Purple pickled eggs

These baby beetroots are really nice. Step 1 is to eat half the jar. Step 2 is to remember that you’ve eaten half a jar of beetroot so that you don’t freak out when the red colour passes straight through you.

Hard boil some eggs – I have worked out my timings to have still slightly-gel-ish yolks as:

  • Boil kettle
  • Pour hot water onto eggs in pan
  • Turn on heat under pan
  • Set timer for 6 mins for small eggs, 6 1/2 for medium eggs
  • When timer buzzes or beeps or flashes or cuckoos, put eggs straight under running cold water until they are cold enough to peel
  • Peel eggs, put in your jar of beetroot

Wait. A few hours will give you a pink tinge, a day will give you pink on the outside but still white inside.

A few days gives you THIS

Colour of egg vs colour of beetroot

Inside, the egg is practically glowing.

These would be good in a salad, if you can restrain yourself from just eating them. The vinegar is quite sweet from the beetroot, it’s not as sharp as a pickled egg you might get in a pub.


Thomasina Miers’ Chorizo and Potato Quesadillas

As I may have mentioned, I don’t think a meal is a real meal if it doesn’t have carbs. There are some who say a meal is not a proper meal without meat. I can do without meat. But carbs? Carbs are the essence of food.

These have double carbs. Potatoes and bread. You know what else has both potatoes and bread? Chip butties. And crisp sandwiches. So you know this is gonna be good. It also has chorizo so if you are feeding someone with the aforementioned “must have meat” issue, this fits the bill.

Thomasina Miers is the creator of Wahaca, the chain of Mexican restaurants. Apparently she won Masterchef in 2005 or something. This is from her book “Mexican Food Made Simple”. A lot of it is not that simple, but this is.

Get yourself some potatoes. Cut them into dice, or smaller-than-dice if you can be bothered. The instructions said just to fry them but I find frying potatoes takes forever so I boiled them for 5 mins. Cut up some chorizo very small. Put it in a nonstick frying pan and fry while your potatoes are cooking. It’ll leak lots of lovely orange fat. Drain your potatoes and put them into the chorizo-y frying pan. Add lots of fresh thyme. Cook until you are sure that the potato is nice and soft.

Get your nice big tortilla wrap, put it into a hot nonstick frying pan (you can put some oil if you like but you don’t need to. Cover with the chorizo and potato mixture. Put grated cheese on top. I also added spring onion.

You’ll see the potato is all nice and orangey. Cover with another tortilla. I also used a small plate to hold the top one down to encourage the whole thing to stick together. Another way to make it stick together better is to use a lot more cheese than I did. That’s also a good option.

Cook like that until you sense that the bottom is brown. I don’t know how you expect to do this. The plate is useful for flipping.

Tah-dah! Now it is flipped. Cook til the other side is that same colour (I already told you, I don’t know how to do this, just use your intuition or something).

You’ll notice that I haven’t said any measurements here. I used a sausage of chorizo about 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide, double that volume in potato, and a small handful of thyme, to fill 4 tortillas (so two sandwiches). How much cheese did I use? That much  <gestures vaguely>

These are great for a lunch where you’re not sure when you’ll be eating. I made mine for friends who were coming round with a baby in tow. They are nice hot, nice cold, and (much rarer) also nice if they are just warmish. They stay warm well stacked in the oven as in the very top picture.

“Not pesto” no-mayo potato salad

I realise that ‘s a lot of negatives in the description. And I love mayo and have nothing against pesto. But many people don’t like mayo and so would like a no mayo potato salad. And this is only sort-of-pesto-ish (my guests said “tastes like pesto”, if that helps) , so I felt like describing it as “not pesto” but not unlike pesto.

This also comes under the description of things that I have made in my nutribullet that are not at least half green leafy vegetables. OR DOES IT? Do herbs count? There’s a lot of herb in here.

Anyway -instructions!

Bag of small potatoes. Salad potatoes or new potatoes or Jersey Royals if you are feeling fancy and it’s that time of year. Cut them in half and boil them.

