Tag Archives: recipe

Eggs fried gently in butter

Socrates Satrapoulos took a small skillet from a row of pots and pans. Carefully, he turned on a burner on the gas stove, then adjusted the flame as low as possible, until it was barely visible.

“Give me two eggs.”

Someone handed them to him.

“Butter!”

Holding the butter in his hand, Satrapoulos began his lecture.

“First of all, you must never use oil with eggs. Use a pat of butter.”

He dropped the butter into the skillet, then placed the skillet over the fire.

“When the fire is low,” he continued, “the butter doesn’t burn. It melts slowly, and retains the fresh taste of butter.”

Everyone watched fascinated.

“As soon as the butter has melted, remove the skillet from the fire. Then break the eggs into it. One, two. Now you add salt and pepper” – he glared at the chef – “not after the eggs are cooked, but before they are cooked. Then cover the skillet, and place it over a very low heat.”

He turned towards the chef. “And now, when I remove the eggs from the fire, the yolk will be firm and covered with a thin, translucent layer.”

He removed the skillet from the stove, lifted the lid, and thrust the skillet towards the chef.

“Smell!” he ordered.

The delicate and appetising aroma of fresh butter wafted through the galley.

“And that, gentlemen, is how one cooks eggs.”

– from The Greek by Pierre Rey 

Book opened on fly leaf and my mum's Fay Winkler's writing

I found this extract in our late parents’ book collection. In the flyleaf of a fiction paperback, titled The Greek, my mother had written: see p.38 to fry eggs.

I turned to page 38 and found the recipe, above. My mother took food seriously.

Fay Winkler dancing Greek dancing

Fay Winkler performing traditional Greek dance

 

Published in 1974, the book is about a Greek jet-setting millionaire. Fay loved the high life. She also loved Greece. She fell in love with Greece in the 1970s. She felt it was her spiritual home. She loved the people, their passion, the dance, the food. 

My mother Fay Winkler a few months before she died aged 93.5

Fay Winkler Nov 2016


My mum (above) died in January, aged 93. She was a glamorous, obsessive, elegant, cultured, opinionated live-wire until the end. 

A few months before Fay died, she was interviewed for a documentary film about love, titled All That Is directed by Wessie du Toit

Fay never saw the film. It was screened at the ICA earlier this month and will be on Channel 4 TV in a few months time.

My mother looking glam and full of joie-de-vivre

Fay Winkler circa 1970s


Fay used to cook me fried eggs for breakfast when I stayed with her. I was grateful to be mothered by my mother when I was a grandmother.

My mum would heat the olive oil really high, add the eggs, put a lid on and then turn off the flame. 

We are trying to remember if she used butter or olive oil and now I cannot ask her. 

I cook fried eggs in olive oil as I have done since the 1980s influenced by my late husband, Adrian Reid.

I love using this recipe from The Greek because a) It is in dialogue b) My mother made a note about it c) Butter tastes luxurious.

How do you fry your eggs?

 

 

Home-made mayonnaise and Brexit

Elderly woman's hands around a jar of thick, yellow, unctuous home made mayonnaise
I arrive the day before the EU referendum vote. London is hot and sticky, under a heavy grey cloud. Later, there is lightning and Biblical rains.

My 93-year-old mother and I agree not to talk about Brexit. It would be too painful and divisive. She believes the Daily Mail. I think it is the politics of hate.

So, I watch her making mayonnaise, Zimmer-framed yet resolute. I admire her spirit.

My mother Fay has been making home-made mayonnaise since the 1950s.

She would not dream of having shop-bought mayonnaise in her home. Ever.

My mother uses a food processor these days but says nothing (‘scuse pun) beats mayonnaise made by hand, using a fork as a whisk.

My sister Gee (see  pics of her 1974 mayonnaise recipe below) eschews a food processor because it makes the mayonnaise too dense, and uses an electric mixer with the balloon whisk attachment instead. She also (I love this refinement!) whisks in the olive oil by hand, with a fork, at the very end of the process.

Gee also adds a teaspoon of warm water to lighten the mixture, if, she says, she is feeling French.

Fay’s home-made mayonnaise 

The risk factor is curdling – when the oil and egg separate. So make sure the eggs are at room temperature. Emulsify the egg yolks with mustard, then add the oil very, very, very, slowly, drop-by-drop.

Then – once the risk of curdling has passed – pour oil in a thin stream, whisking all the time. You can speed up the streaming of the oil. Add lemon juice or a dribble of vinegar to thin.

