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Maybe Ghanoush: A Dip For The Unpredictable Eggplant

by Patrick on October 15th, 2014 No Comments ·

You know how when you try a dish and you love it so much you can’t wait to try it again? Then you do try it again but you loathe it the second time so you don’t have it again for ages. THEN you happen upon it again years later and this time you love it again? Only the next time you try it you’re back to hating it? no? Okay, maybe you don’t.

Ghanoush As it happens, I do. Because that has been my specific experience with Baba Ghanoush. I have it, I love it. I have it again, it’s way too bitter and smoky for me. And it’s not necessarily that it’s been well made at one establishment and then poorly made at another. I’ve gone back somewhere that has served delicious Baba Ghanouosh before and found it really unpleasant on the return trip. So what was the problem? Surely it had to be me.

I’d resigned myself to having a wildly erratic sensory relationship with this Eastern Mediterranean “salad” of roasted eggplants, tahini and garlic ( I say “salad” in quotes because although it is indeed a salad in that it’s a mix of vegetables, I struggle with the notion of calling anything a salad when its primary texture is an occasionally delicious mush), and made a sort of vow never to order it again but instead sample it when somebody else did. I definitely thought it’s was too unpredictable for me to even attempt to make it myself.

Except that sometimes you’re putting together the menu for an eastern Mediterranean dinner, and instead of a formal first course you want to go with a drinks/dip/chips starter. And that old standby of tzatziki is frankly depressing to you now, houmous is so prevalent these days as to be obnoxious, you ALWAYS loathe taramasalata, but you still need a dip that is tune with the rest of your planned dinner.

And that’s when I came back to Baba Ghanoush. Give it a go, I thought. After all, it’s not difficult or strenuous to prepare, and your guests may like it more than you do. I looked at various recipes, and decided to go with garlic and chili flakes and omit the semi-traditional tomatoes. Why the omission? Because here in London we’re at that point in the year when it’s just that bit too late to find a decent fresh tomato. And it was while pondering the seasonality of the tomato that it  hit me.

 

eggplant_smMy erratic relationship with Baba Ghanoush was most probably not down to some epicurean psychosis on my part, but rather the sheer unpredictability of its main ingredient.

Eggplants are terribly unpredictable. You never quite know how bitter an eggplant will be once cooked (they are incredibly bitter raw), or how much oil they will soak up in any given cooking process, thus rendering them either greasy and flavorless or greasy and bitter.

That’s why there are so many hints and tips and processes and traditions and downright superstitions out there about eggplants, and how to cook them.

  • Do you salt and  press and drain and rinse?
  • Do you no longer need to salt and press and drain and rinse?
  • Even if you’re a sodium-phile like me, can you bear to go through the process of salting and pressing and and draining and rinsing every time you want to cook with eggplant?
  • Can you always remember the order of the salting and pressing and draining and rinsing?
  • One source will authoritatively inform you that eggplants are bred differently now, so the above process is no longer necessary.
  • A second source will authoritatively inform you that could not possibly be true of all eggplants, and you should still go through the above processes just to be safe.
  • A third source will authoritatively inform you that only are both your first and second sources incorrect, but that you are in fact dealing not with eggplants but with aubergines. That third source is likely to be British or French.

At any rate, I realized that all of the above are contributory factors to why I haven’t cooked with eggplants for well over a decade. All that “do you-don’t you” fuss and effort is enough to put me off, even in my more adventurous moments.

But the great thing about cooking eggplants for Baba Ghanoush is that you roast them whole. This is, in fact, the only bit of actual cooking required. So that’s what I did. I oiled them, seasoned them well – even remembered to prick them several times with a fork first. If you don’t prick them and just set them to roast in a medium high oven for about 40 minutes, they do tend to explode,. This leaves your oven looking like some intergalactic being died a horrible death in there. Pricking them allows the steam building up inside them to escape, so after that roasting time they look not unlike a deflated dirigible.

So I let them cool while I mashed two cloves of garlic into a paste with thyme and chili flakes, then scraped the insides of the eggplants into a bowl and mashed them together with the garlic paste and some tahini, and stirred in some olive oil and lemon juice. And you know what?

