Tuesday, 18 May 2010

National Tomato week - Roast Tomato and Baked Eggs

So suprisingly it is National Tomato week, this week. I have no clue why Defra has chosen this week to be National Tomato Week. Once again Defra have randomly stuck a pin in a calendar and declared that this week is National Tomato Week. Surely they would have been better waiting until July or August when the fruits are fully ripened glory rather when they are puny green seedling, but hey who am I to argue with Defra's timing.

Anyway after another trying week, mainly chasing non paying clients at work and been given 2 months notice on my lovely little flat, I was feeling pretty glum. Thankfully the wonderful Patrick came round to cheer me up and have supper. I'm not one of cooking complex recipes  during the week, I just don't have the time or inclination after getting in from work late. So the evening called for another quick and really tasty dish that required hardly any effort, so that I could have a good old moan to Patrick.

So to celebrate National Tomato Week (ok, so that's a bit of a fib) and to provide a tasty and comforting supper for both of us, I decided on one of my favorite dishes for supper - it has also been known for me to serve this on a Sunday morning when the hangover is a little to much to bear.

Roast Tomatoes and Baked Eggs
To Serve 2

5 - 7 Large on the vine tomatoes
4  Eggs 
Goats Cheese
2 Cloves of Garlic Finely chopped
Small Chili Finely chopped
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Maldon Sea Salt
Olive Oil

1. Cut tomatoes horizontally and put into a large ovenproof dish.
2. Pour a good glug of Olive Oil over the Tomatoes,
3. Scatter the Garlic and Chili over the tomatoes 
4. Add a good pinch or two of Maldon and pepper over the Tomatoes 
5. Place in a preheated oven at around Gas Mark 7 for around 45 minutes
6. After 45 mins the Tomatoes should be roasted enough to be slightly squished with the back of a spoon.
7. Once tomatoes are squished, make a little well amongst the tomatoes, then break on egg into the well - repeat this for each egg 
8. Break up Goats cheese and sprinkle on top of the tomatoes and eggs, you can also add a few Basil leaves at this point as well if you like.
9. Put back into the oven for a further 5 minutes, you can adjust this time depending on how you like your eggs. I prefer runny eggs, so only put the dish back in the least amount of  time I can get away with.
10. Take out and serve immediately with chunks of bread to mop up the tomato juice and runny egg yolks.

Dish went down so well with Patrick, that after me moaning about  getting kicked out of my lovely little flat and having to look for somewhere else to live, it was decided  that we should become flat mates and try and find a place for both of us - what a winner !

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Plenty of Inspiration

The first day back to work after the week long holiday in Northern Cyprus, was not as horrific as it could have been thanks to a copy of Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, which had been delivered to work whilst I was away.

A brief flick through whilst I booted my mac up at work not only instantly filled me with inspiration  but literally made the prospect of my work inbox telling me that I had over 200 emails waiting to be read actually bearable surprisingly. The serenity of the holiday lasted all of about another 5 minutes,  the next time I managed to look at Plenty again was the next day after work.  Thankfully Lucy and Nina were coming round the next evening to discuss future Supperclubs, or rather using the guise of discussing future supperclubs but in fact having a gossip and a giggle once again.

Still pining for the warmer climes of Northern Cyprus and the wondrous fresh mediteriarian cuisine which we ate every day whilst been there. I decided that the quinoa and bread salad was the best choice for the evening, due to two major contributing factors time and cost. 

What I cooked below is based on the recipe in Ottolenghi's book crossed with a Panzanella recipe with somewhat of a Turkish twist,  variations  were dependent on what was picked up on the way home from work and what was already in the cupboards.

Quinoa and Bread Salad 

For 4 people

Quinoa (about a cup and half)
1 x Red Onion
2 x Mini Cucumbers
4 x Large on the vine tomato's from the local Turkish supermarket
Feta Cheese
Turkish Flat Bread
Pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp of white wine vinegar
4 tbsp of chopped fresh mint
4 tbsp of chopped flat leaf parsley
4 tbsp of chopped coriander
Maldon Sea Salt
Cracked Black Pepper

1. First rinse the Quinoa, then toast off the Quinoa until it changes colour, and then add one and a half times stock to the grain, season and simmer over a medium heat on the hob for around 15 minutes.

2. Whilst the Quinoa is bubbling away, finely slice the Red Onion, cut the cucumbers into large dices along with the tomato's.

3. Brush the Turkish Flat Bread with good Virgin Olive Oil and place in a warm oven until it's warm and slightly toasted. 

4. Once the Quinoa has cooked, rinse with cold water and drain

5. Add the chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and sliced Red Onion to the Quinoa and tear up and add as much of the bread as you think necessary.

6. Add the chopped herbs to the mix with the pomegranate molasses and white wine vinegar, and mix thoroughly.

7. Serve up with either crumbled Feta cheese or Greek yogurt on top of the Salad.

Really enjoyed this with Nina and Lucy, really light but surprisingly filling. Also tasted really fresh and texture of the different ingredients was a joy to eat, and was really easy and quick to make. I have a feeling that I will eating a lot more of this during the next few months. 

Sunday, 9 May 2010

The Last Supper

In one of the kitchens that I use to work in many moons ago, we use to play a game during service every now and again. Now it wasn’t one of the many horrific games that cooks and chefs play upon each other, which many people hear of. In fact it was a rather gentle game called – Last Supper.
The game consisted of each member of staff listing what they would chose to eat if they only had one meal left in the world to eat, what they would drink , where and with whom would they like as company.
The game usually consisted of everyone trying to outdo everyone else, with meals ranging from foie Gras, Grouse, Oysters and caviar to name a few. Obviously washed down with finest vintage champagne or an amazing bottle of Pinot Noir, surrounded by people such as John Lennon, Elizabeth David, Ghandi and surprisingly Margaret Thatcher (needless to say the person who said Margaret Thatcher was locked in the walk fridge for a very long time).
After spending the past seven days with my parents in their small place in Northern Cyprus, and as my dad brutally told me, having reached my middle aged years, I realise that all my previous answers when playing “Last Supper” are totally irrelevant. I have at the grand old ripe age of 34 realised what my Last Supper would consist of and with whom.
Each morning whilst been away I have had the perfect meal cooked for me which would constitute my Last Supper. Something so simple yet evokes memories spanning back to my childhood and formative adult life. Poached Eggs on Toast, cooked by my mum with a bit of HP Sauce and a cup of Yorkshire Tea, sat at a table with my family. Believe me nothing tastes as good as my mum’s poached eggs. The whites are always firm with no straggly bits and the yolks are always perfectly runny. They are always placed on top of good farmhouse toasted white bread with a generous amount of salted butter spread on the toast. Come hell or high water, my mum has cooked them every time I have asked. Through years of her despairing at me for been the teenager from hell, through break ups, deaths and of course the very rebellious years (which were very despairing for her, though she has never said so and for that I am eternally grateful) , she has cooked them for me.
So there you have it, that’s my perfect “Last Supper”, Poached eggs on Toast cooked by my old dear. Believe me, I have had a fair few food epiphanies in my time, Blood Orange Jelly at St John’s, Iberian Ham in the depths of Andalusia and proper Thai Massaman Curry topped with a fried egg on an island in the midst of the Adaman Ocean. I guess what I’m trying to say is I like the small pleasures in life and that’s what makes me happy. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge paying quite a bit of money and eating great amazing food, cooked by some of the world’s greatest cooks and chefs, in fact I love doing it. But it’s the small pleasures of life that make me the happiest.