A Harbinger of Spring: Asparagus

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A Harbinger of Spring: Asparagus  Asparagus is a tender stem vegetable belonging to the Asparagaceae family which is closely related to Liliaceae plants like garlic and onion. With its mildly pungent flavour, it has been recognised as a prized delicacy … Continue reading

Baked Whole Cauliflower, VegFusion style

baked whole cauliflowerBaked Whole Cauliflower, VegFusion style

I have been very lucky with my latest cauliflower dishes recently. While my luck lasts, there is one other cauliflower dish that I would like to try and make. It is something I have been seeing done by very good restaurants around Sydney and many other places around the world. Baked Whole Cauliflower, that is. So I wanted to give it a try. Mind you, my version of this dish has more Turkish flavours than its Western counterparts.

Here’s how I worked it out: To keep the covering moist, I used plain yoghurt and for browning purposes, I used egg yolk. I came very close to using dried spearmint –which goes nicely with cauliflower, by the way –but changed my mind on the last minute and used onion powder instead. It turned out to be a very good decision as onion powder added some savouriness to the dish. Well, I’m quite happy with the results. If you would like to try, here’s the recipe:

Baked Whole Cauliflower, VegFusion Style
Ingredients:

1 medium sized cauliflower
1 large pinch salt
4 tablespoons plain yoghurt
1 egg yolk
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground sweet paprika
1 teaspoon (heaped) onion powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt to taste

Method:
• Preheat the oven to 200 °C, 180 °C (fan forced)/350 °F/Gas mark 4.
• Cut off the leaves from cauliflower. Boil water in a large pot and add the cauliflower –stalk side up. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain and place it on a baking dish. Set aside for at least 10 minutes before pouring the sauce on top.
• Whisk together the yoghurt, egg yolk, crushed garlic, extra virgin olive oil, ground sweet paprika, onion powder, ground black pepper and salt until it is well combined and sauce-like.
• Pour the mixture over cooked cauliflower gradually with a spoon, making sure that the mixture is even.
• Bake the cauliflower in the oven for 20 minutes. Cut into 4 slices and serve immediately.

Easy Eggplant (Aubergine) Dip or Patlıcan Ezme

Easy Eggplant (Aubergine) Dip or Patlıcan Ezme

Easy Eggplant (Aubergine) Dip or Patlıcan Ezme
Many of us don’t have the luxury and convenience of having gas cooking facility in our kitchens. And that on its own, makes things a little complicated because if you don’t have gas then you don’t have total heat control which is really important in cooking. I mean, ask any chef; they all prefer gas.

The other problem with not having gas is no gas, no smoked eggplant –also known as aubergine. So how are we going to make babaganoush or any other meze which uses smoked eggplant then? Maybe on a barbeque? Still, you may not have the weather to go outside and smoke your eggplant (aubergine), come back inside and carry on cooking. Well, if that’s your reality like it is mine then I have the second best thing to smoked eggplant (aubergine) for you.

Recipe Notes:
• Eggplant (aubergine) is an interesting vegetable: you cannot boil it or steam it; it gets mushy. However, it responds well to baking, stewing, smoking and deep frying. Since smoking is out of the question for me and baking is a drier method which doesn’t work in a meze situation—neither does stewing here—I’ll take deep frying method, thank you very much.
• Eggplant can be very bitter. To get rid of its bitterness, soak the eggplant chunks in salted water for at least 30 minutes—the longer the better. Salt will draw out the bitter juice.
• You will also need to be careful with deep frying eggplant as it transforms itself into an oil-loving sponge if you’re not careful. To avoid that, sprinkle the eggplants with salt just before deep frying. This’ll stop them from drinking all your frying oil.

Easy Eggplant (Aubergine) Dip or Patlıcan Ezme
Ingredients:

1 large round eggplant
1 tablespoon Greek style plain yoghurt
1 large clove garlic, crushed
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Method:
• Peel the eggplant and cut into small pieces. Soak them in generously salted water for at least half an hour with a plate on top –this’ll stop them from floating above the water.
• Rinse the eggplant well under running water and dry the pieces carefully. Heat the oil in a deep fryer and fry the eggplant until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.
• Place the yoghurt and eggplant in a small food processor with garlic and whizz it up until it is dip like, scraping the sides every now and then to achieve more even texture.
• Place processed eggplant in a bowl. Combine with crushed garlic, lemon juice and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
• Serve with crusty bread.

Herbie’s Cajun Spice Mix

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Herbie’s Cajun Spice Mix is probably the most used spice blend in my cupboard. I don’t use it in “Cajun Blackened” fish or chicken like it’s recommended on the pack by Mr Herbie himself but in vegetable roasts like my … Continue reading