Anchovy Butter

This Anchovy Butter is amazing.

Serve it on steaks or fish, on steamed vegetables, on toast under scrambled, soft boiled or poached eggs or mixed into pasta. It keeps for up to a month in the fridge.

125g butter at room temperature and cut into pieces
About 6 tinned anchovies, drained from the oil
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
Juice of ½ lemon
Shake of paprika

Place all ingredients in food processor and mix until smooth. Place in a small bowl and dust with paprika. Keep refrigerated.

Makes about 1 cup

Curried Eggs

I like eggs cooked any way at all – boiled, scrambled, poached, coddled or in an omelette or frittata.

Many years ago when we were living in Malaysia we were served some delicious curried eggs. The memory has stuck in my mind, so I decided to recreate this quick, easy and delicious dish. If there are just two of you the quantities are easy to halve.

Curried Eggs

8 hardboiled eggs, cut in half
3 Tbs oil
2 onions,finely sliced or chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbs of your favourite curry paste (more if you like things spicy)
2-3 tsp sugar
1 tsp turmeric
1 can coconut milk
1 can water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
To serve:
Chopped fresh coriander or parsley
Steamed rice
Fruit chutney
Indian bread such as chapatis, roti or papadums

You want the eggs to be hardboiled, but don’t overcook them or they won’t be nice and creamy. About 12 minutes should be perfect.

In a large frying pan cook onion and garlic in the oil until soft, without browning. Add curry paste, sugar and turmeric and cook, stirring for a minute or so. Add coconut milk and water and simmer until liquid has reduced and sauce is slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the hardboiled egg halves, cut side up and let them warm through. Garnish with coriander or parsley and serve with rice, Indian bread and chutney.

Serves 4

Fried Egg in a Bagel

This recipe from a website called Food52 is so simple you hardly need a recipe. But it’s such a novel idea and so delicious I had to tell you about it.

You simply fry an egg in the hole in half a bagel.  Serve for breakfast or lunch, accompanied by bacon, ham, smoked salmon or on its own. The recipe makes two servings, but you may decide to eat them both! They go very well with leftover ham from Christmas.

Fried Egg in a Bagel

1 bagel split in two horizontally
1 Tbs butter
2 eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the holes in the two halves a bit bigger using a serrated knife or a small scone cutter. Heat butter in a non-stick frying pan and swirl around. Place bagel  halves in the pan, cut side down, break an egg into each and season with salt and pepper. It doesn’t matter if it spills out a bit.

Cover and cook until the eggs are just set. Serve alone or with crispy bacon, ham or smoked salmon. If serving with bacon cook it in the pan first, then remove and cook the bagel so it gets a nice bacon flavour.

Serves 2

Salade Lyonnaise à la Madeleine

When we lived in Pretoria in the late 1980s we found a fabulous French restaurant called La Madeleine. There was no written menu so Belgian chef-owner Daniel Leusch would come to each table and explain what was available that day. His Lyonnaise Salad was introduced in the following way.

“And today, for starters, we ‘ave a leetle salade, wif a warm poshed egg, garneeshed wif some leetle crispy lardons, some freshly made croutons and ‘ollandaise sauce. Or, we ‘ave…..”

And so he would go on until he had described everything and we were left, drooling, to make decisions.

It’s twenty-five years since we left Pretoria but La Madeleine is still going strong, with Daniel and his wife Karine’s daughter Anne in charge of the kitchen. Since then my version of Daniel’s Salade Lyonnaise has become one of my favourite lunches. But you do have to be in the kitchen at the last minute, so I usually only make it for two, maximum four people. If you don’t have time to make Hollandaise Sauce substitute mayonnaise, preferably home-made. For hungry people serve two eggs instead of one.

As it’s one of the signature dishes of the French city of Lyon I ordered this salad in three different bistros while we were staying there a couple of years ago. What a disappointment! Soggy bacon or croutons, over-cooked eggs and indifferent salad greens meant that none of them lived up to their reputation. Take me back to Pretoria any time!

Salade Lyonnaise à la Madeleine4-6 cups mixed small salad leaves
2 slices bread (preferably something rustic like sourdough)
Olive oil
100g smoked bacon in one piece (called speck in Australia)
2 eggs
Salad dressing:
1 cup mild vegetable oil (e.g. Canola)
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 Tbs honey (optional, or use less)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
Quick Hollandaise Sauce:
50g butter
2 egg yolks
1 Tbs cream
1 Tbs lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For Hollandaise sauce place butter in a small bowl and microwave for 30 secs. With a small hand whisk, beat in yolks, then cream and lemon juice. Microwave for 45 secs, stopping to beat every 10-15 secs. This is important to avoid scrambling the eggs! Season then cover and keep warm by standing the bowl in a larger bowl containing hot water.