WAY TOO BITTER AND SMOKY!

But I’d bought some Greek yogurt to serve alongside my main course and had some left over. So before I could panic and dash out to get the ingredients to throw together a last-minute houmous, it did just occur to me to add a tablespoon or two of the yogurt to my currently bitter bowl. And baba my ghanoush if the yogurt didn’t solve the problem. That yogurty creamy tang not only took that bitter edge away and brought out the sweetness in the smoke, but it also softened the chili bite and underscored the lemony freshness, and gave the dip a lighter, whipped texture.

SAVED!

My only concern now was whether my “on the fly” approach to Baba Ghanoush was going to mar an otherwise culturally accurate menu of Mussakhan (that’s chicken roasted with onions and sumac on a bed of Arab flat bread), and Jordanian carrot salad served alongside rice with fried pine nuts and almonds. But the more I looked into it, the more I discovered that Baba Ghanoush is but one name and version of a veritable buffet of eggplant mushy “salads” that hail from the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean,from the Greek Melanzanasalata to the Egyptian Muttabal. So I comforted myself with the thought that somewhere in the Levantine, at some point in time, somebody bust have tempered a bitter eggplant dish with a spot of yogurt long before it ever occurred to me. My guests, of course, didn’t bat a culturally specific eye and just dove right in.

I have now made this dish a few times, with varying levels of yogurt to match the varying levels of bitterness from the eggplant. It has been a massive crowd-pleaser each time I’ve served it so I now feel confident enough to offer my recipe to please your crowds. I can’t, in all good faith, call it Baba Ghanoush, because it does have the yogurt, and not the tomatoes or the onions. But I’m happy to settle for Maybe Ghanoush.

MAYBE GHANOUSH

You will need:

  • 2 medium-sized eggplants (or aubergines, if you must)
  • 3 tablespoons tahini (I use light tahini, but the fat content is up to you)
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme ( 1 chopped and the other just picked)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of two lemons
  • 2-3 tablespoons Greek yogurt (again, I use non-fat, but as with the tahini…)

What to do:

  • Preheat your oven to 400f/200c/Gas mark 6
  • Using a paper towel, give your eggplants a light coating of olive oil and season well. Do remember to prick them all over with a fork, or you will get that “ET in a blender” effect all over your oven walls. Place them on a baking tray and roast for about 35-40 minutes.
  • After 35 minutes, press them lightly with a wooden spoon and they should immediately collapse in a satisfyingly Hindenburg-esque manner. Leave them in the oven for a further 5 minutes then take them out of the oven and let them cool for 30 minutes.
  • While the eggplants are cooling, crush the cloves of garlic (preferably in a mortar and pestle with a healthy pinch of sea salt flakes) into a smooth paste, then grind in the chili flakes and the chopped thyme until you have achieved amalgamation.
  • Cut the cooled eggplants in half lengthways, and scrape out the seeds and flesh onto a cutting board. Eggplants can be a bit stringy when roasted, so give the flesh a good rough chop. Then decant the eggplant flesh (it will still have a touch of the HR Gigers about it at this point) into a large bowl, and mash it into mush with a fork or a potato masher.
  • Stir in the tahini and keep stirring as you add the crushed garlic, chili and thyme paste, making sure that both the tahini and paste are completely dispersed. Then stir in the olive oil and the lemon juice. Season well, and give it a taste.
  • You may find that you got lucky with the eggplants and don’t need the yogurt at all, but I do believe the yogurt gives it that little extra tang and creaminess even if the eggplant isn’t too bitter. So start with 2 tablespoons of the yogurt, stirring well in, and give it a minute before you taste and decide if you need that third tablespoon.
  • If you’re happy, then it’s ready to decant into your serving bowl, where you should then sprinkle the surface with the remaining thyme leaves for a hit of herbal color. Serve with pitta bread, or toasted pitta bread, or even crudite.

Maybe Ghanoush keeps very well in the fridge for a couple of days, and in fact tastes even better the day after you make it, so feel free to make it in advance. Just bring it up to room temperature before serving.