If it curdles, do not despair but start again with one egg yolk and add the curdled mixture, again – s l o o o o w l y!

My mum uses 1/2 pint of oil, which equals 10 fluid ounces, of which 7 or 8 fluid ounces is sunflower oil, and the remaining 3 or 2 fluid ounces is olive oil. My sister Gee (who makes mayonnaise without such exact measuring) says in other words: use mostly sunflower oil.

I use organic oils because organic certification guarantees oils have been cold-pressed by mechanical (not chemical) means, ensuring maximum nutrients and top taste. 

Ingredients

2 egg yolks
Two egg yolks is the minimum whether for 1/2 pint or 1 pint of oil. Keep the egg whites in the fridge (or freeze them) for future meringues or cocktails. 

1/2 pint of oil of which most is sunflower oil, with top-up of olive oil

1 heaped teaspoon dry mustard powder (my mother thinks ready-made mustard is sacrilegious but Gee, free-thinker that she is, believes this makes the mayonnaise bitter and swears instead by Dijon mustard.).

2-3 or more garlic cloves cut-up

Using a food processor, electric balloon whisk or a fork, start by combining the egg yolks and mustard. Add garlic. Add oil SLOW-BY-SLOW until the mixture emulsifies. Then, once there is no risk of egg and oil separating, gently add the oil in a thin stream – whisking all the time!

Juice of half – one lemon, as little salt as possible to taste and a light shake of cayenne pepper. (In another departure from the status-quo, Gee adds seasoning – salt (1/2 teaspoon to 1/2 pint of oil) and paprika which is less spicy than cayenne – at the very start because otherwise, she says,  the salt does not mix in properly).

I cannot end this post without adding, for the record:

I am European. I am international. We are one family.

If money and weapons can move freely around the globe, why not people? Especially people displaced by war.

I am not saying the EU is perfect (obvs). It needs reform. But, hey, the UK has its own unelected bureaucrats and neo-liberal project. Surely reform (like charity) starts at home?

The Brexit campaign was led by vile hate-filled propaganda which has legitimised hate, unleashing a rise in racist crimes

Many who voted to leave are angry, and this anger (zero hours contracts, underfunded public services and unaffordable housing) is correct. But to conclude the problem is caused by the EU and immigration is a severe misdiagnosis resulting in the wrong medicine, which will only make conditions deteriorate.

Leave is the operative word. I feel the grown-ups have taken leave of their senses. I feel left in the hands of an irresponsible parent consumed by their own crazy agenda.

I am “returning” to the comfort of mayonnaise. 

Hand written mayonnaise recipe

Hand written mayonnaise recipe

My grandmother’s beetroot soup

Cup of purple coloured soup pictured from above against big pink flowers

Image: Michael Caplan

I ring my mother. She is 92.

“Do you use beef stock to make beetroot soup?” I ask.

“No,” Fay says, “we never used beef stock. This is how we did it,” said my mother. “This is my mother’s recipe.”

Sarah’s beetroot soup

Slice the beetroots.

Cover with water. Simmer for about half an hour until tender. 

Drain the sliced beetroot and keep the beetroot stock. 

(You don’t use the sliced beetroot for the soup. My mum says: use them in a salad with sour cream with sliced onions). 

Beat 2 eggs with the juice of one lemon.

Add carefully- or eggs will curdle – to some of the warmed beetroot stock.  

Once the beaten eggs are incorporated into this small amount, tip it into the main soup.

Reheat carefully – very carefully – so the eggs don’t curdle. 

Add sour cream if desired.  

Thanks, mum.

This purple-looking healing soup, which I make with organic ingredients for extra quality, health and taste, enables nourishment to slip-in unsuspected via its beetroot-sweet, lemony lightness.

My grandmother Sarah died when I was 16. She was warm, earthy and wise, with fierce opinions I did not always agree with. Born in 1899 in London, her parents were migrants from anti-semitic Tsarist Belarus and Lithuania. I think of her so much in my heart.

My mother says the older she gets, the more she thinks of her grandmother, Jesse, (Sarah’s mother).  Jesse died when my mother was ten years old.  My mother says: “I talk to her every day. I call to her by her Yiddish name, Yeshki. She used to read the Yiddish translation of Shakespeare’s plays.”

I am showing my mum this blog on my phone

(I only learned that bit yesterday when reading out this blog to my mum – see pic above).

