When I was about 10, my parents bought me an yellow dress for my birthday. It was a knee length yellow and white striped thing, with puff sleeves, and, plain yellow bib like flap on top and skirting at the bottom. The bib and skirting were embroidered - "Sweety" and "But Naughty", in sprawling cursive letters. It was my favorite dress for many years; even when it faded and frayed, and, I outgrew it in height. I loved the color, such a happy tone but more than that, at that time still an introvert, I thought the writing was terribly clever.Read More
For me Summer heralds a not-so-subtle switch in lifestyle. Outdoor fun, roof top gatherings, long long days for long long amusements, days when you can be dine with work and still have time to play in the light! More, importantly though, this is season, I become more vegetable focuses, swept away by the abundance of variety and richness of flavor that marks this season.
I also start my herb garden and distinctly look forward to using as much of it as possible. The sweet distinct aromas that simply make the dish from ordinary to elegant. This is my joy.
Today's recipe was one such inspiration I stumbled upon through Jul's blog. As you can see from her and my creations, it is an all weather recipe using the best herbs of the season. However, the line that struck a chord with me was that the flavors of fresh goat cheese is akin to lamb. In fact, that is why it makes so much sense to pair them as is often done.Read More
So, I have been back from my mini vacation for almost a week now, and, I have been procrastinating on that promise I made you before I left. Truth be told, I am feeling a bit uninspired. I do have a bunch of photos and cool recipes to share but I just have not had the initiative to. Yes, I feel awful and blasphemous saying that but I am hoping, acknowledging and saying it loud will start the process of healing. I felt like taking a break from this space and now am forcing myself to turn around and face my demons and hoping you can help me with it.
Now, I don't really know the cause or reason for the ennui but I can feel the intense sense of pride that I usually feel when I open this space has dissipated in the recent week. No, I am cavalier about it and no, I have not lost interest per se. I suppose, it is only one of those cyclical downswings in the take of things when I ponder about the purpose of it all.
I am not seeking validation here. This space provides me a creative outlet and a place where my individual voice can scream aloud with whatever emotion I am feeling without censure or restraint, if I choose to. I know that. I also know that this space has opened several windows into myself and many doors of opportunities. All this is great! All this makes me smile, laugh and leap with joy. It also makes me wretchedly agonize over
. It takes me to the depths of my lows where I question how
content I am NOT
It is easy to chalk this up to the very human fallacy of wanting, seeking, needing more and ever more.... Ok. Fine. I am human. I want more. Accepted. But WHAT?! I am also competitive and restless and need to be constantly challenged to be happy. I bore easily and have a voracious appetite for new experiences. Sometimes, I create my own challenges (not all productive, I'll admit) but more often, I seek an environment that stimulates me.
Now, where can I find that?
Well, anyway, that is my rant today! :) I am leaving you with some photos of what I have up to lately and a recipe for a few
homemade pantry staples; Rosemary Preserved Lemons, Tahini Sauce leading to a finger licking-ly good Hummus
Homemade Tahini Sauce
1 cup white sesame seeds, unroasted
pinch of sea salt to taste
1/3 cup fresh olive oil
Spread the sesame seeds evenly in a baking tray and gently roast them in an oven at 325F turning them over every 5 or so minutes until they are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Process the seeds while still warm until you get a crumbly meal mix. Continue pureeing while streaming in the olive oil until a smooth, creamy paste forms. Add the salt and pulse to mix. Transfer to an airtight container and cool to room temperature. The sauce will keep in the fridge for a month or more.
Rosemary Preserved Lemons
3 ripe lemons, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/3 cup sea or rock salt
2 healthy sprigs of rosemary
Prepare an airtight glass jar, just large enough to fit the lemons by steaming and letting it air dry. Make sure there is no moisture in it. Tear and place one sprig of rosemary at the base of the jar. Sprinkle a bit of salt. Layer the slices of lemon alternating with more salt. Squeeze down on the slices to release the juice. Fit in all the slices. Top off with remaining salt and the rosemary.
Store in a cool, dark place for a week, shaking it every 2 days. Transfer to the refrigerator and use as needed.
