Baked Eggs, I’m in love.

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How do you do Sunday Breakfast? If I want to make a fancy cooked breakfast it often turns into second breakfast, or even lunch. As much as I love cooking I despair at even the sight of pots and pans, bleary eyed and yearning for coffee and familiarity. I need a sit down and a snack before I can even contemplate cracking eggs and slicing bread.

If you’re like me, then this is the cooked breakfast for you. Easy while still half asleep – just be sure not to slice a finger off – the eggs look after themselves. Prepare the sauce, crack the eggs on top, nestle them in the oven then, while you’re drinking your coffee and perusing the newspaper, they magically cook themselves.

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Mere minutes later they are set and a turn of the pepper mill and a whisp of olive oil is all they need before being spooned onto toast and gobbled up. This dish wakes gently you up, is it comfort food – there are no taste sensations instead it is the perfect winter breakfast dish, and at breakfast time too.

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Baked Eggs
(serves 2)
1 spanish chorizo, cubed
1 tomato, cubed
1 clove garlic, sliced
2T lemon juice
handful chopped fennel
4 eggs

Fry chorizo until browned and fragrant, add tomato, garlic and cook until soft. Add fennel and cook lightly. Season with dried chilli, salt and pepper and add lemon juice. Divide into two ramekins and top each with two eggs. Bake in hot oven for 10 – 15 minutes, or until whites are set and yolks still runny.
Serve with turkish toast or sourdough, eat.

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What have I been eating?

What have I been eating? To be honest, I don’t really know. A bit of this, too much of that and just a smidge of that, I swear.

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Kathryn over at Limes and Lycopene has been listing the variety of foods she eats drawing attention to the realities of a well rounded and balanced diet.

A few years ago I read an article discussing the benefits of eating a colourful diet, so when I’m feeling guilty and a little too round I half heartedly count the number of food items I have eaten in a day, and what colour they are – and mostly, I am pleasantly surprised. I will update this post for the next week detailing what I have eaten each day, and I hope to be pleasantly surprised again – but I’m sure not counting on it.

Hey, do you remember that book where families from around the world are photographed in front of a weeks worth of groceries? This will be sort of like my entry in that book, with out the photos, or the maths.

Wish me luck!

Edit: I have done it, and boy am i glad. See, I don’t think that I could have predicted the outcome of this exercise – that is, actually eating a more varied diet that I would normally. See I was thinking about the foods I had consumed in the previous few days. At the shops and in restaurants I would actively choose items that contained ingredients I hadn’t eaten lately, instead of either what sounded amazing, or what i normally bought.

I have no idea how healthy my diet is, I know that out of 21 meals I ate 5 out (pakistani take away, steak sandwich pub lunch, thai dinner, sushi lunch and a sandwich), Cooked 7 fresh and had left overs 3 times. All the desserts I ate were homemade (except the ice cream and the croissant), and the only convenience foods were Vita Britz and rolled oats for breakfast.

Although I won’t continue to document my eating habits here, I will think about them more – and hey, I might do this again come summer time.

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Polenta, fig, rosemary and Pine Nut – The Cake I nearly didn’t make. AKA the frying pan cake.

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Oh, and this is my entry for this months ‘Waiter, there’s something in my…’ fruit and nuts.

I can’t for the life of me tell you why I wanted to make this cake. The ingredients appeal to me mostly, separately, but combined? Why? In fact, I almost didn’t make it, see its true, I admit it. I don’t like polenta. What was that? I know, i know. I never did get on that savoury polenta kick, and the few times I make Jamie Oliver’s orange and polenta crisps they turned out more gritty and grainy than, uh, crisp.

And even more strangely is that the recipe came out of the newspaper. It’s not that I have anything against the newspaper, but I (almost) used to work for the people who write these recipes, and I have been sorely disappointed by their weekly offerings ever since they took over the reins. A few weeks ago they printed a recipe for Beef Dumpling soup which I got a little excited about until I read the words “Bought Dumplings”. Even the recipe above ‘the cake I nearly didn’t make’ was terribly close to making me prematurely turn the page – Broccoli, Anchovy and Chilli Linguine, is a recipe for that even necessary?

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To further emphasize how amazing it is that I made the cake (that I almost didn’t make), in the usually ridiculous newspaper recipe section it was named ‘Pine Nut and Rosemary Shortcake’. See, I would have skipped right over a recipe for a pine nut and rosemary cake, how boring and trendy, but this name really missed the point. The highlight of this dish is the way the sweet chewy figs mingle with the mild polenta, offset by hits of nutty pine nuts, the whole combination lifted by an undertone of earthy rosemary. The nuts and herb are not the stars here, the whole combination is what makes this cake a winner. Despite the fact that I barely changed the recipe, I am going to rename it Polenta, Fig, Rosemary and Pine Nut Cake.

