jicama salad

jicamasalad

Mum bought a jicama from the market, her friends told her they eat it raw in a salad. It must be good because her friends are not the type to eat raw vegetables.

I’ve never knowingly tried jicama although apparently it’s an ingredient in popiah and rojak. It’s interesting to see it being described as the most exciting vegetable you’re not eating. I see it in the market fairly often and never thought to buy it.

Lots of salad recipes, usually with fruit like mango, or orange and a lime chili dressing. It seems to be a little tasteless, like a savoury apple, so need stronger flavours.

I julienned half of one and had it with salad greens, cucumber, cherry tomato. I could have used orange, apple or watermelon but there were fresh lychees in the fridge so I popped a few in. Normally I don’t use dressing in salad but for this one I whisked up some lemon juice, white balsamic, honey and evoo.

It’s really good. Crunchy with some texture. Definitely somewhat like an apple or pear. Really helps add depth to a salad.

cucumber miso

cucumbermiso

Something we discovered in Japan: cucumber with miso. Saw it at many izakayas and street food stands, ordered it a few times ourselves and fell in love with it. I bought some yuzu miso at the supermarket yesterday and chopped up a Japanese cucumber. Absolutely delicious. So simple, so healthy.

cauliflower steak

caulisteak

I made not very successful cauliflower steak. This is one of the trendy cauliflower food that has cropped up recentlly, a far cry from the awful soggy cauliflower we used to get when we were younger.

It’s simply a matter of cutting the stalk part of a cauli, seasoning with s&p, chopped garlic and lemon juice, and roasting in the oven. 200ºC for around 45mins. I think these weren’t as successful as I wanted them to be because I was using a different type of cauliflower. Not the usual tight bulb with white florets, these have more space between the branches and so didn’t give a whole steak. Tasted nice though.

cauliflower rice / couscous

Been noticing more and more cauliflower getting onto fine dining menus. As a purée serving as a perfect bed for scallops; as a curried tempura and cooked three ways [pdf]. It’s touted as a superfood nowadays.

I made cauliflower rice, aka cauliflower cous cous. It’s described as a low-carb substitute for the starch component of a dish. It’s also gluten-free, vegan and forms part of the paleo diet.

Easy enough to prepare. Grate the florets of a whole cauliflower using a box grater. The stem is harder to grate, just put it in with other vegetables. There are many cooking methods for the rice: steam, sautée, microwave, roast in oven. I just tossed it around in a pan with a little s&p and water for about 10 mins until it felt cooked and there were no visible white uncook bits.

slowcookedporkcaulirice

Served some with slow roasted pork and crackling. I don’t have much luck with making crackling in the oven so these were fried in a very hot pan.

cauliflowerrice

Another batch of the cauliflower I treated like regular couscous by mixing in dried cranberries and pecans from a packet I bought at the farmer’s market a long time ago.

I knew it’s cauliflower and I could taste the vegetable freshness. But it’s true, it’s just like rice, couscous, mash in its ability to accompany the main protein and absorb gravy. Doesn’t make you bloated after the meal too. Definitely must make more.

unknown veg

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I popped over to the market after running today to get mirepoix ingredients for making stock. I usually go to a particular small stall. The stallholder auntie ended up making me buy a bag of these unknown vegetables, and then she threw in a couple of bags of edamame beans, peas and another unknown veg.

The edamame beans are at 5 o’clock in the pic, they are beans that are a little older so she’s already stripped them out of their pods. They are good in a stir-fry with other vegs or in a soup. The other freebie is the root at 12 o’clock. I don’t know the name. These are good in stews.

The big bag of unknown veg she sold to me (cheaply) are the other 3 items on the plate. She kept telling me the name and I simply couldn’t understand the words. My dad cooked them, and he said, “ah, these are [same name] veg” and again I can’t understand the words. They have already been peeled and to me, look like water chestnuts. In their raw form, they taste like raw potatoes. Cooked, they taste somewhere between potatoes, yam and water chestnut. Apparently they are good for stews or to make puddings similar to turnip cakes.

I tried googling, and found one or two references to waterlily chestnuts. Not entirely sure.

p.s. still no clue about the name but my dad tells me that apart from the edamame, all the other veg are the same thing—one is in its natural form the other is peeled. Heh.

p.p.s. found it: arrowhead 慈菇

30in30 #11: 5 vegetables

5vegsalad02

Task #11 of 30in30 is to have 5 vegetables in a day.

