Tuesday, May 21, 2013

257/984 - Very simple cold borscht

Borscht really is the prettiest soup!

I decided to use a mix of yellow and red beetroots which I suspect made the final product an even prettier pink colour. The boys loved it and I love, love loved the fact that it could be served cold! It served our family well for at least three nights as a simple starter that stopped my ever hungry twelve year old from munching on his own hand while I was getting dinner on the table.

The four beetroots I used were all enormous and so I must confess to sharing the last small portion with the chooks as we were all a bit borscht-ed out after eating it for three days running.

Now I am waiting to see if we get pink eggs! Wouldn't that be lovely...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

256/984 - Harissa

We like it HOT in our house!

One of the lovely mums from school offered me a bag of rocoto chillies from her garden which I gladly accepted. This is a hottish variety of chilli, rating somewhere between 100,000 and 350,000 on the Scoville Scale. Right up there with Mr Habanero! The rocoto has distinctive black seeds which made this harissa look very dangerous indeed!

I did the right thing by my chilli donor and made a double batch of harissa and passed half back to her. I decided to leave both spines and seeds in to ensure maximum heat...and received an SMS from Lucy a day later which read, "Just had some harissa on a cracker, you guys are crazy!"

Actually to reduce the heat, I have been eating my harissa on biscuits mixed with olive paste (yes I made it again!) and it was very, very nice. Salty and mind blowing all at once.

Lucy has kindly donated some more rocotos to our house and we are going to attempt to grow our own from the seeds. All going well this harissa recipe will be required on a regular basis. 

Definitely not for the faint hearted.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

255/984 - Pumpkin and bacon soup

I had the most surreal experience on the train the other day!

There was a man sitting beside me who I believe had delayed Echolalia. A person with delayed Echolalia will repeat things such as ads, sections of movies, conversations or interactions, and in my limited experience of this condition, the voices and sounds that are being repeated can be quite accurate. I know somebody very well who experiences this condition and it has always fascinated me, which is why I was quite tuned in to this man's mutterings. 

As I was listening, I was quite surprised to hear him say over and over, "No worries mate!" in EXACTLY the voice and accent of a beautiful old friend of mine. My friend's accent is quite unique, as he has spent some time overseas, and being an actor he is also quite beautifully spoken. 

Having heard my friend's voice come out of this man's mouth I was convinced that they must have recently interacted, and I turned around to find my gorgeous friend standing two feet away. I was absolutely blown away by this experience, and also this man's talent for imitating my friend!

This was a very long winded (but I still think fascinating!) way of sharing that I caught up with a friend that is very dear to me, and invited him and his new(ish) partner over for a mid-week dinner. As well as a home-made lasagne, and a very successful honey-oat bread, I made this beautiful pumpkin and bacon soup.

Flavoured with bacon bones and beautiful herbs and spices, this soup also included a tablespoon of paprika. I really should have thought twice before adding the entire tablespoon, given that my paprika is Spanish and has the word "picante" splashed across the front of the tin. You had better believe that when it's Spanish and it says picante, it's going to pack a punch.

Poor Jules was telling me the soup was spicy and I didn't believe him until I took a mouthful and remembered the paprika. Lucky my guests liked it hot!

Friday, May 3, 2013

254/984 - Loukoumathes - Greek honey fritters

These amazingly yummy and SIMPLE little lovelies were a recent Sunday night snack for my family. I was surprised at how fast they were to make, with the batter literally ready in under a minute.

I used a sugar thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature of the oil and then dropped in spoonfuls of batter which I turned midway to ensure both sides finished up golden brown. I got better at making round shapes, working out that the little tails you see in the picture were there because I was pouring the batter in rather than pushing it in very quickly from the spoon. 

Once I covered them in honey and cinnamon and the family figured out how amazing they were, any chance of me getting a photo with my lovely later batch of round loukoumathes had flown out the window. Crispy on the outside and light as air on the inside. Wow.

These were very popular and disappeared in minutes. But simple or not, they are not at all healthy and so it will be a while before we make them again.

I am already counting down the days.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

252&253/984 - Caribbean pig's trotters stew & simple brine for pork cuts

I have been wanting to try this recipe for some time now. There was something about the addition of wiggly piggy tails that captured my attention! Clearly I was not alone, with the boys begging to have tails put on their plates. The tails were supposed to be cut into sections but how could I deny my boys the opportunity to have one elaborately draped over their meal?

These piggy bits were purchased directly from the farmer rather than the butcher and so they were fresh rather than pickled. Luckily Stephanie has a recipe for pork brine which, while not really the same thing as having meat pickled, was a good enough do-it-yourself alternative for me. Quite frankly the hardest part of making this recipe was the planning. The trotters and tails needed to soak for two days in the brine and then once that was done, the stew was pretty much an all day affair. In the end I decided to brine on Wednesday, and make the stew on the weekend. Given the l-o-o-o-n-g cooking time I think this was a good decision!

I used four trotters rather than six, but since two still had the hocks attached I felt comfortable it would be enough. I was also one tail short but two wiggly tails to play with were quite enough for me. I will admit to jumping in alarm when one of the tails started to defrost and flopped across my hand. I was contemplating working with a pigs head in the future but now I am not so sure I have the stomach for it. 
I was missing a few ingredients for the recipe and so substituted the fresh tomatoes and chick peas for tinned and the lard for olive oil. Other than that I followed the recipe quite closely, loving the amazing chorizo/tomato/chilli  fry up that was later added to the stew.

The last step was to add the potatoes and the salt and I must confess I completely forgot about the salt. It really didn't need it though, the stew was full of flavour and the family were all BIG fans.