Friday, 31 December 2010
Two tone yum!
A nice light dessert that screams "IT'S STILL THE HOLIDAYS DAMMIT!", and is perfect when heavy foods are just sooo last week. Plus (for those of you in the UK), I'm pretty convinced it counts for two of your five a day.
1 - 1.5 bag (4-6 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries
75 mL apple cider or redcurrant vinegar
3 whole star anise
5 whole green cardamom pods
1/3-2/3 cup agave (1/3 if you're using redcurrant vinegar, 2/3 if you're using apple cider vinegar)
splash lime juice
1/2 tsp aniseed, crushed (optional)
1/2 tsp guar or xantham gum
Put cider vinegar and whole spices in a pot and simmer until reduced by half. Add cranberries and cook until you have a glorious mush. Allow to cool. Fish out the whole spices, add the agave, lime juice, aniseed, and guar or xantham gum and then blend until creamy. Start with a little agave, taste, and then add more until it's as sweet as you want. The blood orange layer is quite sweet, so you might want to leave the cranberry layer a little tart. Push through a fine sieve if you are so inclined. I am not so inclined, especially since my vitamix pulverizes cranberry skins to nothingness anyway. Plus, life is far too short to be pushing things through fine sieves, but I'm not going to stop you if you are more of a kitchen perfectionist than me, and let's face it, the bar is low in terms of perfectionism in my kitchen. Anyway, after that harrowing decision, pour your unstrained (or strained) goo into a freezable container where your cranberry layer will fill it up halfway. Freeze. When the cranberry layer is frozen (say, the next day), do the blood orange layer:
2-3 cups blood orange sections
1/4 cup elderflower cordial
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/8 cup rosewater
1 tbs vanilla
splash lemon juice
agave to taste
1/2 tsp guar or xantham gum
Blend! Blend! Blend! Go through the whole difficult "to strain or not to strain" rigamarole again, then make peace with your decision and pour the blood orange goo on top of the frozen cranberry layer and replace in freezer until both layers are frozen. Remove from freezer about 10 minutes before you plan to eat it. Slice. If you are feeling extremely fancy, drizzle with caramel sauce, or maybe decorate with a bit of candied lemon peel, or even some mint and basil leaves. Admire briefly. Devour. Be pleased.
Two-toned music: two-toned skuds theme, on the All Skanadian Club...
Saturday, 18 December 2010
Lately, I haven't blogged much. A lot of that is about me not having time, dammit. But some of it is about my mixed feelings on the food blog world. You see, so much of cooking is about being social in a real-life way. And so much about blogging is about monologue, and I just don't think of cooking, or food, as a monologue. Lately, I"ve been writing less down about food, and leaving the camera in it's case, and focusing more on the people that I'm breaking bread with rather than spending solitary time in front of my computer writing about the bread itself.
We need food to live, but it's so much more than that. Food has always been a social activity. It's how we welcome people into our homes. I don't remember very many solo meals (though there are some), but I do remember sitting at the table at my parents house as a kid, and later as an adult, with friends (theirs or mine or both), and it's the memory of the people that makes the food stand out. The excitement of the holidays isn't really about the food, but about celebrating my sisters and friends being around (food is part of the celebration, but only part, and if the wild mushroom ragout in pastry that I'm planning doesn't come out perfect, I will not care, because everyone will be around the table, there will be a fire in the fireplace, and there will be much laughter and good conversation). And would you like to know my I'm-a-bad- food-blogger secret? I make chocolate bars or truffles thinking of who I'll give them to, not about the chocolate itself. And we all know how much I love chocolate. But guess what? I love time with my friends and family more. I wouldn't make chocolate bars if I were the only one eating them, and quite often, I forget to put any aside for myself. All the chocolate posts start with "I wanna be a chocolate god", but truth be told, all that chocolate isn't really about chocolate. Chocolate just happens to be a very yummy matrix in which to embed love.
Which makes me wonder if food blogs kind of miss the mark sometimes. The point of food is communion with our loved ones, or outreach to strangers, or conviviality with acquaintances and coworkers. Food, though beautiful, is not about staging a perfect picture and then sitting down to your meal alone and shouting out into the void about it. I know that bloggers have families and friends as well, but ... it seems to me that food blogs are all about the photography. Real food rarely looks like that. We all know this. So oddly enough, getting back into cooking after my autumn of travelling way too much has made me blog about it less. I just don't want to worry about lighting when I could be actually interacting with people I love. I don't want to monologue over dinner. I want to sit down and have a conversation, dammit.
So the holiday cookies at my house won't be pretty, because we're going to sit around the table cutting them out freehand all afternoon while rocking out to some sort of elvis-based music, and for some reason, we always end up making monster shapes. Everyone will make cookies, and many of us are so bad at freehand drawing that we will have to label them with icing so that other people know what they are (nobody ever recognizes my godzillas!). Furthermore, it will be dark outside, because this is Edinburgh in winter, and we will have a roaring fire in the fireplace, so the lighting will suck for photos but be just about perfect for cozy cookie-making. So, if I remember to snap a few photos, they will be bad, because I choose yum.
Thursday, 28 October 2010
Fancy and easy for when you don't have time to cook. Eggplant marinated in lapsang suchong tea and soy sauce, filled with mashed pinto beans (leftover cooked pinto beans, toasted cumin, white miso, lime juice), baked in some of the marinade + a chopped tomato. Served up next to warm fall salad: steamed sweet potatoes and green beans, topped with pomegranite dressing (lemon vinegar, pomegranite molasses, black pepper, garlic) and white pomegranite seeds. Soooo colourful. Sooooo easy. Sooooo yum.
Excuse me. Must run. Have 8 346 932 things to do now.
Music: Manic Monday, by the Bangles. And it's not even Monday.
Thursday, 30 September 2010
These are loosely based on a persian sweet called Nan-e Nokhochi, which are usually just chickpea flour, oil, sugar and cardamom. These have a similar taste, but a different texture, and are oil-free. They make stupendously good hiking or biking treats.
