Saturday, April 30, 2011

Baby Eggplant Coconut Curry

There were more beautiful eggplants at the greengrocers this week. Teeny little baby ones! So sweet.

I searched through my cookbooks to find a suitable recipe. I was a bit worried, because I have worked out the tongue-bitey-ness I find in eggplants is in their skin, and I have taken to peeling them as much as possible. But how could I peel these sweet little things? Their gorgeousness would be gone!

I found a recipe that specified baby eggplants (and was sugarfree). I had made it before but with large eggplants and almonds instead of cashews, and noted it as YUM! Time to try again with all the right ingredients.

Here is the recipe from Tyler Florence:

and HERE and HERE are a couple of blogs from people who have made it.

It worked really well! 
The sauce is so tasty and so thick and creamy and the eggplants get so smoky and sticky charred, so that when the two come together the result is fantastic! I just cut the little ones in half. And once cooked there was no tongue-bitey-ness!

I wish I had taken a picture of the eggplants frying as that would show the two parts that come together. O well. 
In fact, I added some cauliflower towards the end because it seemed by eggplants were even babier than the original, and I could have had twice as many. The cauliflower was a good addition though! And I lucked out with the timing so that it was cooked perfectly by the time the eggplant was done.
I used oil for frying the onions, but kept to the ghee for the eggplant.
Even with the tablespoon of curry powder, this is a very mild curry.

Thinking about serving this in a YamDaisy Cafe... well, the smokey and creaminess is fantastic: but it could be confronting to some tastes! It is also quite rich, and so better as a smaller potion. So while it is a lovely vegetarian curry and a complete meal served with rice and green leaves as suggested, I have added a piece of roast chicken so the curry serves more of a side dish and could be easier for people to try.

 (not the best photo ~ sorry)

Once they try a couple of mouthfuls, of course, I'm betting they will love it as much as I do!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

YamDaisy College Memories

Here is my blue plate again! Full of the last of the Punjabi Rajma with roasted potato and pumpkin and some freshly picked parsley to garnish. Perfect! (It is sort of related to this post!)

When I first went to college, studying to be a teacher, I was such a wholefoods vegetarian type that I completely avoided the cafeteria. EXCEPT for one pleasure: The apricot pie. These were small pies, no doubt bought bulk, frozen and heated until the insides were molten and then left int the pie warmer until the end of the day.

My main memory is of buying a hot apricot pie and sneaking it into a lecture one cold hungry day. I remember the delicious taste of the apricots against the pastry and the challenge to avoid burning my tongue and also avoid getting drips of apricot filling over my notes. An altogether satisfying memory of food at Toorak Teachers College in the late 1970's ~ and probably just as well that it is my only one!

I dropped out of that course, but in the '80's I tried again and finally completed my Teaching at Bendigo. O Enlightened times! The cafeteria was there selling tired chips and sad other junky things as usual, and lots of soft drinks (but no apricot pies if I remember rightly!). But in the other corner of the Student Lounge was the health food cafe! I can't remember what it was called: Green something probably!

Truthfully.... it was not much better. I didn't bother with the salads there, they were so much tireder than the ones we made at home. An occasional piece of carrot cake (very ordinary, a bit oily) with a coffee is my memory from there, and, well, it isn't nearly as good as my apricot pie experience!

My WORST memory of college food came in the late 1970's when I went on a trip to Northern Europe with the Architecture students at RMIT. We stayed at a university in London and the vegetarian meal I was given consisted of a thawed pizza (a horrible one) topped with instant mashed potato.

These college food memories are in response to (another) Jamie Oliver Forum post about the dreadful food options in a British college right now today. That's a quarter of a century after my last experience college food. O dear, O dear, O dear, O dear!

So here is another plug for my YamDaisy Cafe concept. Instead of the college tendering out to whatever company sells food cheapest, they can put in a YamDaisy Cafe and get fresh, seasonal, delicious food that gives the students health and does their brains some good too!

And those red kidney beans with roasted vegetables just might be on the menu!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

YamDaisy Menu for Someone Who Needs It!

This was posted on a food forum I follow (Jamie
"My mother lives on probably less than $100 USD a month for her food budget.  She has many health problems, many of which could disappear if she could eat healthier.  To my knowledge there is no program or organization that could send someone to go shopping with her to make good decisions on what she buys when she shops.  I live over an hour away from her, and honestly, I'm not too savy myself.  Can anyone give me (and others) good low cost veggie and meat ideas?  Goal to make $100 USD last a month and still be healthy."

I asked if I could use this post, because it talks about such a big issue. This woman is a grandmother with chronic illness and few resources. I think she deserves some looking after.

