30 October 2009

Poached Eggs

Last night was salad night and I thought it would be nice to combine our usual salad with a poached egg. I've read about these and Lundulph has been talking about swirling boiling water and such, I wanted to give it a go. I'd already done some research on this and YouTube is full of videos on how to do it. So I just had a quick check in Delia's Complete Cookery Course and also in my Bulgarian National Cuisine book, where these are called забулени яйца which translates to veiled eggs. On the whole, it looks like experience is the main thing, trying and tweaking until you're happy with the end result.

On the whole I think I did fairly well for a first time. And I'll write down what I did for reference for next time. I already have some tweaks in mind.



2 medium sized very fresh eggs
5 dl water
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp salt

  1. Place the water, vinegar and salt in a small-ish saucepan, it should be about 5 cm deep, and heat up on low, so that it's just under boiling temperature.

  2. Prepare with a slotted ladle and a bowl with kitchen tissue in order to drain the ready eggs.

  3. Crack one egg in a small bowl or ladle, then carefully pour into the water, keeping the bowl as close to the surface as possible.

  4. The egg white will solidify fairly quickly. I tried to keep it together with a spoon, but it still managed to spread quite a bit. I suspect my eggs weren't as fresh as I thought they were.

  5. Keeping an eye on the yolk, so it gets a bit of a skin, but remains runny, take the whole lot out after about 2 minutes and drain on the kitchen tissue.

  6. Serve immediately while it's still hot. Though it works well cold too, since our dinner got a bit delayed. Lundulph re-heated his in the microwave and the yolk was still runny and tasted very nice on top of our salad, in fact I cut mine up and stirred it in like salad cream.

In the photo, it is served with a few slices of some wonderful филе "Елена" (fillet Elena), which is a very fine cured, spiced and dried fillet from Bulgaria.

Now, tweaks. I had too much water in, that is the water was too deep and the egg sank to the bottom, thus stirring it up and that might have spread some of the white around. Delia recommends that it's shallow enough to need to baste over the yolk to get it cooked and I think that might be a good thing to try.

Then my eggs were not sufficiently fresh. Generally the fresher the egg, the thicker the white is and the closer is stays around the yolk, whereas an older egg has much runnier white, so the older the egg, the more likely the white will spread in shreds during the poaching. I've seen a couple of the shops in the village sell extremely expensive eggs, but dated with when they were laid. I'm guessing it's the owner's own hens in question, so that would be the next thing to try. I'm happy to spend a little bit extra money on two eggs, that'll make it feel even more luxurious.

And I'd also like to try out the swirling method, just for the heck of it, even if it doesn't work out. I'm not too old to play with food.

Finally, I've never really been too big a fan of egg white (unless it's in a meringue), so I might just try poaching a yolk on it's own.

26 October 2009


Last Friday Lundulph and I went to our local cinema for the very first time. It's in the town hall court room and there's only one projector, which means there's an intermission half way through a movie. However, this means the bar is open and the audience can get a glass of wine or such.

As it turned out, it was open before the start of the film too. Lundulph took this opportunity to enhance his viewing with the red fruit based drink. I had to abstain as I'm on antibiotics at the moment, after having a wisdom tooth removed last week. Toothless old crone, that's me.

The main reason for going is that the movie in question was Julie & Julia. I wasn't familiar with Julia Child and I certainly wasn't aware of Julie Powell's blog. But it was about cooking and a cookery blog and although I couldn't imagine how you could make a full feature film from that, I wanted to see it.

Well, the movie was really good, I enjoyed it very much and I spent some time this week-end looking up various things and started reading the Julie/Julia project blog. So far the movie has stuck fairly close to the story. But as things have been milling around in my mind, I've been inspired and decided to put this inspiration to work today. (My previous two blog entries today are pure catching up, don't go thinking I've been busy all day long.)

I had some potatoes left over from last night's meal. That is I'd bought 1 kg and I think I'd used about 400 g of them. I also had some leftover double cream that I really hoped I wouldn't have to throw away. And I'd stopped by IKEA and picked up a lovely looking blue cheese.