 

 

 

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October is FULL of food

by Deb on October 3rd, 2014 No Comments ·

October is, quite frankly, this is one my favourite times of year anyway, but from a culinary observances point of view, it is OUTSTANDING!

October is Apple Month- apples are one of the most wasted foods we buy. Nearly half of those purchased get thrown away untouched. Don’t be that person. Apples are delicious and great to use in so many ways. Make applesauce, apple butter, slice them up and dip them in honey. Make an apple crumble, stew them and serve them with pork (so autumnal and delicious)

October is Caramel Month- and now that I know how to make caramel and salted caramel, I shall celebrate this properly.

cookbook.jpgOctober is Cookbook Month- I have my favourites (‘How to Eat‘ is right up there and always has been, not so much for the recipes – which are fine and dandy – but because of the way it talks about food and eating). But cookbooks are something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and talking about over the years, as you can see:

October is Cookie Month – oatmeal raisin all the way

October is Dessert Month – I can’t pick just one favourite dessert but I know I’m always willing to at least LOOK at a dessert menu.

October is Pasta Month- a pantry staple and a favourite any time. And in fact, Oct 17 is Pasta Day!

October is Pickled Peppers Month- I don’t know much about pickled peppers except that Peter Piper picked a peck of them.

October is Pizza Month – you know what they say, “even bad pizza is pretty good.” That’s a lie, as it happens. Bad pizza is bad – but you’re usually feeling too lazy or hungry to care at that moment.

popcorn.jpgOctober is Popcorn Month – I’m a popcorn classic gal, myself. if you want to put caramel on your popcorn, feel free. I love caramel but popcorn is about the salt. Not the sweet. Not for me anyway.

October is Pork Month – I have a confession. I love pork but I don’t “get” crackling. Someone explain. I just do not see the appeal.

October is Pretzel Month – I want a snappy, crunch pretzel. Log form is a favourite but as long as it’s not bready and soft, a pretzel will always be welcome at TransAtlantic Towers.

October is Seafood Month – hmmmm, seafood. Where to start? Shrimp (or PRAWNS if you must). Paella, seafood linguini, lightly smoked salmon, mussels … on and on and on. A topic VERY much in need of a dedicated post (*adds to list*)

pizzayourwayday2          peanutbuttercookies         cookbooks

And we haven’t even gotten to the daily observances … stay tuned.

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My Daily Grind

by Patrick on September 19th, 2014 No Comments ·

I’m just not a gadget-oriented person. I’m not against them, by any means. But they just don’t seem to work for me. I’m not smart enough for my smart phone, the complexities of your average in-home coffee or latte making machine defeat me, and not once in my life have I got a food processor or blender to process or blend successfully on the first go.

gadgetsSo I’m usually stumped when people ask me “What is your favorite kitchen gadget?” My natural clumsiness (alongside what I’ve long suspected is a paranormal ability to short-circuit any electrical device within fifty feet of me) has kept me steering well clear of  most modern kitchen inventions throughout my cooking life. An electric carving knife? Streets would run with blood. The George Foreman Grill? A hospital would name a burns unit after me. That said, I did manage to keep one of my two (don’t ask) ice-cream makers working until it went to a home with more freezer space, and I am also in possession of a fully operational coffee grinder, largely due to the fact that I almost never grind coffee beans unless it’s for the tail-end of a dinner party, and even then I usually get a willing guest to do it.

But the question remains; what is my favorite kitchen gadget? Answering this question honestly meant, for me, re-thinking the word “gadget”, and instead opting for the earlier (and less power grid-reliant) term “tool.”

And suddenly the answer was crystal clear. It wasn’t my knives, which I indeed have in hand pretty much every day and keep very well sharpened, and it wasn’t the oven thermometer, which is an incredibly useful tool  to keep to hand for ferreting out the true nature of any given oven. Nor was it my mandolin, which I use often, but only when wearing Kevlar mitts on both hands.

mandpMy favorite kitchen tool is something far more basic and simple. But it’s also the very tool that makes me feel the most like a real grown-up cook in the kitchen.

