Aioli – The Love Affair

Hi everyone,

I just posted a pic on Facebook of a batch of Aioli I made this afternoon and one of my friends asked for the recipe. Easy done I thought, I’m sure it’ll be on my blog somewhere – but I couldn’t find it! High time I rectified this incredible oversight!

I’m not a true mayonnaise connoisseur like some of my friends and in truth, I rarely eat it. I do like to make this however in summer and autumn, when eggs are plentiful and garlic is still fresh and pungent.¬†And I dug late potatoes this morning, a Dutch cultivar called Patrone that are apparently a fabulous salad potato. I’ve never grown them before, so this week will be full of interesting taste tests ūüėÄ

Home grown/made potato salad and Aioli is one of those dishes that is sex on a plate, everything about it screams wonderful. The texture of the potato cubes, their earthy flavour against the rich, creamy Aioli, with the pungent garlic and the lemony tang at the finish. You get the picture? This is love! And I make this only three, maybe four times a year, when everything required is in season.

So, here’s the Aioli recipe. Please bear in mind several things. Firstly this uses raw eggs so always get them from a reliable source and be assured they are fresh. Secondly, that I make this by feel and taste and recommend that you do the same. I used 8 eggs for this batch as I’m giving a pot to a mayonnaise-obsessed friend too. My rule of thumb is a clove of garlic per egg yolk and it works well for me. The finished Aioli will keep for a week¬†in the refrigerator, though it usually disappears very quickly at my place!

Aioli 

Egg yolks                  Fresh minced garlic             Olive oil                 Lemon juice           Salt

In a clean bowl separate the eggs (I freeze the whites for later use in baking). Crush, peel and mince the garlic (I sprinkle a little salt on the crushed, peeled cloves and mash it in with the flat of a cook’s knife, making a particularly fine mince). Add this to the eggs and beat them well until they’re frothy. Here, you can use a hand beater but I prefer a balloon whisk.

7 eggs that looks like 8 – spot the double-yolker!

Very slowly add the¬†olive oil while beating the egg mixture. A thin drizzle is best – you really don’t want this to split! (I put a teatowel on the bench to stop the bowl from flying away too). For my 8 egg yolks I used ¬†a very generous cup of my Basil Oil for an extra summery note but any good extra virgin olive oil will be fine. Keep beating until the consistency is like thick cream. Once you’re happy with this, start adding the lemon juice. I recommend beginning with half a tablespoon per yolk and¬†do a taste test. Adjust as needed and add seasoning if you want.¬†Pot up, label and refrigerate immediately.

Apart from making the sexiest potato salad dressing in the world, this is wonderful with chicken, fish, green salad and as a dipping sauce.

Enjoy ūüėÄ

Stay well friends, and I’ll see you soon ‚̧

Raspberries – The Birthday Week Continues

Ok, I know that NaBloPoMo is over for another year and I was going to have a break from blogging – but I had to share this with you all.

Today I spent the morning gardening, collecting eggs and picking more raspberries and this afternoon we baked a Raspberry Cheesecake and Raspberry Upside Down Cake for my birthday tomorrow. Here’s the recipes – they’re both very easy.

Raspberry Cheesecake 

Ingredients:

1 prepared biscuit base (for a 28-30cm spring form pan)

6 large eggs     3/4 cup of sugar     500g cream cheese (at room temperature)

2 cups of fresh raspberries (more if you have them)    1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method:

Break the eggs carefully into a blender jar, add the sugar and cover. Pulse until the eggs are frothy and the sugar is combined. Spoon the softened cream cheese in, cover and blend until smooth. Add the lemon juice and approximately half the raspberries and pulse. I like to do this very briefly so there are still chunks of fruit and the colour swirls through the cheesecake mix.

Pour this carefully into the prepared spring form pan and decorate with the rest of the whole fruit. Bake at 150 C (300 F) for about 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely and chill for at least two hours before eating.

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Raspberry Upside Down Cake

Ingredients:

4 large eggs, separated         3/4 cup of white sugar      1 cup Self Raising flour

1/4 teas Bicarbonate of Soda    3 tabs butter    4 tabs milk   1 cup fresh raspberries

a few drops of Vanilla essence (optional)

Method:

Preheat the oven to about 200 C (400 F). In a small saucepan, gently melt the butter. Brush a Bundt pan with a little of this and put the raspberries evenly on the bottom. Put the Bundt pan aside while you prepare the cake batter. Add the milk to the butter and turn off the heat. Do not let this boil!

Mix the egg yolks in a small bowl and put aside while you prepare the egg whites. Beat the egg whites in a large mixing bowl until soft peaks are formed. Slowly add the sugar and beat back up to soft peak stage after each addition. Very slowly sift the flour and Bicarb in and¬†mix it thoroughly, ensuring there’s no pockets of flour left.

Slowly pour in the now lukewarm milk and butter and fold it through. Pour this very carefully over the raspberries in the Bundt pan.

Turn the oven down to 150 C (300 F) and put the cake onto a shallow tray. Pour hot water into the tray to create a shallow water bath and bake the sponge for 25-35 minutes.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so on a cake rack before carefully turning out onto a plate. Serve slices with cream and extra fresh berries.

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The Joy of Little Things – Day 23 NaBloPoMo 2015

Today’s post will be very brief, I’m in the midst of writing an exegesis for a uni assignment.

