Thursday, 16 May 2013

Breakfast Heaven

 Nothing beats a beautiful breakfast prepared with love. I have a current personal favourite that I felt compelled to share after writing a post about the magic of Mondays on my other blog - The Living Well in Retirement Challenge (

I believe that an egg, perfectly poached, served over wilted greens - either spinach or young leaves of silverbeet which have been flavoured with butter, garlic, spring onion and dill - is a dish made in heaven! Taking just minutes to prepare it is suitable for breakfast, or as a delicious light lunch or dinner.

Poached eggs are incredibly hard to perfect - I know because it took me 30 years and dozens of overcooked eggs to finally master the art!

My recipe has evolved over time but the key to the dish has always been the quality of the ingredients used. I have learned that the eggs are critical - the freshest possible free range eggs are a must. The dish also deserves the best possible bread. I love it served with generous toasted slices of a good sourdough, pane de casa or multigrain bread - or home made bread if I have had the time to bake it! Choose your personal favourite!


Perfect Poached Eggs on bed of Wilted Greens

Serves 2

1 or 2 fresh free range eggs per person
white vinegar

Half a bunch of either spinach or silverbeet, washed and shredded
1 tablespoon butter
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper and sea salt

Wash the greens under running water, shake out the excess water and allow to drain on a clean tea towel. On a chopping board finely slice the spring onion, chop the dill and dice the peeled clove of garlic. Remove any thick stems from the greens. Roll the leaves together and shred into 1 cm strips.

Gently melt the butter in a frying pan. Once it is bubbling add the onion, garlic and dill plus pepper and sea salt to taste. Cook gently for 2 minutes. Add the greens and stir all together until the shreds are glossy with the butter mixture. Place a lid on the frying pan and allow the greens to gently steam for about 5 minutes. Stir 2 or 3 times to ensure the greens do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat. Keep warm.

Toast or grill your bread. Keep warm.

Meanwhile fill a tall saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat back to low and pour enough vinegar into the water to take it off the boil. Set a timer to 3 minutes and then crack the eggs gently dropping them into the pot. The white should fold up around the egg as it sinks to the bottom of the pot. Very gently stir the water to ensure the eggs do not stick to the bottom. Do not allow the water to boil again. It should be at simmering point - when some bubbles gently break the surface of the water. Allow the eggs to poach for exactly 3 minutes - 30 seconds longer if the eggs are not at room temperature. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and allow to drain.

To serve place the toast on a warmed plate. Spoon wilted greens over the toast and top with the poached eggs. Serve with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt sprinkled over.

For a special occasion breakfast your favourite bubbles make a lovely statement!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Celebrating our Mothers

It's Mothers Day today - that special day in the year when we celebrate our mums.

Hosting Mother's Day lunch this year I decided to make elements of the meal a tribute to two wonderful women I have been blessed to have in my life - my mum, and my mother-in-law.

Following my last post I made my first pitta, including the filo pastry, from scratch. It was superb - and as it was my tribute to my mother-in-law I was thrilled when it met it her exacting standards and disappeared off the dish just as quickly as hers does!

My mum - who sadly passed away three years ago, 77 years young - is the person who singlehandedly  inspired my love of food and cooking. She was an amazing cook! As I went through the old brown book into which I have, since a young bride, handwritten recipes that are 'keepers', I was struck by how many of them start with 'Mum's...' I intend to share these in future blog posts, so you will see what I mean!

I finally chose to make her Mulberry Pie. A very long time ago next to the recipe I had written 'Truly Magnifique!' I tried to recall - without success - how long it had been since Mum served this at a past gathering of our family.

My efforts were rewarded! The pie was stunning! Served warm with a quenelle of vanilla icecream, pouring cream and a drizzle of coulis  made from the excess juice that came out of the berries - it was every bit as sweet and tart and delicious as I remember it! Two grandsons - who can be a bit fussy about what they will eat, and who are too young to remember their Great Granny's family favourite - went back for seconds! Mum would have loved that! I certainly did!

The decision to celebrate Mother's Day in this way was a huge success. Everyone just loved the family favourites I had prepared - and I was so proud to have been able to pay homage to these two wonderful women in this way.

It was an especially poignant way remember my beautiful mum - who I miss dearly every day - but the memories recalled were of family, love, laughter and wonderful shared tables at the farm.

Happy Mothers Day, Mum!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Preserving Our Family’s Culinary History – a start!

My daughter, Sophie, and I spent an amazing day today with my mother-in-law.  She taught us how to make our family’s most favourite dish – one that we fondly call pitta! Outside of our family it is more widely known in Greek cuisine as spanakopita.

Proudly a fifth generation Australian of German, Scot, Cornish and English background, I had the very good fortune to marry into a wonderful Greek family who emigrated to Australia in the year that I was born!

My mother-in-law, whom I have always fondly called Yiayia (Greek for Grandmother), is an 86 year old dynamo! She is also the most amazing cook – and I am determined to record for our families our most favourite recipes and how to cook them as we remember them!

Yiayia’s pitta recipe is simple – deceptively so, as the techniques involved in the making are a little more complex! As a part of today’s lesson I learned how to make the most amazing filo pastry from scratch - together with the tricky business of how to roll it out, how to prepare the spinach, and what type of cheese to choose.

Sophie and I have videoed our lesson. It is our intention to produce a You Tube clip to make mastering the intricacies of making pitta and filo pastry easier - for both us and likeminded learners! This will also assist us to work out measurements of ingredients as Yiayia, like many amazing cooks doesn't use a recipe, instead cooking by look and feel! I will post our recipe in the near future.

Watching every member of our family – from the very youngest to the oldest - enjoy pitta at every family occasion I  can still only be amazed at how it is possible for spinach, dill, cheese, butter, flour, water and a dash of salt and pepper to taste so sublime!

I’d love to hear from you if you, too, have family recipes that you are preserving or intending to preserve. 

Sophie and I have another appointment with Yiayia next Wednesday to record and learn another family favourite. Check back next week to see what is!

Preserving our families culinary history is up to us - let's do it! 

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