These pickles were a regular feature in a French restaurant in Yonago (Japan). The restaurant served sophisticated Japanese-inflected French cuisine, and it was a revelation to me — coming fresh from rural Nova Scotia. These marinated vegetables in particular stuck with me. They are a combination of typically Japanese vegetables — primarily lotus root and gobo. But the marinade is a European-style combination of white wine vinegar, and olive oil, with floral and citrus flavours from the abundant coriander seed.
Preserves and pickles
brad, coriander, french, gobo, japanese, lotus, pickle, vegan, vegetarian
This is a simple to prepare Andalusian tapas. It also makes a perfect main, or a component of a big Andalusian feast (we’ve done it — it’s spectacular). This recipe takes the more common soffrito-and-wine preparation for cheek meat, and gives it a light, sweet, early autumn afternoon flavour with the addition of honey and apple.
— Brad, Eliseo
andalusian, beef, brad, cheek, eliseo, Mediterranean, spanish, tapas
Chinese red oil (红油, or the equivalent, Japanese raiyu らい油) is a critical ingredient in any number of Sichuanese dishes, including sesame noodles, or husband-wife boiled beef slices. It’s great with black vinegar, as a dumpling sauce. And it’s versatile enough to use with other kinds of cuisine as a spicy condiment. It’s a beautiful ruby red color, and has a fantastic toasty aroma. You can buy it, if you like, but it’s ridiculously simple to make. It might look intimidatingly fiery, but the flavour is a mellow, slow heat (even if you use spicy chili flakes).
— Brad, Ulli
brad, chinese, japanese, oil, sichuan, simple, ulli, vegan, vegetarian
Mythili is a frequent visitor in our kitchen, and usurper of the stove. She isa linguistics student at USC (soon tenure track professor in Kansas!), from Kochi, Kerala, and is passionate about southern Indian food.
She’s also passionate (maybe a little inappropriately passionate?) about Kochi, as her following verse attests:
Every time you visit Kochi, you are rekindled with memories and melancholia, for Kochi is a good book on a rainy day, a warm drink on a sad day, a cool breeze on a hot and humid summer day, but most of all Kochi is a lover, holding you close day after day.
Tempering in oil is a traditional method of releasing flavour from whole spices, common in Indian cooking, whether to start a dish, or to finish it (as in a tadka). It’s easier than toasting and grinding, but it takes a little bit of nerve the first time or two, to heat the oil to sizzling, and cope with the spluttering an popping. The final product is worth it, though — throughly fragrant, intensely flavourful oil for cooking or serving.
indian, mythili, spices
You can buy masala in the store, but there is absolutely no comparison between store-bought and the freshness of a masala you make yourself. The term “masala” just means “mixture”, and so a masala is one of any number of spice blends. Garam masala is the most well-known blend, but there are chai masalas, chaat masalas, egg roast masalas, and garam (or warm) masala–so called because it is made with “warm” spices. There is regional variation in garam masala–the more traditional Persian (or mughal) influenced garam masala has no cumin or coriander seed, which is prominent in the better known Punjabi, or northern, garam masala. The process is very similar among all the blends, and is simply dry roasting, and grinding. The spices stay reasonably fresh in a sealed container, for a couple of months.
This is one of the best ways to eat okra. The okra binds the oil and tomato together into a luscious, slippery stew. You can use fresh, or frozen okra. You can cut the okra into rings, or just slice them into halves down the middle. Typical of Portuguese influenced cooking, this Angolan recipe has a little vinegar in it. It’s wonderful as-is, for a veggie main, or side dish. You can also add a whole, cut up chicken and turn it into a hearty meal (like a bare-bones muambha de gallina).
angolan, matilde, okra, simple, vegan, vegetarian
An intensely aromatic, spicy chicken from the state of Kerala, in the southwest of India. Like a lot of food from Kerala, mustard seed and curry leaf are prominent. With the sweetness of the onion, the richness of the chicken, and the fresh spiciness—it’s crave worthy. We were literally stealing the last few pieces off each-others’ plates. We made this at the Normandie house, as part of a big Indian-food-and-Bollywood night, with our good friend Mythili (check out her great blog!) who’s a regular collaborative cooker in our kitchen. It was perfect with a coconutty egg roast, and some chapati, rice, and beer.
chicken, indian, kerala, mythili, spicy