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Sometimes it takes the simplest of meals to remind you what real, good food actually is. I had this revelation last night as I tucked into my dinner for one of scrambled eggs on toast.
Mr Rigg was away for the night and my dinner choice was based on the fact that I really couldn’t be arsed to make anything more just for myself. We have a lovely farm up the road who produce organic eggs, so I always have a large tray of their eggs on hand for quick meals.
This time I had treated myself to some of their white Leghorn eggs, which I scrambled in my own sweet fashion – melt a healthy amount of raw butter in a saucepan, crack the eggs directly into the hot butter without whisking prior (I had two whole eggs and an extra yolk). Next I turn the heat down and let the eggs cook a little in the butter without touching them, then I use a spoon to break them up. This way you end up a mixture of quite distinct ‘white’ and ‘yolk’ but also some standard pale yellow scramble as well.
I considered skimming some cream off the top of our raw milk to add to the pan of eggs, cream in scrambled eggs is divine – don’t bother with milk! Anyway, that seemed like too much effort, so I just seasoned with salt and pepper and added generous amounts of snipped mint and chives from the garden, plus some pretty purple chive flowers.
Yesterday was our first wedding anniversary, and having spent the previous 24 hours tucked away in bliss at the Inn at Whitewell, and with the gorgeous warm weather, we decided last minute to have dinner at the allotment.
We boiled up some new potatoes, got a barbeque going to cook the sausages and burgers, and Mr Rigg watered the vegetables.
It reminded me of how much I enjoy cooking outside with the challenge of limited gadgets and gismos to help you prepare your meal. It reminded me of sunny evenings cooking market ingredients in the Loire Valley.
It has been ages since I last posted a recipe – as a result I can’t remember what I’ve been eating over the past few months and I don’t have the notes written down anywhere to recreate anything nice that we made. Last night’s dinner was worth finding some time to sit down and share it with you – I could have eaten platefuls.
To start with, there was scrambled eggs on lightly toasted bread. I like to make my scrambled eggs by melting butter in a pan, cracking in the eggs, letting them cook a little before breaking them up a bit, letting them cook some more, stirring, and so on. This produces a scrambled egg with bits of white and yolk rather than just a uniform pale yellow version.
I also fried some pieces of streaky bacon, before using the same pan to whistle up a warm tomato dressing. I didn’t tip away the bacon fat, instead I chopped up the tomatoes and tipped them into the hot fat, cooking them quickly so until they almost disintegrated. To the tomatoes, I added salt and pepper, and a tiny splash of sherry vinegar.
So, to buttered toast I added the scrambled eggs and popped the crispy bacon bits on top. Then I realised that I hadn’t stirred my chopped garden chives through the egg, so resolved to sprinkle them on to at the end. I spooned over the warm tomato dressing, and topped it off with a good handful of chopped chives and purple chive flowers.
I just love the colours as well – it’s like summer on a plate. This will be one version of scrambled eggs that I won’t be forgetting soon and will definitely make again.
Last night’s dinner was something I dreamt up and I’m so delighted with the results I had to share it with you. The amounts are largely guessed as I do a lot of “made-up” cooking by looking and tasting, rather than measuring. I’m sure – should you wish to make it yourself – that you will be able make it your own and just as yummy.
I couldn’t resist using lots of chives – my plants are full and healthy at the moment and are treating us to another display of pretty purple flowers.
Warning – these photos are taken with my camera that is broken…the screen is broken but it turns out it still takes pictures…I just can’t see what I’m photographing – as a result my photos are not very well composed or focused!
Baked potatoes with honey roast smoked salmon, cream cheese, wholegrain mustard and chives
2 large baking potatoes
approx 135g hot smoked roast salmon
200g cream cheese
couple of generous spoonfuls of wholegrain mustard
bunch of chives
splash of milk
purple chive flowers (optional)
First of all bake your potatoes – my favourite way to cook baked potatoes is to rub them with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt before baking them on skewers – the end result is gorgeous slightly chewy and crispy skins.
In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese with a splash of milk to loosen it. Stir in the wholegrain mustard and snip in lots of chives. Leave some chives to decorate at the end.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Finally, gently stir through about two thirds of the flaked salmon - don’t overmix as you don’t want the salmon to break down to mush.
When your potatoes are baked, remove from the oven and cut them in half. Scoop out all the hot potato into a mixing bowl and pop the empty skins onto plates.
Mix most of the cream cheese mixture into the hot potato – leave a little if you want to dollop on top at the end.
Once the potato is mixed into the cream cheese mixture, spoon it into the potato skins. Dollop on the remaining cream cheese mixture and top with the remaining flakes of salmon.
Snip over some chives and top with chive flowers – just pull the tiny purple flowers away from the green bit. Eat with a crisp green salad (we’re loving red-tinged Little Gem lettuces and Lambs Lettuce at the moment) – I squeezed over a little lemon and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Last night we had a simple supper of homemade trout pate spread thickly on slices of pumpernickel bread topped with a morsel of homegrown lettuce.
The recipe was inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s version in his book River Cottage Everyday. I had planned to follow it to the letter, but it seems that I picked up soft cheese rather than crème fraîche while out shopping, so I ended up making it up and tasting it as I went along.
We ate the pate on slices of the Barbakan’s pumpernickel bread, which was delicious – dark, sticky and chewy. Every mouthful felt good for you. It has been agreed we must eat more of it more often.
Here’s my version, without exact measurements – mix and taste, then amend. Alternatively follow Hugh’s recipe.
Smoked trout pate
Feeds 2 for dinner or 4 as a starter
Approx 250-300g smoked trout (I used a combination of smoke trout and hot smoked trout)
A couple of spoonfuls of soft cheese/cream cheese
A dollop of mayonnaise
A couple of teaspoons of English mustard
Lots of lemon juice
A good grinding of black pepper
A bunch of chives, snipped
In a blender add half the smoked trout, the soft cheese and mustard. Blitz. Add more soft cheese if it’s a bit dry and the mayonnaise. Add a good amount of lemon juice and the ground black pepper.
Blitz and then taste. You want it to have a good punchy kick of mustard, but not overpowering. And a nice fresh lemony background taste. I added a tiny splash of water just to loosen the pate a little.
Flake the remaining smoke trout and stir into the pate – this gives a nice texture. Also stir in the snipped chives and the chive flowers which you should pull from the head.
Eat with pumpernickel or a dark rye bread and a crisp green salad. This would also make an excellent canapé - a tiny chunk of bread spread with pate and topped with a piece of lettuce or a sprinkling of chives and chive flowers.