Vegetable Tirade

I have a belief. I do believe that vegetables should be present at every meal. I believe this very strongly and may proceed to proselytise if provoked.

You can provoke me by trying to feed me a meal in which there are no vegetables. Repeatedly. If you don’t realise you’ve done this then you are probably a prime target.

Obligatory pre-cooking shot

Based on my recipe track record here (which is a pretty accurate indicator of what I eat), I’m clearly not one of those mega health freaks that thinks that you should drink wheatgrass smoothies every morning and go on raw vegetable purges and whatever. I completely admire their dedication, but, seriously, have you tried wheatgrass? It has “grass” in the name you know, for good reason. I don’t like the taste of grass (as I’ve mentioned before in reference to broccoli). Grass is for creatures that are 4-legged and go moo.

Also, I could never pretend to be that health conscious because I like to binge on sugary things. It would be too hypocritical of me. Blah blah, sugar loading, yes yes.

Do you see the old man onion face??!!

Well. I believe there should always be there because I like vegetables. I believe that a lot of people would feel loads better if they decided to eat one (just one!) portion of vegetables with their meals. That’s like, the size of your fist. Not much! Well, I don’t have a big fist. If you don’t eat any vegetables and you eat a portion the size of my fist, I’m sure that’d be good enough?

Also, don’t you feel a bit ill if you eat a meal with only meat and carbs? Like sleepy, and heavy, and a bit like this?

JABBAAAA

Okay you caught me, actually I just wanted to put a picture of Jabba the Hutt in a food related post. Wahahaha.

Not how it's done in Vietnam, I'm sureLook it's modern art!Not burnt not burnt not burnt

But, you know. Vegetables don’t have to party it up all the time. Sometimes they can be demure, supporting cast members to a more dramatic dish.

That’s what I thought this was going to be, up until I realised I was walking to the rice cooker to get extra rice so I could eat more eggplant and plain rice.

Sorry excuse for an attempt at plating

Anyway, I realise I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent here, but my point was that I made this dish in all of about 15 minutes because there was no vegetable dish when I sat down at the dinner table today (It wasn’t my turn to cook).  I thought it upstaged the chicken curry but perhaps I’m biased?

Note: it was curry from a packet. I don’t think anyone in my house knows how to make curry from scratch.

Jabba hungry

Grilled Eggplant with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce and Scallion / Cà tím nướng mỡ hành 

Adapted from Cooking Practice, I lazied it up and subbed for things I didn’t have (spring onions again).

2 long skinny eggplants
3 spring onions – I didn’t have this, so I subbed for half a small red onion. Spring onions would probably be better but onion was nice too.

1 tablesp fish sauce
1 tablesp water
2/3 tablesp sugar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped – I’ll probably increase this next time
A few drops of lemon juice – optional, or you could use white vinegar, or omit this altogether

  1. Chop the eggplants into sticks and soak in salty water for a bit. (This is the beginning of my cheating method, for the authentic Vietnamese method go back to Cooking Practice 🙂 )
  2. Prepare the sauce – chop up the garlic and chilli, and mix in the fish sauce, water, sugar, and lemon juice.  Taste it and keep adding to it until you like the taste. Leave it to sit.
  3. Oil up your eggplant sticks and toast them in the oven on the grill setting. This is cheating, you’re supposed to char them over a flame but I didn’t feel like working so hard. For the instructions relating to charring over an open flame, head back over to Cooking Practice. It took my eggplants between 5-10 minutes in the oven to cook.
  4. In the meantime, chop up your spring onions. By the time you’re done, the eggplant should be done.
  5. Heat some oil (about 2 tablesp) in a pan until it smokes. Drop in the spring onions and stir a couple of times, then dump everything on the eggplant sticks. Which you’ve now nicely arranged on a plate, right?
  6. You can either keep the sauce aside as dipping sauce, or pour it all over the eggplant. I did the pour-over because…I didn’t want to have to explain to my dinner companions that it was dipping sauce as they were only coming home at 9.30pm.

 

Why I Don’t Like Food Colouring, and Tandoori Prawn

Because it’s cheating. That was a simple answer wasn’t it? Well really, I have no problem with food colouring when food is intended to be coloured (like rainbow cake, which is awesome), but I feel that it’s somehow unfair to colour savoury food to make it more pretend-tasty than it is.

I don’t have a problem with mock-meat though. I actually quite like it. I suppose the thought process is that mock meat is a meant to be a trick rather than fresh food anyway, so anything that makes it more exciting is a plus point.

Anyway, the reason why this came up is because apparently, tandoori uses red food colouring. I did not know this. Naive me, thinking that the red comes from secret spices!

The happy ending to this story is that you don’t need to use food colouring to get the nice red colour on these tandoori prawns, you only need to add enough chilli powder. Not a problem, I like chilli powder.

