Eggs Royale

I love eggs. Normally, my midweek breakfast include boring soft boiled eggs just because it’s quick. Weekends, however, are a completely different kettle of fish. That’s when you have to reward yourself for the long, hard working week, preferably with this luxurious and decadent breakfast of Eggs Royale. There are different variations to this dish, for example if you were to do it with ham instead of cold smoked salmon it would be called Eggs Benedict. The only cooking you need to do is poach the eggs, and make the Béarnaise sauce. The latter may not be the easiest of tasks if you’ve not made it before, however I hope by following my instructions yours will be perfect!

serves 2

Béarnaise sauce
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
5 freshly ground white peppers, or 3 shakes of ground white pepper
2 parsley stalks
2 tarragon stalks
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp water
100g butter
2 egg yolks
1-2 stalks of tarragon, leaves only, finely chopped

1. Put the onion, pepper, parsley, tarragon, vinegar and water in a pan. Let boil until the liquid has reduced to about half. Strain the liquid.

2. Melt the butter.

3. Put the egg yolks in a bowl, and drizzle over the strained liquid.

4. The eggs will need to be cooked in a bain marie (hot water bath). This is actually not as complicated as it sounds, please don’t let that deter you from making this sauce! You need a pot with water at the bottom, which will be heated to boiling. It’s important that the bottom of the bowl with the eggs doesn’t touch the hot water, as this could result to your sauce splitting. Start adding the melted butter to the eggs in drops at first, mixing/whisking as you go, then slowly drizzling the rest. You need to keep mixing the sauce until thickened.

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5. Add the finely chopped tarragon leaves.

Poached eggs

1 tbsp vinegar

couple of pinches of salt

All you need to poach eggs successfully are spacious enough pan, spoon for stirring boiling water, slotted spoon for removing the egg from the water, a bowl for the cooked eggs to let excess water drain out. I tend to break the egg into a cup, to have one ready to be cooked as soon as one comes out of the boiling water.

1. Put vinegar and salt in the pan, pour water and bring to boil. Stir in the centre with a spoon, and immediately pour egg into the eye in the center. This, together with the vinegar and salt will hold the egg together.

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2. Cook for 3 minutes, and remove from the water with a slotted spoon. I tend to put the egg in a bowl first, to drain excess water, before plating it, otherwise you’ll end up with a soggy plate of food!

Glögi (mulled wine)

When you live in your native country, you take it for granted that you can just pop in to a shop and get whatever delicacies you happen to fancy. If you have however settled abroad like me, you’ll have to learn to make things yourself. I know you can also buy mulled wine mixtures in the UK, however, since I created my recipe, I never felt the need to try them. Every year, I end up making a few batches of this, as you can’t stop having it once it’s ready! Also, it’s actually really easy to make.

1 1/2 liters water
1/2 liter apple and blackcurrant squash
1 liter blueberry juice
6 thumb size pieces of fresh root ginger, roughly chopped
6 cinnamon sticks
6 tbsp cardamom pods
2 tbsp whole cloves
1 orange, grated peel and juice
2-3 whole star anise

1. Put all ingredients together in a large pan, and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for an hour, and pour through a sieve, then bottle.

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2. When serving, I tend to fill 1/4 or 1/3 of the cup with red wine, and fill the rest of the cup with the spice mixture.

Spicy ginger and carrot soup

When I heard this combination mentioned recently I thought it makes sense. I also thought it sounds like something that could benefit from a bit of heat from a chilli, as well as the usual suspects onion and garlic. And I always tend to add potatoes to pureed soups, for that rich, smooth texture. I have just been experimental and  thrown ingredients together for this soup, however I do think the ginger, sweet carrot and spicy chilli make a good team. And did you know that ginger, chilli, garlic, onion and turmeric are all natural medicines to fight off those colds too, so perfect for boosting your immune system when the weather is getting cold outside.

4-5 medium-large potatoes (900g), peeled and cut into pieces
1 kg carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
100g fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped
2 garclic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 medium onions (I used red onions)
1 small green chilli (the smaller the variety, the hotter it will be), chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp turmeric (optional)
1 liter water
1/2 dl cream
salt and black pepper

1. Roughly chop onions. Heat the olive oil in a pan, and fry onion in medium heat for 5 minutes.

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2. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli, and fry for few minutes. Add turmeric and cumin, and fry until fragrant.

3. Add the carrots and potatoes, as well as water. Bring to boil, and cook, covered, for 45 minutes, or until carrots and potatoes are soft.

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4. Let cool slightly, and puree in a blender.

5. Add cream, and depending on thickness, a splash of water. Season with salt and pepper.

Vegetarian bake

This tasty vegetarian bake is a dish I learnt from my friend years ago, when we lived together as single ladies. Even though I’m more of a carnivore, this dish has stuck with me, and is something I make regularly, as it’s really flavoursome.

