Friday, 27 November 2009

I really need some pictures. And soon.

In the past few weeks, I have been eating breakfasts at cafes trying to find some black pudding which I like. I have been unsuccessful and have now given up. I don't think I like black pudding. If anyone is desperate to prove me wrong, let me know.

Has anyone seen the episode of Red Dwarf called "Demons and Angels" from Series 5? The crew encounter angelic and demonic versions of their spaceship and themselves. Lister finds that in the angelic ship, even the Pot Noodle from the vending machine tastes decent.

I was reminded of this when I deep-fried a piece of tempeh this evening in the oil left over from some chips. The taste of tempeh is something I have trouble trying to find anything good to say about, but when deep fried, like Lister's angelic Pot Noodle it was decent. Actually, it's not the taste which is weird -therefore I love- it's the texture. It's like a mass of bean vomit.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

South East Asia influences my rice dish

I was inspired to make tonight's dinner by the Vietnamese food I ate in Berlin. Which kind of saved my life. I was very cold and hungry and losing the will, so this brought me back from the brink. I liked the cooked-raw, sweet-savoury, spicy-sour, hot-cold, soft-crunchy thing going on and tried to recreate it a little here.

For three people I used:

1 1/2 cups rice, I used brown
1 pound / 1/2 kilo of firm tofu
1 courgette (about 15 cm / 6 inches long)
1 carrot (about the same size as the courgette)
1 small onion
1 bell pepper / capsicum - I used a green one
1 heaped tablespoon of sesame seeds
1 handful of uncooked redskin peanuts
1 handful desiccated coconut
4 cloves garlic
1 inch / 4cm ginger root
1 small squeeze tomato puree
light oil e.g. groundnut / veg / sunflower / sesame

seasonings and spices:

cayenne pepper
soy sauce
chilli powder
ground coriander
worcester sauce
lemon juice

to finish
fresh coriander. parsley might work. I don't know, you tell me.
lemon / lime juice

1. Cook the rice in plain water. When it is done, drain excess water and keep warm.
2. While rice is cooking, cut the tofu into 1cm / 3/4 inch cubes and season with salt, pepper, soy sauce, worcester sauce, lemon juice, a bit of sugar, tomato puree. you can experiment here. mix the tofu well in the spices and condiments. If you have time, leave to marinate.
3. lift tofu cubes out of marinade and fry with some slivers of fresh ginger in a little oil until they have some brown colour and crispness. when they are ready, lift out of frying pan / wok if there is any leftover marinade, mix it. set to one side and keep warm.
4. slice onion and pepper into thin strips and crush or finely chop the garlic. Shallow fry in the same pan you used for the tofu and season. Lift out of pan and mix in with tofu.
5. cut courgette into batons and fry, adding salt, pepper and cayenne pepper until it has a bi of brown colour. lift out of pan and mix in with tofu and vegetables.
6. dry fry your peanuts until they start to brown in places and their skins blister. remove the skins- they should rub off easily, and halve or chop roughly.
7. Your rice should be done in the time it has taken to prep and cook the veg. In the frying pan, throw in your dessicated coconut and toast it slightly over heat. Be careful, it burns very easily.
8. Stir in your drained rice, add salt, a bit of sugar and chilli powder. Heat up rice and add your vegetables and tofu.
9. Top with the peanuts and finely grated carrot.
10. Squeeze the juice of a quarter of a lemon onto the rice dish.
11. Serve with chopped coriander leaves on top and extra lemon juice if needed.

Notes: Would maybe work well with fish / meat / poultry in place of the tofu. Please report back. The brown rice I used worked well because it held its shape and didn't squish when being mixed at various stages.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Wow and Futter (or what I ate on my Holidays)

Edinburgh, drizzly Saturday evening.
I ate a place called the Lot. It was inoffensive blonde wood and baby blue gloss railings. Reminded me a bit of a nursery.

I asked for a glass of white wine, and my waiter didn't ask me what kind of wine I wanted. Make of that what you will. Does that mean I didn't care? Was I supposed to ask what wine they had? Please advise, someone.

My starter was brie melted over salad leaves and artichoke hearts with an oil and vinegar dressing. It was very pleasant, and I think I will try this out at home. I was offered no bread with this salad. Again, should they have, even though I was glad they didn't because I would have been too full?

My main was a smoked haddock and salmon pie with goat's cheese mash. It came with a welcome salad. The only thing which spoiled the pie was the breadcrumb garnish on the top, which just tasted a bit like burnt toast and were too hard to chew.

My next foray into food was Cafe Vux in the Neukoelln district of Berlin. They had very impressive vegan buffet;
feijoda made with tofu, an incredibly yummy white bean and lavender dip. I find lavender very strong and associate it with sweet food, but this was amazing. Also, the vegan Heringsalat was something I will have to try to make at home. There were little cups of rice pudding with dessicated toasted coconut and pistachio and rose cupcakes. I also really liked the apple and celery salad. The trick with celery is to cut it up into tiny cubes; each side should be no more then half a centimetre long. Go there if you go to Germany's capital and want (vegan) food inspiration.

I was tempted to bring home a jar of Zwiebel Schmalz, which is as disgusting as it sounds, but remember, I like some really awful stuff e.g. Cherry Lambrini and Dairylea (not together). Schmalz is the German for "lard", but with less negative connotations. Still, it's lard; it was a savoury spread made of vegetable fat, yeast extract and those dried fried onions you can get. I decided it wasn't worth bringing some home.

I did bring home some Harzer Rolle or Handkaese, which is this disgusting rubbery very low fat cheese which looks like a Babybel sized round of congealed Vaseline.

Sunday evening, Boitel made a lovely Pumpkin risotto and a lentil soup flavoured with mint. My contribution was a very sharp salad dressing made of lemon juice and tahini which needed sweetening with agave syrup. I ended up eating most of it. I think it was too far out for my dining companions.

Other highlights was a Vietnamese dish of rice with tofu in an orange coloured sauce which had flavours of coconut, lemongrass, star anise, chilli and salt. On top of it was a very fresh salad with toasted peanut crumbs on top. It was delicious.

My final evening there, Boitel attempted an Auflauf - a much better word than "bake"- but as time was short, it ended up not seeing the inside of an oven. Nevertheless it was a huge glorious heap of mashed potato mixed with fried onion, fried smoked tofu, white sauerkraut- deliciously thin and vinegary- with a mushroom sauce. Delicious and not a clove of garlic in sight.

Winter is truly here, which means it is time to self-medicate with food.