bacon and eggs

Bacon + egg carbonara

I mean, the combination of bacon and egg can’t really go wrong, can it?

And combined with delicious, silky pasta …. ?

The secret to all good pasta dishes is not to have them all dried out - just reserve some of that pasta cooking water to add to give it all a little ease, a little slippery glossiness, to make it all just work so much better.

I’ve seen - and tried - my fair share of carbonara recipes …. and find so many so over-complicated.

Some mix the egg with parmesan cheese, seasoning and cream, or even tangy creme fraiche (wrong in this dish in my opinion).

Some use whole eggs, not just the yolk, some use butter.

This is my own favourite go-to quick, easy and delicious - and simple - carbonara recipe.

I made this huge pile of pasta just for me (I don’t eat pasta that often because when I do, I eat GINORMOUS portions of it!) but it would probably feed two - or definitely will do with a little tweaking.

Go with what feels good to you, this is a very instinctive sort of dish, and all the more beautiful for it I think.

You’ll need:

cooked pasta - as much as you want - spaghetti or tagliatelle is traditional, but have whatever you like

a couple of slices of bacon - streaky is good and I believe it’s more authentic to have non-smoked, but I like smoked bacon in this so I have smoked back bacon (and remove as much fat as possible)

a clove of garlic (I know I ‘should’ really squash it and add to the oil and then remove later, but I really love garlic so I crush and mince and leave it all in)

a good slosh of olive oil

a tablespoon or so of finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to serve

one egg yolk (and hurrah I now have an egg white to make lemon vodka sour cocktails later!)

a handful of spinach (if liked)

lots of freshly ground black pepper

Rachel Redlaw bacon + egg carbonara

Get everything ready, cook the pasta, dice the bacon, mince the garlic.

And then just put a slosh of olive oil into a non-stick pan and add the bacon and garlic and cook for four minutes or so, stirring all the time, until done - add a splash of water (some of the pasta cooking water you’ve reserved is ideal) if it looks like it’s going to stick or burn.

Tip in the pasta and a good spoonful or two of the cooking water and most of the grated parmesan and stir to combine until everything’s mixed and hot through.

Add the egg yolk and stir thoroughly to mix it in and combine everything together and then had a handful of baby spinach leaves if liked.

Rachel Redlaw bacon + egg carbonara
Rachel Redlaw bacon + egg carbonara

Taste and season with salt and pepper - it probably won’t need salt as bacon is salty but I do love some added freshly ground black pepper.

So simple and so very, very (very) good.

Rachel Redlaw bacon + egg carbonara
Rachel Redlaw bacon + egg carbonara

Oh and if you love the bacon and eggs combo too, you might like my ‘island-style bacon and eggs’ or to try a beautiful bacon and egg pie


Jassy's bacon & egg pie

I recently got to talk with food writer Jassy Davis about blogging, food and life .... and she was kind enough to share a recipe with me.  

A comfort-food-sounding-winner of a Bacon and Egg Pie. 

But, it also made me a little bit nervous about making it because to me, baking and pastry, y'know, they're TECHNICAL cooking.  And I don't really 'do' technical cooking. My cooking is generally based on throwing things together, cooking stuff quickly, and all about taste, taste and taste it again and adjust (and learn to trust your own pallette). 

However, I also really loved the sound of her pie, and I really wanted to make it.  

And I want other people who might have the pastry fear to have a go to.  You'll see on the header photo on this post Jassy's pie on the left and mine on the right.  Honestly, I'm pretty proud of how it looks (and it tasted much better than it looks) and I'm now inspired to have a go at more pastry.  Well, maybe this pie again a few times more before I move on to anything else. 

I was also really pleased when she suggested this recipe because it reminds me so much of one of my grandmothers.  My gran Irene (known as Rene), was a cook - she'd gone into service at the 'Big House' as a teenager and learnt and worked her way up to being a cook.  When she died, my dad (her son) found some of the notebooks with her handwritten recipes that she'd noted down as she learnt more dishes. I really want to find those notebooks - I think they're somewhere in the attic at my dad's and it's a job now back on my list to find them!

When I was little and we went to visit and stay with my grandparents in Sussex, I was always excited about the food, and about watching and helping my grandmother cook.

She had a little kitchen with the open door straight to the back steps down to the garden and sometimes I'd just sit on the steps in the summer sunshine with the smell of the pots of geraniums all down the steps (geraniums are still a favourite scent of mine today), with a cup of tea (in a cup and saucer) and Gran pottering and cooking behind me.

She made the best full English breakfasts, with delicious little fat herby sausages from the butcher.  She made beautiful salads and roast dinners and new potatoes with butter and sprigs of fresh mint from the garden.  And she made a perfect bacon and egg quiche.  I loved Gran's quiche so much that during a very short period of being vegetarian as a teenager I was very tempted by it.  

Especially because my grandparents were of a generation that didn't really 'get' vegetarianism and I now think they just thought I'd given up red meat.  Once when we were staying I was offered quiche for lunch and on turning it down on the grounds of being veggie, my grandmother said in kind of horror:

Oh, but I didn’t think you meant BACON!
— Irene Walder

And to be completely honest, when I saw that quiche and also smelt the bacon frying in the morning, I changed my 'vegetarianism' to allow eating bacon too.

So do give Jassy's pie a try, even if you're scared of pastry, or even if you're a vegetarian!

Actually, I can see that this pie would be fab made with perhaps leeks instead of the bacon.  If you give a veggie version a try, please get in touch and let me know what you tried and how it worked out.

But back to our glorious bacon and egg pie and Jassy's recipe which says it serves eight (but I'll always leave this vague as it's just so dependent on hunger, greediness, etc!) ... 

