Delia Smith's How to Cook


Best-selling author Delia Smith presents a simple and enjoyable cooking course for people of all ages and abilities.

We live in a time when everyone can buy food products from literally anywhere in the world at the local supermarket, when people can assemble instant suppers from food bars, where on almost every city corner there's a take-out or fast-food chain. But many people have forgotten the joys and simple pleasures of putting together a delicious, nutritious meal on their ...

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Best-selling author Delia Smith presents a simple and enjoyable cooking course for people of all ages and abilities.

We live in a time when everyone can buy food products from literally anywhere in the world at the local supermarket, when people can assemble instant suppers from food bars, where on almost every city corner there's a take-out or fast-food chain. But many people have forgotten the joys and simple pleasures of putting together a delicious, nutritious meal on their own. In a busy world where people have less and less time for cooking, many feel intimidated by even the thought of cooking. Delia's How To Cook restores a respect for food in its simplest, purest form, bringing everyone back to the basics skills of cooking.

Adapted for the US market, Dorling Kindersley's How To Cook is a combination of two separate volumes Delia published in the UK on the basic art of cooking. In Book One, she starts at the very beginning, explaining in detail the staple ingredients of all cooking — eggs, flour, potatoes, rice, and pasta. Book Two proceeds through the fundamentals of preparing fish, meat, poultry, fruit, and vegetables. In her typically friendly, accessible style, she guides beginners through the basics that will serve them for a lifetime of cooking. Boiling and poaching an egg, bread and pastry baking, making sauces and cooking all kinds of rice — these are some of the many techniques she presents that will remove intimidation from the cooking process and inspire total confidence.

For those who have already mastered these techniques, who are already accomplished cooks, How To Cook provides a sparkling collection of recipes, incorporating new ideas such as fat-free white sauces, french 'fries' you don't have to fry, and souffles that don't collapse, all presented in Delia's inimitable style.

Author Biography: Delia Smith is Britain's best-selling cooking author, her books having sold over fourteen million copies in the UK. She has presented cooking programs on BBC television for 28 years. Her book, Delia Smith's Summer Collection was published in the US in 1999 by Dorling Kindersley, Inc., and she has published several other titles in the
UK including Delia Smith's Winter Collection, Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course, and Delia Smith's Christmas. She is also Consultant Food Editor of Sainsbury's Magazine, published in the UK by the Sainsbury chain. Delia and her husband, the writer and editor Michael Wynn, live in Suffolk, England.
Delia Smith's How To Cook is a companion book to the PBS Television series GREAT FOOD, presented by WNET 13, New York.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
How do you know when your potatoes are fluffy inside? And what can you do to keep your eggshells from cracking? In this solid recipe collection/cooking course, Delia Smith teaches us to make it right.

Smith’s British cooking show has already won her millions of followers. In this guidebook, she shares with us all her elegant, homey recipes along with basic tips of good cooking. What we love most are the plentiful pictures, which show what a dish should look like in its various stages. How do you know when your pastry is perfect? Consult Delia Smith. (Jesse Gale)

Rocky Mountain News Columbus Dispatch
...wonderful recipes that are sensibly and attractively presented.
Town and Country
In How To Cook, which has clean, inviting photographs...[Delia] shares recipes that are not only delicious but also easy to prepare.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789471864
  • Publisher: DK Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/2001
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 8.86 (w) x 11.02 (h) x 1.38 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

That's why anyone wanting to learn to cook should begin by understanding eggs. Yes—even how to boil them. By cracking egg cooking (sorry about the pun) and simply knowing how to boil, poach, scramble, make an omelette and so on, you're going to give your cooking confidence a kickstart and make sure you will never go hungry. You'll also be able to offer your friends and loved ones a very quick and pleasurable meal. But that's not all: eggs are a supremely important ingredient in the kitchen, serving the cook in any number of ways. They can thicken soups and sauces, set liquids and baked dishes, they can provide a glorious airy foam to lighten textures, and they will also, quite miraculously, emulsify oils and butter into a rich smoothness.

    What we have to do first and foremost, though, before we even begin cooking, is to try and understand what eggs are and how they work.

