Perfect Boiled Eggs – My Weekend Top Tip

Weekend Top Tip – Perfect boiled eggs. Spring is here. I can tell be the hail bashing against the kitchen window. As a family, we are all getting very excited about the arrival of the Easter Bunny and some delicious Easter Eggs. Our weekends, however, normally start with another type of egg. Honeysuckle calls them Dippy Dippy eggs or soft boiled eggs with lots of soldiers. In fact, next weekend the girls will be collecting fresh eggs every morning, at Lower Campscott Farm.

Some lovely freshly laid eggs ready to make perfect boiled eggs

Get the best Eggs

If you are not lucky enough to be collecting your own free-range organic egg down on the farm you can search out a supplier of fresh eggs on your doorstep. I promise you will not be disappointed and you will see the difference in your cooking and baking. Your cakes will be lighter and your poached eggs hold together better when you use fresh eggs. And most important is the delicious taste.

Here in Jersey, we use eggs from Happy Hens, based in Grouville, owned by
Allan McCaffrey. They keep around 8,000 hens that produce up to 6,000 eggs per day. The hens are kept in mobile houses. This allows them access to the surrounding fields, and they can come and go as they please. As Jersey has no predators such as foxes to threaten them the hens don’t have to be shut in at night like in the UK.

Happy Hens is situated next to the Jersey Oyster Company and has a ready supply of shells which are crushed and spread out for the birds to scratch in and forage. This is something hens do naturally, as grit is essential for their digestive systems. It also provides an additional source of calcium to help poultry to have strong bones and healthy feathers. Happy Hens sell all their eggs locally in the supermarkets, smaller shops and in farm shops. Restaurants and hotels can also purchase eggs by the tray. Usually, the eggs are delivered within 24 hours of laying.

How to cook perfect Boiled Eggs

Half fill a medium sized pan with water, enough to generously cover your eggs, and bring to a simmer. Carefully lower the eggs into the gently boiling water with a spoon and start your timer. For a soft-boiled egg, with the white just set cook for four minutes. Cook for a further minute if you like your eggs a little firmer and for the egg for this recipe cook for six minutes.

The Perfect Boiled Egg?

If you prefer your eggs hard-boiled, start them in cold water and bring up to the boil. Once the eggs are simmering set the timer for ten minutes. When your eggs are cooked to your personal preference, remove from the heat and quickly plunge into a sink full of cold water for one minute. This will arrest the cooking process. Crack the egg shells with the back of a spoon and carefully peel. They will still be very warm.

Six Sensational Seasonal Soup Recipes


Autumn has arrived here in Jersey and we have had some wonderful crisp, bright sunny days and cooler evenings. These are perfect for walking along the coastal paths and beautiful country lanes and building up an appetite. I love Autumn because there are some wonderful fruit and vegetables in season such as cooking apples for crumbles and pies. Savoy cabbages, the first Brussel sprouts and the first proper parsnips, which always seem sweeter after the first proper frost can be readily found in your green grocers. But the start of Autumn really heralds the arrival of pumpkins and squashes ready for Halloween. They are fantastic roasted with spices, pureed with lots of butter and make amazing soup one of my favourite Autumn dishes.

I love soups they are so varied, and such a tasty option and most recipes are quick and simple to make. If you are able to omit lots of cream and butter ( in my case that’s rather difficult ) soup can be extremely healthy. You can try substituting low fat crème fraiche for cream and olive oil for butter. I often find the best soups are made with what is easily available, a handful of vegetables, a tin of beans or some dried pulses and plenty of herbs. I always have celery, carrots and onions in the bottom of my fridge, a mix called mirepoix, which goes back to my earliest training. Mirepoix is a classic base for soups, stocks and sauces adding a depth of flavour.

Why not try some of these?

So to get your creative juices flowing here are some links to some of my favourite soups I have posted on the blog. There is my first ever recipe and still a firm favourite in lots of restaurants a rich, creamy seafood chowder with lots of Jersey mussels and smoked haddock for extra flavour. Another firm favourite with the customers in one of our busiest pubs is my take on classic French onion topped with delicious melted cheese, after all Jersey is only a few miles from the French coast. My version of possibly everyone’s favourite soup, roasted red pepper and tomato, is perfect for sipping out of a mug on a chilly Bonfire’s night. The great thing about soup is really doesn’t have to complicated just a few ingredients from your cupboard and your fridge like a tasty carrot and coriander.

A little History of Soup

Soup is not just great for lunch or supper it can be served as a starter for an elegant dinner party and I have the perfect recipe a cauliflower veloute, and you can find out all about how chef’s make and use veloutes in traditional kitchens. Finally if you like your soup with a bit more kick how about a Spanish recipe full of Chorizo sausage or the spicy Seafood Tom Yam. Whatever you like I hope you will find some inspiration and get cooking. Enjoy.