Brush both sides of bread with olive oil, cut into croutons then either bake in a hot oven on a tray lined with baking paper for 5-10 mins or fry in a non-stick frying pan until golden and crunchy.

Meanwhile poach eggs until done – whites firm, yolks still soft. While they are cooking, prepare the lardons – cut bacon into thick slices, then into little chunks. Fry in a non-stick frying pan with a tiny bit of oil and drain on paper towels.

Place all ingredients for the salad dressing in a screw top jar and shake vigorously. Mix salad greens with some dressing (see note below) and divide between 2 plates. Place a poached egg in the centre and spoon some Hollandaise sauce over. Sprinkle the croutons and lardons around the egg.

Serves 4 as a starter or light lunch

Note: Any unused French dressing will keep for up to a month in the fridge so I often make double or triple the recipe. Don’t crush the garlic, just cut it in half, so the flavour isn’t overpowering. The French wouldn’t put honey in their dressing (I love it especially as I keep my own bees!) so if you want to be authentic leave it out.

Spanish Eggs with Jamon

The Parlour Wine Room in New Acton Canberra has a great lunch menu at the moment where you can choose a main course from a selection of about half a dozen options for just $16, including a glass of wine or beer. I chose Spanish Eggs and it really hit the spot. The servings were quite large – I think there were 3 or 4 eggs per serve – so I have cut back a bit in my version. If you’re hungry this recipe will serve two rather than four.

Jamon is the Spanish word for ham and usually refers to dry-cured hams. Substitute Italian prosciutto or German black forest ham. I used the latter from Aldi.

Spanish Eggs with Jamon1 large onion, peeled, halved and sliced
4 red capsicums, seeds removed and sliced into strips
¼ cup olive oil
Salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar
8 eggs
8 slices Spanish jamon (prosciutto or black forest ham)
4 slices sourdough bread, toasted and buttered
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a frying pan and add the onions. Fry gently until softened then add the capsicum strips. Continue to fry gently for 15-20 minutes, stirring often. Add half a cup of water and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is soft. Can be pepared to this stage and kept in the fridge until needed.

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Divide onion and capsicum among four individual oven-proof shallow dishes. Break two eggs into each dish and top with the ham, cut with scissors into pieces about 2-3 cm long.

Bake for about 8 minutes, or until eggs are set and ham is crispy. Season with salt and pepper. For a low carb meal skip the toast!

Serve with buttered sourdough toast on the side.

Serves 4

Sweet Potato Rosti with Fried Eggs

Sunday’s a good day for a leisurely cooked breakfast and about 3 weeks ago I decided to make this sweet potato rosti which I had seen in the free brochure published monthly by Coles supermarket and available at the check out.

Sweet potato, bacon, onion and thyme – preferably fresh – is a winning flavour combination, but I had to make this four times before I got it right. The first time I made one large rosti, as per the recipe, but the outsides started to burn before the middle was properly cooked. Second time I made individual rostis, like fritters, but they had a tendency to fall apart. Third time I added an egg and a bit of flour to the mixture and again made small fritters, but the flavour wasn’t the same.

The original recipe said to microwave the whole sweet potato for five minutes before grating it, but this overcooked the outside while leaving the inside raw. So on my fourth and final attempt, instead of microwaving the sweet potato I stir fried the mixture and then made it into one large rosti. This worked well and here’s my version of the recipe!

To make a more substantial meal serve rosti on a slice of buttered toast, with a green salad on the side.

Sweet Potato Rosti with Fried Eggs

1 large sweet potato (about 800g)
100g bacon, diced
1 brown onion, finely diced
3 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme (or use dried)
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs
Olive oil

Peel and grate the sweet potato into a bowl. A food processor with a coarse grating disc makes this a breeze. Alternatively use the coarsest side of a hand grater. Mix in bacon, onion, thyme, salt and pepper.

Heat a little olive oil in a medium sized non-stick frying pan. Add sweet potato mixture and stir fry for 5-10 minutes, or until the mixture has softened. Heat a little oil in a smaller omelette pan about 20 cm in diameter. Pack sweet potato mixture into the pan and smooth the surface, pressing down with a spatula. Cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes or until golden underneath. Loosen around the edges, then place a plate on top and invert the pan so the rosti ends up on the plate. Slide back into pan, adding a bit more oil if necessary. Cook for 5-10 minutes on the other side.

