Chili pepper flakes have become a table top must over the years, it will often be present on a restaurant table alongside salt and pepper.
A dish of korean inspiration! A delicious scallion pancake coloured green with spinach. This is a great way to add an extra portion of vegetables to your meal.
Making brownies has been on my mind for some time, i finally settled for spicy brownies, with sweet and spicy pomegranate syrup!
It took me a LONG time to decide on a mix of ingredients/flavours; I've had recipe notes lying around on my desktop for ages now, with ingredients added, or scratched off.
I would still be in brownie rut, if it hadn't been for Devine ; his birthday was coming up, when I asked him what he wanted as a dessert he said, 'BROWNIES!'
The recipe was adapted from Joanne Gallagher's fantastic blog, Inspired taste. I'm not good enough to freestyle brownies, using her recipe as a base - for quantities especially - helped me out a lot. At least, i can get a good idea of how many wet, fat and sweet elements I need.
Spent time thinking about what i wanted it to look like, and how i wanted to present it. I didn't a chocolate topping - i've never been a fan of double-chocolate anything. I, at least, knew i wanted a fruit topping.
I wanted to make the brownies in a round cake pan, and decorate it with powdered sugar patterns, using stencils. Then, I stumbled upon a recipe online for a fish-based dish (they used a pomegranate syrup as garnish.) I'd never made syrup before, but i knew that's what i wanted as a coulis over my brownies.
I scrapped the round cake pan idea, as well as the powdered sugar. Devine's birthday brownies were going to be topped with fresh pomegranate seeds, and a pomegranate syrup coulis!
Again, something was missing...
I had some really good, spicy chocolate fleur de sel cookies at my old studio. The idea of putting chili peppers in cookies (or cake) had never ocurred to me before. I thought it was brilliant - and the chocolate and chili mix is just insane (in a good way.) Lindt makes dark chocolate with chili peppers, I guess it was inspired by those 2 things.
I put a LOT of chili pepper flakes in these, i have a higher tolerance to it but if you don't feel free to use less. The syrup has a fair amount in it too, if you're worried about the level of spicy, you can actually not put it in the brownie batter. But, be sure to infuse it in the pomegranate syrup, won't be the same without it.
These were a big success, Devine loved them! I cut them into 24 small squares, but feel free to make larger blocks. Smaller portions means you can have some longer, i like that idea.
In this recipe I substituted half of the fat for pureed pumpkin. In brownies you can only substitute half the amount, before it effects the texture. Hope you like it!
Was in the mood for some panko, didn't have tofu; but what I did have, was a jar full of chickpea flour. I prepared a batch of spicy, green scallion, 'chickpea tofu' and coated it with breadcrumbs. With this, I made baked panko chickpea fingers!
This dish was inspired off of Vegan Richa's parmesan crusted avocado recipe, I made it just last week! It reminded me how easy it is too make panko at home; never thought of using lemon juice, to make the panko stick.
The lemon juice adds flavour to the crumbs, no need for eggs or flour - simplicity at its best.
I had these with sambal oelek, it's spicy but I think it works well with the dish. I've been pairing this condiment with a lot of my foods lately, i bet these would be good with a sweet mustard dip!
If you don't have any panko, just make some yourself! All you need is some left-over bread; i had some i needed to use up. I tore the slices into smaller bits, and put them in my food processor to break them down. Once it was 'crumby' enough, I lined a baking sheet with some parchment paper, and put the crumbs down in a thin layer (for even browning). Preheat your oven at 300F, and bake the bread bits for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes is up, shake them around, and bake them for an additional 5.
Keep an eye on me them, to make sure they don't burn! Let cool, and store in an airtight container - keeps for weeks at room temperature!
Even if I don't live in Tokyo anymore, I try and keep up with what's happening over there. I still follow the news, and try to translate some simple texts to see how many kanji i've forgotten. My favourite kanji, is the one for bone '骨' (pronounced 'ho-ne'). I also love the kanji combination for jellyfish or '水母' (pronounced 'ku-ra-ge'), which beautifully translates to 'water mother'. These two words come together to create this expression '水母の' or 'jellyfish bones'. It is used when talking about something that you would not expect to exist, like bones in a jellyfish. I could go on, but seeing as how this has nothing to with food, here goes. The recipe i'm sharing with you today is japanese inspired, and is also currently part of a craze over there. I made some onigirazu, a sort of hybrid, japanese rice ball sandwich.
The word onigiri (or nigiru) means to press into shape using your hands, while "razu" means the opposite. Free form onigiri! This is perfect for people who have a hard time making rice balls, as is the case for me. Onigirazu has the same great taste, without the fear of imperfection. All the shame is hidden away under a blanket of nori, and fillings.
The concept of this rice sandwich, is perfect when you don't have the right type of rice available for onigiri. You can use just about any type, i tested it out with some Minute Rice and it worked perfectly. I was given some coupons to try out their products, i'm all for experimentation so i picked up a box of whole grain brown Minute Rice. It was my fist time trying it, I generally purchase rice in bulk. Bulk is cheaper, and has a lot less packaging. After cooking with it though, i do see the appeal. The rice is 'parboiled', which means that you wont have to wait very long for your meal to be ready. Your rice will be cooked in 1/4 of the time it takes for traditional brown rice. As you all know sticky rice takes a long time to cook, I don't mind having to wait after my rice, but I know that not everyone has that luxury. It's a good thing that this option exists, it means it's even easier to cook great meals, rapidly at home.
The rice was seasoned with miso for added flavour, and was filled with carrot kinpira. Kinpira means "sauteed" (sually with a mixture of mirin soy sauce and chili peppers.) It's a sweet, and spicy dish that is often served in bentos. I knew I wanted this as a filling for my onigirazu, to satisfy my sudden craving for japanese food. This would have been amazing with gobo, but finding the root here in Montreal is no easy task.
You should try and make your own version of onigirazu at home! As i said, it's no-fail and with some parboiled rice it can ready in under 20 minutes (you can also parboil your own rice). I may not live near a 24h kombini, with readily available onigiri anymore, but i know i can make some at home easily, and quickly.
While Devine & I were still in British Columbia, i remember one morning waking up to the sound of someone knocking at our boat: it was our neighbours, coming to offer some homemade pan-fried corn pone. I'd never had corn pone before, nor did i ever think of making any sort of flat cake using corn as a base. After that I started to make it myself and would serve it with chili - lazy cornbread, as I like to call it. While sitting in the Niue yatch club, i found an old vegetarian cookbook; I must have spent an hour reading through it, the recipes were fantastic. The title read: "The Farm vegetarian cookbook". It was sitting there, amongst a panoply of writting, including a Polish Murakami book (how I wish it had been written in english.) The cookbook had an entire section dedicated to cooking with corn; it's in here, that I found a recipe for masa dumplings.
Masa is corn that is simmered and ground into a paste. It's the base for many recipes, you can make Mexican-style tortillas with it! Or, you can use it to make dumplings! I don't have access to fresh corn, nor do i have the space or the time to make my own masa; but I used polenta (corn semolina) instead and it worked! The only difference is that you need to add boiling water so you you can roll the mixture into balls. If you were to use masa, you wouldn't need added moisture. The texture of the dumplings is fun and chewy, the outside it soft but the inside is like that of dense cornbread. Corn dumplings, I imagine, could be used to make fake 'meatballs', Devine & I enjoy eating it with tomato sauce or with a spicy apricot sauce.
Instead of apricot jam, you can add apricot juice to the mix (orange will taste wonderful too.) I added jam because i don't have any juice on the boat currently, and besides, it works well in this recipe. Enjoy!