Curing Egg Yolks

Sounds crazy right? Fear not, it’s remarkably simple and insanely delicious. In just 4 days you can transform an egg yolk into an umami-heavy delight with the characteristics and texture of Parmesan cheese.

The story starts as always with the freshest, highest quality ingredients you can afford. I normally use medium-size local organic free-range eggs.

Decide how many eggs you’d like to cure and select a dish or tupperware container large enough to house them comfortably without them touching each other. You’ll then need enough salt and sugar to bury them completely.

Separate your eggs and either freeze your whites (albumen) for later use, or make some meringues, omelettes or something useful.

Make yourself a curing mix by combining equal quantities of salt and sugar.  You may want to add in some other flavourings to jazz it up a bit: peppercorns, seaweed, mace, chilli flakes, cloves – whatever takes your fancy.

Put at least a 1cm of the mix in the bottom of your container, use the back of a spoon to make a little indentation for each yolk to sit in, place them in and then cover them all up with the rest of your curing mix.

egg yolk ready to be cured

Pop the lid on or cover your dish with cling film before putting them to bed in your fridge for 4 days.

Carefully remove the yolks and then rinse off any excess cure that sticking to them.

cured egg yolks ready to be rinsed

Next you’ll need to dry them out completely by placing them on a wire rack in a very low oven (50°C) for an hour or two.

drying cured egg yolks in a low oven

Your cured yolks will live happily in a container in the fridge for up to a month.

cured egg yolks

How to use them? Just finely grate them in the same way that you would use Parmesan cheese on pasta, asparagus, whatever you’d like. I just love it over buttered sourdough toast.

cured egg yolk on buttered sourdough

Omelette Twist

As Jamie launches his ‘10 recipes to save your life’ for this year’s Food Revolution, here’s my twist on the basic omelette for you: Baked Mini Omelettes!

Super-simple fayre, these little treats are a fun take on the humble and nutritious egg, and can be served hot or cold.

The fillings are up to you – I like to have a bit of variation so here’s some ideas:

Fresh chives, chillies, bell peppers, ham, tomato, cheese, smoked salmon; perhaps some pre-cooked ingredients: bacon, mushrooms, black pudding, sausage, broccoli.. the list goes on, so feel free to experiment.

The most important factor is to use the freshest and highest quality eggs you can find – the hens deserve it, and it’ll make such a difference to your cooking.

You’ll need roughly 1 egg for each omelette.

 

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C degrees (160°C fan).

Grease a muffin/cupcake tray with butter or a drop of oil.

Beat the eggs and season them with salt and pepper.

Pour the egg mixture into the muffin tray and sprinkle in your choice of ingredients.

Bake for 12 minutes.

It’s as easy as that.

Enjoy!

mini omelettes

The Reluctant Baker

It’s always such a lovely feeling when people show faith in you. I was particularly touched when my good friend Tom Forman asked me to bake cupcakes for his wedding to Miss Amanda Goodwin. Me? cake? I think not. The rather public nature of the ask did however take the decision out of my hands..

I hate to admit it, but I don’t even like cake! Bread is a bit of a hobby for me, but there’s just something about baking and all things sweet that doesn’t float my boat.

Scared? Yes. Up for a challenge? Always.

I had about a year to master the cupcake, so naturally I waited a good ten months or so before giving it any thought.

Sure I’ve made cupcakes before: once or twice a few years ago for my wife’s colleagues in Australia. I even bought a ‘Bake & Take’ for her to ferry our 24 treats to her office. Producing 120 perfectly formed and beautifully presented cakes for someone’s special day is however a slightly different level of pressure.

Where to start? The internet and trial & error of course. Man I hate faffing with the mess of baking! Too late to back out?

Luckily, I have a colleague who qualified as a pastry chef at Le Cordon Bleu in London. Apparently the success to such cakes is in the weighing of the eggs. This I can assure you is paramount. Breaking it down and contemplating the science certainly focuses my mind and provides clarity within any problem space.

Maybe I could get into this baking malarkey? My first attempt at piping looked like the aftermath of a playschool food fight, but a few YouTube videos, new nozzles and disposable piping bags soon fixed that. I might even go as far as to say it’s quite good fun and somewhat satisfying.

attempting cupcakes

The next great tip: ‘Quatre quarts’ – This literally translates from French as ‘Four Fourths’. Weigh your eggs (in their shells as their weight is negligible) and then weigh out your flour, butter and sugar to match.

ingredients ready for mixing

Magically simple; happy days. It must be time for another curve-ball. Tiffany Blue..

A little research reveals that the US colour trademark prevents anyone producing the required food colouring. Sigh.

So the trial & error process begins once more, much to the delight of my trusty taste-testers. Matching against a genuine Tiffany & Co. jewellery box, I’ve concluded that a mix of 2 parts Wilton Teal to 1 part Sky Blue is ideal. The gels are incredibly potent and you literally only need to use a cocktail stick to transfer the colour to your frosting mix.