What better than to make a salad. Easy carrot, cucumber, pepper, sweetcorn and tomato with a japanese sesame dressing. Added a couple of small taiwanese sausages I grilled.

I had enoki mushrooms for lunch so i actually had 6 vegetables today. That, plus walking for 1.5hr while listening to a mindfulness walking mp3 made me feel sort of healthy.

30in30 #16: new savoury recipe

skordalia01

Task #16 in 30 in 30 is to try a new savoury recipe. I made skordalia, a greek styled potato and garlic dip that is halfway between regular mashed potato and hummus.

The first time I heard of skordalia was when Torode cooked it on masterchef. It seemed to be an interesting alternative to mashed potato, a good source of starch for a dish. Based on the recipe I found at the guardian.

Roughly chopped 4 potatoes and boil until soft. I don’t have a potato ricer so I passed the cooked potato pieces through a sieve, which proved harder to do than I expected. Made a paste of 2 cloves garlic, salt and pepper and mixed into the potato. Added olive oil, juice of 1/2 a lemon and further seasoning. Topped with crushed peanut for decoration.

It sort of looked like a cross between mashed potato and hummus, erring to the side of potatoes. At first I didn’t add enough olive oil and the bitter-sourness of the lemon juice was too overwhelming. It was better when I added more oil and more seasoning. Although it’s described as a dip, I served it with braised lamb shanks, which technically we shouldn’t be having since it’s Good Friday. Ah well.

30in30 #11: five different vegetables

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00sap12mushokra 00sap13pepper

Task #11 in 30 in 30 is to have five different vegetables in a day.

I didn’t specify 5 portions or 5 different vegetables. If I were at home I’d aim for 5 portions, but since we are still on vacation and eating out, having 5 different vegetables is okay for this task.

Lunch was at the food court of an outlet. Sushi rice bowl, tempura and soba for only ¥1,080. There were green pepper, carrot and lotus root in the tempura. Dinner was at kushidori, a yakitori place. We had grilled mushroom, okra and small green peppers. So actually, six different vegetables in a day.

#53: new recipe — roasted cabbage with bacon

roastcabbage01

Task #53 of 101 in 1001 challenge: 5 of 10 new recipe.

I was making honey soy chicken wings (strictly speaking, also a new recipe — marinade chicken wings in soy sauce, honey, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, mustard, olive oil and roast at 180°C for 30mins) and was looking in the fridge for vegetables. Found a small cabbage, perfect. Normally I’d be boring and just boil it, but anyone who has ever suffered school lunches will have dire recollections of overboiled cabbage and brussels sprouts. Speaking of brussels sprouts, my favourite method is to roast them at high heat with olive oil and lots of salt so the edges of the leaves are almost charred. I was sure this method also works for cabbage.

Yep. Recipe from thekitchn, who recommended roasting cabbage wedges with bacon. They were positively gushing about the end result,

the high-heat roasting gets rid of any cabbage funk and makes the cabbage sweet and flavorful — all that bacon grease certainly adds to the irresistible aroma. The bacon pieces were crispy and chewy, and the bacon fat seeped into the cabbage, making it tender and juicy in the middle and crispy and browned on the outside

Wash cabbage and remove any outer leaves that have wilted. Cut the whole cabbage in to quarters, remove some of the core and cut in half again, ending up with 8 wedges. Roughly cut up 4 bacon rashers and sprinkle on cabbage wedges. Drizzle olive oil and season with pepper and mixed herbs (no salt). Roast at 180°C for about 30mins until slightly charred.

roastcabbagewings02

I now know the reason behind the gushing. It was crunchy on the outside and sweet on the inside, none of the boiled cabbage smell or flavour. The bacon was a perfect accompaniment — the bacon I found in the fridge wasn’t crispy American bacon or meaty British back bacon but something in between that is ham-like and didn’t render a lot of fat — still worked okay with the dish.

I don’t think I’ll ever make boiled cabbage again, roasting was so simple and so delicious. Served it with the equally successful chicken wings and some cheese grits I found in the cupboard. See, I don’t always eat strange food.

grilled okra

okra02

Okra seems to be an acquired taste. I’ve always been suspicious of it because it’s slimy and I never know how to prepare it. Then we had it at a Japanese buffet, where they served them grilled on skewers, and they were really nice. There are methods to lower the slime quotient which basically minimises how long the okra is in contact with water.