There is advice about buying fresh cheap food and preparing and cooking, and avoiding waste, and storing and so on.

But how I wish THIS is what was happening for her:

A YamDaisy Cafe is opening in the neighbourhood and the local paper has a big article on it. Mrs Inlinet has signed up and filled out a questionnaire about her favourite foods. 
She has also agreed to be part of the research they are doing, and so has given them information about her health problems. A young woman came around and interviewed her, and explained that there would be another interview after a year, to see how her health is then.
Mrs Inlinet is on a very low income, but the meals are low cost, and each week there are member specials.
The first menu has come out and Mrs Inlinet is looking it over to see what she will choose.

(Springtime in the USA)

Pea Cream Soup from Love Lives In The Kitchen, (LINK HERE) with melba toast

Spice Crusted Cod Fillet with Zucchini Salad from Angie's Recipes (LINK HERE) 

Polpettone (from 3 Hungry Tummies LINK HERE)

with Roasted Potato and Asparagus (from Cinnamon Spice LINK HERE)

Rhubarb and Icecream from Belleau Kitchen LINK HERE

A choice of beautiful seasonal food lovingly cooked is what we all deserve!
Especially someone who has is struggling with illness and poverty, who has cared for a family, and needs to care for herself.
Mrs Inlinet can eat at the cafe, or choose takeaway. Why not both? And have a whole day of being looked after foodwise, whenever she needs one.

As you have seen, I put this menu together from wonderful blog posts. Hooray to those bloggers!

More info about the YamDaisy Cafe idea is HERE: and more menus are HERE:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Red Kidney Beans Punjabi Style

I am so pleased to share this recipe with you ~ because it is absolutely delicious!
It is so rich and creamy I don't make it often, but I absolutely relish it when I do make it.
The recipe is from Madhur Jaffrey and it is so different from the other red kidney bean curry recipes that are full of tomatoes and chili!
This is how I make it:

Punjabi Rajma
Soak one cup of dried red kidney beans overnight in plenty of water.
Drain and rinse (there they are above).
Put them in the cooking pot and cover with water bring them to the boil. Let them boil for 10 minutes. Skim of any froth if necessary.
Then add 2 thin slices of ginger and cook them until tender. This takes 8 minutes in my pressure cooker.

When they are cooked drain them, reserving the liquid.
Put them back into the pot with enough liquid (about 3/4 cup) to make into the 'gravy'.
Mash about half the beans so that they thicken the dish and create the texture (you can blend half and then add them back in)
Then add
a teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 tbsps of lemon juice
1/4 tsp of garam masala
3 tbsp rich cream

In a small frying pan heat 3tbs ghee (I use half oil)
when it is hot add
1 tsp cumin seeds. let them sizzle for a second and then add
2 finely chopped garlic cloves and 1/2 tsp finely grated ginger
then add three whole dried chililies and let it all sizzle until the chilies are puffed.
Pour the spices (the tarka) into the beans and stir.

Let it sit on a low heat, stirring as it heats up, just so that it begins to bubble.
This makes the gravy turn into the sexiest  garlic cumin cream with the lemon and ginger giving it a wonderful lift. O yum it is gorgeous!
I ate them simply for lunch with rice and lettuce,

but they would really prefer to be eaten with fresh chapatis.

Guess what I am making next!

Edit: If you use small whole dried chilies, remove them before serving! Otherwise you or a guest might get a horrible shock!

Edit 2: It goes SO WELL with roasted veggies!  Yum yum yum!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Waiting til it comes around on the guitar....

Do you recognise the line from Alice's Restaurant?
(Are you THAT old! wink)
He is singing his song in a storytelling way, chatting in between singing bits and, near the end of the song, as it comes up for the chorus he says 'I just have to wait until it comes around on the guitar'.

I think of this so often with my health going up and down in waves. If I want to do something, I often have to wait patiently until a time when my health is in the right place to attempt it. It can be very frustrating, but the best way is to think of my life as an Arlo Guthrie song, travelling along in a storytelling way and waiting until  the right moment comes around on the guitar.

This is the state I am in with my YamDaisy project. Pretty well EVERYTHING is waiting on me updating the website, and it will take a fair amount of mental effort and sustained work.... and I just have to wait until it comes around on the guitar!

In the meantime.....
I am eating a lot of miso soup! That's why there is a picture of it at the top!
I went to the Friends of the Earth shop because they have large containers of beautiful fresh miso and I can fill up my jar with the soft, rich wonderful stuff. The darkest one is my favourite at the moment!