2c cooked chickpeas
1/2 c soy or almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbs rosewater
3 tsp cardamom
1/4 cup powdered sugar (pref brown) + stevia to taste
1 tbs arrowroot
1 and 1/3 cup chickpea flour
Blend chickpeas, milk, vanilla, and rosewater until you have a smooth paste. Empty into a bowl and add everything else. Mix. Using wet hands, take tablespoon-sized chunks and roll into balls. This makes 12. Place ball on a teflon cookie sheet (or a greased cookie sheet). Flatten. Cookies will not expand much. You can use more sugar if you don't have stevia (about 1/4 cup more should do it), but it will affect the structural integrity of the cookies, so you may want to make smaller ones and just bake them a little less long.
Bake at 200C for 15 mins. They should brown slightly. Cool. Eat.
Friday, 24 September 2010
It is fall. Truth be told, Edinburgh has only two seasons: days getting longer, and days getting shorter. We are now officially in the "days getting shorter" one. Which means beans. Lots and lots of warm, comforty beans. Now, I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite legume. I love chickpeas. Mung beans are the cutest legume ever. And black beans are just so creamy and dramatic. I cook a lot of beans, in a lot of ways, but I have a few favorite things that I come back to over and over: ginger tomato dal, chana masala, white beans and seaweed.... and cuminiferous black beans, which is what I've done here. It's really simple, and much better the next day as leftovers. This is my standard thing to do to black beans, and the key is to use truly outrageous amounts of ginger and cumin, and to pre-toast the cumin and coriander, then grind them.
caramelize 3 chopped purple onions, crank up the heat, deglaze with a bit of red wine or veg broth, drop the heat again, then add:
3-4 tbs chopped ginger
2 tbs (heaping) cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tbs coriander seeds, toasted and ground
lots of ancho chili powder
bit of freshly ground black pepper
1 carrot, chopped (optional, and I left it out this time because I ate these beans with roasted pumpkin)
let that cook together for a bit, then add
3-4 c black beans with some of their cooking liquid (depending how liquidy you want this)
kernels from 1 ear of corn (or use frozen)
salt to taste
1 tbs cocoa powder
cook that down for a bit, then douse it with lime juice and serve it with piles of cilantro. I had it on baked pumpkin (japanese pumpkin. the pointy orange ones). I also had baked kale that I used smoked chili for, otherwise, I might have added a bit of smoked paprika to the beans.
I usually cook my own beans from dried, but canned will work just fine so long as you rinse them. In that case, you'll need to add water instead of the bean cooking liquid.
Sunday, 19 September 2010
For my friend M's birthday, we went berry picking. We'd emailed in advance, and been told that the place was open until 6, and there was lots of soft fruit in the fields. When we got there, it was closed for the season, and the girl at the counter said she'd never heard of the woman who'd sent us the detailed emails about opening hours and fruit. We were confused. Who was this mysterious woman who'd given us information? Why was she answering the fruit farm's email? The girl at the counter didn't have any answers, but since we'd come all that way on the bus, she said we could pick some apples if we wanted to. Why not? And so off we went to pick apples. And on the way to the apples, we found Jostaberries (a black currant-gooseberry hybrid). And this is the cake that came out of it. If you can't find jostaberries (I'd sure as hell never seen them before), use any tart berry, such as gooseberries.
Mystery berry farm birthday cake
Start with at least 3 cups of jostaberries
-put these in the oven at about 100C, in a single layer, and let them dry out a bit while you eat dinner... say about 30 mins - 1 hour. You should see them forming syrup, but they should still have their own shape.
After dinner, assemble the cake:
2 c ww pastry flour
1/3 c cocoa
2 tbs carob
2 tbs cornflour (north america)/ maizemeal (uk)
1 tbs baking powder
1 and 1/2 c sugar (I used a mix of white and brown)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
mix all of these together
1 tetra pack of firm silken tofu
1/2 cup pear puree
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 vanilla bean
blend all of these together. if you don't have a supa-blender, use vanilla extract, or scrape the seeds out of the bean and use those.
Remove berries from oven, and heat the oven up to 190C
Oil and flour a 9 inch cake pan.
Stir 2 tbs of sweet vinegar into the cake batter (I used blackcurrant vinegar), or 1 tbs of balsamic vinegar if you don't have blackcurrant or some other sweet vinegar hanging around. You can also just skip the vinegar, but the cake will be a bit denser.
Spread half the cake batter into the pan, then the jostaberries, then the rest of the batter. You can't really stir the berries into the batter because they are too delicate after the baking and will explode. Sprinkle the top of the cake with sugar, and bake for 55 minutes (check after 45). Allow to cool for 10 mins, take out the pan carefully, and serve with chocolate sauce and a drizzle of blackcurrant vinegar. Carob vincotto would also be nice.
....and in case you haven't guessed. Berry season is totally over. I saved this post for a week when I was too busy to actually post. Haahahahahahaha! I'm sure frozen berries will work just fine.
music: Happy Birthday, sung with enough enthusiasm to make up for my lack of skill (duh)
Tuesday, 24 August 2010
Salty, salty goodness. And dead easy. My local health food store had fresh sea spaghetti in the fridge and I couldn't resist. I also had some self-control issues at the tomato stand at the farmer's market this weekend. Which led to this utterly satisfying dinner on a cold, rainy Scottish "summer" evening.
spelt or whole wheat spaghetti for 2
1 cup sea spaghetti, desalted and drained (or if you are using dried, 1 cup rehydrated)
4 ripe tomatoes
1/4 c sake
1 heaping tbs arrowroot powder
1 cup purple basil, chiffonaded
squeeze lemon juice
Cook up your spaghetti in salted water. Drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of the water. Mix the arrowroot into this. Pour the arrowroot, sake and tomatoes back into the hot pasta pot and stir. Turn the heat on and as soon as the sauce thickens, add the spaghetti and sea spaghetti back in and toss with the sauce. This should be fast enough that the tomatoes don't have time to really cook. Turn off heat. Stir in basil and lemon. Add pepper (and salt, if you're crazy) to taste. Devour.
Dancing along to: I want to be under the sea, in an octopus's garden in the shade... by the Beatles.