Bought a couple of bags from the market, not expensive at all. Typical southern cooking method is to deep fry it, or use it in gumbo. What I did, I just heated the grill pan to smoking hot and grilled them quickly for 10mins. Didn’t cut off the tops until just before throwing into the pan. Seasoned with s&p. Simple, crunchy, not slimy at all and very nice.

mushroom wannabe fricassee

mushroomtofu

It’s not really a mushroom fricassee, just 3 types of mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, enoki) thrown together with some leftover chestnuts. And fried hard tofu. Served with quinoa. Very brown and plain, but tasted nice.

white green asparagus

asparaguswhitegreen

Cooked the white and green asparagus we bought yesterday in Stockholm. There are recipes that say serve white asparagus with hollandaise, viniagrette or other sauces. Since we eat plainly at home, I just steamed them. Steamed the green asparagus and broccolini first, then kept warm before steaming the white asparagus by themselves for about 15mins. Mum bought beef kebab skewers and pork sausages so we had those with the vegetables. Last time I had white asparagus I found them a bit tasteless, this time was such a huge difference — they are sweeter and have a more delicate flavour. Yes they are expensive (8 spears each cost almost £20) and the season is short, all the more reason to savour them and treat them right.

roasted beet & sweet potato stack

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Something simple and vegetarian for Boxing Day. This is from thekitchn. What caught my eye was that they could be made in advance, although I don’t see why they can’t be made on the day. I actually did make them yesterday, roasted the beets and sweet potatoes at the same time I was making that massive christmas feast. I managed to get 3 large beets which cut up into nice rounds. I used the larger ends of the sweet potatoes and the rest went with the roast.

To assemble, start with a slice of beet, then goat’s cheese, sweet potato and top with beet greens. Repeat to make a stack. Reheat in the oven for about 15mins. I made a vinaigrette from orange juice, mustard, balsamic and EVOO to go with it. Very simple, and tasted great. The sweetness of the potato and the vinaigrette plus the beets and everything held together by the goat’s cheese. It was difficult to eat the stack, I ended up breaking them into 4 smaller half-stacks.

Visually, it’s pretty stunning. If only I were able to get better produce. The beets were okay, but i ended up with white sweet potatoes which, while tasting sweet and wonderful, have a tendency to go grey and woody. I probably should have soaked them in water when I was prepping them. Sigh. Imagine if I was able to make this dish with yellow beets and purple sweet potato, what a switch up, wow. And then serve with something a little crunchy: the recipe had toasted walnuts and fried onions, so obviously I omitted them. Could probably have done with a sprinkling of panko, or to be real fancy, some sort of tuile on top. You know, just to be chef-y.

lamb, kale, tahini

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I’ve been wanting to try this kale with tahini recipe for ages. I’m not familiar with kale, but I have a good idea of how it could taste like. It’s very easy, just sautée garlic and kale until soft, then toss in a mixture of tahini, water, lemon juice (I used lime), sesame oil and salt. It’s really good. The kale never lost its vibrant green colour, and was cooked until just soft. I went running today, so I’m allowed lamb. Had a couple of chops with the kale and some grilled asparagus.<

shopping

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I should have done 5 miles today, but with a still niggly knee I did the “listen to your body” thing and opted for rest. Did go to the supermarket and got the week’s shopping done instead, so that’s a good thing. Bought some red beets. Sigh, I’m missing: golden beets, honeycrisp apples, heirloom tomatoes and all manners of squashes.

spaghetti with homemade pea pesto

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peapesto02 peapesto04

700g (about 1.5lbs) peas, shelled — use frozen if fresh not available
2 tbsp roasted pine nuts
80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
30g (1/3 cup) parmesan
1 clove garlic

This is a great recipe from smitten kitchen that I’ve wanted to make for a few weeks. Just happened that fresh peas were on discount, so I got a big bag. I’d never bought fresh peas before, and even the shelling process was fun.

Cook peas in boiling water for about 3mins until just done, drain and cool. Meanwhile dry roast the pine nuts if not already roasted. Put peas, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic and s&p in food processor and blitz until smooth. Slowly add olive oil. Blitz some more.

Cook pasta and drain, saving the cooking water. Return pasta to pan and add pesto, using pasta water to dilute to a loose paste consistency. Season and serve.

simple delicious roasted cauliflower

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I made roasted cauliflower from a recipe from summer tomato.

Cut cauliflower into small florets, season with olive oil, s&p and a little paprika, cover with foil and roast in a very hot oven (250°C) for 10-15mins to steam cook. Remove foil, return to oven and toss every 5mins until caramelised.

