Saturday, 26 October 2013

Cooking notes

I made kadhi / curry (a yogurt soup coloured with turmeric, to be eaten with rice) for a vegan friend. This is the first thing I learned to make and I've been making it for 24 years and I rarely go wrong with it, but veganising causes problems because soy yogurt does not have the sourness of dairy yogurt which gives kadhi its characteristic taste.

To compensate for the lack of tartness in the dairy-free yogurt, I added some amchoor (dried green mango powder) which added sourness but not exactly the right kind. The vegan version I made the other day was very thick for kadhi, but that could have been because I put in too much gram flour (used to slightly thicken),  a half-deliberate, half-error. Part of my intention was to take the taste of the soy yogurt and soy milk away; they are oddly strong in their blandness. Or did I just think that up to compensate for my mistake. I don't know.

I don't think I will try to perfect the vegan recipe as there's not much call for it in my life.  My friend enjoyed it, which was the main thing, but if only she knew there was more to enjoy in it.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

I got one!

One courgette, I managed to grow, from about ten (badly tended) plants. One. Still. It is quite small, but firm. I picked it today and ate it, sliced and lightly fried with a bit of salt and pepper, no more. Of course it was delicious, because I'd grown it.

It was only a week ago

A week ago, I tried proper sushi for the first time and the working week has been so long that I forgot about it until now. I thought I better record it for the sake of posterity. Proper sushi, not that crap in a black plastic tray from the 'Hurried Work Lunches' section of the supermarket or its convenience outlet, with its tame cooked fish in because if it were raw, they wouldn't be able to make it so far in advance and sell it without killing someone. A tiny plastic bottle of soy sauce and an extra pound to pay if you have the gall to want wasabi.

Actually, it was sashimi that I tried. No rice, just the hardcore stuff. The fish was incredible. The salmon tasted like avocado. There is no other way I can describe the taste. The tuna tasted fishy (as you would expect it might) and very powerful. There were some other pieces of white fish. I think one of them was a sea bream which was quite fishy and I'm not too sure how much I enjoyed that but then there was some kind of superstar white fish on my place, which was delicate and smoky and delicious.

I tried all of the pieces of fish without seasoning first, just to get a taste of them on their own, as if to work out each of their personalities without dressing. Then with the wasabi. Normally with vegetarian dishes, even a tiny bit of makes my eyes water and my nose burn. With the fish, the wasabi had met a worthy opponent and the protein counterbalanced the heat perfectly so you could still taste both. Suddenly it all made sense.
I left the restaurant deliriously happy.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Stuff that, I'm using my own recipe next time

I made stuffed courgette flowers today from this recipe using the ricotta and herb filling.

Verdict: They looked like the ones in the picture. The batter recipe was good, but the filling was rather bland. It tasted like it should have done, but it needed more oomph. Dan has a vegan cashew, tofu and spinach filling for cannelloni, which he thinks might have worked better than ricotta, but the cheese has a nice fluffy texture; cashew and tofu are too dense. The risotto filling might have been better, but I didn't have any spare and wasn't going to make any from scratch just for this. In future, I might consider a more piquant filling, or, as I saw on one site, pine nuts and sultanas with the cheese. The actual flowers tasted lovely.

Update on my garden plants:
Huantzole: The trough I have planted them in is too shallow and some parts of the plant are very red, which means the plant is distressed.
Courgettes: Planted too many, too late and all the leaves seem to have a light fungal dusting on them. It's too late in the year for them to fruit, which is why I ate the flowers.
Strawberries: Not one! Very disappointing. Maybe next year.
Japanese mustard greens: Should have tried these when they were more tender because they didn't taste too nice.