Oeuf Catalan

Ever eaten something so good that you wanted to pay homage to it by re-creating it (imitation is the best form of flattery after all)? Or maybe been too skint to enjoy the luxury of a treat as often as you’d like? I have sailed both boats and the they have led me to the same destination – my own kitchen. 

Chorizo, Potatoes and Eggs - this dish is simplicity itself

Chorizo, potatoes and eggs – this dish is simplicity itself

All these months I have felt bad about leaving the blog unattended, but honestly I had run out of ideas to talk about. It was an inspirational meal that prompted me to take the dust sheets off the blog, once again. A simple but scrumptious fish Paramentier that I had for lunch a couple of weeks ago reminded me of the many times I have tasted a morsel or meal so memorable that I feel compelled to recreate it. Thus an idea born (sort of!).

For my first post in this section I would like to share my experiment with making Oeuf Catalan – a favourite down at the local pub near my place of work.  A few samplings under my belt (and around the belly), I cooked it myself.  Three attempts later I have been able to capture the essence of the original. Simplicity itself, this dish is full of flavour, contains nearly all food types and is ready under half-an-hour.

Ingredients:
(The ingredients listed above yield 4, 3 or 2 helpings depending on how hungry you or everyone is!)

  1. Eggs:4
  2. Potatoes (medium sized):4-5
  3. Round of Spanish Chorizo:  Half
  4. Rocket and/or watercress salad leaves: a handful
  5. Fennel seeds: 3/4 tbsp (pounded)
  6. Oregano and thyme: 2 pinches
  7. Salt and black pepper: to season
  8. Olive oil: 1 tsp

Method:

  1. Dice the potatoes into around 1 inch cubes and parboil in generously salted water. It is up to you if you’ like to keep the skin on or not.
  2. Drain and dry the potatoes. I suggest patting them dry because they will be crispy when fried (see #3).
  3. Heat olive oil in a frying pan and fry the chorizo. Remove once cooked and crispy. remove excess oil leaving behind 1tbsp
  4. Fry the potatoes in the chorizo oil till they too are done and are crispy on the outside, a bit of charring won’t hurt. Season with fennel seeds, oregano and thyme. Toss.
  5. Once the potatoes are done to your satisfaction, add the chorizo back in to the pan and season well.
  6. Break the eggs on to the dish and let the yolk set (as per your preferred state of gooeyness). I covered it with a close fitting lid.
  7. Take the pan off the fire and scatter the salad leaves on top, just before serving.

The pub serves the dish in a small skillet that it was cooked in. I used a regular sized frying pan to cook the entire dish.

So here it is, my first offering. Please do let me know your thoughts, especially if you try cooking eggs Catalan yourself. Till next time!

 

 

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Hungry for Art

Recently on a very welcome visit by Longformliz, I was taken on a trip down memory lane. Other than leaving me nostalgic, the post about our trip to Wales reminded of the (then) new section that I had started and soon forgot about.

Today I try to catch up on lost time and regale you with an update of another adventure, which though 24 months late is full of colour and happiness. The tiny holiday was a treat to myself before I joined my new place of work, and unknown to me then, enjoy one last holiday before the baby arrived.

No, I did not take off to an exotic locale in the tropics or go on a one-woman adventure around the world. I had a weekend at my disposal and a very tight budget to boot. Bath had been done and dusted, and frankly I had no money to do another solo phoren visit. I had limited options, okay I had one option. Committed as I was to my resolve to fly solo, I went off to Brighton on my solitary expedition.

The Brighton Wheel

The Brighton Wheel

If you live in this country, you have probably visited the sea-side town at least once. It is to London as Goa is to Mumbai, except for the sandy beach and King’s beer. so it is not Goa. But it is great in its own way. There are the quintessentials – the beach, the pier, and fish restaurants; and the unique – artisan cafes, shopping in the Lanes, museums, and the Brighton Pavilion. A special shout out goes to the Devil’s Dyke – great for hiking or a lazy picnic while enjoying a panoramic view of surrounding hills and valleys.