Saturday, 21 August 2010
Here's how it works. You find a trusted friend, and send them to the farmer's market with money. They return with vegetables, herbs and a cocky "this is totally going to stump you" look on their face. You (and another friend) make dinner for 8 from the ingredients. This is how we spent our Saturday, and oh-my-goodness, was it fun!
Here are two of our creations. The chocolatey ones.
Wilted kale salad with pickled cherries.
3 bunches of black kale, destemmed and chopped
1 punnet cherries, quartered
1c balsamic vinegar
50 gr dark chocolate
juice from 1 lemon and salt, to wilt kale.
As early in the day as you can, quarter the cherries, discarding the pits, and cover them with the balsamic vinegar. Set aside on the counter to pickle. Later, massage kale with lemon juice and flaked salt until it turns bright green and wilts. Rinse lightly, so it remains a bit salty and lemony. Alternately, mix about 9/10 of the kale, and keep a small handful unrinsed, and then mix it back in to the rinsed stuff. Just before serving, drain cherries, reserving the vinegar. Mix cherries and kale together in serving dish. In a pan, reduce vinegar to about 1/3 cup. Remove from heat and stir in chopped chocolate until it melts. Drizzle over the salad. Serve.
Here's what we came up with for dessert.
4 c almond-macadamia nut cream (method below)
1 whole vanilla bean
1 package agar, or enough of your favorite form of agar to set 1L of liquid
400g dark chocolate
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tsp flaked sea salt (vanilla sea salt preferred), or 1/2 tsp granulated salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
at least 1/2 cup mixed berries per person
700mL apple-rhubarb juice (or other juice)
To make the cream: soak nuts as long as you can (we only had a few hours). Blend 1.5 c almonds + 1 tbs lecithin (optional) in 4 c water on high speed. Strain. Rinse blender, and return the almond milk to it. Add 1 c drained soaked mac nuts + 1 whole vanilla bean to blender. Blend until smooth. Do not drain.
Transfer nut cream to a pot, sprinkle in agar, and heat on low-ish heat to a simmer. Simmer until agar dissolves. Remove from heat. Stir in the chocolate. Now stir in the other ingredients. You want to add more pepper than you think, because the tastes will tame down as it cools. Pour mousse into a bowl and set in the fridge for a few hours. It should set super-solid and dense. Worry not. We are going to make it lighter in the next step.
Reduce juice to about 1/2 cup. Wash and dry berries
Before serving, whip mousse with a hand-held blender. This is how you get the air into it.(If you want a lighter mousse, you can also fold in vegan whipped cream at this stage, but I'm not a big fan of whipped cream, and I like my chocolate mousse pretty intense). Divide into 8-10 cups. This is super-rich. We made 8 servings from it, but we could have made 10 easily. We probably should have made 10. Top each serving with insane amounts of berries and drizzle with juice reduction (this makes everything shiny and fancy). Garnish with a giant mint leaf.
The other things we made:
clear tomato consommee with homemade crackers, tomato-balsamic vinegar reduction, and tapenade
wilted kale salad with pickled cherries
beet and cauliflower medly
potato-crusted pizza with garlic-tomato sauce, smoked tofu, pattypan squash and two pestos
Thursday, 12 August 2010
Well, except for the part where you have to wait all year for in-season tomatoes.
6 cups chopped, in-season tomatoes
2 star anise
1 scant tsp of flaked smoked salt, or 1/2 tsp finely-ground salt
1/2 -1 tsp vanilla sugar (normal sugar that you keep a vanilla bean in, NOT the horrible vanilla-flavoured powdered sugar that you can buy) be stingy at first, you can always add more later, but if you oversugar, this will be yucky.
Optional: 1/2 cup dried mushrooms, ripped into small bits.
Combine all this in the morning in a bowl. Let it sit all day. Hell, let it sit 24 hours if you have the time. If you live somewhere hot, let it sit in the fridge. If you live somewhere cool, leave it out. If you use the optional mushrooms, they'll absorb some of the juices.
At dinnertime,remove and discard the anise. Take out half the tomatoes and puree them. Combine blended and non-blended tomatoes. Heat gently if you want to, and then add 1-2 tbs fresh thyme, and a grind of black pepper. Adjust salt to taste.
Optional: add 1c cooked quinoa or millet or other small non-disintegraty grain and a squeeze of lemon juice and garnish with avocado for a more substantial meal.
Serve hot or cold. When tomatoes are in season, I prefer this without the mushrooms, and cold.
slow and lazy music: hymns of the 49th parallel, kd lang
Saturday, 7 August 2010
...as in a separation of colours.
First, I made clear tomato consommée, then used the brightly-coloured pulp as a tomato sauce. The consommée is from the Terre a Terre cookbook, and all I did was add a single star anise to the liquid. It takes overnight to make, but is pretty much the easiest recipe ever. Usually tomato consommée is cleared using egg whites, but you can also just drain chopped and blended tomatoes through a double layer of cheesecloth overnight. You get the most exquisitely rich broth. Oh yum. I used 1 kg of tomatoes, so the recipe for the sauce assumes that you have pulp from that. For the main dish:
1 batch tomato pulp (from 1 kg of tomatoes)
1/2 sweet red pepper, chopped supa-fine
1/2 tsp garlic-infused olive oil
2 tbs lemon vinegar OR 2 tbs lemon juice + 1 tsp agave
8 cured black olives, chopped
tiny pinch cinnamon (be stingy. you can always add more, but you can't do anything if you add too much the first time)
warm water to thin to the consistency you want
Mix everything together and let sit while you pull the rest of dinner together.
Creamy cauliflower crunch
1 small head cauliflower, in itsy-bitsy pieces
1 tbs white miso
1 tsp smoked salt
1 cup hummous (this was leftover from a weekend biking expedition, approximate recipe below)
2 cups bitter greens, chopped + juice from 1/2-1 lemon
Marinate bitter greens in the lemon juice in a separate bowl and let them sit there for a few minutes (say 10 or 15). Mix everything else together.