Without a doubt my favorite kitchen tool is that vessel with the pestle.

I’m talking about that most humble-yet venerated across the globe- kitchen tool, the mortar and pestle. That tough little bowl (that would be the mortar,by the way) in which you grind all kinds of ingredients with an equally tough little club (and there’s the pestle) and create all kinds of flavor and texture.

I am forever using my mortar and pestle. I use it to grind garlic into a paste just about every night. A pinch of salt thrown into the mortar with the garlic cloves not only breaks the garlic down, but also kills that acrid edge that can make raw garlic too aggressive. Plus there’s no fiddling about with your garlic crusher and scraping out the un-crushed bits of clove that are, frankly, a waste of allium heaven. Whenever I use dried herbs, which I do more often than I use fresh herbs (cooking most often for one as I do pretty much precludes the use of fresh herbs on a daily basis unless you are green of thumb, which I alas am not), I give them a good grind with my mortar and pestle first.  This releases the remnants of oil in those dessicated woody shreds, and in so doing releases bagloads of flavor. In fact I often throw some dried oregano or thyme or rosemary (and lemon rind!) in with the garlic I’m grinding on a basically daily basis, and all I then need is a slug of olive oil for either an instant marinade for pork, chicken, lamb, or fish, or a light dressing for pasta or veg. And the difference between using pre-ground spices like coriander or cumin or cinnamon, and then toasting and grinding the whole spices yourself is frankly like culinary night and day.

There truly is an exponential difference in aroma and flavor when you’re grinding whole spices, and the really great thing about that (aside from your delicious end result of a dish) is that you can feel and smell it as you’re grinding away. As those nubbly seeds or bits of bark break down under your relentless punishment you can feel the texture change to powder, and the air around you becomes positively miasmic with their scent. Like dough that you’re kneading with your hands into that perfect consistency for pastry, or arborio rice that you’re patiently stirring into a risotto, you can quite literally sense it coming to life.

And that’s what I really love about my mortar and pestle. I love that bit of human effort that really connects me with the food I’m preparing. It’s basic, and elemental. Now I’m not quite so pretentious as to claim this brings me a kinship to the peasant women who have been grinding grains for their porridge since the dawn of time (the day you find out I’m now grinding my own corn is the day you find out I’m now doing time on a prison farm in Tegucigalpa), but I do love that very personal involvement. Yes, you have to put your back into a bit, and yes, it may take a tad longer, but it’s far more satisfying than just dumping things into some device and then hitting a button. That personal commitment to the physical effort of getting all possible flavor out of any ingredient is what makes me feel like a true grown-up cook.

Besides, it’s also an excellent way to grind out those irritations of my day. I picture someone’s face, I start to grind…

And yes, pretentious sense of kinship or no, I do appreciate that this most basic of kitchen implements has been used in different forms since before we had kitchens, and has always been an intrinsic part of every human culture in the world, from the culinary to the medicinal and the downright spooky. After all, apothecaries used mortars and pestles to grind medicines, and we all know the tales of witches grinding together potions and notions. Most infamous of these is that terrifying witch of Eastern European folklore, Baba Yaga, who according to legend flew through the skies in a mortar, using the pestle as her rudder.

Witches and apothecaries aside, don’t forget that the mortar and pestle is sexy. Just like that kneading of dough, and also the tossing of a salad with your hands, it’s tactile, and it makes you look sexy. Who doesn’t look sexy while grinding? Your biceps pump up, the look on your face is intense, and all the while you’re creating magical aromas and flavors. And that mortar and pestle even looks sexy on its own. There are no clumsy trailing wires, and it’s usually small enough to sit proudly on your kitchen counter. It doesn’t need to be packed away into an an already crowded cupboard when not in use. I’d even go so far as to say that having a mortar and pestle on display in your kitchen makes you look like a better cook than you actually may be. It makes you look like you mean business in the kitchen.