Understanding eggs

A hen's egg is, simply, a work of art, a masterpiece of design, construction, and brilliant packaging! It is extremely nutritious, filled with life-giving protein, vitamins, and minerals. It has a delicate yet tough outer shell which, while providing protection for the growing life inside, is at the same time porous, allowing air to penetrate and the growing chick to breathe.

    It's the amount of air inside the egg that the cook needs to be concerned with. If you look at the photograph, above left, you'll see the construction of the egg includes a space for the air to collect at the wide end, and it's the amount of air in this space that determines the age andquality of the egg and how best to cook it. In newly laid eggs, the air pocket is hardly there, but as days or weeks pass, more air gets in and the air pocket grows; at the same time, the moisture content of the egg begins to evaporate. All this affects the composition of the egg, so if you want to cook it perfectly it is vital to determine how old the egg is. Now, look at the photograph at the top of the opposite page and see what the egg looks like when it is broken. What you start off with, on the left, is an egg at its freshest, with a rounded, plump yolk that sits up proudly. The white has a thicker, gelatinous layer that clings all around the yolk, and a thinner outer layer. After a week, shown in the egg on the right, the yolk is flatter and the two separate textures of white are not quite so visible.

    Now, all is revealed! You can see very clearly why you may have had problems in the past and why an egg needs to be fresh if you want to fry or poach it, because what you will get is a lovely, neat, rounded shape. Alas, a stale egg will spread itself more thinly and what you will end up with if you are frying it is a very thin pancake with a yellow center. If you put it into water to poach, it would probably disintegrate, with the yolk and white parting company. Separating eggs is yet another hazard if the eggs are too old, because initially the yolk is held inside a fairly tough, transparent membrane, but this weakens with age and will break more easily.

    So far, so good. But we haven't quite cracked it yet because, just to confuse matters, a very fresh egg isn't always best. Why? Because we have another factor to take into consideration. If we get back to the presence of air, what you will see from the photograph below left is that inside the shell is an inner membrane, a sort of safety net that would have protected the chick if the egg had been fertilized. When the egg is fresh, this is like a taut, stretched skin; then, as more air penetrates the egg, this skin slackens. This explains why, if you hard-boil a really fresh egg, peeling off both the shell and the skin is absolute torture. But if the egg is a few days' or even a week old, the skin will be looser, and the egg will peel like a dream.

    What all this means is, yes, you can cook perfect eggs every time, as long as you know how old they are.

How to tell how old and egg is

How to tell how old a raw egg is while it is still safely tucked away in its shell could seem a bit tricky, but not so. Remember the air pocket? There is a simple test that tells you exactly how much air there is. All you do is place the egg in a glass of cold water: if it sinks to a completely horizontal position, it is very fresh; if it tilts up slightly or to a semi-horizontal position, it could be up to a week old; if it floats into a vertical position, then it is stale. The only reason this test would not work is if the egg had a hairline crack, which would allow more air in, but a cook can do this simple test and know precisely how the egg will behave 99 percent of the time. To sum up, the simple guidelines are as follows:

1 For poaching and frying, always use eggs as spanking fresh as you possibly can.
2 For separating egg yolks from whites, use eggs that are as fresh as possible; up to a week old is fine.
3 For peeled hard-boiled eggs, use eggs that are about a week old but up to two weeks is okay.
4 For scrambled eggs and omelettes, the fresher the eggs the better, but up to two weeks is fine.
5 For baked dishes, such as quiches or for home baking and so on, eggs more than two weeks old can be used.
6 In my opinion, all eggs should be used within two weeks if at all possible. An extra week is okay, but three weeks is the maximum storage time.

How to buy and store eggs

Number one on the list here (unless you happen to know the hens) is to buy your eggs from a supplier who has a high turnover. Cartons of eggs from producers whose eggs are USDA inspected carry a packing date. They may also carry a "best before" date. Egg producers whose plants are not USDA inspected are guided by the laws of the state, check the egg producing rules in your state.

    Unless you live in a very cool climate and have a cool room or storage area, eggs should be stored in the refrigerator. For most cooking purposes, however, eggs are better used at room temperature, so you must remember to remove them a half an hour or so before using them. I think it is best to always buy eggs in small quantities so that you don't keep them too long.

