Broken Yolk

Broken Yolk
Play with your Food!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Hangover Cure Avocado Chocolate Mousse

I once woke up with a hangover and a ticket to LA. I was freeing my soul up north with Emily Bronte’s spirit, and a sexy Mexican-American I’d picked up along the way. Yes, at this point I’d been fired from my job, it was whilst wearing red plastic flip-flops because I’d lost my shoes at some point in the rather crazy weekend before.  I’m not sure I can complain, but I definitely needed some good R ‘n R and maybe some fish ‘n chips. I’d gone to visit my aunt in the brisk seaside town of Scarborough with the sense that some salty air and Northern grit would do me good. After a muscle-wrenching coach journey I was ready for anything, except what was about to happen. Needless to say I don’t remember much of that night, it was a typical Northern night after all. My mind can only grasp at hazy flashbacks of emos belting Coldplay and weathered old regulars in smokey pubs. I’m fairly certain we walked out of the late-night Chinese restaurant without paying and carrying a small fish from the aquarium. During the course of this mindless and surreal night, after the exploration of the fairground on the peer, but before misguided whelk eating, I agreed to go to LA.

The morning-after I needed a hangover cure. My cure of choice is usually an avocado wrap from the first sandwich shop I stumble across. There’s something about avocado that makes me feel like I’m eating pure goodness, replenishing everything my body lost the night before. It’s buttery soft, even creamy, but full of good oils. However, for want of a sandwich shop I picked up a couple of avocadoes myself and scurried away from the migraine-inducing seaside light into the kitchen. There I discovered… nothing, apart from a few odds and ends that I managed to transform into this recipe.

The Ingredients

Why make an avocado into chocolate mousse? Well, it works! It creates a smooth rich texture, which balanced out with the bitter cocoa powder in the recipe. The slight hint of avocado, intense cocoa and sweet strawberries makes this recipe cleansing for body and mouth. You could probably smother it all over your face and it would still work.

Definitely the kind of pick-me-up you need with a two-month ticket to LA, a £500 hole in your pocket and a disheveled stomach. 

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Geometric Pistachio Cake

"Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity." - John Ruskin

Orchid and Cake

Just in case you haven’t had enough of me straddling the simple act of cooking with ridiculously lofty themes, now I’m going to bring in an obscure mathematic principle. Don’t worry, I hate maths as much as the next normal person. But have you ever asked yourself what beauty is? or why something is beautiful? For thousands of years philosophers and artists have tried to find answers to these questions. Aristotle and Socrates verbally battled each other, Kant tried to sort it out with taste, and even Derrida said the whole thing made him want to vomit. Turns out beauty is a simple ratio 1:1.618. The Golden ratio a.k.a 'Phi', is found everywhere; from engineering to art, and even in nature.

Here is a video to elaborate. 
The Golden Ratio there are some great examples of how Phi pops up in art – everywhere from the Mona Lisa to ‘Las Meninas’ by Velazquez, one of my favourite paintings.

My own version of 'Las Meninas'

In nature Phi crops up in flowers, seashells and even clouds…

It’s incredible to think that there is something that connects the beauty of a face to the beauty of a star, shell or flower.  And to think Shakespeare stumbled upon this very idea a few hundred years ago.

I decided that Phi would be an interesting principle to explore in food. As people generally taste a dish with their eyes, adding a dash of beauty to my cooking couldn’t hurt. And so I devised this geometric cake, sliced in the golden ratio of Phi, but rippled with pistachio sponge to show that though Phi is an interesting phenomenon there is still some randomness to life and nature.

¾ cups of butter
1 ½ cups of sugar
2 eggs
pinch of salt
dash of vanilla
1 ½ cups of flour
½ cup of ground pistachios

1.  Heat the oven to 180 F
2.     Cream together the butter and the sugar (use an electric whisk if you’re a bit lazy like me)
3.     Add the eggs one at a time and whisk until fully emulsified.
4.     Add all the other ingredients. If you want your cake to just have a pistachio ripple then save some of the mixture and just add the pistachio to that. Then pour your two batters into the tin to make a ripple effect.
5.     Grease a 9-inch springform cake tin.
6.     Bake for 40 mins.
7.  Allow to cool and then cut in half and smother jam all over the inside.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Post Eggistentialism

"Evil is the product of the ability of humans to make abstract that which is concrete." - Sartre

So, to avoid the judgment of Sartre and the reality of the bleak nothingness of human existence, one has to merely to give the concrete an abstract form. I am well versed in this idea, having had my first existential crisis at the age of 9. This may seem a tad premature but you try growing up a Catholic. Although Sartre has fallen out of favour for, well, being too depressing, I find that there is a strange sort of comfort in his ideas. Facing the concept of your own meaninglessness, escaping from the egocentricism of religion, is incredibly powerful. It can either strengthen or destroy, much like Cameron's 'Bog Society,' where no one sees the aftermath of the government cuts in the wane eyes of disabled people, pushed even further onto the outskirts of society. At the apex of consumerism, with its grim landscape of laughing bankers and demand without need, it is only too easy to feel that existence has again withered away into faulting gestures and empty promises. 

