Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Scooby Snacks and Savoury Sprinkles

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.

100g Hazelnuts
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.  

Sunday, 4 November 2018

The Old Milky Way

I've become a bit old fashioned recently.  It must be age and the onset of autumn perhaps.  Whether it is the musty smell of red, gold and brown fallen leaves, or the damp and cold creeping darkness of the after work evenings, I've taken to a night time routine of enjoying a hot milky drink. I'm not quite sure what happened as I've never previously been aware of the need for such a beverage in my life.  Perhaps I've reached that age that listening to classical music whilst wearing comfortable slippers sat in front of a roaring fire is all the rage?  Ah.....well yes, that is what I am currently doing as I write this very post.  Let's just skip past that shall we and get into the milky drink detail instead?

Plant Based Artisan - Vegan Honea (Various) (190ml) - TheVeganKindI'm obviously not talking about the likes of Horlicks or Ovaltine here; with their less than comfortable whey, milk and palm oil ingredients.  I'm talking about the simplicity of heating up your favourite plant milk with whatever floats your vegan milky drink boat.  My favourite combo at the moment on this new voyage of discovery is oat milk (the whole milk Oatly version available in the chiller), with a 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (apparently just 1/2 teaspoon a day is enough of this powerful metabolism raiser to burn an extra kilo per month), a good old grating of whole nutmeg (just looked it up out of interest and found that it has some great benefits too), a sprinkle of vanilla powder and a splash of maple or brown rice syrup.  Divine it is.  I've just acquired a jar of Vegan Honea too, so my milky way adventure will continue. In addition, with my month long alcohol free Stoptober now over with, who knows what else will find its way into the mix?  I don't intend to grow old-fashioned gracefully that's for sure.

Am I really being old-fashioned though?  Are there other secret vegan hot milky drink lovers out there or has this 'pensioner' of a beverage been gazumped, discarded and forgotten in the wake of the youthful coffee and speciality tea revolution?  I'd love to know.  And if you are reading this and haven't had a hot milky one for a while, go on, give it a go.  I anticipate anyone over the age of 40 might just go 'ahhhhhh' as a result.  And for listening recommendations whilst you drink; try The Flower Duet from the opera Lakme by Delibes.  With the right level of cinnamon it hits quite the spot.