So if you don’t own a mortar and pestle, please do go and avail yourself of one now. Pick one that’s the right size for the size of meals you usually cook (bearing in mind, of course, Julia Child’s sage advice to always start with a larger bowl than you think you’ll need), and preferably one made of rough porcelain or stoneware. Wooden mortars tend to absorb oils, and therefore stain and keep hold of flavors. Pick one that feels almost that bit too heavy for you to cart about. It’ll stay in place while you’re grinding away with that pestle. And while it’s staying in place, it’ll set you free to use whole spices, and control textures of garlic and ginger, and let you loose on a whole new way of cooking. It’s a true culinary vehicle.

herbs_pestle

In short, using a mortar and pestle can really take you places. If you don’t believe me, just ask Baba Yaga.

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Pairing Whines With Food

by Patrick on September 9th, 2014 2 Comments ·

In every blogger’s life there comes a time when your positive approach to your chosen subject matter just runs out of steam; when every time you sit down at your battered old typewriter (who am I kidding? your battered old pc), the joy and inspiration you’re supposed to feel just isn’t there. It’s not necessarily that you having nothing to say, but really just that you have nothing nice, or at least positive  or constructive to say.

So sometimes you wait until that feeling- or lack thereof- passes. But if you’re not paying attention, that feeling can last for much longer than you might think, and you eventually find that you haven’t written anything for months, all because you felt you had to sugar whatever pill you were going to serve up. Of course that not good for either a blogger or a blog.

Sometimes you just have to accept that you’ll be writing in the negative – with squid ink, so to speak. At least that will get any food-related grizzles and gristle off your chest, and who knows? You might find that there’s a world of people out there who agree with you. So in that spirit of complaint and ventilation, I am now going to whine about this foodie’s current pet peeves in the culinary world:

1. THE PEJORATIVE USE OF THE TERM “FOODIE”

Of course “foodies” can be “snobs”, and of course “foodies” are meant to be “knowledgeable” about “food”. But we ain’t all  “It’s farmer’s market organic bio-dynamically grown or you can stick it in the bin and that’s the wrong wine for that course” meanies. Personally, I take the term “foodie” to mean “someone who has an enthusiastic interest in food as a hobby”.

I make no claims to high-flown tastes (I loathe caviar, and even if I didn’t, the tub of Strawberry Nesquik in my cupboard would give the lie to that) but I am just fascinated by food, from taste and texture to origin and history and just why we eat and like what we do. But most importantly for me, IT’S FUN.

Of course like most foodies I believe in certain rules, such as “If you want your steak well done, cook something else.” But I completely accept that many of these rules are actually personal, such as “If you want to serve me fish pie and then have sex, serve something else.”

2. BEETROOT

beetroot1This wouldn’t have made my current pet peeve list if it weren’t “The Vegetable That Will Not Die”. It seems like a decade ago that I first wrote about the current British cheffy obsession with the beet, but unlike goat’s cheese and rocket, both of which have settled into a less pervasive culinary sphere, this taproot is stubbornly sticking – like  a blood stain – to British TV and restaurant kitchens.

Its “vibrant colour” and “earthy flavour” are still being touted to this day, and contestants on shows like “Masterchef” are still presenting  dishes called “Roast venison with textures of beetroot.” I don’t want beetroot one way, let alone five. And that whole “sneak beetroot into chocolate cakes and brownies so kids won’t know they’re eating a vegetable” thing? I can only refer you back to that “earthy flavour”. I’m not personally a big fan of chocolate, but I’m even less a fan of chocolate that tastes like mud.

3. TEXTURES OF …

There is no current cheffy restaurant trend that annoys me more than “four ways to serve you a side of onions”. I adore onions. I like most vegetables (aside from broccoli and the one listed above), but I don’t want endless variations on one vegetable theme on my plate.  It’s even found its annoying way into desserts. Just imagine “Clotted Cream With Textures Of Strawberry”. And anyway, the very term “textures of” is distastefully reminiscent of sifting through carpet samples.