I’m not a big cauliflower fan. I’ll eat it, but aside from trying to make cauliflower cheese that one time, I can’t remember buying it very often. I think that will change. This is fabulous. So sweet, so delicious, so simple. I went running for 2hrs+ today, so I’m allowed a big dinner. I had 3 pork & apple sausages (yum) and about 1/4 of the cauliflower. Very tempted to chomp more of this.

quorn stir fry

quornstirfry

Another vegetarian wednesday. Last night I made a stir fry with quorn pieces, broccolini, baby corn, mange tout, red and yellow peppers. Easy to heat up for lunch. Didn’t have it with anything but could have added noodles or rice or pasta or something starchy, except I try not to eat too much carbs.

shakshuka

shakshuka01

I came across yotam ottolenghi’s shakshuka recipe the other day. I’m not familiar with chef ottolenghi, although I gather he’s fairly well known in the UK. Shakshuka is a middle-eastern dish that has many variations.

The normal recipe calls for sweating onions in olive oil, but I skipped it and used 2 cloves of garlic instead. Then I added sliced peppers, one red and one orange. Cooked for about 5mins with fresh basil, thyme, paprika and cumin till soft. Added 1 can of tomato and cooked even more until the peppers were very soft and the mixture with a consistency of pasta sauce. Made 2 depressions and cracked in 2 eggs, covered the pan and cooked until the eggs were just done.

The best thing about this dish is that it’s so delicious that you just eat it straight from the pan. Scoop it out onto bread and that’s it. Heavenly.

summer squash and cottage cheese gratin

squashgratin02

This is from nyt.

medium tub small-curd cottage cheese (it’s a 2 cup tub, I’ll need to check weight next time)
50g shredded mozzarella
750g | 1.5lbs assorted courgettes and squash
1 small onion
4 eggs
parsley, garlic, s&p

  • strain cottage cheese for at least 20mins to get rid of excess liquid
  • sprinkle salt over diced courgettes and drain
  • sweat onion with garlic until soft
  • beat eggs, add cheeses, onion, garlic, courgettes, parsley, season
  • bake at 180°C for about 1hr until golden brown
  • rest for 5-10mins in pan before serving

Next time I’m going to skip the onion. I should have known better. They suggested serving with tomato sauce and I agree, eggs and tomato sauce go well together. It was a great dish to eat hot or cold; as main dish or side.

#59(10) summer lasagna

summerlasagna01

I read about summer lasagna recipes at the kitchn. I never make lasagna because it takes too long and it’s too stodgy for me, but take out the baking and the heavy sauce and it’s a great version of a traditional dish. They had a few recipes, this one at framed was the closest to how I wanted it, and had the best picture.

Normally lasagna is made with ricotta but I didn’t have it, and besides I’m not a huge fan. I substituted mozzarella instead.

  • cook lasagna sheets in water until done — took longer than the packet said, then I realised the packet assume the sheets will be baked later; altogether around 15mins
  • sauté courgettes in garlic until soft — the pic doesn’t show it well, I had both green and yellow courgettes
  • once courgettes are almost done, toss cherry tomatoes into the pan to cook for a bit, then add red pesto
  • start building — vegetables, pasta, cheese, vegetable, pasta, cheese, vegetable
  • decorate with fresh basil, a drizzle of EVOO and fresh ground pepper

#58(10) savoury dish: cauliflower cheese

caulicheese01

It doesn’t get more traditional than cauliflower cheese. And no, New York Times, it’s NOT cauliflower and cheese. No, no, no.

I used yellow cauliflower, so now I’ve had white, green and yellow. Next up, purple.

  1. trim off leaves, steam the whole head for about 15mins till tender
  2. cut into florets, arrange in a single layer in oven dish
  3. make a roux from 2oz butter, 3tbsp flour
  4. add about 3/4 pint milk (I used a mixture of cream and milk) slowly, stirring constantly until just bubbling
  5. add 4oz shredded cheese
  6. pour sauce over cauliflower, season
  7. bake at 200°C for 30-40mins until golden brown

Big, big difference between this one and what used to be served to us at school. No comparison.

#59(9) rigatoni with broccoli rabe

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A lively discussion was had when my post about broccoflower fed over to facebook. Among the topics discussed were canned asparagus and broccolini. Broccolini is known in the UK as tenderstem broccoli and was the featured ingredient in the 2008 bbc good food calendar. I’ve never seen it in any of my supermarkets or markets here, but I still decided to look for it this weekend.