My mother repeats stories endlessly so we remember them. My mother’s recollection of her grandmother are imprinted on my DNA since childhood so I have absorbed Jess’s “live each day as if it were your last” philosophy.

My mum again:  “Jesse used to say: I am not frightened of death,’ and pointing over to the window, she would say: ‘It’s as if I’m passing to the other side of that net curtain.'” 

So, eat beet soup, and enjoy this precious life!


Hello Kitty cake

Hello Kitty cake
It’s not often I go mainstream but basically my eldest daughter asked me to make a Hello Kitty cake for my granddaugher Tayda’s fourth birthday party in December (this blog is well-overdue) held at St Werburgh’s city farm.

A few days before I got baking, my eldest daughter had a nightmare about the cake-making.

I said: “Good. Prepare to be disappointed.”

I felt I had to manage expectations.

However, it turned out well. The cake tasted good and actually looked like Hello Kitty.

For the latter, I must thank the opportune arrival of my middle daughter who took over cake-decorating just as I was getting bored. She talked me down from “getting creative”, insisting we adhere to its original design.

So here’s the Hello Kitty birthday cake-making story plus recipes.

I started by looking online for a clear image I could print and trace.

I ended up on GirlyBubble, a website for “girlyness and cute stuff”. Yes, I was in alien territory but fearless in my quest for a clear image of Hello Kitty.

I printed the image and traced it by hand. I admired the clever simplicity of the design, neither round nor oval, and its trademark bow and whiskers.

I owe decoration-detail to Coolest Birthday Cakes where readers have submitted their Hello Kitty cake designs. How grateful am I to the web and its culture of sharing?

Then it was time for real-life cake-decoration shopping at my local sweet shop on the independent-tastic Gloucester Road  (one of the last independent high streets in the UK).

Scrumptiously Sweet is a traditional sweet shop offering attentive service and saintly patience as I agonised over icing tubes, jelly beans and marshmallow pipes.

Side-view of Hello Kitty

We used bootlace liquorice to outline Hello Kitty’s head and ears, her bow, whiskers and nose.

We squeezed out Dr Oetker Designer Icing to fill in the red of the bow.

And encircled the lower base of the cake with pink marshmallow Flumps (you can see the join in the pic below).

Hello Kitty cake

Hello Kitty Cake and Icing recipes

I owe everything to All Recipes.com and its Foolproof Sponge Cake. It is truly foolproof for I am the fool, and here is the proof.

I made two sponges, one square, one round.

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The deeper square one (above) was sliced through its middle and filled and covered with pink buttercream icing.

Hello Kitty "face"

The smaller sponge (above) was baked in a round flan tin, requiring only some trimming with a sharp knife to become Kitty-shaped. This sponge had white icing to contrast with its bigger pink base.

Recipe for Foolproof Sponge Cake

No need to cream butter and sugar. Instead, sieve the flour and mix in the other ingredients. I used organic ingredients for health of people and planet, and butter not marge. It seemed strange to cook a sponge for a whole hour – but it worked. Brilliantly.

Serves: 12

340g (12 oz) self-raising flour | 280g (10 oz) caster sugar | 280g (10 oz) butter (or margarine) | 5 eggs |3 tablespoons milk (or soya milk) |

1. Grease and line two 20cm (8 inch) square or round tins and set aside. I used an 8 inch square tin and an 8 inch round flan tin, and did not skimp on the greaseproof lining paper.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 150 C / Gas 2, or 140 C for fan ovens.

3. Sieve self-raising flour into a mixing bowl, add the sugar and butter, then the eggs. I used my electric hand-blender, adding one egg at a time, blending after each one, until all ingredients were amalgamated. Once blended, some extra fast whizzes. The result: a thickish smooth batter.

4. Pour into the tins, place in centre of oven and cook for about 1 hour 15 mins, to 1 hour 30 mins. All Recipes says test with skewer: if it comes out clean, the cake is done.

Thank you All Recipes.com. Now a huge big shout-out to HonieMummyBlog for Perfect Butter Icing – perfect indeed! – and a genius selection of different quantities. Again, gratitude.

Honnie Mummie Perfect Butter icing

250 g / 8 oz butter | 500 g / 1 lb icing sugar | 4 teaspoons milk

For base (not Hello Kitty face), we carefully added drop-by-drop red colouring for a pinky effect, and mixed before adding the next drop.

I made the cakes on the Thursday, the butter icing on Friday, and assembled it all on Saturday – party day. 

