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Menu for Hope 4 at Chez Pim

Chez Pim has announced Menu for Hope 4 – her annual fundraising event. Inspired by the Tsnuami 5 years ago, in 2006, Menu for Hope raised US$62,925.12 to help the UN World Food Programme feed the hungry. I applaud her for this effort and would like to spread the word by directing you to her blog. This year, she is again supporting the UN World Food Programme. Do whatever you can, spread the word, at this indulgent time of year we shouldn’t forget the less fortunate.

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Other people’s food

I’ve been at home for my sister’s wedding – wonderful day and a lovely break. The food was beautiful and mainly locally sourced which is impressive in these times – local beef & fish. I also got to visit the local farmer’s market which I’ll blog about soon.

Clonea Strand, Dungarvan – I grew up 5 minutes from this beach and the wedding reception was held here.

For today, as I haven’t been cooking, I thought that I’d trawl my favourite blogs and see what they’ve been doing.

Lara at Cook & Eat gets another mention for her beautiful food photography and what looks like a fantastic recipe. This time she’s made Crispy Risotto Cheese Balls.

Orchidea at Viaggi & Sapori made a lovely Risotto di zucca con pancetta croccante.

Lolo, at VeganYumYum made yummy vegan aloo paratha’s, great for a lactose intolerant girl like me :-)

Melissa, at the Traveller’s Lunchbox, made some gorgeous looking Autumn Trifles with Spice-Roasted Apples, Pears, and Pumpkin-Caramel Sauce.

Ximena at Lobstersquad has made a recipe from 1080 recipes that I was eyeing up to make last night, but I was tired and lazy – Macarrones con chorizo. Must be something in the air. Looks great.

Food meets technology? Excellent. How to charge an ipod with an onion – youtube, found via The Scent of Green Banana’s.

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Ditalini with fresh borlotti beans, rosemary & tomato

Today’s recipe is ditalini with fresh borlotti beans, rosemary & tomato – a twist on Pasta e Fagioli that I made for lunch today. I’m a girl with an eye for detail, at least when it comes to food (for you friends reading, shocked that I typed that! ;)). I didn’t want to blog pasta e fagioli yet, because I wanted to make sure that the one I eventually blog is traditional, accurate and painstakingly researched. I am almost there, but not quite. So, instead, I will blog part of the research towards that goal and call it ditalini with fresh borlotti beans, rosemary & tomato. It’s a vegetarian version, intentionally, I wanted something with clean, crisp flavours, light & fruity and healthy.

So, how to go about this? Spend a Sunday morning wandering around the food halls of London, unintentionally picking up the ingredients. Beautiful big red tomatoes of the type you would see in the mediteranean, fresh borlotti beans in their pink stripey pods, bursting to come out, ditalini pasta, shallots, garlic & some fresh rosemary from the garden. The flavours are simple and therefore very important that they are right, so good tomatoes are essential, but you could substitute the beans if you can’t get fresh borlotti – dried or tinned borlotti, or cannelini. The fresh ones are so plump and tender, it’s worth trying to find them. They also cook in the dish, imparting their goodness to the finished dish. I cook the beans first with herbs and garlic to add more flavour, but keep the water the beans were cooked in and use it to add to the stock (keeping it withinn 600ml). For the pasta, ff you can’t get ditalini, any small tubular pasta will do, try macaroni. The finished dish looks bland and drained of colour, but, I promise, it’s bursting with flavour and worth a go.

[Read more]

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Beetroot Latkes with Goat’s Cheese

It hasn’t been so long since I made latke’s, I know. Initially, I had planned to put a larger gap between blogging the potato and beet latke recipes, but then, I made them, and they were so good I just had to share.

The recipe is based on one I found in a new cookbook of mine, Jewish Food: The World at Table. I found it while browsing in an independent bookshop that I love to visit when I have time. I can spend hours idling in bookshops and libraries, it’s a favourite past time. I’ve had to restrict it as I was hoarding too many books, something which became very obvious when I moved! I spotted the beet latkes recipe, and decided I’d buy it. That recipe aside, it’s a fascinating book, with loads of background information, and great recipes for Jewish food as varied as Ashkenazi food to Jewish Indian food.

So, back to the latkes. It’s basically the same as a potato latke, except that you substititute raw beetroot for raw potato, and instead of serving with sour cream and apple sauce, use goat’s cheese, which, when the latkes are hot, melts into them. I used a brie-like goats cheese that I brought back from Ireland, Gortnamona (a soft mould ripened Irish goats cheese), I love it and always bring some back from my trips home. You could use chevre, or any goats cheese really. Beetroot and Goat’s cheese go so well together, lovely paired in salads and tarts and now latkes also.

These latkes are a little more straightforward than potato ones, in that you don’t need to wring out excess moisture, the grated beetroot is good to go once grated. However, peeling and grating them was a nightmare, especially as I grated my knuckle, but that’s user error so you don’t need to worry about that. I dont’ have a food processor at the moment so I had to grate by hand which took forever, and half way through I was cursing that I’d even begun, but the result was worth all the pain. Once the grating is over, it’s so easy, you just mix everything. The kitchen did look like I’d killed someone after, with beetroot bits and splashes of pink everywhere. My jeans will never be redeemed, but I think it was worth it.

So, this recipe is adapted to metric measurements, and I’ve increased the amount of onion, which is a personal preference. It makes 6 large or 8 smaller latkes. I was making them for one (well, one + lunch), however, I think this recipe suffices for two people.

