Saturday, November 19, 2011

Benedict Eggs

Poached eggs... Somehow I've always considered them a very difficult task, something only a pro could make. I mean, properly poached eggs, in a pot with simmering water, not on a pan with the help of a ring that would hold the egg whites together. However, I always wanted to try. At the end, what's the worst thing that could happen? A couple of wasted eggs? Oh well, this is really far from a disaster. So, I thought I would give it a go and see. I googled a lot in order to find a perfect technique. Apparently, all of them involved adding some vinegar to a pot of simmering water and them pouring the egg inside. Well, doesn't sound too difficult, does it? Let's see what I could make...

I already had in mind an evil recipe which involved poached eggs. Benedict eggs! On one hand, poached eggs do not require any fat to cook. But, the Hollondaise sauce for the eggs is almost entirely made of butter! So it kind of ruins the healthy, low-cal profile of the dish. Therefore, I would not encourage you to make them your "usual" weekend breakfast. But once in a while, I guess there is no harm.

When I eventually manage to put the whole dish together, I realized that the only real difficulty was to make everything simultaneously. You really should have your eyes on the eggs while poaching. At the same time, the sauce requires constant stirring. So you either need an assistant that you can trust or a place where you could keep the sauce hot while poaching the eggs. I went for the second one (No offence! :P), placing the bowl with the sauce in the warm (about 50 degrees) oven. Worked pretty well :)

INGREDIENTS (2 servings):

4 large eggs
2 slice smoked bacon, either fried or just the way it is :P
2 slices of toasted bread (the original recipe requires toasted English muffins instead, but in Holland it is impossible to find them, so... bread it is!)
Slices of cheese and fresh tomato to serve
1/2 cup white vinegar

For the Hollonaise sauce:

150 gr butter
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp lemon juice
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. Prepare the sauce. In a small sauce pan melt the butter and set aside
2. In a bowl beat the egg yolks with lemon juice, cayenne, salt and pepper.
3. Slowly start adding the melted butter and hot water, while constantly stirring.
4. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and cook over a VERY low heat, while CONSTANTLY stirring. It is very important that you keep the heat as low as possible and stir the sauce all the time. Otherwise, you risk cooking your eggs, so you will end up with pieces of cooked yolks swimming in melted butter. Be patient, it will take some time, but eventually the sauce will start thickening. It took me about 15 minutes!!! Remove from the heat and keep warm until serving.
5. Now poach the eggs. Bring a pot of water to the boil. Lower the heat, so that the water is simmering but not really boiling. Add the vinegar (it helps the egg whites to stay together istead of "dissolving" in the water).
6. Break an egg in a cup, taking care not to damage the yolk.
7. With a spoon swirl the water around to create a whirlpool. Bring the cup with the egg close to the water surface and very carefully pour it in the middle. Continue moving the water around. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, remove the egg with a slotted spoon and set aside.You eggs should be firm outside but still runny inside. Proceed with the next egg. Some people manage to cook all the eggs at once. I thought I would stay away from this at least at my first attempt. :P
8. Assemble your final dish: First place a toasted bread on a plate, next a slice of bacon, next 2 poached eggs and top with half of the sauce. Garnish with some cheese and tomato slices and enjoy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cheese and Mushrooms Pie

Lately my man has been really stressed with his research and I can't do much to cheer him up. Although there is a little trick that almost always works. New, delicious recipes on our table! So, since he really likes pies, last weekend I made a completely new pie, a mushroom pie!

First I was thinking to make it the easy way, using phyllo sheets. But then I thought I could be a bit more creative, so I decided to make it with curu dough, which is a very typical Greek kind of pastry, used in many pies. It is soft and slightly sandy and it literally melts in your mouth! Of course this meant that I would spend at least one extra hour in the kitchen, but since I enjoy it anyways I don't really care!


For the curu dough:
800gr white flour, sieved
1 cup olive oil
1 full cup thick, Greek yogurt (Straggisto)
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp dry yeast

