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January 2010

27 January 2010

Sicilian Anchovy Pasta with Toasted Breadcrumbs


I haven’t had the pleasure of exploring Sicily yet however it’s on my ever-expanding list of places to visit.

When I do go, I’ll be eagerly seeking out ‘pasta c'anciova e muddica’ – anchovy pasta with toasted breadcrumbs.

I've recently introduced a new addition to the pasta -- the poached egg. And it's here to stay.

The rustic recipe features in my household at least once a week. Even when I’ve run out of most basic of fridge staples like milk and bread, I know I’ve got jars or tins of plump anchovies, bread crumbs and chili flakes at hand.

I have to admit however that my love for the anchovies is rather recent. For many years, my feelings towards anchovies were dominated by teenage memories of my tongue being assaulted by the vile little fish often found scattered over other people's pizzas.

Now it’s hard to imagine my kitchen without them. Whether used in Sicilian pasta, a Caesar salad or a creamy mayonnaise, good anchovies lend that burst of sweet, salty pungency that’s hard, if not impossible, to substitute.

I read somewhere once that physically, anchovies can be treated much like garlic. They can be finely chopped and stirred into a vinaigrette or compound butter. Pounded into smooth paste to intensify a creamy risotto or sautéed whole with onions and garlic to form the delicious base of a pasta or stew.

Good anchovies should taste of the sea but not be overly fishy. They come salt or oil-packed in jars or tins. After sampling many different brands, I have found the best-tasting anchovies to hail from the coast of Spain. I opt for fillets stored in extra virgin olive oil. They are more intensely flavoured without the piercing saltiness of salt packed anchovies.

Continue reading "Sicilian Anchovy Pasta with Toasted Breadcrumbs" »

04 January 2010

Poached Eggs: how to make them step-by-step


There are many ways to poach an egg. Some are more reliable than others.

If you’re like me, then you’ve experienced the miserable “egg soup" scenario. This is where your poached egg more closely resembles wispy threads floating in water than a delicate, coddled globe with a molten centre.  But don’t despair. There are ways to avoid this unfortunate situation.

One of the constants in successful poaching is the quality and freshness of the egg. However, finding really fresh eggs on grocery shelves can be a challenge.

First, check the use-by date. Sounds simple but it can often be overlooked when you’re faced with a wall of eggs. There can be up to two weeks' difference in use-by dates between eggs sitting side-by-side on your supermarket shelf.

Secondly, look at the eggs. Choose eggs with a chalky surface over those with a smooth one – this is a sure sign of fresh eggs.

Once you have your fresh eggs, you need to know the best method for poaching them... Read on...

Happy New Year!

Continue reading "Poached Eggs: how to make them step-by-step" »

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