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Israeli Couscous with onion squash, haricot beans and pumpkin seeds

I am using pumpkin alot lately, I know. They’re in season, so I like to make the most of them. I love everything about them, the way they look and taste, their bright orange colour, I (clearly) just can’t get enough. I love just having them on my kitchen windsill, brightening the place up. Yes, sad, I know.

I try to bring a homemade lunch to work every day but, lately, I’ve been lax. I find the change in seasons breaks my routine, which is no bad thing, but it’s time to get my house in order again. Often, it’s leftovers from dinner the night before but, sometimes, I make something especially for lunch as the repetition can get tedious.

Anna Pickard recently made a suggested dish of mine in her “Out of my box” post on the Word of Mouth blog, and I laughed so hard at her description of it, as it’s so true of how I eat in November:

The rest was dedicated to Niamheen and her
Rice and Chorizo and Squash thing. I’m sure the proper term is not ‘thing’, but it was very yummy. And possibly the most filling thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. Seriously, it was like eating insulation. But in a good way.

It’s the perfect description, and really, it’s amazing that I am not shaped like a ball. I think that I eat this way, as, when I was vegetarian (for 11 years), I was extremely conscious of nutrition and ensuring that I had a balanced diet that I often mixed grains, pulses and veg. I still do, only now I stick meat in also.

So, I thought that I might attempt a lighter, lunch friendly version without the chorizo. Israeli couscous is great, larger than normal couscous and more tender, like eating little rubber balls, even though that doesn’t sound remotely appetising, it is! You can get it in the kosher section of supermarkets or middle eastern shops usually. If you can’t get any, you could replace with cracked wheat, bulgar or brown rice. I like to add a contrast, usually seeds or nuts, and lots of flavour as it’s quite bland, so some spices, in this instance spanish paprika. I cooked off a batch of haricot beans at the weekend so have had them every day this week (can’t look at one for at least a month now), so I included these, but other white beans will do well here, cannelini or butter beans, for example. Also, the onion squash is not absolutely necessary, any pumpkin/squash would fit. Eats well hot or cold.

The quantities are a bit vague, as I was using left over bits of squash and handfuls of this and that, use this just as a guide and add more of whatever you prefer, I might add more beans if I was making it again. but then, we are heading into insulation territory…[Read more]

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Moutabal

I love Lebanese food. The flavours are so fresh and lively, and the meze style eating is varied and so sociable. London is awash with great Lebanese restaurants, particularly around the Edgware Rd area.  They’re great places to bring vegetarian friends as there is plenty to satisfy everyone from the vegan to the carnivore.

The Maroush chain of restaurants in London have a deli on the Edgware Rd, where I used to treat myself to moutabal when I lived in nearby Kilburn, a smoky aubergine dip, not unlike baba ghanoush from Egypt. I frequently make dips like guacamole, hummus and pesto but infrequently moutabal as I didn’t have a gas cooker in my last flat, so I decided that now that I have,  I should make it last weekend.

To make moutabal you need to grill some aubergines over a gas flame until the skin is burned and the flesh is hot. The aubergine will be very hot so, take care, and ensure you don’t burn yourself as I did. I have previously made this by roasting the whole aubergine in the oven, so do it this way if you don’t have gas. The results will be good but you won’t get the smoky flavour that you get using the gas flame. Take care not to use too much tahini as it can dominate the dish, I add 2 tbsp usually, but taste as you go, as sometimes it needs a bit more or less. Some recipes use garlic but traditional ones I’ve spied often don’t, so I made it without. I think I would add a clove next time as I love the taste of garlic. Anyone know if it should be in there or not?

Serve with toasted flatbread or pita bread.[Read more]

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Foodie bits & bobs from elsewhere

The Guardian launched their 2007 Food Directory last Saturday. It was available as a supplement to the Saturday Guardian but is also available online. It’s a nifty little thing, you choose your region first and then the type of food producer/shop you are looking for. Worth a look!

Also, from the Guardian, more specifically Word of Mouth, Jay Rayner posted an interesting piece about food bloggers as critics, inspired by a piece in Montreal’s Gazette.

Prestat, The Queen’s chocolatier, have launched a new chocolate, Choxi, that claims to be naturally good for you. They describe it as an extraordinarily yummy chocolate that has up to 3 times more antioxidants than ‘ordinary’ chocolate. It’s got to be tried!

The bible of authentic Spanish Cookery, 1080 recipes by Simone and Inés Ortega, has been published in english by Phaidon (who also published the fantastic Italian equivalent – The Silver Spoon). I’ve ordered my copy and am anxiously awaiting it! In the meantime, Phaidon have a 1080 recipes feature site with links to PDF’s containing some preview recipes, for people like me that can’t wait. The recipes include Galician Stew & Stuffed Andalusian Chicken. There’s also a recipe from the book featured on Word of Mouth – Fillet steak with caramalised onion and Torta de Barros – with some background on the book from one of the contributors. Another bit from the Guardian, I know, but there was lots of good stuff on it last week.

It is the season for all things pumpkin, so I have been trawling the web looking for some nice pumpkin recipes.

Lara, from Cook & Eat, made the most gorgeous dessert I have seen in a while – pumpkin pie filling in pretty baby pumpkins (called munchkins?). What a great idea! Her photos, as always, are just beautiful.

Chow have a nice looking pumpkin curry that looks quick and tasty.

I will be trying this pumpkin pie brownie, from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

Karina’s Santa Fe Pumpkin Chowder, over on Gluten Free Goddess looks delicious and will be one of this winter’s, winter warmers I expect.