Indian Spiced Potatoes with a Crispy Fried Egg

Eggs and potatoes, yum. Eggs and curry, yum. Eggs and potatoes and curry, yum yum yum!

I made this for the first time last Sunday for lunch, then again on Monday, and yet again last night (Tuesday) as a side dish with a curry feast. I think it’s fair to say that I love it, that my family loves it, and I bet you will too.

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RECIPE – Serves 4

800g floury potatoes (Maris Piper, Roosters etc) peeled and diced into 1cm cubes

6 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

a fat thumb of ginger, finely chopped

1 tbsp curry powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

25g unsalted butter

6 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped

1 long green chilli, finely chopped

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

1 tsp nigella seeds

4 large eggs

a small handful of curry leaves


METHOD

First, prepare the potatoes: bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the diced potatoes and simmer gently for 13 mins or until just soft. Drain in a colander and set aside while you prepare the spice base.

Mix the curry powder and turmeric with a little water to make a paste. This will prevent the spices from sticking and burning when added to the pan.

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan then add the mustard seeds. Cook over a medium heat until they just start to pop then add the garlic, ginger and curry powder/turmeric paste. Cook for 30 seconds or so, stirring constantly until aromatic, then add the butter.

When the butter has melted, add another tablespoon of oil and the potatoes. Fry for 5 mins, turning often and taking care not to allow the potatoes to disintegrate.

Add the spring onion, chilli and salt top the pan, stir and toss together for a minute or so then scatter the nigella seeds over the top, mix and transfer to warmed plates while you cook the eggs.

Line the base of a large frying pan with baking parchment, as you would if you were lining the base of a cake tin. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil over the top of the parchment, heat the pan, break the eggs on top and fry for a couple of minutes until thoroughly cooked and the bottom of the eggs are starting to crisp. This is a great way to cook a fried egg under any circumstances.

Place an egg on top of each mound of spiced potato, heat a tablespoon of oil in the frying pan and add the curry leaves. Fry for a minute or two until dark and glossy, drain on kitchen paper and serve on top of the eggs.

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Za’atar and Goats’ Cheese Puffs

I have a wide array of canapes, light bites, side dishes and snacks in my notebook, they’re always handy to have because you never know when somebody will ask you to make something for a party, drop in out of the blue for a cuppa or just for those times when you think a meal requires something else to complete it.

These puff pastry rolls are absolutely delicious and though they do require just a little forethought in that you need to have some defrosted puff pastry to hand, they are quick to put together and quick to cook.

They come courtesy of Sabrina Ghayour, whose books ‘Persiana’ and ‘Sirocco’ come chock-full of delicious Middle-Eastern flavours. I have not modified this recipe at all, it is perfect just as it is. I am not a fan of ready-rolled puff pastry but it does make it even easier – if you prefer to use half a block of frozen puff, as I do, then you won’t need quite so much cheese and za’atar. The quantities are not crucial anyway, just follow your instincts and use less or more as your tastes dictate.

Za’atar is a deeply aromatic Middle-Eastern herb and spice mix. These go well as an alternative to bread rolls when making a spicy soup, or pretty much anything made with butternut squash. They also make a brilliant snack and reheat well in a 180C/ 160C fan/ Gas 4 oven for 5 minutes.

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RECIPE – makes 15-20

250g puff pastry (half a block), or a sheet of ready-rolled (320g)

olive oil, for brushing

2 heaped tbsp za’atar

300g soft goats’ cheese

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


METHOD 

Preheat the oven to 220C / 200C fan/ Gas 7. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

If using block pastry, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle of around 30cm x 20cm. Brush the pastry lightly and evenly with a little olive oil, like so:

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You can see that my pastry is not quite straight, it doesn’t matter. Now sprinkle 1 tbsp of the za’atar evenly over the pastry:

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Crumble the goats’ cheese evenly across the pastry, leaving a 2.5cm border on the long edge of the pastry furthest away from you, like so:

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Season generously with salt and pepper and sprinkle the remaining za’atar over the cheese:

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It might look like rather a lot, but don’t worry. Now, starting with the long edge of the pastry that is closest to you, roll the pastry as tightly as you can without tearing or crushing it. You will end with something resembling a Swiss roll.