    The very best way to store eggs is to keep them in their own closed, cartons. Because the shells are porous, eggs can absorb the flavors and aromas of other strong foods, so close the egg cartons and keep them fairly isolated, particularly if you're storing them in the refrigerator.

    There is, however, one glorious exception to this rule. My dear friend and great chef Simon Hopkinson once came to stay in our home. He brought some new-laid eggs in a carton, which also contained a fresh black truffle. He arrived on the Thursday before Easter, and on Easter Sunday he made some softly scrambled eggs, which by now had absorbed all the fragrance and flavor of the truffle. Served with thin shavings of the truffle sprinkled over them, I have to say they were the very best Easter eggs I have ever tasted!

What about cholesterol?

Eggs, I am very happy to report, are out of the firing line on the cholesterol front. It is now believed that the real culprits on this one are saturated fat and partially hydrogenated fat, in which eggs, thankfully, are low. There is more good news, too: even if you are on a low-fat diet, eating up to seven eggs a week is okay. Hooray!

How safe are they?

Poor old eggs; just as they recover from one slur, along comes another. Eggs, as we know, can harbor a bacterium called salmonella. Cases of food poisoning, or even death, from eating raw eggs are isolated but do occur. Therefore, the only way we can be absolutely certain of not being affected is by only eating eggs that are well cooked, with hard yolks and no trace of softness or runny yolk at all. Ugh!

    What we need to do is consider this very seriously and be individually responsible for making our own decisions. Life, in the end, is full of risks. The only way I can be absolutely sure I won't be involved in a car accident (and statistically this is a far greater risk than eating an egg harboring salmonella) is to never ride in a car. But I am personally willing to take that risk — as I do when I eat a soft-boiled egg. So it's a personal decision. As a general practice, though, it is not advisable to serve these to vulnerable groups, such as very young children, pregnant women, the elderly or anyone with a weakened immune system.

Some general egg information

1 Is there any difference between brown and white shells? None whatsoever. The color of the shell is determined by the breed of the hen that laid it. Aesthetically speaking, white denotes a kind of purity, while brown is full of rural wholesomeness.
2 Size. Size descriptions for eggs are as follows: jumbo, extra large, large, medium, and small. Please note that in this book the eggs used in all recipes are large.
3 The eggs now available on a large scale commercially are as follows: free-range means the hens have continuous daytime access to open-air runs that contain vegetation. In the US, "free-range" is not a legal egg industry term. Farmers use it to imply a humane standard of production, but there is no regulation regarding the use of the term. Eggs labeled organic are produced in the same way as free-range, but, in this case, the hens' habitat has been certified as free from herbicides and pesticides (as is the land on which their feed has been grown). Most other eggs sold are produced by chickens kept in confined spaces or units.
4 There are, of course, other types of eggs. I have included recipes and timings for commercially produced eggs (ie, hens' and quails' eggs), but if you have access to and want to cook other types of eggs (goose, turkey, or duck), then allow extra time for size. If you are baking, the best way to measure is by comparing the eggs you are using weight for weight with hens' eggs to give you a guideline. Goose and duck' eggs are rarely found in supermarkets, but if you are able to buy them from a local farmer, they taste very good boiled.

How do you boil eggs?

The answer to this is carefully. Even the simplest of cooking tasks demands a degree of care and attention. But in the end all it involves is first knowing the right way to proceed and then happily being able to boil perfect eggs for the rest of your life without even having to think about it. What we need to do first of all, though, is memorize a few very important rules.

1 Don't ever boil eggs that have come straight from the refrigerator, because very cold eggs plunged straight into hot water are likely to crack.
2 Always use a kitchen timer. Trying to guess the timing or even remembering to look at your watch can be hazardous.
3 Remember the air pocket? During the boiling, pressure can build up and cause cracking. A simple way to deal with this is to make a pinprick in the rounded end of the shell, at left, which will allow the steam to escape.
4 Always use a small saucepan. Eggs with too much space to careen about
and crash into one another while they cook are, again, likely to crack.
5 Never have the water fast-boiling; a gentle simmer is all they need.
6 Never boil eggs longer than necessary (you won't if you have a timer) because the yolks will turn dark and the texture will be like rubber.
7 If the eggs are very fresh (less than four days old), allow an extra 30 seconds for each timing below.