Here are some links to some of my delicious Soup Recipes.

Patatas Riojanas – Spanish Chorizo and Potato Soup

“Patatas Riojanas, is a very simple rustic soup or stew from La Rioja. La Rioja is a small region in the north of Spain, most famous for its high-quality wines, and it has some lovely indigenous dishes. No one is sure about the origins of Patatas Riojanas, but it would not have existed until at least the 19th century and the introduction of potatoes into Spain during the Napoleonic Wars.”

French Onion Soup
Classic French Onion Soup

My Classic French Onion Soup

“French Onion Soup probably had its origins in Roman cooking but became prominent amongst eighteenth-century French peasants, for which onions were one of the staple dietary components. The addition or use of stock to French Onion Soup came later, as did the cheese croute ( a kind of crispy cheese on toast ).”

 

Cauliflower Veloute
Creamy Cauliflower Veloute

Cauliflower Veloute with Cauliflower Pakora and Curry Oil

“If you want something a little more elegant this recipe is a sophisticated soup ideal for a dinner party and perhaps as the starter for your Christmas Dinner. This rich, silky smooth cauliflower soup is an ideal partner to the spicy flavours of the pakora’s and curry oil. A veloute is a traditional soup made with a stock thickened with a roux, this recipe also contains potato for extra body.”

 

 

Tom yum Soup
Spicy Seafood Tom yam Soup

Spicy Seafood Tam yam Soup

“I like spicy food, not hair-raising hot curries and the like, but I enjoy a nice kick and I love the layers of different flavours you can build. One of my favourite chilli-based dishes is Tom yam, a hot and sour Thai soup flavoured with fragrant spices and aromatics; a good chicken stock flavoured with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal, which is now popular around the world.”

 

Classic Seafood Chowder

Classic Seafood Chowder with Smoked Haddock and Jersey Mussels

“As there is no single definitive recipe my chowder recipe is a purely personal and uses some of my favourite and best produce available to anyone cooking in Jersey alongside a couple of unorthodox ingredients. If you are not so fortunate as myself living with wonderful seafood almost washing up on my doorstep, quality natural smoked haddock, freshly cooked prawns and some plump tasty mussels from a reputable fishmonger will make an excellent chowder.”

Tasty Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

“This is a really easy, comforting recipe that freezes exceeding well so could be made in advance, it is a fantastic thick, full of sweet, smoky flavours and great served in a mug as you stand to watch the fireworks. Passed through a sieve it can be dressed up as a lovely lunchtime treat or simple supper dish. So, for the perfect fifth of November feast make sure you have some crisp-skinned jacket potatoes freshly baked in the oven, a plate full of toffee apples for the children and a big, big pan of this delicious soup.”

The Best Garlicky Roast Chicken

Parchment Roast Chicken
Delicious parchment roast Garlicky Chicken

Now I am a chef who loves his Sunday lunch and I cannot place the thinnest spatula between beef, lamb, and pork but as a family, we have a clear favourite, the great roast chicken. I am picky however and for the best taste, I prefer a nice free-range bird the skin crisp, the meat moist and succulent. In the depths of wet, windy Channel Island winters I love all the wonderful, traditional garnishes to go with the said roast. Bread sauce, sage and onion stuffing, bacon and chipolata rolls with mounds of fluffy potatoes roasted in duck fat and lashings of gravy.

But this glorious very hot summer and we are looking to our nearest neighbour, remember France is only a few miles away and serve up the roast chicken with some herbs and garlic, sauté potatoes and crisp green salad. Simpler, quicker and next time I must remember the chilled French wine or Normandy cider to serve with it! I stuff the cavity with a big handful of fresh herbs tarragon, parsley, thyme and lots of oregano, add a lemon, then sprinkle with Jersey sea salt and a good twist of fresh black pepper from the mill and add lots of sliced garlic.

Parchment Chicken

Garlic Roast Chicken                serves 4

The big secret is cooking the whole chicken in a baking paper parchment to keep it incredibly moist and flavourful. This method of cooking is called ‘en papillote’ and the poultry or fish is sealed in parchment or foil with herbs and other aromatics and cooks in its own steam.

4 lb ( 2 kg ) free-range Chicken from a reputable supplier

A handful of mixed, fresh Herbs, washed and dried

A couple of large knobs of Butter

A fresh Lemon cut in half

6 cloves of Garlic, peeled in sliced

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 F / 190 C / Gas Mark 5. Place a large sheet of baking paper into the middle of a roasting tray. The parchment must be large enough to fold around the chicken and seal. Place your chicken on the paper, fill the cavity with herbs and lemon halves, rub the butter over the skin, cover with the sliced garlic and season generously. Fold the parchment over the chicken and fold to form a loose parcel.

