Friday, June 29, 2012

Breakfast! Heston Blumenthal scrambled eggs with brown butter, and Nigella's cinnamon scrolls.

So, this week, I thought I'd take it easy, and make some Heston Blumenthal scrambled eggs.

This was to be easy, because I've made them (sort of) before and thought it would be an easy win. So much so, I invited some friends of ours over for breakfast on Sunday.  Of course, as soon as my family realised that we were having guests for breakfast, they started insisting on cinnamon scrolls. Of course, eggs alone would be insufficient, they simply MUST HAVE the cinnamon scrolls. These scrolls do tend to elicit that kind of reaction, and since they are my person go-to brunch food by preference, I caved.

So. Scrambled eggs a la Heston Bluementhal, and Nigella Lawson's cinnamon scrolls from How to Be a Domestic Goddess.

I woke up (early no less!) dreaming and thinking about food, which is a good start.

Today we have 2 dishes:
  1. Cinnamon scrolls  from How to Be a Domestic Goddess, by Nigella Lawson.
  2. Scrambled eggs (sous vide method) from Heston Blumenthal At Home, by Heston Blumenthal

Cinnamon Scrolls

from How to Be a Domestic Goddess, which is, hands-down, my favourite baking book and gets used a lot in our  home.

It is saying a lot that I realised part way in that I am so familiar with the recipe that I mostly need the book out for the quantities, not so much the method. I also have a recommended alteration to the recipe - I'll note this as I go. It is pencilled in on my own copy, much to the disgust of my daughter who told me off quite sternly for writing in a book!

I do have to say if you don't have a lot of experience with bread-type baking this is a good intro as it's not difficult and gives awesome bang-for-effort. 


  1. Make up your dough (Mix the wet stuff into the dry stuff, knead)
  2. Make up your filling
  3. Roll it up into a long sausage roll
  4. Cut into pieces, let rest
  5. Bake 
Stuff assembled ready to go.

Okay, bowl of flour, sugar, salt and yeast.

Then you milk and eggs. Okay, my own suggested edit here - use 300ml of milk, not 400ml. If you use 400ml, the mix is way to wet, and you end up having to add too much flour and then the dough gets tough.

Add melted butter.

Mix it up ...

And then the wet stuff goes into the dry stuff.

Mix it up.

And ta-da! Wet sticky dough! (don't worry it gets better).

Start kneading.

It will end up nice and smooth(ish) and not sticky and sproingy when you press your finger in it.

Then it gets a bit of a rest to fatten up. (Go that good yeast!) This is actually a lot of dough, its just in my super-huge dough making bowl.

While that is doing its thing you put all the filling stuff in a bowl and mix it. This is what it looks like when its all mixed together. It uses a lot of cinnamon and butter and sugar.

Here it is a bit bigger. I do find that some batches get puffier than others, all things being equal otherwise. Don't know why it happens, but it doesn't seem to effect the outcome, so I don't really worry about it. Maybe its an atmospheric thing.

Okay now for the fun bit. Keep a chunk of dough aside to line the base of the pan. I think this is mostly so the sugar doesn't burn the bottom of the pan, having a dough layer. It all just gets pulled apart so that's fine.

Now, personally I like smaller rolls, with more spirals. So I roll mine out very thinly and extra long. The longer it is, the more rolls you'll get but they'll be smaller. If you want one-per-person fat rolls, then just follow the book (50cmx25cm). Mine was almost double that length.

Put a layer of filling all over the dough. You can use a spatula to smear it out, but I recommend using your (clean) hands. Using your hands is more gentle and you don't pull at the dough too much.

Roll it up!

Slice off individual scrolls. These are about 2-3cm thick or so.

They then sit around for 20mins or so puffing up before baking.

Then into the oven, and then here we are! Eat hot. I recommend sharing with lots of people. it makes rather a lot :)

It was good these were low stress, because it gave me time to muck about with the eggs. Recover, and still get there, albeit a bit late.

Heston Blumenthal Scrambled eggs with brown butter (sous-vide).. or not.

So this was interesting. I thought I'd try Heston's scrambled eggs done in the sous vide method. I don't own a sous vide machine, but on the How To Cook Like Heston TV show, he noted you can do the same thing with a water bath and a thermometer. It's only relatively short cooking time so I thought this would be a good test before I tried other sous vide recipes of his.


