Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Tales from a neglected kitchen

I’m still alive! I even cook things occasionally, not that you can tell from this blog at the moment.

25. Raw Slaw (Raw Food)

I made this for a pot luck meal in aid of Comic Relief (well, I say “in aid of” but we didn’t actually raise any money for them. My conscience is blushing now). My cunning line of thought was that making a beetroot-heavy recipe as part of a spread for a group of people would dilute its impact, rather than Mike and I having to plough through the whole thing ourselves. Soooo, the recipe’s a mix of beetroot and red cabbage, which you toss with a spicy dressing which includes, among other things, copious amounts of mustard. On a side note, raw beetroot is possibly the ugliest vegetable I’ve ever seen.

I thought this was…OK. Just. Other people were more positive, but tellingly the plate (well, bowl) didn’t get cleared, and the leftovers sat around in the fridge for almost a week before I accepted that even Mike wasn’t going to eat them.

Mike says: “I like beetroot therefore I liked this. I was surprised to see that raw beetroot is exactly the same colour as pickled beetroot, surprised in a nice way. Refreshing I thought; more people should eat beetroot.”

26. Carrot and Cashew Nut Rice (Steamy Food)

In the introduction to this recipe Jill says that “electric rice cookers are brilliant, but I still think the best way of cooking rice is simply steaming it in a lidded saucepan – mainly because you can throw in all sorts of things and turn it into a complete meal”. Now, I have two niggles with that – firstly, you can throw all sorts of things into an electric rice cooker, too (maybe Jill’s more obedient of instruction manuals than I am, but trust me, you can cook just about anything in those suckers), and secondly I really don’t think this dish constitutes a complete meal. Let us consider: you stir finely diced onion, grated carrot and spices through rice, cook, and top with cashews and parsley. Now, I have nothing against vegetarian food, but when you’re tucking into a big bowl of what is essentially rice flecked with carrot you can’t help but feel that it’s more of a side dish. I kept thinking that if I just kept going I was bound to find a juicy hunk of chicken or suchlike burried in there. The flavours were fine, though possibly a bit over-turmeric-y, but the dish overall just wasn’t exciting enough to be a meal in its own right.

Mike says: “I felt that this was missing a nice curry sauce spooned on top. It was a nice way to do some rice but it was only half a meal. Mmm curry.”

27. Salmon with Rocket and Tagliatelle (Special Food)

I notice that my annotation for this recipe simply reads “not special”, which is a bit of a downer for something from the ‘Special Food’ chapter. I expect it to have an existential crisis any moment now. Nothing fancy or complicated – while the pasta’s cooking away you lightly cook some salmon, lemon zest, capers and seasoning, then add tomatoes, rocket and lemon juice before tossing with the tagliatelle. It was perfectly nice, and lent a healthy glow of virtue, but a bit on the bland side.

Mike says: “I felt good eating this, I think it will extend my lifespan by a couple of years. But a little bland.”

28. Spice-Crusted Venison with Glazed Beetroot (Special Food)

You might remember my abortive attempt to make this last month – getting hold of venison steaks proved trickier than I thought, but I eventually managed to reserve a couple of sirloin steaks from a stall at the farmers’ market. Once you’ve tracked them down, all you have to do is brush them with oil and press one side into a spice rub (made up of black peppercorns, juniper berries, caraway seeds and salt), then sear spice-side down for two minutes before turning and cooking the other side briefly. Instead of scattering all over the frying pan, as per my pessimistic prediction, the spice crust gets pressed firmly into the meat. While the venison’s resting you add some diced cooked beetroot, redcurrant jelly and red wine to the pan, and cook until syrupy. Slice the venison, serve up the beetroot, strew everything artistically with watercress and – tadaaa! – you’re done.

We’ve already established that I don’t much like beetroot, so all I’ll say about it is that the flavourings were pleasant and I imagine this would be a nice way of eating the stuff, if you’re that way inclined. The venison was another matter though – deeeeelicious! And ridiculously quick and easy to boot.

Mike says: “This was amazing, one of my favourites. The spice crust on the venison was immense and I thought the beetroot set it off really nicely. Deer are so damned tasty.”

29. Breakfast Burritos (Morning Food)

I made this for our second supper (hey, don’t judge) on Sunday – it’s reasonably quick to throw together, with a manageable amount of chopping. (I hate chopping. I’ve been known to go without proper meals for weeks on end rather than go to the bother of dicing a vegetable. You’re still not judging, right?) Basically you top warm tortillas with smoked salmon, rocket, tomato and avocado chunks, red onion, lime juice, coriander leaves and Tabasco. I expected the finished product to be nice and refreshing but a little dull, but these were actually pretty damned good, and would make an excellent weekend brunch.

Mike says: “The flavours of this worked really well. It tasted almost like a packet of bacon crisps (in a good way). Would make a really good brunch. I’d like two whole tortillas to myself, though, for a good portion.”

Normal programming will resume once the dreaded dissertation's out of the way...

1 comment:

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Nice to see you back :) I have my doubts about how filling some of the meals in this book would be but they all look pretty. The breakfast burritos sound delicious! Good luck with the dissertation...