Juicy and tropical, Pineapples make you think of holidays but also of enjoyable time. First I will mention the quintessential New Year's eve dessert upon my Mum which was a fruit Salad: Minimal efforts yet crowd pleaser. She did more tin can opening rather than anything else at that time of the year and did add some Rum within the Fruit Salad in order to get everyone happy for the counting down at the end of the year from ten to celebrate the Happy New Year!
Pineapple in pieces was always a part of the party. But it came mainly from a tin however it was enjoyable. Preserving food in any way shape or form, we can can (forgive me the pun) has always been essential to us as humans.
Pineapple Tin Pieces.
The convenience of it is that any can keep that precious fruit for longer. There was a time, a little more than a couple of centuries ago when to have an entire Pineapple or a fixture made with Pineapple upon a dinner table signalled your wealth. It was a luxury fruit par excellence for one main reason, because it came from far away but also it was hard to get one.
The ingredients for a Tropical Roasted Duck.
Efforts were made for Pineapples to be grown in England but also France from the eighteenth century. Between 1714 and 1716, a Dutch Gardener working in Great Britain Henry Telende succeeded to grow, in a sustainable fashion, Pineapples. Louis XV king of France was presented his first Pineapple grown at the Palace of Versailles in 1733. The fact that it was harder to get and grow in temperate climates unless you had the proper equipements (they called the first heated veranda 'stove' at the time) made the pineapple a luxury symbol as per say due to its rarity.
From the 'Vanity Fair' days of the 1800's but also the advent of the tin can, preservation of such a fruit within its juice was rendered possible but even with its readily available 'Cachet', the Pineapple never lost its meaning for ostentatious pleasure to be add. Think of a Pina Collada... when you think of that cocktail you think of a treat...
There is also the scene of the 1970's and 80's with the Pineapple and Cubed Cheese cocktail sticks which nowadays seems very nostalgically Retro. But it still showcases Pineapple as a part of an entertainment fruit as per say.
But as I always say the fact of the matter is 'What will we do with a Drunken Sailor...'. Well there is plenty of things to do with a Pineapple either Sweet or Savoury from early morning till dawn, you have an all around the clock fruit on your hands.
You can have a very nice breakfast with Pineapple, Banana, Coconut milk and shavings and Vanilla flavoured Oatmeal. Put in the oven for five minutes up to ten, in a baking dish, you will then have a lovely healthy breakfast to share with your family.
Bananas do pair well with Pineapple.
For a Brunch with a sense of pleasure you can do American Pancakes with a little dash of Rum in the Batter. Serve them with caramelised Pineapple, sliced fried Plantain, and sautéed Pecan Nuts. Finish off with a lavish drizzle of Maple Syrup. This is an Indian Summer Brunch when the warm days are about to turn to cold.
Pecan Nuts do add texture to that fulfilling Pancakes Brunch.
As for lunch I will go to the very controversial Pineapple upon a Pizza dilema. It does still make me laugh. To pay for my University studies I did work for Pizza Hut and made many Pizzas during my time there. Since I was good, accurate and fast but also hardworking I was put at the making table. I was working with another University Student Leon at the making table and I loved the conversations we had there which were most of them like intellectual debates during a busy Friday night... making Pizzas. (By the way I was runner up in one of the Pizza Hut Competitions for the entire Uk representing London, my one was a bit more cheesy, but settling for number 2 that year was good enough for me). Anyhow I absolutely like a Hawaiian Pizza with Ham and Pineapple and I find that combo perfectly fine. I actually quite enjoy it. For the purist who says Pineapple has no place upon a Pizza, I can giggle back and replied I had very decent Lunches with plenty of them...
Just a Giggle.
We can think of Supper time with a quirky Soup made with Pineapple. You will need to think of a Chowder going the Vietnamese way on that one. Sauté together strips of lean Pork, strips of Ginger, minced Garlic, sliced Spring Onions and diced Pineapple within very little Chilli Oil. You can add an entire Chilli, chopped, dried, or whole later on to flavour the Soup further when the liquids are poured upon your principle ingredients. You are looking at 1/4 Chicken Stock and 3/4 Coconut Milk. Add some Sweetcorn Kernels and some split Nori Sheets for saltiness. You can finish everything off with a little drizzle of Soy Sauce, and chopped Coriander for decoration.
Coconut Milk, another ingredient which does combine well with Pineapple.
