A fun, easy snacky for when friends come over - Quail Eggs with Salts. Neat for kids/
Boil the eggs for 2 minutes (throw a little vinegar into the water too, keeps the shells soft for easier peeling). Chill them down in cold water.
Put them in a bowl or platter and serve them with a variety of salts (smoked salt, lemon salt, pink salt, etc.). Let your guests do the egg shell peeling; it’s far more fun for them to peel one or two quail eggs than for you to peel them all which is a right pain and time consuming. Put out a little bowl for the shells to go into.
I never ate Eton Mess til I was long out of the British school system. For some reason, it wasn’t on our limited menu at school. (Perhaps because Eton was south of the border, and we were in Scotland?) Shame, really. It’s easy to make and even easier to swallow.
Traditionally, it’s made with whipped cream, meringues and fresh berries which are all mixed up together to create a delightfully, colorful heap of a mess. I tend to prefer my berries for breakfast rather than pudding. Thus, here is an Eton Mess with caramelized bananas. I made the meringues from scratch but you can buy them easily at decent grocers and bakeries saving yourself time.
2 cups of heavy cream
4 large meringues (each about the size of an apple)
1/2 stick of butter
1 cup of light brown sugar
a splash of rum or draumbuie
sprinkling of cinnamon
Start of with sauteing the bananas as it’s a good idea to let them cool before adding the to the whipped cream/meringue mess. (The heat from the bananas and sugar will deflate the meringues and cream quickly).
Melt the butter and saute the bananas for a minute or so solo before adding the brown sugar. Stir and cook the bananas and sugar for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently so that the sugar melts but doesn’t burn. Towards the end of this process, throw in the splash of drinkie - such as rum. Stir in a sprinkling of cinnamon.
Whip the heavy cream. Fold in crushed meringue gently.
Once the caramelized bananas are cool, fold those into the meringue cream mess and serve.
“Susan MacTavish Best is the David Blaine of parties: She pulls off astounding events and leaves everyone to discuss logistics for weeks to come.
This black olive tapenade is one of her favorite tricks. It’s addictive, deceptively simple, and takes less than ten minutes to make.”
Bacon Salted Caramel; Pumpkin & Bourbon; Marmalade & Lemon Zest
These are a snap to make. Pull out a couple of baking sheets. Turn the oven on to 350F.
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of white flour
1/4 cup of butter
1/2 cup of water
1 garlic clove minced
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of salt
Mix up the cheddar cheese and the flour together. Add the garlic and the cayenne and a dash of salt.
In a medium-sized sauce pan (one that can hold all the above ingredients), put the water and the butter. Bring to a boil.
Add the flour and cheese mixture to the saucepan and stir enthusiastically with a wooden spoon. The gooey mix should begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Cool. Long enough so that when you add the eggs in the next step, they don’t cook!
Add the eggs to the mix and stir.
Grease the cookie sheets so that the batter doesn’t stick. Using two spoons, drop bite-sized blobs of the batter on to the cookie sheets. Make sure there is room between them all as they will grow in the oven.
Bake for about 20 minutes.
Little cheesy morsels!
These fancy (to me) baked potatoes only surfaced during the Christmas holidays when I was growing up. Please don’t save them just for December; they’re delicious and easy to make year round. And these are a great standby when you’re having a large sit down dinner. I allow for a half potato for each person .. with a few extras. Growing up in Scotland, I found the baked potato took on a whole new meaning - there the baked potato may well be a meal in its entirety. Cheap, filling and warm.
Potatoes like to be kept at about 45 - 50F, and can be kept at that temperature happily for a couple of months. If kept warmer or colder, eat them up quickly so they don’t go all weird (the starch turning into sugar or just plain old decaying).
Turn on the oven to 385F. This is a little warmer than most folks bake a potato but I like my skin to be crispy. You’re going to bake these potatoes, mash up the insides and add some tasty additions, and then restuff them and bake again
4 Russet potatoes
shredded cheese such as sharp cheddar
1 clove of minced garlic
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup of heavy cream (or half and half)
1/4 cup of butter
salt and pepper
Poke holes over the potatoes so the moisture inside them can be released. Bake for 45 minutes.