Cut the roll in half, then using a serrated knife cut each half into rounds approximately 1cm thick. Trim away the scruffy ends. Pat each whirl lightly to slightly flatten them so they stay together while they cook, and place them on the baking tray leaving sufficient space between them to allow them to rise:

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There is no need to glaze, just bake for approximately 15 minutes until well-risen and golden. Be prepared to immediately lose half of what you have baked – grasping fingers are a real danger when these come out of the oven!

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Herby Poached Egg and Smoked Salmon on Sourdough Toast

Whenever I read through a recipe book I look longingly at some of the delicious ideas for breakfasts, but I keep going past that section because I never have time to make an elaborate breakfast. Fool that I am, quite often all it takes is a little forward planning and a delicious and different breakfast can be on the table in ten minutes – the same time it takes to prepare my usual boiled eggs and toast.

I saw Jamie Oliver make this on his most recent TV series and it sounded, and looked, so delicious that I was determined to make it myself. I’m so glad I did, it required no forethought – besides having the ingredients to hand – and it really was on the table in ten minutes.  This would make a great light lunch as well.

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RECIPE – serves 2

extra virgin olive oil
a few fresh chives, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
2 large eggs
2 thick slices of sourdough, toasted
cream cheese
smoked salmon, roughly chopped
a large handful of spinach
Tabasco sauce
1 lemon


METHOD 

Lay two 40cm sheets of non-PVC clingfilm flat on a work surface and rub with a little oil. Place one at a time into a cup and push down to create a well to hold the egg.

Sprinkle the chopped chives and chilli in the centre of the sheet, then carefully crack the egg on top. Pull in the sides of the clingfilm and be sure to gently squeeze out any air around the egg. Twist, then tie a knot in the clingfilm to secure the egg snugly inside. Repeat with the other egg in the other sheet.

Your egg parcels should look like this:

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Poach the egg parcels in a pan of simmering water for 6 to 7 minutes for soft-poached, or until cooked to your liking.

Place a colander or steamer above the pan and wilt the spinach as the egg poaches.

Meanwhile, toast the bread and spread the cream cheese on it like butter. Scatter the smoked salmon over the cream cheese. Squeeze any excess liquid out of the spinach, then spoon over the toast.

Snip open the clingfilm parcel, unwrap the egg and place proudly on top. Dot with a little Tabasco and serve with a wedge of lemon for squeezing over, then season and tuck in.

Kedgeree

Curry for breakfast? It may be an acquired taste, but it’s a taste worth acquiring if the dish is interesting and – most importantly – delicious. In my house this is an evening dish, but in truth you could have it at any time of the day.

It is widely believed that kedgeree was brought to the United Kingdom by returning British colonials in Victorian times, who had enjoyed it in India and brought it back as a breakfast dish. There is some evidence that the dish was actually in existence much earlier, as early as 1790 in fact, but that is the nature of cooking – one dish inspires another, recipes evolve and hybridise with others, there is very little that is really new in the world of food. What is certainly true is that Anglo-Indian cuisine first became fashionable under Queen Victoria, a taste that has persisted, strengthened and deepened over the last 150 years.

There are many, many recipes for kedgeree – sometimes I feel as if I have cooked them all. The recipe below may be simple, but it is acclaimed by my family as the best of them all. Everything complements everything else, there are no flashy ingredients, nothing complex to do, just cook and eat.

It looks like there is too much fish in this dish, but kedgeree is a dish that is at its best with a lot of fish – cracking that secret was like discovering the kedgeree holy grail…

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RECIPE – feeds 4

approximately 600ml milk (any kind, for poaching)

2 bay leaves

the stalks from a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1 tsp whole black peppercorns

400g haddock

500g undyed smoked haddock

25g unsalted butter

a large knob of fresh ginger

1 long red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 heaped tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

175g basmati rice

600ml cold water

a handful of sultanas

2 large eggs

freshly squeezed lemon juice

a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped to garnish

lemon wedges to garnish


METHOD

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas 4.

