Search Results for 'scrambled eggs'


I follow quite a lot of ‘foodie’ blogs but for the most part ‘comments’ seem to consist only of oohs and aahs, the ubiquitous “looks/sounds delicious” and occasional congratulations on the photography. Does no-one want to discuss food and cooking? (Apologies to the few who I know do).

So I thought I’d try to provoke some discussion, even dissention, with the following:

So far in my life I have found only three people who can make ‘perfect’ scrambled eggs, one of whom (my mother) is no longer with us, the other two – my sister and myself – having learned from her. After watching Michel Roux Jnr, the only ‘celebrity chef’ I find the least interesting, give the task to cookery students on tv recently, I have a feeling that he can probably make them too. (more…)

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First Christmas (part) with Petronela, 20 years ago. Just work colleagues then, as was Ana Maria on my other side – still a good friend

We are just two – my wife Petronela and me – for Christmas since my mum died. This year we are having our 18th Christmas together but it’s the 20th year we had a part of Christmas together. Twenty years ago I was living in the students’ hostel of the high school at which Petronela and I taught, she as history teacher and head of humanities, I as a volunteer English teacher (so living for free in the hostel). I invited some teacher colleagues for a ‘party’ in my little room and Petronela was one who came (my plan? 😜).

Stockings awaiting Santa

Even with just the two of us we like to make Christmas Day ‘special’, but a time of peace with no stress. So each year it becomes more and more simple. On the other hand, it always begins, after seeing what Santa put in our stockings (yes, we hang stockings like a couple of children) over coffee and (for me) tea, with the same ‘luxury breakfast’: smoked salmon (three different cures this year) with the ‘best scrambled eggs in the world’, as I learned from my mother, and ‘bubbly’ – Freixenet cava; it began by being the only ‘special’ bubbly we could find in Romania 18 years ago or at least one we could afford but, not a follower of fashion, I have not been diverted by the more recent craze for Prosecco (not as good anyway) nor champagne which we could now afford. Same with gin: the latest craze is expensive weirdly flavoured gins and expensive (in it’s true meaning, costing more than it’s worth) tonic; we both like gin and tonic but either Gordons or the excellent one at a good price from Aldi are good enough for us.

 

This year there was something new; usually we do not have any special meal on Christmas Eve but having received something very special from my dear Latvian blogger friend Ilze, and told they – grey peas – were a Christmas dish, I made to Ilze’s recipe, with onion and bacon, and had as the introduction to Christmas. Delicious! Ilze says they should be accompanied by kefir; having been to Marinela’s Romanian shop in Leeds a couple of days before that was easy to follow. Usually we buy the similarly tasting Romanian  ‘sana’ or ‘lapte batut’ there. 

Latvian ‘grey peas’ with onions and bacon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After breakfast we open little presents to each other, found below the Christmas tree. Petronela will always find a bottle of Bailey’s Irish cream and a bottle of Drambuie, I will unwrap a bottle of Scotch, among them and these will keep us going till it’s time to prepare Christmas dinner, not lunch but at about 7pm.

 

I titled this post ‘Christmas simplified’: gone are the days when I’d slave in the kitchen preparing classic French cordon bleu cuisine (neither of us much like turkey or traditional ‘Christmas pudding’). Now we rely on Marks and Spencer which has never let us down. So this year the starter was ‘king prawn and poached salmon terrine’, delicious enough to tempt us to eat two portions each! Main course was rack of venison, easy enough to roast leaving me only to prepare roast potatoes and parsnip, with lightly steamed brocolli, kaylettes, brussel sprouts and runner beans – easy enough. This washed down with the excellent Romanian red wine, from the fetească neagră grape grown in the Murfatlar region, ‘3 hectare‘, brought from Romania. Thanks to the double portion of starter neither of us could eat everything on the plate and needed a rest before the ‘Belgian chocolate and toffee sponge pudding’, an amazing creation with a chocolate flecked with gold dome being inverted over the steamed sponge and left to melt – very tasty if a bit too sweet, as I shall report to M&S, but a good finisher nevertheless.

