Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Chorizo & Wild Mushroom Taco
It's great to see the local upsurge in interest in Mexican cuisine sparked by the wonderful new restaurant Mamasita. People in the know say that Mamasita's food is inspired by Mexico and that Los Amates, our next best Mexican restaurant, is authentically regional.
There is nothing intrinsically better about either approach, but for Mexican cuisine to move forward from its peasant roots requires enlightened chefs at the stoves.
Let's face it, corn, beans, tomatoes and chillies are the cornerstones and have remained unchanging for thousands of years. They fed a race of people and that was all that was asked of them.
Why not play around a bit, especially if you live far away from the heartland, whereby some of the ingredients simply aren't available fresh. Take huitlacoche or corn fungus for instance. Fairly unattractive to look at but much appreciated to cook with, it is virtually unobtainable here, where its presence would be looked upon as a disaster by most farmers.
What we do have though are certain species of wild mushrooms that quite happily take to a different treatment and rejoice in new combinations.
Not everyone has a press for making homemade corn tortillas and as good as they are, there's no reason to not use store bought, which are widely available. Flour ones will do at a pinch.
Chorizo & Wild Mushroom Tacos
2 tablespoons lard or oil
1 large mild chorizo, skinned and sliced into rounds
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 small hot chillies, finely chopped
6 saffron milk caps or other wild mushrooms, sliced
pinch Mexican oregano or other herb
1 tin black beans
salt & fresh ground pepper
Melt the lard or oil in a large frying pan, add the chorizo and lightly brown, then add the onion, garlic and chillies and sweat until the onions are soft. Add the mushrooms, oregano, black beans and cook until mushrooms are softened. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Serve with salsa verde and sour cream, allow at least two tortillas per person.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Thai Style Mussels
At a recent blogger function I mentioned to some fellow bloggers an Iranian dish I recently cooked and commented that perhaps the term, Middle Eastern, didn't really cover all the regional differences peculiar to the area.
Every single blogger of Asian heritage within earshot chimed in with 'We know what you mean!'
I was going to call this dish Asian inspired mussels, but I've learnt my lesson
It was a dish thrown together with items from the store cupboard along with uncooked mussels left over from the last Good Friday. Since it was Easter with plenty of feasting planned, something light and tasty was all that was required.
With some plain steamed rice to soak up all the vibrant of-the-sea juices, this fitted the bill perfectly.
Thai Style Mussels
(serves 4 entree size)
1 chicken stock cube
1 shallot, diced
3 or 4 cloves garlic, crushed
2.5cm piece ginger, finely grated
2 or 3 bird's eye chillies, chopped
2 teaspoons fish sauce
fresh ground pepper, salt not required
1 lime, juiced
2 spring onions, sliced on diagonal
several stalks coriander, chopped
Debeard and scrub the mussels, set aside.
In a small pot, add the water, chicken stock cube, diced shallot, crushed garlic, grated ginger, chopped chillies, fish sauce and a good grind of pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes.
Heat a large pot until very hot, throw in the mussels and the chicken stock liquid, then immediately put on the lid. After 1 minute give the pot a good shake, boil hard for another minute then remove any opened mussels. Continue to cook until all the mussels are opened, but no longer than a minute more. Any mussels that don't open can be discarded, but equally, they can be eaten, sometimes good mussels don't open. Add the lime juice to the cooking juices.
Put all the cooked mussels into a large bowl and garnish with the sliced spring onions and chopped coriander, pour over the cooking juices.
Serve with some plain steamed rice.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Braised Red Cabbage with Apple
Every now and then, a dish comes along that really makes you sit up and pay attention, its taste and texture producing a glorious symphony in the mouth.
Some very dear friends first introduced me to the wonderful combination of red cabbage braised with apple and it was love at first bite. I got the recipe from them and it has since become a firm favourite.
They called it rotkohl, which is German for red cabbage and indeed one of my friends is from good German rootstock, so too this recipe. Being from that region, rotkohl has an affinity for pork and goes well with either roasted pork or pan fried chops. A roll filled with this, a bratwurst sausage and a smear of mustard is a thing of indulgent beauty too.
Though it can be made with oil, the very best braised red cabbage gains its smooth character from lard, goose or duck fat are also good alternatives. We make it both with and without spices, cinnamon and cloves work well as does a bay leaf or two.
Any spare wine, red or white, is a worthwhile addition as the acidity helps with the colour; in a neat bit of cabbage chemistry, you'll notice a definite change when adding the vinegar. If by accident it tastes a little too sour from the vinegar, the dish can be adjusted with some sugar.
