Spring time fava and garbanzo scotch egg

_DSC6760.jpg

Scotch egg was absolutely one of my favorites when we lived in England. I have been thinking about making a vegetarian version of it for a while now, and asparagus season seemed to be the best time for this experiment. Because we all  know it.  Asparagus, egg and breadcrumb go hand in hand in perfect harmony. For this recipe the most important thing I had to come up with is a vegetarian sausage meat replacement. I definitely prefer using vegetables over tofu, tempeh, seitan. I picked garbanzo beans because I knew that can hold other ingredients together very well. Later I will try to make it work with lentil, just simply because lentil is my favorite legume. I paired garbanzo with fresh fava beans, since  they are in season too, and also wanted to add some of that cooked to the dish as well, to bring more brightness and freshness to the plate.

_DSC6376

 

So what are the components in the dish?

I decided to serve the scotch egg with simply blanched asparagus. Scotch egg is traditionally deep fried and crispy, so it definitely needed a clean, fresh accompaniment, that is the reason for blanching, and not roasting or pan frying the asparagus. For a creamy sauce-y component I made a fresh, vibrant asparagus tarragon sauce.

_DSC6820

How to blanch asparagus?         

To prep asparagus cut off woody ends and carefully peel asparagus 2/3 up. (see picture above)  Bring a big pot of water to the boil and season with salt generously. Blanching takes a few minutes, s no worries, the vegetables will not be salty. When the water is rapidly boiling, add asparagus and make sure boiling never stops! After a minute or two, depending one the freshness and thickness of your asparagus, transfer them into ice cold water. Now they are ready for any kind of dish to use. You can warm them up with butter/oil, pan roast them quickly or continue cooking for a few minutes in sauces. 

I blanched asparagus, freshly shucked English peas and fava beans. After blanching, I simply warmed them with some butter and seasoned with salt, black pepper and meyer lemon zest. Be careful if you have the urge to add lemon juice, it will quickly take away the fresh green color of your vegetables!

 To introduce my choice of herb, tarragon, to the dish I made a sauce using the asparagus scrapings that you can see in the top picture, as a base. Blanched the scrapings and tarragon is salted water, then dropped them into ice cold water to retain color. Separately sautéed white onion and let that cool and blended quickly with the blanched asparagus and tarragon. Seasoned with salt and ground black pepper. Right before plating added some meyer lemon juice to taste.

See below detailed recipe for the scotch egg, included some tips for making them. It is really up to you what you serve these scotch eggs with . They are great cold, as part of a green salad, or warm with a simple asparagus soup. Scotch eggs may not be the quickest and easiest things to make but they are worth the work.

Garbanzo and fava scotch eggs

_DSC6803

Ingredients (for 4 eggs)

  • 4 eggs
  • olive oil
  • 1 small brown onion, chopped finely
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3 oz cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 3/4 cup cooked garbanzo beans (or canned)
  • 1/2 cup fresh fava beans, cooked
  • 1/2 T chopped parsley
  • 1 t dijon mustard
  • 1/4 t Hungarian paprika
  • salt, ground black pepper to taste

For standard breading procedure and deep frying the eggs:

  • flour
  • 2 eggs and 1T water for egg wash
  • breadcrumb
  • grapeseed oil for deep-frying the eggs

 

  1. Start with cooking the eggs. Boil water in a pot. Cook eggs in simmering water for 5 and 1/2 minutes, so the yolks stay runny. If you plan to eat some of the eggs later, I recommend cooking them longer, around 8-9 minutes. Cold eggs are just better when the yolk is not runny. Once the eggs are cooked, immediately put them in ice-cold water to stop them cooking. This is very important if you want to keep nice runny yolks.
  2. In the meantime start sweating the chopped onions on olive oil. Carefully cook them until translucent, not to burn them. Add the garlic, cook for a minute and finally the chopped mushrooms. Cook until you get rid of moisture. Let it cool.
  3. Rinse cooked garbanzo beans and transfer into a food processor. Add the onion mushroom mixture, the cooked fava beans, dijon, parsley and spices. Process until it forms a paste with chunky bits.  A few tips : In case the mixture is dry, add a bit of olive oil. If you added too much oil at the beginning and feels too soft, add breadcrumb or even oatmeal. If for any reason your paste is not sticking together, add an egg and mix well. You will need to use this veggie mixture to coat the cooked eggs.
  4. Before coating the eggs with the veggie mixture, dredge the eggs in flour. This step will help the veggie mixture hang onto the egg’s surface.
  5. It is time now to coat the wobbly soft eggs in the veggie “mince”. The easiest way to do this: Place a portion of the mixture on a piece of clinging film. Cover it with another clinging film and with a rolling pin flatten it out evenly.  Take off top clinging film and lift flattened disk, wrapping it carefully around the egg and molding into the right shape. It is a delicate task if you want runny yolks and your eggs are soft. I did break an egg, so take your time. Once the eggs covered in the garbanzo mix, let them cool in the fridge. If you want to make them in advance, this is the stage where you can keep them covered in the fridge for a day.
  6. To finish off the eggs, use the standard 3 step breading procedure to coat the egg: dredge in flour, moisten in the egg wash and coat in breadcrumbs.
  7. Fill a small pot with enough oil to cover whole eggs. Deep fry the eggs in batches if your pot is not too big, so that oil will not cool down while doing deep frying, to avoid soggy coating.
  8. Serve the eggs with your choice of accompaniment, such as salad, cooked vegetables, soup, sauce.