Happy day

So, a lovely happy day, for the most part immersed in the astoundingly beautiful Romanian carols (I like to sing the English ones but most of these cannot match the Romanian ones for beauty), responding to some WordPress Christmas blog posts, sending and receiving Christmas greetings to dear friends in far off places (some made through WordPress blogs) by email or Messenger and chatting more, and exchanging photos, with one throughout the day – I won’t mention who so as not to embarrass her; let’s just say I’ve come to love her close immediate family though we’ve met only on the wonder of internet.

So, that was our Christmas ‘simplified’. Nothing special for today – Boxing Day – except to laze about, doing nothing special after clearing up the chaos in the kitchen (we don’t believe in ruining a good meal by clearing up after, not even loading the dishwasher!).

I hope you all had an equally happy Christmas Day as we did; I know some of you were not very well but I trust that despite this you had a day of peace and contentment.

Now, in our little household, we move on to New Year, a really big ‘celebration’ for most Romanians, made even more so for us as Petronela’s birthday is on New Year’s Eve so, following Romanian tradition, we have ‘open house’ with the table full of Romanian delights, of which more at the time.

I’m picking up on today’s post from my recently found blogger ‘friend’ in Latvia, Ilzie – same title: Sunday. I was thinking of her yesterday and her three daughters when I met two of my favourite young ladies, Mia and Olive, just a little older than Ilzie’s three. Ilzie was ‘doing’ her youngest’s second birthday party; I was at a post wedding ‘reception’ of two friends here: Ruxandra, the Romanian founder of our writers’s club, and Sam, an extraordinary English flamenco guitarist. They greeted us in their elegant, beautiful wedding attire; the bride’s dress is based on the traditional Romanian ‘ia’ (pronounced ee-a), blouse.

The bride, me, Petronela and the groom

The girls I met are daughters of another member of our writers’ club, Emma, a wonderfully talented singer/song-writer. I seem to ‘know’ a lot of amazingly talented women, the group now including Ilzie. Before the birthday party took over she was building her kitchen.

Sunday breakfast

Sunday for me here is ‘English breakfast‘; I hadn’t made one since leaving for Romania in July. Only a couple of posts ago I told you my breakfast six days a week is raw oats with milk and perhaps fruit.

The basics of English breakfast are, of course, bacon and eggs. The eggs are often fried but this morning I made ‘scrambled eggs‘. Other things on the plate might include ‘black pudding’ (blood sausage) – never for Petronela! – sausages and, for other people, fried tomatoes (neither P nor I like them) and ‘baked beans’ from a tin but not in our house. My usual addition, as this morning, might be sauteed mushrooms, fried bread and perhaps sauteed boiled potatoes over from the previous evening’s meal.

I won’t bore you again about my scrambled eggs, which I’m arrogant enough to say are the best in the world – just eggs, from chickens that run around free – with a little butter, salt and pepper. Not everybody likes their soft, creamy texture, fortunately P does. I’ve posted about them before. Another thing I love about Sunday is it’s the only breakfast P and I have together. We only miss having the evening meal at the table together if one of us is not at home, now rare.

The author, Christmas morning 2016, with smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and champagne breakfast.

Breakfast, Christmas 2016

I’ve been following Cristian Mihai’s blog almost since I began blogging approaching five years ago. I was first attracted to it because of the excellent writing in English by a Romanian, having taught English in Romania for around a decade. Since then I’ve found other Romanian blogs written in excellent English covering one or more of the wide diversity of topics you would find on mine, which as followers will know, breaks one or two cardinal rules if you want a lot of followers: posting frequently, even daily, and sticking to a theme. As I also speak and read Romanian pretty well, though I’ve never cracked writing it well, I now follow quite a few Romanian blogs posting in just Romanian or both Romanian and English, though I was sad to see that after my long absences several seem to have ceased to blog.

I used to post fairly frequently, though never every day, but some serious health issues two and a half years ago meant that posting became very erratic, particularly as I was also attempting to keep up with editing, and blogging on, a site I created for the Yorkshire village in which I live.

