Breakfast cannot be more enjoyable than with fresh home grown free range eggs and organic spinach out of the garden. I am lucky enough to have a combination of quail and chicken eggs for breakfast.
Wash two large bunches of spinach (beetroot or radish tops work equally well). Do not add water, the water clinging to the leaves from the washing will be enough. After a while press as much water out of the spinach as you can and put aside. Add one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and one tablespoon of butter to a pan. Also add three large cloves of garlic and one small chili finely chopped, simmer for about two minutes on low heat. Add the spinach to the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Now break in as many eggs as required and cook until eggs are done to your liking. You can cover the pan for a while when cooking if you want the eggs hard. Sprinkle with grated parmigiano, black pepper, add a dash of olive oil and serve with home made bread.
Fresh egg pasta and quail ragu shall always remain one of my favorites. Mrs BYF took off to foreign shores (again) and I shall have to look after myself for ten weeks. Tuesday being slaughter day and the quails were young, plump and very soft, so I decided to treat myself. While slowly simmering the quail ragu, I decanted a bottle of Blackcurrant wine, made on 2014-09-01, for the occasion. Even though I already racked it twice (and tasted it every time) I was pleasantly surprised. This is a bold and concentrated full bodied dark red wine with a pleasant strong velvety aroma and an endless after taste. Being young, I shall bottle tomorrow and keep it for some time and I am sure it is going to be very good as the bottle I had with the paste was excellent. I am fortunate to have made about 70 liters of this wine and I shall post the recipe later during the week.
Recipe for fresh paste
Mix 500 g plain flour with 20 quail eggs (5 chicken eggs). Knead until smooth (ad water or flour to get the correct consistency), cover and place in the fridge for one hour. Fold and roll the dough several times through the thickest setting on the pasta machine, then gradually pass it through at a thinner setting each time, until the desired thickness is obtained. Use ample amounts of flour whilst rolling the dough. The pasta can now be used or allowed to dry for later use. This fresh pasta cooks very fast and is ready in less than five minutes.
Fried eggs for breakfast. The unique thing was not the bit of chili and butter in the pan but that the eggs were from top to bottom: bought brown hens egg , pure white egg, laid by my Ancona hen, egg laid by my guinea fowl hen and a pretty speckled egg laid by my quail hen. In the pan the pale yellow is the bought egg and the middle egg beside it is the guinea fowl egg. The latter took a bit longer to cook than the others. Very tasty treat. Yolk color is more often than not an indication of quality of the feed consumed and the general well being of the bird.
I got two more small artichokes from the plants I planted in heavy clay soil a few months ago. I have great expectations for good harvests next year. Because the artichokes were small and tender I decided to fry them. The last harvest I fried in a batter of only flour and water, as is traditionally used in Italy when frying vegetables, but today I dipped the boiled artichoke in egg and covered it in crumbs. I love fried artichoke, frying brings out a flavour so delicious and that lingers in the mouth, making one wonder if one should destroy it by taking another sip of wine. ( Now that is some flavour)
2 young, fresh artichokes with as much stem left on as possible. Do not cut the stems off as everything is edible.
1 egg, whisked
1/2 cup unflavoured dried breadcrumbs (Home made)
olive oil or vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
Boil the artichokes in salted water until just tender – about 10 minutes should do it. Cut the artichokes in half and dip the pieces in the beaten egg. Add salt and pepper to the crumbs and liberally cover the pieces in crumbs. Use a smallish saucepan that fits all the pieces and pour in the oil up to about 1 cm deep, when the oil is hot, slip the artichoke pieces in and cook until golden on all sides .
Serve immediately with a slice of lemon if you have any – I had mine without anything .
I had to photograph the result of a cooking discussion or, cooking bickering, if you must.
The great thing about being self sufficient and eating from the vegetable patch is the joy of harvesting something one grew oneself. It is organic and fresh even if, at time whatever is harvested is gnarled and puny it still tastes wonderful. The bad thing is that one is held hostage by the blackbird that eats all the seedlings the chickens overlooked when they were free ranging last time. The seasons and climate, especially here in Dunedin , dictate whether things grow or not and the person in control of the garden constantly suffers arched inquiries as to why in the world so much (or so little) of something was planted
Sometimes there is a glut of something and then the search for a great recipe, or, often many great recipes of one particular vegetable or fruit depending on the amount harvested. The frantic paging through the cookbooks begin, and since my 200 plus books are all about regional Italian cooking the search can not be narrowed down to, say, Indian or Chinese, and mutterings of ‘ it was always in this book, where has it gone’ are commonplace. A lot of time is spent getting side tracked when I see something fondly remembered or something I always wanted to try. Once the recipe is selected sudden resistance from the household to the ingredients could flare up, prompting the beginning of a new search and the hauling out of more books!
We had a couple of friends over for dinner and decided to make Green Pappardelle wit Duck Ragu.
Pasta is one of those wonderful products where with just two or three ingredients many different products can be created, and it should always be the pasta that is the prominent component of the dish and not so much the sauce. The sauce and the type of paste needs to match in such a way that they both compliment each other. In this case Pappardelle and Duck Ragu is the ideal match
When making fresh pasta you need about 100 g of flour per serving, if you are not having a dish to follow after the pasta as many people do. We however always have the pasta as a first coarse (Primi Piatti) after the Antipasto and before the second coarse (Secondi Piatti), finishing off with a salad, and in this case 60 g flour per serving should suffice.
500 G Plain Flour
5 Eggs lightly beaten
15 – 20 Fresh Spinach leaves
Mix the flour and eggs and knead until smooth. This should be a hard dough, but should it be too difficult to work, add a small bit of water. Leave it covered to rest in the fridge for one hour. Take small quantities (about 50 g) at a time, flatten it out by hand and then roll it out with a pasta machine on the thickest setting. Fold it over, turn it 90 degrees and put through the machine again. Do this a couple of times until the pasta is smooth and homogeneous. Use enough dry flour during this process to avoid stickiness. Lay the pasta sheets out on a floured surface and repeat with the rest until all the dough has been used. On half of each sheet of pasta, lay out the fresh spinach leaves and fold the sheet over to make a sandwich. Now repeat the process of putting it through the pasta machine, folding over, turning 90 degrees and putting it through again, until the pasta and spinach are well mixed and smooth. Once all his is done, put every sheet gradually through a thinner setting of the pasta machine, until the finest setting ( 7 ?) is achieved for each sheet. Remember to use flour to make it all run smoothly. Cut the pasta sheets with a knife or pizza cutter in about 20 mm strips. The pasta is now ready to cook or dry, for later use. I normally make this in the morning , or day before, and let it dry for use when required. Fresh pasta cooks very quickly (about 5 minutes) and it is very important not to over cook it (Pasta al dente) otherwise it will be soggy.
Make the sauce of choice to suite Pappardelle and once cooked, drain and mix with the sauce in the sauce pan, heat through while mixing gently and serve immediately.