VEG (almost)

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Gee whiz, doesn't time fly... Sunday was Xmas day and soon I'll be hitting my mid 20s! Nothing like a quarter-life crisis to throw into the mix. I've been a busy little bee recently and will only tease you with une salade.

Zucchini and Green Bean Salad with Tahini dressing

I'm partial to a nice macro shot, and this veggie creation
Serves 4


2 tbspn olive oil
3 medium zucchinis (400g) sliced thinly into rounds
Juice 1/2 lemon
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
125g french beans
4 handfuls of salad leaves
12-18 oven dried tomatoes (chuck in halved tomatoes in oven at 100 deg C with some sugar, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, olive oil and some S & P for as long as you can muster). Alternatively, use semi-dried tomatoes
Handful of shredded mint (optional)
3 chicken thigh fillets (optional, for the carnivore in each of us)

1/2 garlic clove, crushed with coarse salt
2 tbspn light tahini (sesame seed paste)
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice 1/2 orange
1/2 tbspn honey
2 tbspn olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Pan fry sliced chicken thighs in olive oil and salt and pepper. Note: add the oil etc to the chicken before putting in the pan. Once cooked, set aside
  • Heat 2 tbspn olive oil in a large pan over high heat and cook the zucchini slices in batches, until tender and browned on both sides. Transfer to a bowl once cooked and season with S & P, lemon juice and chilli. Toss together well
  • Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Tip in French beans, return to boil and blanch beans quickly (but depending if you like them crunchy or soggy and limp, lol)
  • Drain beans and rinse in cold water  to stop coooking and refresh. Drain and pat dry, add to zucchini
  • For the dressing: put the crushed garlic into a small bowl with the tahini, lemon zest and juice, orange juice, honey and some black pepper. Stir well. If the dressing is thick and grainy, thin with 1 tbspn of water at a time. Stir in olive oil and season to taste
  • Assembly: spread salad leaves in the serving dish, scatter over zucchini and beans, tomatoes and shredded mint. Top with chicken pieces and dress generously. Et voila!

It's a little 'rustic' but I'm not complaining. This photo was taken literally about 5 secs before I launched in. The dressing tastes awesome and the salad itself has the right balance of texture and flavour. Props to Hugh
This plate of deliciousness was conjured by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, of the River Cottage empire (coming in a close second to Jamie's diabolical plan for world domination). Restaurant openings (and closures, for that matter) have been gracing our media all year - Jamie's Italian in Pitt St is no exception. Pity, it's not exceptional, according to grand master Durack [13/20]. 

I first heard about Hugh when I watched an ep of his River Cottage series. It was a rerun from 50 billion years ago but I thought it was rather charming, especially the huge garden that supplies the restaurant fresh fruit/veg/herbs bit. The English countryside is always a winner too. I bought this cookbook, cheap as chips off the interweb and it has served me well. Who knew there are so many ways with the humble bean, or beetroot! Btw, the baby beet tarte tatin looks fan-freakin'-tastic. There are plenty of recipes to whet your appetite for greens, but I usually add a smatter of meat (like pan-fried chicken pieces par example) for something more substantial . There really  aren't any rules so cook what and how you feel like!

When Hughie cut off his luscious locks (see his former glory here), I must admit I was a little shocked and appalled. It was akin to Enrique Iglesias having his face mole lasered's not like we didn't notice! Source Le Delicieux
Another list: What I like about Hugh F-W
His honesty: a bit corny I know. F-W is not a trained chef but has made a profession out of his passion. There is none of the pomp or pretence that comes with your Ferrans, Hestons or Redzepis - many of whom have become too big for their boots.
He doesn't want you to sous vide anything
His food philosophy: he is a big believer in cooking and eating more vegetables (hence, the vegetarian cookbook) but is definitely not veggo (see this installment). Yotam Ottolenghi, a UK chef is on the same page with Plenty (def on my wish list). True, it 'tis the usual, sourcing the freshest in-season ingredients yada yada (rant) but it all rings true.
Hugh F-W's hair, in the early days (pre-2011) - see caption above. It became a sort of trademark for him and signified his hobo-esque image of "the farmer who could cook". Well nevermind, now he just looks like your average joe in a cabbage suit...

Dapper as anything. If ever you are in some sort of culinary crisis or in need of some comic relief. ..this is your man. Source The Guardian

Happy silly season! Peace out.


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