Tuesday, 25 August 2009

What I've been cooking - August.

Time for a monthly round up of the more interesting stuff I've cooked in the last few weeks.

This month, I've been cooking a lot from the Ottolenghi recipe book. Almost exclusively in fact! and once again I urge you to buy it if you don't own it already. It's full of excellent and unusual recipes with taste combinations that just have to be tried. It's destined to be a classic - so pick it up.

Now, strangely enough, despite this stellar recommendation, the least successful recipe of this bunch is from the Ottolenghi book - and despite this dubious tag, it was still bloody nice, so I think that says something about the quality of the recipes (or possibly my incapability of following them!)...anyway in the photo above we have Chickpeas and spinach with honeyed sweet potato. Not a lot to say about this dish really, it was nice and filling, but cooking it I got a bit hot and flustered, almost burnt the shallots and then almost burnt the sweet potato - perhaps this coloured my view of the recipe. I just didn't enjoy cooking it?

Next we have a cracking Ottolenghi dish,...two dishes in fact - Marinated Romano Peppers with Buffalo Mozzarella combined with Crushed New Potatoes with horseradish and Sorrel.
This is a record breaker, awarded a massive 9.5 out of 10 by the Girlfriend using our....ahem.... highly scientific scoring system.
This is the highest score anything I've cooked has ever received. *Wild Applause*
Strangely enough, it's also one of the simplest things I've cooked. Romano Peppers are baked for 12-15 minutes in the oven, and then marinated in chopped coriander, parsley, garlic, cider vinegar and olive oil for two hours. This is then served with the ripped up Mozzarella. I added some toasted ciabatta and the Crushed New Potato dish (Which incidentally is also great), to bulk it out. (I'm a growing boy) Very nice indeed, light, fresh and very tasty. I'll be cooking this again.

The final dish from the Ottolenghi recipe book I cooked this month was Roasted Butternut Squash with Burnt Aubergine and Pomegranate Molasses. This dish was recommended to me by Helen at FoodStories. (Thanks!) The star of this dish is the burnt aubergine and molasses sauce. An Incredible, smoky tasting sweet and sour sauce that goes perfectly with the roasted Squash. The preparation of the aubergine is quite a lot of fun as well, bringing out the inner pyromaniac in everyone. You basically burn the aubergine on the hob for about 15 mins, before finally scooping out the insides to make the sauce. Great stuff.

Now for a couple of dishes I've cooked in August that believe it or not aren't from the Ottolenghi cookbook!

We have Beef Rendang, an authentic Malaysian recipe given to my by Liz at Gastronomy Domine. (Who I might add, subsequently, spent quite a lot of her no doubt valuable time answering my dumb questions on the ingredients. Thanks again Liz!). This was gorgeous and meaty, having a strong coconut flavour.

But, the mission I had getting the ingredients!

I think I've been in every Asian grocery and wholesaler in Essex AND Brighton. Could I find the required Malaysian Chillis? No!! In the end I used red chillis and some roasted red peppers to add a touch of sweetness (I couldn't lay my hands on dried red peppers either). This recipe is also notable for being the first time I've ever prepared a real coconut - which I might add has damaged my chopping board. Was it worth it? Yes.
Very nice indeed.

Finally we have a very simple soup, it's a recipe from the first Jamie Oliver book 'The Naked Chef' (which strangely I only recently purchased - having owned his subsequent recipe books for years) It's Chickpea and Leek soup and, it's nice, cheap and quick to make (almost knocking Chilli and rice off the top of my credit crunch budget dishes).

I made this using homemade Chicken Stock.....I also used two tins of ready cooked chickpeas for speed (rather than soaking the chickpeas overnight, as specified in the recipe). warm these up in a saucepan for 5 Mins or so and drain. At the same time, peel and slice a medium potato, boil in salted water for around 12 Mins. Chop 5 Leeks and slice 2 cloves of Garlic and sweat in Large saucepan with butter and olive oil and a pinch of salt until tender.

Add the drained chickpeas and potato to the leeks, cook for 1 minute. Add 850ml of Chicken or Vegetable stock, and simmer for 15 Mins. (I also added a Parmesan Rind for added flavour - I save them in the freezer. Fish it out, and bin it at the end of cooking - Thanks to fellow blogger Graphic Foodie for that great tip).

Ladle half of the soup into a blender and puree it, returning to the pan with the chunky half. Taste and season well, serve with grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Lovely and simple, with some crusty bread this recipe makes enough for two dinners for two people.


Gourmet Chick said...

Haven't tried the Ottolenghi pepper recipe and after your description of it as really simple and a 9.5 out of 10 looks like I might have to

The Ample Cook said...

Amazing looking food Dan (again) You make it look so appetizing. What's on the menu for September?

Graphic Foodie said...

Nice nice nice....Looking at the dishes and the ingredients the Ottolenghi book sounds like a must have.

I'm finally in possession of the Eagle cookbook which I totally love - you banging on about it was totally justified - STILL not tried the Potaje de Garbanzos but is next on my hit list.

Good ol tip on the rinds, eh? I personally think that this is were the flavour is most concentrated anyway!

theundergroundrestaurant said...

All looks lovely...

Liz said...

God, that looks good. I need to arm myself with a coconut and make a rendang soon. Glad you liked the recipe!

Lizzie said...

Oooh fresh coconut for a rendang, you say? I'll have to try it out...

Dan said...

Gourmet Chick - the marinated pepper recipe is really good - and incredibly simple - draped on some toasted crusty bread to soak it up. Wow.

Jan - September - no idea yet. I plan my menus a week in advance. Although A+C are sending me some Oxtail to review - so thats something I'll be cooking next month for sure. There's a recipe in the Moro cookbook I have my eye on for this.

Fran - fantastic - so glad that my constant banging on about the Eagle Cookbook is justified! Such nice recipes in there. The rinds tip was great - definatly adds real depth of flavour.

Theundergroundrestaurant - Thanks! :)

Liz - Great. I loved the recipe - quite a lot of messing around with coconuts and chillis - but was worth it.

Lizzie - Fresh coconut grated, and fresh cocount milk - I'll FWD you the recipe Liz sent me for your perusal.

Anonymous said...

Goodness me, you eat so well!! That rendang, the Ottolenghi, the soup....you should open your own restaurant, they'd be queueing round the block!

Dan said...

Hello Reginald, That's high praise indeed - thanks :)

Helen @ World Foodie Guide said...

I love the look of that beef rendang! It's one of my favourite dishes and amazing when done well. You must stock up on ingredients next time you're in London. The Chinatown supermarkets stock most ingredients.

Dan said...

Helen - Thanks, and despite working in London it never occured to me to check out the Chinatown supermarkets *slaps head* - Thanks for the tip!