Tag Archives: eggs

Portugese Egg Custard Tarts- Easy and Tasty

These little beauties, also known as Pastel de nata are so moreish I’m forever grateful I don’t live near Portugal, I’d be the size of a house!  The history of them is very interesting, as they were originally made in FRANCE!

Pastéis de nata (the Portugese name means pastry cream as far as I can see, already winning me over) were thought to be created during the 18th century by Catholic monks at the Jerónimos Monastery, Santa Maria de Belém, in Lisbon. These monks were originally based in France where these pastries were found in local bakeries. At the time, convents and monasteries used large quantities of egg-whites for starching clothes, such as nuns’ habits. It was therefore quite common for monasteries and convents to use the leftover egg yolks to make cakes and pastries, resulting in the proliferation of sweet pastry recipes throughout the country.

Portugese Custard Tart

Pasteis de Belem

Following the extinction of the religious orders in the aftermath of the Liberal Revolution of 1820, the monks started selling these dainty little pastries at a nearby sugar refinery to bring in some revenue. In 1834 the monastery was finally closed and the recipe was sold to the sugar refinery, whose owners in 1837 opened the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém. The descendants own the business to this day, a Portugese stalwart.  In this recipe I use bought puff pastry, but plan on making them again in a few weeks with homemade puff pastry.  My aim was to get the filling right.  And I think I did.  They were EXTREMELY popular.

Portugese Egg Custard Tarts


1 egg
3 egg yolks
120g caster sugar
30g cornflour
400ml full fat milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (use good stuff please!)
1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry, I like the lidl one.

1 teaspoon of cinnamon


Lightly grease a 12 hole muffin tin and pre-heat oven to 180oC

Put the egg, yolks,  caster sugar & cornflour in a saucepan and mix well together then gradually add the milk until mixture is well mixed and smooth.


Place pan on medium heat and stir constantly until mixture thickens and comes to the boil. Remove pan from heat and stir in your vanilla extract.

Put this custard aside to cool.  I dust with icing sugar then cover with cling film, to prevent skin forming.

Roll the pastry on your lightly floured counter, and using a cutter,  cut this into 12 even sized rounds. Press the pastry discs into the muffin tin. I like if they are a bit ruffled.

Spoon in your now cooled custard, sprinkle over the cinnamon and bake for 20 minutes until nicely golden on top.

Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then move to a cooling rack to finish cooling although they can be eaten warm.  You frankly won’t be able to stop the hoardes.


My Super Salad Recipe

There’s always a buzz around making “Super Food” but for me, sometimes it is as simple a task as making a nicely boiled egg, served with some homemade brown bread.

My kind of Super food

My kind of Super food

Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet!

A single large boiled egg contains

  • Vitamin A: 6% of the RDA.
  • Folate: 5% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B5: 7% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B12: 9% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B2: 15% of the RDA.
  • Phosphorus: 9% of the RDA.
  • Selenium: 22% of the RDA.
  • Eggs also contain decent amounts of Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Calcium and Zinc

The Term “superfoods” has no scientific basis whatsoever.  It’s a marketing term designed to sell products. There are not often many facts to back up some of the bold claims made every day in the media, and on food packaging.  The current hype behind “Super” foods is population driven, as we all strive to have healthier lifestyles.

And some foods do contain lots of what we need- eggs (as discussed!), blueberries, acai berries and pomegranate, to name but a few.  But the problem with the science bit, is that a closer look reveals the difficulty in applying the results of these studies to real diets. This is because the conditions under which foods are studied in the lab are often very different to the way these foods are normally consumed by people in their everyday lives.

And while we are looking at studies on the ‘healthfulness’ of foods it is important to note that many researchers study foods in isolation. Given that people normally consume combinations of foods, picking out a single one to study does not really reflect real human diet. There is strong evidence to suggest that in some cases co-consumption of foods can actually increase the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. The beta-carotene in carrots and spinach, as an example, is more readily absorbed when eaten together with a source of fat such as salad dressing.  So have a bit of butter on your spud!

I know I joke about quinoa, and my eldest is very reluctant to eat it regularly as he consumed so much of it in Peru- but I can across a very simple salad that I call my “super salad”.  Quinoa is gluten free, and has a high protein content, which makes it pretty good for you, it is also easy to digest so suitable for everyone.

Quinoa & Bulgar

And the best thing is- you can add what you want.  I don’t think it even needs a dressing.

Quinoa Super Salad


300g un cooked Red Quinoa

2 peppers, yellow and red preferably

150g feta cheese

a handful of fresh herbs


Cook the quinoa according to the instructions- I normally boil for 14 minutes.  Then drain and run through cold water to help reduce the stickiness.

Transfer to a serving dish.

Finely dice the peppers and stir into the quinoa, also crumbling in the feta.

Stir well and add some fresh herbs before serving, this dish is best served cold from the fridge.

Quinoa Super Salad


Scotch Eggs- picnic prep

I love watching Great British Menu, we normally record the whole series, and then watch it en masse over a month or so.  There’s always someone who makes Scotch Eggs, and I’ve always wanted to try them.  This is Simon Rimmer’s version.

Ingredients for scotch eggs

Ingredients for scotch eggs

Scotch Eggs


4 large eggs

275g butchers sausage meat, I got some Superquinn Sausage Meat

1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley

1 spring onion, very finely chopped seasoning

125g plain flour,  seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg, beaten

125g breadcrumbs Vegetable oil, for deep frying


Place the eggs, still in their shells, in a pan of cold salted water. Place over a high heat and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for exactly four minutes. Drain and cool the eggs under cold running water, then peel, carefully.

