Small things are great. My love of breakfast has found yet another friend in ramekins – small glass cups that you can make a miniature of just about anything in – ice cream, pies – and lovely eggs. These baked eggs are perfect for brunch, adapted from Jamie Oliver’s baked eggs with haddock. I like a bit of spice in my breakfast so went for smoked salmon with freshly grated horseradish instead. Together with silky creamed spinach and crunchy spring onion, it’s really quite delicious.
For two baked eggs, you need:
- 2 small oven-proof dishes (or try bake two eggs in a medium dish, it should work as well)
- 2 slices of smoked salmon
- a handful of shopped spring onion
- two handfuls of fresh spinach
- 1/2 dl grated horseradish
- Nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste
Start by setting the oven to 180 degrees. In a pan, wilt the spinach, then squeeze it dry in a colender, and chop it roughly. Grate the horseradish and chop the spring onion. Mix the spinach, spring onion and horseradish with some cream, and add nutmeg to it (freshly grated is nicest). Dish these out in two buttered ramekins, and place a slice of smoked salmon on top. Finish it by carefully cracking an egg on each, and adding cream around the edge of the egg whites so that the salmon is fully coated. Add some salt and pepper on top, and put in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the whites of the eggs have just set. Serve with toast, orange juice and coffee for a simple but delicious brunch.
Two days ago I stopped all my revision plans to go and watch the Portugal-Denmark game. As a good expat (I have lived most of my life outside Portugal) I had to go watch the game in a proper Portuguese café in the local Portuguese neighbourhood. Here in London that’s Stockwell. I watched Portugal win (despite some very dubious moments courtesy of our dear Cristiano Ronaldo) drinking Sagres, eating tremoços and swearing in my mother tongue in the very friendly Bar Estrela.
The well-deserved win after a very stressful game definitely called for celebration and in my book that means food! On the way home I decided to buy some Portuguese ingredients in order to finally present you with a Portuguese dish and recipe, of salted cod no less. So get yourself to Stockwell, stock on some salted cod and enjoy this beauty.
For 4-person dish of salted cod and spinach gratin you will need:
- A 400 gm box of salted cod, already flaked (see photo above)
- 4-5 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut in thin slices
- 2 medium onions, sliced finely.
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped finely.
- 500 gms of fresh spinach
- Milk, butter and flour to make bechamel
- Salt and Pepper
1. Start by de-salting the salted cod by putting it in a bowl and covering it with water for a few hours. You should change the water every two hours, or just leave it to de-salt for a whole day. Reserve some of the water for later, if needed for the sauce.
2. Now you need to cook the potatoes. Typically this would involve some deep-frying but my student house is not equipped with a deep fat fryer (YET….) so I simply coated the sliced potatoes in olive oil and baked them in the oven on a single layer – it worked out fine.
3. Now heat up a big pan with a generous glug of olive oil and throw in the onions and the garlic. Fry for a little bit on medium heat and then add the salted cod, completely drained. Leave to cook for a bit on low heat.
4. While this is cooking prepare the bechamel. Very simple: all you have to do is make a roux (butter and flour) and then slowly add the milk on a very low heat. Make sure there is enough bechamel for the spinach, salted cod mixture, and the top. I usually use half a pint of milk, but you can make the sauce as you go.
5. In a pan combine 1/4 of the bechamel with the spinach, just enough to coat it well. Add another 2/4 of the sauce to the pan with the salted cod, adding a bit of salted water if the mixture is too thick.
6. Now start layering an oven-proof dish: first a layer of spinach, then a layer of salted cod, then a layer of potatoes. Repeat until the mixture is finished and top with the remaining bechamel sauce, breadcrumbs and cheese (if using). You can also skip the breadcrumbs and cheese if you prefer.
7. Now put it in the oven under the grill for a few minutes until it is bubbling and becomes golden at the top.
- 1 potato (if you use a King edward variety they will become really soft and gooey, which I like, but if you prefer consistency then get something firmer)
- 2 carrots
- 2 deciliters red lentils
- Fresh spinach
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove of garlic, finely, chopped
- 1 cm ginger, finely chopped
- Garam masala. I use a Swedish variety which until recently was the only thing named “curry” you could get in Sweden. (Saying you fancy a curry to a Swede might have the same effect as if you asked for some nutmeg to eat.) A good thing about Swedish curry, however, is that it is a sweet, mild and nutty variant of garam masala with plenty of turmeric, and it is delicious.
- 1 litre stock (I have a massive thing for veal stock at the moment, which has a very delicate and soft flavour. This ruins the dish for vegetarians, but you can of course make this with veggie or mushroom stock)
- Chili flakes
Start by frying the onion in a bit of oil, then peel and chop the garlic and ginger and add into the oinons together with the garam masala to fry for a few minutes. Rinse the lentils and add them to the pan together with the stock and chili. Peel the carrots and potato, and chop in rough bits. Add these to the boiling lentils in the pan, and bring the heat down for it to simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils have softened and the potatoes and carrots gone the right consistency. Taste with salt and cinnamon, and stir in the fresh spinach so that it folds and softens.
The result is a yellow mix between a soup and a stew, not too dissimilar to Innocent’s Indian daal pot (but at 15% of the price). Serve on its own, or together with some cheese grilled bread.