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Days 3 and 4 of our meat-free month have seen some good old favourites appear – the quesadilla and baked potato.  Quesadillas we most often make meat-free, but baked potatoes are often adorned with crispy bits of bacon or fragrant honey roast smoked salmon – but not this week.

Wednesday 11th January

quesadillas with roasted peppers and onion

Quesadillas filled with onion, jarred roasted peppers, jarred jalepeno peppers, grated cheese and coriander.  I gently fry the sliced onions, peppers and jalepeno peppers so they’re cooked, then it’s just a case of popping a flour tortilla into a fry pan, sprinkling over some cheese, the onion-pepper mixture and some coriander, then slapping another tortilla on top.  Once the underneath starts to go golden you carefully flip it over and wait for that side to go golden and crisp.  We pop the finished ones in a warm oven while we make the rest.

We eat them with homemade salsa (sliced spring onions marinated in red wine vinegar and salt, then chopped cherry tomatoes added along with salt and pepper – quite a lot of liquid will appear, I’m weird and like to drink it with a spoon while I’m waiting for the quesadillas to cook – my husband thinks I’m weird, but you could always just strain it off) and a dollop or sour cream or cream cheese.

Thursday 12th January

colcannon baked potato poached egg

Colcannon filled baked potatoes with a poached egg.  Hot potato with a bit of boiled celeriac mashed into it, then mixed with gently fried leeks, sprout tops, and savoy cabbage, and the likes of salty butter, a dash of milk and seasoning.  Quickly baked again before topping off with a poached egg.

Last week we watched How to Cook Like Heston – I must admit I was sceptical about it, and didn’t think much of many of his suggestions (his way of cooking scrambled eggs sounded way too fangled), but I was interested to see how he recommended making poached eggs.  We find poaching eggs hit and miss, so we thought we’d give his poaching method a go.  In short – we won’t be trying his method again, it didn’t work for us.

colcannon baked potato poached egg

When I’ve got the time I love making those baked potatoes where you take the potato out of the skin once they’re baked and mix nice ingredients into, then pop it back into its skin, scatter cheese over the top and cook it a bit longer.  Inspired by a colcannon recipe in an Abel & Cole leaflet that came through our door yesterday, I wonder why not apply it to my filled baked potatoes.

The whole idea of colcannon filled baked potatoes with a poached egg on top was delicious, and I would definitely make them again.

Friday 13th January

At the end of a very tiring week we didn’t have the energy to cook from scratch, so it was two plain frozen pizzas – once they were cooked I added to mine a handful of salad leaves and a drizzle of truffle oil, which made them more palatable.  I am too disappointed by readymade food that it makes me feel terrible for giving into conveniance.  Not worth a photo.

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As I mentioned previously, on Tuesday it was my birthday and Mr Rigg and I had lunch at The Victoria pub in Altrincham.  We have wanted to go and eat there for as long as we’ve known about it, but for whatever reason never been until this week.

We weren’t disappointed.  The pub serves dishes with a strong emphasis on seasonal and local ingredients.  We chose three starters/light dishes and sat listening to the Pipettes

What we ate…

Local Asparagus Muffin ~ grilled Cheshire/Lancashire asparagus served on a toasted muffin, topped with a poached egg and creamy hollandaise sauce.

Gorgeous fluffy muffin, tasty asparagus, a runny golden yolk and buttery hollandaise sauce.  I could have eaten this dish over and over again.

Sarsaparilla Glazed Belly Pork Ribs ~ Meaty pork ribs glazed in an orange and sarsaparilla sauce served with chunks of bread for mopping.

This was more Mr Rigg’s choice than mine – I did try a mouthful and the glaze was delicious.  Any menu that includes ‘bread for mopping’ is five star in my opinion!

Seared Mackerel Pikelet ~ Pan fried mackerel fillet, served on a toasted pikelet with a pickled walnut and rocket salad, with herb dressing.

A real surprise – I wasn’t sure about this dish when I first saw it, but the flavours were heavenly.  A toasted pikelet and soft mackerel with herby dressing and pickled walnuts.  I’d never had pickled walnuts before but they were scrumptious with the rest of this dish.

I was also equally tempted by their battered fish butty with tartare sauce and chunky chips.  We will be going back for one of these.  My only complaint?  Too much parsley.

If you live near to Altrincham or are visiting I would highly recommend a visit to The Victoria.  A lovely atmosphere, delicious and inventive dishes and ‘bread for mopping’!  Oh, and you can’t miss it – the whole building is painted mint green!

Warm Winter Salad

Somehow I think a dish like this for dinner won’t fill us up – certainly not a hungry man.  But it does.  And it’s incredibly satisfying and you’re not left wanting more.

Our winter salad leaves came from the ever wonderful Unicorn Grocery and our eggs were the loveliest organic free range eggs from Abbey Leys’ broody bunch.

Here’s how to make it…

Warm Winter Salad

Warm salad of winter leaves, crispy pancetta and a poached egg

Serves 2 for a scrumptious dinner or a light lunch

Couple of handfuls of winter leaves
6-8 thin slices of pancetta
2 eggs
Half a ciabatta loaf
1 clove of garlic
Squeeze of lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Tear up the ciabatta into bite-sized pieces and spread out on a baking sheet.  Thinly slice the garlic and sprinkle over the ciabatta, along with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some salt and pepper.  Bung in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the ciabatta starts to go golden.

Whilst the ciabatta is crisping up, put a pan of boiling water on ready to poach your eggs.

Place your salad leaves in a bowl and squeeze over some lemon juice, drizzle on some extra virgin olive oil and toss well.  Sprinkle over a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper.

Once the 5 minutes is up, quickly remove the baking tray from the oven and lay the slices of pancetta on top of the ciabatta.  Pop back in the oven for about another 5 minutes or until the pancetta is crispy.

Meanwhile, poach the eggs.  This is how I poach eggs:

1) bring a pan of water to a simmer
2) I add a dash of white wine vinegar to help the eggs as I’m never confident without it!
3) carefully crack your egg into a small ramekin so the yolk doesn’t burst
4) using a spoon, I start to rapidly mix the water to create a whirlpool effect in the middle
5) carefully pour the egg into the centre of the pan where the whirlpool is and pray that it holds together! 

Usually I just judge by eye when the egg is how I like it – with a runny golden yolk.  I do one egg at a time.  For a more accurate way to poach eggs I’d suggest Delia.

Whilst your eggs are poaching, start to plate everything else up.

Pop a good handful of dressed winter leaves onto your plate.  Follow this with a scattering of the crunchy, garlicky ciabatta croutons.  Next I lay over the crispy pancetta.

Finally, as the eggs are ready carefully remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and let them drain for a moment.  Gently rest the poached egg in the nest of leaves, croutons and pancetta and dust with a little sea salt and black pepper.

Now cut open that beautiful orb encased in its fluffy white cloud to let that silky golden yolk dribble down over the croutons and pancetta.  Yum-ee.

Warm Winter Salad

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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