It's getting cold now huh? For various reasons over the last few months I have been ducking out of cooking and Phil has predominantly been 'master chef'. However, the recent turn in the weather has me wandering back into the kitchen and planning cosy cooking sessions. The weekend saw the revival of one of my favourites from a while back; Seitan with Mushroom and Red Wine Sauce. However I wanted to also kick start the dehydrator again and make some snacks and staples, and a newly acquired copy of Crazy Sexy Kitchen from a charity shop had just the right recipes I was looking for.
I was feeling the nutty vibe and so started with the Curried Cashews and then moved on to some sweet chili infused maple candied pecans. Both are great for those 'in front of the fire TV snack' winter evenings, but are equally at home as a topping for savoury dishes (I had some of the cashews sprinkled over my lunch today and Phil has just rushed to check on how many are left as I write this!). Although we made these in our dehydrator, Crazy Sexy Kitchen suggests baking as an alternative way to prepare them if you don't have a dehydrator.
The third recipe for the dehydrator (which doesn't have a baked alternative) was also from Crazy Sexy Kitchen and was the Truffled Parmesan. Wowzers, this stuff is good! It is a wonder that it actually made it to the crumbling and jarring stage as Phil and I kept sneaking little sections of it here and there as we broke it up. Thankfully we do have some left to sprinkle over various foodie wonders but I might put a line on the outside of the jar to watch for spoonfuls being snorkeled straight from the jar à la Phil style! Hilariously after looking up an online version of the recipe to link to for this post, I noticed it should have been made with pine nuts. For some reason our version used pistachio nuts. Maybe I peaked too early on the 'spare' red wine from the seitan recipe I was making at the same time! Whatever, it tastes delicious.
We needed some dukkah for another recipe (Roasted Butternut and Cauliflower Pilaf) I was making so Phil got in the sprinkly mood and decided to make some. Dukkah is a traditional Egyptian condiment typically served with bread and oil, or with fresh vegetables. We only needed two teaspoons but now have a bountiful two jar supply of this fragrant nutty delight of a condiment. The recipes for dukkah are many and varied but here's how he made it.
20g Sunflower seeds
60g Sesame seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
Dry fry or roast the hazelnuts and sunflower seeds for 8-10 minutes. Dry fry or roast the sesame, cumin and coriander seeds for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Coarsely grind the hazelnuts and sunflower seeds. Finely grind the other seeds with the salt and pepper and mix everything together. Once it has cooled store in a jar in the fridge.
With the kitchen now infused with exotic culinary aromas, Phil was now enthused to infuse even more and decided to add to our sprinkle stocks by making some gomasio, otherwise known as sesame salt. This is a traditional Japanese condiment that tastes and smells of more than the sum of its parts. It is actually unbelievable to think it is only two ingredients, but it's all in the preparation. Toast the sesame seeds too long and they become bitter. You want them lightly toasted to keep their sweetness which is nicely balanced by the salt. It's all about the Yin and Yang baby! We've just had a lovely miso soup with some sprinkled on top.
16 parts Sesame seeds (can use white or black)
1 part Sea salt
Dry fry the seeds for 2-3 minutes until just starting to brown and pop. Add the salt and then grind in a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar. If you use a grinder, don't do it for too long as you only want about half of the seeds ground. Store in a jar in the fridge.
Even though the weather has turned we are now feeling like cosy squirrels as we gradually stock up on these tasty staples. So check your nuts, get grinding, get your seeds nice and toasty, and we can guarantee a hot start to the winter before the first proper sprinkling of snow appears.