Using a pressure cooker to hard boil young hen eggs

HARD BOILING YOUNG HEN EGGS

Hard-boiled fresh eggs can be hard to peel but eggs laid by young hens are almost impossible. This year I had to replace my entire flock. It was especially frustrating to discover that even when the fresh, young hen eggs were left for 7 rather than the normal 3 days before hard-boiling, they were still impossible to peel.

An egg has an inner and outer shell membrane. Since the egg shell is permeable, as the egg ages, carbon dioxide and moisture are lost through the shell. This causes the two membranes to separate and the air sac to expand. As a result, the older the egg is, the easier it is to peel. 

My normal method of hard boiling eggs was to place them in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. The cooking time depends on egg size. I wanted a quick method that would ensure that relatively fresh eggs could be hard boiled and easily peeled. My Internet search lead me to the prairie homestead page. Although they were not talking about the problems of hard-boiling young hen eggs, they did mention the idea of using a pressure cooker. I am a huge fan of pressure cookers and believe that no kitchen should be without one. I have a number of different sized cookers and use them all the time to make soups, stews, casseroles and other dishes in a fraction of the time. They can even be used to can tomatoes and other vegetables.

 

For the experiment, I chose four eggs that had been laid on consecutive days. The egg on the right labelled 1 day old was laid on the same day, the 2-day old one the day before, etc.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Put 1 cup (250ml) of water in a pressure cooker and bring it to the boil.

Place the eggs on a steamer and lower it into the pan.

Close the pressure cooker lid and bring it up to full power. Turn down the heat and leave it for 5 minutes.

At the end of the cooking time, if your pressure cooker has a quick release mechanism, quickly release the pressure by placing the pan under the running cold tap. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of cold water, running and change the water until the eggs are completely cool.

RESULTS:

I then peeled the eggs and these are shown in the photo below. The results are conclusive and show how the eggs are easy to peel, and even the freshest egg could be peeled with care.

 

Salade niçoise – or rather just a nice salad

salade nicoise

SALADE NIÇOISE

Everyone has their own idea of what should or should not go into a salade niçoise. I wanted to prepare it with things we have to hand at the moment so this is my take on this classic dish – not so much niçoise but definitely nice.

Tuna is sometimes added but as I didn’t have any I used tinned sardines instead.

We’ve recently harvested the potatoes and so have lots of small, red-skinned ones. I cut them into bite-sized pieces and boiled them until tender.

We also have abundant green beans so I cut them into 5cm pieces and then steamed them for 5 minutes.

SALAD INGREDIENTS:
large lettuce leaves
1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs per person, quartered
tomatoes, cut into sixths or eighths depending on their size
green beans, cut into 5cm lengths and steamed for 5 minutes

DRESSING:
2 cloves garlic
2 anchovies
handful of basil leaves
4 tablespooons olive oil
½ tablespoon vinegar
black pepper
chives, finely chopped

METHOD:
On a large plate, arrange the lettuce leaves and season with a little salt.
Arrange the potatoes on the lettuce, then the beans, tomatoes and tuna. Finally arrange the eggs on the top.

Put all the ingredients for the dressing into a small container and blend well. Spoon over the salad and sprinkle over the chives.

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Carrot and olive oil cake

Carrot and olive oil cake

carrot and olive oil cake

By using extra virgin olive oil, this carrot cake had a great taste, was seriously moist and one of the nicest carrot cakes I’ve ever eaten. I’m a bit concerned about the amount of sugar in the cake itself as 500g seems a lot and so next time I might try using less sugar – possibly 350g.

I’ve just realised that I never say anything about heating the oven to 180ºC. When I bake cakes, I use the wood-fired oven after making pizzas for lunch so it’s more a case of waiting for the temperature to drop from over 350ºC to around 200ºC. Normally this takes about four hours or so and then the temperature will remain constant.

INGREDIENTS (CAKE):
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
500g brown sugar
250g self-raising flour
4 large eggs or 5 medium eggs
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
125g walnuts, coarsely chopped
500g carrots, coarsely grated

INGREDIENTS (ICING):
125g salted butter
250g light cream cheese
250g icing sugar
grated zest of 2 large oranges

METHOD:
Line a deep-sided roasting tin with baking parchment. The size of the tin I used was 32cm x 22cm.

In a large bowl beat together the olive oil, sugar and eggs. Slowly add in the flour, salt and cinnamon and mix well. Add the grated carrot and walnuts and give the mixture a good stir.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Meanwhile make the icing. Cream the butter in a bowl and then add all the other ingredients. Mix well and then keep in the fridge until needed.

Leave the cake to cool on a wire rack for ten minutes before removing from the tin. Leave to cool completely and then spread over the icing.

