Vol.33 Meals

Hello again!

The view that went with this morning’s cup of tea

I’m about 3 days late in sending/uploading this Food Letter to you. It was supposed to be done on Thursday but then I was cooking. And then it was supposed to be done on Friday but I was starting my production consulting gig. And well then, I went on holiday. I convinced myself that I would do it once I got to the accommodation – but I realised that, hey Jess, you’re on holiday. Just let go. Which I did. Thanks for your patience 😊

Somewhat delayed Vol.33:

First up some frozen favourites. I’ve decided to include links to the recipes I use as I really want to start using these Food Letters as something more than a weekly menu explanation.

Thai red chicken curry with jasmine rice – all of you should be well acquainted with this dish by now. But it’s actually only the second time it’s featured on this year’s menu. So, a quick refresher in case you’ve forgotten. You’ll remember that a Thai curry is more like a soup than a thick curry. What reaches you is a concentrated portion of curry. Please follow the cooking instructions or you might end up eating a bowl of fire. The process starts by reducing coconut milk down until really thick. Then in goes the red Thai curry paste – it keeps being fried until you see the oil of the milk and paste separate – it’s really quite beautiful. Then we add the remaining milk, the tender pieces of chicken thigh meat and kaffir lime leaves and simmer. Final touch is thinly sliced red pepper and bamboo shoots. When you cook the dish at home feel free to add any green veg you happen to have laying around – green beans, broccoli, baby spinach. Simmer until cooked but still crunchy and then dive into a bowl of tangy, zingy, spicy deliciousness. If you feel like trying to make it yourself the link to Pailin Chongchitnant’s recipe here

Melanzane – Ah! Melanzane alla parmigiana. My first dish! My first love! My first obsession with the mighty AUBERGINE! 🍆🍆🍆 Breaking hearts wherever it goes! I technically use the Chiappa sister’s recipe but over the years I feel like I’ve really made it my own. Aubergines are sliced to 5mm thick slices, salted and weighted to remove excess water. While that’s happening, I make the thick tomato sauce. Red onion fried until caramelized, then some garlic, a pinch of chilli flakes, passata or whole tinned tomato and tomato paste. A pinch of sugar, a sprinkling of salt and a grind of pepper, some low, slow cooking and I’ve got myself a thick, rich sauce. Next up fry the slices of aubergine. Each slice is brushed with olive oil before meeting its fate in a hot pan – being fried until golden and soft. Then the layering begins – aubergine, sauce, cheese (both creamy mozzarella and sharp parmesan) one after another. When you bake it at home make sure to keep it in the oven until the top goes truly golden. You get a sort of crunchy cheese topping and the molten cheesy strands are hidden in between all those layers of aubergine and tomato. Flip it’s going to be good having one of those again.

Pumpkin and ricotta ravioli with sage and butter – I really love making ravioli. It’s therapeutic – rolling the dough, spooning the filling, creating the little pockets of filling and then cutting out each little parcel. The filling here is one I found via the @telltalefood account. An account I mostly started following because it belongs to a very handsome young farmer. But I kept following for the goats, sheep, chicks and gorgeous views of rolling green hills. The filling is just a beautiful. Chunks of pumpkin are roasted until soft, slightly charred and deeply orange. It’s then blended with creamy ricotta, parmesan, lemon zest and some nutmeg. I’m going to document the filling for Instagram. It’s too orange not to share. With the butter and sage that comes with the pasta it makes for a luxurious, sophisticated dinner.

For the fresh dishes this week I had to put some fried tofu on the menu. Customer request! I decided to feature one from early in the year – back when I was cooking my way through Meera Sodha’s East. For the other one I delved into the first Ottolenghi cookbook I ever held in my hands – a momentous moment I tell you. Soppy love story to follow…

I’m sorry for getting the song stuck in your head…or am I?

Peanut butter and broccoli pad Thai with fried tofu – Double Thai party this week! And this one is actually Thailand’s national dish. It’s basically a stir-fry of rice noodles, various veg, chilli, ginger and garlic. The sauce it where the magic happens. This one is a mix of crunchy peanut butter, maple syrup, soy sauce, lime juice and tamarind paste. Another great mix of zingy flavours. Once the fried tofu meets this wonderful sauce you’ve got yourself a mouth-party. I.e., a party in your mouth! Pad Thai is also defined by its garnishes – so I’ll be sure to include as many as I can. Fresh mint, basil, spring onion, lime, sesame seeds and peanuts too! Eek! I can’t wait.

Spiced red lentils with cucumber yoghurt and roti – I distinctly remember when I first heard of Ottolenghi. A friend of mine (a trained chef) told me about this cookbook full of the most amazing dishes – and so many of them vegetarian. He was of course talking about Jerusalem! It is the first cookbook Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi released together – celebrating the food of Jerusalem and their shared heritage. When I heard of this wondrous celebration of vegetarian food I knew what my vegetarian sister’s next gift would be. Something by this Ottolenghi bloke. His next book was Plenty. Which was the start of his celebration of vegetables. Technically Flavour is the third and final of those books. I loved paging through it – each dish sounded so exotic, full of ingredients I’d never heard of and spices that definitely weren’t part of the Robertson’s range. I made a few dishes from Plenty – the black pepper tofu dish is still the first dish that actually had me enjoying tofu – but must say I wasn’t very confident in making the dishes. It’s one of those cookbooks where there isn’t a picture for each dish. It felt like a book for a more advanced cook. After having cooked my way through Flavour I’m happy to say I very much feel like an advanced cook. And I’ve decided to tackle all those recipes that don’t come with a picture – bold and brave all the way! So, expect some interesting dishes – celeriac and hazelnut, chickpea and tamarind, leek fritters, saffron tagliatelle with spiced butter. The first of which is this one – Spiced red lentils with cucumber yoghurt. In all honesty it’s just a complicated take on dal but I don’t think it will feel like one. The lentils will be cooked in a rich broth of garlic, ginger, onion, tomato and LITERALLY ALL the spices – mustard seeds, coriander, cumin, turmeric, paprika, curry leaves, fenugreek, asafoetida. And in the most classic Ottolenghi style it of course comes with some thick yoghurt – cucumber yoghurt this time. Our Ottolenghi journey continues!

And on to dessert! I’m sure I’ve told you about Felicity Cloake. I’m starting to get the feeling that she’s who I want to be when I grown up (I mean technically I’m already grown up but you know what I mean). She writes this wonderful column for the Guardian Food. It’s called How to cook the perfect… Each column focuses on a different dish. She cooks her way through various recipes, investigates the origins and presents her own version. And is promptly torn apart in the comments by every person who has their own time-tested recipe or childhood memory of how the dish should actually be made. With the recipe for Lamingtons, it is no different. I had no idea they originally come from Australia…or is it New Zealand? I just always thought they came from any and every home industry shop my mom visited when I was a child. The little squares of vanilla sponge are dipped in a chocolate coating and then rolled in coconut. Sounds easy, right? Well, there’s some technique involved – including freezing the cake so that it doesn’t crumble as you dip it in the chocolate. I must admit that I too had some reservations regarding Felicity’s chocolate coating. But let’s just see how it goes. I’ll try and convince my childhood self that this version is also tasty. 😉 You’ll be getting four squares per serving. Two to eat before your afternoon cup of tea and two afterwards.

That’s volume 33 for you. I hope you see something you like. I’m planning to put dumplings/potstickers on the next menu. I didn’t get many orders the last time they featured so please let me know whether you’re interested. Oh and I’m thinking of tackling the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte! Interested?

Now that you’ve read all about the meals, why not order!?