_DSC6811

 

Cauliflower grits, chanterelle and the perfect sunny side up egg

This cauliflower grits was a result of necessity…. I had a cauliflower in the fridge that really needed to be used. And while I was making our brunch, on a Sunday morning, coming back from Hollywood Farmers market with fresh eggs, chanterelle, and pea shots, the idea came. When we cook cauliflower and blend it, it comes up with an amazing silky, creamy texture. And what is it that we do with grits? We cream it. With butter, cream, mascarpone, or anything else. Just cream it, right?

DSC_4763.jpg

So while the grits were cooking in simple vegetable stock, I quickly added the cauliflower in a small pot of milk and water, added aromatics, a small onion and a bay leaf. Once that cooked, and the grits was ready, blended the cauliflower in just enough cooking liquid to be able to process and added to the grits. Also remember grits require 1:4 ratio of polenta to liquid. You can reduce it a little bit here, because the cauliflower cream will losen it up. You can play with the texture when mixing everything all together, to your liking.

I am not really keen on standing at the stove and keeping an eye on grits for a long time. So this is a trick I came up with, and it did help me to reduce cooking time. I buy the coarse grits in bulk and blend them superfine in my blender. Do this only when you are not bothered about losing the grits texture, but you want lets’s say a quick brunch option. This fine polenta will cook much quicker.

For dairy free and vegan version:

My original recipe requires milk and I also added eggs to make it a full meal. If you are dairy free or vegan, leave out the eggs and cook the cauliflowers in stock with all the aromatics mentioned below. Once cauliflower is cooked, transfer into blender and blend it with home made, thick cashew milk/cream. When I made a vegan version I served it with radish sprouts and quick pickled radishes.

dsc_9214

Ingredients for non vegan version (serves 4)

  • 1/2 cup grits, or the finely processed cornmeal
  • 3-4 cup vegetable stock or water
  • 1/2 small cauliflower torn into florets (the orange one will give a beautiful color to your grits! go for it if you have them)
  • 1 cup whole milk and some water (enough to just cover the florets in the pot)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small onion
  • salt and 3-4 black peppercorns
  • 2 cups small chanterelle or any other wild, strong mushroom (see below other dishes)
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley and chive
  • 4 eggs
  • olive oil for frying eggs
  • pea shoots or other greens to serve the dish with (it will require something fresh, crunchy with a touch of acid)
  • lemon juice and olive oil for the greens

Instructions

  1. Add milk, water, bay leaf, peppercorn, salt, onion and cauliflower florets in a small pot. Bring to a boil and cook it covered on low heat until florets are cooked. Don’t overcook, all the cauliflower flavor and bits will disintegrate into your liquid…. and we are not using all the cooking liquid.
  2. Discard onion, bay leaf and peppercorns  when cauliflower is cooked.
  3. Transfer into blender and blend into creamy texture with just as much cooking liquid as necessary to process the blending!
  4. In the meantime toast grits on olive oil for a minute, while whisking add vegetable stock. Cook it under constant supervision, stirring frequently. Add just as much liquid so you end up with a thick, firmer grit texture, so the cauliflower can loosen it up.
  5. You can also pay with ratios of grits to cauliflower, depending on how much flavor of the veggie you would like in there.
  6. To finish the dish pan roast mushrooms on butter and olive oil mixture with adding a couple of thyme sprigs. When cooked, discard thyme, and add mix of parsley, chive and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Keep it warm.
  7. Fry eggs on olive oil. Heat olive oil and before it is too high, add eggs, turn down heat and fry slow to keep a nice look.
  8. Put the greens in a bowl and drizzle with a squeeze of lemon juice and some olive oil.

To serve:

DSC_9081.jpg

In a shallow deep bowl and cauliflower grits, making a dip in the middle for the egg. Put mushrooms and shoots or other greens around the egg, on top of the grits. ENJOY!

 

And if you like the flavor profiles, you can make other, bit fancier dishes based on the same concept. This is a pot de creme of cauliflower grits with pan roasted mixed wild mushroom with garlic and thyme, parmesan crisps and some spicy nasturtium oil and leaves.

_dsc1295

 

_dsc1323