Good food can make life so much better.

 

Too much time with lawyers this week trying to capture the consequences of the accident that took place about three and a half years ago – it’s no fun going over all the continuing miseries.  But life improved with celebrating the first meal in a restaurant (Lauro’s in the High Street, Fareham) for over a year.  Strange to be in an enclosed space with other people but good distancing, masks, excellent ventilation and a bottle of wine made all the difference.  Good food as always: I’m inspired to try making my own confit duck.  The homemade chocolate ice-cream was superb but I’ll try to resist.

It must be well over 10 years since I bought 24 little silicone pots with lids in France.  They were sold for “oeufs en cocotte” (the posh French version of coddled eggs) but, in those days, I was making lots of my own ice-creams, so they were perfect for freezing individual portions – and were in the Sale too.

Good kitchen kit has multiple functions and not always their original.  Last week I was using one asparagus pan for blitzing chicken liver parfait, another one is used to store individual flan tins and I cook the asparagus in the microwave.  In place of the cocottes, small ramekins with a lid of kitchen foil would work too.

When the heat’s on, no-one wants to spend much time in the kitchen.  Here’s the simplest little lunch/supper or even a starter.

Per cocotte:

tiny knob of butter.

half slice of ham.

1 egg.

1 teaspoon cream.

Pepper.

3-4 spears asparagus, trimmed.

knob of butter to serve.

 

Rub the butter around the cocotte and leave a tiny piece in the bottom.

Thinly slice the ham and put half in the bottom of the cocotte.

Break the egg on to the ham and top with the remaining ham.

Add the teaspoon of cream and a grind of pepper.

Place on the lid and cook in a pre-heated oven at 200C, Gas 6 for 12 minutes.

While the egg is cooking, rinse the asparagus and place on a plate.

Microwave on Medium power for 3-5 minutes until cooked.  Serve with another knob of butter and the egg in its cocotte.

 

Cooking times may depend on your oven, the shelf position and whether you put the cocotte on a baking tray.  It may take a little experimenting to get the egg cooked just as you want it.

 

Don’t forget the shortbread virtual baking session on Monday 14 June at 1030 (see previous post).

 

Precision cooking

Roger is a gentleman of some maturity dressed in his stripey apron and with his blackboard of the cooking timings.Measuring pieces of spaghetti to the nearest half centimetre and asparagus by the inch plus using a stopwatch to time the cooking isn’t my usual style but neighbour Roger proved that more precision reaps benefits.

His chalkboard checklist for every step and timing was the crucial kitchen gadget for creating his truly excellent pasta dish – and adapted from the BBC Good Food magazine’s “101 Simple Suppers”.  Such a logical approach certainly works for anyone who isn’t confident about cooking – although I’d need to find a different way of pre-planning each step and timing.  I’ll just have to revert to my old touch, smell and taste ways and hope for the best. I confess that, as a usually rather slapdash cook, I could barely stop laughing at this way of cooking but there’s no doubt that it works: a great dish in exactly the time the recipe stipulates.  I’ll have to mend my ways.roger’s slate board with his cooking times. Roger and Penny dressed in their stripey aprons in the kitchen ready to start the dish.

You can watch us on YouTube or download the recipe here

Penny

 Roger supervising the cooking of strips of bacon in the large frying pan

Baking Blind and the Beeb.

Long 6 hour video shoot with Emily, Sam and Doug from the BBC social media team – for these few minutes of footage.

We were dicing with disasters with too much filling welding the tarts to their tins, an upside-down cake that didn’t want to show its face and, most extreme of all, Emily’s iced carrot cake that managed to combine 900 grams (nearly 2lb) of sugar with one of your five-a-day fruit and veg.  I’m not convinced that some of the token carrot could justify the sugar overload – delicious as it was!  I could virtually feel the diabetes rush on the way.

The Beeb is trialling a more informal approach to features using social media – so you will probably see more of the animated eggs than me cooking.  But it is fascinating to see how traditional media is changing as more people get their information and entertainment via social media: more fun, less polished and more immediate.

Penny

+44 (0)1329 841814

penny@laylands.co.uk

 

You can support the Holman adventure too: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/penny-melville-brown