Monday, February 27, 2006

ARF/5-A-Day-Tuesday #9: Red Camargue Rice Fry-Up

This really does look good on the plate: a mixture of red Camargue rice, brown rice, black wild rice, and colourful vegetables. Mine contained some left overs from Sunday (carrots and broccoli), cut into smaller units, plus fresh vegetables, cut into very small cubes or julienned (carrots, red pepper, leek). I also added half a red chili and toasted sesame oil to heat everything up. Plus sweet chili sauce, nam pla, lime juice and coriander. Totally yum; at least 5-a-day, and entirely vegetarian.
(Don't overdo the sesame oil - it swamps out all the other delicate tastes.)

Oooops... I did it again: forgot to mention what this is all about! It is, of course, another entry for sweetnicks' health-conscious Tuesday, when we all try to create a dish which contains 5 vegetables and/or ARF (rich in antioxidants) foods.
Check it out on sweetnicks' fabulous site!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday #7:In the Pink - Beetroot Cocktail

As part of sweetnicks' weekly appeal to eat a healthier diet - at least every Tuesday - and just in time for Valentine’s Day:

Beetroot Cocktail... Well, as you can probably see, it’s more of a starter masquerading as a cocktail. It was originally inspired by a sudden yearning for Danish Herring Salad when I saw my jar of baby beetroot in the fridge. I also had uncooked beetroot but that was reserved for a beetroot curry, and this Herring Salad is a vinegary affair, so pickled beetroots are just right.
Of course, I had no herring in the house, but I concluded that it wasn’t the herring I was after (besides, it has far too many calories...), it was the pink, creamy sauce with gherkins and tart apples. So I concocted the following.

2-3 pickled baby beetroots, cubed
1 tart apple, peeled, cored and cubed
diced onion or shallot
Philadelphia light
juice of 1 orange
pickled jalapenos
cumin and coriander seeds, pounded as finely as possible with pestle and mortar
fresh mint, chopped finely and for decoration

At least I think that’s all I used. I’m vague on the exact amount of Philadelphia and mayonnaise because it was a gradual process of not letting either the mayonnaise taste or the chalkiness of the cheese dominate. I used an orange because it had to go – lemon juice would be an alternative though it might make it too acidic. I replaced the gherkins with the jalapenos for a bit more kick, and that worked a treat. Cumin and coriander are perfect partners for beetroot, so they are a must. (The powdered variety might work, too.) Mint complements beetroot really well, but obviously, fresh coriander would also have fitted, and I bet dill would work a treat.

I loved it, and Tom - who hates beetroot, and rather suspected the striking colour could only be achieved by adding the detested tuber - also thought it was rather nice!! Wow!

He absolutely hated the beetroot curry though, which I served later. ... And in all fairness, I have to report that the alleged uses as an aphrodisiac leave something to be desired...

Yes, really, beetroot is said to have those magic qualities; in fact it's quite amazing what you can find out about this humble root vegetable once you get started. Unfortunately, I can't quite lay my hand on the notebook in which I recorded the properties of beetroot and the myths it is associated with, and it's also rather late, so this will have to wait until I get the next opportunity to try out some other interesting beetroot recipe.

Tom thinks I've been taken over by some strange sick bug which compells me to rise to the challenge of cooking the inedible, of making the unspeakable palatable. -- Whatever next? Radish icecream with rhubarb sauce?? Melon soup with liver dumplings??? *And why do we have a brain in the vegetable rack?!!

Well, as I said, more about beetroot (and also about 'brains') some other time. I must fly. (No, actually - drive - the fatherland calls...)

'See' you soon.

* Careful! Heston Blumenthal might nick these ideas!!!

Do make sure you check everyone else's fabulous ideas for a vegetable and antioxidant rich dish over at sweetnicks. And thank you sweetnicks, for being so efficient!!!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday #6: Roasted Red Pepper & Blueberry Soup

Well, this 'creation' only came about because of one of my all too frequent kitchen mishaps, if not to say 'disasters'. - Tom thinks I should call this blog 'Zabeena's Kitchen Catastrophies', and I think he's got a point, tonight's 'blackened carrots' being a prime example (just think hazelnut macaroons - see 'Biscuit Bonanza' - and replace 'attic' with 'ebay', and you get the general idea).

In this instance, I had to make a quick U-turn when the 'soup' I had de-frosted turned out to be apple puree. (Do you not label your frozen food?!! -- I hear you ask - eh ... no...; the labels kept coming off, and most of the time, I do know what I'm de-frosting...).