However, great as all this is, for me Brighton is special for a reason that has nothing to do with sea, sand (fine, pebbles) or sunshine. It is here that I fell in love. With art. The city wears its art on its streets. With pride. The graffiti draws you in one street at a time. It sits with ease among flashy window dressings, hangs around in the busy Lanes, it lurks in alleyways peeping out to catch your eye; it tells you stories you have heard before and some you are yet to behold. Some speak of angst, others of thrill, some take flights of fancy or dive deep. For those who are fans, there is even a Banksy on display near the mainline station.

For those who are fans, there is even a Banksy on display near the mainline station

A Banksy original

The Mad-Hatter's Tea party

The Mad-Hatter’s Tea party


Sea-world

Sea-world

20130824_154522

Two years on I am still a fan, trying to capture images of the “rebel” art-form wherever I spot it. A trip back home (Delhi) last year, on the way from the airport I saw the usually drab wall of Tihar transformed into a canvas filled by a kilometer long graffiti. At the time, I was struck by the daring-do but later found that it was created by the blessing of the authorities. Not that it made the spectacle any less impressive. You can read here about that and the wave of street art that India has been engulfed in.

As for the colours of Brighton, they were still shining bright and we found them as welcoming a year later when we took the baby on his first visit to the sea-side. Of course, he was too tiny (and mostly asleep) to care but it is a start. Hopefully one day when he is a bit grown-up and interested (and awake!) we will go on a wall-to-wall adventure together.

graffiti

Save the cake

Chocolate cupcakes

Chocolate cupcakes

You may have read articles on how motherhood makes you a better professional at work – with this post I tell you how it has made me a better cook and manager (of situations and resources). The cupcake you see above is the result of this evolution.

I have never been one to follow recipes to the letter, even when baking. But I was converted recently after I bought this snazzy looking kitchen weighing scale; I mean why put a good gadget to waste, no? Anyway, what I learnt soon after was that no matter how spiffy the tool, if you are not paying attention you are likely to run into trouble. Now, I can’t say exactly what happened (most likely too little flour) but what I ended up with was a cake-shaped substance that was set on the top layer of .0001 micron, while the rest of it remained, well, liquid.

Having burnt many a concoction in the past while baking, I usually set the oven timer for shorter time than that recommended. I put the current state of affairs to that caution. To put matters right I baked the batter a little more, and then some more and then some more again. When the “cake” refused to bake after an hour-and-a-half, I had to accept not all was right. To be honest, the loose consistency of the batter when I first poured it in the tin should have been my first clue to the ensuing disaster but then I wasn’t in the mood to pay attention on the day or rather night – by the time i ended up with goo on my hands, it was well past midnight.

Loathe to get rid of the batter, I bunged the tin into the fridge. Next morning and much googling later, I was none the wiser on how to bounce back. OK that’s not all true. I did kinda sorta knew what could be done but my confidence was in the boots for obvious reasons. But after half the day was gone looking for that elusive spark from the internet gods, I took recourse in my own judgement. Adding a bit of flour and a bit of milk got the batter into dropping consistency. I poured the stuff into parchment lined muffin tray instead of going ahead with the original plan for a cake. This was to ensure we had baked goods that were edible and presentable (and took a shorter time to cook).

The resultant cupcakes were moist, fluffy and lasted about half-an-hour.

If you are keen to make the cake I originally intended to bake (minus the frosting and fancy looks) follow the recipe for Mary Berry’s Celebration Chocolate cake. Hopefully you will get it right the first time round… but if you don’t you know what to do 🙂