600 g waxy potatoes
400 g / 230 g can of button mushrooms
an alarmingly generous amount of salted butter, coming up to about 100 g!
1 dl double cream
75 g blue cheese
salt (I forgot the pepper, but it should have been there.)

  1. Set the oven to pre-heat on gas mark 6 (200 degrees C), then butter an oven safe dish with a lid.

  2. Wash the potatoes and cut in wedges, put in the dish, then place two thick slices of butter on top (probably around 50 g). Put the lid on and then into the oven for 25 - 30 minutes.

  3. In the mean time, drain the mushrooms, then quarter if using whole ones.

  4. Put another thick slice of butter in a large frying pan and heat up on medium, then add the mushrooms and fry until they get a bit of colour.

  5. Once they are done, pour in the double cream, salt and the blue cheese. Stir in until the cheese has melted, then set aside.

  6. Once the potatoes have baked for 25 - 30 minutes as per above, take them out and stir in the mushroom sauce, so that mushrooms and potatoes mix up well and the potatoes get coated with the cheese - cream sauce.

  7. Then lid on and back into the oven for another 20 minutes.

  8. After that, take the lid off, crank up the oven to gas mark 8 (230 degrees C) and let the dish get a nice golden colour for about 5 minutes.


I forgot the pepper sadly and should have been a bit more careful with the salt. More cream would also have been beneficial. I had this for lunch today and it was very yummy. I think it would be very nice with a pepper steak and some nice green, crispy lettuce. And in hindsight, I should have been a lot more restrained with the butter.



As thanks for dinner, our neighbours gave us a bag full of wonderful large cooking apples. And I thought this is the perfect opportunity to try my hand at Swedish apple puree. Lundulph thought this is just like the English apple sauce, but sweeter. In Sweden it's served with pancakes or porridge and it's not as sweet as jam.

I picked out a number of recipes and decided on this one (in Swedish), as it didn't involve freezing in the end. Freezing is the thing it seems, even my Mum does it - she saves milk cartons, washes them and fills them up with the puree, then freezes the whole lot.

cooking apples - resulting in 1.5 kg after peeling and removing damaged bits.
1.5 dl water
2 g vitamin C powder (ascorbic acid)
1.5 dl maple syrup
0.5 dl caster sugar
5 cm long cinnamon sticks, one for each jar.

  1. 1.5 kg apples will result in approximately 1 litre of puree, so get a sufficient number of glass jars and place in the oven and "bake" at 120 degrees for at least 20 minutes, to sterilise them.

  2. Wash, peel and core the apples, removing any damaged bits you can find. Put the pieces in a big bowl of water so they don't discolour.

  3. Place the apples in a saucepan, add the water, put a lid on and let simmer for 10 minutes, until they go a bit mushy.

  4. At this point, one or more large saucepans or casserole dishes are needed, large enough to take in the glass jars. Line them with a towel, pour in water and bring to the boil.

  5. When the apples are done, drain away the water, then mash up with a fork or a blender. It doesn't have to be perfectly smooth.

  6. Stir in the vitamin C powder, maple syrup and sugar. Note that the maple syrup is mainly to add to the flavour and the sugar is to provide the sweetness. The amounts should be varied to taste.

  7. Now take out the glass jars and fill up with the apple puree, leaving about 2 cm from the top edge of each jar.

  8. Push a cinnamon stick into the middle of each jar, then put on the lid and screw it shut, but not too tightly.
  9. Place the jars in the saucepans with boiling water, the water should reach about three quarters of the height of the jars. Then let simmer for at least 20 minutes.

  10. Check the jar lids that they have been sucked in and formed a vacuum. If not, let simmer for a bit longer.

  11. Take out of the saucepans, then let cool and label up. Of course if you can't be bothered with this, just let cool after stirring in the sugar, pour into freezable boxes or bags and freeze.