Not surprised that I couldn’t find it. I did however find broccoli rabe (aka rapini) at Edgewater Produce (can always rely on them for fruits and vegs, and an overflowing shopping basket for around $20, that’s another post). A number of recipes online use it like broccoli, especially in a pasta dish. So that’s what I did. Sautéed it with garlic, threw in a few cherry tomatoes for colour and served it with rigatoni. Needed to carb up for a 10k practice run, so it was perfect.

It has more “green” flavour than broccoli, that’s true. I didn’t find it bitter, the trick when cooking is to teat it like any other stem-y veg you find at Asian wet markets — in terms of taste and appearance it’s more like gai lan or choy sum, so I added soy sauce and a bit of sugar in addition to the usual s&p. I’ll buy it again, for sure.

#57(10) new veg: broccoflower

broccoflower01 broccoflower02

That actually is a green cauliflower, I’m not kidding. It’s a hybrid between broccoli and cauliflower called broccoflower. In terms of taste, it’s like broccoli. You cook it like either. I stir-fried it with red peppers and chicken. Tossed in some tagliatelle in place of regular noodles and it was a very nice tasting and looking dish.

cooking weekend

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I went crazy with the cooking this weekend, and have ended up with way more food than one person can reasonably consume. Heck, a whole family. Recipes to be posted in due course but here’s what I made:

  • braised turkey leg from elise — turkey drumsticks, mirepoix, turkey stock, potato, carrot and parsnips for 3 hrs on the hob — a satisfying and economical stew for the winter
  • roasted brussels sprouts, elise again — roasted with olive oil, garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice and plenty of salt — surprisingly irresistible, the outside leaves were crunchy and the inside wasn’t mushy like traditional boiled sprouts
  • eggs baked in potato skin, from kate in the kitchen — easy to make, if a little time consuming (potatoes take 1 hr to bake, eggs take 15mins to set) but so good! For a non-vegetarian version, sprinkle some bacon bits on top
  • mashed potato — from the potato flesh, see above. I made 3 baked potatoes so lots of mash, and also 6 of those baked egg skins
  • grilled chicken thigh — a whole pack of 8, for during the week
  • blueberry muffins — one of my standby recipes, from delia’s summer collection — i can never get the muffins to puff up like commercially made ones, but i’ve always loved these, and they are never too sweet

There’s also mushroom, rocket, spinach, yellow pepper, carrots and cherry tomatoes in the fridge, as well as honeycrisp apples and red bartlett pears. How much running do I have to do to eat all of that?!

#58(9) new dish: mushroom asparagus bread pudding

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I hadn’t given savoury bread puddings much thought, because of the whole carb thing. But I was looking for new vegetarian recipes and came across this at 101 cookbooks. And the more I read about it, the more sense it makes that it will be a nice, filling dish for main course or as a side dish.

I cut up about 2/3 of a round of sourdough bread into cubes. The bread needed to be stale, and mine had only been out for a day. So I took as much of the crusty part as possible. Instead of sourdough, I think any type of crusty, heavier-than-sliced-white bread will do.

I then added diced mushroom and asparagus. Ended up about half a punnet of mushrooms and about 12 stalks of asparagus. There really is no need to measure, but put in as much as the pan can fit.

The liquid was a mixture of 2 eggs plus 500ml milk and stock (about 2:1 ratio). The recipe talked about cups, which always confuses me. I used ‘normal’ milk, I think skim milk will be too thin. And because this was vegetarian week I used vegetable stock, any other time I would have used chicken stock.

I let the liquid soak into the bread for a bit, then baked at 200°C for 1 hr until the bread is golden brown. Let the pudding stand for 5-10mins before serving.

It’s good! I’ll definitely make it again. There are so many other vegetables that can be used — peppers, butternut squash, root vegetables.

farmer’s market spoils

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I went crazy at the farmer’s markets this week. Yesterday I went to the one downtown and bought 8 bags of dried cherries, cranberries and blueberries — enough for the winter. Today I went to my local one and bought enough fruit and veg for…definitely enough to last me 1-2 weeks. Mushroom medley of shiitake, crimini and oyster $10; butternut squash $2; heirloom tomatoes $6.50 (a bit pricey, those); apples (a variety similar to honey crisp, I forget) $5 and bartlett pears $2. Bear in mind I still have courgettes, salad leaves and orange peppers in the fridge. Oh, salad days are never over.