Place in oven and roast for one hour and a half to two hours depending on the size of your chicken or until the leg juices run clear when pricked with a small sharp knife. ( A meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh should reach 180 F ). Remove from the oven and cover in a T towel and rest for twenty minutes before carving. Simple.

Wine

What to Drink? Continental style Pilsner larger or bitter, hoppy I.P.A ale is a great match with the garlic chicken if you prefer wine try a classic White Burgundy or sparkling Rose wine.

 

Allergens in this recipe are;

Milk

Please see the Allergens Page

Butterflied BBQ Sticky Chicken Breast

BBQ Butterfly Chicken Breast – UK BBQ Week

My last recipe for this year’s National BBQ Week is a simple sticky BBQ butterfly chicken breast ( no bone so no need to worry about cooking the meat through ) with a nice simple sticky Kansas city style BBQ sauce which can be used on ribs and other BBQ meats. Don’t use it too early during the cooking process as it will easily burn due to the relatively high sugar content. For more information on how to BBQ successfully please read my post on grilling temperatures. When you make it use a good quality ketchup as I find cheaper varieties a little too acidic. Enjoy.

If you are like me and love BBQ food please follow my BBQ inspired blog here.

Butterflied BBQ Sticky Chicken Breast
Butterflied BBQ Chicken Breast

Brilliant BBQ Style Chicken Breasts

A butterfly chicken breast is sliced nearly through to open out the breast allowing it to be stuffed and rolled, batted out and breadcrumbed or simply cooked quicker.

4 large butterflied Chicken Breasts ( ask your butcher to do this )

A little Olive oil

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

For the sauce

400 ml quality Tomato Ketchup

100 gr Soft Brown Sugar

3 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

2 tablespoons Sherry Vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons melted Butter

1 teaspoon English Mustard Powder

1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

½ teaspoon dried Thyme

½ teaspoon Celery Salt

A couple of splashes of Sriracha hot sauce ( to your taste )

For the sauce, take a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan and sauté the garlic gently in the butter until tender and without overly browning which will make the sauce bitter. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer, stirring regularly to prevent the sauce sticking to the pan and burning. Cook out for five minutes and remove from the heat and set aside.

To cook the chicken breasts, brush with a little oil, season well and cook over a medium-hot BBQ for eight to ten minutes each side then baste with the sauce and cook for five to ten more minutes, continuing to baste until the meat is cooked and any juices run clear.

Alternatively, line a baking tray with aluminium foil and lightly grease. Place on the chicken and cook under a medium hot grill as above. After cooking either under the grill or on the BBQ brush the chicken breast generously with extra sauce and serve.

Wine

What to Drink? Continental style Blonde beers cut through the sweet sticky sauce and I like to pair the chicken with sweeter, lower alcohol Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc white wines.

 

Allergens in this recipe are;

Celery  Mustard

Please see the Allergens Page

 

How to Grill – UK BBQ Week

UKBBQWeek2018It is the middle of a heat wave in the UK right now and everyone will have fired up their BBQ’s or more precisely grills and if you are using charcoal or a gas grill, you need to know the best temperature for cooking your food. Now you can guesstimate by holding your hand over the grill, but I would not recommend it. I suggest getting yourself a decent thermometer and attaching the probe to your grill close to where you cook your meat or fish. Your BBQ, if it has a lid, will often have a built-in thermometer but that will measure the air temperature which can be 50 degrees cooler than the cooking surface where the action takes place.

BBQ charcole

Adjusting the temperature is easy with a gas fired BBQ you can simply adjust the flames on a charcoal fire, once the coals are glowing and turning white your best method is to move the distance between the grill and the coals. The higher the grill the lower the direct heat.

Low Heat Around 325 F / 160 C is perfect for sausages which need to be thoroughly cooked with burning or bursting the skins. You will be able to hold your hand over the heat source for up to ten seconds.

Medium Heat  Around 350 F / 180 C is best for cooking chicken thighs and drumsticks where it is important that the meat is cooked through without the exterior burning to a crisp. It is about six or seven seconds before you will need to move your hand.

BBQ 3
Grilling Fish

Medium-High Heat Between 400 and 450 F / 200 to 230 C. When you want to get a nice browning or crust on your food, but the interior is moist and tender, such as a thick piece of fish, grilled vegetables or a tasty medium-rare burger. You will only be able to hold your hand over the grill for about five seconds.

BBQ 2

High Heat

A temperature of 450 F / 230 C and above is perfect for flash cooking seafood, chicken or steak kebabs, and onglet or hanger steaks. The high heat adds some charring, with regular turning to prevent burning, and is sufficient to cook the food. If you hold your hand over the heat you can only bare it for one or two seconds.