A Starter which is a crowd pleaser is a twist on the Cocktail tooth picks of Pineapple and Cheese from the Seventies party scene. However those are proper long skewers to be either grilled, griddled or Barbecued. They only takes minutes to be done and cooked. They are composed of Pineapple Cubes of course but this time dice a fresh Pineapple instead of using tinned Pineapple. The reason is that you need the flesh of your fruit to be firmer and more dense to be grilled. Now to create the skewer you alternate your cubed pineapple, a Thai Basil Leaf (or a fresh Kaffir lime one), a cube of Paneer Cheese, and a Tiger Prawn, then repeat until your skewer is done. You are looking at serving at least two skewers per person. This is a very good Starter for BBQ parties. One more note to add is to provide a Sweet Chilli Sauce Dip, another Dip of Soy Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar, Sesame Oil, a dash of Honey, toasted Sesame Seeds, and a fresh chopped red Chilli. Two Dips for an enjoyable Starter but do not forget to serve as well half of a Lime for every guest's plate.
Limes are essential for the presentation of that Starter.
As I said Pineapple is so versatile that can also use it as a main. One can only mention the realm of Sweet and Sour Chicken and Sweet and Sour Pork to understand the start of the extent of it all. But you can also use Pineapple Chunks to a Roast: This is a roasted spiced Duck I did on a bed of Pineapple to great effect.
Tropical Roasted Spiced Duck on a bed of Pineapple.
Then of course as a Fruit Pineapple lands itself perfectly when we are speaking about dessert. I told about my Mum Fruit Salad but I dare say a Pineapple Upside Down Cake can impress especially if you flambé it with a little Rum in front of your guests. For that number there is usually no leftover.
Home Made Pineapple Upside Down Cake.
About Pineapple Chunks
About Whole Pineapple
A Selection of Pineapple Products
Dare I say that one of the first things I did learn to cook was a Fried Egg. My ones are always sunny side up. I also like them a little crispy around the edges to know that the white has been rendered properly. But the Eggs still need to have that exquisite runny yellow yolk at the centre to run free upon the plate. It is a little magical moment of bliss: A little like singing along to the song "My favourite things" from the Sound of Music Film with Julie Andrews.
The Breakfast Fry Up with fried Bread, Bacon and Eggs. It is simple yet fulfilling. It is the fuel to start the day or at least one's day. An Egg takes roughly four to five minutes to fry depending on its size, sometimes more, sometimes less.
There is one thing I will confess, which is, to like a Fried Egg with rough edges. When they are done within a ring or device so they do look neat, I think it kills the charm of the good old Egg coming from a proper Farm, from a Farm where the Chicken are roaming outdoors. My Grand Parents (RIP) lived most of their lives in Bourg en Bresse and there in the Bresse area of France the Chicken graze the grass, the green green grass, and you can taste the difference with the Chicken from a battery Chicken and from a Farm Egg from a battery Egg.
A Poulet de Bresse, de Bourg en Bresse, happy roaming in a field of clovers.
There are a variety of Eggs to be pan fried but being rather conventional I tend to stay in the realm of Chicken Eggs. However I venture very often in the kingdom of the rich Duck Egg with that bountiful dark yellow Yolk. If I do poach a Duck Egg more than I do fry it, I am still doing it often for the ratio between the white and the yolk. There is less white in a Duck Egg. The star there is truly and simply the luscious Yolk. A Duck Egg is full of proteins and different vitamins which is a plus.
Duck Eggs are of course larger than Hen's Eggs.
If Duck Eggs may be harder to get because they are not the normal standard Egg, they are still worth the while to have and eat. The Fried Duck Egg add a touch of luxury upon an Easter Breakfast of Grilled Asparagus, and Shaved Truffles. Garnish with a little Chives, Black Pepper and Sea Salt as a finish then now we are talking simply of very simple lush Brunch.
Pan Fried Duck Egg upon Chips served with a good dollop of Lemon Mayonnaise, seasonned and garnished with chopped Parsley. This is a satisfying simple Lunch.
However I tried my hand to cook Quail Eggs as well. Sometimes it was successful and sometimes it was not. Is it that they are too small for my clumsy fingers...? Or is it that the matter of time is seriously reduced when cooking them? Hence you do need to keep an eye upon the clock and upon the Egg. This is a balancing act which one might crack: May it be the Quail Egg or you with a smile upon your face? But Fried Quail Eggs are quaint and definitely suitable to create Canapés and Appetizers.
Home Made Crostinis with Fried Quail Eggs topped with red Herrring Roe. It is simple and a rustic Canapé to be enjoyed.