#58(7) new dish: warm quinoa salad with 5 vegetables

warm quinoa salad with 5 vegetables

Quinoa is new to me, I’ve read many good things about it. I ended up picking at it while cooking and it’s kinda addictive. As usual Elise has the perfect description,

It has this wonderful nutty flavor, that actually doesn’t need much added to it; I used to make a quick batch, pour on some flax seed oil, sprinkle with a little salt, and gobble it up.

This dish is based loosely from a recipe from 100 cookbooks. Well actually, the only things I have in common with Heidi’s recipe are the quinoa and tomatoes. But that’s the point of this recipe, its flexibility and how it’s a great use of whatever vegetables and ingredients are sitting around in the fridge.

  1. cook quinoa according to instructions — simmer in double volume of water until completely absorbed, very similar to cooking rice
  2. in a frying pan, heat 1 clove of garlic with olive oil, then add the quinoa
  3. add vegetables — i had leftover carrots, mushroom and i supplemented them with frozen corn and spinach. Frying them all up it’s a bit like making fried rice
  4. add diced baked bread cheese just before turning off the heat
  5. season, and dress with red pesto
  6. top with dried cranberries and roasted cherry tomato

Basically, any dried robust vegetable can be used. Use tofu, halloumi or feta in place of the baked cheese. This is a completely vegetarian dish, but it didn’t taste like it’s just vegetarian.

six peppers three dips

sixpeppers02

Something else I got at the farmer’s market, this time at the Daley Plaza market in town, are white and purple peppers. The last time I had these peppers was when I was in Sydney with Mum, a million years ago.

I decided to use multi-coloured peppers, so I cut up green, red, yellow and orange in addition to these ones, making a total of 6 types of peppers. Made a nice presentation. Served with 3 dips: hummus, yogurt cheese (in lieu of sour cream) and guacamole.

In taste and texture I like the purple ones better, they’re like green peppers only crunchier and without that peppery taste. The white ones, like most white food, are pretty bland.

#57(8) new vegetable: patty pan squash

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I saw this recipe on chocolate et zucchini and immediately thought about all the various courgettes, zucchinis and squashes that are available during the summer months at farmer’s markets.

pattysquash

These are small patty pan (aka scallop, aka button) squash. Only $2 for the punnet. Of course at the farmer’s market the produce are not standard shaped like what you’d get at a supermarket, and that’s part of the charm.

I topped and tailed the squash, slicing into wedges — 8 for a large squash and quartered for smaller ones. Roasted at 200°C with salt and olive oil for 30mins until slightly browned.

In the meantime I made the dressing. And here is where I deviated from Clotilde’s recipe. Instead of mint, chives and coriander I only used mint cos that’s the only one I like. I didn’t have lemons but I had limes, which I thought gave it better flavour. I chopped the mint with lime zest. Mixed with lime juice, a few capers, black pepper and EVOO. I didn’t have paprika or cayenne so I left it out. It was a bit too salty so I added a dash of balsamic vinegar.

When the squash was done, I tossed the wedges and drained chickpeas with the dressing. Oh my, very delicious!

farmers market

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I made it to the farmer’s market again. There seems to be even more people, and more stalls. Nice to see people coming out in support of local farmers.

I bought yellow zucchinis, beets and white nectarines. I’ve always bought beets from cans or jars so it’ll be interesting to see how I deal with this bunch. The white nectarines taste more like plums, I wonder if they mislabelled.

I also bought some more of the baked cheese from before and a baguette from bennison’s. When I got home I just sliced up the baguette and had it plain with a drizzle of EVOO…it was yummy.

#57(6) new vegetable: swede aka rutabaga

swede01 swede04

I was looking at recipes for lamb shanks, and the one by elise which i made last weekend is with roasted root vegetables of carrots, parsnips and rutabaga. I didn’t know what rutabaga was, aside from that it’s related to turnips. When i got one at the supermarket, it turned out that it’s a swede. I was relieved, cos I can deal with swede, though i’d never cooked with it before.

As with root vegetables, the options are to boil, mash or roast. It’s just a matter of dicing them up, tossing in olive oil, season and roast for 1 hour. I added some fresh rosemary cos I had it for the lamb. I’ll use it again, as substitute for sweet potatoes or pumpkin. Or in addition.

#57(5) new vegetable: water courgette

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saw these in the market. the sign says greenhouse water [generic word for melon], or water courgettes. They look more like cucumbers, although the flower at the top suggests strongly they are in the courgette family. Never seen them this long though.

I never peel courgettes but the skin on these were tough, so i did peel them. Sautéed them in olive oil with some leftover vegetables — pumpkin, carrots, chestnuts. Added half a spoon of red pesto for flavour. Very easy dish to make, very healthy, very tasty. And the water courgettes taste just like regular courgettes, only a little more watery.