What follows is a surprisingly easy recipe for a surprisingly tasty dish. Take it from someone who usually avoids tandoori in restaurants because I’ve never had one I liked – too dry every time. I only tried making this because I had something similar to tandoori chicken at Bel’s place a week or so ago. Actually it might have been tandoori, I should have asked. I didn’t think it was tandoori because it tasted too good. This didn’t taste the same (so is it tandoori? or not tandoori?), but it’s okay, as I’ve mentioned I’m not exactly the most authentic of kitchen-experimenters around here.
Tandoori Prawn

Based on Aaplemint’s recipe, with a few exclusions depending on what I had in the kitchen. Specifically, I swapped out cumin powder for cumin seeds, and didn’t use any tandoori masala (you’re supposed to use a teaspoonful).

200g prawns – that’s about 10 or 12 depending on how big your prawns are
3 tablesp yoghurt
3 cloves of garlic
1 knob of ginger, about 1cm long and not too thick – like your little finger
Juice of a small green lime
1.5 teasp cumin seeds
2-3 teasp chilli powder – I used closer to 3 teasp
A pinch of salt

  1. De-shell and de-vein the prawns, leaving the tail on. That’s so you have a convenient little handle to grab the prawn with.  I dumped mine in icy water afterwards while doing everything else, so that they would get nice and bouncy (restaurant tips!)
  2. Grate the garlic and ginger using the small holes on the grater (the one you use for parmasan cheese). Careful of your fingers, no one likes skin in their food.
  3. Dump all the other ingredients in a bowl with the garlic and ginger. Mix mix.
  4. Put the prawns in, and let them sit in the mixture for at least 2 hours, preferably. I’ll openly admit I only marinated for about half an hour and it turned out fine, but the taste is probably better if you marinate longer.
  5. Now I don’t have a grilling pan to finish it off, and I think it’d also work on a barbeque, but if you’re like me and don’t have any of these items….turn the oven on grill setting. Put the prawns in a non-stick baking tray and place the tray right up near the grilling elements. Wait about 5 minutes, until the prawns are a bit charred, then take them out and flip them over. Put them back in so that the other side gets charred too.

Elotes Callejeros

It’s a happy day today! Apart from the all-around-awesomeness of weekends and the apple-cranberry-cinnamon lassi I had at lunch, this wonderful creature came into my life:

Blue Sword of Wonderousness

He is named Ignatio for his fiery personality. And I have lived without him for the last two months, during which the ignitor on my gas stove didn’t work, and so I lit my stove using a candle and a lighter. I have wax all over the counter top which I’m not sure how to remove. I kept getting distracted by the fresh produce whenever I went to the supermarket, so I forgot to buy him every time. But now he is here! Wheee!

Anyway, back to business – the fancy words in the title. I don’t speak Spanish so I don’t know what it means exactly, but I do know that I ate this it Mamasita (Melbourne) the night before I left in January, and have dreamt about it ever since. Also other things, but that’s a subject for another day.. It’s a type of grilled corn, done Mexican-style. From what I can understand, this is *real* Mexican from Mexico not Tex Mex ..which I also like, I’m no food snob!

Do try this, the dripping mayo and tasty cheese with the sweetness of the corn is just unforgettable. Though for an authentic result, you need to use chipotle mayo and smoked paprika instead of the random substitutions I pulled out of my store cupboard. Scale it up for more corn.

Elotes Callejeros

Copied and bastardised version of EssJayEats recipe, which also includes instructions for chipotle mayo if you feel like a challenge 🙂

Corn on the cob – one, I really do need to start being more sociable at mealtimes.
Butter – 1 tablespoon. I used olive oil as I don’t have butter in my sad sad kitchen.
Garlic – 2 cloves, chopped
Mayo – 1 tablespoon. I used Kewpie, because Kewpie is the best in all mayo-situations.
Zest & juice of a lime – half the lime. I used a teaspoon of lemon juice as I didn’t have any lime..you are beginning to see why I said it was ‘bastardised’ now aren’t you.
Smoked paprika powder – half a teaspoon. I used loads of chilli flakes again, as I didn’t have any smoked paprika.
Salt – just a pinch

I’m such a bad food blogger, I didn’t have half the ingredients. But if it tastes good like this imagine how awesome it will taste with real limes and paprika powder!!

Yum raw veges

Please ignore the stray chilli and garlic on the right hand side. A girl can’t survive on a single corn on the cob for dinner, so Aglio Olio pasta was involved. Also, don’t cook with your laptop in the kitchen, my touchpad doesn’t work properly anymore because I keep dropping water (and garlic and olive oil and other various condiments) on it. You have been warned!

  1. Remove the corn from the husk. Try to take off all the stringy white bits as well, they get stuck in your teeth.
  2. Mix the garlic into the oil/butter, and stick it in the microwave for 1 minute. This fries it slightly and infuses the garlic taste into the oil.
  3. Rub the oil and garlic on to the corn (wait for it to cool a bit first!!). Grill the corn for about 15 minutes, turning frequently. If your grill is hotter than mine it will grill faster (full disclosure: mine’s actually an ambitious toaster oven)
  4. In the meantime, mix the mayo, paprika/chilli flakes, and lime zest and juice/lemon juice. Grate the parmesan. Be generous, parmesan provides an important chemical involved in producing brain-happiness.*
  5. When the corn is grilled, pour on the mayo and sprinkle on the cheese.

Sabrosa sabrosa! **

*Don’t believe everything I tell you, in all seriousness I’m not a brain-scientist.
** Google Translate says this means “tasty tasty”.