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Chicken Run 2

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This year I have put three of the hens in a pen in the bottom field. The idea was that this would be their final resting area but I’ve since changed my mind. Two of the hens are from the eggs that I incubated by crossing our hens with the neighbour’s rooster and I’ve become attached to them so they’ve been granted a wildcard to old age.

The white posts mark the borders of the pen and you can see two of the black hens together. The lines of vegetables to the right of the tractor are potatoes.

In their summer residence, they are protected by an electric fence surrounding a walnut tree and have free range of the first hen house that John built for them. Although they were reluctant to venture in at first, they are now happy to lay their eggs in one of the partitions. They tend to sleep, however, on some of the branches of the tree above it. This is good news and makes me happy. The other day on our morning walk to Marchalejo, we saw a pack of three foxes and then a single fox so it is good that we have the three types of fox-protection: electrocution, canine and flight.

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Tuesday 12th July 2016

lavender summer cortijoblog
Today was a balmy hot day at the Cortijo and temperatures are abnormally hot for this time of year. The lavender is in full bloom and there are loads of different butterflies and bees collecting pollen from it. One of these days we will have our own colony of bees so that we can reap the benefits of this hive of activity.

There are also some beautiful flowers on the way to the swimming pool:

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Aromatic cabbage salad – hvidkålssalat

Aromatic cabbage salad

Apparently cabbage is very popular in Denmark and this dish is similar to coleslaw but without the mayonnaise. This recipe for aromatic cabbage salad combines the cabbage and dried fruit with a simple olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice dressing.

aromatic cabbage salad

INGREDIENTS:
Thinly chopped cabbage
Vinegar
Olive oil
Star anise, ground
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper
Dried fruit (e.g. plums, figs or prunes), chopped

METHOD:
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

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Danish potato & radish salad – kartoffelsalat

Danish potato & radish salad

Every country has a different recipe for potato salad and each household makes it their own. In this Danish potato & radish salad, the potatoes and radishes are combined with onions, chives and garlic and dressed with a mixture of sour cream or Greek yoghurt and mayonnaise.

Danish potato & radish salad - kartoffelsalatINGREDIENTS
1 kg of new potatoes, cut into chunks and cooked
Radishes (as many as you like), thinly sliced
3 spring onions or 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 handful of chives, chopped
2 tablespoons home-made mayonnaise
4 tablespoons Greek yoghurt/sour cream
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
salt
pepper

METHOD:
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

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Danish Vegetarian Dishes

Danish Vegetarian Dishes

Anna and Sebastian, two Danish workawayers, prepared these Danish vegetarian dishes for Sebastian’s birthday meal. I loved their idea of preparing a delicious vegetarian meal with a Danish theme but using as much of our home-grown vegetables and produce as possible. All of the dishes are vegetarian and the patties are vegan.

The main course consisted of spicy lentil patties with a Danish potato salad and a cabbage salad, along with our normal green salad and pan-fried courgettes. Sebastian made some fresh mayonnaise in advance. He some in the potato salad and added some chilli powder to the rest and thinned it down with some lemon juice for a spicy dipping sauce for the patties.

This was followed by Danish-style pancakes with raspberries and cream.

To see the recipes, click on the photos below.

Danish vegetarian dishes: lentil patties

Dried, rapid green lentils were used for these patties and cooked in advance before adding the onions and spices. The patties are actually vegan and some of the tastiest I’ve ever had.Danish vegetarian dishes: aromatic cabbage saladGround star anise and dried plums were added to this Danish-style coleslaw.Danish vegetarian dishes: Danish potato saladIn Denmark, sour cream is generally used for this potato and radish potato salad. However, as it’s impossible to buy that here, Anna and Sebastian used Greek yoghurt instead.

Self-raising flour was used for the pancakes instead of plain flour and they were lovely and fluffy. They were flavoured with ground cardamom. Once they had been cooked, they were served with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

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Spicy lentil patties – linsedeller

SPICY LENTIL PATTIES

Danish vegetarian dishes: lentil patties

INGREDIENTS:
Use a measuring jug to measure out the ingredients. We used a mixture of walnuts and almonds for the nuts and seeds.

200ml dried green lentils, boiled until tender
100ml nuts or seeds
100ml oats
100ml flour
100ml water
2 onions, finely chopped
3 teaspoons curry powder
3 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 pinch smoked paprika or cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
salt and pepper

METHOD:
Mix all the ingredients together. Heat some oil in a frying pan. Make the mixture into small patties and fry on both sides until crisp and heated through. Put on a plate and cover to keep warm.

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Steamed broccoli with Asian dressing

This is a great idea for when the broccoli season starts. The salad can be served warm or cold.

INGREDIENTS:
broccoli florets
inch ginger, finely chopped
3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 chilli, cut into strip (remove seeds if you don’t want too much heat)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

METHOD:
Boil some water is a saucepan and steam the broccoli for 5 minutes.

Whisk the sauce ingredients in a bowl.

Add the florets while they are still warm.