If I get married again I would like it to be to Phil Dunphy. Seriously, the man is a) handsome b) hilarious and c) Phil Dunphy. I don’t understand why you would need anything else in a man, except perhaps for him not to be a character in a sitcom. Oops.
Anyway, while indulging in my favourite hobby of watching Modern Family re-runs on Netflix a few days ago, Phil starting mentioning the Wedge Salad. And even though I am British and have never even eaten a Wedge Salad I all of a sudden had a massive craving for one.
For the uninitiated, a Wedge Salad is basically a salad made from wedges of iceburg lettuce and cherry tomatoes drizzled in a creamy blue cheese dressing and covered and crispy bacon bits. It’s kind of epic, actually, and if you have never had one you need to get on this salad train, stat. If you use low fat mayo and sour cream you can even pretend to be all saintly, too.
After my last Stuff On Toast post my mum sent me a text message saying “OMG Alice, I’ve been making scrambled eggs wrong for the last 40 years!” (though she probably didn’t say OMG as she is part of the generation that thinks LOL means Lots Of Love) So I have decided to dedicate this recipe to her, as she originally taught me about the brilliant combination of spinach, mushrooms and an egg.
She uses those ingredients in a lovely gnocchi dish that she makes regularly, but for those days when boiling up gnocchi seems like one step too far I find it just as nice to have this on a good slice of toast. You can even have it without the toast if you’re feeling, like, super healthy or something. But the last time I did that I had to have four hobnobs two hours later, so it’s not recommended.
Start by putting your mushrooms on in a saucepan with the butter, melted. Use a bit less butter if you aren't feeling as sinful as me.
Boil the water ready for your poached egg. I find the Delia Smith method pretty foolproof (egg in frying pan of simmering water, simmer for one minute, turn heat off, let them sit in water for 10 minutes).
When the mushrooms are nearly done throw in the spinach and pop the toast in the toaster.
Butter toast and serve with mushrooms and spinach on top. Put poached egg on the pile of yumminess... season with a touch of salt.
When Hux was first born I used to cook quite a lot. Now, before you give birth, one of the bits of advice you always read is to make sure you have loads of prepared food in your freezer, ready to turn into easy and delicious meals. I did some of that but also managed to whip up some masterpieces for dinner, so much so I’d get people asking me open-mouthed, “how do you DO it all?”.
I’d feel a bit smug, maybe shrug and say, “you know… You do what you can”, all the while thinking in my head how I was such a supermum. The making babies/cleaning the house/cooking dinner thing, woah what a doddle.
WRONG. The reason I could spend so much time in the kitchen was that Elfie would be out with her grannies and Hux would sleep all day. I basically had nothing better to do than cook or watch Jeremy Kyle, and most of the time food won.
Now Hux is growing up and demanding more of my time (he wants books, rattles waved at him, tummy time, park trips… typical demanding man) I’m finding I’m able to cook less and less. And so I turn to my blog’s namesake dish as we tend to eat a fair few meals, specifically lunch, atop a piece of toast.
One of our favourites (and simplest) of these is the classic scrambled egg on toast. I’ve honed this recipe through years of practice and I’m not ashamed to say that recently I discovered I’d been making it wrong for about 18 years. I used to cook the egg in a microwave, oh the shame! It’s taken a lot of practice but I’ve found the key to scrambled egg success is a low heat, minimal added liquids and a lot of care and attention. It only takes a couple of minutes to cook but can be ruined in literally 10 seconds – you have to watch it like a hawk.
Crack eggs into a bowl or large mug and whisk well. Season with salt and pepper.
Melt butter over a low heat and add eggs.
Stir every thirty seconds or so.
When they are about thirty seconds away from being done - i.e. still quite wet - take off the heat and stir well. As soon as there is no liquid left in the pan tip them out, you don't want them to continue to cook.
If you would like to have yours a bit wetter, add milk or cream as you remove them from the heat and stir well.
Sometimes Will works away during the week, and whilst I miss him when he’s not at home I use the opportunity to indulge in my favourite faux-single gal activities. Because I am cool and hip these often include cleaning until the whole house smells bleachy, watching crap TV like The Real Housewives of The OC/NYC and eating food for dinner that Will doesn’t like. Sometimes I even take a bath or wax some body parts; it can get wild.
Two foods that I don’t get to eat much are beetroot and mackerel. Will dislikes them both, though in the early days of our relationship he ate my kedgeree on more than one occasion because he is a polite boy who didn’t want to hurt my feelings. One of my favourite spring/summer recipes is a salad that contains both mackerel and beetroot and I eat it often when he is away and I am alone for lunch or dinner.
