Slow start to the day…

Today is a special day…

Greg and I have both got a day off from work! It’s also our first day off since going back to work after the festive period (I know I know, it hasn’t been that long!) – but the reason we have this day booked off, is to travel back to Leicester to visit family, friends and attend Greg’s private view for his latest exhibition.

We are truly lucky. To celebrate such an occasion, even though it may not seem like an occasion to some, we’re starting the day off well. We woke up when natural light was coming in (very rare for a weekday right now, isn’t it?), took a few pictures of the wonderful view we have from our top floor flat and even did some yoga to set up for the long drive later.

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But of course, we made sure to sit down to a real breakfast, that took time to make and enjoy eating.

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The dish I prepared is an all time classic to have when you want something big, something with eggs, something that has a kick to it and can be scooped up with many slices of toast slathered in butter. It’s my take on Mexican eggs (Huevos Rancheros) and I encourage you to give it a go when you want a slow and easy start to the morning…

Recipe (serves 2):

  • Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 pinches of cumin seeds
  • 2 spring onions, sliced and seperate the white and green ends
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground red chilli
  • 40g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, removed from their stems
  • Splash of tobasco and drizzle of sriracha
  • 3 – 4 eggs (on preference to how many you’ll eat!)
  • Salt and pepper

Heat up enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a heavy based pan (that has a lid for it) or in a tagine, as I use most the time nowadays. Add the garlic and cumin seeds for 30 seconds then add in the white part of the chopped spring onions. Cook on a low heat for 5mins till the spring onions soften, then add the ground spices for 30 seconds and follow with the chopped tomatoes, puree and thyme.

Add a bit of water, stir the mix, cover and simmer for 20mins, stirring 10mins in and checking if it needs any more water to prevent it from sticking at the bottom. After 20mins it should be a bit sweeter and glistening with the oil having risen to the top.

Add the tobasco, sriracha and season generously. You can add a bit more water and let it simmer for longer if it’s still a bit sour, otherwise gently make a little hole in part of the sauce and crack an egg into it, doing the same for the other eggs you use. Cover again and simmer for a further 5mins, or till the whites have formed.

Switch off the heat, sprinkle the green part of the spring onion over and serve with very heavily buttered toast, some juice and get ready to start your day, the right way 🙂

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Stay in. Make stock.

There’s so much happening around Bristol within music, art and even new restaurants and cafes opening… But in this weather, all I want to do on weekends is wake up early and stay in the kitchen all day cooking anything that takes up a lot of time!

But as we’re all blessed with many options of taking a quicker route to getting something just as delicious that would normally take hours, or have the equipment that can do more than 5 things (at once I’ll bet too!) – There’s very little in this world I find that gives you only the long-winded options – everything in food has a quicker way of doing it…

This sort of realisation has led me to making certain things that does need time, but allows me to leave it to do what it needs to do, for example. waiting for bread dough to rise, bashing a bunch of things in a casserole dish and leaving it to cook and then this, which I’m sharing in today’s blog post – a good quality chicken stock…

Chicken stock is only good when it’s been cooking for hours on end to slowly allow all the silky, delicious fats release from the bones and merge in with the herbs, dried spices and vegetables (whatever you place in there yourself). It may take a long time but oh when it’s done… That smell it creates in the house is what all homes should smell of; simply comforting and welcoming…

Which is why I’d like to share this stock but the first to mention is, I do not usually use a gas hob. Instead, I use my slow cooker. I do not intend to move away from this way of making my stock for a long time because to me, it makes perfect sense. A slow cooker can be left on for many hours and can be left completely unattended (if you somehow decide to leave the house in this weather) without worrying about the house going up in flames, and is also cheaper to run than using a gas cooker. It’s also easier to clean the slow cooker I find, but that may just be my pots I use – who knows…

However, in today’s post, I want to share my discovery of making a brown stock for the first time – which I did do on the hob because I had a clear one going in the slow cooker! This brown stock is taken from, very impressively, Massimo Bottura’s book, “Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef” (A few alterations from me as I used only what I had). It was a lot richer I find and with more depth in flavour; this is probably because it takes longer to prepare and has the process of roasting the bones and veg before being slow cooked in water. Being in the mood I’m in, it was the perfect time to give it a try…

Step by step instructions on making a fantastic, brown stock:

 2In the pot you’ll use to slow cook the stock, throw in some herbs, black peppercorns, the end of a parmesan (been waiting ages to use mine!) and a couple of bay leaves.

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Place your bones in an oven dish, drizzle with a bit of oil and place in the oven, preheated on 160c and cook for about 30mins, turning once during cooking. Be sure that they don’t burn. Throw them into the pot you’ll use to make the stock.

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 Throw whatever veg you’re going to use in a separate baking dish and for about 10mins under the bones, again with a little bit of oil to prevent them from sticking and burning. Throw that in the pot with the chicken bones.

4Top it all up with water to just cover it and simmer on a low heat for about 3 hours, till reduced, thickened and glistening.

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After 3 hours, or more if you wanted to reduce it further, strain out all of the water which has turned into stock into another pot or bowl. Let it cool down completely and throw away the bones and veg you used.

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Tub up your stock with tight fitted lids and freeze or keep one or two for a few days to use up with any meals from ramen, soup or pasta sauces.

Enjoy staying in!