Of many firsts

First birthday cake

First birthday cake

I have started many a post with an apology for my tardiness, the reasons for which were many. However, none were as pressing as the one which for which I had to put blogging on hold for nearly two years. Soon after the last post, I went ahead and got myself a new job and a year later, a brand new baby! After a slightly difficult pregnancy (during which time, I handed over my kitchen to the spouse and friends) and an eventful one year of motherhood,  I am back. Hopefully to stay. As always I want to document my culinary journey here, sharing a story once in a while and importantly evolve as a cook and writer. Hopefully, the blog will reflect that evolution, whilst remaining an interesting read for you all. For this new chapter, I would like to share a recipe adapted from Mary Berry’s simple Victoria sponge cake with white chocolate buttercream icing that I baked for my munchkin’s first b’day. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Eggs (medium): 4
  • Caster sugar: 225g
  • Self-raising flour: 225g
  • Baking powder: 2 tsp
  • Butter (softened): 225g

For the frosting in the middle:

  • Raspberry jam: 175 gm
  • Whipped cream (Beat 200 ml heavy/double cream with 200 gm icing sugar till it becomes just stiff. Take care not to beat it excessively lest it becomes difficult to spread

For the white chocolate buttercream icing:

  • Unsalted butter (softened): 110g
  • Icing  sugar: 250g
  • White chocolate: 150g

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  • Grease (and if you’d like line) a 20 cm springform cake tin.
  • Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, Add the sugar, flour, baking powder and butter.
  • Mix everything together until well combined.

TOP TIP: As Berry advises, take care not to over mix. The finished mixture should fall off a spoon easily.

  • Bake the cake for 40 minutes. I, however, set the timer first to twenty minutes and then a further twenty (or less).
  • The cake is done when it is golden-brown and coming away from the edge of the tin. Let it cool in the tin before removing.
  • Once cool cut the cake in two*
  • Spread the raspberry jam as a middle layer, topped with whipped cream. Place the top half of the cake on the creamy layer.

Icing:

  • Make sure the butter is soft before you beat it along with half the icing sugar. Keep adding the remaining icing sugar little-by- little and mix until all is smooth.
  • Melt the white chocolate (I did this in a microwave oven) and add to the mixture; mix until smooth.
  • Spread the icing on top of the cake.
  • Decorate (or not) as you like.

* Alternatively, you can divide the cake mix in two tins and bake them simultaneously

Fish Tales

Time sure flies when you are having fun, and even when you aren’t. The last month has been quite hectic but let’s focus on the positives. One of these was the following article on popular monsoon foods in certain regions of India. It was included in the latest issue of Jetwings, Jet Airways’s in-flight magazine.

Monsoon Delights. Jetwings June 2013

Monsoon Delights. Jetwings July 2013

Click here –>Monsoon Delights to read the article and see some amazing photos by an ace photographer, Sanjay Ramchandran.

Other than the above (and other work) the last month was about visiting families, friends and lots of cute and brand new munchkins born to some dear dear friends and attending birthdays of some not so brand new munchkins – equally adorable, of course.

All through this the kitchen fires have been blazing, even through the working week days. Short on time and fed up of take-aways, I decided to experiment to see I could come up with a few quick fixes. Fish was an obvious choice as it doesn’t take long to cook and is versatile. The next three posts including this one will be on quick and fishy meals. I hope they will be of use to you, especially if time and patience are in short supply.

Pan fried salmon with flavoured butter sauce

Ingredients: 

  1. Salmon fillets: 2
  2. Olive oil: 1 tbsp
  3. Butter: 2 -3 tbsp
  4. Spring onions: 2-3
  5. Fresh red chilies: one, de-seeded
  6. Ginger: 2 inch piece
  7. Lime: one
  8. Salt and pepper to season

Method:

  1. Season the salmon well with salt and pepper. Make sure to rub the salt into the skin.
  2. Heat the oil in frying pan to medium-high temperature.Place the fish skin side down, for about 5-6 mins until the skin is crispy and golden. Press it down with a spatula if you don’t want it to curl.
  3. Cook the fish till it is almost done and then flip it flesh side down for a few seconds (10-15 sec)
  4. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. Melt butter in the pan. Add the spring onions, chilli, grated ginger and lime zest to sizzle in the butter for a couple of mins, then add the lime juice.
  6. Spoon the sauce over the salmon.
  7. Serve with rice or veg.

Voila!

Pan fried Salmon

Pan fried Salmon