poached eggs with uncured ham & tomato bearnaise sauce
The secret to
cooking dwarf poaching an egg is vinegar. Vinegar and cups, actually. Vinegar in the water helps keep the egg together, and sliding the egg in carefully from a cup, rather than just cracking the egg and dropping it straight into the pot, keeps it from breaking. In the end, you have a perfectly poached egg.
Bearnaise sauce is clarified butter, eggs yolks, white wine vinegar and herbs,traditionally.It’s considered a “child” of Hollandaise sauce, both of which are rather heavy sauces. The tomato Bearnaise sauce is a lot lighter, adds more flavour to poached eggs (and of course is healthier).
Poached Eggs with Uncured Ham & Tomato Bearnaise- Ingredients
English Muffins (either pre-made or from scratch), split in half
Eggs, at least 2 per person
4 cups spinach
2 large yellow tomatoes
1 shallot, diced
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp white vinegar
Thick slices of uncured ham, at least 2 per person
3 tbsp butter
2 tsp arrowroot powder (available anywhere you can buy bulk herbs, such as whole food or organic stores)
1/4 cup cold water + 3 cups water
Salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the tomatoes in a shallow roasting pan and drizzle with about a tablespoon of melted butter. Roast for 30 minutes, rotate pan and roast for another 10 minutes. Allow the tomatoes to cool until they can be handled, and transfer to a blender. Blend until pureed, then add wine, red wine vinegar, shallot and salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a saucepan and heat until simmering. Mix the arrowroot and 1/4 cup cold water together until blended, then add to the sauce. Stir and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, Bearnaise will thicken upon standing. Cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, bring 3 cups of water and 3 tbsp white vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat until water is no longer boiling, but still hot. You do not water the water to bubble, as it will break up the egg. Carefully crack an egg into a shallow cup or dish, then carefully slide it into the water. Let the egg cook or 30 seconds before sliding your spatula or slotted spoon under the egg briefly to keep it from sticking to the bottom. Cook for 3-5 minutes (3 minutes for runny yolks, 5 minutes for less runny). Remove egg with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Repeat for remaining eggs, using separate bowls or dishes for each finished egg.
Toast the english muffins, keep them warm in by removing them to the oven set at 200°F. Heat a small pan and carefully heat the slices of ham on each side until they start to brown slightly. Remove and transfer to a baking dish and keep warm in the oven. Melt 1 tbsp butter and add spinach. Cook until just wilted. Build your dish by layering the muffin half on the bottom, top with spinach, a slice of ham and a poached egg. Generously spoon Bearnaise sauce over the egg, and serve immediately.
beans on toast - comfort food of my heart
Cheap and easy to make, “beans” make a simple, versatile dish that is good for breakfast (or second breakfast) or in smaller amount as a side dish for lunch. It’s a staple in our household, a cheap, tasty and filling meal that’s easy to make with barely any hands-on time.
Traditional beans can be cooked in a dutch oven, slow cooked either on top of the stove or baked inside. I like to make them in a crock, letting them slowly cook all day to really absorb the flavours. The recipe listed below is for beans made in a crock, but you can make them on the stove top by following the recipe until the actual cooking, then put the beans mixture in a dutch oven and cook on medium, stirring often, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Beans - Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds peeled plum tomatoes + 1/2 cup water OR one 28 oz tin of peeled plum tomatoes (reserve the liquid, do not drain)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (or light brown sugar)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 diced shallot
1 cup dry white wine (or cooking wine)
1/2 tsp seal salt
1 lb navy or cannellini beans
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
Soak beans overnight in 8 cups of cold water. Drain, and add to crock. Add tomatoes and using a wooden spoon (or spatula) carefully crush the tomatoes, stirring them into the beans. Add water or reserved tomato liquid. Stir in garlic, shallots, vinegar, sugar and sea salt. Cook on high for an hour, stirring after half an hour. Add white wine and paprika, stir and cook on low for 3-4 hours. or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally. If liquid in crock gets a bit too low during cooking, add a splash of water to keep beans moist. Serve on toast (I suggest rye bread), or as a small side dish. Stored in an airtight container, beans will keep in the fridge for a week.
day five - venison stew with herb dumplings
Today’s recipe comes from Bree, a township east of The Shire.
