Sunday, 20 June 2010

A Birthday Feast

I had a birthday party, so this is an entry about what we had to eat.

I had lots of plain corn tortilla chips to serve with the following dips:

monkfish ceviche - a Nigella Lawson recipe, available on the internet. This was good. The dried oregano in it gave it a really nice taste. My friend Fintan liked it and he doesn't like any kind of seafood. That's what I call a result. WHEAT FREE

cannelini bean dip - this is my own invention and the nearest thing to hummus which was seen at the party that night. cannelini beans, lemon juice, oil, possibly some sugar, chilli, powdered cinnamon blended until smooth. It was nice but I still have a lot lefT. VEGAN, WHEAT FREE

roasted tomato salsa - as with hummus, I sometimes get a bit bored of tomato salsa so decided to roast the tomatoes, onion and garlic before making a dip out of them. I liked this a lot and would make it again. VEGAN, WHEAT FREE

roquemole - yes, another Nigella dip of mashed avocado, roquefort, sour cream and chopped pickled jalapenos. This tasted good, apart from the fact that you couldn't actually taste the avocado and then because of the lack of lemon, the avocado went brown very quickly therefore losing aesthetic appeal very rapidly. WHEAT FREE, GARLIC FREE

guacamole - thank you Nazmia for making this for me when I was rushed off my feet. You really can't go wrong with this. VEGAN, WHEAT FREE

skordalia - I made way too much of this creamy Greek garlic dip made of potato and olive oil. VEGAN, WHEAT FREE

Also, there was:

brown basmati and black beans - my own ad hoc invention just to provide a contrast to the very strong tasting food which was on the menu. With the rice and the beans was chopped fresh parsley and lemon. VEGAN, WHEAT FREE

vietnamese dumplings- These had a filling of spicy soy mince and cabbage. Dan offered to make these from the book Another Meal is Possible by Isy Morgenmuffel. He made them for me once and they were very addictive. However, they were time consuming to assemble so I bought ready-made, ready rolled dumpling wrappers. He piled them altogether in a beautiful rose shape, but they all stuck together and were ruined. They could not even be saved by shallow frying. VEGAN

spring rolls - very labour intensive and a bit rubbery because too spring roll wrapper was wrapped on top of each other. Maybe make them bigger next time. The filling of fried spiced tofu sticks, fried oyster mushroom, pickled bamboo strips, carrot / red or yellow pepper / cucumber stick, fresh mint worked very well.These were served with dipping sauce. VEGAN, WHEAT FREE

mango and fried halloumi - this was something of a centrepiece. I shallow fried halloumi with cumin seeds, adding lime juice to the pan as it cooked. Then Naz arranged it with thin slices of sweet mango e.g. alphonso variety, sprinkling with chopped chilli and fresh coriander. VEGETARIAN, WHEAT FREE

roasted peppers slices stuffed with herby cream cheese and capers on sticks - yummy and worth the fiddlyness. VEGETARIAN, WHEAT FREE

roasted aubergine rolled with artichoke dip on sticks yummy but not worth the fiddlyness. VEGAN, WHEAT FREE

mojo verde and rojo with babas aggrudas- Dan and I made this a month or two back. Mojos verde and rojo are very garlicky vinegary dipping sauces -parsley and red pepper respectively- for very salty baby new boiled potatoes. VEGAN, WHEAT FREE

salad leaves - I won't bother with so many next time. No-one ever touches healthy food. VEGAN, WHEAT FREE, A WASTE OF TIME AT A PARTY

potato salad - Alpa says potatoes can take a lot of salt, so thorough seasoning has been highly recommended. Dressed with vegan "mayonnaise", chopped capers, chopped gherkins, and chopped chives. VEGAN, WHEAT FREE

Thank you Mike, Jo, Victor and Helen for making cakes and cheesecake. And of course to super trooper Dan for realising the cherry chocolate gorgeousness which was my birthday cake.

I was left with excessive amounts of skordalia ad cannelini bean dip and there was too much to just eat. The skordalia is also too vinegary and garlicky to eat lots of, so here's what I did.

Soak some stale bread in water. Wring the excessive water out. Mix wet bread with skordalia, a bit of plain flour and a beaten egg / egg replacer. Shallow fry the patties until crisp on each side. Serve with leftover dips from party.

I'm not going to put in a picture because it looks a lot like the other things I have made and pictured, and I'm sure you get the idea. In the second batch I threw in some of the leftover cannelini bean dip and that also worked well.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Ignorance is not Bliss

...when it comes to cuisine.

These are the countries whose food I would like to know more about at this moment in time:

- Greece
- Mexico
- Wales
- Sri Lanka
- Nigeria

Thursday, 3 June 2010

The Kitchen of a Stagnant Mind

Well, it's been a while since I wrote anything here.

About three weeks ago I made some cheese using some vegetable rennet I bought. I added chives and here it is. It not as firm as the firmest bits of cottage cheese but not as wet. It was good on crackers:

I'm not having much luck in the kitchen of late. I tried to make some coconut cream-based ice cream. I needed arrowroot, which I didn't have so used cornflour instead. It thickened the coconut cream but made my iced dessert a bit grainy in the mouth. Not good, especially since I spent age hand cranking it. YOU NEED ARROWROOT FOR THIS. DON'T TRY AND SUBSTITUTE IT. I'm going to defrost it and use it up in milkshakes and stir fries.

I bought a box of mangoes on Monday and thought I would try to rescue the ice cream by pulping one and streaking it through the ice cream. The fruit was a bit sour so I added too much sugar which totally robbed any mango-ey flavour from the pulp. I couldn't go in so instead used it to make a marinade for my tofu. Thank you Jo for the idea (someone - it could have been you - said that you used mango on tofu ages ago).

- mango pulp
- sugar (I had some palm sugar knocking about) OR if mangoes are out of season you can buy sweetened mango pulp in a can from South Asian grocery stores but it IS very sweet
- crushed garlic cloves
- soy sauce.
- grated ginger root (good with the mango)
- chilli powder
- chinese 5 spice mix

I think that was all. I left my tofu to bathe in this mixture for 2 days, hoping all the papain in the mango would tenderise the bean curd. I used it in a stir fry afterwards and the tofu pieces had a delicious delicate fruity flavour. But it was still tofu. I wonder what this marinade would be like on some kind of meat or whether the taste of the meat would simply over power it. Chicken would probably work best. But chicken is so boring! It's less boring than tofu, though.

In other news, Dan made a spinach, red pepper and white asparagus risotto here the other night. Ooh, I've just realised, all of the colours of the Italian flag! He used a can of tomatoes in it which I thought would be culinary suicide but it wasn't. It was lovely. I like tomatoes a lot. I've though of using them in stir-fries to bring out their flavour.