Saturday, October 01, 2011

Recipe: Grilled Breakfast Hash & Eggs

I've been extremely remiss with this blog for a couple of months and its only fair to let you - my readers know why. First our cat whom we adopted 4 years ago and who has shifted 3 countries with us was sick with a very serious case of jaundice and we almost lost her. Fortunately the brilliant doctors at CGS Hospital, whom we went to for a second opinion before putting her to sleep were able to save her with intense medication, 6 hourly drips and constant care over a month. Not a very conducive mindframe for cooking, you must admit.

As soon as she was fit to travel, we moved from Delhi to Guwahati and had to live in the guesthouse for a month until we found a place of our own to move into. Couldn't step on the cooks toes, by taking over the kitchen here, could I?

Setting up house in Guwahati has been a challenge because of supply issues. We are now in the North East of India and can completely sympathise with the general feeling of being cut off from mainland India.

Guwahati is a small town, supplies of manufactured products have to come in from Calcutta or Delhi. Basic food items that I took for granted like skimmed milk, 30 liter water jars and yoghurt are just not available here, forget gourmet cheeses and sauces. If I want chicken, I have to buy the whole chicken from the market, no special cuts. (I've finally found a guy who supplies boneless chicken) If I want to buy mutton, I have to take whatever the guy at the butcher shop decides to give me and it is minimum 70% of bones and skin and kidneys and liver.

Fish is river fish and we are sea fish eaters. Vegetables are completely seasonal (a concept I confess I had forgotten) and there are a lot of them that I have never seen before. A couple of trials cooking them and the tastes still haven't grown on us. Food items are expensive. Coconuts are 50Rs a piece. Tomatoes 45Rs a kilo. Mutton (70% bones and skin & spare parts) 250Rs/kilo. And on top of all of this I have a really tiny kitchen. I've never before worked in such a tiny kitchen.

Plus in the last 4 months since we moved, I've made trips to Delhi, Shillong, Canada and London and the dh has been travelling much more than that. So I haven't really found a reason or the inspiration to cook. I'm not someone who decides a menu and then goes out shopping. I go out to the market, see what looks freshest and what inspires me and then I bring it home and dishes suggest themelves in my head as I start prepping my ingredients.

So its been a challenge for me to cook anything more than dal-chawal-sabji and if its just me at home, its chawal and chutney pudi or achaar.

However, its also quite depressing for me to keep eating unimaginative food, so I have to kick myself out of this rut and find ways to work with the limited ingredients I can buy here or carry from Delhi in a suitcase when I visit.

Today the husband asked for something baked with eggs and cheese, so I immediately remembered a recipe for Bacon Hash and Broiled Eggs that I read just yesterday in my quest for online inspiration and thought I could tweak it to accomodate the ingredients that I had in my cupboards. Hopefully I can keep finding enough inspiration to keep our meals exciting, so wish me luck!

100 gms Bacon (thats all I had left) cut into strips across the grain
2 large potatoes diced (not too fine, but small enough to cook quickly))
1 large onion diced (I kept the pieces large enough to be able to bite into and taste their caramalised flavour in the finished dish)
2 tsp kasundi (local whole grain mustard) for flavour
400gms of corned beef
7-8 eggs
salt & pepper to taste
100 gms of cheese (I used a mixture of smoked cheese and mozarella)

In a large pan, fry the bacon until it renders the fat.
Then add the potatoes and onions and cover and cook for a while.
When the potatoes are half cooked, add the corned beef and mustard and stir well. I did not add any salt because the bacon and corned beef were salty enough. So test your mixture before adding any salt.
Keep frying till the mixture is dry and starting to crisp up.
Turn the gas off and start plating this mixture into ramekins, leaving enough space on top for the egg and cheese. I got 7 ramekins.
Drop a raw egg on the top of each ramekin and sprinkle with a little pepper (I again avoided salt because of the processed meats)

While the original recipe calls for broiling, I set the microwave on grill and grilled the ramekins for 4 minutes.
As soon as the eggs look cooked well enough for your taste (we like them a little runny) take the ramekins out.
Sprinkle cheese on top of the eggs and grill again for 2 minutes or until the cheese melts.
Serve hot.
While this seems like a classic breakfast combination, we had this quite happily for dinner. The dh loved it with toast and I just had it with a salad on the side.

Kim's Tips:
From what I saw today, it would be better to make a well in the centre of the mixture in the ramekins. The yolk will then stay in the center. If the yolk does not directly touch the sides of the ramekin, the risk of it splitting open is minimised.

Do not press the mixture in tight into the ramekins, you will lose texture when the ingredients get smashed.

You can cook the mix as long as you like before grilling. Personally, we prefer it crispy rather than soft.

Note: All cheese and cold meat was carried from Delhi/London on my last trip.

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