Monday 30 December 2013

Citrus y Cebollas (Citrus and Onion Salad)

From The Hot Knives Vegetarian Cookbook: Salad Daze, Alex Brown and Evan George, Mark Batty Publisher, 2011.
When I saw Salad Daze in the bookshop I passed it over as with a quick glance it looked as though it would be a meaty book. It just goes to show how appearances can be so deceptive. It turned out to be not only truly vegetarian but a refreshingly different recipe book. It’s probably best summed up by a description by the authors themselves: ‘. . . we’re still nerds who just wanna work on our kitchen tricks in dirty cut-offs while drinking lukewarm twelve-per-cent-alcohol ales—and try to find some time to write about the new and fucked up things we’ve conjured up to do with vegetables.’
To start the salad I had to take some goat’s cheese, roll it into a ball and place it on a piece of plastic wrap. Another piece of plastic was placed over the cheese and it was rolled out to make a thin circle. This was then placed in the freezer. I made two of these for I was making two helpings of salad.

I now cut a white onion in half, took the outside round off and then sliced the remainder into julienne. These were placed in a bowl of cold water.
Next an orange was topped and tailed and the peel carefully cut off. The individual segments were now cut away, the juice being preserved as I went along. The orange segments went into the bowl with the juice.
Pomegranate seeds were added to the orange pieces. The onion was strained and added as well. A little extra virgin olive oil together with a little rice wine vinegar went in and, using my hands, I mixed the ingredients together to ensure they were well coated with the dressing.

I now added a good handful of mixed greens, mainly rocket, and folded them in until they were covered with the dressing.
It was now time to take the goat’s cheese from the freezer. The wrapping was peeled off and a round of cheese was placed on each plate. The salad was now carefully placed on the cheese base and a few more dribbles of dressing added.
This salad worked extremely well. Orange and onion are very good companions. It was a refreshing salad with the sweet orange and the pops of tang from the pomegranates blending with the goat’s cheese.
I was particularly impressed with the technique used for the goat’s cheese and will certainly be using it for future salads.
Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Wood Mushroom Soup

From Australian Gourmet Traveller, May 1999.
I’m living by myself for a week. This is a time when it is so easy to relax your usual standards and just pick up fast foods. I’ve resolved not to, so I’ll see how long I last. What I generally turn to when on my own is to make a large pot of soup that will last for several days, or make a big curry from all the vegetables in the refrigerator. Today I settled for soup.

I took a handful of dried porcini mushrooms and covered them with boiling water and left them to stand while I went on with the remainder.
I sliced 400g mixed mushrooms and fried them until soft in butter. They were taken from the frying pan and put aside while I sautéed a chopped onion and 2 chopped garlic cloves. When these had softened the mushrooms went back into the pan with the porcini mushrooms and their water. I added water to a level I felt appropriate and a vegetarian chicken stock cube. This was all brought to the boil and then simmered until the mixture had reduced about one-third.

The soup was tasted for seasoning and adjusted with salt and a goodly amount of freshly cracked black pepper. About 100ml cream was added and the soup simmered for another 15 minutes.
A stick blender was now used to puree the soup. It was served with a couple of slices of toasted sourdough.
A satisfying soup that managed to last me for two meals.
Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Saturday 28 December 2013

Suffolk Marys

From Peel Estate Branch, CWA, CWA Cookbook.
What do you do with a little left-over potato? I found this simple recipe in my old tattered copy of the CWA Cookbook and thought I’d give it a go.

I weighed the potato and found I had just under 2g. To this I added the equivalent measure of plain flour and of grated cheddar cheese. I stirred in a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard and 2 teaspoons of baking powder. When they were all well mixed I beat an egg and added most of it, leaving sufficient to brush on the surface later. The egg bound the mixture quite well. 

The dough was now rolled out to about 1cm thick and cut into rounds. These were brushed with the remaining beaten egg and went into a 200ºC oven for about 15 minutes at which time they were golden. They were let cool down somewhat and were then split open and eaten with butter.
These were a tasty variation on cheese straws. The potato added a softer texture to the middle letting it split open easily. The mustard flavour added that extra little bite to the cheesiness. Worth remembering to make again when there was some mashed potato left over.
Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Friday 27 December 2013

Spicy Aubergine and Tomato Salad

From Tagines & Couscous, Ghillie Başan, Ryland Peters & Small. 2010.
Christmas over it’s time to get back to normal food in normal-sized portions.
I heated the oven up to 200ºC and when it was ready put in an aubergine and two tomatoes. They were left to cook for half and hour, then tested to see if cooked. The aubergine was quite soft so all the vegetables were taken out and left to cool.

The aubergine was cut in half and all of the flesh scraped out and then chopped to a mush-like consistency. The tomatoes were peeled, cut in halves and the seeds removed. These also were chopped into small pieces.

Two garlic cloves were chopped and added to a saucepan with some olive oil. As soon as they began to colour the tomato pulp was added with a teaspoon of harissa and cooked for a few minutes more until it had begun to thicken. The aubergine was now added with a handful of chopped parsley and a handful of chopped coriander. The juice of half a lemon was added, the mixture was tested for seasoning and when adjusted to suit my palate it was ready to eat when it had cooled down to warm.
The salad was dished up and served with a couple of Suffolk Marys. The recipe suggested a sourdough bread, but I had just made the biscuits.
Aubergine and tomatoes are always a tasty combination and with the harissa to add some heat to the mixture and lemon juice to gave it a tang this was a pleasing salad. I found that with the biscuits it was sufficient for a meal.
Taste: ✔✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔✔

Thursday 26 December 2013

Christmas Trifle

It generally falls to me to make a trifle as part of the Christmas lunch dishes. This year my partner took over the role resulting in a much better looking trifle than any of mine. Especially exciting were the Father Christmases sitting on the top that were made of just strawberries and cream.