few simple ingredients from the local Chinese grocers.

I’ve been buying tiny Thai tins of curry paste by a company called Maesri.  One tin is meant to do one curry with only one tin of coconut milk.  DO NOT fall for this trick.  I did once…it is amazing, but evil, in it’s hotness!  So, I use one tin of Maesri Red paste, two tins of whatever cheap coconut milk is on offer and mix up the sauce in a separate pan.  Then I chop up and saute the veges I am using (last night was a concoction of broccoli, yellow and green capsicum, carrots, courgettes, onions, potatoes and tiny brown mushrooms).  I add fresh ginger, garlic, coriander, a little salt and liberal splashes of fish sauce to the veges while they are being sauteed.  Then I add most of the sauce to the veges and let them simmer while I cook about a cup of white rice.

Finally, just as we are about to eat, I fry some tiny cubes of chicken for the carnivore, and add the reserved curry sauce to them once they are done.  Then I throw them on top of his rice and vege-sauce mixture.  Hey presto, hot, hot, hot red Thai curry.

Blueberry Chocolate Cake

It’s snowing outside.  I’ve been inside all day with a cranky little boy who is cutting a molar and not having a very good time of it.  In the fridge were blueberries that I got to tempt Kaz (who seems to cope better with fruit than veges right now) that need eating quicker than he can manage, and chocolate chips leftover from his birthday cake.  So I did something I would only consider doing in the middle of winter.  I baked a cake.

I know, I know, I too lament my presentation style/poor photography.  But I was HUNGRY and I just wanted to drizzle the chocolate cream-cheese icing on that cake and eat it straight away.  Besides, as I have mentioned before, my camera is rubbish, and my eye not the most artistic.  Sigh.  I just hope you get a feel for how satisfying this cake was/is…and go rustle one up yourself, it is wonderful still warm out of the oven.  I’ll let you know in a few hours whether it is any good cool!  It should be enough to fortify me for another few hours wrestling with the poor wee teether.

Blueberry Chocolate Cake

6 oz Self Raising Flour

5 oz Sugar

4 oz Butter

3 T Milk

2 Eggs

1 T Cocoa Powder

1/2 t Baking Powder

Handful each of fresh blueberries and chocolate chips.

Melt the butter separately, mix into the remaining ingredients (except berries/chocolate) until mixed evenly.  Fold in the berries and the chocolate chips.  Bake in a ring tin (I used a moulded silicone tin I brought from York, they call them Bundt tins here I think) for 20 – 30 min at 375degF.

Because the berries and chocolate chips add extra moisture (and usually sink to the bottom a little), it is a good idea not to ice this cake.  But it tasted great with the cream cheese….

I treated myself to a cup of China Rose Petal Tea from the wonderful Taylors of Harrogate and paired the cake with a scoop of vanilla frozen yoghurt.  Mmmm.

Smoky Lentil Goodness

Tuesday was a cold sort of day and I felt like a little Autumnal Lentil warmth.  I had in mind to make a French-style puy lentil stew that I made a while back (recipe pending) because I loved the nutty texture of the little hard lentils.  But when I went to the cupboard, all I had were some red lentils I bought a few weeks ago to make some food for Kazuo.  He wasn’t a fan – not ready for that gritty texture I guess – so they were languishing.  They would have to do… though they would not really suit the lentil stew recipe I had in mind.  So I did some inventing.

Susan at Fat Free Vegan makes frequent use of Liquid Smoke – an ingredient I had never heard of before. But I was grateful to her for the idea, and really happy to have stumbled across it at the supermarket last week.  So Tuesday was the day for trying it out.  I splashed some into  the Beans and Rice I made for dinner and I thought it could become the signature flavour of my lentil dish.  I may have been a little heavy handed – and for some of you the quantity might need a little adjusting down, but it was perfect for me.  So I created a smoky stew that will do for several more lunches to come and went great with some wholemeal toast.