#59(3) new pasta: zucchini as pasta

zucchinipasta

This is a recent Recipe for Health at the New York Times. Very simple to make and a great pasta substitute.

Slice a zucchini (courgette) into thin ribbons using a potato peeler so they look just like fettuccine. Sauté in olive oil for a few minutes. Remove before they get soggy. Season.

This can be eaten as is, or the recipe recommends adding tomato sauce. I ran out of red pesto and didn’t have jars of sauce handy so I chopped up a ripe tomato and mixed it up with a little balsamic vinegar and Italian seasoning so it had a salsa-like consistency.

Easy to make, tasted great. I had it cold the next day and it tasted even better.

#57(1) new vegetable: courgette (zucchini) flowers

courgetteflowers02 courgetteflowers06

I tasted a tiny slice of heaven today. I’ve heard about courgette (aka zucchini in some parts of the world) flowers and how delicate they are. There are recipes for deep fried or stuffed with cheese and all looks good.

So Car’s grandmother received a small handful of freshly picked courgette flowers yesterday. They can’t keep so she had to prepare them today. First she cleaned them carefully, then parboiled in water until they were soft. Even after parboiling the orange colour was still dominant. She then dipped them in a batter made from flour, baking powder (obviously SR flour will also do), water and beaten egg. She then pan fried them. There was leftover batter so it became a sort of frittata-like fritter.

It took all of 10 minutes for the plate to disappear. Very delicioius.

day 9: brätwurst mit rösti

bratwurstrosti

It’s funny, when I lived in Switzerland I never made rösti from scratch. I guess it’s because it was so easy with the packaged stuff, just empty into a pan and fry up. And lots of flavours too!

When I left, my friends gave me a couple of Swiss cookbooks, one of which is Cooking in Switzerland by Marianne Kaltenbach. There on page 66 is a recipe for traditional rösti.

Parboil potatoes until partially tender, then cool and leave overnight
Peel and grate coarsely
Heat a knob of butter in a heavy frying pan and add the potatoes
Season with salt & pepper
Squash with a wooden spoon then sprinkle about 1 tbsp milk on top
Cover the pan and lower the heat
After about 20-25mins a crust would form and the rösti can move about in the pan
Carefully turn out onto a plate

What better to serve with traditional rösti than traditional brätwurst? Holy smokes, this all taste exactly of Switzerland.

beets and eggs

I read about beet pickled eggs in a story and how delicious they were, so I had to try making it. I had the egg with a salad of tomato, green pepper, avocado, beets from the pickling mix and some sweetcorn. It’s very nice.

beeteggs04

It’s a simple recipe.

  • Hard boil 12 eggs and peel.
  • Drain off juices of canned beets — I used 1 can sliced and 1 jar of whole baby beets — no particular reason for the mix, just thought it’d be interesting.
  • Heat the juice up with 250ml cider vinegar and half the volume of sugar as the vinegar. Simmer for 15 mins.
  • Arrange eggs and beets in an airtight jar and pour hot liquid over them.
  • Leave in fridge at least overnight.

I actually didn’t quite have enough liquid so the eggs aren’t fully covered. The beets do the job of pickling I suppose. In any case, I made the batch on Sunday and I’ve had a few of the eggs now, it’s enough to transfer so one jar is completely full and I’ll finish off the other jar soon. The last picture shows the large jar today, so the batch is 3 days old. I’m wondering if I’ll be able to resist the temptation … I want to leave the eggs in the pickling mix at least 3 weeks to see how they taste like.

beeteggs01 beeteggs02 beeteggs03

I realise I’ve had all manners of “weird” eggs. The not so weird is Scotch eggs. Yum, I miss these. If only I can get decent sausage meat, Delia has a great recipe.

The weird-but-not-to-those-who-know is century eggs, aka thousand year old eggs. These are duck eggs preserved and pretty much fermented. Some posh chinese restaurants serve them as hors d’oeuvre with pickled ginger; normally they’re used in congee. Distinctive black/brown colouring, cheesy smell and soft texture. Pretty nice, actually.

The truly weird are iron eggs from Taiwan. These are sold as street snacks and involve boiling in soy sauce for hours and hours until the eggs have shrunk and become hard … hence the iron. Actually they taste more rubbery than metallic.

flickr
photo courtesy chotda@flickr
centuryegg
photo courtesy wikipedia
iron eggs
photo courtesy Ministry of Economic Affairs Taiwan

new recipes

stuffedcabbage   chickensquidinkpasta

When I was in Chicago, Gram showed me how to make her version of stuffed cabbage, which was basically cabbage lasagna. I adapted it further last weekend, and mine ended up even more like lasagna.