The proportions are 1 kg apples to 1 dl of water to 1 g of vitamin C powder. I just used 2 g as my scales can't do half gram measurements. The purpose of it is as antioxidant to prevent discolouring, I think.

Some of the recipes also called for Sodium Benzoate, also known as E211, which is a food preservative. I'm not sure if this can be purchased in shops though.

One recipe mentioned adding Calvados. I've never had that, so I don't know what it tastes like. I couldn't think of any other spirit/liqueur that might taste nice with apples, but decided to add maple syrup instead of just regular sugar and I think that works very nicely indeed. I have some doubts about a whole cinnamon stick in a jar, that might ruin everything, so will come back with an update in a few weeks' time when I've opened the puree.

As you can see in the photos, I filled two half litre jars and I had about 3 more dl, two of which I put in a glass and one I gave to Lundulph to eat. The glass didn't go into the boiling saucepan, so it's now in the fridge and should last at least one week. One of the two jars sealed up nicely after 20 minutes (the one with the green lid). The other took a further 33 minutes and some additional lid tightening and it still hadn't been sucked in. But it was nearing bedtime, so I took it out and set it to cool. After about half an hour, I noticed that the lid had been sucked in. Just to be on the safe side, I've put it in the fridge. The green lidded jar is in the larder, it should last longer hopefully.

On the whole, this recipe appealed (appled, hi, hi) to me because of the way the jars were sealed. I have vague memories of my Mum and Gran doing this on my Grandparents' allotment, where all sorts of fruits and vegetables were done that way in preparation for the Winter.

Dinner Party

Last week we had our neighbours over for dinner and I decided to make stuffed peppers, since we haven't had that for a long time.

And it's also a good opportunity to update my initial post, since it's one of my first ones, before I worked out the format of my blog. This is what it's supposed to look like:


This the point where the peppers go into the oven for baking. This time I had 2 parts pork mince and one part lamb mince, which gave it a stronger flavour, not to mention released quite a bit of fat. I also remembered to add a bit more water than I normally do, which was a good thing, since it resulted in more jus to add to the Béchamel sauce.

The 1.5 kg mince resulted in enough stuffing for 15 peppers and there was a little bit left over, which I put in a pitta bread for Lundulph for breakfast the following day.

While preparing the peppers, I encountered a Russian doll pepper. Here is what I saw when I removed the handle and seeds:


I managed to wriggle out the inner pepper:


I then cut the inner pepper, to see what was inside and spotted a tiny worm-shaped growth inside it in the right hand half:

There were very few seeds on this one. Lundulph wanted to save them and plant, to see if we could produce a new breed of pepper, but I'd already thrown them away. Curious though.

For dessert we had Tosca pears, another very early blog entry and one that I haven't made since school. And I think I didn't bake it long enough, as it never went sticky as it's supposed to. Still, it was very tasty and I served it with vanilla ice cream.


11 October 2009

Mushroom risotto

Since I went foraging for mushrooms a couple of weeks back, I've been hankering for more and more mushrooms and so I decided to make a mushroom risotto.

Unfortunately I don't live near a good mushroom place, so had to buy from the shop and even there I wasn't too lucky, as there were only shiitake mushrooms available fresh at the time. I bought a packet of dried chantrelles and a packet of dried porchinis. Very expensive!

So, 40 g each of the dried mushrooms went into the collander and were thoroughly rinsed. Then I placed the collander in a big bowl and poured boiling water until everything was well covered. I left them to soak for just over an hour.


I put some arborio rice to boil (30 mins) with about 600 ml liquid, of which about 200 ml was the liquid from a can of mushrooms. I'd saved it a couple of days earlier from when I made Thai Green Curry.

Then the now fairly re-hydrated mushrooms went into the frying pan with 4 tbsp butter. After a few minutes I also added the shiitake mushrooms and I fried them for a further 15 minutes. This seems long, but then the dried mushrooms tend to feel a bit leathery. I added some salt as well, but not much.

At this point the rice was almost done, so I added the mushrooms and a bit more water. I also added some crispy salad onion - about 3 tbsp, as a cheat, I should really have fried onion to begin with.

