Three easy, adaptable healthy recipes – ideal for the flexibility that’s called for when shopping and cooking in ‘lockdown’, if you’re lucky like us and have chickens!
Three super easy standby recipes which can each be adapted in many ways to suit the mood, and contents of the fridge / cupboard / herbs available.
Eggs are high in protein and beneficial fats (good sources of Omega 3 which is thought to be beneficial in terms of fighting depression, and promoting eye, brain and heart health). High in minerals such as Calcium, which benefits hair and bones, and iron. A great source of vitamins; particularly A, B vitamins, E and K.
So simple – amazingly packed super foods – not surprising considering they contain all the essential nutrients for turning a single cell into a healthy chicken!
Mayonnaise is a basic sauce, great on it’s own, flavoured, or used as a base to make lots of other sauces. For tartare sauce, stir finely chopped gherkins and parsley through the mayonnaise. For prawn cocktail (Marie Rose) sauce, stir in 1 tbsp tomato ketchup and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. For aïoli (garlic mayonnaise), make the mayonnaise with olive oil instead of sunflower oil and stir in two crushed garlic cloves at the end, or some crushed / finely chopped roasted garlic for a softer taste. Add curry powder and apricot jam / mango chutney for curried mayonnaise… Experiment with different oils – as this is the main constituent of mayonnaise, the oil will have a great impact on the flavour. I prefer a light, neutral flavored oil for a clean taste (grape seed, avocado or canola oil). Experiment with olive oils – extra virgin can, I think, be overpowering so I prefer to use a brand that’s light and fruity. I think robust or spicy olive oils would be too much. You might also consider only replacing half of the oil called for in the recipe with olive oil and use something more neutral for the rest.
Shakshuka literally means ‘mixture’. It is a simple, healthy breakfast (or any time of day) dish originating from Israel and other parts of the Middle East and North Africa. A fun, flexible ‘recipe’ which typically combines gently simmered tomatoes, onions, garlic, pimento, spices and soft poached eggs. For a mediterranean influence, fry off chorizo or bacon first and top with basil and parmesan. Shakshuka is nourishing, filling and rewarding, in terms of all the different combinations you can successfully and easily combine.
Cheese Souffle: another easy, fun recipe which relies on a few basic ‘rules’ but is super flexible. The sauce can be prepared in advance, but the cooked souffles need to be served immediately. We’ve tried ‘twice baked’ but they’re not the same!
Basic Mayonnaise Recipe
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 250ml sunflower oil
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice
- Salt & pepper and other seasonings, to taste
- Use a sauce whisk or hand baloon whisk to whisk yolks and mustard.
- Very slowly add oil – almost drop by drop, whisking well between additions.
- The mayonnaise will gradually thicken and turn paler. Oil can be added a little faster as this happens and the mayonnaise emulsifies. Don’t Rush!
Basic Shakshuka Recipe
Serves 2 – 6, depending on how hungry diners are, & how many eggs are used.
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin (and / or caraway / crushed coriander seeds)
- 1/4 tsp chili powder, or less according to taste
- 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
- 6 large eggs
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 small bunch fresh parsley, chopped – and / or any fresh herbs.
1. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the chopped bell pepper and onion and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion softens.
2. Add garlic and spices, and other additions as wished such as chorizo, bacon… cook an additional minute.
3. Pour the can of tomatoes and juice into the pan. Break down the tomatoes with a large spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer.
4. Use your large spoon to make small wells in the sauce for each egg. Cover the pan and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until the eggs are done to your liking.
5. Garnish with chopped cilantro and parsley / chervil. Adapt by serving sprinkled with parmesan or goats cheese, chives or basil, or with sour cream / yogurt.
Basic Cheese Souffle
Variations – experiment! Whatever you add should be finely chopped so that it is evenly distributed and so the expanding eggs can lift it – large pieces will fall to the bottom of the souffle.
Don’t add more than about a half cup of any additional ingredient to the cheese mixture and make sure whatever you add is well-drained to avoid thinning the sauce. Try with different cheeses such as blue / gruyere…
Additional ingredients should be well drained and if raw, cooked in advance. Recipe below from BBC Good Food (Nick Nairn)
- 20g/½oz butter
- 15g/½oz plain flour
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 150ml/5½fl oz milk
- 1 tbsp double cream (or substitute for milk)
- 55g/2oz cheddar cheese, grated
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 free-range eggs, separated
- Preheat the oven to 225C/425F/Gas 7 and place a baking sheet into the oven to heat up.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan. Brush 2 ramekins with a little melted butter and place in the fridge.
- Add plain flour to the pan with remaining melted butter. Stir until combined. Add Dijon mustard and cayenne pepper. Stir.
- Gradually add milk and cream, stirring. Cook over a low heat, stirring continuously, until thick and smooth. Allow to boil for two minutes, or until the mixture starts to leave the edges of the pan.
- Remove from the heat. Stir in the cheese, salt and freshly ground black pepper and egg yolks. Cool slightly.
- Place the egg whites into a large bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed. Fold into the cheese mixture and gently spoon into the prepared ramekins.
- Place the ramekins onto the hot baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until well-risen and golden-brown on top. Serve immediately.