Sunday, 28 February 2010

PREGNANCY RECIPE: bubble and squeak cakes with egg and bacon

I've shared good flavours with the Rosebud this week. On Tuesday, I cooked crayfish risotto using a stock made from the shells (I bought a box of whole cooked crayfish through Hubbub Deliveries then shelled them myself, a suprisingly painful and boring job. I nearly bought the live ones but remembered that friends Jeff and Charlotte had to keep theirs in the bath until they were ready to cook them. This flat is small enough already). And last night S and I ate whole bass with fennel, lemon and parsely. 

All very lovely but this morning I was ready for something a bit simpler and that's where the genius of the poached egg comes in. I've been slapping them atop of loads of meals for a protein leg-up (great for building baby tissues as well as bodybuilder abs) and for the pure gorgeous sight of the yolk flowing down the sides of a piece of haddock or pile of baked beans. Maybe I'm third trimester blase but these boys are still firmly on my menu - just cook them at home using very fresh, good eggs. I love Burford Browns, an old breed egg with deep-yellow yolks, worth paying a arm and a leg for (well, not a full arm, just slightly over the elbow).

So my waking thoughts were eggs (not strictly true, what I really thought was will I get fizzy milk if I drink Champagne straight after birth). A quick mental scan of the fridge flashed up on-the-turn cabbage and Brussels sprouts from the organic box and some leftover cooked potatoes. Sweet. And hell yeah, a few rashers of quality bacon. Brunch was born.

Bubble and squeak cakes with egg and bacon
A classic brunch dish or brilliant Monday dinner

Serves 2
Cooked potatoes, Brussels sprouts and cabbage
Dash Worcestershire sauce
2 eggs, at room temperature is best
4 bacon rashers

1. Pre-heat the grill to high and the oven to l80c fan/200c/Gas 6. Slice the Brussels sprouts and cabbage then put in a bowl. (If you're not using cooked leftovers, blanch them for 2-3 mins in boiling water then plunge into cold water and drain). Add the cooked potatoes and mash with a fork. Season with salt and pepper and a bit of Lea & Perrins then mix the veg together. 

2. Next shape into 2 large round cakes. Either do this by hand – roll a ball of mixture between your hands until smooth. Put on a surface then gently press down until you have a flat top and bottom – or cut out using a cook’s ring. (I bought mine from Atelier des chefs, a London cook school with a brilliant cheffy shop). If you have time, chill these in the fridge. 

3. Fill a shallow pan or frying pan with water and put on to heat. Heat some oil in another pan then fry the cakes for 4-6 minutes on each side until they are golden and crispy. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.

4. Put the bacon under the grill.

5. When the water is boiling turn the heat down to a simmering boil. Add a few drops of white wine vinegar. Crack each egg into a ramekin then gently lower it into the water and release the egg. Cook for 3-4 minutes depending on how you like them.

6. On a warmed plate, serve your bubble and squeak cake, topped with an egg and two rashers of bacon. Then add a good dollop of Brown or Red depending on your sway.

Monday, 22 February 2010

PREGNANCY RECIPE: chicken noodle soup

Mondays hurt. They always have and I reckon they always will. On this particular one I woke up with a sore throat and a sleep deficit. On Saturday night, I went out and felt invincible, wearing heels and a new silk blouse, I rolled into bed at 2am. And then between putting up shelves and braising oxtail on Sunday, I missed my afternoon nap.

So today, I feel a bit frayed around the edges and the only dinner that will meet my needs is chicken noodle soup. It's a cliche but my god, it works. I trust in bone marrow to fend off coughs, colds and general winter jadedness. To boost the healing power of this soup, I bought a whole cooked chicken and made a super-speedy stock. I know it adds time to the cooking process but it also gives an extra immunity hit. This soup ticks my pregnancy boxes too - protein (yes), carbs (yes) and greens (yes). Leave out the chilli if it's too lively and go easy on the soy sauce - too much salt equals painful leg cramps in my experience.

Chicken noodle soup

A one-pot protein-fuelled, feel-good soup
Serves 2 adults
1 small roasted chicken or 2 chicken breasts
2 bundles Clear Spring Udon or Blue Dragon Ramen
1l chicken stock (made from 1 stock cube)
3in piece root ginger, chopped
200g green beans, trimmed
Pinch chilli flakes
Soy sauce, to taste

1. Strip the meat off the roast chicken. Clean the bones of fat and gristle and put in a large pan. Fill with cold water until the bones are just covered then bring up to the boil. Skim off any scum with a metal spoon and pour away. Leave to simmer for as long as you can, but at least 20 mins.Remove the bones with a slotted spoon then drain through a sieve.

2. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the packet instructions then rinse thoroughly and put to the one side.

3. Add the hot chicken stock to the pan, then the ginger and green beans. Cook for 3-4 minutes then add the cooked chicken and chilli flakes. Heat through for 1-2 minutes then stir in the noodles and pour into bowls. Season with soy sauce to taste.