  1. Whisk the eggs, cream etc.
  2. Put in a zip lock bag
  3. Put in a water bath at 75 degrees.
  4. Squish every 3-5 mins.
  5. Serve.
Yeah. So... that's almost what happened. 

Step one was pretty straight forward. Eggs, milk, cream, salt and butter get whisked together.

Put the mix in zip lock bags. These are just regular sandwich bags.

Get your water bath ready.

Realise that you need a lot more water than you thought.  Start boiling the kettle. Get a little frustrated. Have your husband ask why you didn't just put it on the stove. Explain that you're doing what the TV program suggested.

Realise this isn't going to cut it and give up and do what your husband suggested and put water on the stove-top to heat. Admit openly he was right, much to his amusement.

Once the temperature hits that magical 75 degrees, turn the heat off and pop in your egg bags.

Now every 3-5 minutes you take the bags out with over mitts and squish ("or massage the contents".)

So this is supposed to go on for 15 minutes. And give you perfect eggs.

Except... that about 14 minutes they weren't looking cooked through yet and both bags had developed small splits (1cm) on the seams at the base. At this point what you do, or what I did anyway, is panic slightly. Apparently this looks a bit like this. (Helpful assistants photo of the event)

I should note careful examination showed the eggs were leaking out, but no water seemed to be getting into the splits. 

At this point, I reverted to the other Heston Blumenthal way of doing eggs, namely mixing constantly in a double boiler. (Or, in this case a glass bowl over water, which is my personal preference.)

The advantage of this is that you can put the butter on low (for the brown butter) next to you while you mix the eggs.

And this time, it worked!

Drizzle with nut brown butter and eat on nice toast. Yum.


So the cinnamon scrolls were good as usual, if a little extra brown as I got distracted (almost not) making eggs. A recommended recipe. If you like the cinnamon scrolls from bakeries even a little, these have those kicked to the kerb. Nothing like having them hot and fresh.

Eggs. Well, not a complete failure, though very disappointing. I'm not sure whether it was a bag fault or not but it is kind of a moot point as I could tell it both wasn't cooking in the allotted time and the texture was not as good as when I do it on a stove top over water. (It was a bit lumpier).

In future, I'll stick to my usual method - eggs, cream, milk, lumps of butter. Cook in a bowl over water on low. Stir constantly for around 20 mins. Best scrambled eggs ever. (Actually, this is a also a Heston recipe - given when he was interviewed by Radio National a few months back.)

Guest opinions:

Appreciation of the cinnamon scrolls was to form, they had strongly requested them, and so they were eaten with great relish. Eggs also enjoyed, though my husband noted (and I agreed) they just weren't as good as when done on the double boiler. Ah well, I know for next time. Given my poor experience with the zip lock bags I think I'll have to investigate a little more about if they need "special" zip lock bags and/or consider borrowing a proper sous-vide thing. Hmm.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Soup: Pea and Ham

So it's winter. Time for soup.  Now, I'm not a fan of pea and ham soup. I associate it with nasty thick brown goop that tastes bad. But my interest is piqued by the bright green soup shown in the book, so I decided to give Heston's Pea and Ham Soup a go.

This is a recipe that nearly didn't happen after significant difficulty in finding a main ingredient - the gammon.  For those unfamiliar: 
  1. Ham that has been cured or smoked like bacon.
Apparently, noone here in Perth cooks them except Christmas time. I rang around a bunch of places. I only found it at one out of about six, but I blanched at the idea of buying more than twice the weight of what I needed. As a last ditch attempt, I called my dear chef mate who, despite being at work, managed to find me some with a mate of his. Mondo's to the rescue!

Off to the most excellent Mondo's where I acquired not only the required gammon, but also two different types of bacon. (One of which is for another dish). I can certainly recommend Mondo's. I honestly felt silly for not checking there in the first instance. They have great stuff, and reasonably priced. Unlike some in the western suburbs.

Anyway, step one of the soup making, is making a ham stock. And this is where I met another hurdle.

Unfortunately, what with the running around to source gammon, and the unexpected need to go shoe and jeans shopping with my small person, I didn't get back until 3pm, making it not doable that day. So it got pushed out to Sunday.

Steps to do:

  1. Make gammon (ham) stock
  2. Let the whole thing cool
  3. Shred some of the gammon
  4. defrost (a lot of) frozen peas
  5. Cook shallots, etc
  6. Reheat stock
  7. Put in most of the peas, cook some more
  8. Puree it
  9. Strain it
  10. eat with shredded ham and extra peas.
As far as many of these recipes go, this is pretty easy, apart from making sure you set aside enough time.  So let's see the evidence!

