Gado Gado Satay Sauce

On Sunday Freya painted all day, I gardened all day; and we were both excellently productive.

For dinner I decided to make another tofu dish. We still had 2 packs left that were ‘just’ out of date and I hate throwing food away. I checked a few cookbooks, and found a Gado Gado recipe in Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook. We didn’t have all the ingredients for the whole dish but we did have all the ingredients for the sauce. I was sure I could cobble something together with all the ‘on edge’ leftovers that I had knocking about. At least half the dish could be made – that would do I thought!

Had I read ahead, and read more carefully, I probably wouldn’t have started this sauce so late in the day. It takes at least 90 minutes to make, probably longer. We decided to snack on leftover pork and mash instead and put this sauce aside for another day. Just as well really. It was very hot. Too hot for Freya anyway. She wouldn’t have been impressed at having this smothered all over her dinner. As it happens it wasn’t that hot when I used it for real the next day! Perhaps the tasting spoon was covered in chillies!

The last time I made a sauce that took this long was during a Cookery Course at Loaf in Birmingham. We were making a Massaman curry and had to pound all sorts of spices and chillies and garlic in a very big pestle and mortar for about an hour! I recall asking why you couldn’t just blast it all in a Thermomix, but apparently whacking something releases more flavour. It probably did – but it did seem like a lot of effort.

This doesn’t require any whacking, just a lot of stirring and adding ingredients.

The sauce has garlic, lemongrass, sambal oelek (Indonesian chilli paste), ginger and shallots; all which are blitzed (in a Thermomix (smiley face)) and fried off in oil for almost an hour. You add sweet paprika, sugar, seasoning, tamarind, coconut milk and ‘boiled peanuts’ and keep cooking for some more time. It is worth it honest. It just takes time. Boiling unsalted peanuts for half an hour was definitely something I was glad I read in advance; at least there was some multitasking!

As I said before it is hot; hotter than I expected, but very easily fixed with more coconut cream or yoghurt. It suited my tastes but it isn’t all about me.

This made lots. Four jars worth to be precise. I hope it keeps otherwise that was a lot of effort for nothing. On the plus side our go-to ‘istu 20 minute meal’ of tofu with peanut sauce can probably be modified a little to accommodate this sauce rather than the one in their book.

Would I make this again? Possibly. Are there easier satay sauces out there – most definitely!

Pan-fried mackerel with golden beetroot and orange salsa & Basmati & wild rice with chickpeas, currants & herbs

Nice snappy title! fish, salad and rice probably would have done.

We rarely have fish. In fairness before lockdown we barely had meat either. But doing the vegetarian and vegan thing is a harder work when you struggle for availability of items and also need to keep them ‘alive’ and fresh for 2-3 weeks.

So for lockdown we aren’t trying too hard to be vegetarian. There are bigger things to worry about; so meat and fish are back on the table. This is the first fish dish I’ve cooked this year (I think).

Both dishes (the rice dish is a completely separate dish) are from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook. This is a great book indeed and I never tire of cooking from it.

The mackerel is marinated in harissa, cumin and salt. I used rose harissa as we seem to have 3 jars of it. While it infuses into the fish, boil some beetroots (golden ones), then when the are cold, dice them with oranges, lemons, olives, herbs and chilli flakes – and a good glug of oil.

When the salad is ready, get a pan REALLY hot and add the mackerel for less than a minute (it says longer but I disagree), take the pan off the heat, then serve it with the salad. We added the rice as it didn’t feel like a complete meal.

The rice is pretty epic. Just rice is never a good side. This rice has Wild rice (which takes forever to cook) basmati rice, and chickpeas, as well as curry powder, onions and lots of herbs. Oh and currants – the currants make this dish. The recipe asks you to cook the wild rice first then the basmati separately, but I cheated somewhat, guessed when the wild rice had 12 mins to go and chucked the basmati in with it. Obviously this could have been a fail but it worked out fine.

This rice would be perfect for any dish I think – or BBQ if we ever get outside with friends again!

Freya wasn’t a fan of the beetroot and citrus salad. I lapped it up – thought the two things went really well together. The mackerel was a triumph too. The rice I will make over and over!

We still have many meals on the list before our 10th May Ocado delivery. Watch this space for more yummy stuff!

Marinated Feta

Marinated Feta

Many of us buy those pots of antipasti in supermarkets. The little plastic pot that you fill with stuff for a two or three pounds. Well they always have marinated feta and/or olives.

Well I thoughts I’d give it a go myself – for no other reason that I’d bought too much fresh feta from my local Syrian supermarket in Brentford and couldn’t feasibly eat it all before it was past it!

Fortunately there was a recipe for marinated feta in Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour.

This is incredibly simple and just benefits from maturing for 24 hours or so.

In a big bowl, cube some feta, add olive oil, garlic, pickled chillies, finely sliced banana shallots, fresh coriander, lemon rind and lemon juice and stir the whole thing together carefully (you don’t want to mash the feta).

I didn’t add salt to mine – I find the feta is salty enough as it is.

Once it’s all nicely mixed, decant into jars – I used the plastic pots left over from the fresh feta and seal the lid. Pop in the fridge and leave for as long as you can resist.

We ate this for days! We had three or four pots of the stuff and we grazed on it, had it on toast, sneaked spoonfuls from the fridge and made it part of a meze meal.

For something so simple to make it really makes sense to give it a go yourself rather than buy it pre-made for you.

Quick Chilli and Brown Rice

Quick Chilli and Brown Rice

It seems like forever since I posted on sifty. I have been eating – honest – I just haven’t been able to muster the enthusiasm to photograph and blog. It gets very cold on a boat this time of year – it kind of discourages you from doing anything!

Our fortnightly visit to Freya’s parents offered up two surprises:

  • a new cookbook (for Freya really – as it was her birthday)
  • a flick through a load of magazine supplements

This weekend’s Daily Mail supplement (which I would never advocate reading) had an interesting article about Ella Woodward and her ‘soon to be released’ cookery book ‘Deliciously Ella’. At the back of the magazine were some very healthy recipes that caught my eye – so I snagged the magazine and made the chilli and brown rice last night.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find black beans in my local supermarket so I swapped them for Fava beans. As the recipe suggests you can knock this up in 10-15 minutes. Its so basic. But it was just what you need when it is -1 outside and you need something warm quickly!

To make this you do nothing more than add grated carrot, garlic, kidney beans, black beans (fava beans in my case), passatta, tomato paste and a jalapeƱo pepper to a saucepan and heat through for 10 minutes. That’s it – nothing more.

For me it was a bit too tomatoey – Freya loved it. It made plenty. There’s tonnes left for lunch today and it cost next to nothing to make.

I’ll make this again when I am short on time – and I’ll make it with the correct ingredients next time.