FISH STICK (TATER TOT) BHORTA - p. 60
Inspired by @Saregama 's hash brown version, I had the idea of using tater tots in place of the fish sticks. I baked the tater tots in the oven a bit longer than the package directions, to ensure a crisp exterior (as is suggested in the instructions for the fish sticks). Made the bhorta pretty much as directed. My mustard was creole. I took note of LLM’s comment about the pickled onions, and made a different recipe for those, that included coriander, cumin, and black peppercorns. At the end, I topped the bhorta off with some crowder peas that I had roasted with chaat masala, and some sungold tomatoes from the garden.
I had mixed feelings about this. The texture overall was disappointing - I had super-crisp tots, only to throw them in this dish and have them become less crisp. And the sautéed spinach just wasn’t working for me, texturally. I just really wanted this dish to be a salad, with more crisp/crunchy textures. I could see converting it to a mustard/ginger/chile dressing tossed with fresh greens, and then the tots as croutons (and I would absolutely keep the roasted peas).
VEGAN LEMON POLENTA CAKE - p. 257
This cake just happens to be both vegan AND gluten-free, so I had to make it. And lemon. I just love lemon desserts. From what I can see, Nigella’s solution to making something vegan is just to leave out the eggs and see if it works. Which isn’t really the best way to veganize a cake. As a result, this cake, like the banana bread I made earlier this month, had some problems with structure. It did hold together well enough for me to get it out of the cake pan (and I did not use a springform pan like she called for, so I had to turn the cake out, then flip it back over onto the cake plate). I cut my first slice a few hours after baking, and it was a mess. The syrupy top of the cake just wanted to stick to the knife, and the whole thing was crumbly and and messy. On day 2, the slices were better behaved. So I’ve made a mental note that this cake should be made a day in advance.
The thing is, this cake is delicious. So out of the recipes I’ve made so far this month, this is only one I’m likely to repeat. I’m going to make a scan before I return the book to the library. I did make minor changes. She calls for light olive oil, which is not something I typically keep on hand. When I was at the store to buy it, a bottle of almond oil caught my eye, and seemed like a better option, so I used almond oil instead olive. I also used stone-ground cornmeal instead of fine polenta. Polenta is another thing I don’t typically keep on hand, the grits I do keep around are far to coarse for this application. And my cornmeal was white, because that’s how we tend to roll here in the south.
The underlying dish is a soft mash – was that the texture you were expecting?
(I saved this a while back, partly because it reminded me belatedly of Georgian Pkhalis when I was cooking from Kachka.)
I knew that it was supposed to be a soft mash, it just ended up that I wished it weren’t, if that makes sense. I don’t have any problem with bhortas in general, I just didn’t like combining that texture with tater tots.
Interestingly mine, with fish sticks, maintained quite a bit of crispness.
CHICKEN WITH GARLIC CREAM SAUCE
Spatchcocked a whole chicken, I did it with a poultry shears and cut near the backbone, then sprinkled salt and 2 mashed garlic over the inside of the chicken, and brushed melted butter on the skin, waited for 30 minutes for the chicken to come to room temperature. Before tossing it in the oven at 200 ºC fan, added a little chicken broth and vermouth in the cooking pan with the chicken. Cooked until the skin was golden and crispy. Mashed more garlic, added cream and pepper, brought it into a boil in a pot on stove, simmered few more minutes, stopped the fire and covered the pot and let it steep until the chicken finished cooking. Reheated the cream sauce again before serving, added salt, chopped parsley and chives.
Very tender and moist chicken, garlic sauce was good. Simple and easy dish, good comfy food for a lazy day, I ate with mashed potato and a tomato salad. Will make again!
Have to say I wasn’t seduce by most of the recipes when I first glanced the book, the results aren’t spectacular or wow, but the 2 I’ve tried are successful and delicious.
TUSCAN BEAN SOUP - p. 296
This one is a keeper. At first glance, it’s like many other such soups. Sautéed onion, carrot, celery, garlic. Parsley and rosemary for the herbs. Just a touch of tomato from paste. Beans, potatoes, kale. Torn up sourdough goes in at the end. The touch that makes this soup just a little bit different is the inclusion of fennel seeds, which I thought added a really nice flavor and aroma. I love fennel, so no surprise I thought it was a great addition. I did deviate from the recipe just a bit. I used white beans instead of borlotti. I also cooked the beans separately in the Instant Pot, then added to the soup after I’d already gotten the potatoes mostly cooked. I did this because I hadn’t soaked beans, and cooking long enough to get unsoaked beans tender would have given me mushy potatoes.
MARMALADE MOLASSES SAUSAGES - p. 290
The month is over, my book has been returned to the library. But I still had a couple dishes I wanted to make, so I scanned the recipes. This was one. It’s one of those recipes where you look at it and think, that is either going to be really good or really bad. Only one way to find out. The recipe calls for 15 breakfast sausage links. 15? I used Beyond’s breakfast links, which come in packs of 8, so I had 16. These are to be twisted around the middle so each sausage becomes two smaller links, then the casing is snipped to separate them. The vegan sausage casings are more fragile, so I just twisted and then pinched the links apart. You mix up orange marmalade, molasses, and oil as a glaze for the sausages. You are to put half the mixture on the raw sausages, followed by a bit more oil. This was a slippery mixture and I didn’t really think it was coating the sausages, but whatever… I forged ahead. The sausages get cooked for half an hour at 325F. Then the remaining marmalade mixture is tossed in, and they cook for another 10 minutes. At this point they should be “a deep, glistening brown” and thoroughly cooked. They were. Out of the oven, they sit for 5 minutes, then are tossed in their glaze again, and served. She describes an optional condiment in the headnote: equal parts mustard and sour cream or crème fraîche, perhaps with some ginger grated in. I made a version of this. I had no vegan sour cream, so I used Greek yogurt, and added a little bit of mayo to enrich it. I did add the ginger. I used all the creole mustard I had, then used a wholegrain Dijon for the rest. To offset the tartness of the yogurt, I added a small amount of vegan honey.
These were cute and delicious. I felt the dip was needed to offset the sweetness. This was my first time trying the Beyond breakfast links. While they were good, I felt they were on the bland side. Aren’t breakfast sausages supposed to be spicy? I think they are. In the future, I would add some chile flakes or powder to the marmalade to make up for the lack of spice in the sausages. I just wanted this to have a little heat. I also don’t think that sausages need to be coated in 3 tablespoons of oil. I would reduce the oil, but maybe thin the marmalade with some water. That sounds like a lot of tweaking, but we really did enjoy these as they were.
BEETROOT, RHUBARB AND GINGER SOUP
Curious about this soup with all the unusual combination of ingredients, no idea how this would turn out. Had some rhubarb in the freezer, why not gave it a try!
Easy to make: sliced an onion and cooked in olive oil for 10 minutes in medium low heat in a pot, added 3 diced garlic for another 2 minutes, stirred in a pinch of cumin and salt and added the diced beetroot, rhubarb and 1L water into the pot. Brought it a boil and covered the pot and lowered the heat and cooked for 1.5 hour. I used cooked beets, the cooking time was shortened to about 20 minutes. Mixed everything with a stick blender followed by the addition of 50g of grated ginger. Served with a horseradish cream (or herbs tahini as suggested in the book).
We ate it lukewarm. Not bad, but not exciting either. We found the suggested dose of ginger too overwhelming. Wonder if the soup is more suitable served chilled as it is quite acid. We have some leftover and will try the cold version…