Weekend brunch with feta scrambled eggs

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It started a sunny beautiful Saturday and how nice to spend it having brunch chez nous with old friends.  The majority of today’s spread was very traditional British breakfast fare….bacon, sausages from our excellent Ngaio butcher, some croissants and jam for a sweet, and a token green salad as I felt we’d best eat something from a plant.  I made sure we had a generous assortment of appropriate condiments, including my Mum’s excellent relishes and some H&P sauce in a nod to those at the table hailing from Old Blighty.

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I had eggs on the menu too, and to juice them up a bit, did my favourite feta scrambled eggs.  I’ve been inspired by the delicious feta scrambled eggs served up in mouth-watering perfection every time by the Ministry of Food.  I can’t promise my version to be as perfect as theirs, but I can promise it’s pleasingly reliable when you are looking for a little pep with your eggs.

You will need:

  • One egg per person, plus one extra for the pot
  • A splash of milk
  • About 1 tablespoon of butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chilli flakes
  • Approximately 10 grams of feta per person but don’t hold back if you feel you need more cheese
  • Fresh chopped herbs if you have them

Put a frying pan over moderately high heat and melt the butter.  Meanwhile, whisk your eggs with a dash of milk, salt, pepper and chilli flakes.

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When the butter is runny and bubbling, add the egg mixture.  There is a wide divergence in how one should scramble one’s eggs; my preferred method is to run a spatula or wooden spoon through the mixture, turning up sections as they cook and letting the uncooked mixture flow into the gaps.

When you have been doing this for a few minutes and the whole pan is starting to cook and solidify into chunks, add the feta.  I choose this point in proceedings for the feta, as this way it doesn’t melt entirely and you get pleasing, half-gooey chunks throughout the eggs.

This may be against the egg-scrambling rules; however at this point I turn up the heat and toss the eggs through the pan so they finish off cooking and are not too soggy.

Serve immediately and sprinkle with chopped herbs if you wish…the eggs picture are covered with my sister’s most lustrous fresh parsley, which she kindly gave me as part of the lovely big bunch of herbs pictured, as we are in our new house now and I have yet to return my parsley plot to past glories.

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Enjoy and happy eating!

Edmonds Apple Bread

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You may be a bit tired of my Winter and Autumn range of stodgy, warming things that include root crops and apples, and trust me, I’m just tired of Winter, but this is quite a pleasing little loaf and really easy to make.  Don’t be put off by the ‘bread’ in the title, it doesn’t involve any of that pesky rising or kneading and no yeast goes near it, it’s really more of a cakey loaf in a bread shape.

I would really love to bring you an interesting little history on Apple Bread, but truth is, I can’t find much (so anyone who can fill us all in would be most appreciated, comments below please).  Recipes for Apple Bread appear on a number of US-based sites for home-style or pioneer baking and sometimes it is referred to as Dutch, so perhaps this is where it has its origins.  I suspect its inclusion in the Edmonds book is because it makes good use of something that grows well in this neck of the woods  and is easy to whip up quickly, should you be caught unawares when Doris from over the fence pops over for a cuppa.

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I decided to bake this on a Monday night when I was in a bit of a frump (a cross between grumpy and frazzled) and it met the requirements of providing soothing sifting and mixing activities and a nice smell of baking throughout the house.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I find baking transforms a bad mood into a feeling of satisfaction and peace very quickly.

It only calls for a few ingredients, and all things you are likely to have to hand:

  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup grated apple
  • 1 to 1+1/2 cups milk, approximately

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease a 22cm loaf tin.  Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.  Stir in sugar and add the apple and enough milk to make a smooth, soft dough, mixing it together quickly.

Place into the tin and bake for 1 hour or until the base of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.  You are instructed to wrap it up in a tea towel until cold.

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This makes a sturdy little loaf with flecks of apple throughout.  It’s very satisfying for breakfast, and particularly nice with a little butter or jam.  I suspect it would nicely with a little cheese or chutney too.

Happy eating ’til next time.

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Duck fat roast potatoes

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Well, we are winding through the bitter bones of Winter and it seems like Spring is trying to be sprung.  It may even have managed it in some corners of the hemisphere.

In my little neck of the woods, there is an undeniable lightening of the evenings and some lovely little blossoms bravely raising their heads to see if we’re there yet.  But the wind is, as ever, persistent and rather cold, and that’s excuse enough for me to keep making roast potatoes to see us through.

You may know a few years the lovely Nigella Lawson nearly caused a mass sell-out of goose fat across the UK with her promise that goose fat makes for the best roast.  She’s not far wrong I should think; I make my roast potatoes with duck fat, not goose, but trusted authorities on such matters treat the two interchangeably which makes me feel safe in this decision.

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I’ve had these on a number of occasions recently and they go very well with roast lamb, beef and pork but frankly, I could eat an entire plate of just duck fat roast potatoes and not feel shortchanged.

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Start with the potatoes: I really like the lovely Agrias for their yellow flesh and agreeableness with roasting.  As you know, they need washing, peeling and cutting in to chunks.

Put them in a large pot of water and get them boiling on the hob.

You’ll want to make sure your oven is nice and hot now.  This can be a bit of a juggle if you are also roasting other things, but works well if you get any meat out to rest and then crank your oven up to at least 220 degrees.

Let the potatoes boil for about five minutes, and definitely no more than ten, until they are starting to soften a little on the outside.  Drain them, put them back into the pot and, with the lid on, give them a shake around, roughing up their edges.

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Prepare your roasting pan by placing a couple of spoonfuls of duck fat along the bottom of your roasting tray.  This may sound odd, but I find it a good way to ensure the fat is distributed evenly over all parts of the spuds.

Tip the potatoes into the roasting tray.  Dot more duck fat over the tops and sprinkle heartily with salt.  Use a spatula and / or some tongs to coat the potatoes in the duck fat and salt.

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Roast these in the oven for about 45 minutes, until they have crisped up and turned golden.  I find the only need to be turned once, if at all.

Enjoy them with other goodies but don’t feel guilty if you just want a big plate of these all by themselves!  My only warning is take care not to burn your tongue.