Soft-boiled eggs — method 1

Obviously every single one of us has a personal preference for the precise way we like our eggs cooked. Over the years I have found a method that is both simple and reliable, and the various timings set out here seem to accommodate all tastes. First of all have a small saucepan filled with enough simmering water to cover the eggs by about 1/2 inch (1 cm). Then quickly but gently lower the eggs into the water, one at a time, using a tablespoon. Now, switch a timer on and give the eggs exactly 1 minute's simmering time. Then remove the pan from the heat, put a lid on it, and set the timer again, setting one of the following timings:

5 minutes will produce a soft, fairly liquid yolk and a white that is just set but still quite wobbly 6 minutes will produce a firmer, more creamy yolk with a white that is completely set

Soft-boiled eggs — method 2

I have found this alternative method also works very well. This time you place the eggs in the saucepan, cover them with cold water by about 1/2 inch (1 cm), place them on a high heat, and as soon as they reach boiling point, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and give the following timings:

2 minutes if you like a really soft-boiled egg 3 minutes for a white that is just set and a yolk that is creamy 4 minutes for a white and yolk perfectly set, with only a little bit of softness in the center

Hard-boiled eggs

Some people hate soft-boiled eggs and like to eat them hard-boiled straight from the shell. All well and good, but if you want to use hard-boiled eggs in a recipe, you have to peel them, and this can be extremely tricky if the eggs are too fresh. The number one rule, therefore, is to use eggs that are at least five days old from their packing date. The method is as follows: place the eggs in a saucepan and add enough cold water to cover them by about 1/2 inch (1 cm). Bring the water to the simmering point, put a timer on for 5 minutes if you like them a bit of soft in the center, 6 minutes if you want them cooked through. Then, the most important part is to cool them rapidly under cold running water. Turn on the cold water tap to run over them for about 1 minute, then leave them in cold water until they're cool enough to handle—about 2 minutes. Once you've mastered the art of boiling eggs you can serve them in a variety of ways; one of my favorites is in a curry, as in the recipe on the following page.

Peeling hard-boiled eggs

The best way to peel hard-boiled eggs is to first tap them against a hard surface to crack the shells, then hold each egg under a slow trickle of running water as you peel the shell off, starting at the wide end. The water will flush off any bits of shell that hang on. Then back they go into cold water until completely cold. If you don't cool the eggs rapidly they will go on cooking and become overcooked, then you get the dark-ring problem.

Quails' eggs

Quails' eggs for boiling should, again, not be too fresh, and these are best cooked by lowering them into simmering water for 5 minutes. Then cool them rapidly and peel them as above.

Egg and Lentil
Curry with
Coconut and
Pickled Lime

Serves 2

4 large eggs
1/3 cup (75 g) green lentils
1 1/2 teaspoons lime pickle
or other spicy pickle
juice and grated zest 1/2 fresh lime
1 large onion
1 small red chili (preferably bird eye)
2 fat cloves garlic
1 inch (2.5 cm) piece fresh ginger
3 cardamom pods, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons peanut or other mildly
flavored oil
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1 teaspoon fenugreek powder
2 1/2 cups coconut milk salt

To serve:

2/3 cup (150 ml) rice, cooked
(see page 202)
a little extra lime or other pickle

You will also need a medium frying
pan with a lid.

This is one of my very favorite pantry recipes. If you always keep a stock of spices and lentils handy and a can of coconut milk stashed away in the pantry, you can whip this one up in no time at all. It also happens to be inexpensive, and it's suitable for vegetarians.

Start off by having everything prepared and ready to go. First, peel the onion, cut it in half and then into thin slices. Next, seed and finely chop the chili, peel and chop the garlic, and measure out the lime pickle, chopping it finely. Now, peel and grate the ginger — you need 1 1/2 teaspoonfuls.

    Now, place the frying pan over a medium heat, and as soon as it gets hot, measure the whole spices (cardamom, cumin, fennel, and coriander) into it. What they need to do now is to dry-roast, and this will take 2-3 minutes. Shake the pan from time to time to toss them around a bit, and as soon as they start to jump, remove them from the heat and drop them straight into a mortar.