Venison originally described any meat of a game animal killed by hunting, such as deer, elk, wild hares and boar. Today, it is almost exclusively used to describe meat from a deer. For this recipe, I used deer venison, locally sourced and according to where it was purchased, hunted with a bow and arrows.
You can purchase venison steaks from any whole foods or organic store, specialty shops and butchers, or ethnic markets. Suet (pronounced “soo-et”), another ingredient in this recipe, is available at any butcher shop for ridiculously cheap. It is mutton fat from around the loins or kidneys. If you can’t find it, or don’t want to use it, substitute it with shortening.
I also used ale in this recipe. If you’re underage in your area, use equal amounts of beef broth.
Venison Stew with Herb Dumplings - Ingredients
2 1/2 lbs venison
1 large red onion, sliced
3 starchy potatoes, such as russet, thinly sliced
5 large carrots, sliced
1 cup fresh peas
1/4 cup flour
2 cups of ale or beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp curled parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded suet (or shortening)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup cold water
Preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat and add the onion. Cook until onions are softened, about five minutes. Add venison and brown all over, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool until venison can be handled, then transfer the meat to a bowl and add flour. Stir until meat is covered. Transfer meat and onions to a baking dish and add potatoes, peas and carrots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour ale (or broth) into the flour bowl and stir until well combined. Pour gently into baking dish. Add bay leaves, cover and cook for 2 hours.
In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt and parsley. Add the suet, stirring well to combine. Add just enough water to make a dough that is not sticky and able to form small balls of dough (the dumplings). When the stew has cooked for two hours, carefully remove from oven, drop dumpling on top of stew, return to the oven and cook for another hour, or until dumplings are lightly browned and fluffy.
day four - cold chicken & pickles
"And just bring out the cold chicken and pickles!"
For some weird reason, that line stuck with seven year old me. It always seemed like the two should go together: you couldn’t have cold chicken without the pickles. So when I got it in my head to make another batch of homemade pickles for this project, I had to make cold chicken (or at least, the way I imagined the cold chicken should be).
Pickles - Ingredients
2-3 large cucumbers
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
Pickling spices - You can either buy a packet of premixed spices, or make your own. I use bay leaves, garlic cloves, fresh rosemary sprigs from the garden, ground mustard and peppercorns
Ice, and lots of it
Start by washing and slicing the cucumbers. You can make the slices as thin or as thick as you’d like, I prefer my slices to be rather on the thick side. Line the bottom of the colander with a bit of ice, then add a layer of cucumber. Salt the cucumber lightly, then add another layer. Salt, and repeat until you’re out of cucumber. Cover with ice and let set for an hour in the sink.
Bring the vinegars, water and spices to a boil. Transfer the cucumber without the ice into a heat proof bowl and pour the boiling liquid over them, including any garlic, herb sprigs and bay leaves (if using). Cover and set in the fridge to chill. Transfer to an airtight container, and return to fridge. Pickles will keep for about a month.
Cold Chicken - Ingredients
2 1/2 cups diced chicken, chilled
2 large celery stalks, halved length-wise and diced
2 green onions, sliced thin (including green tops)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
3 sprigs curled parlsey, roughly chopped
6 oz plain yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste
Line a colander or mesh strainer with paper towels or cheesecloth, and set in a bowl or deep dish. Spoon in the yogurt, cover and let set overnight to drain the excess liquid.The resulting yogurt will be thicker and creamier.
Mix together the chicken, vinegar, lemon juice, celery, green onion and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste, then carefully stir in the yogurt until combined. Chill mixture in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Serve with bread or crackers, and pickles.
day three - blackberry & buttermilk pancakes with whipped honeyed butter
alternatively: What about second breakfast?
So today is Emily’s birthday, and to celebrate her love of breakfast food and blackberries, I took it upon myself to make her breakfast in bed. Which meant getting up really early and sneaking out to go buy blackberries (and a pound of her favourite expensive coffee). The Fresh Market has them on sale this week (month?) and I took advantage of it.
If you don’t have buttermilk, and can’t justify buying it for the sake of one recipe, don’t! You need a cup for this recipe, so instead, pour a cup of milk (sans ONE TABLESPOON) into a bowl and add a tablespoon of white vinegar. Let it set out on your counter for five minutes. While its not real buttermilk, it will definitely do for this recipe and you can hardly taste the difference.