Hummous with a kick
3c sprouted (or cooked) chickpeas
2-3 tbs tahini (more if you want)
6-8 sundried tomatoes, soaked in just enough water to cover
3 pitted dates, soaked along with the tomatoes
3 cloves garlic (reduce if you do not loooooove raw garlic)
1 cup parsley
3 tbs nutritional yeast
lots and lots of lemon juice
salt to taste
Put the parsley aside. Dump everything else, including soaking water, in a blender or food processor. Blend! Blend! Blend! Add parsley. Now, pack it (minus 1 cup for leftovers) as part of a lunch and go on a nice long bike ride. Stop and have a picnic, preferably by the ocean.
chromatographic and crunch music: mercan dede
Friday, 30 July 2010
I'm not sure what to call it. However, it's chickpea-based. Yum. That is all. You will need a well-seasoned cast iron pan for this. You will also need a well-seasoned cast iron pan for many other important events in life. This is but one example of the many, many times you will be glad to own one.
Batter (prepare first)
2c chickpea flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder (optional)
1 tbs ground flax seeds
1-2 tbs fresh chopped rosemary or other fresh herb (thyme would also be nice)
Mix everything together and let it sit for at least half an hour. Longer is better.
Meanwhile... preheat your oven to about 200C (this is not a precise kind of thing) and get going on the onions.
3 large purple onions, sliced
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped into a few large bits
(if you're cheating: splash apple cider vinegar + 1 tbs agave)
In your cast iron pan, caramelize onions ie- cook over low heat for as long as you can stand (half an hour, minimum. Longer is better). If you don't know how to caramelize onions, the Google can teach you. If you know how, but don't have long enough to do it, then cheat thusly: cook 'em on high heat, then add the cheater ingredients, keep the heat high until the vinegar evaporates, and then proceed as if you weren't cheating. If anyone asks, say that that's how it's *supposed* be. Add the vermouth, nutmeg, pepper and salt to the caramelized onions. Turn off the heat. Smooth onions into a layer.
Pour the chickpea batter over the layer of onions. Bake for about 30 mins, or until you suspect it is done. This will depend on the size of your pan and how much water is left in your onions. The good news is that it's pretty hard to burn this if you're keeping an eye on it, since it browns slowly. If it's burning, you'll know with a quick look. I used a fairly large pan, either 10 or 12 inches. Allow to cool for a few minutes, and then de-pan your masterpiece onto a cutting board or plate. Consume with gusto and green salad.
If you lack a cast iron pan, you can dump the onions and chickpea batter (in that order) into a well-oiled pie plate or whatever. It will still work, I promise.
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
It's raining and I'm feeling all quiet and chill and have time to actually spend on food prep tonight, which is a bit of an anomaly lately. So I indulged.
I've been having way too much fun playing with raw food recipes lately. Here is my latest creation, using what I had around from the veg box. I always think of this kind of thing as "kitchen-ninja" cooking. I mean, my kitchen is very well stocked, but I do make a point to use *everything* in the veg box every week, which leads to some interesting concoctions from time to time. I like this sort of food adventure. Now, let me just start by proclaiming my love of kohlrabi. It's crunchy and delicious and looks vaguely alien, all of which appeal to me. I didn't properly appreciate it until living in Germany for two years... now I squeal with glee when it appears in my veg box, or when I see it at the farmer's market. However, I also have some sprouted chickpeas, and for some reason, I couldn't shake the urge to make them into ravioli filling. Below is what happened
Kohrabi ravioli, raw kitchen-ninja style.
1 smallish kohlrabi, peeled and sliced supa-thin (I used a mandoline)
marinate the slices in juice from 1 lemon and about 1/3 tsp salt while you do everything else.
2.5 cups sprouted chickpeas (or use cooked ones if you'd rather)
2 tbs sweet white miso
1 tsp ume paste
2 tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp tahini
1 tbs very finely chopped preserved lemon
1-2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
salt to taste
Put the chickpeas, miso, ume paste and nooch in a food processor or blender and blend! blend! blend! Add a bit of water if you want! Make it as smooth or chunky as you want. This is all about you and your smooth vs. chunky ravioli filling preferences. Just make sure the paste holds it's shape when you scoop it. Fold in lemon, rosemary, and black pepper. Taste, and then add salt or soy sauce. If you can wait a few minutes before salting, that's even better, as the miso, ume paste and lemon are going to make this pretty salty. Undersalt slightly, as the kohlrabi is also salty.
I made lots of the filling, and also just use it as hummous (it's especially good on pears or with mushrooms), or fold in chopped onions, grated carrots and some kind of grain, and then make it into burgers.
Nibble at one of the kohlrabi slices. Is it ridiculously salty? If no, proceed. If yes, rinse. It's nice if you don't have to rinse, because the lemon tastes good.
Make little raviolis by sandwiching a spoonful of chickpea mixture between two kohlrabi discs. Serve by drizzling with diluted pomegranite molasses and a sprinkling of cocoa nibs. You'd be surprised how well chocolate and rosemary go together. (I diluted with apple vinegar, but those who are less into vinegar than me may want to dilute with apple juice or sauce, or even olive oil, if you are into adding olive oil to things).
I had this with a tomato soup, which I suspect is the bastard love child of harissa and bouillabaisse. And no, I didn't measure any of the spices, so you're left to your own devices in terms of amounts. Add a bit, blend, taste and adjust. Or just use a tsp of ras-el-hanout. The soup was ungodly yum. I wish I had measured the spices for y'all, but I have confidence in your ability to wing it.
5 smallish tomatoes
1 orange worth of juice
1 stalk celery
2 sun dried tomatoes
a tiny nub of fresh ginger
water to the consistency you want
salt to taste
handful sprouted (or cooked) wheatberries.
Blend! Blend! Blend! everything except the wheatberries together. You may need a pinch of agave, depending on the sweetness of your tomatoes and orange. Stir in wheatberries. Top with fresh basil and mint (or coriander, or parsley, but I seem to be out of both of those). You can also leave out the wheatberries and just serve this with bread or crackers. That might be classier. But we don't worry about "classy" here in the kitchendancing cave.
Music to chill out to: leonard cohen. the sisters of mercy.
Saturday, 17 July 2010
A friend gave me a bunch of stuff from her garden. Fava beans were in there. Oh yes. And we all know that I have a deep, deep looooooooove of fava beans. We all know this. Not only are they extra tasty, but Pythagoreas forbid his followers to eat them, because of something to do with hinges and beanskins and the doors of hell. Undaunted, I eat them at every opportunity.
