When the shops are 200km away and you are in the middle of a recipe before you realise you've run out of a 'vital' ingredient it is time to think outside the square and get a bit creative. Sometimes it even works!
Yesterday I wanted to try and recreate a fabulous meal that I had in a little cafe on a recent shopping trip in Geraldton, our 'local' town. On the bottom of the plate was an incredibly smooth, creamy puddle of hummus. This was topped with a chickpea, tomato, red onion and parsley salad, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and a bit of the hummus. Slices of beautifully medium rare beef tenderloin sat on the salad and this was topped with a deliciously fresh and lemony salsa verde. I planned to make a slow roasted shoulder of lamb version.
After some research on the net I learned the secret to creating a really creamy hummus on this blog
The trick is to blend the tahini and lemon juice first. This makes the tahini really smooth before you add the chickpeas. Next add the garlic and salt. I didn't want the garlic to be too overpowering so I popped it in some boiling water for a few minutes to mellow the flavour first. The next trick is to skin the chickpeas....a bit tedious but made a bit quicker if you tip the peas onto a wooden chopping board and roll them gently around with the palms of your hands, picking the skinned ones out as you go. Add about a quarter of the chickpeas at a time to the tahini mixture, blending well between each addition. Finally, check the seasoning (I added some cumin also) and add olive oil and water. I wanted a fairly loose consistency in order to create the 'puddle' on the bottom of the plate so added a bit more water than I would have if using as a dip. I'm not going to put up a recipe for hummus because there are plenty to be found elsewhere.
Anyway, back to the point of the story. Having already embarked on the recipe I was soon to discover that I didn't actually have any of the vital ingredient tahini! Arrgghhh! What to do??? A thorough search of the fridge revealed half a jar of walnut and cashew paste....'But that doesn't taste like sesame seeds,' I hear you say. Well no, but the texture was pretty close and a good glug of sesame oil soon lent it a semblance of the right flavour. Phew, disaster averted....until......WHAT??? no anchovies for the salsa! Mmmmm, something salty to substitute? Olives did the trick there.
I was pretty happy with the end result of the dish, unfortunately I didn't take a photo to share with you. However I did take a photo of the bread I made to serve with it. It is definitely the easiest Turkish style bread recipe I have found and am very grateful to Dan Lepard for the recipe.
You can find the recipe here
I am always looking for interesting things to do with ordinary vegetables. This week I was struck with the inspiration to make carrot 'spaghetti' as a side dish. Carrots are a staple in this house due to their good keeping quality, colour and versatility and we probably eat them four times a week, so its great to find new ways of cooking them. A while a go my friend Jo gave me this groovy little gadget (right) and I have found it very useful when preparing vegetables for Asian style salads, such as Thai Beef or Vietnamese Chicken. If you are really keen and haven't got one of these julienne peelers you could of course use a knife.
Anyhow, having spagetified a whole lot of carrots I stir fried them quickly with some Panko breadcrumbs in olive oil, garlic and parsley and I was very pleased with the results. The breadcrumbs added a satisfying crunch. You could easily change the flavour profile of this dish by adding ground cumin and substituting the parsley with coriander. Ginger also works well with carrot. If you are avoiding gluten you could even serve it with bolognaise sauce instead of real spaghetti.
I found that holding the top of the carrot with a fork made it much easier to work with. There were leftover bits that I couldn't quite julienne so I just ate them! I kept the strips in a bowl of cold water until I was ready to cook, just before serving.
We are mustering our sheep at the moment and I have about 7 or 8 people to cook for, hence the quantity of carrot I have cooked here in my huge wok, designed to fit a Weber Kettle BBQ.
Have you got any interesting carrot side dish recipes to share?