Look past the individual ingredients, this cake is more than just the sum of its parts, and it is terribly easy to make, hell F.’s asked me what I was doing, half way through, surprised he responded ‘well, i’ve never seen anyone make a cake in a frypan before’.

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Polenta, Fig, Rosemary and Pine Nut Cake.
500mL water
140g Polenta
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
125g Caster Sugar
60g Pine Nuts
180g Dried Figs, stem removed and cut into pieces
40g Butter
1 egg
1 tsp finely chopped fresh Rosemary
115g plain flour.

Preheat Oven to 200C.
Grease a 22cm cake tin (I used springform), the coat with flour, tapping out the excess.
Bring water to the boil. Add polenta in a steady stream, stirring constantly. Add olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring for another 30 seconds or until the polenta starts to come away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and add the butter, sugar, nuts, figs, flour, rosemary and egg. Stir to combine.
Spoon into prepared pan and flatten top with spatula.
Bake for 45mins remove from oven and cool slightly before turning out.
Serve cold by itself or with thick greek yoghurt or cream.

Posted in cake, Dessert, food, recipe | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Potato Love

Potatoes love rosemary.  It is that simple. Add some olive oil and sea salt and they, along with those destined to eat them, will be in heaven.

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The smells wafting from the kitchen are almost too much to bear. I’m ready to eat dinner and its only 5:30pm.

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Beef Laap or larb, larp – delicious however you spell it.

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My old neighbourhood is jam-packed with Thai restaurants, it seems they were taking business and marketing inspiration from the old quarter in Hanoi with its tin, paper and gravestone streets, rather than from the rest of the city. A shop would close and invariable a new Thai restaurant would open. I can count at least 15 in the stretch of only a few blocks, when someone mentions Thai food in Sydney, Newtown immediately springs to mind.

Unfortunately though, there is nothing wonderful, unique or even particularly tasty about these eateries. Perhaps the proximity to Sydney uni and a $6 lunch special makes opening a new Thai restaurant seem like a good business proposition. Unfortunately they mostly all dish out the same pad thai and stir fried chicken with cashew nuts.

(This said, i did have an eye opening vegetarian tom yum soup recently).

With this in mind, there is no need to explain the origins of Laap, though in my neighbourhood it would be recognised as Larb. The laap that I’m telling you about today the laotian version, a recipe I built from memory of eating this fiery complex salad in Laos. The Larb in the Newtown Thai restaurants doesn’t compare to this, and I am regularly disappointed by their lack of body and flavour.

My introduction to Laap was by the river in Vientiane, the lights of Thailand blinking at us across the water, eating grilled chicken, beef laap and sticky rice by candlelight. The rice and beer lao tamed the rich spiciness of the salad, but still the earthy fish sauce, tangy lime juice and fresh herbs shone through.
Now I want to go back to Laos, and sample traditional, spicy, gamey and rich laap from fish, eggplant, water buffalo or chicken. But for today, this avant-garde interpretation will have to suffice.

Beef Laap (very not authentic)
(serves 2)
4 spring onions
250g beef (blade steak)
4 cloves garlic
1 long red chilli
4T fish sauce
juice 1 lime
1t sugar
coriander
mint
2T roasted rice powder *
small piece lemongrass

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Wash spring onions and cut white pieces from green. Char the white sections and 3 of the garlic cloves in a dry pan over medium high heat. Remove when browned and just slightly blackened. In a mortar and pestle grind charred vegetables with chilli, extra garlic and pre-chopped lemongrass. Add sugar to aid in making these into a paste.
Fry steak in a little oil until browned and cooked to your liking (rare for me). Rest in a warm place for a few minutes, then slice thinly. Place in bowl with paste, fish sauce, lime juice and any of the resting juices from the steak. Mix well, taste and adjust seasoning, it might need more fish sauce or lime juice. (The original is much much hotter than this, so feel free to add more chilli). Leave meat to rest and prepare the herbs.
Slice the green part of the spring onions on an angle. Wash the herbs well. Pick the mint and cut the coriander roughly. Mix through the meat, add the rice powder and mix through.
Serve with a wedge of lime and sliced cucumber. Eat with rice and a vegetable for a light lunch.

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* Roasted Rice powder is a traditional laap ingredient. Take a few tablespoons of raw glutinous rice and toast in a pan over a medium heat until golden and fragrant. Grind in a coffee/spice grinder or by hand in a mortar and pestle. Adds an earthiness and rounded flavour to the laap.

Posted in food, recipe, salad | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments
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