A great Seafood Starter – Mussel and Clam stuffed Brioche – Qu’ils mangent de la brioche

The popular misconception is that Marie Antoinette famously said of the starving French peasants at her gates, “Let them eat cake”. What she actually said was actually “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche. In France, the home of this delicious enriched dough, brioche is properly served as a breakfast cake. In fact, brioche is a hybrid, part bread part cake, it is made in the same way as you make bread, with the addition of eggs and butter and can also have extra sugar added for a sweeter flavour. The technical term for this pastry cum sweet, buttery dough is Viennoiserie, which includes all of those lovely, if rather naughty breakfast treats, like pain aux chocolate and croissants.

I love the stuff, brioche is amazingly versatile and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner, used as a pastry and the basis of many desserts. Golden brown, freshly baked brioche can be filled with raisins or chocolate chips, simply spread with extra butter and strawberry or apricot jam or as is increasingly popular as a wonderful bun for a burger. As a pastry brioche reaches a height of culinary naughtiness and a decadence that maybe would have shamed even the haughty Marie Antoinette. Wrapped around Cervelas de Lyon, truffle flavoured sausages to you and me, fillet steak or luxurious foie gras mousseline. The most celebrated brioche recipe, Coulibiac, is a type of Russian pie filled with sturgeon, buckwheat, hard-boiled eggs, mushrooms, onions, and dill. Brioche in history was truly fit for kings and queens even if they did not live to enjoy it.

Brioche Bread
Fresh Brioche Loaf

For my recipe, I need you to get hold of four large brioche buns and resist any temptation to toast them and spread with pate or jam. We are going a little a la Robert Carrier and all 1970’s and using them as a bowl to be filled with plump mussels and clams in a full flavoured broth. Old fashioned it may be, but it is a show stopper and terrifically tasty to boot and once you’ve done it I am sure it will become a favourite. Enjoy.

Mussel and Clams in Brioche
Fresh Mussel and Clam Stew in Brioche

Mussel and Clam Stew stuffed Brioche Buns serves 4

Fresh quality mussels and clams are readily available at all good fishmongers. Preparing mussels and clams is not a difficult job or something to fear. Under a slow running, tap scrape off any limpets or items stuck to the shells with a small sharp knife. Some mussels may have a small bushy beard pushed out of the shell. Grabbed between the knife blade and your thumb, a sharp tug should remove it. Wash all the prepared mussels and clams under the tap for a couple more minutes and drain. You can store them in the bottom of your fridge covered with damp kitchen paper until needed.

4 Brioche Buns

1 kg Fresh Mussels

½ kg Fresh Clams

6 large Banana Shallots, peeled and finely diced

3 cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

A small handful of fresh Dill

200 ml thick Double Cream

50 ml of Vermouth ( White Wine is a great substitute )

25 ml Olive Oil

25 gr Butter

1 fresh Egg

Juice of one fresh Lemon

Freshly ground Black Pepper

In a large, heavy-bottomed pan ( with a tight-fitting lid ), melt the butter and add the oil. Over a medium heat soften the shallots for ten minutes without colouring. Add the garlic and cook out for two or three minutes stirring continuously. Tip in the mussels and clams and add the Vermouth place on the lid add steam the shellfish for five to six minutes. Carefully holding the pan with a heatproof cloth remove from the heat. Place a colander in a large glass bowl and tip in the mussels and allow to cool. Reserve the cooking liquid to be used to make the final sauce.

Preheat the oven to 325 F / 160 C / Gas Mark 3. Very carefully using a bread knife cut the top quarter of your brioche buns off to form lids. Using a small knife cut into the bottoms of the brioche buns then scoop out the majority of the interior. This can be saved to make sweet breadcrumbs to use on desserts. Whisk the egg with a little cold water in a small bowl, then brush all over the inside, outside and lids of the buns. Place on a silicone baking tray and bake in the oven for ten to fifteen minutes.

When cool pick the majority of the mussels and clams from their shells leaving a handful for garnishing. Carefully pour the cooking liquid through a fine strainer into a small pan and place on a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce the volume by half. Add the cream and simmer for a couple more minutes before seasoning with a generous grind of pepper. Add the mussels and clams and gently heat in the sauce. Take care not to boil or the shellfish will toughen, add the lemon juice and finely chopped dill, taste and add more pepper if required.

Place the brioche rolls onto deep lipped plates or bowls and carefully spoon in the picked mussels and clams. Fill with sauce and top with the prepared lids. Spoon around a little extra liquid and the retained shellfish in shells and sprinkle with a little extra dill to garnish.

 

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? This is a rich seafood dish and pairs well with the classic accompaniment for mussels, dry wines such as Muscadet or German-style Riesling wines or a cloudy Continental beer such as Hoegaarden.

 

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour   Milk Oyster   Eggs

Please see the Allergens Page