Get your cup of your nutribullet or other-brand cup-blender-thing. Give it 1cm of white wine vinegar (cider vinegar would work too) and 2cm of oil (olive oil probably best but no particular need for extra virgin as you’re putting in lots of other flavour). Add a heaped teaspoon of grainy mustard and a good pinch (or 5 grinds) of salt. Crush in 2 cloves of garlic.

Now go to the sad basil plant on your windowsill and give it a haircut. Or if you have a happy basil plant that will work.Snip off the tops of all of the fronds. This is what basil likes, Every stem that you snip will regrow two and your basil will be much bushier. It’s about meristems or something. Trust me, I have a degree in biology. Pre-cut basil is fine too if you don’t want to grow plants or listen to biology lessons.

When you have a good handful of basil, take the leaves off it. You can be rough and ready here, but separating stems and leaves is worth a little bit of effort.

Put the leaves in the cup with the oil and vinegar and stuff and give it a good whizz until it’s quite smooth and green.

Once the potatoes are eatably-soft, drain them and let them cool a bit, then coat them in your green basil-garlic-not-pesto-vinaigrette.

basil potato salad

Best served warm or cool but not hot.

I think this may be accidentally vegan. Which is the best kind of vegan.


In your face, Swiss meringues

I am all-conquering.

I have a variety of whisking machines and I will use them to make you.

Er, sorry, got a bit over-excited there.

You may recall that Swiss meringues tried to kill my food processor, but succeeded only in breaking the drive shaft. Lizard-like, my food processor has grown a new one (I bought it one from espares), but it was clear that this task required a more venerable whisker.

electric hand whisk

Behold, granny’s hand whisk. This machine is definitely older than me. It belonged to my great-grandmother. It can handle anything.

I made the full 115g of egg white this time (4 smallish eggs, if you’re interested) , heated up with 225g sugar (granulated again, I still don’t have caster, I have no particular intention of ever having caster).

Put it in a bowl after the sugar is dissolved but before it starts looking like cooked egg white. Put in headphones and listen to something that will keep you occupied. I chose More or Less from the BBC because I like stats, and telling journalists and politicians that they are wrong.

Whizz it for ages and ages.

upside down meringues

Test if you can turn it upside down.

uncooked purple meringues

Squeeze in some squeezy purple food colouring because FANCY. (Next step actual flavours? Maybe) Blob onto greaseproof paper. Put into an oven that you have already heated to 150C.

Leave in the oven for some amount of time, then turn oven off and leave for some other amount of time.

cooked purple meringues

Look, they actually got bigger! I am all-conquering! etc

swirly purple meringues

Pile ’em up.

Gousto – Korean beef bulgogi

gousto korean beef bulgogi card

Recipe 2 from my recipe box – #1 was here.

gousto korean beef bulgogi ingredients

This is a great recipe for me, as the storecupboard ingredients are all things that I have. Basmati rice – yep (although I usually have brown basmatic), soy sauce and sesame oil – yep (I would put these in nearly everything if I could), garlic and ginger – yep (and I bet you could use the lazy kind in a jar without any problems) and the fresh ingredients are easily available even in just a local/express/little/metro supermarket.

gousto korean beef bulgogi recipe

Exact measurements are given for the amount of water to use with the rice. People go on about making “perfect rice” and how difficult it is. In most situations I just treat rice like pasta and it is FINE. Boil it in lots of water, drain off the excess. The absorption method is good if you can be bothered but for just normal rice like this I don’t think it matters, If we had sticky rice (and I think this recipe would be great with sticky rice) it might be more important.

There’s more “mushing about with hands”, as there was with the meatballs, but this time there’s a bit of chopping.grating to do. Not a lot though.

Frying the beef, there was a lot of liquid in my pan and I felt that it didn’t need the extra oil for frying, and that maybe I could have left some of the soy sauce out of the mixture for pouring on top later. After 4 minutes the beef was still sitting in liquid, and it went from “wet” to “kinda burnt underneath” very quickly. I have a lovely new nonstick pan that I highly recommend for this kind of situation

korean beef bulgogi result

Tasty. Apple in the beef makes it nice and moist. If I were doing this again I think I would:

  • Use sticky rice
  • Use less soy sauce in the meat mixture and have some on the side
  • Pay attention to the meat – don’t think because it’s wet right now that you can look at something else for a minute
  • Add chilli (because I love chilli)

chilli in window

Here’s a happy chilli in my window

Gousto – Perfect picnic spelt and lamb meatballs

Another fresh-meal box to try out, this time Gousto courtesy of my friend Helen – if you want to use her code to get £25 off your first box (meaning I got a box of 3 meals for 2 people for a tenner) then here’s the code.