And did not disgrace my family.

IMG_8426

Here is the cake nibbled down to its essential Hello Kitty-ness.

And here’s a under-1-minute video of the cake at Tayda’s party.

Porridge with heart

Porridge with heart-shaped cinnamon and nuts

I love porridge so much I could marry it – it is good for me and treats me nice.

You know when grown ups say: don’t play with your food? Wrong! Playing is the best way to learn.

There is always a moment in cooking where I think: this looks a mess.

“Be quiet,” I order my inner critic. I know I must persevere regardless, adding a bit of this, a bit of that.

The thing about porridge is it is meant to look like slop.

You can add fruit, nuts and seeds for extra taste and nutrition. I like sultanas, cinnamon, pecan nuts and pomegranate (see pic).

I love raw oats too. They are my top favourite comfort snack food with soya or rice milk, and sometimes, when in a dairy mood, organic cream.

This is how I make porridge. Using a cup – or half a mug – of jumbo oats (organic of course) per person, I soak them in water overnight.

If I forget to soak them (sometimes there are other things on a girl’s mind), I use rolled oats because they cook quickly without soaking.

So you get your oats, put them in a saucepan, add water and gently bring to the boil, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon to stop them sticking to the pan.

How much water? Well, enough to cover the oats, then add about a half a cupful more and keep simmering and stirring. Eventually the oats absorb the water and by trial and error, you can make porridge as lumpy or smooth as you like. Maybe you need to add more water, maybe you need to cook it a bit more (generally takes 10-15 minutes).

I would like to be more precise but it is not in my nature. Cooking is about experimenting.

It all comes good in the end – so take heart.

Love smoothie

smoothie.jpg

There is nothing more pleasant than a smoothie and its pleasures are fairly instant. If you love drinking smoothies in a café (as I did in La Ruca, see pic) it’s worth investing in a blender or smoothie maker. You need electricity to make a smoothie smooth. (If anyone knows differently, tell me.)

For those planning to live on smoothies (we all have times in our life like that) then vary the ingredients as much as possible.

The delight we derive from variety is nature’s way of making sure we get diverse nutrients.

Smoothies are personal. Everyone has different tastes. This website has loads of smoothie recipes to choose from. Luckily, so I can be lazy and tell you my favourite.

You need to stock up on a few things. I find cow’s milk makes me snuffle so I use soya milk (organic because I don’t want them GM beans) and also (if this is a week’s siege) I would splash out on a carton or two of rice or nut milk. You can make your own.

Banana forms the basis because it is a mood stabiliser (all that potassium, you know), as well as easy-to-eat and sweet. Add a grape or two, or a mango sliver. What fruits do you like?

Start by whisking/blending the banana. A teaspoon of nut butter (peanut, almond or cashew) for added protein? Some raw porridge oats? This is the time to whiz ’em in a mash with a tablespoon of milk or apple juice.

Pour the milk in slowly (a mugful for one). Look, if it gets gloopy, add liquid to gently thin it out.

You can blend in raw grated or ground ginger (great for my digestion) if you like. What I also adore is cinnamon.

Cooking is a bit of an experiment (no dish is the same each time) – that’s what keeps it interesting.

Scallops for the faint-hearted

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Scallops are easy to cook. I bought a dozen for ten pounds at the Hand Picked Shellfish stall at Bristol Farmers’ Market. They take minutes to cook in a frying pan with olive oil and tiny slices of fresh chilli. You only need a couple per person to add utter luxury to a dish (four if you are feeling flush) and I added fried mushrooms for further economy.

I served the scallops with boiled potatoes topped with a dollop of taramasalata from the Radford Mill farm shop on Picton street. Plus chard and purple carrots. Yes, purple. Apparently this was a carrot’s original colour but when the protestant William of Orange nabbed the British throne in 1698, carrots were bred orange in celebration. Crikey, I only discovered that on Wednesday – a real food lover never stops learning.

Talking about learning, three-year-old Mackensie fried his own mushroom and scallops.
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It is never too early to get up close and physical with cooking. As my mother (the real food lover empress) says: “Food is the best education you can give a child.” It’s a guaranteed life skill. Once you know how to choose raw ingredients and cook them, you can eat well for less.

Mackensie’s mama is a faint-hearted fish eater who hates bones. This was her first taste of scallops and they went down well. “They’ve got the texture of lychees,” she said. “And they are so easy to eat.”

Purple carrots on a chopping board