Mix & Match Birthday Breakfast...
For my dad's birthday I was kind of stuck on what to make him.
The problem is, he's just about as food-obsessed as I am, so it's really difficult to pinpoint a favourite: oliebollen, raisin buns, Indian sweets, Chinese, anything with dates or figs, Dutch pastries and cookies... the list is endless.
In the end I settled on a recipe for fruit scones from my trusty little book of 'Good Old-Fashioned Teatime Treats' -even selecting a recipe from the book proved to be an extensive project- and homemade ricotta from Smitten Kitchen.
My mum made a lovely pineapple and banana smoothie... and her apple pie (another of my dad's favourites) was just heaven
The scones were insanely easy and I made them on the morning of my dad's birthday (I mean, if you're having birthday scones, they might as well be fresh and warm, right?).
I made the ricotta that morning too, because the recipe said an hour of draining would give a tender ricotta.
Making the mix was simple, but the cheese really could have used more time to drain. We had to get it ready for breakfast so my mum came to help with the emergency by hand-squeezing the cloth to try and make it more solid. It was a horribly messy process, but it was a life-saver.
I was wary of how the cheese would turn out because it wasn't as firm as I have known ricotta to be.
But oh man it was so scrumptious... I've never thought of ricotta as being really flavourful, but I loved the creamy, lemony taste this recipe creates.
I had spoonfuls of it at breakfast and then at any possible opportunity for days after: sandwiches, on an apple (not my best idea... but it was worth a shot. In my defence, it was inspired by pear and chevre), and I made a brilliant discovery: homemade ricotta with peanut butter. (If you already discovered this amazing combination, sorry. But hey, great minds think alike ;) )
The scones too were a success. I had started feeling horrid while they were baking because the dough was gooey an non-rollable and they weren't looking golden and they had baked for long enough already.
But they were warm and crumbly and so perfect for toppings. That's what I love about a lot of British pastries: they're not too sweet. Of course, I'm a sucker for streusel-coated giant American muffins, but they're sugar-loaded cakes. A lot of British treats are more gentle, allowing them to be paired with both nutella and ricotta depending on your mood.
Hence the 'Mix & Match Menu'. I love this kind of doodling stuff- it's part of the fun of food and it's totally the kind of thing I want in my café.
Muffins, Almond Butter, Pasta & Risotto...
It's been more than a month since I've written! A month!
But kind and surprising as always, there are still people- whoever you are- reading each day, so thank you for sticking around.
But even though it seems as though I've disappeared, I've still been cooking my one recipe a week, and I've got them all lined up.
Life is just crazy... Is it February? March? April? December?
I can't keep track. Christmas seems as far away as last summer, and spring seems as close as this summer...
I have become a slave to my artwork, sleeping at horrendous hours of the 'night' (does 4 am count as morning or night?). My coursework dominates 90% of my thoughts and my conversations, and my mental sanity and friendships have suffered as a result.
And even with my coursework almost done, my art exam work is lurking, ready to plunge down on my head because it would be too unfair to give me some respite.
But I've slipped in some new dishes: I tried a different way of making almond butter, which wasn't actually that different in taste, but it was fun. I made risotto on my own for the first time- no one there to tell me what to add and when... the result was fascinating, but some of the cheesiness disappears as you reheat it.
I invented a pasta dish with a rosemary pea sauce, crispy mushrooms and broccoli and some cottage cheese; yum, but lacking a bit of flavour.
Lastly, yesterday I took out some time to do some baking with my dad, who also has a love for sweet stuff, and tends to push everything aside-no matter how much it is- when he feels like spending some time in the kitchen. We made banana-walnut muffins, which turned out big, moist, not too sweet and absolutely scrumptious.
I promise I won't let my posts pile up like this... if I don't let my work collect, I shouldn't let this collect. It's a commitment, and it's my passion.
I know the subheading is a little random, but that's the first thing that popped into my head as I typed 'Hummus' (mmmmm...)
I realise this isn't some revolutionary recipe, but I've actually never made hummus before. I made a batch with my grandma and so here's a list of hummus-making tips I learnt from her and my mum:
1. Let the chickpeas soak for ages... at least overnight
2. Boil the chickpeas for a long time so they're super soft
3. Don't add too much olive oil. Keep tasting and once you can taste the oil, don't add more or you'll overpower the chickpeas. If it needs more liquid, add water
4. Start with a little bit of garlic and add more as you taste, if necessary
5. Some chili flakes or Italian seasoning tastes nice
6. A couple of spoons of cumin powder is the perfect addition
7. You can use a coarse or a smooth food processor- whatever type of hummus you prefer
8. Chop or snip some fresh coriander over the top and gently stir it in
9. Do. not. add. too. much. salt. Salty hummus is just not yum...
I swear, I can just eat spoonfuls of hummus plain... What's your favourite way to have hummus?
Leave a comment here or on the Chocolate Tulip facebook page.
Yes, it may seem like a silly recipe.