    Place the frying pan back over the heat, turn it up high, and add the oil. As soon as it is really hot, add the onions, and keeping the heat almost at high, let them sizzle and brown and become quite dark at the edges, which will take about 4 minutes. After that, turn the heat back down to medium and add the chili, ginger, garlic, and lime pickle, along with the turmeric and fenugreek. Now, crush the roasted spices finely with a pestle, add these to the frying pan and stir everything together.

    Now, stir the lentils in to join the rest of the ingredients; add the grated lime zest and the coconut milk; stir again, and as soon as the mixture reaches simmering point, turn the heat down. Put the lid on and let it simmer as gently as possible for 45 minutes, stirring it now and then (don't add any salt at this stage).

    About 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, place the eggs in a saucepan of cold water, bring them up to a gentle simmer and time them for 5-6 minutes, depending on how you like them. When they're ready, run cold water from the tap over them until they're cool enough to handle. When the sauce is ready, season it well with salt and add the lime juice. Now, peel the eggs under cold running water, slice them in half and place them on top of the sauce, giving everything a couple more minutes' cooking with the lid on. Serve the egg curry with rice, some more lime pickle, and perhaps some mango chutney for a touch of sweetness.

Egg, Chive,
and Scallion

Serves 2

3 small bread rolls, warmed,
halved and buttered

For the topping:

3 large eggs, hard-boiled as
described on page 19
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh
snipped chives
4 scallions, very finely chopped
(including most of the green as well)
1/2 teaspoon butter
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
salt and freshly ground black pepper

To garnish:

a little garden cress or
chopped watercress

My next-door neighbor Dot always keeps me well supplied with delightful, homemade, grainy brown rolls. Since our suppers at home on Sundays are almost always snack meals, we love to eat them warmed, halved, and buttered, then spread with one of these delicious egg toppings.

As soon as the eggs are cool enough, peel them, discard the shells, and place them in a bowl with the rest of the topping ingredients. Now, take a large fork and mash thoroughly until the eggs are thoroughly blended with the rest of the ingredients. Then pile the egg mixture onto the rolls and sprinkle each one with the cress or watercress before serving.

For an egg and bacon topping

Broil six slices of bacon until crispy, chop four of these into small pieces and add these to the egg mixture (minus the scallions and chives). Top the rolls with the mixture and garnish with the other two slices of bacon, as in the photograph, right.

For an anchovy and shallot topping

Add six drained and finely chopped anchovies to the egg mixture (minus the scallions and chives), and add a very finely chopped shallot and a tablespoon of finely chopped parsley. Pile this onto the rolls and garnish each one with another anchovy fillet wrapped around a black olive, as in the photograph, right.

How to
peach eggs

Before we begin to talk about how to poach eggs, I think it is appropriate to clear up a few myths and mysteries that surround the whole subject. I met someone recently who said they had been to six leading kitchen supply stores and not one of them sold an egg poacher. My reaction was, "What a great leap for mankind." Egg poachers not only came out of the ark, but they never did the job anyway. What they did was to steam and toughen the eggs, not poach them — and did you ever try to clean one afterwards? The dried-on toughened egg white was always hell to remove.

    Then came professional chefs, who passed their exams only if they created a strong whirlpool of simmering water using a whisk and then performed a sort of culinary cabaret act by swirling the poached egg back to its original shell shape. At home we can now relax, throw out our egg poachers, and poach eggs simply and easily. The method below is not at all frightening or hazardous, but bear in mind that for successful poaching the eggs have to be really fresh (see page 15). For four or even six people, you will need:

4-6 large, very fresh eggs (under four days old)
a suitably sized frying pan (according to the number of eggs)
boiling water from the kettle
a slotted spoon and a folded square of paper towel

Place the frying pan over a gentle heat and add enough boiling water from the kettle to fill it to 1 inch (2.5 cm). Keep the heat gentle; very quickly you will see a trace of tiny bubbles beginning to form over the bottom of the pan (above left). Carefully break the eggs, one at a time, into the water and let them barely simmer, without covering, for just 1 minute. A timer is essential because you cannot accurately guess how long 1 minute is.