Smoky Lentil Stew

1 C dried Red Lentils

1 C Vegetable Stock

3 C Water

1 cubed Potato

1 sliced Carrot

1 tin (440g) Chopped Tomatoes (I used onion and garlic flavoured so I could cheat on not adding these things)

3 – 4 sliced Mushrooms

3 – 4 sliced stems of Celery

1 T Liquid Smoke

Pre-cook the potato and carrot together in water – either in microwave for 4 – 5mins or for 10mins in a saucepan on the stove.

Saute the remaining vegetables in olive oil, add some dried herbs and then the potato & carrot.

After everything is softened, add the Liquid Smoke and saute a little more.

Then add the dry lentils and the tomatoes and stock.

Stir for a bit and finally add all the water.

Keep on a moderate/high heat and simmer (adding more water if necessary) for 20 – 25mins.

Take off the heat and let stand for 10mins – then gobble it down with some crusty bread or whole wheat toast.

AI Art Auction – Part II

Well, last night was a lovely evening… and somewhat of a success as far as Amnesty is concerned.  Friend and members came out to support the work of Amnesty International, have a drink or two, find out about the Women of Zimbabwe Arise movement and take some art home with them.  We were grateful for the generosity of our friends, and for the donations of the artists and I think everyone was pleased with their acquisitions.

A BIG grateful THANKYOU from me goes to Claire, Katie and Denise who came out on a busy week night… wonderful to see them and extremely wonderful of Katie to buy this wooly beret that looks superb on her!

On the nibbles front, I tried out this recipe for stuffed mushrooms from Purple Foodie, but made some adaptations due to the resources and time available to me, and the limitations of my oven.  My adapted recipe, which made about 60 little button mushrooms – that I thought turned out pretty OK for a first experiment – is below:

Herb Butter Mushrooms With Mozzarella

30 oz. button mushrooms or cremini mushrooms (I used both for a nice mix)

6-8 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4C of Basil leaves

3 stems Rosemary leaves

45g/3tbsp cold butter, cut into tiny cubes

Olive oil to brush the baking sheet and mushrooms

4 oz./115g mozzarella

Salt and pepper

  1. Brush the pan with olive oil and place the mushrooms gill sides up with the stem removed.
  2. Chop the stems in the food processor with the garlic, basil and rosemary and stuff it back into the mushrooms.
  3. Dot the mushroom stuffing with cold butter.
  4. Brush with olive oil and top it with thin slices of mozzarella cheese.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Slip the pan under a broiler for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and the mushrooms fragrant
  7. Pop the pan into the oven on a low heat (~325F) for about 10mins to allow mushrooms to cook a little more.
  8. Put pan on top of oven for final 10mins to allow mushrooms to stew in their own juices a little…
  9. Transfer to a plate, garnish with cilantro and serve immediately (or in this case… even later in the day they are still moist and tasty)!

I’d have taken you a photo of them… but the day was a little crazy, so I didn’t quite get there… you will just have to imagine as they are all gone.  This might be my new party treat.

Sunday Pieday

Last week I bought some fresh cranberries at the vege market.  This weekend they needed finishing off – though I am already planning all the yummy things I can do with them over the winter, and plan to buy a few more bags this coming week and store some in the freezer… and of course there is Thanksgiving next week which is just crying out for me to concoct some fresh cranberry sauce… but that is for another day.

Today I made Cranberry Apple Lattice Top Pie.  I love a lattice top, it looks inviting with the filling peeping through the lattice, and is so easy to throw together.  I’m no perfectionist, so I was pleased enough with how this pie turned out:

Cranberry Apple Pie

We had a challenging day with Kazuo – perhaps a little too much indoors time?  He was tiredy after not sleeping much in the day yesterday, and although today’s nap was mercifully long, he was still a major grump all afternoon.  You would not guess it looking at him:

Kaz and friends

But we were so grateful for the sweetness of the pie and icecream at the end of a hard day of baby-entertaining.  I had a lovely interlude of post-prandial reading with him – he is really enjoying books at the moment – though still much MORE interested in Dada and the camera it seems:

