food for thought

by michelle

Archive for the ‘vegetables’ Category

kimchi

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Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish (banchan) made from salted and fermented vegetables.There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi but it is most commonly made with napa cabbage and Korean white radish (mu) and a variety of seasonings including Korean chilli flakes (gochugaru), garlic, ginger and often dried seafood. Traditionally kimchi was stored underground in jars but today most people in Korea have dedicated kimchi fridges. Mary and I finally got around to making some.

For a large jar of kimchi, cut 1 large Napa cabbage into chunks. Dissolve ⅛ of a cup of salt in warm water and immerse the cabbage for 30 minutes. Meanwhile process 4 cloves of garlic, an equal amount of ginger, 1 tablespoon of unrefined sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of fish sauce to make a smooth paste. Add 1 cup of Korean chilli flakes. Cut 350g each of carrots and white radish into julienne and cut a bunch of spring onions into similar lengths. Drain the cabbage and without rinsing pat it dry. Combine everything in a large bowl and pound or knead the mixture to get the vegetables to release their juices. When there is a reasonable amount of liquid in the mixture transfer it to a large jar and weigh it down so that the vegetables are all submerged (a smaller jar full of water makes a good weight). Stand the jar in a tub (liquid will escape) and allow it to ferment for 1 week at room temperature. If you prefer a sourer flavour you can leave it for longer. When you’re happy with the flavour and texture transfer it to the fridge. It will keep for some months.

As well as being eaten as a side dish, kimchi is often used in cooking. Here’s a delicious noodle stir-fry.

First cook 150g (5½ oz) of cellophane (bean-thread) noodles and set aside. Chop 1 onion, 4 large mushrooms, 2 rashers of bacon and some spring onions. In a bowl combine 2 finely diced cloves of garlic, 2 teaspoons of Korean chilli paste (gochujang), 3 teaspoons of soy sauce, 3 teaspoons of honey, 3 teaspoons of raw sugar, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar and ½ a cup of hot water. Heat a wok over medium heat and fry the bacon then the onion and the mushrooms. Add 1 cup of kimchi, the sauce and the noodles. Cook until everything is hot and well combined. Remove to a plate and sprinkle with the chopped spring onions. Turn the heat up and add more oil to the wok. Fry 3 lightly salted eggs until they are cooked and then place them over the noodle stir-fry. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and toasted seaweed (kim in Korean or kankoku nori in Japanese).

Written by michelle picker

May 21, 2017 at 6:01 am

barley, lentils and mushrooms with fried onions

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Once again Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe imparts amazing flavours to a vegetarian meal.

barley-lentils-and-mushrooms

In a small bowl cover 20g (¾ oz) of dried porcini with 1¾ cups of boiling water and leave to stand for an hour. After an hour, remove the mushrooms and strain the liquid through a very fine sieve to remove any grit, then return the mushrooms to their liquid. Place 120g (4¼ oz) of barley (pre-soaked) and 170g (6 oz) of brown lentils in a large saucepan. Add 4 times the volume of cold water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a rolling simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, transfer to a bowl and leave to cool down. Cut an onion into thin slices lengthways and toss in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of flour. Heat oil in a medium saucepan (enough to cover the onion slices in batches) to high heat and fry the onion in batches for three to four minutes, until golden-brown. Remove them to a plate lined with paper towel and set aside to cool. Slice a second onion into wider wedges. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat and fry the onion wedges for five minutes until charred and soft. Stir in 1½ teaspoons of ground cumin, 1 teaspoons of ground allspice and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Next add 4 sliced large mushrooms, the finely sliced rind of 1 lemon and ½ a teaspoon each of sugar and salt. Fry until the mushrooms start to soften then add the porcini and all their soaking liquid. Boil rapidly for five minutes, reducing the liquid to approximately ½ a cup. Reduce the heat and add the lentils and barley plus 1 tablespoon of dried mint, 1 teaspoon of dried dill leaves, ¾ of a teaspoon of salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Cook for a minute more then remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Serve garnished with the fried onion and chopped parsley with sour cream on the side.

minced chicken salad

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Loosely based on Thai Larb, this minced chicken salad makes a tasty summer meal.

lao-style-chicken-salad

To cook the chicken you will need some Thai chilli paste in soya oil. Add 3 tablespoons of the paste and some of the oil to a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add 450g (1 lb) of minced chicken thigh meat and cook, mixing well and breaking the mince into small pieces. If necessary add a little water. When the chicken is cooked set it aside to cool. In a bowl make a salad of finely shredded celery, finely sliced red onion, julienned carrot, plenty of chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) and mint, bean thread noodles (cooked for 2 minutes and shocked under cold running water), chopped cucumber, chopped tomatoes, finely chopped fresh red chilli and chopped roasted peanuts. When the chicken has cooled add it to the salad and season with fish sauce and fresh lime juice to taste.