Put the fish in a large baking dish, skin side up (if it has any) in a single layer if possible. Add the bay leaves, parsley stalks and peppercorns, then add as much milk as necessary to just cover the fish. Cover the dish with baking foil, and ensure the edges of the foil are tucked in tight and sealed. Bake for 16-20 minutes until the fish is just done and starts to flake.

Meanwhile, boil a kettle, add the hot water to a pan and boil the eggs for 8 minutes (until just hard-boiled). Plunge them into cold water to cool, set aside for now. When you come to use them either half or quarter them, as you like.

While the eggs are boiling, melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat and add the ginger, chilli and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes until aromatic, then add the onion and reduce the heat. Cook for a further 6-8 minutes on a medium heat until the onions are softened but not coloured, then add the cayenne pepper, turmeric and nutmeg, stir thoroughly while cooking for a minute, then add the rice and sultanas. Stir again, ensuring that everything is thoroughly coated in everything else, then add the water. Stir and bring to the boil, then simmer for approximately ten minutes until the rice is just al dente.

By this point the fish should be done. Remove from the poaching liquid with a slotted spoon and remove any of the peppercorns that are adhering to it. Remove the skin (if it is there) and flake the fish directly into the rice. Cook it on slightly, stir it in gently and if any more liquid is required then use the poaching liquid to loosen the rice. Check the seasoning and warm a serving platter.

Turn the fish and rice out onto the serving platter, topped with the eggs and roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves. Squeeze half a lemon over everything, and serve with lemon wedges.

Crumpets!

Who doesn’t love a good crumpet? Why go to all the trouble of making your own though, when you can easily pick up a decent pack of 6 ready-made crumpets for under a pound? One simple reason: there is a world of difference between a decent shop-bought crumpet and a crumpet that you have made yourself.

Home made, they are light, fluffy, and taste divine. You also know exactly what you have put into it, so you know exactly what you are putting in to your body: no preservatives, no flavour agents, no chemical additives. It is also a very satisfying thing to do, and extremely easy.

RECIPE (Makes 12)

400ml warm milk

100ml tepid water

1 tbsp dried fast action yeast

1 tsp caster sugar

300g strong white flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp fine sea salt

Vegetable oil, for greasing


METHOD

Warm the milk and water gently until it is around blood temperature – too cool and your yeast will act slowly, too hot and you run the risk of killing the yeast. Whisk the yeast and sugar into the warmed liquid until completely dissolved, then leave in a warm place for 15 minutes or until it starts to froth slightly.

Meanwhile, sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and, when it is ready, pour the milk mixture into it. Whisk from the centre outward until the flour and milk are fully combined, with a consistency like double cream. Cover with a damp tea towel and set aside for a further 45-60 minutes until the batter mixture is bubbling.

*NOTE: Make sure you use a very large bowl, the batter mixture will expand significantly as the bicarb and yeast start to do their work. If you can, leave the batter to sit for up to two hours, if you leave it for longer then the holes in your crumpets will be more defined and it will taste better as well.

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You will need a large frying pan or skillet to cook your crumpets, as well as four muffin rings (or large cookie cutters).

Lightly grease the inside of your muffin rings with vegetable oil, and apply a thin film of oil to your pan.  Place the empty, greased rings in the pan and set over a medium-high heat; when hot, add 4 tbsp of the batter to each muffin ring and cook for 5 mins without disturbing them. You will see the holes start to develop as they cook, the top of the batter will start to dry out and the holes will firm up. After 5 mins, wriggle the muffin rings off each crumpet using a pair of tongs, then turn them over and cook for a further minute. The base of the crumpets should be smooth and lightly browned and, once cooked, the other side should be holey and also lightly browned.

*NOTE: Make sure you don’t over fill the crumpet rings. If you put too much batter in, the middle of the crumpet will still be liquid after 5 minutes and when you turn them over that liquid will fill in your holes and you will be left with a crumpet that looks more like a muffin. The picture below shows the crumpets after about two minutes of cooking – as you can see, the holes are starting to develop.

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To make the remaining crumpets, re-grease the muffin rings, and the pan if necessary, and reheat the rings. Refill the muffin rings with the crumpet batter and continue.

You can make these in advance, and when you are ready to serve just lightly toast them to warm them through. I like these buttered so heavily that the butter runs down my chin…