When I tasted the finished result, it wasn't sufficiently seasoned, so I added a tsp of Japanese soy sauce and a tbsp of dried dill.


I served the risotto with smoked salmon and it was very nice for a Friday night. Besides, we were celebrating that I'm temporarily a house wife. Hopefully I'll have a bit more time to come up with new dishes.

Fermented bread

A couple of weeks back, I decided to make another couronne. This time with wholemeal and I decided to follow the recipe in Richard Bertinet's Dough book. Needless to say, I mis-read again and instead of 200 g white flour and 300 g wholemeal flour, I did it the other way around. Which actually doesn't matter.

I made a double batch. And as recommended in the book, I saved 200 g to use next time I bake. It's quite clever, I thought - you keep it in a box in the fridge, which allows better control of the growth. And I'm in control, not the yeast. Yes, that made perfect sense.

Then it should be fed with 400 g flour and 200 g water after two days and after that every 7 - 10 days in the same way. So, I made sure that I had the same proportions of white and wholemeal flour in the feed mixture - 160 g wholemeal and 240 g white. I ended up with an extremely stiff dough and the stuff about baker's percentages started swirling in the back of my mind. In the original recipe it's 500 g flour to 350 g water. Hmmmm. Never mind, the book says that a stiff dough will result. And as perhaps many beginners, I just plain refuse to throw away any parts of the dough that might be useful, so into a bigger box the ferment went and back in the fridge.


A few days later and it's swollen nicely. And a week after feeding the ferment, I couldn't resist it any longer and made more bread. This time I decided to make a boule and rolls as per Lundulph's request.


I need to practice the slashing, it's just about visible on the boule, but it had disappeared almost entirely on the rolls. I also made the mistake of placing them in paper cups, thinking I'd save myself some strenuous dish washing. Instead, I had to dip each roll in water for a few seconds, then carefully peel off the paper, which had stuck ever so nicely to the rolls. Bah!

But it looked very nice and perfect for sandwiches, I think.


I also didn't notice any particular difference in flavour, but perhaps it's because it was wholemeal and not pure white bread or that I hadn't kept it for a long time.

The freezer now contains a too high ratio of bread vs other food, so I won't be baking for some time. But I have a new recipe that is first in line, which I'm very excited about.

Overall, it was interesting. I'll give it another go with white bread, where the flavour difference may be more obvious.

3 October 2009

Caramelisation disaster

Last week I spotted some really nice figs outside the butcher's on the High Street and just couldn't resist buying 6 with a vague idea of doing something fancy with them.

Yesterday, being Friday and thus meaning a nicer dinner with Lundulph, I thought of caramelising the figs and serving them warm with vanilla ice cream.

I did a quick search for caramelised figs and there are plenty of variants around, I fancied one in particular, but when the time came to actually prepare them, I'd switched off the computer and couldn't be bothered to turn it back on just to look up the recipe. Besides it would have spoiled the surprise for Lundulph.

So I made stuff up on the fly. Which last night wasn't a good idea.

I cut them in half and placed with the cut side up in a baking tray.


Then I placed a teaspoon of light soft brown sugar on each and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.

Then in under the grill, which was on medium. Three minutes later, there was a smell of something burning and blackish smoke was coming out from the grill.


Yes, my hope for the sugar sort of all melting and running down into the figs didn't quite happen. But all was not lost - I carefully scraped off the burnt teaspoon shapes and threw away.

Then I drizzled maple syrup over each of the figs. I had to open a new bottle half way through and it was difficult to pour without drenching half the tray. I then reduced the heat of the grill and moved the rack to its lowest setting and in they went for a further 3 minutes, under constant supervision.

This turned out to work a lot better and the dessert was rescued and was quite edible. However, next time I'll make sure to follow an established recipe or bake the figs first and just do a caramel coat with the blow torch at the end.


My plating could also do with some practice. But thanks to dousing the figs with syrup, there was some nicely semi-caramelised "jus" to add to each serving.