4. THE CURRENT STATE OF BRITISH TV COOKERY

Things just ain’t good this year in the British TV Kitchen. Yes, of course there’s the annual “Great British Bake-Off” treat, but even that show just ain’t rising to its previous fluffy heights for me. Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc remain fabulous hosts, and Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry judge as astutely as ever, so it’s probably just that I’m not really warming to any of the contestants this year- with the possible exception of Martha The Scary Teen, who has a rather fetching habit of staring at her competitors’ bakes like she’s working on her  Stephen King style “Carrie” skills.

But other shows are faring much worse for this foodie’s palate. The UK version of “The Taste“, whilst being much better than its US predecessor, still fundamentally failed to connect with either the contestants or- more importantly- the food. Tom Kerridge’s “Proper Pub Food” may improve with a second series as he’s an affable presenter (though not yet comfortable with lifting scripted bits off the page), but  proper pub food is something for which people go to a proper pub, not something they want to cook at home.

There’s that gap of basic accessibility at play there, much as there is with Rachel Khoo’s  “My Pretentious Paris Kitchen”, or the new-found BBC oeuvre of “Former Models Cook For You” – Sophie Dahl? Lorraine Pascale? Though Ms Pascale certainly makes for a more convincing cook. It’s just that she has no viewpoint other than “My cooking is slightly less bland than me.” Over on Channel 4, the indefatigable Ms Perkins does her level best to liven up “Cook’s Questions“, but not even Perkins Power can  make charmless professional chefs teaching overwrought recipes to a roomful of “foodies” who look like they’re waiting for jury duty down at the municipal court feel at all inclusive for your average  (or even true “foodie”) viewer.

S_MFor my money, the only British cookery show of real note in the last year or so has been “The Incredible Spice Men” on BBC2, which took fantastic chefs Cyrus Todiwala and Tony Singh, and set them on a journey across Britain, bringing Asian techniques, spices and flavours to traditional British food. It was funny, it was inspiring, and most of all, it had personality and a true point of view. It tackled this country’s traditional attitudes to  foods, and therefore said a lot about this country. Yes, it was “Two Fat Ladies” recast with two Asian gentlemen, but that in itself is a genius idea, and it remains the only cookery show of recent years that has made me want to buy the book, and cook from that book.

5. CLAFOUTIS

Never mind that the very name on paper reads like the kind of physical infection that affect one’s personal bits and cause an unpleasant discharge (“I see you have a nasty case of Clafoutis”), there’s something neither here nor there about the Clafoutis. To me it’s not quite a pastry and not quite a pie and not quite a quiche. It may be that I’ve never sampled one that was cooked correctly, but I’ve always found it to be either soggy or a flan with the texture (there’s that word again) of flannel. And that name! I refer you to the Wikipedia article on the subject, in which one sentence reads: “Clafoutis apparently spread throughout France during the 19th century.”

6. BRITISH BREASTS

chickenbreastsI am not referring here to the mammarian state of British womanhood, but rather the near quixotic-ness of going to a British supermarket in the hopes of purchasing a chicken breast that still retains either its skin or its bone or both. It truly is seemingly impossible. You can buy thighs, drumsticks, and even the full legs with all their flavor-giving skin and bones intact, but Julia Child help you if you’re looking for the same in breasts.

Personally, I blame it on the advent of the “skinless chicken breast as a way to get low calorie though almost certainly flavourless protein into your diet because you’d only eat this if you were trying to lose weight” school of dietary propaganda. One can blame supermarkets and food halls all one likes, but the depressing fact is that market forces prevail.  White chicken meat is so separated from dark in the current UK  culinary world that you either have to adapt a recipe to such extents that it no longer resembles ( or tastes like) what you wanted to achieve in the first place, or you have to make the extra effort to find an actual butcher who sells actual bone-in skin-on chicken breasts.  For which you will pay a hefty premium. Does this same problem exist in the US?

So those are my current foodie whines. Agree? Disagree? What’s been getting your culinary goat lately?  Other than the cheese, please. That is so eight years ago. NB. I whine about the UK  in foodie terms only because I live, shop, cook, watch tv and eat here. Were I to live in the US,  I would no doubt have other (or possibly the same) gripes. Possibly in larger portions.

