I also thought I'd go for some slightly more indulgent ingredients, for a bit of luxury- but still not breaking the bank.
I've chosen a four course menu this week - each course celebrating the humble egg, but in a not so humble way.
The appetizer is blini-style buckwheat pancakes, followed by a starter of miso ramen soup. Main course is truffled scrambled egg on toast and dessert is creme caramel with maple syrup.
Blinis are usually made with yeast added to the batter- but this simple version uses baking powder to make these little pancakes light.
Sift together 50g of buckwheat flour, 100g of plain flour, a pinch of salt and a a tsp of baking powder into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add 1 beaten egg, 80g of melted butter or margarine and 185ml of milk. Mix well until you have a creamy batter.
|Fry in batches|
|Plenty of bucks for your buckwheat|
Top the pancakes with a dollop of creme fraiche mixed with horseradish and a frond of dill for a vegetarian version- or add a few strips of smoked salmon trimmings, or best of all a 1/4 tsp of onuga 'caviar' or black herring roe.
The miso ramen is a hot vegetable broth with ramen (or egg noodles if you prefer) cooked in it. It is then poured over stir fried veg (and some sliced cooked chicken for non-veggies) and topped with a little beaten egg and soy sauce, swirled into the hot broth to cook it just before serving.
For the broth, dissolve 2 tsp miso paste in 1 litre of hot vegetable or chicken stock, add chopped spring onions or leeks and leave to simmer.
Cook the noodles for 2-3 minutes until tender and then drain and refresh with cold water.
|Choose your stir fry veg|
|Swirl through the egg|
Layer the noodles (and the cooked chicken if you are using it) into deep soup bowls. Then spoon over the hot soup and quickly stir in a thin stream of beaten egg and soy sauce and swirl it through to cook.
|Miso ramen soup|
The main course is a real touch of luxury- but can be done frugally. You can buy truffle butter in Italian delis like Carluccios. I bought a jar of salsa truffina in the supermarket and added 2 tsp of it to 50g of melted butter in a non-stick saucepan.
(It is worth planning here what to do with the rest of the jar - take another 2-3 teaspoons and work it into a pack of butter. Roll the butter into a log and wrap in cling film. When firm, unwrap and slice into 'pats', then re-wrap and freeze. That way you have a pat of truffle butter ready to take out whenever you need it. The rest of the jar can be used up later in the week, stirred into pasta.)
Back to the saucepan- warm the butter through and then add 4 beaten eggs ( for 2-3 people) and a splash of milk. Cook on a low heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning until your eggs are scrambled and fluffy.
|Truffled scrambled eggs|
Serve with toast and dressed salad leaves. Definitely champignomnomnommy.
Finally, creme caramel. I was surprised how easy these were to make from scratch- although I have cheated slightly and used maple syrup rather than make my own caramel. Works brilliantly though.
First of all, butter 6 ramekins lightly, place them in a large roasting pan and pour in some maple or caramel syrup to cover the bases. Then bring 550ml of full cream milk and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract up to a gentle simmer and then turn off the heat. You should use it to make the custard when it is cool enough to put your (clean) little finger in and hold it there for 10 seconds comfortably.
Beat 4 eggs in a jug with 2 tsp of caster sugar and then pour the hot milk onto them, stirring constantly until just thickening slightly. Pour into the ramekins. Next boil a kettle and pour the boiling water into the roasting dish until it comes half way up the sides of the ramekins.
|Custards in a bain marie|
Cook in a cool oven ( 150 degrees) for 30 minutes or so, until the custards are set when you press the tops.
Allow to cool (this dish is best made the day before you want to serve it). Refrigerate and turn out just before serving. (These puds are silky smooth but quite wobbly as they don't contain any cornflour or thickener.)
If you have custard left over you can make creme brulee- set the custards in little dishes as before, but sprinkle with sugar and flash under a hot grill until the sugar has caramelized and bubbled, then allow to cool and harden before serving.
The leftover stir fry went well with noodles the next day- and chilli salmon nems: wrap salmon fillets spread with sweet chilli sauce (or red mullet or other meaty fish fillets) in spring roll wrappers or filo pastry, brush with melted butter and a sprinkle of sesame seeds and bake in a hot oven (190 degrees) until the wrapping is golden brown and the salmon should be cooked through (about 15 minutes).
|Salmon chilli nems|