Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chicory pakora

No matter how scrupulously one scans the veg box 'dislikes' list, something always gets through.

Chicory. Endive for my American readers. For the avoidance of doubt, those green/white leaves that, when laid out in threes, looks like the Prince of Wales' feathers.

I find its bitterness off-putting and its crunch over-powering. Yeah, I don't like the stuff.

So I posted on Twitter, wonderful wonderful Twitter, for 'recipes that make chicory not taste like chicory'.

I garnered a bunch of suggestions, including from one wag: 'Many, but none of them include chicory'. More helpful ideas were 'braise it in butter' or 'braise it in chicken stock'. The folks at @discoverendive suggested using it in a smoothie. I'm afraid I assumed they were a bot and wrote a rather derisive reply, but they took it in good humour and provided several more choices, such as wrapping it in ham and covering it in Mornay sauce.

Cookwitch, however, who is always good in a food crisis, suggested making pakoras out of it and gave me PukkaPaki's okra pakora recipe to alter. One utter failure to buy chaat masala later, and I gave it a go.

I didn't so much shred the chicory as whack a knife around on it a bit. It seemed to brown very quickly, so place it in what I once saw described as 'acidulated water'. That's water with a squeeze of lemon to you and me.

The batter, even including dry-roasting and grinding the spices, could not have been easier. I made it relatively thick, but it wasn't really thick enough. Go for a proper 'can barely move the spoon' style batter.

I just glumphed wooden-spoonfuls of batter-covered chicory into a vat of vegetable oil. I did wind up turning them, as the oil was not very deep.

I did it in two batches, so I know that cold and crispy is jolly good, as is hot and crispy. In the middle, not so much. Very little of it tasted like chicory, but when it did, the bitterness was a plus.

As I didn't have amchoor (mango powder) or chaat masala, I found myself wanting salt, but I'll try it with those seasonings first.

And now I know how to make pakora batter, I'm sure I'll use it when I want something fried that's a bit more interesting than onion rings.

PS I also made a chicken stew by frying onions and leeks, browning chicken thighs and drumsticks and lobbing cider over it while I messed around with pakoras. Turned out delicious. The cider was Green Goblin.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Roasted beetroot, trout and horseradish

I'm really getting along with beetroot. I first discovered it could be sweet and flavourful in this salmon and horseradish dish, which is a really useful dinner party recipe. (As if I give dinner parties...)

It's cropping up in my veg box a lot, and I made beetroot risotto from this recipe the other night. I put (clean) Marigolds on because I was going to a trade fair the following day and didn't want to do so with blood-red fingers.

We needed something simple, because the storecupboard is depleted. I knew 'pink' fish, like the trout we have out of the freezer, beetroot and horseradish was a match made in heaven, so I did a Google search.

This recipe from Tastebud Travels fitted the bill.

I've cut out quite a bit of it - I may yet do the smoked salt, pepper and lemon rub, but it'll have to be homemade with lemon zest. And I'm ashamed to say that neither of us can quiiiiite be bothered to go out to get cream or yoghurt. We were out till about 20 to 1 at Leluu's supperclub last night, to excuse our utter laziness.

So, essentially, it's roasted beetroot with trout and horseradish sauce ... it's the foodbloglondon difference! We've done the caraway and thyme, but we both think beetroot comes up pretty sweet roasted, so we skipped the honey.

I did do the smoked salt, pepper and lemon rub, partly because I do like crispy fish skin, and partly because I received some Maldon smoked salt as a freebie at Sabrina's French Launderette, which I've never used. As I was making it, I did think, this is a really useful idea just to flavour some fish if I have nothing else in.

The rub. If you think this one is out of focus, you should see the other.

It turned out very nicely. I could have used more rub. And if you wanted to, the rub and a spread of horseradish would do for a quick meal.

Look at the rainbow colour on those scales. Amazing!

The beetroot and caraway was interesting, and quite bitter - hence the honey no doubt. I'll definitely try that combination again, but I think I'd rather have simple roasted beetroot with this.

The finished dish, including an attempt at food styling. Beetroot looks good though, no?