Sunday, January 10, 2010

Why I hate summer cooking

I hate cooking in the summer. I use my stove a lot, I bake a lot, I like slow cooked things, and my salad repertoire has previously consisted of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, capsicum, and, if I'm adventurous, cheese. I cook really well. I salad really, really badly.

At Christmas time, I had two of the most delicious salads I have ever eaten, and they have in the couple of weeks following become my new favourite dishes, and will feature heavily in my summer food repertoire from now on.

The first is a beetroot and fennel salad with a pistachio and hazelnut dukka. It sounds complicated (and the recipe that my brother in law gave me has some exotic ingredients, such as pomegranate molasses which, despite the nice cheap product I just linked you to, I could only source from Simon Johnson Grocers for $37! Uh, no thank you.

I have dumbed it down so that I can make it quickly and easily.

  • canned baby beets - 1 can per 3 people works.
  • baby fennel 
  • mint leaves
  • continental parsley
  • good quality feta cheese
  • natural yoghurt
  • little handful pistachios
  • little handful hazelnuts
  • shake of cumin seeds

  • Finely slice the baby fennel.
  • Drain the beets.
  • Wash and chop the mint and parsley, don't worry about making it too fine.
  • Mix these ingredients in a bowl. Take time to smell the lovely sharpness of the mint and sweetness of the beets, with the tangy aniseed of the fennel subtly overlaying it all.
  • Crumble the feta over the salad, and toss very lightly again.
  • Put a smear of yoghurt on a nice serving plate.
  • Tumble the salad on top of the yoghurt.
  • Crush the cumin seeds and nuts with a mortar and pestle. (The recipe says to toast them golden after, but I can't be bothered. You can add salt and pepper too but I haven't bothered.)
  • Sprinkle the dukka over the top of the salad and serve. Yum.

Now, the second salad is even easier and very tasty. I don't have a photo of it, however. It's a sweet potato salad with a red curry dressing.

  • Sweet potato (I do two large ones for a salad big enough for our family)
  • Can of light coconut cream
  • 1 tspn red curry paste
  • Crispy fried noodles (such as Chang's)
  • Fresh coriander (aka cilantro)

  • Peel and cube (about 1 inch cubes) sweet potato, and boil or steam until tender. Don't overcook!
  • Mix the curry paste and the coconut milk, and pour over the sweet potato.
  • Rinse and chop the coriander, and mix it with the dressed sweet potato.
  • Just before serving, mix through the crunchy noodles.

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