2 dl red lentils
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 carrot, peeled and grated
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
3dl vegetable stock
handful of fresh basil
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp dried oregano
1-2 aubergines (eggplants)
4 large tomatoes
2 courgettes (zucchinis)
1-2 balls of mozzarella
grated parmesan cheese

1. Rinse the lentils, and drain in a sieve. Place in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to boil, and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain.

2. Finely chop onion and garlic, and fry in oil for 5 minutes. Add the carrot, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, basil, stock, salt, pepper and oregano. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Finally, add the cooked lentils.

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3. Slice the aubergines, courgettes, tomatoes and mozzarella.

4. Layer in an oven dish. I tend to put a little bit of the sauce mixture at the bottom, as well as in between each layer, and also on top.

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5. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and cook in preheated oven 200°C / 390°F for 40 minutes.

Hake with scallop, brown shrimp and samphire

When I planned for this dish, I didn’t have anything in particular in mind. I chose hake because I try to alternate fish I use. I normally use smoked hake and make the same dish with it, so it was perfect time to experiment with unsmoked and cook it like I would normally cook cod, pan fried. For the accompaniment, I was just browsing throught the seafood section (I do my food shopping online and have it delivered, to save my precious time after work), and when I saw the small scallops and brown shrimps they sang out to me, wanting to be part of this dish. My husband would like me to get samphire more often than I do, so I decided to get that too. This recipe makes big portions, so you could probably also make this for 3, maybe even 4 people. I had some leftover puy lentils and quinoa, so I served the fish with that.

serves 2
400g fillet of unsmoked hake, cut in two pieces
70g brown shrimp
180g small scallops
90g samphire, washed
2 shallots
50g butter
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 dl frozen peas
1/2 dl cream
salt
white pepper

1. Melt the butter in a frying pan, and add the hake fillet pieces. Season both sides with a little bit of salt and pepper, and fry for about 3-4 minutes on each side. Move to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

2. Add finely chopped shallots to the same pan, fry for a minute or two, and add the scallops and lemon juice. Fry for few minutes, stirring.

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3. Add the peas, followed by samphire and shrimp. Season with a dash of pepper. You probably won’t need much salt, as the samphire itself is quite salty. Fry, stirring, for couple of minutes,  until all ingredients are warmed through.

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4. Add the cream, and warm through.

Pheasant breast and confit leg

I was practicing my butchery skills with this dish, as I bought the whole bird, but if you don’t want to get your hands messy you can buy these ready prepared. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when cooking wild game: it is very lean meat, so care should be taken not to overcook it, as it will get tough otherwise. Also, it’s good to remember that the meat might contain a pellet or two on occasion. I served my pheasant with puy lentils and quinoa, roasted parsnips and steamed tenderstem broccoli.

Confit leg
sea salt
ground black pepper
thyme leaves
2 dl vegetable oil
2 dl duck fat
2 garlic cloves

Breast
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
ground black pepper
thyme leaves

Sauce
2 shallots
1 thyme stalk
1 dl port wine
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 dl chicken stock
1 tbsp grainy mustard
salt
black pepper

1. Rub some sea salt, ground black pepper and thyme leaves on the legs. Cover with cling film, and rest in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

2. Wash the salt rub off the legs, and pat dry the them. Heat the oil – fat mixture to very low temperature,  including garlic cloves and thyme stalk. Place the legs in the oil, and cook on very low heat for 3 hours. Make sure you have enough oil/fat to cover the meat.

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3. Whilst the legs are cooking, marinate the breast, cover and place in the fridge for couple of hours.

4. Finely chop shallots, and fry in olive oil together with the thyme stalk until shallots are translucent. Add port, sherry vinegar and stock, and reduce by boiling uncovered until desired thickness. Add grainy mustard, check the taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

5. Pan fry the breasts for 1 minute, skin side down. Turn skin side up, and place in preheated oven 200°C / 390°F for 10 minutes.

Dark chocolate mousse with pistachio crumb

I’m not sure why I don’t make this decadent dessert more often (my husband agrees!), as it only requires a few ingredients. You do need to get certain things right when making it or it might fail, but I still think it’s simple enough to make easily. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream to soothe the bitterness of the chocolate and add pistachio crumb for some crunch and texture. It’s very rich, so you won’t need big portion sizes.

serves 6-8
120g dark chocolate (I used 70%)
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1/2 dl caster sugar
~~~~~
handful of pistachios, crushed
whipped cream

1. Whisk the egg whites and sugar together into a thick foam.

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2. Gently melt the chocolate in a bain marie (water bath), stirring with a wooden spoon. Once the chocolate is all melted and smooth, remove from the bain marie and let cool for 3 minutes. Pour the yolks into the chocolate, stirring. The mixture will become stiff at this stage.

3. Little by little, add spoonfuls of the egg white foam, folding together with the chocolate mixture. Try not to mix too hard, just gently fold them together, as hard mixing may ‘kill’ the foamy texture required for the mousse. The colour of the mousse will become lighter as you go along.

4. Put the mousse in ramekins, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for few hours to allow the mousse to set.

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