Food stuff

Jul. 2nd, 2011 12:59 pm
strange_raptors: Samuel Whiskers from Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Tom Kitten" (Samuel Whiskers cooking)
I have:
A tin of chickpeas (possibly 2)
A jar of harissa paste
Some uncooked chicken (~500g)
A large tub of yoghurt 
Lemons (not preserved)
Cinnamon sticks

I feel sure that there should be some Moroccan-style recipe which incorporates all of these, but I've yet to find it. What I would like is some kind of stew thing (maybe sans yoghurt) which I can reheat to have with couscous. Maybe with the yoghurt on the side, mixed with cucumber and mint (alá this recipe).

Opinion seems to be split about how to cook the aubergines -- you can marinate them in the harissa, brush them with oil and fry/grill them separately, or roast them. 

So, I guess a rough recipe could look like:
1) Chop into largeish chunks the tomatoes and aubergine and roast with lots of olive oil for about an hour at 180 (fan) (after this recipe)
2) Gently fry chopped onion and garlic for ~20 until very soft.
3) Add cumin, coriander, a cinnamon stick and cloves (all the c's!) to the onion and heat for a bit.
4) Add diced chicken to the spices and stir well to coat, then add the aubergine and tomatoes and chuck in rinsed chickpeas. 
5) Also add lemon zest! And 1-2 tspns of harissa.
6) Cook for half an hour or so.
7) I suspect this is one of those recipes which improves with age. Serve with couscous and yoghurt.

Note: You could add spinach. Spinach is tasty and healthy. 

Further note: I have not actually cooked this. Take this recipe to the kitchen with a healthy dose of common sense and scepticism. I'm not quite convinced by the separate cooking of the vegetables, because I feel that in a dish like this all the ingredients should be on very friendly terms/offering to babysit each other's children/leaping into bed with one another. 

Any thoughts?

In other news, ahahahaha, oh god wedding.
strange_raptors: Samuel Whiskers from Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Tom Kitten" (Samuel Whiskers cooking)
This afternoon, Footnote and I visited the fish wholesalers and bought two swordfish steaks, eight scallops (with roe still attached), and a piece of smoked haddock. We had the scallops for lunch, based on a Nigel Slater recipe:

1) Fry scallops in some oil on a high heat for a minute or two on the first side. (Warning: They will spit an awful lot)
2) Flip them (the cooked sides should now be a golden colour) and cook for another minute or two. 
3) Remove scallops from the pan, add a large piece of butter and some sliced garlic and stir butter and garlic in the pan so that the beautiful, beautiful pan scrapings melt into the butter. Cook for a minute or two.
4) Add freshly cooked pasta to the pan and coat with the garlicky, buttery, pan juices. Add lemon zest.
5) Serve, with some lemon on the side.

That went down exceedingly well (it's a lovely recipe, and really brings out the scallops' sweetness). Then for dinner we fried the swordfish steaks in the griddle, and served them with sautéed potatoes, green beans, and hollandaise sauce. It was the first time I'd tried swordfish and I can't say I was all that taken with it (certainly not as nice as tuna, and perhaps a little less nice than salmon). I thought the nicest part of the meal was dipping green beans into the hollandaise. 

People say making hollandaise is difficult, as it has a tendency to curdle. Generally I've found the following recipe fairly foolproof (using one egg yolk to approximately 66g of butter):

1)  Place the egg yolk(s) in a heatproof bowl (pyrex is really good) over a pan of gently simmering water. Add a splash of a water and whisk a little.
2) Cut the butter up into little cubes.
3) Add two of the cubes to the egg yolk(s) and whisk in.
4) Repeat step 3) until you have no more butter.
5) Remove the bowl from the heat and add a squeeze of lemon juice.

Whilst on holiday in Lyme Regis we had some of the nicest fish and chips I've had for a long time -- the fish batter crisp, the fish inside soft and delicate, and the chips crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle. They were absolutely perfect. I do slightly despair of the fish and chip situation in Oxford, indeed I think it's one of the city's main food flaws. But when you're in the middle of the country, I guess you can't expect much. 