The Yodel courier decided to leave the box at the reception of my building rather than outside my door as requested, so all the ingredients were out of the fridge for well over 24 hours, but the chilled stuff still felt cold to the touch and I think it won’t kill me.

Delivery was on the 5th (and it was the 6th by the time I got hold of it) and all of the meats have dates of the 9th. Not ideal as I’d like to be able to order a box for a week and then use all through that week.

gousto lamb meatball card

I dislike the use of “perfect” in the title – just tell me what we’re making, don’t overload it with adjectives. I’ll decide if it’s perfect thanks very much. I do appreciate the “picnic” suggestion. It’d be good to have some tips on serving cold or storing/transporting, if we were really going to have this at a picnic.

gousto lamb meatball recipe

I liked the step by step pictures on the card – good for if you are unsure as to how finely to chop things.

gousto lamb meatball ingredients

There are a lot of ingredients here, but the instruction for most of them is “mush together with your hands to make meatballs”. The instructions said to make 6 meatballs – I made 8 and if you are planning to have this as an actual picnic I’d recommend making a larger number of smaller balls.

I don’t know if spelt is tricky to get hold of, but if it is then bulgur wheat or pearl barley or even couscous would be just fine.

The sumac is the only one of the spices/flavourings that I don’t usually keep in stock, and it does make a difference. I guess you could use a bit of lemon juice in the meatballs and then paprika to get a red sprinkle.

gousto lamb meatballs with spelt

Not too tricky to make, not too much washing up (just one pan on the hob and one in the oven), not too much time or effort.

I am not always keen on fruit+meat combinations, but in this case the cranberries in the meatballs added a nice chewyness and were sweet without feeling wrong.

Hello Fresh Jamie Oliver Chicken Stir Fry (without broccoli)

The third recipe from my Hello Fresh box. One was here. The second here.

I’ll admit that the changes I had to make here were partially my fault. I knew that I would be eating out a few days this week, so I checked the dates on the meat/fish part and made them in the order of how long they would last. I just forgot to check how long a head of broccoli lasts without going a bit weird and yellow.

However, for a service aimed at people who are busy, that’s delivered once a week, I don’t think I was unreasonable to expect ingredients that were delivered on the Sunday to be OK on the following Saturday (within the week). Perhaps Hello Fresh should pack up the ingredients for each recipe together and label with things like “if eating with 3 days keep me at room temp, if not you might want to fridge me”.

Hello Fresh Jamie Oliver stirfry card

So this recipe was supposed to have broccoli, and instead I used sugarsnap peas. Because I had some in the fridge. If I hadn’t I would have been rather disappointed. As it was this recipe was FINE, but not very exciting or novel.

Hello Fresh Jamie Oliver stirfry recipe

As with the pork belly stew, there was not a lot of meat here. Unlike the risotto, I did not think that the carb portions were noticeably generous. I’d normally allow 75-100g of pasta per person, and here we had 125g of noodles between two.

Hello Fresh Jamie Oliver ingredients

There was a lot of chopping to do here. The recipe instructed me to do all the chopping before starting. I understand that this is aimed at people who don’t cook a lot (hence my previous comments on expecting me to have the equipment to zest a lemon) but telling me to chop everything beforehand seemed unnecessary. I could do some of the chopping while the noodles were boiling.

Hello Fresh chopped things

I normally like Jamie Oliver recipes, and I like the co-branding. These two things do go together. However I was not convinced by the instructions on how long to cook the vegetables for. Very few people can slice carrots finely enough that this much stir-frying would result in them being anything other than very hard and crunchy.

Hello Fresh Jamie Oliver stirfry

This was a pleasant dinner, and I liked the fish sauce on the noodles, but I don’t feel as if I learned or discovered anything. Apart from “meat is not the only thing that might go off after 6 days”.