You'll need:

Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie

240g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
60g chilled salted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
60g chilled lard, cubed

480g good quality unsmoked streaky bacon (make sure it’s good quality – you don’t want your pie ruined by cheap bacon bleeding salty water all over it)
150g crème fraîche
142ml pot soured cream (the pot I bought was 150ml so I used nearly all of it)
3 medium eggs
1 tbsp milk

First fill a glass with water and add an ice cube.  Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the butter and lard.  Rub together with your fingertips to make it look like breadcrumbs.  This took me back literally DECADES to possibly the last time I made pastry ... 

Add a little iced water and bring the dough together with your hands (add more water if needed).  Wrap the dough in clingfilm and pop in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie
Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie

Preheat the oven to Gas 7 / 220 C and place a baking tray in to heat.  

Butter a loose-bottomed 20 cm cake tin (I had to borrow one of these and I think it would be really useful to have one of those ones where the main tin has a hinge mechanism - I'm sure this sort of tin has a proper name but I don't know it! Anyway, one's going on my Christmas list).

Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie

Chop the bacon into small pieces around 1 cm wide.  I used one of my favourite big knives and chopped through the whole pile at once! 

Beat together the creme fraiche, sour cream and eggs and season with lots of freshly ground black pepper (no salt! It's pretty salty already with all that bacon). 

Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie
Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie
Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie
Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie

Here's where it go a little tricky for me.  You slice off 1/3 of the pastry and set that aside.

Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the 2/3 left to make a circle that's approx 25cm across. Now this I just couldn't do.  

Mine stuck and didn't roll too thin and the more I played with it the more I realised that that was not going to help.  So I just did my best and lined the cake tin as best I could and patched it up with other pieces of pastry. 

You then scatter the bacon all over the pastry case then pour over the egg mixture.

Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie
Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie
Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie

What should happen next is that you roll out the remaining pastry (that 1/3 you set aside) to make a 20cm round and lay that on top of the pie.  Fold down any pastry running up the sides and pinch them together.

Jassy does say, 'don't worry if a little of the filling oozes out of the top, it's a messy looking pie', which was at least a little reassuring because I was getting worried by my patchwork quilt effect pastry efforts! 

Brush the top of the pie with the milk - and if yours is anything like mine it'll now have wrong-looking pools of milk in the crevices of the pastry patchwork quilt.  But I carried on!

I even made pastry letters to write 'PIE' across the top.

Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie
Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie

Bake for 50 mins - 1 hour until golden (and even slightly brown).  It smells SO good as it's cooking!

Cool in the tin for 15 mins then run a knife around the edges to loosen, sliding the tin sides of the pie.  Ummm, this didn't exactly go according to plan for me, but I managed to get the pie out! 

Rachel Redlaw Jassy's bacon and egg pie

Leave to cool completely and chill until you want to eat it as it tastes best served cold.

Well, obviously THAT didn't go to plan either!

I was ravenous and wanted to try it straight away. I had a slice hot with some extra black pepper and my home-made brown sauce (recipe to follow soon) - and I had another slice the next day cold for lunch.

And yes, Jassy's right.  It tastes best served cold - but whether you have willpower enough to wait until then is another matter.

Definitely going to be making this again and would love to hear from you if you make it too! 


Island-style bacon and eggs

 'But bacon and eggs isn't Thai food!'

I hear you.

But, done like this, it is for me.  It's what I call 'island-style' bacon and eggs and reminds me of eating in the sunshine, sitting on the sand at a low table and the sea right in front. Eating from a patterned plastic plate and mismatched cutlery.  It's probably not served where I had it any more now the beach bungalows have given way to villas and hotels with swimming pools, but I bet there are still some places in the world that do a great, garlicky, fried breakfast on the beach.

Anyway, it doesn't really need a recipe but here's how I put it together.  You'll need:

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder bacon and eggs

cooking oil

some slices of white onion

a couple of cloves of garlic, flattened and chopped (if you have the little Thai garlic cloves, just leave the papery skins on too to crisp up when fried)

chopped bacon (I'm using up some lardons)

cooked and sliced boiled potatoes (great for using up leftovers)

salt and pepper

one egg

Put a frying pan onto a medium-high heat, add the oil and when hot add the onion, garlic and bacon.  I cook all of this at a higher temperature than I would if I was making just normal bacon and eggs to try and recreate that sense of a full English being cooked too quickly over a high heat in a wok. Sort of like a stir fry full English!

Keep stirring though so it doesn't burn.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder bacon and eggs

When the bacon's cooked, add the sliced cooked potatoes, turn the heat down a bit and leave to cook for a couple of minutes.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder bacon and eggs

Turn the heat up again, add salt and pepper to taste, and cook for another minute or two, stirring, until the potatoes are hot right through.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder bacon and eggs

Then either push everything to one side, add more oil if needed and fry the egg in the same pan …

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder bacon and eggs

…. or tip the bacon, potatoes, onions etc into a bowl and put a plate or lid on top to keep warm.

Then add more oil to the same pan and fry the egg over a higher heat than you normally might.

Keep spooning the hot oil over it as it cooks to cook it more quickly, and as soon as it starts to set, pop a lid on top and cook for perhaps two minutes.  The hotter temperature cooks the egg with a few bubbles in it and with just-about-to-crisp edges but you still want a lovely runny yolk.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder bacon and eggs

Serve the egg on top of the pile of bacon, onions and potatoes and if you like, on a plastic plate as I did, for added 'authenticity'.

And there you have it. Drumroll please!  Island-style bacon and eggs.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder bacon and eggs