Remove the potatoes when the skin feels crispy and the potato feels soft to the prod.
Let the potatoes cool so they are warm enough to handle, and then slice in half and remove the mealy white flesh into a bowl.
Add all of the rest of the ingredients to the insides of the potato except the cheese. Mash with a fork.
Now restuff the potatoes and sprinkle cheese on top. This can be done ahead of a dinner party.
Rebake the potatoes for about 10-15 minutes at 350F, until the cheese is a melty mess on top.
On my Mom’s typed-up version of this recipe, she notes that she *thinks it came from Sunset” around 1965. Also she writes, “Always a favorite!”
The great thing about soda bread, of course, is it takes so little time to make as it doesn’t need to rise like a yeasted bread. It’s not just good mid-week bread, it’s good anytime bread!
4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp cardamon or coriander
1 stick of butter (original recipe called for half a stick but one stick seemed to work much better).
1 3/4 cups of cultured buttermilk
Turn on oven to 375F.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the butter and cut the mix with a pastry blender until crumbly. Beat the egg slightly and mix into the buttermilk. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until all is blended.
Turn out onto a flour board and knead until smooth, just two or three minutes. Divide the dough in half, and shape each into a round loaf. Place each loaf into a pie pan and press the dough down so it fills the pans.
With a sharp knife, cut crosses on the tops of the loaves, about 1/2 inch deep in the middle. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes.
Another recipe snagged from the desk of my godmother Barbara. Her typed-up recipe was for Leek Pudding. YUM YUM YUM. At the market I saw some corn and thought, damn, that’ll make a fine addition to the pudding. Leeks sometimes need a bit of visual perking up. Me too but corn is rarely by my side.
You could make this with most any veggies: courgette/squash, tomatoes, fresh peas, whatever suits your fancy.
This is good brunch fare and an easy dinner side dish. You can make ahead and reheat .. tastes even better!
2 cups of sliced leeks (keep an eye out for grubby soil in between the layers and give them a rinse); butter; 12 cups of bread cubes (which I translated to be 1 dense loaf of sourdough bread with the crusts cut off .. quick!); 3 eggs; corn kernels from 4 ears of corn; 3 cups of whole milk; 3 cups of heavy cream; nutmeg grating; 1 cup of grated Emmentaler cheese; salt and pepper.
Heat oven to 350F.
Butter a 9” x 13” pan.
Saute the leeks in a knob of butter until they are soft, about 15 mins. The leeks will sweat and release a bit of liquid. Add the corn for the last moment or two.
Toast the bread cubes in the oven. Remove once toasted and then toss the leaks in.
In a different bowl whisk up the cream, the eggs, and the milk and add a dash of nutmeg. Mix the liquid mix in with the bread and veggie lot. Get your hands grubby and pile in to make sure well mixed.
Finally, layer the milky, veggie bread mix followed by the cheese in the pan, and repeat.
Bake for an hour and a half at 350F.
Will serve about a dozen as a side dish.
“Even I like it!” - Handwritten note next to the typed recipe. My mom isn’t one much for fish. This is a recipe that originally came from the Las Vegas Review Journal in February 1970 according to her notes. She was a news anchor in Las Vegas for CBS, met my father, and then moved to be with him in Toronto, his hometown.
I’ve made quite a few changes to the recipe. What was originally Halibut Ragout is now Cod Ragout with fresh veggies. Ragout is such an unfortunate-sounding word, no?
2 lbs cod cut into 1 inch chunks; 1 onion chopped, red or white; 3 wild garlic stalks sliced (or 2 garlic cloves minced); 3 stalks of celery sliced; 3 carrots sliced (or you can just use the pre-packaged shredded carrot); olive oil; 2 - 3 tomatoes (or a can of tomatoes, 16oz); 1 cup of water; 1 cup of chicken bouillon (or you could use fish if you have); salt and pepper; 1 bunch fresh Italian parsley.
Saute all of the veggies except the tomatoes in a bit of olive oil. Add the tomatoes, water, bouillon and salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the cod and simmer for an additional 5 minutes .. until cod is cooked through.
Toss in the parsley, stir, and serve in a bowl.
“Even I like it!”