I love salads but sometimes they aren’t substantial enough for dinner – the addition of sweet potato to this one means it fills me up til morning, plus you have the added bonus of both mackerel and beetroot being so-called ‘superfoods’. Should you be on a low-carb diet the sweet potato can also be substituted for roast butternut squash.
As if the mackerel and beetroot wasn’t enough brilliance on its own, this salad is also served with a side of horseradish cream. I love horseradish. I love cream. I love mackerel. I love beetroot. This is basically heaven on a plate.
Lest you think that all mackerel is created equal (it isn’t), think carefully before purchasing your fillets. I always make a special effort to buy Tesco’s Sweetcure Mackerel fillets which are cured with sugar and then smoked over hickory logs. It gives the mackerel a delicious sweet taste that I think is better than plain old smoked mackerel.
One of the worst things about pregnancy is that looong list of things you can and can’t eat and the grey area that surrounds whether or not you can eat so many different types of food. For every happy barbecue eating preggo (me) there will be another espousing the dangers of eating meat cooked outside on a gas grill. Ditto shellfish, sushi, wine (a small amount obviously) and varying types of cheese. Where do you draw the line and just have a taste of Stilton with your friday night thimble of red wine?
I tend to be a member of the ‘whatever feels right’ club and eat, well, whatever feels right. I’m eating prawns but no mussels (woe!). After heavily researching laws on Sushi preparation in the UK prior to a visit to Nobu when I was 14 weeks pregnant with Elfie I will eat that too (but will stick to cooked options mostly). I will have a glass of wine once a week if I am having a special dinner and yes, I had a taste of Stilton at Christmas and it was diviiine.
By the way, no matter how hard you try, nothing will prevent you from catching Norovirus as I did when I was pregnant with Elfie. Now that was a week of hell and completely unrelated to whatever I was eating at the time. You can most likely blame yucky tube germs for that one.
Anyway, I like to find ways of eating things that would otherwise be ‘forbidden’ during pregnancy; namely cheeses. I’ve eaten deep fried Brie, blue cheese gnocchi, and this – a gorgeous Goat’s Cheese tart. I think it’s a great lunch dish when served with a salad of herby salad leaves, though would also be brilliant for a lighter dinner or even a picnic or as part of a buffet. It’s a dish of convenience that takes minutes to knock up and looks beautiful when it comes out of the oven.
Pregnancy cravings are an oddity. A truly satisfying oddity, that is: there is no better feeling than harbouring such a want for an item of food, anticipating its arrival and then finally getting to eat it. It’s blissful and makes me look and feel like this:
The pregnancy cravings this time around haven’t been too out of the ordinary (though have included McDonald’s apple pies and BBQ chicken wings from the nasty takeaway), but last time they were pretty special potato waffles drenched in vinegar, banana splits, and ICE in a big way.
Last week I got a hankering for Coronation Chicken, and my hankering quickly turned into an obsession. Suddenly I couldn’t stop thinking about light curried chicken sandwiches, and a couple of locally-bought ones did nothing to appease the obsessive thoughts. I needed to make a batch of Coronation chicken, and fast.
Most recipes I found seemed a bit of a ball ache. I didn’t want to have to buy a million and one ingredients to make something I wouldn’t want to eat once the craving had passed; so I adapted them and came up with this delicious concoction. I ate Coronation Chicken sandwiches for lunch and dinner two days straight and it felt AMAZING.
As delicious as Coronation Chicken sandwiches are, I also think this is brilliant on jacket potatoes. I had no pre-mixed curry powder so made my own using the below ingredients. You can make this as spicy as you want; I prefer mild so I used sweet mango chutney and mild curry powder but you can go the other way if you like it hot.
Recipe type: Lunch
6 skinless and boneless chicken thighs (about 400g)
400ml chicken stock
1 tbsp Curry powder, or:
½ tsp each of ground coriander, cumin, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and chilli powder
1 small onion, finely diced
Knob of butter
8 dried apricots
1 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp mango chutney
Make up the chicken stock and put on a low heat in a saucepan so it's slightly bubbling. Poach the thighs in the liquid for 10 minutes, remove and chop into small bitesize pieces.
Meanwhile fry off your finely diced onion in the knob of butter over a low heat, being careful it doesn't catch. Add your chicken and leave on the heat for 2 minutes.
Add all the other ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and stir thoroughly until combined.
Once the chicken has cooled slightly add to the mixture and stir.