Aug. 24th, 2010 12:44 am
strange_raptors: Samuel Whiskers from Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Tom Kitten" (Samuel Whiskers cooking)
I really quite like living near to an Aldi. You're never quite sure what you're going to find there, beyond a few staples, except that it's going to be cheap. Letting me go to Aldi on my own is a bit like letting Footnote into a pound shop -- ultimately, not much money is spent, but large quantities of possibly useless things are acquired.

During one of these lone trips to Aldi, I recently purchased a packet of dried habanero chillies (for some ridiculous price). Habanero chillies, as some of you may know, are one of the hottest chillies known to exist (100,000 to 350,000 on the Scoville scale, so wikipedia tells me). In my defence, I misread the packet and thought they were jalapeño chilli peppers (it's not much of a defence, admittedly). 

My brief poke of the internet informs me that habanero chillies are used in Mexican cookery, which I may have a go at. And, of course, I could substitute them in for chillies in chill con carne. But does anyone have any recipes in particular that use such a spicy chilli? I'm willing to try many things, as I have an entire packet to get through. 

Now, everyone sing along with me:

strange_raptors: And then raptors came through the stargate ... (Default)
To prove to you all that I am not wasting away here in the north pining for .ox, I present two photos of today's dinner.

Cut for gratuitous food photography )
strange_raptors: Samuel Whiskers from Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Tom Kitten" (Samuel Whiskers cooking)
It may seem hard to believe, but before I started university I didn't really eat vegetables. I thought they were pretty icky, all in all. And whilst this no longer is the case, due to gentle prodding from Footnote and the way of growing up, vegetables do sometimes seem too much effort. Thus it was that I discovered the unhappy case of the broccoli a week past its sell-by date in the fridge. Thankfully, it was only just starting to go a little grey and squidgy in a few areas, so it was still useable, though not in the usual way. Cue the plan of soup!

Soup is awesome. Soup is the magic of the kitchen made real, where normally unpalatable ingredients are cooked (and sometimes blended) to produce something hearty, warming, and generally highly satisfying. And the thing about soup is that it doesn't have one defined taste, one defined way of seasoning or texture. It can be anything you want it to be. 

So, the broccoli was made into a spicy blended soup. The basic soup base to a thick soup (the sort that will usually be blended to a smooth consistency) is formed from frying onions in some butter/oil, peeling and chopping up a few potatoes and adding them, then adding a quantity of stock. Add the main ingredient/s of your soup to the bubbling pot (although potato soup is wonderful and awesome, and is the Best Thing Ever when combined with small cubes of blue cheese and chopped up sausage). Allow stuff to cook and then after 20-25 minutes or so, blend. Add cream/creme fraiche/cheese/seasoning/lemon juice. Stir. Your soup will keep for a while *and* (this is the best bit) will taste better as each day passes! Truly, soup is the food of the gods.

For the broccoli soup in particular, I added Thai seven spice to the frying onions, then after it was blended I added lime juice and yoghurt. I think the yoghurt may have been a mistake, but both L and I had large bowlfuls so it wasn't totally a disaster. Anyway, experiment. Soup is what you make it. 
strange_raptors: Samuel Whiskers from Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Tom Kitten" (Samuel Whiskers cooking)
To formalise the start of my posting on dw I thought I'd give the recipe of today's dinner. 

In the vegetable trolley, looking lost and forlorn was an aubergine. I really like aubergines. They can be really terrible, but I enjoy cooking with them and they tend to add a really nice flavour to dishes. They also have a real affinity with fat; they absorb it, and soften to delectable silken flesh. That's why they work so well with feta - the sharp cheese cuts through their softness and sets up a beautiful contrast. However, there was no feta in tonight's dinner. Tonight, there was pancetta.

A block of pancetta tends to live in the fridge. It's difficult to get very thin slices, but it's easy enough to cut cubes and thickish slices (sort of how I imagine bacon should be cut, before the invention of fine slicing machines - like the bacon in the Studio Ghibli version of Howl's Moving Castle). Anyway, I cubed the pancetta and L chopped the aubergine into cubes. The pasta went on (doesn't matter what sort, really. I used farfalle), and the pancetta went on a reasonably high heat. As soon as the fat began to render, the aubergine went into the pan and was left to fry with the pancetta until golden and soft. The pasta was drained, tossed with a bit of olive oil and some crushed garlic, then the aubergine and pancetta was added. 

Result: Pasta with garlic and soft aubergine and crisp pancetta. Absolutely lovely.