I cook my vegies in water or stock and then use Madhur Jaffrey's hint to put the miso into a small strainer with the bottom in the soup (now off the heat). I use my soup spoon to work the miso into the liquid through the strainer. This allows me to check that I have the strength right more easily, and also mkes the mixing in smoother. It is so easy and delicious, and healthy too!

You can see the bowl in the photo is full of veggies, but sometimes I make it with no veggies at all, or with an elegant few. And then there are additions like noodles and chicken.

It was my New Year's Resolution to eat more miso soup, and I am so glad I am doing it! (While I am waiting to get on to that website of mine!)

Here's a link to Alice's Restaurant on youtube just in case you are wondering what on Earth I am talking about!

Cheers everyone!

Friday, April 8, 2011

On my way to Imam Bayildi

I was inspired to try Imam Bayildi again by these small, perfect eggplants at the geengrocers last week.

Imam Bayildi is a dish I have known forever. It is a classic Middle Eastern dish, a classic vegetarian dish. I have copied it out of books so often the recipe I have in my notebook is one I melded from three different sources.

But it has been a while since I tried to make it.
The reason? I have never made a good one.
Edible? Yes.
Delicious? A dish so wonderful it is in a million recipe collections? A dish so good that the Imam fainted?
Not mine.

I have just realised that I might never have tasted anyone else's version of this dish!  Could it be that other people have the same problem as me? My attempts always tasted boring. Always tasted like eggplant cooked with onion and a bit of tomato.

Then I read the recipe from Theodore Kyriakou who concentrated on heaps of olive oil (something I tended to cut down on, rather than beef up!) and long unctious cooking of onions, and then another long roasting of the eggplant.

I did try his recipe a couple of years ago but still didn't make anything marvellous...
But look, the most perfect little eggplants, just the right size to be fried all over! Time to try again. And this time I would concentrate on the long roasting ~ I have learnt how much eggplant likes such treatment!

I didn't worry about the recipe this time, I just had 'long slow cooking' and 'plenty of olive oil' in my head. I chopped up the onion and set it to fry long and gently with a bit of garlic added. And turned my attention to the eggplants. I was so worried about not cooking them well enough that I cut them in half ~ probably not necessary. I peeled them in stripes and let them brown on each side, one side in the frying pan and the other side under the grill.
Then I added a whole tin of diced tomatoes to the onion (overkill, none of my recipes ask for that much tomato!) and when I had the eggplants done I popped them into the baking dish with onion/tomato under and on top. 40 minutes in the oven with foil covering, and then 10 more minutes with the foil off.

I am not quite sure that I can call this Imam Bayildi, but I know I am on the right track. I've got the foundation right, so next time I will follow the recipe (one, or a combination) with confidence and let you know the results.
But in the meantime.... Any tips anyone ~ to help me on the way to a classic dish?

Friday, April 1, 2011

The YamDaisy Cafe Dragon

This dragon picture describes just how I am feeling about my YamDaisy project at the moment.
The different dragons fighting, dancing, some hardly visible, but one standing out strongly!

It is a common problem, but still really hard, to have a good idea and not have the resources: health, money, networks... to get it into practice.
I am an ideas person and even on my worst days can have six impossible ideas before breakfast! But my impossible ideas have got better and better, and this one, the YamDaisy Cafe idea, is one that just should be possible.

It is the idea that could most simply and sustainably solve the most problems, and improve the most lives, of all the good ideas I have ever had.

But here I am with the worst health, the least money and the fewest resources I have ever had in my life. What to do?

My current aim is to get it into as complete an argument as I can, in as engaging a form as I can, on my website and then see if I can invite people to consider it for their community, or other endeavours, that have the YamDaisy aim of providing delicious healthy food in a sustainable way to everyone who needs it.

But even the work of sorting ideas and finding the right words and images and the right presentation style is hard work and my health has been in a down swing for a few weeks, so the project feels like my knitting, sitting patiently in my workbasket for years, waiting for me to get back to it.

While I always knew I might never get the project off the ground, my heart hadn't quite believed me. But I was giving my heart a good talking to over the last month. That is.... until the feisty black dragon jumped out again.

I only need to hear them talk on the TV or radio, or see an article in the newspaper, about worsening food statistics, the awful health of people who can't feed themselves properly, the different attempts of people to address the issue.... and that heart of mine jumps up again saying 'Listen to my idea!'

So here it is at the top of my priorities again, hoping for a health upswing to come quickly!

Cheers dragons! Keep moving! My heart believes.

 And who knows, I might even be able to do some knitting again too!

PS The dragons come from a beautiful book 'Chinese Textiles' by Verity Wilson.