ReadingSo to the pie… This is a variation on an Apple Crumble Pie recipe in the current issue of Real Simple.  I tried it out just as an Apple Pie a few weeks ago for our friend Bridgid’s practice Thanksgiving dinner, and today I added the cranberries.  I also used the Real Simple no-fuss recipe for home made flaky pastry, though the recipe I used to follow from Alison Holst was also tasty and easy.  And I am sure that store-bought crusts would also make for a suitable pie…

I made my piecrusts yesterday and had them firming up in the fridge overnight.  To save time/because I wanted to catch the berries before they turned, I pre-prepared the fruit and stood it in the ginger/sugar/cinnamon mix overnight, which was really quite handy as it was lovely and sweet and goopy when I came to add it to the pie this afternoon.  My lovely pie dish that I got around Flapjack time came to grief a few days later (NASTY glass explosion all over the kitchen, was REALLY glad that Kazuo was in bed trying to get to sleep at the time!) but I have replaced it and found it a nice safe place to live, so pie dish number two is getting some good outings.

Cranberry Apple Pie

2 Piecrusts (homemade flaky pastry or pre-rolled from the store) fitted into a 9 inch pie dish

2 1/2 lb (about 5 av sized) Apples, peeled, cored and sliced

6oz fresh Cranberries, halved

1T fresh Ginger, minced/diced small

1/4t ground Cinnamon

1/2C Sugar

Set an oven rack in lowest part of oven, set temp to 375degF.

In a large bowl, toss the apples, cranberries, ginger, sugar and cinnamon. (I left this overnight – but usually leaving it to stand while you prepare the crust is adequate.)

Fit one piecrust to the bottom of the dish.  Roll out the second piecrust and slice into ~1″ strips.

Pour the fruit mixture evenly over the piecrust in the dish.  Top the pie by creating a lattice effect (start with a cross in the centre of the pie using two strips, then weave them until all are used up) and pinch round the top of the pie once the lattice is in place.

Cook for ~60mins.  Serve warm or at room temperature – great with vanilla ice cream or frozen yoghurt.  Can be prepared the day before and event and kept at room temp with loose foil covering.

Cranberry Apple Pie

Autumn Squash Risotto

Tonight we are having our good friends Jon and Julia for dinner and our lovely friend Christine from Leeds is staying with us for the week… it is grim and rainy but a satisfying kinda day as the dinner is ready (just a Thai Curry and Thai Bean cakes… something for another day) and the baby is sleeping and I have a few minutes to myself as the leaves make their final drifts off the trees outside.

I wanted to tell you about my latest Autumnal additions to our risottos… and it was Julia’s visit that prompted me, because last time she came, a few weeks ago, with her marvellous parents who were here on vacation, I made them all risotto.  This is nothing too new in our house, I began throwing risottos together many years ago, and although there is something somewhat laborious about sticking close to the risotto as the starch builds up around the mingling of the wine and stock and rice, it is one of the tastiest and most comforting foods I know.  The harvest is just coming to an end here and our friend Tarah had generously donated one of her allotment-grown squashes to our vege bin, so I felt compelled to make it into something tasty.

Here are the raw materials for the risotto.  I am not going to give you quantities, largely because I just make the risotto until it feels about right.  But I used Arborio Rice, a cheapy Sauvignon Blanc, chopped green capsicum, a couple of cloves of garlic, sliced mushrooms, about half of the squash cubed and sauteed with the capsicum, mushrooms and garlic and the tasty addition of sage to round off the flavours of autumn.  I have to admit to being fully influenced by Paola in The Netherlands who said “How about a comforting butternut squash risotto seasoned with fresh sage?”… mmmm, a great idea that was as delicious as I had expected.

The Basics

Here is a bowl from our dinner with our friends a couple of weeks ago… the ample shavings of parmigano don’t really expose the golden glow of the squash, but it did indeed feel very autumnal and a perfect foil for all the wonderful colours exploding on the trees outside our window.  Warming, seasonal and totally appetising.

Risotto