Our 'music corner' at home, showing tv with Vienna New Year concert 2017, panpipes sitting on the Yamaha 'piano'

Vienna New Year concert 2017

So followers may well find me writing on any one of my major hobbies – music, photography (on film); food and cooking; my efforts at writing fiction or ‘poetry’, as distinct from journalism (which was my profession), and our local writers’ club formed and run here in Wharfedale by a Romanian (!); classic cars particularly my mini and vw camper; and a few others. Or my major hobby-horses which include: discrimination in any of its many forms; the beauty of Romania, it’s people, traditions and food, particularly my love affair with the Bucovina; the idiocy of politicians; my experiences with our superb National Health Service and its staff here in the UK and the determination of those in charge of it and successive Governments to destroy it; habitual use of certain ‘four letter words’; and again, a few others, including scrambled eggs! (I know, overuse of exclamation marks but perhaps merited here 😉 ).

So, you have been warned; I am not taking up Cristian’s reblogging offer to find a lot more followers, but just to give him a bit of support. Hence this introductory blog which will be the first I’ll be asking him to reblog. After that, perhaps a few of my past blog posts then one or two new ones.

This facility must surely be invaluable to those younger than me who wish to get better known and maybe make a bit of money out of their writing so it would be very sad to see it not continue. I have no such ambition. I write because I like to write – that’s all.

lobsterChristmas breakfast & dinner – smoked salmon (three varieties), scrambled eggs and champagne; lobster, guinea fowl and chocolate pudding.

This year I intended to do minimal cooking apart from what has become our traditional breakfast (I’ve prattled on about scrambled eggs before so will not do so here and food blogging has really progressed since then) so set out with the idea of buying everything for dinner semi-prepared from Marks & Spencer – always reliable in the food department even if their clothes have gone off track (I blame their following of the common herd and rebranding as M&S!). However, the starter we had chosen was no longer available when I arrived to make the order and no alternatives appealed so I bought a lobster (Kirkgate market is just across the road), which forced me into doing a bit of cooking, making lobster in chaud-froid (summary recipe below).

The champagne (blame Marks and Spencer for the change from our usual Cava; the half price offer was tempting and the result was superb) and the ‘easy carve’ guinea fowl, with pork, leek and smoked bacon stuffing, were excellent. No fancy accompaniments, just roast potatoes, sprouts and cauliflower. The juices from the bird needed no enhancement to be a very tasty sauce. There should have been roast parsnips but they were ‘lost’ somewhere between the market and home!

We managed to make room for some M&S melt-in-the middle chocolate pudding with simple cream about 2 hours after finishing the main course – again very good (neither Petronela nor I like ‘Christmas pudding’).

Bordeaux Blanc and Syrah from Chile

A very good Bordeaux Blanc from Fortnum and Mason and an excellent Chilean Syrah, both gifts so a step up from our day-to-day plonk, completed the table (the second ‘bottle of red’ seen, also a present, is a candle which, apart from the wick, is almost impossible to distinguish from the real thing).

Best present!

One of the things I really love about the run up to Christmas is trying to come up with something ‘special’ for Petronela. Seems this year I succeeded with a cushion, which P has told her friends is “the best present I’ve had ever had”. Eric Clapton’s piece became ‘our song’ well before we married; for people who don’t know Romanian, Ursulețul is ‘The teddy bear’ – no need to tell you who!).

Recipe

Homard en chaud-froid (based on a recipe in my ‘bible’ for classic French cooking for the past 40 years or so – Mastering the Art of French Cooking).

  • Lobster boiled and meat extracted from the body. Claws retained whole for ‘decoration’.
  • Empty shell pieces returned to the liquid with a good slug of the wine to accompany lobster later. Simmered to extract all the flavour, shell drained and liquid reduced until a strongly flavoured stock remains. Body and tail shells cleaned to contain the chaud-froid.
  • Lobster meat chopped into small pieces, fried slowly in butter with a little onion, pinch each of mustard powder and chilli powder, for 2 mins, cognac added then reduced to almost no liquid. Well chilled.
  • A little powdered gelatine soaked in a little of the wine to be served (enough to softly set the sauce).
  • Equal quantities of single cream and the lobster stock simmered with a sprig of tarragon, until reduced to about 3/4. Extract tarragon and correct seasoning if necessary. Stir in softened gelatine until completely dissolved. Leave to cool until almost set.
  • Fold lobster meat into about 3/4 of the sauce, spoon into the shells, spoon rest of sauce over and decorate (I used a few slices of Italian white truffle).