Mix the sausage meat with the thyme, parsley and spring onion in a bowl and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper (lots!). Divide the sausage meat mixture into four and flatten each out on a clean surface into ovals about 12.5cm long and 7.5cmat its widest point. Place the seasoned flour onto a plate, then dredge each boiled egg in the flour.

Place each onto a sausage meat oval, then wrap the sausage meat around each egg.  Make sure the coating is smooth and completely covers each egg. Dip each sausage meat-coated egg in the beaten egg, rolling to coat completely, then dip and roll into the breadcrumbs to completely cover. Heat the oil in a deep heavy-bottomed pan, until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns brown when dropped into it.  Carefully place each scotch egg into the hot oil and deep-fry for 8-10 minutes, until golden and crisp and the sausage meat is completely cooked. Carefully remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

"Slightly" Undercooked :(

“Slightly” Undercooked 🙁

Serve warm if wanted, otherwise stick in the fridge to have with some lunch.

This recipe was a struggle.  I think because the eggs were so big, the outside was cooked long before the meat was.

Would I make them again? Probably not with hens eggs.  I wanted to have some runniness to the yolk, which I did kind of achieve. But I had to put them in the oven for a spell as the meat just wasn’t cooked.  BUT the response from the family was good! So- well, we’ll see!

Scotch Eggs

Scotch Eggs

Eggs- all in one basket…

I recently posted a quote on Facebook about the length of time eggs are around before they actually reach the supermarket shelves.

Thankfully the information I posted was not relevant in Ireland.  Here, thankfully, the egg moves from hen to shop in 4 days.  Which is very good news, further more, my good friend Ruth Conefrey told me ” little known fact … Every commercially packed egg is 100% traceable. They each have a stamp that identifies the county & unique identifier of the packing centre (where they are boxed). Then the packing centre keeps traceability records for all the eggs they pack – so an egg can be traced right back not only to the farm but also to the hen house! Very interesting things eggs!”

We have 11 hens at the moment, and have just ordered delivery of 3 more, with 3 ducks and a turkey!  Very exciting!

They live very happily behind a small electrified fence in the orchard on the farm, and the egs are collected by wiling hands every day, although the young ones soon learn not to put a hand in a nesting box with a hen in it, it’s the quickest way to get pecked! When collected, the date is put on them, and we try to keep track of how many eggs we get each day.

Happy Hens

Happy Hens


We were always told the Cuckoo Marron were the best layers and mothers, and we only have one of those left, (she’s the big speckled lady), but over the years have expanded into a number of breeds.  I have to admit to not having a single hen-whispering bone in my body, my eldest has that talent.  They love me to feed them, but NEVER go into their house when I want them too!

Freshly laid eggs

Freshly laid eggs

We tend to use all the eggs laid, I love a boiled egg on a sunday morning, with some freshly baked soda bread.  Nothing nicer, or more Irish I think.  With lots of tea, and followed up with some marmalade on yet more bread!

Boiled Egg with freshly made soda bread

Boiled Egg with freshly made soda bread



More doughnut trials- and my homemade custard recipe

I promised doughnuts, and delivered them on two occasions over the last couple of weeks.  (Note to self- for the sake of our waistlines- not to be made for a further 6 months!)

It was the eldests’ choice to pick two flavourings from the Justin Gellatly book-

New books to try

New books to try

.  Nigel was making the doughnuts from Richard Bertinet’s Dough, so it was a mix of the tried, and untried.

Doughnut dough

Doughnut dough

In Richard’s classes he makes a point of NOT filling his doughnuts, instead dips them in the jam.  But I promised, and had also got a “filling” nozzle, so was all set to try it out.

I made the required selection of crème patisserie.   One a burnt sugar version.  The other a malted version.

Neither of them thickened very much, and I may have not let them cook sufficiently before whipping in some double cream.  But in the heel of the hunt, the mixture was delicious, yes, but too runny, definitely.  I also needed to wait for the doughnuts themselves to cool further- but we were under time pressure.  But they were eaten anyway.  Obviously.

Brown Sugar Custard Doughnuts

Brown Sugar Custard Doughnuts

Malted Custard Filled Doughnuts

Malted Custard Filled Doughnuts

So this weekend I decided to try a tried and tested recipe I use for homemade custard, which cheats slightly as it uses a spoonful of cornflour to help with the thickening.  This makes it strictly more of a pastry cream.

Homemade custard

Homemade custard

And at the end of the day we, or rather, I, decided not to bother filling thesedoughnuts at all! So we had them this time with the custard/ cream/ jam on the side.  I’ll fill them next time.  Promise.

A whole pile of

A whole pile of “nuts”

Homemade Pastry Cream (Fool proof Custard)

175mls whole milk

125mls cream (I use double cream)

40g caster sugar

1 vanilla pod, split

3 large free range egg yolks

20g of cornflour

  1. Put the milk, cream and 1 tablespoon of the sugar into a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add them to the pan.  Heat until almost simmering, at the shivery stage if you know what I mean.  Then take off the heat.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until creamy, then sieve over the cornflour and mix this in thoroughly.
  3. Gradually pour the hot creamy milk onto the sugary yolks, whisking all the time as you do, then pour into a clean saucepan, this is important- the saucepan you heated the milk doesn’t work here unless you’ve washed it.
  4. Stir the mixture over a low heat until the custard thickens, (using a whisk, and a wooden spatula to make sure you get all the edges), enough to thinly coat the back of a spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil as it will curdle.
  5. Remove from the heat and strain the custard again through a fine sieve into a cold bowl (unless you are serving it hot right away). Leave to cool, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.