I know it’s just a little thing but it gave me a tremendous amount of joy. Today I went to Oak to have lunch with my friends before doing a music session with them. I took a salad, as I often do, but today absolutely everything in was grown, made or raised by me – I knew where it all came from ūüôā

Eggs from my feathered beauties, sprouts I grew in the kitchen, plus rocket, spinach, basil and kale from the garden. Even the cheese was a feta made a few weeks ago with real milk. And it was all delicious ‚̧

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Eggs Galore! – Day 5 NaBloPoMo 2015

You might have gathered by now that my household’s been having difficulty keeping up with the incredible egg laying ability of my beautiful girls. This morning I had 26 eggs in the fridge, the oldest ones were only laid six days ago. I date my eggs with a pencil as soon as they come up to the house, something my mother used to do to keep track, and as you can see from the photo below, some of them are quite gigantic!

A dozen free range eggs and an old pickle jar, waiting to get together!

A dozen free range eggs and an old pickle jar, waiting to get together!

So, I decided to make very old fashioned Pickled Eggs.¬†I haven’t had these since I was a child (yes – that long ago!) when my mother used to make them occasionally when we had a glut.

I still have some dried chilies from last year’s crop, so decided to use one in the pickling brew, along with allspice berries and a couple of bay leaves I dried a few years ago from a friend’s tree. The vinegar was mostly home made thanks to a vinegar “mother” my dear friend Sara gave me last year (see yesterday’s post about Sara – she’s pretty wonderful!) and topped up with some shop-bought white vinegar. Older eggs are actually better for hard boiling, as they’re easier to peel, so a few of mine have a few “dents” in them!

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Old jars are something of a passion of mine and the one I used here has been home to many delicious creations. To sterilise it, I washed it thoroughly in hot soapy water, rinsed it well and put it in the oven (about 120 C) until all the water had evaporated. The lid went in a saucepan of clean water and simmered for 10 minutes. Here’s the recipe:

Pickled Eggs 

Ingredients:

12 hard boiled eggs, peeled          a clean, sterilised pickle jar and lid           approximately 4 cups of vinegar

1 dried chili                 2 bay leaves                4 or 5 allspice berries       1 teaspoon sugar          a pinch of salt

Method:

Start by boiling the eggs for 8-10 minutes (you want them really hard for this). Once they’re cooked, plunge into cold water and tap each to stop them cooking any further. Put the clean, wet jar in a low oven to sterilise. In a saucepan, heat the vinegar, stir in the sugar and salt until dissolved with a wooden spoon. Add the allspice, chili and bay leaves and cover, reducing the heat. Simmer for about ten minutes. While it’s simmering, peel the eggs carefully, wash them in cold water to remove any tiny pieces of eggshell and put aside in a bowl.

Check the jar, if the water is completely evaporated it’s ready to use. Carefully remove it from the oven and put it on a board, preferably on the stove top next to the simmering pickle (this reduces the risk of spills and accidents). Take the sterilised lid out of the water with tongs and put it on the board to cool. Put the wooden spoon in the jar and roll the eggs in gently. Then, very carefully and slowly pour the hot vinegar and spices over the spoon and make sure the eggs are covered. Put the lid on firmly to create a seal and leave to cool. Label and date your jar and put them in a dark cupboard. They should be ready in 4-6¬†weeks – I’ll be trying mine on my birthday – and they will keep for up to a year.

The finished Pickled Eggs

The finished Pickled Eggs

What pickles do you love to make? Let me know in the comments ūüôā¬†

Baked Cheesecake – Day 3 NaBloPoMo 2015

Henrietta, Queen of the Chicken Coop

Henrietta, Queen of the Chicken Coop

My six gorgeous¬†girls are working overtime at the moment and I’ve got a glut of eggs. I give them away to family but even so, they keep on laying. It probably has something to do with all the weeds I’ve been pulling out of the garden these past few weeks, which are full of delicious insects and worms!

So, even though I should be studying, with so many eggs on hand I thought I’d make a cheesecake with a twist.

Cardamon seeds, ready to grind - and six of the best from my chickens

Cardamon seeds, ready to grind – and six of the best from my chickens

I love the aroma and taste of cardamon in both savoury and sweet dishes, and it works superbly with citrus. Not having any oranges in the house, I got creative and put four tablespoons of lemon juice and about a¬†quarter of a¬†teaspoon of Orange Blossom¬†Water, a delicious by product of orange oil distillation. It’s a powerful aroma and a common ingredient in desserts from North Africa and the Middle East to Malta, France and Spain. Like Rose Water, use it sparingly!

Cheesecake ready for baking

Cheesecake ready for baking

Orange Blossom & Cardamon Cheesecake (8-10 generous serves)

Ingredients:

1 prepared biscuit base (for a 28-30cm spring form pan)

6 large eggs                       3/4 cup of sugar                        500g cream cheese (at room temperature)

1 tab crushed cardamon seeds     1/4 teaspoon Orange Blossom Water (or more to taste)      4 tabs lemon juice

Method:

Break the 6 eggs carefully into a blender jar, add the sugar and cover. Pulse until the eggs are frothy and the sugar is combined. Spoon the softened cream cheese in, cover and blend until smooth. Add the crushed cardamon seeds (I do mine by hand, shelling seed from whole pods and grinding in a mortar and pestle – the flavour is much better!), the Orange Blossom Water and lemon juice. Blend this on a low setting until combined.

Pour this luscious mix into the base and bake at 150 C for approximately 45 minutes. I usually¬†leave my cheesecakes to cool in the oven before refrigerating them. You could put sliced fresh strawberries or apricot on top – they go very well with Orange Blossom Water – or leave it perfectly plain. Either way, this is a delicious twist on an old favourite and I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I did ūüôā

The finished cheesecake, with tiny flecks of ground cardamon visible

The finished cheesecake, with tiny flecks of ground cardamon visible

What are your tips for using excess eggs? Please leave a comment below!