But this is part of a campaign to get people to ditch those horrible store-bought sauces and the homemade ones that taste like ketchup.
It's basic, quick and you can use it for any cuisine just by changing the spices.
Do yourself a favour. Throw out any ketchupy stuff, any recipes that lead you to make that, and if you already make good tomato sauce, send this on to your friends who need it.
Or a scrumptious soup...
I know I posted about a dal recently, but I just have a soft spot for it. It's warm, nutritious and always delicious.
This one is made with split peas (chana dal) and has a tomato-spinach masala mixed in.
The only thing that takes time is cooking the split peas, but everything else is quick. If you have the time to let stuff sit on the stove but don't want to spend ages in the kitchen, this is a great recipe.
As with most dals, this can be eaten as part of an Indian meal, or with a western meal as a soup. My mum makes a chickpea- ditalini soup from Jamie's Italy and it's my all-time favourite soup. (I'll make it one day and post about it!)
You can try adding some semi-cooked pasta to this dal to turn it into a similar dish and a perfect, balanced meal.
Another conversion challenge...
I don't like tofu.
I just don't.
Unless it's fried or drenched in peanut sauce, get that wobbly, bland block away from me.
I think I was meant to be non-vegetarian, I just have a problem with the way animals nowadays are raised and slaughtered. If I find a free-range farm I like one day, who knows? I may become non-vegetarian.
But for now I'm not and tofu is something rather unavoidable.
Remember the task I set myself to make a cauliflower dish that my mum likes? Well this was like that. I wanted to cook something with tofu (not deep-fried or peanut- bathed) that was enjoyable.
This recipe looked simple and Madhur Jaffrey said it is her favourite tofu dish. It was really easy and, I'll be very honest, I liked it.
There were a lot of flavours in the sauce and for once, I didn't swallow down my tofu as quickly as possible. I actually savoured it!
So even for you tofu-haters (I totally get you), I suggest you try this. It's well worth it and really easy.
When I came across this recipe, I had one goal in mind:
Create a cauliflower dish that my mum likes.
She absolutely hates cauliflower and is always disappointed with the result.
This dish looked promising: It didn't have large, hard chunks and it was full of different ingredients & flavours.
I took my time with making the dish, but it's quite quick to make in itself and it doesn't require exotic ingredients. I still have to master the 'Sweet n' Sour' balance, but it worked out.
I think this could become our new cauliflower go-to-- just substitute Indian spices, for an Indian meal, bake it for a baked dish or use it as a bruschetta topping.
You'll have a lot of fun making this dish: tasting, adjusting and customising the perfect flavour.
Cauliflower lovers: I'm sure you're rushing to make this.
Cauliflower haters: Your leader loves this dish, so you will too.
Goodbye recipe book...
I want to learn how to cook without a recipe. My parents have an entire repertoire of stuff they just know how to make. I, on the other hand, constantly refer back to the recipe to check on each and every quantity, step and time.
So when my mum was trying to think of what to make, I came across a recipe called Zucchini 'Meatballs' and suggested it.
"Oh, that's just kofta," she replied. Kofta is an Indian dish made of fried zucchini in a chickpea flour batter. It's often made in a tomato curry and we've always had it at our house.
So I put away the recipe book and asked my mum if I could make it and if she could teach me how to make it her way.
It's insanely simple but it felt good, as well as gave me time to chat and relax with my mum.
Although she made the curry while I was frying the koftas, I took note of what she put in. It's essentially the same as the pizza sauce we make (which I learnt without a recipe!) except with different spices.
Kofta curry is warm, complex in its flavours and easy to have with loads of different Indian or even Middle Eastern accompaniments. Plus, the plain koftas make a great rainy-day snack when they're fresh, warm and crisp.I'm contemplating how to present the 'recipe'. How ironic would it be if I gave you instructions with quantities, times and details?
Let's give it a go. Together. I'll give you the basics and see if you can experiment and judge by yourself to create the dish without a recipe
I really didn't know what to make today.
I asked my mum and she suggested cherry jam, since we had half a huge box of cherries still sitting in our fridge. I thought of cherries, but I could only think of tarts and cakes, which I am (trying to) steer clear of since our indulgent sleepover on Tuesday (thanks a lot Anya. ;) )
This is more of a stewed fruit sort of method. If you want a more gelatinous texture, you need fruit pectin. But Jamie Oliver and David Lebovitz make it this way, so it's fine :)
In itself, it was quick and easy. Except for the fact that I manually de-seeded all the cherries...
Not a huge deal. I mean, it only took about 10-15 minutes, but if you have a cherry pitter it's super fast.
I was happy with the result, but I think I added too much lemon (AGAIN). I reduced the sugar quantity because the recipe I was using called for tart cherries but I was using sweet. But I can always throw the jam back in the pan and add some more sugar, and my mum liked it as it is.
Both my mum and dad thought of scones when I said I was making jam (as they say: "Great minds think alike" :P) so my mum and I made a batch in time for tea. English Tea.