Meanwhile in another pan, fry the eggs sunny side up, or however you like them.

Cut rosti into 4 and arrange on individual serving plates. Top each serving with a fried egg.

Serves 4

Spanish Omelette

When I was sixteen I sailed from Southampton to Bilbao to spend the Easter school holidays with a Spanish family. I had been studying Spanish several times a week for six months, but most of it was stuck somewhere at the back of my head.

The Zubia family of five lived in an apartment in Bilbao. Nobody spoke a word of English, so I had to speak Spanish to survive. Needless to say, when I returned to the UK three weeks later I had made enormous progress and have never looked back. A month of language immersion in your teens is worth a year when you’re of a more mature age.

I was intrigued by a household which bought olive oil in 4 litre cans and used it to cook absolutely everything. My mother kept a very small bottle in the medicine cabinet and used it to treat earache.

Señora Zubia taught me to make several dishes, including Spanish omelette, which I still make according to her recipe below.

Bars in Spain serve a wide selection of tapas, mostly at room temperature and displayed along the top of the bar. When something takes your fancy you just point and the barman brings you as many servings as required for your group. On leaving patrons tell the barman what they’ve had and he adds up the bill. It’s all done on honesty.

Spanish omelette is usually served at room temperature, but have it hot if you prefer.

Spanish Omelette
1 large onion
4 large potatoes or 6 medium
6 eggs
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
To serve:
Roasted red capsicums (peppers) and aioli (optional)

Peel and chop onion as finely as possible. Heat a good slug of olive oil in a medium-sized non-stick frying pan, add onion and cook gently until soft. Meanwhile peel potatoes and cut into 2cm dice. Remove onions from the pan, add more oil if necessary (there should be a generous amount), add potatoes and cook gently, turning often, until they are cooked through but not browned. Remove potatoes from the pan and put with the onions in a sieve, so excess oil drains off.

Tip off all but 2-3 Tbs of oil. If there’s not enough oil left in the pan add some that has drained from the potatoes and onion.  Place eggs in a bowl and beat with a fork. Season with salt and pepper, then mix in the potatoes and onions. Tip mixture into frying pan and spread out evenly. Cook for 8-10 minutes over moderate heat, or until set and underneath is golden. Check by lifting slightly with a spatula. Run spatula around the edge to make sure the omelette hasn’t stuck to the pan.

Place a large dinner plate over the frying pan and quickly invert so you end up with the omelette on the plate, cooked side up. Carefully slide back into the frying pan and cook the other side, which will take about 5 minutes. Serve at room temperature with roasted red peppers and aioli – for which there are plenty of recipes online, or just add some crushed garlic to mayonnaise, for a quick version. Cut into 3-4 cm squares Spanish Omelette makes great finger food, or tapas, to use the Spanish word.

Serves 4-6



Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Egg Tartlets

I’m always looking for new ideas for weekend lunches. Something light and tasty to go with a glass of wine. This delicious combination of scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and crisp pastry comes from Gordon Ramsey.

Once cooked the pastry shells will keep for several days in a sealed container in the fridge and just need to be reheated in a hot oven for 2-3 minutes. For the garnish I prefer salmon roe which is a dark pink colour, but had to make do with the fake black “caviar” shown in the photo, because it’s easier to find at the weekend in a suburban supermarket. The rocket leaves look huge, I know, but that’s how they grow in our garden.

Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Egg TartletsPuff pastry, bought or home-made
3-4 eggs
2-3 Tbs milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
25g butter
4 slices smoked salmon
Salmon roe or Lumpfish roe (fake caviar)
Rocket salad, lightly dressed

Preheat oven to 200ºC. Line two individual quiche tins with pastry, rolled out thinly. Line with foil then add dry beans or corn to hold the foil flat. Bake blind for 10 mins then remove foil, prick pastry with a fork to make sure it stays flat and put back in the oven for another 5 mins or until golden and crisp. These can be made ahead and kept in a container with a lid for up to a week.

If tarts have been made ahead and are cold, reheat them in a hot oven for 2-3 minutes. Beat eggs with milk and add salt and pepper to taste. Melt butter in a non-stick pan and scramble the eggs. Place two slices smoked salmon in each tart shell, with the darker edges towards the middle. Top with the eggs, garnish with the salmon roe or lumpfish caviar and serve with a rocket salad.

Serves 2