For the stuffing:
500gr fresh mushrooms, chopped
3 onions, sliced
150 gr yellow cheese, grated (Gouda worked just fine for me)
150 gr Mozzarella, grated
300 gr Greek feta cheese, crashed
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
4 eggs
1/2 cup thick Greek yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
paprika and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1. First prepare the curu dough. In a large bowl place the oil, yogurt, eggs and yeast and beat with a mixer.
2. Keep beating and slowly start mixing in the flour. Once the mixture is too thick for the mixer, continue adding the flour and mixing with your hands. Place the dough on a table and work it with your hands for about 20 minutes. You will notice that as you work the dough will become more elastic. Shape it in a ball, place in a large bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and leave in a worm place to rest.
3. Prepare the stuffing. In a large pan heat the oil. Add the mushrooms and onions and saute until the vegetables are soft. Set aside.
4. In a separate bowl beat the eggs (reserve a couple of tablespoons to brush the pie), add the cheeses and the yogurt and season with pepper and paprika. Fold in the mushroom mix and the parsley and mix well.
5. Take the dough and divide it in 2 pieces, one slightly bigger than the other. Take the bigger one an place it on greased table. Use a roller to flatten the dough into 5mm thick sheet, big enough to cover a large backing tray and its walls. Fold the sheet twice, transfer on the backing tray and unfold so that it would cover the whole surface and the walls. Fold all the stuffing on top and even out with a spoon.
6. Take the remaining dough and again using a roller flatten the dough so that the sheet is big enough to cover the tray. Fold it, transfer on top of the stuffing and unfold. Using a fork or just your fingers seal the pie by sticking the bottom and the top sheets together.
7. Brush the pie with the beaten egg and back in the preheated oven at about 180°C for about half an our, until the pie is golden from outside. Serve either warm or cold, as a main course or just a starter. Ah, it's also great for a quick breakfast, given, of course that you have it prepared from the previous night :P

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chocolate and walnut muffins

Last year I got a baking book as a birthday present for Zoe. She really loves all the "evil" cakes so it was an easy decision. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask the lady at the book store to wrap the book for me. So when I came home I went through the pages a bit and I got really jealous! The book was amazing, with great pictures, tips about decoration of the cakes and very clear directions for baking even very challenging cakes. So what do you think I did? The next morning I went back to the store and bought the same book for myself!

Due to my everlasting diet plans I didn't bake many things from it though. So when last weekend I saw the book standing on the shelf, and having given up on the diet, I thought I would give it a go. After some "reasonable" pressure from Stratis' side I had to choose between chocolate cake or chocolate muffins. Somehow I decided in favor of the second one and we both really enjoyed it! I changed some of the proportions slightly to make it more chocolaty and brownie-like. Here it comes:


170gr butter
200gr plain chocolate (I used Toblerone and ... OH! MY! GOD!)
200gr caster sugar
60gr brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
150 gr self-rising flour
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
150 gr walnuts, chopped
1/3 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
12-15 muffin paper cases

1. Place the butter and the chocolate in a small bowl on bain-marie and let it melt. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
2. Stir in the caster and the brown sugar, the eggs and the vanilla essence and mix with a mixer until smooth.
3. Sift over the flour and cocoa powder. Add the baking soda and vinegar and mix, capturing the air bubbles inside the dough.
4. Stir in the walnuts.
5. Pour the mixture into the paper cases, filling them to 3/4. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for about 30 minutes or until an inserted in the center match comes out clean. Dust with some caster sugar and serve with coffee, tea or even better hot chocolate with cream!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cheese filled Tortilla toasts

In Greece we say: "A good day could be seen since morning". Well in my case it was the other way around. While I was biking to the train station in the morning, the chain fell off of my bike. I didn't want to become all messy while fixing it, so I dropped it there and walked. Of course I missed my train, the next one was cancelled (or at least I never saw it arriving) and the next one came with a delay of 10 minutes. So I came to the office about 45 later than I was planning. It would be great if the chain of bad luck would end there, but no! All kinds of issues during the day... Typical beginning of a month! The only good thing that happened was the lunch break at the new Surinamese place nearby. I think this place is totally gonna beat the Italian sandwich, the Turkish kebab and both of the Chinese restaurants that we usually go to!

Anyway, when I finally arrived home, well after 7pm I was totally wasted and super hungry. Of course there was no way I would cook anything too complicated. The most I would go for was a quick sandwich, after which I was planning to kick back with a book on the couch. Then I saw a half pack of tortillas and thought I could as well use them instead of bread. After a quick look at the fridge I came up with the following recipe. The result was crispy outside and with melted cheese inside! Definitely goes to my favorites! :)


2 corn tortillas
100gr Gruyere-type cheese, thinly sliced (I used Ladotyri, which is a hard-type of Greek cheese, traditionally produces on the island of Lesbos)
1/2 sweet red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 handful fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil

1. Heat some olive oil in a non-stick pan.
2. Place one tortilla on a pan. Arrange the cheese slices, pepper stripes, basil leaves and garlic evenly on top of the tortilla.
3. Cover with the second tortilla and fry on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes or until the lower tortilla is golden brown. Flip and fry on the other side. Cut in 6 pieces and enjoy!