Braised Red Cabbage with Apple
1/2 red cabbage
3 tablespoons lard or oil
1 or 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
wineglass of red or white wine or water
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
5cm stick cinnamon or good pinch of powder
3 cloves or small pinch of powder
1 bay leaf
salt and fresh ground pepper
Discard any tough outer cabbage leaves, cut out the core and slice as thinly as possible with a mandoline or sharp knife. Melt the lard or oil in a large pot and heat until almost smoking. Add the shredded cabbage and stir constantly until wilted. Add the red wine vinegar, wine or water and stir until the cabbage changes colour. Add the apple, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf and season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
Put the lid on the pot, lower the heat to a bare simmer and leave to braise for an idle hour or so, giving an occasional stir to help the apple melt in and check for water, if too dry, add some more. When done to your liking, serve.
Friday, April 02, 2010
World Autism Awareness Day
As someone in a family that lives with autism, it's great to have an awareness day as autism isn't always well understood. With the rate of those with an autism spectrum disorder around 1 in 160, there's no doubt that you know of someone or a family with an affected member.
It's a condition that manifests itself in a myriad of ways, from those unable to look after themselves to others who manage to make an incredibly useful contribution to society, like Bill Gates of Microsoft fame or Temple Grandin and the advances she made for the cattle industry.
One of the most cogent writers on autism is MOM-Not Otherwise Specified, sharing stories of life with her son Bud. In beautifully crafted posts, part of the nature of autism is revealed in a way which leaves you glad.
I would like to point you to a post summary that acts like an FAQ on autism from when mom-nos wrote about a visit to her son's school to explain the condition and answer questions from Bud's fellow students.
If you would like to see why the autism community thinks awareness is vital, this post contains insight in to what it's like being a parent of an autistic child and dealing with the reactions of people who are unaware of the condition and the practicalities it involves.
One of those practicalities is teaching our children how to eat right, pretty much a minefield for all parents, but formidably challenging when autistic traits are thrown in. It's not uncommon for autistics to eat food of one single colour and no other, which seemed like an idea for an awareness theme.
Hope you enjoy some of the ideas presented by other food bloggers.
Do you think food blogs are always about the photo? Kitchen hand of What I cooked last night doesn't and I agree, his beautiful narrative never needs gilding.
Lydia Walshin, from the Perfect Pantry, has posted this evocative coriander and carrot soup on her Soup Chick blog. A Moroccan influenced gem.
Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen has produced a riff on Colcannon, basing her dish on cabbage and cauliflower, in the most delicate shade of green you could imagine. The Irish would be most proud.
Johanna from Green Giraffe Gourmet had a long, hard think about the colours and nutrition of food and I'm sure glad she did, producing excellent vegetarian orange burgers.
Tanna from My Kitchen In Half Cups has come up with an easy peasy green dip and a little autism history lesson. Love the vivid green and the ease with which this can be made.
Dara from Cookin' Canuck has brought along dessert, bless her heart. What's life without a treat every now and then? A gorgeous blueberry coconut icecream that is both gluten and dairy free, two areas which some autistics can have sensitivities to.
Honestly, isn't the world a better place with mac & cheese in it? One of the all time greatest comfort foods and firm family favourite over at Andrea's Recipes. I so identify with this dish, our daughter loves it too!
Anh from A Food Lover's Journey has created something very in season and something very soothing, a beautiful creamy chestnut soup, though there was some pain along the way, the pain of peeling chestnuts!
My wife decided to cook a typical Polish dish, barszcz zabielany (creamy beetroot soup), and one that our daughter happily eats, bold colour and all. It contains beetroot, potato, meat stock, vinegar and cream.
I was trying for a fun white theme here with scallops resting on a bed of garlic scented potato and parsnip mash, coated with a bechamel sauce flavoured with smoked cod's roe with a crunchy white salad of cucumber, fennel and apple, dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.
With the time difference between hemispheres there will be more posts to come, so check back to see what I've added.
Thanks to everyone who contributed, your support means more than you know. For anyone wondering what practical thing to do, the words, 'Can I help', mean more than you could ever imagine.
Labels: World Autism Awareness Day
World Autism Awareness Day Teaser
A little teaser for the main post that will be up later in the day, featuring dishes of one colour, representing the diets of some autistics who can only comfortably eat food of one single colour.
If you'd like to join in, leave a comment.
Labels: World Autism Awareness Day