    After that, remove the pan from the heat and let the eggs rest calmly and happily in the hot water, this time setting the timer for 9 minutes. This timing will give perfect results for a beautifully translucent, perfectly set white and a soft, creamy yolk. Now, remove each egg by lifting it out of the water with the slotted spoon and then letting the spoon rest for a few seconds on the paper towel, which will absorb the excess water. As you remove the eggs, serve them immediately. (For the toast, see page 85.)

    There are now dozens of ways that you can use your new-found skill in egg poaching. For someone on a strict budget, canned baked beans on toast topped with a poached egg (or two) is one of the world's cheapest but greatest nutritional combinations. If you're not on a budget, natural food stores sell baked beans that taste almost homemade, in a sauce that does not contain any sugar — more expensive but very good.

    Another fast but comforting supper dish is to poach finnan haddie in a frying pan of water. Drain well and keep it warm while you slip a couple of eggs into the same water to poach. Serve the finnan haddie with the eggs on top and buttered chunks of brown Irish soda bread.

Warm Spinach
Salad with
Poached Eggs,
Sausage, and

Serves 2 as a light lunch or supper

4 oz (110 g) ready-washed baby
spinach, plus a few sprigs of watercress
4 large, very fresh eggs
3 oz (75 g) smoked kabanos
or chorizo sausage
4 slices smoked bacon
1 small onion, peeled
2 oz (50 g) open mushrooms,
e.g. cremini
2 slices white bread, crusts removed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
freshly ground black pepper

This is actually a delightful combination of sausage, egg, bacon, and mushrooms. The salad greens, crisp, crunchy croutons, and the sherry dressing make this salad special.

You need to begin this by preparing everything in advance. The onion, mushrooms, and bacon slices need to be finely chopped into 1/4 inch (5 mm) pieces; the sausage should also be chopped, but fractionally larger. Then cut the bread into 1/4 inch (5 mm) cubes (croutons) and arrange the spinach and watercress on two large plates, removing any large stems first.

    Now, poach the eggs as described on the previous pages, and, while they're resting in the hot water, take a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed frying pan and heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in it until it's very hot and gives off a fine haze. Then fry the croutons, tossing them around in the pan, until they're crisp and golden brown, about 1-2 minutes, and after that remove them to drain on paper towels.

    Now, add the rest of the oil to the pan and, again, let it get really hot before adding the prepared bacon, onion, and sausage. Toss them all around, keeping the heat high to make everything brown and toasted at the edges.

    After 4 minutes, add the chopped mushrooms and toss these around, still keeping the heat high, for about 2 minutes. Finally, season with freshly ground black pepper, add the sherry and sherry vinegar to the pan giving it a few seconds to bubble and reduce. Then transfer the eggs to the top of the spinach and watercress, pour the contents of the pan over everything, and sprinkle the croutons over all.

Eggs Benedict

Serves 3 for brunch or 6 as an appetizer

1 recipe Hollandaise Sauce (see
page 72)
6 large, very fresh eggs
12 slices pancetta, broiled until crisp
3 English muffins, split in half
a little butter

You will also need a broiler pan and
rack and a 10 x 14 inch (25.5 x 35 cm)
baking sheet.

Preheat the broiler to its highest

Can there be anybody who doesn't love the thought of Eggs Benedict? Soft, lightly toasted bread, really crisp bacon, and perfectly poached eggs which, when the yolks burst, flow into a cloud of buttery hollandaise sauce. It's certainly one of the world's greatest recipes. Although originally it was meant to be served at breakfast or brunch (and still can be), I think it makes a great first course, particularly in winter. A light version of this can be made using Foaming Hollandaise on pages 72-3, which also has the advantage that it can be prepared ahead.

Poach the eggs as described on page 24. When the pancetta is cooked, keep it on a warm plate while you lightly toast the split muffins on both sides. Now, butter the muffins and place them on the baking sheet; then top each half with two slices of pancetta. Put a poached egg on top of each muffin half and then spoon over the hollandaise, covering the egg (there should be about 2 tablespoons of sauce for each egg).

    Now, flash the Eggs Benedict under the broiler for just 25-30 seconds, as close to the heat as possible, but don't take your eyes off them — they need to be tinged golden but no more. This should just glaze the surface of the hollandaise. Serve immediately on warmed plates.