We spent the day walking in the woods by Roslin, and finally, after living in Edinburgh for (ahem) almost three years, made it to see Roslin chapel. I enjoyed 1) the sculpture of the angel playing bagpipes, which I assume was ironic since I am convinced that the bagpipes are Satan's Instument and b) the gargoyles that looked like they were clinging to the walls for dear life. It was much more interesting than I assumed it would be. Huh. As a bonus, we could actually *see stuff* since the da Vinci Code tourists were mostly not out today because the weather was extra-super unpredictable, even for Edinburgh in July. We had both rain capes and sun hats (and a thermos of tea) and were just fine (though we used all of that equipment every single hour). These tarts, along with a giant green salad, were the perfect "summer" dinner. Note the copious amounts of garlic. As usual, my food is both delicious and vampire-repellent. It never hurts to multitask.
1/2 cup almond pulp left over from making almond milk (or sub almond meal mixed with some kind of liquid)
1/2 cup ww spelt flour
2 tbs nutritional yeast
1 tbs white miso
1 tsp (or more) finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp coarsly ground black pepper
1 small onion, chopped in half-moons
Mix all ingredients except onions together. Add more flour if the dough is sticky. It should be wet but not sticky. Divide evenly in half and press into two tart tins (if you are having them as a main dish) or 4-6 muffin cases (for starters). Cover tart shells with onions. Bake at 150C for 15 mins (until beginning to brown).
While the tart shells are browning, mix in a bowl:
1 cup shelled fresh fava beans
1.5 cups sliced oyster mushrooms
2 cloves smoked garlic, chopped very finely
1/4 c white wine
1 tbs soy sauce
Let these marinate until the tart shells are ready. Then divide the filling equally among the shells and bake for another 10 mins at 180C. Remove tarts from oven. Sprinkle with (in this order): lemon juice from one lemon (divided among all tarts, not per tart), salt, black pepper. Drizzle with a small amount very fruity olive oil (I used garlic-infused olive oil...). Don't go too nuts with the oil or it will overwhelm everything else.
angels and bagpipes and flaunting the possibility of the doors of hell: Pope and Antipopes: music for the courts of avignon and rome, by the Orlando Consort.
Saturday, 3 July 2010
Yes. Rhubarb sorbet. Very grownup. Very yummy. Ridiculously easy, and about 10 minutes of work.
5 slim stalks rhubarb
1/2 cup white wine (I used sauvignon blanc, but I think reisling would work better)
1/3 cup agave (or more to taste... i like the tartness)
1 tbs rosewater
2 drops lime oil or a bit of lime zest
5 mint leaves, chiffonaded
3 large basil leaves, also chiffonaded
Blend everything but the basil and mint. Press through a strainer. Discard pulp. Taste. Adjust sweetness. Stir in the mint and basil. Freeze, stirring every 2 hours or so until done. This won't freeze completely solid, because of the booze and agave. Make it before lunch to have it after dinner. You can also let it chill and drink it as a cocktail. In that case, I recommend mixing it with sparkling water, and doubling the wine.
sweet tart music: stockings, with Suzanne Vega
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
For my sweetums' birthday. What can I say. The boi has a thing for cherries and middle eastern food. This isn't halvah, but it has that same dense, rosewater-spice-nut type thing going on. It's the torted-up dream of halvah. Or something.
1.5 c cooked chickpeas, drained
1c ground almonds or pistachios (I used the leftover almond meal from making almond milk)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbs rosewater
1/4 c sugar + stevia to taste (or just a full cup of sugar if you want)
1/4 tsp salt
Blend all of these together until you have a paste. It should hold it's shape when you scoop it up with a spoon, like mashed potatoes before you add any liquids.
1/4 c almond milk
3/4 c flour
1.5 tsp baking powder (not soda)
1 tbs dried rose petals (optional but pretty)
Just before putting it in the pan, stir in 2 tbs cider or other mild vinegar. spread into greased and floured pan
Top with as many cherries as you can fit on top, halved (uh... about 2 cups, after halving), tossed in juice from 1 lime. Be generous with the cherries. There is a special place in culinary hell for people who are stingy with seasonal fruits and/or chocolate in desserts. Sprinkle with about 1/4 tsp (or less) ground black pepper. No, I'm not kidding.
bake at 200C for 10 mins, lower heat, and bake at 175C for 35 mins.
Lately, I've just found rich foods unappealing. Maybe it's all the traveling, where I end up sitting on my ass too much, which is making me develop an aversion to even the slightest twinge of feeling sluggish because I associate it with being forced to sit between overly-talkative vacationers, leery men who keep touching my thigh "accidentally" and leaning closer and closer over the course of the flight and then look surprised and offended when I tell them off, or (on one memorable occasion) a fundamentalist who spent 6 hours trying to save my evolutionary biologist, queer, atheist soul from eternal damnation (he failed) - If there is a God, why does He not send me boring seatmates on long flights? Maybe it's the sun. Maybe it's because I'm having fun running, having fun working, and just generally not wanting to feel weighed down. I still wanted to present my sweetums with a yummerific birthday treat, but I wanted to enjoy eating it (that's the point, no?). Plus, we both like really *dense* cakes. No fluffy cakes here, no thank you. We tested it on/shared it with an innocent bystander (who had no idea it had been healthified), and he loved it. So there. It's not just "good for a healthified dessert", it's just good dessert. You could make it all chickpeas (no almonds), which should work just fine (and make this low-fat), but I had almond pulp lying around, so I threw it in.
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
For my birthday: rum-themed flaming desserts! Arrrrrrrrrr..... Now, the ice cream looks simple, but trust me, it is heaven in a dish. And totally what pirates would have eaten had they had freezers. And blenders. And raisins. The date cake is dense and fabulous, and flaming it makes the brown sugar into a kickass layer of rum-flavored caramel on the top. The flaming date cake is an invention of my sweetums, who made it for me, and so I've copied her recipe here.