Lemony Z'atar Hummus
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
3 T tahini sauce (from above)
2-3 slices of preserved lemon (from above)
1/4 cup olive oil
water as needed
salt to taste
2 tsp Z'atar
Cook the chick peas in water (pan or pressure cooker) until very soft and the shells fall off. Remove the skins of the chickpeas. Yes, it is tedious but very worth the texture of the hummus. Let the chick peas cool to room temperature. Process the rest of the ingredients till a smooth paste is formed.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of z'atar.
- I finished the rest of
. It was witty and cheerfully philosophical, all the way to the end. I would recommend it.
- I am doing quite well at the eating-at-home department, even if I seem to be making a disproportionate amount of sweet stuff in the name of cleaning the pantry... such as the cakes above.
- I have a hoarse voice from an extremely loud and completely out-of-tune rendition of Backstreet Boys hits at karaoke. And, no it isn't quite as sexy as Phoebe singing Smelly Cat...
On the topic of which, btw, there is some contention on the pronunciation of the word 'karaoke'. My Japanese memories makes me say KARA-OH-KAY while I am constantly
by my American and British friends to say CAREE-OKEE. So, lets settle this once and for all. It's Japanese and I am right.. Next!
- Rihanna can be quite the squatter in your mind. I am on a continuous loop of
and I can't seem to get away from it! And, believe you me, I have tried but can't stop myself from bawling that I am beautiful, like diamonds in the sky... sigh
- I am still working on getting the perfect look for the house. I think shabby chic is so yesterday.. I am going full-on rustic. And, throwing in a bit of what I think is ultra-cool new age, my
are just stunning! I can only wonder what other gems the person who donated them has in their house...
- Apple TV is awesome-est Apple (or any other tech) product. I am not a geek, so you can believe me.
- I got myself a black board to jot down to-dos. It makes me feel organized. I actually have gotten more things done since. The thing is hard to ignore.
- I am now reading
. If you
.. I mean really love, like you want to live there, love, go, get it now.
- I am still using
. Mostly, it is inertia. Lessly, it is that I don't care about the privacy battles. I don't want to stress about any more legalities than I absolutely need to.
- I signed up for the
again this year. Going seasonal is the best thing I have done. Feels like I belong to the #fairtrade camp. I may even start a #occupyseasonal. #justsaying
super cool?! Now, I have no excuse to NOT grow some stuff, even in my tiny apartment. Hurray!
Pear, Spelt Sour Milk Cakelets
(This recipe makes eight 2-inch cakelets. If you don't have little pie molds like I used, you can use cupcake trays and half fill each.
I use the sour milk that I make using cultures. This comes out a lot more tangier or as I like to call it, a lot more attitude, than buttermilk. If you like a sour-sweet taste, the best replacement for the sour milk is kefir.)
3/4 cup spelt flour
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup homemade sour milk or buttermilk or kefir
2 ripe Seckel pears, quartered
2 T butter, melted
2 T golden syrup
1/2 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 350F. Sift together the dry ingredients and whisk together the wet ones. For easier mixing, melt the butter and syrup together till runny and then pour into the buttermilk. Finally, add the yolks. Fold dry into wet. Spoon the batter into little cake molds or half fill cupcake liners. Gently press in pear quarters, one in each mold. Bake for about 20 minutes until slightly risen and golden on top. Cool on rack and serve.
Rosemary and Chili Garlic Spread
4 bulbs of garlic
3 sprigs of rosemary
2 mild, dry chillies
1 lemon, juiced, and skin retained
4 T olive oil
4 T bread crumbs or cake crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the tops of the garlic bulbs and place then in a baking pan that snugly fits them. Tuck in the rosemary sprigs and whole dried chilies. Drizzle half the lemon juice and a teaspoon of olive oil. Tuck in one half of squeezed lemon into the pan. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes until the garlic cloves are really soft to touch.
Squeeze out the cloves. In a food processor, pulse the roasted garlic the remaining ingredients and one crushed chili pepper into a smooth paste.
or fresh bread.
