25 May 2009

the memory remains

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It has been a little while now since The Food Show, and I've eaten most of the loot I bought therein. There's a little bit left - some preservative-laced ageless salami, the occasional lonely sprout, half a tub of yoghurt. And the Lindt chocolate is sitting in my wardrobe, waiting for that special chocolate recipe. Most of the good stuff is gone though. However since blogging about eating food is a somewhat slower process than just eating food, it has taken me a little while to get round to discussing how I used my purchases.

Some of the yoghurt and sunflower seeds went into a batch of banana muffins. The bagels got eaten in a matter of hours. The mirin I bought made me wish I'd come across it years ago. And the white chocolate Lindt chocolate balls, the very thought of which are making me a little dizzy with wanting right now, I think I inhaled them accidentally while blinking or something.

I devised this salad in my head on a break at work and was pleased with how it sounded - roasted kumara and radish salad with chorizo, halloumi, brocolli and organic sprouts. I was looking forward to it, imagining peppery radish with the sweet kumara, searing hot halloumi against the cool sweet crunch of sprouts, the paprika-d chorizo whispering an oily hymn to the verdant brocolli.



I presented it triumphantly, sat down smugly, held my fork aloft and then cursed loudly. I'd forgotten to add the chorizo. Even though it was sitting right there in the fridge and was one of the main components of the meal. You'd think I would have learned. Time and time again it is proven that if I have an idea and don't write it down, I'll forget half of it. Even if it's something really fundamental to what I'm doing, I'm reliably unreliable.

Luckily the chorizo-less salad was delicious.
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If you've never roasted radishes before - and I don't blame you if you haven't, the idea never occured to me until I read it in Jo Seagar's The Cook School Recipes. Drizzle a little olive oil over the halved radishes, and bake at 220 C for 20-40 minutes till they are slightly darkened and caramelised in places. They retain that familiar peppery tang but softened somehow, which worked marvelously with the buttery, chewy halloumi draped over. Seriously, I love halloumi so much it's a good thing it's nosebleed-inducingly expensive or I'd be absentmindedly frying up entire blocks of it to eat while I think about what I'm going to make for dinner.
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The halloumi in question was Canaan, and marvelously wonderful stuff it is too. Tumbled over the salad were organic Wright sprouts, also bought at the Food Show. And as you now know, the bargain chorizo remained quietly in the fridge... I wish I hadn't used it recklessly in some tossed together dinner this week though because upon reflection, Nigella has a LOT of recipes using chorizo and as we hardly ever have it in the house, well there goes a prime opportunity to try out more of her recipes.
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This following dish - Slow Cooked Lamb with Cumin, Cinnamon and Feijoas - was actually made before the food show but I have never got round to blogging about it, and while it's very different to the above meal gosh darnit it's my party and I'll attempt to dovetail disparite culinary themes if I want to.


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First of all I softened one finely chopped onion and an intimidating amount of garlic in my lovely non-stick pan (not one of those pans that just masquerades as nonstick, this one really doesn't require oil) then tipped in a hefty pinch of cumin seeds, stirring for a bit before adding cubed lamb shoulder that I'd tossed in a little flour. I stirred quickly to brown the meat on all sides then added two carrots, sliced into batons. In went a can of chopped tomatoes, which I then rinsed out with enough water to just cover the meat. After a sprinkling of ground cinnamon, the pan lid went on and the whole lot simmered away for a good long time on a low heat. After a while I took the lid off to try and allow the liquid to thicken somewhat, before stirring in a slice of finely chopped preserved lemon, and the thickly chopped flesh of about six ripe feijoas. Finally I stirred in some spinach, allowing it to wilt before serving over couscous.

It was a bit of a gamble - I made this up on the fly - and I wasn't entirely sure if feijoas wouldn't be a bit too freaky with lamb. But, it makes sense - other stews pair lamb with dates, or dried apricots, or figs, so why not feijoas? Their sweet, tangy, elusive flavour and grainy texture contrasted deliciously, with the preserved lemon's pronounced salty sourness offsetting the warmth of the cumin and cinnamon. The sweet-and-salty element to the stew made it quite moreish, and it was a perfect lazy Sunday dinner. If you are unfortunate enough to live in a country where feijoas aren't available, then by all means substitute dates, dried apricots...a diced pear might work deliciously as well. But if you're in New Zealand, they're surely not going to get any cheaper at the market: now's the time, the time is now. I got mine for 99c a kilo which is pretty hard to beat.

Work is a bit on the exhausting side and Wellington remains resolutely arctic which is why this post may or may not be up to my usual luminous standards. Unless you're stinking rich, New Zealand houses tend not to have airconditioning, but in Wellington flats (and I'm sure elsewhere) just some simple honest building insulation would be appreciated. I feel like I wear more clothes to bed than I do to leave the house. That said, this place is warmer than our old flat, where the ground in our room was - I kid you not - permanently damp (a good way to discourage leaving clothes on the floor), we had a hole in our window covered with newspaper, and on more than one occasion we'd rug up in layer upon layer of clothing only to discover it was warmer outside than in. Anyway, musn't grumble as we are both very fortunate to (a) have a roof over our head, crumbly like a Weetbix or otherwise, and (b) relatively secure employment.

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On Shuffle while writing this:

Machismo, by Gomez, from the album Machismo

Frei und Schwerelos (Defying Gravity) by Willemijn Verkaik from the Wicked Original German Cast Recording

Basket Case, by Green Day from Bullet In A Bible: Live at the Milton Keynes Bowl

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Next time: I'm not sure, although I feel like I'm about due to revisit Nigella again - it's one thing to be inspired to create my own recipes but I miss her...

7 comments:

  1. Feijoa and lamb? How brave!

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  2. I have the German version of Wicked too!!! And the Japanese one too, hehehehehe. That one is funny; the translations are really strange.

    Oh, and we just got tickets for the 1 year anniversary show here! It moves to Sydney after August 9 :(

    xox Sarah

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  3. Mum: It works! :)

    Sarah: Lucky you! Melbourne is so close to New Zealand...yet so far away in dollars. I hear amazing things about the cast though. Sucks that it's moving to Sydney :( but it's impossible to be sad while listening to dramatic German singing!

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  4. Have a tagine now to play with, and when I get some head space, will try out a few dishes - hopefully this weekend. Should be interesting to see if the shape and makeup of the cooking dish really does make a difference, will let you know.

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  5. Roasted radishes? That is an amazing idea!

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  6. mmm. stew. I made my good ol' mum's one the other week (with a bit of help from Jaime's amazing 'Ministry of Food' cook book). Was amazing. Must try the fejoa thing though... I got a bag for $1.50 last week. I think it was gone by morning.

    (by the way, I did my mushrooms with couscous and bacon, and also added some blue cheese, but I think that was a bit indulgent... taking out the blue cheese would have been more than enough... :D)

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  7. Laura, a great salad. Love the addition of halloumi too. It's one of my faves.

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