Simples! … and simply delicious.

New Year (Revelion).

New Year is all about Romanian food so it’s Petronela’s turn and now I can relax, almost – cârnați (Romanian sausages) to be made, a joint effort. All prepared before New Year’s Eve which is also P’s birthday so following the Romanian (at least Moldavian) tradition, we stay at home and friends – anybody – can drop in and sample the feast. There’ll be at least a dozen different dishes on the table.

 

 

A beautiful crisp, sunny Yorkshire day.

(Click any picture to see it larger)

Breakfast

Roger pouring Freixenet bubbly at the breakfast table

Smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, Irish potato farls and Spanish Cava – Freixenet

Presents, Romanian carols, walk, Betty’s Hot Chocolate (present), Calvados, Queen’s Christmas message, English carols (more…)

To all my followers, and anyone else who might drop by, wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas if you celebrate this Christian festival, and wishing you a wonderful time whatever festive occasion you might celebrate if not.

Our Christmas Tree - 2012

Our Christmas Tree – 2012

The smoked salmon and scrambled eggs are eaten, the bottle of champagne still has a little in it (but not for much longer), and the brioche dough is in the warmest room in the house (the boiler cupboard) for a few hours for its first rising. I didn’t get to it last night so that was my first job this morning – among opening presents, making breakfast, delivering Christmas cards to my neighbours … who says only the ladies can multi-task ;).

More on the Christmas Dinner later.

A superb sauce is an essential part of many classic French dishes, and that means something more than the pathetic skidmark put on the plate according to current fashion. So today I’ll be making the sauce to go with filet of beef on Christmas Day. It’s little wonder that so many English restaurants have the menu in French; if I tell you I’ll be making ‘brown sauce’ you’ll likely say I’d save myself a lot of work by buying a bottle from the local supermarket. But I’ll be making a classic ‘Sauce Brune‘. I’m drafting this in advance, so it’s in the future tense, but it will be posted when the sauce is made.

The ingredients which turn good bouillon cubes into something approaching classic bouillon

The ingredients which turn good bouillon cubes into something approaching classic bouillon

Way back in the ’70s when I fancied myself as an ‘haute cuisine cook’, I lived in a fair-sized 17th century house with an enormous kitchen complete with Aga, had an equally enthusiastic ‘classic cooking’ partner, and had ‘dinner party’ guests at least twice a month, so I/we made my/our bouillon from scratch. Now I cheat, using some bouillon cubes as a starter.

There are only two of us for Christmas dinner so I’ll be making a little under a pint of sauce, the starting point being 2 bouillon cubes in a pint of water in a pan. To this will be added finely chopped carrot and onion (about 3 tbl – tablespoons – of each), and finely chopped celery (about 1 tbl). A couple of sprigs of parsley, a small bay leaf, a pinch of thyme, and a 1/4 pint of red wine will be added. This will be simmered for about 1/2 hr. Now I have my ‘cheat’ bouillon. 10 mins from the end I’ll begin the next stage.

In a thick-bottomed saucepan, I’ll ‘sweat’ finely diced onion, carrot, celery (about an ounce of each) in about 3tbl of clarified butter, with 1.1/2 tbl of finely chopped boiled ham, for about 10 minutes. Then I’ll slowly add an ounce of flour, stirring continuously over a moderate to low heat until the flour turns golden brown – 8 to 10 minutes. STOP – too brown and the sauce will have a bitter taste and will not thicken properly. Although making this sauce seems a long-winded process, in fact this is the only part of the process which, like scrambled eggs and risotto, requires your complete attention.

Off the heat, the boiling bouillon is tipped in all at once while blending with a wire whisk, then 1 tbl of tomato paste is beaten in before adding a a small herb bouquet tied in a bit of cheese cloth (a couple of parsley sprigs, a very small bay leaf and about 1/8 tsp of thyme).

Now it’ll be simmered very slowly, partially covered, for not less than a couple of hours, skimming off fat or scum from time to time and adding a little boiling water if it thickens too much. I should end up with a little less than a pint of liquid, which will be strained then degreased completely. A fine film of bouillon, reserved for the purpose, will be floated on top to prevent a skin forming, then when cool it’ll be into the fridge until Christmas Day. It isn’t quite finished of course; it’ll get its final fillip after the meat has roasted (watch this space!).