But at such a time, nothing is more poignant than life. Which only becomes more real the more it detaches itself from the bigger picture and we see it illuminating every being on earth. Take the humble egg for instance. Sure it may only turn into a gammy chicken, but within its unique curvature is the potential for life. And for more recipes than most people could possibly imagine. 

An egg is one of the miracles of nature, the messiah of baking, for without it there would be no cake! They bind ingredients in recipes and on their own form dozens of substances, anything from meringue to an omelet. 

So when you feel an existential crisis looming. Perhaps if you’ve just invested in your education and found it to be worthless, or realize that there is no longer a left vote, the simplest fix is rustling up some eggs. They are adaptable enough to put in almost any recipe (you can test me on this if you want). The egg is a bastion for human imagination, the concrete thing that you can make into any abstract form you like.

In the Post-existential morning all you need are some fresh ingredients and a free mind. Here are my creations.

Serrano ham, Asparagus and egg stack

This is the simplest recipe in the world but it also looks visually stunning when you 'stack' all the ingredients on top of each other. All you need for this recipe are a few slices of serrano ham, asparagus and eggs and some finely sliced toasted bread.

1. Soft boil the egg in 400ml of boiling water. this is take about 4-5 minutes.
2. Place the serrano ham slices under the grill and allow to cook until browned and crispy.
3. Cook the asparagus. The best way is to plop it into the boiling water with the egg. 
4. Assemble all the elements together by stacking them on top of one another. Season to taste and serve.

Pea and Red-Berry Mustard Eggs Benedict

People shouldn't be scared of making eggs Benedict, it's the perfect way to flaunt your cooking skills whenever you feel like it, not just for special occasions. Here I have added my own twist to the traditional recipe to give it a sweetness and freshness from the introduction of peas, served with a peppery redberry mustard.

Pea Hollandaise
3 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 dash of Tabasco
1/2 cup butter
100g of peas
  1. In a blender, combine the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and hot pepper sauce. Cover, and blend for about 5 seconds.
  2. Melt the butter and then place into a glass measuring cup. Set the blender on a high speed, and pour the butter into the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream. It should thicken almost immediately. 
  3. Add most of the peas to the blender and blend until smooth. Save the rest of the peas for decoration.
  4. Keep the sauce warm until serving by placing the blender container in a pan of hot tap water.
  5. Serve with toasted English muffins spread with red-berry mustard and ham.

Mini Passionfruit and Black Pepper Meringue Pies

It is impossible to feel despondent when someone puts one of these petit tartlets in front of you. Whether or not you like it, your taste-buds will be stirred to life again. Ethereally whipped meringue with a peppery kick nestles on top of a zingy and decadent passion fruit curd in fine, crisp pastry. 

400g ready-made sweet pastry
12 Passion fruits
4tbsp of corn flour
140g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
200g caster sugar
1 tsp of ground black pepper

  1. Heat oven to 200C/fan. Dust the work surface with a little flour, then the pastry out to the thickness of a £1 coin. Use a cutter to cut out several circles of pastry. Use to line some small tart cases. Chill for 30mins. Line with greaseproof paper and a layer of baking beans, then blind bake for 20 mins. 
  2. Remove the paper and beans, then return the tart cases to the oven for 5 mins until pale golden in colour. Leave to cool.
  3. Then scoop out the pulp of 10 passion fruits into a sieve over a large jug. Rub the pulp and juice through the sieve and then discard the seeds. Scoop the pulp and seeds of the remaining fruit into the juice. You should now have 150ml in total - top up with orange juice if you don't have enough. In a pan, mix the cornflour with the sugar, then gradually stir in 200ml cold water followed by the passion fruit. Cook over a medium heat, stirring, until the mixture boils and thickens. Stir constantly. Take the pan off the heat and whisk the yolks into the hot mixture.
  4. Reduce oven to 180C/fan. For the meringue, whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks, then gradually whisk in the sugar until it leaves a peak. 
  5. Now add the pepper.
  6. Spread the filling over the pastry base. Spoon the meringue over the filling, starting from the pastry edge and working your way into the middle, then gently swirl the spoonfuls together. Bake for 20 mins until the meringue is lightly golden.

And how do I justify this rambling pseudo-academic jibberish? Well…

"For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it." - Sartre

Now, for the viewing pleasure of all you kitchen disaster voyeurs out there, this is what happens when your souffle over-achieves. Funnily enough I've never had this problem before.