I am going to be a bit of a food snob here and insist that you buy real maple syrup. Its one of those luxury items that really makes a difference when you are eating from-scratch pancakes, and there’s really no need to spend a lot of money on it. If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, start there. They usually have real maple syrup for around $5. The Fresh Market has it on sale this week for less that $4. Then, there’s Target, which had their Archer Farm’s brand for about $7. A little goes a long way, trust me, so investing in it is well worth it. These stores really only apply to American readers, unfortunately.
Make the honeyed butter in advance, then put it in the fridge to chill and harden again.
Three tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted, your decision)
1/4 teaspoon honey
Let the butter soften at room temperature until you can easily mash it with your fingers. Put it in a cup and drizzle the honey over it. Using a fork, whip the honey and butter until it is light and fluffy, and well mixed. Scrape it into a pile in the cup and set it back in the fridge for later.
Blackberry & Buttermilk Pancakes - Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups all purpose, unbleached flour
2 tablespoons turbinado or other raw sugar (if you can not find this for any reason, then use white sugar, however the turbinado/raw sugar makes a world of difference)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk, buttermilk substitute (above recipe) or milk if you do not like buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted, its not going to change the flavour very much)
Blackberries - I used 3/4 of a pint, roughly chopped, however you can use more or less depending on your taste, just remember to set some aside for garnish
Oil or butter for the pan
Mix the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder together in a bowl. Add the egg and milk, and stir to combine. Do not overmix! A few lumps are fine at this point. Put the butter in a small saucepan and melt until the butter turns clear, froths, and then turns slightly brown and nutty smelling. Remove from heat immediately and set aside about two minutes to cool. Take this time to chop up your blackberries. They don’t have to be chopped really small. I left rather large chunks of blackberries and it came out fantastic. When you’re done, pour the butter into the batter and stir, then add the blackberries. Stir carefully.
Lightly grease your pan/griddle with a bit of melted butter or oil. If you have a reliable nonstick pan (or one of those fancy green/blue pans) you can skip this step. You want to be sure than the pan is sufficiently oiled, but not too much that the pancakes come out soggy. Blot up excess with a paper towel if you need. Preheat your pan on medium heat (err on the side of low heat, as too much will burn the cakes quickly. If it is too low, simply turn the heat up gradually)
Depending on the size of your pancakes, this recipe can make six rather large cakes or twelve to fifteen small ones. Pour the batter carefully into the center of the pan, and let it cook. When there are air bubble scattered across the surface of the batter, the pancake is done on one side. This usually takes 2-3 minutes. However, because there are blackberries in these, the batter may not bubble entirely so feel free to carefully lift the edge of the cake to check that it is browning evenly. Carefully flip the cake. 2-3 minutes on the other side should do, however if you are concerned, use the corner edge to make a slight cut in the center of the pancake. If mix oozes up, you know its not done yet. Transferred the finished cake to a plate and add a bit of honeyed butter to it. Repeat with remaining batter. If you want to keep the pancakes piping hot, transfer them to a baking sheet and set them in an oven preheated to 200°F/93°C/Gas Mark 1/2 (heat oven for about 20 minutes and turn it off if using Gas Mark 1/2)
Garnish with extra blackberries, honey buttered and (real) maple syrup. I also “garnished” them with a generous helping of thick bacon, eggs and croissants for a light (ha!) second breakfast.
day two - blue cheese, walnut and leek tarts
Inspired by Bilbo’s blue cheese (and it’s subsequent demise at the hands of Balin and Dwalin), I wanted to make something warm and delicious with a hint of that deliciously tart cheese. I ended up using a lot more than a hint, but the result was oh so delicious.
These are great hot out of the oven, or reheated with a side of bacon or sausage for a great breakfast, second breakfast or elevensies treat. They’ll keep in the fridge for about five days. This recipe makes 12 tarts.