I’m leaving the pudding until tomorrow morning; it’ll then have a day and a half to ‘improve’ before Christmas Day evening. I’ve decided on the Malakoff/Bavarois cross – Le Pelerin en Timbale, I thought the day deserved a nod to the pilgrims – leaving out the apricot sauce for my non-fruit eating wife but with some poached apricots laced with kirsch on the side for me! There’ll be a jug of Chantilly cream on the table too.

By the way, it’s Sunday so earlier I made our usual Sunday breakfast – bacon, eggs and a Yorkshire sausage, what else? But don’t get the wrong idea; I don’t do all the cooking, I just write about some of mine. I do a bit more than half which is fair as I work part-time but Petronela, my wife, works full-time in the arduous job of a high school teacher. She will be making today’s evening meal – tochitura with mamaliga; that’s Romanian. She’ll also be making pretty much all the food for New Year’s Eve, the big Romanian celebration known as Revelion (same word as the French but their’s is Christmas Eve I understand), even though it’s also her birthday.

I said I’d post this after the sauce was finished but it’s now simmering away and I want to make the butter-toasted cake slices for the ‘Malakoff’ part of the desert so I’m posting it now.

Neither Petronela my wife nor I really like turkey, but many alternatives for Christmas dinner that I would relish – pheasant, partridge, even guinea fowl – are ruled out as Petronela won’t eat them. I say ‘dinner’ because for the first time in years we will be able to eat in the evening, which we prefer, rather than ‘lunch’ which was the preference of my mother, now sadly no longer with us.

Breakfast is easy as we’ve settled into our own tradition – smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and champagne – with some butter croissant (which – shame – I do not make myself). But what to have for dinner?

Simple pizza ready for the oven

Simple pizza ready for the oven

Simple pizza ready for the table

Simple pizza ready for the table

Then, on Monday evening, I watched a master class on BBC2 tv by the only ‘celebrity chef’ I’ve any time for, Michel Roux jnr. Regular ‘foodie’ readers of grumpytyke’s ramblings will know I have a preference for classic French cuisine; watching and listening to a master enthuse about the classics decided me. Classic cuisine it would be, with one exception – the starter, for which I’m going back to a recent post by another inspiring Frenchman (he says he isn’t a ‘chef’), the author of My French Heaven. More details of the final Christmas fayre in a later post but for the main it’ll be Filet de boeuf en croute (not Beef Wellington, as will be explained in the later post), for the ‘pudding’ maybe a Bavarois – perhaps chocolate or praline – or a cross between a Bavarois and a charlotte Malakoff (my wife doesn’t eat most fruit either!).

In the meantime, I’m having a kitchen rest so everything simple in the run up. One ‘simple’ was a pizza. Why someone would buy a ready-made pizza in the UK to eat at home is beyond me. I’ve had superb pizzas in the USA, and of course in Italy, but never in Britain – not from any of the pizza chains, not from the supermarkets, not even from otherwise excellent small Italian restaurants. But, with a bit of cheating, it’s so simple to put one together at home.

First the base: if you like the thin crispy variety, shop-bought can be fine, so I keep a couple in the freezer. That’s the first cheat. If you like the thicker, puffy variety the ready-mades are less satisfactory. Then there’s the tomato sauce to cover the base; the best solution is to make up a large batch, divide it up into single pizza portions and store in the freezer, but some of the bottled ‘cook in’ sauces can be good for the purpose – given a bit more sparkle with a dose of fresh herbs if necessary.  On this occasion I used a jar of ‘Tomato and chilli pasta sauce’, livened up with a dose of fresh basil. After that it was simple – what happened to be in the fridge.

Mozzarela of course, sliced and arranged on the sauce, followed by thinly sliced chorizo. Then sliced, pickled char-grilled peppers, halved stuffed olives, some grated cheddar cheese, and a liberal dose of good olive oil. Then it’s onto a hot pizza tray and into the hottest oven I can have without setting off the smoke alarm.

So, this was a very simple one and for 5 mins work something which, in my opinion, is much tastier (and much cheaper) than anything from a pizza house.