So, a dead-easy, dead quick soup had to be invented (as SOUP it had to be -- diets always turn me into a Homo Soupiens®© - please quote me if you want to use this expression! -, because soups are so satisfying even when they don't contain many calories).

I took a carton of passata, whizzed a few roasted red peppers with onions, garlic, basil and a handful of blueberries. This I added to the passata, alongside Worcestershire sauce, a dash of tabasco and a dash of jalapeno relish, salt and pepper. I then heated it all up, while the sunflower seed roll was being browned in the oven. (Still the one where the door has to be kept shut with the stepladders, oh yes...)

Quick, easy and effective. Just how I like things.

For those of you who like to cook things completely from scratch, here is
my Mum's recipe for a wonderful Irish Tomato Soup - to which, I daresay, one could add roasted red peppers and blueberry quite easily.
(What exactly is supposed to be Irish about it, I don't know... there aren't even potatoes in it..., sorry, stereotypes, stereotypes..., nah, sorry, no time fopr a discussion tonight...)


500g very ripe tomatoes
1 medium sized onion
4 TBsp of butter
3 TBsp of flour
3/4 l stock
3 TBsp of tomato puree
1/8 l milk
1 Tbsp herbs (basil, parsley, thyme)
salt, pepper, 1 tsp of sugar
1/8 l cream


Scald tomatoes with boiling water, remove skin and seeds; cut into strips. Dice onions finely, fry in butter until transluscent; add flour, bring to the boil. add tomatoes and broth. Boil for 10 minutes, without lid. Pasteurize, add tomato puree, milk and seasoning.
Pour into soup bowls and add whipped cream.

PS: This is actually last week's contribution, which I didn't manage to upload! (There is something very strange going on - that's twice in a row that I couldn't upload in time!!)
PPS: up-date on the diet front: only 1/2 kg last week, but that was quite an achievement, considering the amount of alc I had, and the girlie night with Tiramisu, of all things! -- And again, only 1/2 kg this week --- well, better than nothing...

Thanks to
sweetnicks for coming up with the idea of ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday, and for doing the round-up! It's always chock-a-block with ideas for using high profile veg in your next meal. I tried out the red potatoes grilled in the GF straight away! (Which worked a treat, though my definition of parboiled certainly needs some re-adjusting!!)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

EoMEoTE#14 - Poetic Injustice: Two-Tone Crema Pasticcera

It was Rosa, our wonderful Neapolitan au-pair, who introduced me to Crema Pasticcera, in one of our long 'let's compare recipes' sessions. Really, she should have taken advantage of all the Strategic Management Books in the house, as she was going on to take an MBA after this stint with us to improve her English, but instead, she chose to take one of my cookery books upstairs every night. And then we would end up discussing the differences - Italian - English - German. In the case of Crema Pasticcera coming to the conclusion that it is, in effect, nothing else but a thick custard. (But again - doesn't it sound so much better in Italian??!!)

The two-tone version was a great success with the children at the time, and when Frank saw me making a Tiramisu for a friend's dinner party the other day, he reminded me of (and insisted on having soon) this child-friendly version of a trifle without fruit, jelly or cream. So, here it is, in time for EoMEoTE#14. (The one and only ovo-literal event, organised by the wonderful Jeanne over at cook sister!)It contains egg (3 yolks) and carbohydrates in the form of spongefingers (also confusingly known as ladyfingers).

My poem is based on Sylvia Plath's 'Daddy' --This is terribly flippant, so apologies are in order, I expect...


You do not do, you do not do
Any whites, oh no.
Just 3 yolks, beaten well
With 30 sugars, pure & white,
One hundred grams to be precise.

Eggy, I have had to kill you.
I beat you up in time.
Flour-heavy, heat to boiling point.
When it’s creamy, go and add
Butter, vanilla, straight from the pod.

Two-tone crema – o you!
Cocoa-man, cocoa-man, you too!
Ladyfingers soaked in juice,
Sugar syrup in the German tongue,
- Zucker! And Orange juice, Ach du!


3 egg yolks
100g sugar
50 g flour
1/2 l of whole milk
juice of half an orange (1 lemon)
sugar, water

Cover a serving dish with spongefingers; soak them with orange or lemon juice and sugar syrup.
Mix the eggs with the sugar, beat to a cream, put in the flour (sieved) and milk, and then heat up to boiling point, stirring the whole time; ca. 10 minutes.
When it's creamy, add 1 tsp of butter and vanilla sugar.
For the two-tone effect, add cocoa powder to half the cream. Pour the two types of cream on top of the soaked spongefingers. Leave to cool.