Monday, 28 December 2009

multicoloured carrot pilaf

After a few days of holiday food, it's nice to get back to normal food. This is simple and easy and homey, but not at all boring. You can easily double or triple the recipe for potlucks or to have leftovers for lunches. The fancy-pants carrots and easygoing spices make it great for bringing to shared food-ish events. It's also the perfect break from rich foods after the crazyness of Christmas and before the impending culinary lunacy of Hogmanay. And I love multicoloured carrots! The ones here are orange ringed with purple. So fun!

Multicoloured carrot pilaf

3/4 cup brown basmati rice
1/2 cup puy lentils (dry measure), cooked and drained (about 3/4 cup cooked)
1 tbs cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
3 cardamom pods, crushed,
1 red onion, in half-moons
1/2 tsp smoked salt
1/3 cup chopped dates
1/3 cup currants
1/3 tsp cinnamon
2 multicoloured carrots, in thin rounds
black pepper to taste
lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup chopped parsley (optional)

Cook rice separately, as usual. Let cool a little bit. Heat up a pan and throw the cumin in. When it smells amazing, add the onions ,bay leaf and cardamom, and saute over low heat until the onions are (I did them in a bit of white wine). Add everything else up to the cinnamon and cook until combined. It should be dry, but not sticky. Add a splash of water or wine if it starts sticking to the pan. Add carrots and cover for a minute or two. You want them to steam, but not get mushy. When the carrots are ready, add lemon juice, pepper, and parsely and stir. Serve immediately. This is also really good as a cold salad, in which case I would garnish it with fresh pomegranate seeds. I served this with roasted okra (in pomegranite molasses and lemon vinegar).

homey, chill, and interesting music: the dubliners, played nice and quiet so that you can sing along without shouting and dance along while you cook in a peaceful candlelit kitchen.

Monday, 14 December 2009

more fun with blowtorches

I couldn't help it.

pumpkin creme brulée

1 package soft silken tofu
500g pumpkin puree
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
pinch salt
1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper
3 tbs arrowroot powder
1/4 cup soy milk

Combine everything and blend! blend! blend!, then pour into 6-8 small coffee cups or ramekins and bake at 180C for 40 minutes in a pan of water. Cool completely. Sprinkle a thin layer of sugar on top of each one, and have fun with the blowtorch. Or just pop them under the broiler.

I'm getting much better at the sugar-melting part. The trick, it appears, is to use a thin, uniform layer of sugar, and to make sure you are using the end (invisible) part of the flame from the blowtorch. Oh, and lots of practice helps.

fun fun music for fun fun kitchen implements: the laughing gnome by david bowie

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Warm-me-up soup

It's rainy. It's dark. It's most definitely winter. And this soup, my friend, will warm you from your nose down to your toes! I just used the veg that I had lying around, and I imagine that almost any combination of root vegetables would work, along with almost any sturdy green. This isn't a fussy soup. Just throw everything thing in the pot and enjoy the wonderful smell in your kitchen as it simmers.

Warm-me-up soup

1 small red onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 medium turnip, peeled and chopped
about 2 cups of chopped cabbage (whatever kind you have around)
1 tbs fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, chopped
8 cherry tomatoes or 2 uncherry tomatoes, chopped
handful currants
1/2 cup dried sour apricots, chopped
1 scant tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp allspice
2 tbs cumin
1 bay leaf
as much chopped jalopeno as you want
about 6 cups of water or broth

2-3 tbs pomegranate molasses
salt to taste
at least 1 cup of fresh coriander, chopped
1/2 fresh pomegranate worth of pomegranate seeds

Combine everything up to and including the water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, and simmer until all the veg are done. Then add the pomegranate molassses and salt. Just before serving, stir in the coriander and fresh pomegranate seeds. If you have any greens lying around that need using, throw them in too. Serve with potato-mint quickbread (below) and olives.

Potato-mint quickbread

3 spuds, mashed and salted
1 heaping tsp dried mint
1 heaping tsp dried oregano
2 tbs lemon juice
1-2 cups of flour, depending on how wet your mashed spuds are
1 tsp baking soda

Mash the herbs and lemon juice into the spuds. Mix the baking soda with one cup of the flour, and mix that in. If more flour is needed, add it. The dough should be a little sticky, but you should be able to more or less form it into a round loaf. Place said round loaf in a greased and floured pid dish. Bake at 220C for 20 mins, and then 200C for another 10 mins. Let cool for at least 5 mins before liberating the loaf from the pie pan. Cut into wedges and serve.

An alternate way to warm up: "Gin" by the Kronos Quartet and the Tiger Lilies, on one of the bestest sing-along albums of all time: The Gorey End.