How to
fry eggs

A perfectly fried egg is a glory to behold — crispy edges and a wobbly, pinkish yolk. One of my treasured memories of eating fried eggs is on the beautiful Caribbean island of Barbados, where I have been lucky enough to get to spend several holidays. For me it's the best place on earth for an early morning dip in the sea, and as you swim and look back at all that beauty, the evocative smell of bacon and eggs cooking is sheer heaven. At breakfast, there's always a happy, smiling Bajan wielding an old, blackened frying pan, enquiring how you like your eggs fried.

    When considering a recipe for fried eggs, this is the pertinent question —how do you like them? It's very personal, but my own method, below, can be adjusted to suit most tastes. So here goes.

    You will need:

2 large, very fresh eggs
2 teaspoons of fat left from frying bacon (or peanut or grapeseed oil)
1 small heavy-bottomed frying pan
1 slotted spatula
some paper towels

First, place the pan over a high heat, and as soon as the fat or oil is very hot (with a faint shimmer on the surface), carefully break the eggs into the pan. Let them settle for about 30 seconds, then turn the heat down to medium, and proceed with cooking them, tilting the pan and basting the eggs with the hot fat so that the tops of the eggs are also lightly cooked. After about 1 minute the eggs will be ready, so remove the pan from the heat, and lift the eggs out with the spatula. Let them rest on paper towels for a couple of seconds before putting them on a plate, then lightly blot up any excess fat with paper towels and serve the eggs as soon as possible.

    This method will provide a fried egg with a slightly crispy, frilly edge; the white will be set and the yolk soft and runny. If you prefer not to have the crispy edge, use a medium heat from the beginning, and if you like your eggs more cooked, give them a little longer.

Note: If you would like to fry your eggs in butter, then you need to use a gentler heat and give them a bit longer so the butter doesn't brown too much.

For fried eggs and bacon: fry the bacon first and then the eggs as above. Add about a teaspoon of peanut oil to a fairly hot frying pan and fry the strips of bacon until they are crisp and golden. Transfer them to a warm plate, blotting them with paper towels, and keep them warm while you fry the eggs in the fat left from the bacon.

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Table of Contents


Chapter 1 All about eggs Boiling, poaching, frying, scrambling, and baking
Chapter 2 The art of the omelette Frittata, tortilla, soufflé omelettes
Chapter 3 Separate ways with eggs Egg whites, egg yolks, meringues, custard, soufflés, hollandaise
Chapter 4 Rediscovering bread White and whole wheat loaves, potato bread, soda bread, bruschetta, pizza
Chapter 5 First steps in pastry Shortcrust pastry, tarts, quiches, flaky pastry, galettes
Chapter 6 Cakes and cookies for beginners Sponge cakes, loaf cakes, Christmas cake, tea bread, crunchies
Chapter 7 Flour-based sauces and batter White sauces, béchamel, gravy and accompanying recipes, batter and pancakes
Chapter 8 Real potatoes Baked, mashed, crunchy roast potatoes, boulangère, oven-roasted wedges, gnocchi
Chapter 9 All kinds of rice Perfect rice, risottos, stir-fried rice, red rice, jambalaya, pilau rice, rice pudding
Chapter 10 Pasta revisited Spaghetti, linguine, penne, cannelloni, lasagne, macaroni
Chapter 11 The serious cook's pantry From anchovies to wasabi, the ingredients you shouldn't be without
Chapter 12 Fish without fear How to handle fish: broiling, roasting, and cooking in foil
Chapter 13 How to cook meat Perfect steaks, succulent roasts, comforting casseroles, and more
Chapter 14 Chicken and other birds Real chicken, crisp duck, roast quail, and garlicky guinea fowl
Chapter 15 A vegetable calendar Your year-round guide to buying, cooking, and making the most of vegetables
Chapter 16 Salads and dressings for beginners Discovering the simple joys of dressing sensational salads
Chapter 17 What's new in the dairy An introduction to the growing array of dairy products; using them in sauces and sweets
Chapter 18 Fruits for cooking Berries, orchard fruit, exotic fruit, and wonderful ways to cook with them
Chapter 19 Cheese in the kitchen In pasta, pizza, Welsh rabbit, soups, fritters, and other delights
Chapter 20 Proper chocolate And what it can do for desserts and cakes
Suppliers Sources for cookware, specialty foods, and products

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