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Sept is Rice and Breakfast Month

by Deb on September 7th, 2014 No Comments ·

Yesterday was Coffee Ice Cream day – one of my favs. Now, I didn’t make any ice cream as I am trying to be good. But I have delved into the coffee ice cream depths previously and can recommend it as a great and rewarding task. Maybe you’re more a white chocolate fan. If that’s the case, we need to have a talk – because that isn’t chocolate. But we’ll do it on Sept 22, White Chocolate Day. In the mean time, there are some wider culinary issues to ponder this month since September is Rice Month. And if that weren’t impressive enough, it is also Breakfast Month.*

SEPTEMBER IS RICE MONTH
Let’s talk about rice first, since as I you can see, we have a lot to say about rice. And why not – flexible, fantastic foodstuff that it is.

?????????????? Rice is one of the most widely eaten foods in the world – and has been for thousands of years. It is a staple food across Asia (where domestication of rice began and where it provides the majority of the caloric intake in those countries), is grown more widely across the globe than any other crop except corn and is one of those foods used in almost every way and in every cuisine you can imagine – and possibly in some ways you haven’t imagined. Rice is used in the production of beer and wine, in dog food and baby food, used at weddings and in many other ways.

Why is rice useful as a staple? It’s easy to grow in a variety of soils and conditions, stores for a very long time, cooks up to 3 times its original weight and there are over 40,000 varieties of rice to choose from.

We touch upon rice an awful lot here on Fabulous Foodie – rice salads, risottos, quickie way to boost and bulk out leftovers. Check out some of our earlier rice-tastic work.

  • Risottos For Rumination (from 2014): Some people meditate with bells and incense. Others use yoga, or swimming, or quiet places in the woods to find the quiet places in their minds. I stir rice.
  • From Mom’s Notes: Easy Jambalya (from 2013): Nothing make a winter evening better than this huge hug of a dish. And it keeps well too. Lunch the next day? Oh yes. Almost better than dinner the night before.
  • Stocking up on Staples (from 2012): several varieties of rice feature here – white, brown, short grain, long grain.
  • A Plethora of Paella (from 2009): At the moment, all I can think about is paella. Why? Because apparently it is what a lot of people online are thinking about, Googling, and searching for.
  • Gone To Earth – A Summer Rice Salad (from 2008): To celebrate my first batch of soaked and boiled chickpeas and my lovely fresh thyme, I decided to make a great big bowl of my Summer Rice Salad. It’s vaguely Mediterranean in intent, and great for barbecues or lunch boxes.
  • Another Rice Salad While I’m At ‘Em (from 2008): It’s ersatz Middle-Eastern, but quite light, very simple, and a great veggie lunch salad, or side dish for grilled lamb or chicken. There are very few ingredients, and neither the onion nor the garlic wind up being at all over-powering.

SEPTEMBER IS BREAKFAST MONTH
Don’t skip breakfast, we are told. Most important meal of the day, we are reminded. It’s said so often and so matter-of-factly, you might assume it was always thus. And you’d be wrong. 

Fluffy Scrambled Eggs with Redskin  Potatoes and Sausage Breakfast is, in the larger scheme of things, a relatively new invention. In ancient Rome, people ate one meal a day – around mid-day – with an occasional snack at other times depending on supply and circumstances. The word “breakfast” appeared long before the meal we understand as breakfast today. The word – simply put – means to break the night’s fast – and as life in the monasteries forbade eating before morning Mass, this breaking of the fast most likely occurred – you guessed it – mid-day.

This mid-day meal situation continued until about the 1600s when coffee and tea, scrambled eggs and other things we think about as breakfast food start appearing in the historical records.

Of course nowadays, we very often don’t have time – or think we don’t have time – to have breakfast. Not a decent one anyway. Which is what Need Breakfast Quick. Want Breakfast Edible is all about.


 

* Yes, it’s also chicken month and, as I have said elsewhere, since nearly everything tastes like chicken you might be surprised to hear there’s room for anything else this month. But there is. It is also Honey Month, Mushroom Month, Papaya Month, Potato Month. September is full to the brim with culinary observances.

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