Written by michelle picker

April 17, 2017 at 5:51 am

zucchini, peppers and chèvre

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Here’s an attractive and impressive way to bring a lovely combination of flavours together.

zucchini-peppers-and-chevre

Place 1 or 2 red peppers either directly over a gas flame or on a barbecue and cook until quite blackened and soft. Remove to an airtight container or plastic bag to cool. Meanwhile slice your zucchinis lengthways into very thin slices (preferably with a mandolin) and wash and chop some fresh mint. When the peppers have cooled, peel the skin off and slice into strips similar in size to the zucchini slices. Oil a round oven or pie dish and arrange the slices of zucchini and peppers starting from the outside and place a generous piece of chèvre into the centre. Drizzle everything with olive oil, sprinkle with the chopped mint and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Bake in a hot oven until the zucchini is cooked and browning on the edges.

Written by michelle picker

March 30, 2017 at 5:33 am

carrot salad

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This Turkish salad was a perfect way to enjoy our home-grown carrots.

carrot-salad

Shred or finely julienne approximately 5 cups of carrots. Heat some olive oil in a saucepan and add the carrots, stirring until they are just starting to wilt and change colour. In a bowl whip 1 cup of thick natural yoghurt with 2 crushed cloves of garlic and ½ a teaspoon of salt. Combine the yoghurt and carrots adding fresh herbs of your choice (I used mint and parsley) and mixing well. This salad makes a great side dish for any Turkish or Middle Eastern meal. We enjoyed it with left-over roast lamb (fried souvlaki-style with onions and Baharat spices), a green salad and Greek pita bread.

souvlaki-plate

Written by michelle picker

March 12, 2017 at 5:44 am

red-cooked duck legs

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Red cooking is a Chinese method of slow braising. Popular throughout most of northern, eastern, and southeastern China, the name is derived from the dark red-brown colour of the cooked items and their sauce. Here is a version using duck legs.

red-cooked-duck

First place your duck legs into a cold pan and turn the heat to medium. Allow the fat to render out of the duck and the skin to brown. Meanwhile soak 8-10 whole dried mushrooms in boiling water allowing them to soften. In a pressure cooker or saucepan with a lid, heat a little of the duck fat and fry 2 diced shallots, 3 diced cloves of garlic and a diced knob of ginger. Add 1 whole star anise and 1 teaspoon of Szechuan peppercorns. When the shallots are translucent add the duck legs, 2-3 whole carrots, 4 chopped spring onions, 2 red birds-eye chillies, ½ a cup of chicken stock, a splash of shaoxing wine, ½ a teaspoon of sesame oil, 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of Chinese thick caramel sauce and the soaked mushrooms. Cover and cook until the duck is tender and pulling away from the bone. In a pressure cooker 25-30 minutes will be enough otherwise you will need at least 1-1½ hours, making sure from time to time that there is enough liquid in the pot.  Serve with steamed rice and green vegetables.

I served mine with bok choy (pak choi).

bok-choy-with-oyster-sauce

Wash and separate the leaves of the bok choy or if they are very young you can cook them whole. Bring a pot of water to boil and add some salt. Drop the bok choy into the water and cook for a few minutes until tender. Drain well and toss in 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce, a drizzle of sesame oil and ground white pepper to taste.

Written by michelle picker

March 6, 2017 at 5:44 am

wood-roasted vegetables

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I’m staying at Robert and Miranda’s farm in New Zealand where this magnificent pizza oven is a feature.

pizza-oven

After the obligatory pizza, we were inspired by the cookbook The Kiwi Pizza Oven by Alan Brown and decided to try cooking some vegetables.

Whole roasted cauliflower, pre-boiled for 10 minutes then drizzled with oil and seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper. When the cauliflower was al dente and nicely browned, we smothered  it in cheese sauce and baked a while longer.

whole-roasted-cauliflower-with-cheese-sauce

A ratatouille of sorts. On a bed of finely sliced onions and garlic, alternate slices of eggplant (aubergine), zucchini (courgette) and tomato all drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with dried basil leaves and seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

roasted-ratatouille

Potatoes, peeled and almost sliced through, with the addition of rosemary and thyme, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzled with melted butter. These were cooked upside down and turned halfway through cooking.

potatoes

Written by michelle picker

January 29, 2017 at 5:43 am