Flaming date cake:
18 pitted dates soaked in the soy milk (below), about an hour
Soy Milk 3/4 cup
Sugar ½ cup
soak ½ cup pitted prunes in the same soy milk with the dates
All purpose flour 1 cup
Baking soda 1 teaspoon
Cashews, walnuts, brazil nuts for selenium (to taste)
Dark rum, brown sugar, and matches for flaming (optional)
Soak the dates and prunes in soy milk for 1 hour up to overnight. Add sugar and grind to a smooth paste along with the milk. (Use hand blender or mortar and pestle, depending on degree of technophobia. I use the mortar and pestle).
Sieve together flour and baking soda. Add the flour one tablespoon at a time and mix slowly. Add the broken-up nuts and mix.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the cake in a greased oven proof dish for 35-40min (or till a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean). Or, line a cast iron skillet with grease/ovenproof paper and bake in this.
To flame, spread brown sugar evenly across the baked cake surface to “hold” the rum. Heat the rum till hot but NOT boiling (boiling will remove the alcohol, which is needed for flaming). Pour onto cake and light with match. Remove pouring vessel with hot rum from near vicinity of the cake before lighting, as it may catch fire too. This is okay of you are prepared for it (if you are pouring from a metal saucepan with a handle, for instance) – you can pour the flaming rum for added dazzle in this instance. The brown sugar will caramelize. After flames go out, tilt cake back and forth to disperse the caramelized sugar.
10 frozen overripe bananas
1 cup raisins, soaked in enough rum to cover for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight
1 tsp vanilla
1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper
pinch nutmeg 1/2 c soy milk
agave to taste if your bananas were not sweet enough
Drain raisins, keeping rum. Set raisins aside. Try not to snack on them, but if you know beforehand you will fail in not snacking on boozy dried fruit, then just set up more the day before! This be my trick. Blend everything else (including rum). It will be too runny to serve as ice cream at this point. Put it back in the freezer in a metal bowl (the rum will keep it from freezing solid) for a few hours, stirring whenever you remember (once or twice in 4 hours does just fine). Stir in the raisins just before eating.
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
The bad titles and fusion cooking continues. More and more, I am coming to the conclusion that Italian and Japanese foods were meant to be melded together. In my kitchen they have a tendency to end up in the same dish.
So, you take your leftover brown rice, and your leftover stewed okara, and you mix them together, smooshily, with some glutinous rice flour and some flax meal, and then bake them. You end up with japanesey rice balls along the same lines as arancini (leftover risotto balls), except vegan. And not fried. And dare I say pretty damn healthy and low-fat and yummerific to boot. Okay, so it's not much like arancini at all except in shape and leftover ricey gooey goodness. This is a way to use leftovers, so all the amounts are approximate. My stewed okara had fancy-pants mushrooms, green beans, and carrots. I learned to make okara stew from this book, but I more or less wing it now because it's a dish I make so often. I've linked to a free online recipe if you need to get an idea of what I'm talking about.
2-3 c cooked short grain brown rice, cooled
1c leftover stewed okara with vegetables, cooked down until fairly dry.
1 tsp powdered dried porcini, optional (available at specialty Italian stores)
1 tbs or more white miso
1/4-1/3 c glutinous rice flour (which you should have on hand at all times for emergency mochi making)
1 tbs flax meal in 2 tbs water, left to sit for 10 minutes
dash salt (I used truffle salt, because I am a decadent freak)
Mush everything together. Add more rice flour if it is too dry to stick together. Form into 4 large balls, about the size of oranges. This is where the name comes from. Yup. Place balls in silicone muffin cups, or just in a greased muffin pan. Then you have each japanarancini in its own little bowl and it can sit in your lunch box the next day and not get hurt. Of course, not all of you take your lunches to work, and not all of you bike, and in that case, you don't have to worry so much about preserving the structural integrity of your lunch while biking to work over cobblestones. But I do. So nyah. Bake the well-protected rice goodies at 200C for 20 mins. Cool. Take to work for lunch the next day and make your coworkers jealous. I took them to work with asparagus, red pepper and greens salad with yummy yuzu dressing, so it was a pretty winning lunch day indeed.
Monday, 17 May 2010
Okay, these are sooo not pakoras. They are loosely inspired by pakoras, and even then, "loosely" might be too restrictive a term for what I've done. Basically, I wanted something to serve as a vehicle for some awesome chipotle tamarind-date chutney I have on hand. Also, I had to use up some sprouted buckwheat, and I've been having this methi craving... you can see where this is going. Like many of my "recipes", the end dish was the product not of a plan, but of a series of unconnected thoughts that I just happened to have while making dinner. Serendipitous dinner creation is a wonderful thing. Option 1 (which I have been known to do): mix chutney into sprouted buckwheat or cold rice or any other vaguely starchy thing that the chutney will adhere to and then eat it on salad. Option 2 is slighly more elegant, and much prettier than it looks here. Sometimes you only bother with one photo before devouring the food. It is, after all, a food blog, not a photo blog.
3-4 c. sprouted buckwheat, half of it blended to a paste
1 tbs toasted cumin seeds
a few toasted fenugreek seeds, squished roughly
1 tbs toasted coriander seeds, squished roughly
1 tsp garam masala
1/3 cup methi leaves, crumbled (I used dried ones)
1 large carrot, finely grated
1 handful of dulse, torn into tiny pieces
as much jalapeno as you want, chopped fine
1/2 tsp garlic paste (1 small clove)
1 tsp ginger paste
squeeze lemon juice
large-ish pinch smoked salt
Mix everything together. At this stage, you can just use it as a highly addictive pate and scoop it up with red pepper chunks (and then drizzle them with tamarind chutney). To make something a little more stand-alone, you'll need to add something to make it a bit less wet and then form it into patties. You can use ground dried coconut or chickpea flour or oat flour. I used chickpea flour, since I don't particularly care if something is 100% raw, but I do care that it's not full of fat. I added about 1/3 of a cup. Make your own choices on this one. I imagine if one owned a dehydrator, one could then dehydrate them for a billion hours. I don't, so I didn't. Also, that would have meant waiting, which frankly, I was simply not willing to do. I just decorated them with the chutney that caused all this in the first place and ate them. With a giant salad, because I'm that kind of vegan. Yuuuuuuuuum.