Stuffed cabbage

Blanch half a head of cabbage until soft, then line the bottom of a baking dish.
Cook rice — I used brown rice. Let to cool, then combine with minced beef. Season and spoon half onto cabbage leaves.
Combine 1 can chopped tomato with 1 can tomato soup, diluted with half a can water. Add to filling.
Line more cabbage on filling.
Spoon over rest of filling and sauce, leaving some sauce for topping.
Add top layer of cabbage, then rest of sauce.
Bake in oven for about 1 hour at 180°C, first cover with foil then remove the foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking.

Another new recipe is chicken & spinach with pasta. I had some squid ink pasta opened so I used that, though I should have used normal pasta.

Chicken & spinach with pasta

Dice 2 skinned, deboned chicken leg, or 3-4 deboned chicken thighs.
Sauté until brown, season. Squeeze a little lemon juice on top.
Add frozen spinach and cook till done.
Add 1 tsp pesto, plus some of the pasta cooking water.
Add pasta and toss in pan.

hot!

I made green curry vegetables over the weekend.

3 potatoes
4 carrots
1 small cauliflower
handful of cherry tomatoes (cos I had some leftover)
1 can coconut milk
garlic, shallot
a packet of green curry paste
frozen vegetable stock I made a few weeks ago

It looks a little watery, like a porridge actually. The cauliflower disintegrated overnight and the paste probably got overwhelmed by the creaminess of the coconut milk. But by gosh it’s HOT!! I sprinkled a little mint on top — I suppose I should be using Thai basil or parsley (no coriander, I don’t like coriander) but I didn’t have any of those. Besides, it’s my own mint, from my window box. Accompanied by roti prata that I fried from frozen.

green curry vegetable

Oh, and I brought the white plate back home especially because I needed a hollowed dish, and because it’s nicer to photograph with a white plate.

500 words on vegetables

I don’t like onions. I cook with them when they’ll melt or be part of the flavour. Like I’d use onions in a stew or spring (salad) onions when I steam fish. But I never eat it if I can see it, even if it means being a total slob and picking them out. Reason isn’t that cutting onions make my eyes water, or that raw onions burn my mouth. I simply don’t like onions or anything related to onions. Although I like the idea of onions, where each layer peels off to reveal another.

I don’t stay away from all strong foods. I love garlic. Can’t stand coriander (cilantro to ye across the pond). Not keen on aubergines (eggplants, duh). May be one of the qualifying criteria is they are known by different names. But, using that logic I should dislike courgettes (zucchini) but I don’t, so that theory’s out of the window.

Artichokes. What other act not involving another human being is as sensual as eating an artichoke. See what I mean about depth and peeling off layers? The peeling of the leaves, dipping in butter or mayonnaise, scraping the flesh out, swirling around your mouth like good wine, savouring the taste all over. Then repeat with each leaf until you get to the heart. Best part. Taste of heaven. In the 16th century, artichokes were reserved for men only because it was considered an aphrodisiac. May be they weren’t all wrong.

There’s something about root vegetables that’s super comforting. Favourites are roasted carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips and pumpkin. For the longest time I never had pumpkin, we never had it at home and I used to be unsure about how to cook them. Plus it seemed a bother to peel and what not. Boy have I been missing out on yummy goodness. Best roast potatoes are par-boiled in water, drain off the water, put the lid back on, shake then roast in goose or duck fat. Guaranteed perfection.

In Switzerland I virtually existed on rocket, otherwise known as rucola, rugula, arugula and roquette – this baby’s got so many names. No dressing, just sea salt and pepper. I might add avocado or cherry tomatoes to make a salad. But normally it’s just a big bowl of the stuff.

I tried growing my own herbs. The basil you buy in a pot from the supermarket doesn’t transplant well, I’ve tried enough times, they always wilt away after a while. Mint is no problem, I have a pot growing on my windowsill. A Greek restaurant lady taught me this recipe for the most exquisite iced tea: strong earl grey tea, seven-up, lemon, lime and mint leaves. I love the smell and taste of rosemary. This one time I was making herb roasted chicken and rosemary potatoes on a hot summer day but I had to close the balcony door because the kitchen was being attacked by wasps, attracted by the smell of the rosemary.