Making Stock

I decided that it was too late to make that soup, but clearly not too late on a Saturday night to make stock. I can be odd like that. So, here's the stock ingredients, and the requisite cup of coffee. it's requisite for me, the recipe doesn't require it. You might like wine, or scotch or I don't know, rainwater. Whatever is your thing.

See my lovely gammon? Smells good, even before cooking.

 Okay, stuff thinly sliced, gammon in the oven proof pot.
 Put in your water, heat it up on the stove.
 Ready for it's 5 hour bake in the oven, lid on.
 Mmmm, all done. Smelled so good. Very strong ham flavour. Seriously, you could just serve this stock and it would be very tasty.
 Okay, next morning, all cooled down. Ready to sieve the contents.
 Gammon comes out. Look how nice this looks. Yummm..
 Straining the stock...
 And squishing all the veg to get every last drop of stock out. It feels almost criminal when I throw the veg away after making stock, but then I remind myself most of the flavour isn't in the veggies any more, its in the liquid.
 Stock looking nice, ready for the fridge.

 Making soup

A chunk of gammon weighed for shredding for later inclusion. The big bit I stuck in the freezer, I'll do something with it later. Too good to waste.
 Frozen peas weighed out. Almost a whole bag. Heston points out since peas are flash frozen frozen peas are better than fresh (unless its just out of the garden type thing).
 Peas defrosting on towels to absorb all the excess water.
You know what a big pot of ham stock needs? More bacon! Beautiful streaky bacon from Mondos. I wish I'd bought more. Anyway, bacon, garlic and onion doing its thing.
 Heating up the stock.  I had some left over, which I've frozen for later shenanigans.

 You know what this soup needs, for something different? Butter!
 The defrosted peas go in with the butter, and get purreed. I used my stab blender like normal, but in hindsight I wished I'd used either my food processor or jug blender. I just don't think it got as smooth as I would have liked. Oh well, next time.
 Whizz, whizz.. The thing I do notice immediately, is that this stuff is BRIGHT GREEN. That had to be in capitals, that's just how bright it was.

 So once it's pureed, you strain it. I am starting to think with all this strainign I keep doing I should get one of those solid chef ones.
 After most of the liquid is through you can see me squishing and forcing it through as much as I can. On the left you can see the solid stuff left over after all the squishing. Again, that feeling of throwing after half the stuff I started with. I am coming to accept though, that doing this sort of thing does lead to great flavour.

Okay, did I mention I was also making the mint oil that's recommended to accompany it? I'm making mint oil. So while the soup is aside, I measure out my mint. It needed a lot more than I expected to get to 25g! Almost a whole big bunch. That gets blanched in boiling water, then ice to keep its colour.
Then, you whiz it with grapeseed oil.  Thankfully I have this little guy. (The volume of the blanched mint was a fraction of the fresh).
Ta-da! Can you guess what i'm going to do now?

More straining! I used my little tea strainer, which barely managed. But I thought the big one would be too messy.
 Look at my (other) bright green ingredient. Predictably, smelled quite nice, and a much lighter mint flavour than I was expecting.
 Okay, time to serve. Heat up the soup. I just realised now that I  forgot to fluff it up with a stab blender to make it frothy
 Okay serving! pile of ham, extra peas and drips of mint oil. Doesn't it look pretty?


Well, I was convinced. You known how pea and ham soup doesn't actually taste like pea and ham (because its made with split peas, and bacon bones I think). Well, this soup tastes like pea and ham. And a dash of mint. Which of course, it should. But then much like that chicken stock that was so revelatory to me since it tasted like roast chicken, this was a similar pleasant surprise.

It was a straightforward dish to make (other than needing the time to bake the stock, but that wasn't hard). It was all pretty basic stuff really, no complicated steps or anything. It looked great and the taste was very good. I'd certainly consider this for a dinner party.

Guest opinions:

Family enjoyed it. (Two potential guests we caught too late and missed out.) Daughter pleasantly surprised despite insisting she didn't like pea and ham soup. Husband noted, "It's very ham-y" and then "Nice". This was later expanded in later conversation to "The best pea and ham soups I've ever eaten."

If you are a ham/bacon fan (and not adverse to peas) I do think this would be a winner.

Personally, I still can't get over the colour! Almost like real food isn't that green, is it?

Next: Hmmm.. maybe eggs?