Monday, 26 May 2014

A Brilliant Lentil Salad

I finished my last exam a week ago - my last ever university exam.  I know, aahh!  Actually, it's been pretty anti-climatic.  I don't technically graduate until late June, so maybe it'll feel different then.  But that explains the lack of posts hah.

Anyway, enough about me.  I really like this lentil salad, it may seem simple but it's brilliant.  The key is to dress the whole thing while it's still hot and letting that flavor infuse - if you can, make it a day in advance and keep it in the fridge - it's even better the next day.
And the herbs! So much herbs!  It makes a difference.  I'm  hopeless with growing plants and all that.  I can't keep any herb plant alive for more than 4 days.  I'm very neglectful, I forget to take care of it.  I remember once in middle school my Science teacher told the class to all get a plant and learn to grow and nurture it - so that we can learn to take care of children in the future.  My mint plant didn't survive for very long....

Friday, 16 May 2014

Chop Chop (Morrison St., Edinburgh)

Red chairs, bare wooden tables and plastic Chinese New year decorations everywhere – the place is so tacky it’s endearing. This is what a Chinese restaurant in China would look like, if it wasn’t for the Caucasian waiter it would all be incredibly authentic.
Being Chinese and having grown up in China, it’s a shame to witness this country butcher the cuisine with dreary meats bombarded with MSG, salt and sugar that’s then fried in reused oil and smothered in some thick generic sauce.

But Chop Chop is different -- it’s far from a culinary black hole like the rest of them. Claiming to be Edinburgh’s favorite Chinese restaurant, it specializes in Northern Chinese cuisine, and in particular, jiaozi – crescent shaped parcels that resemble dim sum and gyozas but have a slightly thicker dough which are either boiled or fried.  Chop Chop’s bright yellow plastic menu cards also feature simple home-style cooking dishes that may seem alien to the foreigner’s eye – egg and tomato stir-fry, fried aubergines, cucumber salad – typical Northern dishes that would be cooked at home. You won’t find your usual Singaporean fried noodles, wonton soup and black bean sauce at Chop Chop.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Sage Apricot Black Pepper Cornmeal Cookies

It's funny, while eating these I kept trying to remember how I normally had sage as a child and I struggled.  Sage is strong, bitter, earthy, lemony and dominating - and it's perhaps hard to find ingredients that stand up to this robust flavor.  In this country, pork and apple are the standard flavor affiliates with sage, but I didn't grow up with this. Often, certain flavors just hit me and they're evocative of a time and place and emotion but I couldn't quite put my finger on sage.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Saffron Pumpkin Seed Falafels

Falafels are God's gift to vegans.
Well, actually, technically it's Egypt's gift to vegans.  I think.  The actual origin of falafels are controversial.  Several Middle Eastern countries claim to have invented it, and indeed, you can find it everywhere in the Middle East from Lebanon to Syria to Jordan -- but I can't be bothered to do a thorough research on it at this hour and Wikipedia says it's Egypt, so I'm going to assume it's Egypt.

Wikipedia's wonderful little piece also tells us the current world record for the biggest falafel -- 74.75kg (164.4lb) -- made in Jordan.  That's a full grown man.  Imagine frying that sh*t (here's the actual news article on it if you're interested).

"Deep fried in 350L of vegetable oil" God damn.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Jamie's Milk Braised Chicken

Next time, to continue with the theme, I'm going to infuse the milk with saffron. This was Jamie Oliver's recipe, and the chicken is essentially just seared and then cooked in milk and herbs and spices for an hour and a half.  Really is as easy as it sounds, and it's as delicious as it sounds.  As you can probably imagine, it's incredibly moist and sweet and tender and simply beautiful.
I had been wanting to make this for awhile.  I used to subscribe to Jamie Oliver's magazine, and this was in an issue in 2012.  I've kept them all -- it's funny, 4 years in university and I've accumulated more food magazines/cookbooks than I do academic books. And yes, it's exam season and I'm making things like this when I should just be eating ready-made sandwiches like everyone else.  It's better, it's healthier, but my lunch breaks become 3 hours long.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Braised Fennel with Saffron

More saffron recipes as promised :)  It goes with so many things, and just a bit of it can transform any mundane vegetable into something spectacular, and life's too short for mundane vegetables.  That should be a poster.
I served this with roast chicken as a side, but think about incorporating this as part of a dish - like with grilled fish and a white wine sauce, maybe in a quiche or in a vegetable parcel - or just eat it like it is, maybe with some more ingredients so that it becomes a proper salad - add some black olives, those that have been aged in brine, and some sultanas.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Saffron Aubergine & Yoghurt Dip (Borani-e Bademjan)

If you were to die tomorrow, to be hung or shot or electrocuted on a chair, what would you ask for today as your last meal?  I've thought this through, and I can tell you with great confidence that I would just love a meze/tapas/antipasti feast.  Just dips, cured meats, cold cuts, cheeses, pates, pickles, excellent bread, excellent olive oil and a bottle of red wine.  Left to myself eating with my hands outdoors on the grass as a picnic (f they'd allow me).  I don't like it when people ask me what my favorite meal is, that I find difficult to answer, but this would undoubtedly be my last meal.
 So I said in my last post that there will be a series of saffron recipes, and here is #2.  This recipe is directly from Saveur, and it's kiiiind of like a baba ganoush, but no tahini, and it's with yoghurt.  Plus some caramelized onions and garlic, chopped onions and saffron.  I know, it's like baba ganoush with a royal makeover.   I made this last night, photographed it this morning and so ate it as part of my breakfast along with some pita.  Good stuff, the taste still lingers in my mouth.

Saffron Hazelnut Cookies

Prepare yourselves for a saffron galore - saffron hazelnut cookies, saffron pumpkin seed falafels and saffron eggplant dip - all made last evening after I got back from the library at 23:15.  And this morning I made saffron tapioca pudding, but the photo wasn't very nice so maybe I'll make it again tomorrow for a better blog post.

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