They are plenty of ways to taste Fried Quail Eggs. I would say they are dainty but nice; that it is a taste the difference matter. Fried Quail Eggs can make a Bruschetta sing a little bit more for a nice Brunch or even Starter for Dinner time. With very little imagination, you can cover your Olive Oil oven toasted slice of Bread (Sourdough, Ciabatta or Baguette), with a Cream Cheese which is seasoned with added Ingredients of your choice (Chilli Flakes or a little pinch of Cayenne Pepper or a little Chive, or a little Dill, or a little shredded Basil, or a little chopped and roasted Garlic). On top of the whisked Cream Cheese, you can build a layer with a cured or smoked Ham (Prosciutto, Serrano, Parma Ham...even Bacon rashers). But you can also use Fish freshly cooked, smoked or cured. Then add your fried Quail Egg on top. This is an all so simple treat.
Mini Pesto Pizza with mini Mozzarella Balls, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Fried Quail Eggs. It can make a nice Starter to an Italian theme Dinner.
Now there is something with most of Eggs you can do to fry them: It is the Scotch Egg. The recipe dates from a long time ago the 1800 plus so has evolved to be ever so different. The principle of it reside, in covering an Egg with Minced Meat then to bread the result in order to Fry it. Initially it was called the scortch Egg because it was fried but enclosed. However it became the Scotch Egg in the end. The history says that it was because Scotland was a big producer of Eggs.
Scotch Eggs can be very dry but to have a runny yolk centre is part of the pleasure with them.
They can make a good Brunch or Lunch. Scotch Eggs are not as per say fanciful however you have a room to play there in term of cookery. Which Egg you are going to use? A Hen Egg, a large Duck Egg or a small Quail Egg...?
Quail Scotch Eggs Salad. You can do it with Lambs Lettuce or Pea Shoots. Serve it with or without Pancetta or Lardons. Decorate the plate with edible Flowers like Viola. A simple French dressing can accompany everything even some chopped woodland Mushrooms to give the feel of Autumn to the plate.
Then with which minced Meat you are going to wrap your Egg? A spiced Mince most certainly, it could be Sausage Meat, Lamb Mince, Beef Mince, Turkey Mince but it can also be from a Fish as well like a Smoked Salmon or Trout.
Salmon Mousse Scotch Quail Eggs served with pickled Radishes, Lamb Lettuce and Tartare Sauce.
It can be with Black Pudding, or the stuffing for Haggis... There you have the tools to make your Scotch Egg special. Seasoning the Breadcrumbs also does play a part in the entire making of a Scotch Egg. The result of your combinations usually makes a satisfying Lunch or Starter.
Black Pudding Scotch Eggs on a bed of peppery Rocket Salad dressed with a grain Mustard Vinaigrette: A Lunch that is packing a punch on a plate.
Speaking of Eggs there is of course the Eggy Bread. It is also called French Toast, French Fried Bread, Pain Perdu, Gypsy Bread. The concept comes from an old tradition to not loose Bread at any cost. Even if the Bread becomes old and stale, you can revive it with a source of life which is the Egg and another Ingredient which nurtures life which is Milk. Hence the Eggy Bread was born. Then it can become a Dish in itself or a base for either Savoury Dishes or Sweet Ones.
Eggy Bread Toasts. The principle relies on mixing Eggs and Milk together in order to revive the Bread. Soaking the Bread, usually overnight (in the old days) then Frying it made it all better.
You can turn the Eggy Bread savoury for a full Brunch experience, like with a Croque Monsieur with Ham and Cheese or a Croque Madame with the addition of the Fried Egg. The Croque Monsieur is in effect a Sandwich but a Fried one. It is a bang bang two slices of fried Bread, enclosing a decent slice of Ham and a Cheese with quality of the like of Gruyére or Emmental or Comté Cheese. A Mustard Sauce is usually applied to perk up everything. It could be Dijon Mustard whisked up with a little Mayo. But the result is licking fingers delish... The history of the Croque Monsieur dates from the 1800's.
The Croque Monsieur in all its glorious lushness. Before becoming a Bistro or Gastro Pub Treat, it was seen, regarded as a Gentleman's Club Treat.
From the Croque Monsieur to the Croque Madame there are only a few differences. The main one is the addition of the fried Egg on the Croque Madame. The Egg is meant to represent a Lady's wide brimmed hat. Another difference is that the Sauce Béchamel which can be used for the Croque Monsieur can be élévated to the Sauce Mornay for the Croque Madame. The little stamp is the inclusion of Cheese within the Sauce. The Sauce was créated by Philippe de Mornay who also créated the Sauce Béchamel back in the 1500's.