Blue Cheese, Walnut and Leek Tarts - Ingredients
For the tart dough:
1 3/4 cups of all purpose, unbleached flour (plus extra for dusting)
pinch of sea salt
7 tbsp of salted butter, diced (plus a little extra for greasing the pan)
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnut halves
2 tbsp salted butter
2 stalks of celery, halved and roughly chopped
1 large leek, white and light green parts, diced
3 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy (or double) cream
6 oz blue cheese
salt and pepper
Use a bit of butter to lightly grease a regular sized 12 count muffin pan. Mix the flour, salt and diced butter together and either crumble it with your hands, toss it in a food processor, or throw it in your blender. If you go the blender route, remember to pulse it in short five seconds bursts, and shake the blender pitcher to unsettle the flour-butter mixture to keep the blades from sticking and the motor from overheating. Whichever method you choose, the end result should look like buttery breadcrumbs. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the walnuts. Add just enough cold water to make the dough come together in a ball when stirred. Depending on how humid your kitchen is, the amount will vary. It was rainy today when I made these, so I only needed a splash of water, your mileage may vary.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it into a ball. Separate into two balls, and then separate the dough further into 12 even pieces. Roll each piece into a flat circle about 4 1/2 inches (roughly) in diameter. Press each piece carefully into the muffin pan until they form little cups. Cut some wax or parchment paper into little squares, carefully put them in the dough cups, and fill them with either pie weights or dried beans (I used dried turtle beans). Put the whole thing in the fridge for half an hour, and preheat the oven to 400°F/204°C/Gas Mark 6.
After half an hour, remove the beans/weights and papers, and bake the tart shells for 10 minutes. While they are baking, start the filling. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a skillet until it turns clear, froths and then starts to turn a bit brown and nutty smelling. Don’t let it burn! Reduce the heat to medium and toss in the celery and leeks. Cook for about 10 minutes or until they are soft. Remove from heat, stir in two tablespoons of the cream and all of the blue cheese. Stir until the cheese begins the melt and the lot of it is mixed. Heat the remaining cream in a small saucepan until it just begins to bubble and then pour it over the egg yolks, stirring the mixture as you do. Spoon in the cheese mixture until well blended and let it set. By now, the tarts should have been removed from the oven, so spoon the creamy concoction into the tart shells. Don’t panic if you think you’re going to have too much, you won’t! If the mix spills over and covers the tart shells, this is okay as well. Wipe the pan clean before putting in the oven, and bake at the same temperature for 10 minutes, then turn the pan and bake for another 5 minutes.
Let the tarts sit for 5 minutes after removing them from the oven. This not only allows them to cool enough to handle, but also lets the filling settle down inside the shells. Serve immediately.
To reheat: heat oven to 350°F/176°C/Gas Mark 4, heat for about 10 minutes
day one - skink soup
Nothing says comfort on a cold mid-winter’s night like a steamy bowl of soup. “Skink” is an Irish-Scotts term for broth, though skink soup itself usually is a bit creamier than your average broth based soup. It’s s fairly simple, straightforward soup with very few ingredients but is delicious paired with a chunk of warm, homemade bread.
We bought a decent sized chicken and roasted it with sea salt, butter and rosemary. We used the fat and bones to make the stock for the soup, but if you’re in a pinch or don’t feel like prepping a chicken to make stock, feel free to get it already made.
Skink Soup - Ingredients
3 celery stalks, halved lengthwise and coarsely chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 small onion, diced
4 green onions including dark green tops, chopped
2 cups diced or shredded dark meat chicken
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup heavy (or double) cream
3 cups chicken stock
5 cups water
Several leaves of butter lettuce (sometimes called Boston lettuce), shredded
2 bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste
This will probably be the easiest soup you ever cook. Put the celery, carrots, onions, chicken, bay leaves and stock into a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium high and simmer for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
While the soup is cooking, mix the egg yolk and cream together until it is blended. When the 15 minutes are up, slowly pour the mixture into the soup, stirring to blend. Reduce heat to low, simmer five minutes.
Garnish soup with butter lettuce leaves (about one or two previously whole leaves per bowl) and excess green onion tops.
So bellsandbones and I had this idea to take on a one year food challenge, in which we made all of our own food from scratch, and the real challenge would be that it was only food that could be found in Middle Earth, specifically the Shire.
Thus Straight From The Shire was created. This blog itself was actually a last minute idea. I love sharing recipes, so we’ve decided to chronicle our little year-long challenge this way, making a sort of unofficial Hobbit-y cookbook.
We’ll be updating with recipes (and pictures!) Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as possibly a weekend day every now and then if we can.
here’s hoping we don’t say FUCK IT in the first week WOO!