As a note, one of the things that keeps me from eating more raw food is that I like to eat without adding fat (or relying on large amounts of high-fat food like nuts, avocados or coconuts), and I do love my starches. Everyone has their own take on nutrition etc. nowadays, but the thing that works for me is to do a no-added-fat vegan, starch-based diet with lots of fresh fruit and veg. Doing this, I run, bike, do mad science, goof off, read, have a personal life, get up far too early because I hate missing out on life, and am generally happy and healthy and full enough of energy to annoy those around me in the early mornings. That being said, I like the lightness of eating a high proportion of raw foods, especially in the summer when I have to eat so much heavy food when I travel for work and so when I'm home... sprouted buckwheat! Yay! These are nice because they're starchy and filling and heavy without being full of fat. Also, can I just mention again that they're the perfect vehicle for tamarind-date chutney?
A little note: I wrote down the conservative amounts for the spices because my chutney was super-flavourful. If I was having these alone, or with coriander chutney, I'd probably up the coriander seeds, ginger and garlic.
serendipitous music based on... : in C, by whoever you want, dammit.
Thursday, 29 April 2010
Fresh raw pea soup
1 cup peas, shelled
1/3 cup Malborough sauvignon blanc. (yes, I insist. you need those capsicum notes)
1 handfull fresh mint leaves
1/2 tsp marmite
ground pink peppercorns
1 cup water
Put everything in a blender. Blend until frothy. Add more water if you need it. Eat.
I served this with a blood orange, fennel and sprouted buckwheat salad.
1 heaping cup (okay, proably more like 1.5 cups... we were hungry) sprouted buckwheat
1 head fennel, in ridiculously thin slices (use a mandoline)
1 blood orange, sectioned
large handful dandelion greens, picked on your bike ride, washed well and chopped
large handful chopped flat leaf parsley
a few mint leaves, in ribbons (optional)
a few kalamata olives, seeded and chopped
pomegranite seeds from half a pomegranite (because you need to snack on the rest of them, duh)
a few walnuts
fennel seeds crushed and mixed with the juice from the blood orange, some lemon juice, some of the brine from the olives, salt and pepper
music: Good morning sunshine.
Thursday, 22 April 2010
I've been eating more raw food lately, and I loooove it. Granted, I've been a super salad fan for some time now, so I fail miserably at convincing people that vegans don't just eat salad. I mean, I don't eat *only* salad, but I do eat a lot of it. Because salad is yummy, and it makes me feel so good when I eat it, and it's crunchy and colourful! Now, I've said it before: if the only option is a sad iceberg lettuce, then the prospect of a giant salad is indeed rather underwhelming. But there's no reason it has to come to that, is there? Repeat after me: There is no excuse for boring salad. EVER. Also, I love saffron (just for the record). This vaguely middle-eastern and not-vaguely yummy. So satisfying. So tastey and simple. And yeah. Just.. yeah.
chopped green olives
chopped rocket (arugula for those of you on the other side of the pond)
shredded purple cabbage
veeeeery thinly sliced carrots
the salad is marinated in
crushed fennel, saffron, a drop of lime oil, salt and pepper, all dissolved in apple cider vinegar.
music: mirah. yay!
Sunday, 18 April 2010
Yup. It's a giant bowl of umami. The culinary equivalent of a hug, if you will.
1/2 cup dry aduki beans
1 large piece konbu
4 dried shitake mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
4 tbs soy sauce
1/2 cup white wine
splash of mirin
1 heaping (and I *do* mean heaping. don't skimp) tbs chopped fresh ginger
1 cup butternut squash bits in cubes
1 leftover baked spud, chopped
1 tbs red miso
sesame seeds to sprinkle on top
Put the dry aduki beans in a pot. Add konbu and shitake mushrooms. Add about 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Now, go away and do about half an hour of yoga, or read a book, or whatever. Then, come back, top up the water, fish out the konbu and discard it. Fish out the shitake, chop them up, and throw them back in (discard the stems if they are too tough to eat). Go away for another 15 mins, or until the beans are soft. Add everything up to, but not including the spud. If you don't have leftover baked spuds lying around, add raw chopped one now. It will be almost as good. Almost. But not quite. Simmer until the squash is done. There should be just enough water to cover all the ingredients, but not much more than that. This is a pretty thick stew by the time it's all done. Add spud and miso and warm through. Adjust seasonings. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and eat. Feel better about the world.
Now, you could of course be all fancy and make dashi etc. etc. But I was not feeling fancy. And you know what? It worked out fine. Better than fine. Yummy enough to make again, just like this, all non-fancy like.
Umamusic: naive and simple music, by john adams.
Sunday, 21 March 2010
Spring has sprung! Which means... the wild garlic is out! The boi and I spent Saturday ambling along in the sunshine. We walked up the Water of Leith and then down the Union Canal. For 5 hours. And we picked more wild garlic than is reasonable. So we are now extra-good smelling and completely vampire proof.
Wild garlic polenta for two very hungry walkers
First, get this in the oven, on as high as you can go:
2c itsy-bitsy cherry tomatoes in
1/2 c water and (an optional) 1/2 cup red wine
while the tomatoes are baking to wonderfulness do this:
1.5 cups polenta
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup chopped wild garlic.
When the polenta is about 5 mins away from being done, add some (about a cup) crumbled smoked tofu on top of the (now kinda blackened) cherry tomatoes. I used smoked tofu that I had fermented according to the directions in The New Now and Zen Epicure, which I highly recommend. I find most vegan cheeses gross, but I looooooove the tofu one in this book. Pop that back in the oven to let the cheese warm through. The fermented tofu is really salty; if you are using regular smoked tofu, add salt.
Stir the nutritional yeast and wild garlic into the polenta at the end. Spoon some tomato/tofu onto each bowl. Consume. Radiate wild garlic out of your every pore for the next 24 hours. I will be radiating wild garlic for at least a week, since the rest of it is going into wild garlic pesto.
Music for ambling: Norah Jones. Come away with me.
Sunday, 24 January 2010
Well, it had to come to this eventually. I'm making my own chocolate bars. Or rather chocolate stars.