Tiffany Buttercream Frosting

French butter makes all the difference, and given they’re for a wedding, it would be rude not to go free-range and organic too. #TheyAreWorthIt

I swear that the lady on the till in Waitrose thought that I had some form of butter addiction.

13 packs for french butter

Here’s a thought: how exactly am I going to bake and frost 120 cupcakes, and then safely transport them to the wedding…?

A combination of disposable cardboard cupcake boxes, the loan of a KitchenAid stand mixer, and a day off work did the trick. A word of warning – some of the boxes you can buy aren’t spaced very well and won’t fit larger decorated cupcakes.

The stand mixer was a godsend for which I am eternally grateful. They take some getting used to as you can’t ‘feel’ the consistency of the mix, but they save you so much time.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer

I baked a batch of 12 cupcakes every 15 minutes whilst prepping the next batch to maintain control of the mix. My tip for making sure they’re all exactly the same is to pipe the cupcake mixture into the cases on a set of scales. 50g makes for a generous cake that’s just proud of the case.

full cupcake case

All of the cakes were boxed up after cooling and then frosted with the Tiffany Blue buttercream in one go to guarantee a consistent colour.

the final product

These delicate little filigree cases added the final touch for the big day. They’re not cheap, but they do make the finished product that bit more professional.

filigree cases for cupcakes

Ingredients:

(for 12 cupcakes)

  • 180g Eggs
  • 180g Self-Raising Flour
  • 180g Unsalted French Butter (room temperature)
  • 180g Caster Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract (or other flavouring)

Buttercream Frosting:

  • 140g Unsalted French Butter (room temperature)
  • 280g Icing Sugar
  • Splash of Milk
  • Food Colouring of your choice (optional)
  • ½ tsp Vanilla Extract (or other flavouring)

Method:

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs one by one. Add the vanilla and then carefully fold in the sifted flour. Pipe the mix into cupcake cases. Bake at 160°C (fan) for 15 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

For the frosting, beat the butter until soft and then mix in the icing sugar, a little at a time. Add the flavouring, colour and a splash of milk to thin the mixture if required. Pipe onto the cupcakes once they have cooled.


 

I’m really grateful for this experience; I’ve learnt lots of new skills and have an almighty appreciation for baking. I’m still not a fan of eating cake though!

Making cupcakes

120 cupcakes

Finally, congratulations to the happy couple and thank you for letting us share your special day with you. We wish you happiness and joy for your future together.

Family H-L

Tom & Amanda

 

Sprouting

Intrigued? I was.

So… what are we actually talking about here, and why would you want to bother with it?

Basically, it’s just germinating seeds so that they become tiny plants. It really is that straight forward.

And you’d want to do this because…..?

Nutritional value.

I want to explain this in the most basic of terms if I can, rather than bore you with the science:

Seeds, grains and legumes are packed with nutrients and are fantastically good to eat. Some of the nutritional value is locked away inside, but the sprouting process increases vitamin content and releases all that goodness for you to digest.

#science (It’s all about neutralising enzyme inhibitors and anti-nutrients such as Phytic acid which binds to the minerals). Google it.

Not sure about it? Have you ever eaten Cress? Delicious isn’t it! Bean Sprouts; they’re just sprouted Mung beans. Growing food indoors without the need for soil – genius. 

Most importantly for me, it’s lots of fun for the kids and teaches them about where food comes from. There’s a certain magic about watching a tiny seed develop and grow. It seems almost unbelievable how much energy is stored in each little seed, just waiting, dormant until the right conditions come along and rekindle life.

Sprouting couldn’t be easier; pop them in a jar, soak them overnight and then rinse them twice a day. Specialist kit makes life even easier and is very reasonably priced. I used a three-tiered system that allows me to rotate ‘planting’ and guarantee a constant supply with minimal effort.

3-tier sprouting system

3-tier watering system

Just pour water into the top and it irrigates every layer.

I even sprouted fenugreek that had been sat in my spice rack for, well, who knows how long. Amazing! All they need is a good soaking to kick-start them back into action. Nature truly is remarkable.


sprouting seeds

A. Vogel are a leading name in the world of sprouting. They grow their seeds organically and don’t irradiate them. Their global support for Jamie’s Food Foundation and the Food Revolution has been truly wonderful, and we’ve been lucky enough in the UK to have recently received donations of sprouting jars and seeds for many of our Ambassadors to take into schools. I can’t wait for term to start again so that I can hear all about the great work that’s going on around the country.

A.Vogel Biosnacky seeds

I’ve tried all sorts and my personal favourite is Alfalfa. It has wonderfully clean, delicate and delicious taste and works with so many dishes.

sprouting alfalfa

To me, there’s nothing like in a simple cheese and sprouted seed sandwich. Heaven.

classic cheese sandwich

ploughman's with sprouted seeds

Pep up your Ploughman’s lunch

salad with sprouted seeds

Jazz up your salad

pasta with sprouted seeds

Sprouted seeds work with so many dishes

seeds ready to sprout     sprouted alfalfa

Have fun!