Let me introduce you my third guest, Emiko who writes her wonderul food blog Emiko Davies. We met a few years ago, thanks again for Food Blogger Connect (it really connects people!). Giulia introduced her to me and I think we had our first long conversation on the first day of the conference at dinner time. Since then we haven’t stopped talking! 🙂 Emiko loves historical cookbooks and of course she brought a recipe inspired by Elizabeth David, one of her favourite food writers. Here is Emiko…
“Elizabeth David is one of my favourite food writers of all time. Her writing is witty, decisive and entertaining. She wrote about the real food culture and traditions of sunny Mediterranean countries, educating and inspiring the mid-century British palate. This tian recipe is inspired by one of her articles on a simple and rustic Provençal picnic dish consisting of eggs and seasonal vegetables. Named after the earthenware dish it is baked in, the tian, like so many good country dishes, doesn’t really have a strict recipe, it changes from kitchen to kitchen and season to season. The basic idea is to use what you have on hand: a good proportion of cooked seasonal vegetables, perhaps spinach or potatoes (or both), zucchini, even a rich tomato sauce or rice can be added to the mix for colour or texture; plenty of fresh herbs; some grated cheese; and eggs, beaten like you would for an omelette. Eaten hot or cold, it’s a great portable dish to take on picnics or barbeques. This recipe includes mixing a fresh tomato sauce through the eggs for a marbled effect of rich red sauce and golden eggs. It is topped with fresh zucchini flowers and is just as pretty to look at as it is tasty!”
Zucchini Flower And Tomato Tian
– 500 gr of ripe tomatoes
– 1 clove of garlic
– a handful of fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme or marjoram
– about 6 zucchini flowers or enough to cover the tian
– 6 eggs
– a handful of grated Gruyere or Parmesan
– salt and pepper to taste
– olive oil
You will need a suitable pan to bake this in, preferably earthenware if you want to be traditional, about 20cm long and at least 5cm deep. Heat the oven to 160°C.
Prepare a sauce with the tomatoes by first scoring the skin with a cross on their bottoms, then blanching them for 1 minute in boiling water. Place them in a bowl of cold water and then you will easily be able to peel off their skins. Dice them roughly.
In a large skillet, very gently heat up the chopped garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until it just begins to colour. Add the tomatoes and let simmer and reduce for about 10 minutes. Set aside but keep warm.
Prepare the zucchini flowers by cutting them in half, length-wise and taking out the stamen (you can leave the stalks on if you like) so that you now have flat flower halves.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl until frothy, add your favourite herbs, chopped, the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Pour into the baking dish, mix through the hot tomato sauce (it is important that the mixture be hot not cold) and arrange the squash blossoms on top, flattened out, to cover the surface. Drizzle a couple of glugs of olive oil over the top and bake for about 20 minutes or until the eggs are set and golden brown.
Serve hot or cold with plenty of crusty bread.
Interview to get to know Emiko a bit more…
Where are you from? Where do you live?
E: It’s not an easy question to answer in a short sentence for me as I’m such a roamer! But I now live in Melbourne – it’s been one year exactly since I moved here from Florence with my husband Marco. I was in Italy for 7 years and before that 4 years in the US and before that 8 years in China, but I am half Japanese and half Australian and grew up in Australia!
What is the name of your blog?
E: My blog doesn’t really have it’s own name as is the usual thing to do – it’s part of my website, emikodavies.com.
How long have you been blogging?
E: I can’t believe it as it seems just like yesterday I started blogging but last December my blog was 2 years old!
When did you start cooking/baking?
E: As soon as I could reach the stove top (helped with a small stool), I can remember my grandmother teaching me how to make scrambled eggs. I’ve always loved being in the kitchen.
Who (where) did you learn cooking/baking from?
E: When I was little, I learned a lot from helping my mother and my grandmother in the kitchen. As a teenager, I loved baking and devoured cooking magazines and cookbooks – I have to say that the very first of Donna Hay’s cookbooks when she was with Marie Claire and Jamie Oliver’s first two cookbooks were vital in my college years and I cooked so much out of them I memorised many of the dishes!
What is your signature dish?
E: I don’t think I have one, I’m usually trying out different dishes! There is one that I love eating but I always get Marco to make it for me – tagliolini with a lemon and goats cheese sauce. It’s a staple in our house.
What is your favourite vegetarian/vegan meal?
E: Oh, so many to choose from. The ones that come to mind first also happen to be some of my favourite comfort foods, like eggs poached in tomato sugo (another staple!) or a Japanese dish of fried eggplant topped with miso sauce. Even just simple spaghetti with aglio, olio, peperoncino (garlic, oil and chilli) is hard to go past!
Where do you get inspiration from?
E: Above all from traditional regional Italian cooking. During the many years I spent living in Tuscany I developed a great fascination with traditional, even historical, dishes. I have a growing collection of historical cookbooks that I love reading through for ideas – from Pellegrino Artusi (1891) to Ada Boni (1927) to Bartolomeo Scappi (1570) to Elizabeth David (1956)!
What was the most memorable food you have eaten during your travels?
E: There is almost too much to write about for this question – a holiday in Puglia in Italy’s deep south was truly eye-opening for me, in terms of food. But another unforgettable experience was an amazing cooking class that my husband Marco and I took in Marrakech. After a treasure hunt for the ingredients in the souks, we made a fish tagine and the most heavenly Moroccan carrot salad and sesame biscuits. The carrot salad I have made over and over again. We were also on our honeymoon so that could have also helped make it so memorable!
Name three things you always have in your fridge!
E: Unsalted butter, free-range eggs and organic, whole milk.
Is there a food that always reminds you of home?
E: My mother always made such a variety of dishes, some Japanese, some “western”, that there isn’t really one thing that stands out. But maybe the closest thing is a quick dish that she used to make for us as kids; it’s the sort of thing I’ll make when I don’t feel well. It’s simply an egg, beaten with some soy sauce and scrambled with steamed or boiled rice. It’s nice eaten with some crunchy dried nori!
What would people be surprised to find in your kitchen? Is there anything you want to share?
E: I own a garlic crusher. It’s maybe not the craziest item to be surprised by in the kitchen but I love Elizabeth David’s article on garlic crushers being the most useless utensil in the kitchen – when she owned a homewares shop, she even refused to stock them! I personally like to crush garlic with the back of a knife and leave it at that, but the garlic crusher was a house warming gift and actually, I will admit to using it every now and then!
All photos are courtesy of Emiko Davies.