For this month's Daring Cooks challenge, I pickled and as it happened, canned, as well. This was a completely unplanned effort on my part, really. I had decided to pickle some zucchini and had everything ready for it even before I checked the challenge. And, as to the canning, a fortuitous bounty from the CSA and travel plans made some form preservation necessary. Altogether, all boded well for, perhaps, the easiest challenge for me!
Then, Why, you ask, am I posting late? Well, for one thing the pickled portion needed time to sit and marinate in the juices and then I was a bit lackadaisical in photographing it. Anyway, that's my excuse and I hope that the recipes I share, of Pickled Zucchini in Rosemary and Garlic Oil and Homemade Tomato Sauce, will make up for my procrastination :)
The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Still trying to get to the other side of overabundance of summer squash, I came across this gorgeous post. I loved the idea of storing it in oil, much like pickles in my country traditionally are. Oil being a natural preservative, is used extensively in pickling raw fruit from lemons to mangoes to vegetables to meat! My all time favorite is the HOT mango (avakkai) pickle from the state of Andra Pradesh. Next to that is spicy shrimp pickle that my in-laws make :D
My mind was made up instantly! I would pickle zucchini in white wine and vinegar and save it for posterity in flavored olive oil. I wasn't going to spice the heart out of the vegetable and decided some delicateness was necessary. So I went with rosemary, garlic and pepper for added flavor. So, the reason, it took a while to get to the table is that, the pickled vegetable has to sit in the oil undisturbed for atleast two weeks, so it has time to absorb the flavors.
The pickle is fantastic with toast, a little goat cheese or even sour cream and topped red onion slices and garlic flowers! Awesome way to start the day! :) Btw, the 'bouquet' in my photos is made of garlic flowers!! I left some scapes in my fridge and they bloomed so beautifully!!
Now that was done. Over the next few days, because of travel plans of my CSA share partner I was faced with a bin full of plump and very ripe tomatoes that didn't look like they were on my side of survival. So, I had to device a PoA to make them last. I settled on pasta sauce...
No brainer, right?! Sorta yes. I mean, I imbibe sufficient quantities of pasta to warrant it and I usually make the sauce from scratch but never before made it in large enough quantities to store. The recipe is what I usually use and is very simple and quite forgiving on some ingredients.
The tomato sauce was a delight. My only complaint is that I made only one jar of it and I wish I had more. Well, when I started out, I thought I would have too much. Lesson learnt: There is never too much of good pasta sauce!
Pickled Zucchini in Rosemary and Garlic Oil
500g zucchini, cubed small
1-1/2 cups white wine
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (can use white wine or champagne vinegar)
1 T salt
1 tsp sugar
1 clove of garlic, sliced
1 stem of rosemary leaves, peeled
3/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper
In a pan bring wine, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil. Add the diced zucchini and boil for 5 minutes while occasionally stirring with a wooden spoon. The mixture should be a steady boil the entire time. Drain the zucchini and spread in one layer over a clean kitchen towel and air dry overnight.
Sterilise your pickle jar. Add the garlic, rosemary and pepper to the jar. Taste the zucchini and if salt is needed add that too in the jar. Place the zucchini in it and toss to coat with the seasoning. Cover with good olive oil.
Seal and set aside for atleast two weeks before using. Do not open to peek for 2 weeks. Everytime you use it, you can top off with oil if the level goes below the vegetables in the jar.
Homemade Tomato Sauce
5 ripe tomatoes, large, peeled
1/2 large onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, grated (cooks faster)
2 twigs of rosemary
4 twigs or summer savory or thyme
handful of fresh basil leaves
2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp fennel seeds
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cups water
salt and pepper as needed
Heat the oil in a large sauce pan. When ready, saute the onions, celery, carrots and garlic for about 15 minutes until soft. Add the fennel, pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper.
Crush the peeled tomatoes and add the pulp and juice to the pot. Tie the rosemary and summer savory/thyme with a piece of string and submerge into the mixture. Add the water and basil leaves and bring the mixture to a boil on high heat. Reduce to low and simmer until the mixture has thickened.
Remove from heat, let cool and then puree in a processor. If the sauce is too thick, add some water and bring it back to a boil before canning. If too thin, reduce to required consistency. I refrigerate it as soon as it cools to room temperature, even if unopened.