Croque Madame. Croque in French means to actually bite into something that has a crunch: Hence Fried Eggy Bread with a difference.
Then you do have the Croque Mademoiselle: it is an evolution or a variation as per say of the original Croque Monsieur juste like the Croque Madame is a variation as well. This time the main difference is the inclusion of Vegetables within the 'Croque'. It can be totally vegetarian or a bit of a mix. It could be made with the essential Eggy Bread slices but also with sandwiched in between Asparagus, Parma Ham and Parmesan. It could be made with fried Courgettes, melted Mozzarella, Oregano and Espelette Chilli. It is up to the inspiration of the moment. The Croque Mademoiselle is a volatile fried Sandwich. To be blunt it is up to anyone's interpretation apart that it does need to contain a green Veg: Cucumber, Zucchini, Asparagus... For it is the Veg option out of all the Croques.
Croque Mademoiselle with layers of fried Aubergines, Courgettes, roasted Red Sweet Bell Pepped, Cottage Cheese served with a fried Egg on top just like a Croque Madame. It had a Med Feel to it.
French Toast are not all savoury for some are sweet as well. Different combinations are there to be appreciated. A favourite one is served with fresh Berries: Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries... but also with a Jam or Preserve or Compote which could be made with Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Blueberries and the Eggy Bread will be accompanied with Custard. It is a yummy number.
Eggy Bread with Berries. It can be a small tea time treat but it is still special. Another version is made with dried Apricot and fresh ones, (It could be done with Nectarines and Peaches too). The addition of Apricot Jam traditionally done with Almond kernels renders everything lush. Toasted Almonds can add to the decoration in that case.
Similarly Bruschetta is a toasted slice of Bread usually it will be made with Pain de Campagne, Sourdough Bread, Ciabatta or Baguette as a base. The slice will be rubed with Garlic but also dipped in Olive Oil. Then it can be fried within a frying Pan or grilled. The toppings of the Bruschetta are up to you. The traditional ones are with chopped Tomatoes. But additional Ingredients can be added like Basil and, or Organo for Herbs, Capers and, or Olives for a little saltiness, even Anchovies could be considered. Chopped Preseved Lemon could be considered as well. Another combination is the chopped Tomatoes, chopped roasted Sweet Bell Peppers, crispy Shallots with the addition of Mozzarella Pearls or even a little slice or cubed Goat Cheese.
Tomato and Sweet Red Bell Pepper Bruschetta with Basil and a little grated Parmesan. It can be a simple Brunch, an Appetizer or a Starter/Entrée. The addition of Kalamata Olives, or Olives stuffed with Anchovies can bring this Bruschetta to another level.
Concerning Dough you do have plenty which we do Fry which are sweet. During my childhood one of my favourites treats were the Croustillons. They came by 6, the dozen or 24. It was just little balls of Dough fried then sugared. They were ever so nice. We could have them and share between us three kids only on the Thursday and Saturday at the Market in Cherbourg. I can tell you that we were looking out for that Van and the Croustillons. They are from Northern Europe especially the coastal areas, from Holland, Belgium and France.
Croustillons are like mini Donuts.
Then there is of course the Doughnut also spelled Donut. It feels like Homer Simpson dreaming of Donuts. I must confess to be partial to Sugared Ring Doughnuts. Although I am not a sweet tooth Fried Dough does it for me. For Tyn he loves his Jam Doughnuts. The matter of fact is that Doughnuts are versatile as per say as you can top them up the way you want to but also fill them up the way you like.
Sugared Ring Doughnuts. One Treat I can't escape from.
In France, a similar Fried Dough is called Beignet. They come in different shapes filled up or not. A Popular one is the Apple Beignet: Le Beignet aux Pommes. My Mum used to do them usually on the Saturday afternoon. It was a treat especially since Oil was expensive, it was important to do the most of it. Hence Fritters (Beignets) were the way to go. Beignets (Fritters) are dipped in French culture and the Italian one but also in the USA, from Louisiana (which was colonised by the French back in the days). It goes with the flow.
The fillings for Beignets or Fritters are rather varied. Apple is a very popular one coming from areas in France who produces a lot of Apples like Normandy. Pineapple Fritters have their origins from Asian countries like Indonesia (Indochina). French colonists can be blamed for it as well. Then in the Créole Cuisine there are the Banana or, and Plantain Beignets/Fritters.