Tuesday, 24 August 2010

spaghetti seaweed slurp

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

Market Iron Chef

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.

Chocolate-berry mousse.

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

world's easiest slooooow and lazy tomato soup

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

tomato chromatography

...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:

Tomato Sauce
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)
black pepper
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
optional capers

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