Monday, 4 March 2013

Scotch Eggs

Back in the saddle again - after a not-so-brief hiatus from writing. (I've been cooking up a storm but not quite finding time to write things down so I've got a long list of recipes ready to blog - watch this space.)
Kicking off with Scotch Eggs - a ubiquitous supermarket and garage snack - its easy to see why people don't think very highly of them but when home-made, they turn from a greasy pre-packed factory-made snack to a brilliant packed lunch staple ... make more than one batch at a time because they will disappear quickly. I'm not quite certain why I'm so focussed on picnic food at this time of the year. Temperatures still in the minus... we are equally likely to wake up to snow, sunshine or frost. Maybe I'm making outdoor food becuase this is my favourite time to walk in the hills, or get outdoors and enjoy the beginnings of spring. Either way this recipe can provide you with the most perfect picnic food (but if you eat them indoors with the heating on,  I won't tell.)
This is a simple recipe that relies on good ingredients... fresh eggs, really good sausagement and home-made breadcrumbs create a perfect scotch egg... if you are planning to use wooly sausages, don't bother making this recipe - buy a wooly scotch egg from the supermarket instead.
Scotch Eggs

6 large eggs
250g good sausages
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
pinch dried thyme
2 tbsp flour
100g fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
vegetable oil for frying

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook four of the eggs for 6-7 minutes until they are hard-boiled.
Drain then peel and leave to cool.
Beat the remaining two eggs together in a bowl and set aside.
Remove the sausage meat from the skins. Mix together the sausage meat, thyme, cayenne pepper and some black pepper with 2 tablespoons of beaten egg until well combined.
Divide the sausage mixture evenly into four portions. Flatten out to form a thin patty. Wrap a patty around each boiled egg. Smooth out the join and make sure there is no egg left exposed.
Roll the scotch eggs in the flour, then dip in the beaten egg and roll in the fresh breadcrumbs. Repeat to make sure the eggs are well coated.
Half-fill a deep, heavy-based pan with the vegetable oil and heat to 170C/340F,  Fry the scotch eggs 2 at a time for 4-5 minutes, turning the eggs occasionally until golden-brown all over.
Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
Serve the scotch eggs hot, sliced in half to show the bright yellow interior or cold as perfect picnic food.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Bacon, Lentil & Tomato Soup

6 inches of snow falling overnight means waking up feeling the need for a big pot of soup on the stove and maybe a toasted cheese sandwich on the side. I'm looking forward to getting a huge backlog of recipes tried, tested and posted.... the photos have been taken and uploaded... time to get back in the saddle again. And today - stuck at home, car under a blanket of white is the perfect opportunity to get started.

The cupboards are bare and the fridge is as empty as it has been in a long time but I'm not keen to venture out as the snow is still falling. A rake around finds lentils, stock and tinned tomatoes. Perfect soup ingredients. This has been my favourite soup recipe for oh... about 25 years... It sustained me through college years, through long, cold winters and briefly with the removal of the bacon, through my vegetarian years. I hope it sustains my kids the same way - its a quick, cheap and easy soup to throw together and still feels like a treat - especially on a cold wintery day.

Bacon, Lentil & Tomato Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stick of celery, diced
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp hot smoked paprika
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 cup red lentils
1 litre chicken stock
salt and pepper
3 slices of bacon
Small handful of chives, chopped finely
Sour cream
Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan, add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and saute till soft and aromatic(around ten minutes).
Sprinkle the paprika on top and stir through.
Next add the tomatoes, lentils and stock. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Taste and season with salt and pepper.
I prefer this soup blended and smooth but if you like your chunky, don't blend it at all.
While the soup is simmering, grill the bacon till crispy and chop.
Serve the soup topped with bacon bits, sour cream and chives.