It's not hard, but it does take a little practice. You need to get a good feel for how the chocolate changes consistency as it tempers, and you need to be able to work pretty fast. Also, each chocolate will have it's own idiosyncracies, so you may need to adjust the tempering temperatures by a degree or two. Also, all chocolates taste different, so you have to play around with various chocolate: cocoa butter: sugar ratios until you find the one you like and that works with the particular chocolate that you use. But the basic idea is that you temper chocolate, and then pour it quick quick into a mould (I use silicon muffin cases). Tempering chocolate gives it that snap and sheen (untempered chocolate is fudgy, tempered chocolate snaps). For the dark chocolate I use, I heat all the cocoa butter+ half the cocoa liquor + all the sugar in a double boiler up to 115F, then remove it from the heat and stir in the remaining cocoa liquor in an double cooler (what I've decided to call it when you fill the bottom pot with cold water instead of simmering water) while stirring like mad. Then when the molten chocolate reaches 83F, pop it back on the double boiler for a few seconds (until it reaches 85F) and then add whatever flavours you want and pour it into moulds. A much better explanation of tempering chocolate is here. I mostly just practiced until I got it right.
Key 1: the chocolate should never, ever come into contact with water. Like with gremlins, water = disaster.
Key 2: this takes practice. Luckily, few people complain about having to eat slightly mistempered chocolate. And you can always turn botched batches into cakes or brownies. Many of my friends have said that they are willing to "eat as much chocolate as it takes" for me to get to the point where I can make the perfect chocolate bar. I have such selfless friends.
Key 3: you cannot make good chocolate out of cheap or bad chocolate. You need good ingredients or you might as well just melt a bunch of chocolate chips and pour them into moulds. Meh. If you do that, please don't tell me about it. It will hurt my soul.
I use raw cocoa liquor and cocoa butter that I order from here. I like the way raw chocolate tastes, and also like that I can order the cocoa liquor and butter separately, which lets me actually mix the chocolate to the taste and consistency I want, instead of just tempering pre-mixed, pre-sweetened chocolate.
80g cocoa liquor, chopped very finely
20g cocoa butter, chopped very finely
20g sugar, ground up a bit in a mortar and pestle
Though I usually make about 600g total at a time. Sometimes it's nice to use vanilla sugar, sometimes not. This makes a fairly dark and bitter chocolate that can go with salty things just as easily as it can with sweet, which I prefer. For something smoother, use 60g cocoa liquor 40g cocoa butter, and 30g sugar. For kid-friendly batches, I use equal amounts chocolate liquor, and cocoa butter, and I blend a few sundried bananas into the cocoa butter (about half as much banana as cocoa butter), then use about 50 g of sugar for every 100g of the cocoa liquor/cocoa butter/banana mix, depending on the sweetness of the bananas and the sweet tooth of the child. I like to use granulated sugar, just slightly crushed so that the resulting chocolate has a bit of a grainy texture from the sugar. I also like that the sweetness is slightly uneven. If you want perfectly smooth chocolate, use icing sugar (reduce the amount slightly).
In the chocolates above, the ones with roses are marbled with sesame fun. Sesame fun is 1 cup of toasted and then ground sesame seeds, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tbs sugar and a good pinch of salt all mixed together and then 1/2 cup of melted cocoa butter added to it. If you a) use ready made tahini or b) skip the cocoa butter, it will be too runny to set. This is more like semi-ground sesame crumble held together with cocoa butter. It should not be spreadable, runny or oily like store bought tahini. Also, these are not filled chocolates (making filled chocolates does not amuse me, so I refuse to do it). It's a marbled chocolate, but with tahini marble instead of white chocolate marble. To be honest, I really don't like white chocolate much. I make it for other people from time to time, but that's about it. Ahem. So... to make the tahini chocolates, get a batch of dark chocolate ready to go, and have your tahini filling ready. Pour a layer of dark chocolate into the mould, then add a dollop of the tahini marble and marble it through the dark chocolate with a chopstick. Pour a layer of dark chocolate on top, and drop a dried rose onto it. You have to work pretty fast, so make sure that everything is laid out beforehand. Well tempered chocolate should set almost instantaneously. In fact, a good way to check if your chocolate is tempered is to drop a wee bit of it onto a dry plate. It should harden to a nice glossy chocolate "button" in a few seconds. If it doesn't, chances are that you haven't tempered the chocolate properly.
I also made a batch of olive oil chocolates sprinkled with vanilla salt. Other combos I've made: thyme and toasted pine nuts, ancho chili and vanilla and pumpkin seed, vanilla and salt, garam masala, rose, gold, frankensence, myrrh (can you tell what I did for christmas?), roasted cumin, black pepper and mace and nutmeg, ginger.... and of course just plain (which truth be told, is my favorite). And some others that I don't remember just right now. I've also made a few different vegan white chocolates, since people seem to like white chocolate.
For white chocolate:
80g cocoa butter
30-50g vanilla icing sugar (depending on how sweet you like your white chocolate)
40g powdered coconut milk
Melt the cocoa butter over very low heat. Stir in the other ingredients. Pour into moulds. I like to add 1/2 tsp cardamom to white chocolate. You can also add 1 tbs matcha powder and have green tea chocolate, which is lovely. In that case, omit the cardamom, and add a few drops of almond essence. Depending on the brand of coconut milk powder you use, your white chocolate may or may not taste like coconut. I use coconut milk because the consistency of white chocolate made with powdered soy milk (at least anything I've found in the UK) can only be described as "gross". So there. I've said it. White chocolate made with powdered soy milk is yuck, and I refuse to participate in it. For white chocolate with cool texture (I think of this as "adult" white chocolate), you can blend a mix of almonds and cashews, about 50g, to a powder (NOT a butter), and then blend them into the melted cocoa butter. This is especially nice with the green tea flavour. I've also done this with saffron, which was bloody amazing. You have to extract the saffron in warm cocoa butter beforehand, like pot, only legaler. It makes orange chocolate. Yay!
Finally, don't use slave chocolate. People shouldn't suffer for your sweet tooth, and chocolate is a luxury good, so please don't whine about having to *gasp* actually pay someone for the hard work they do to grow, pick, and process it. There is nothing romantic about using slave labour to make goodies for your sweetheart.