say it with cauliflowers

Again, excuse the cheesy pun. It was that or  ‘cauliflowers in the attic’ but as it is my wife’s birthday, and she is so far the only reader of these lines, I opted for something more romantic (Maybe I should have stuck with it, she does have a creepy relationship with her siblings).

This salad is another contender for the mezze section of the menu. The pairing of tahini and cauliflower  is very common in Palestinian cooking and is as simple as it is delicious – you simply deep fry, or in this case roast the vegetable, plate it and  spoon some plain tahini (this brand is amazing! from green valley off Edgware road) and to cut the richness squeeze a tomato or lemon on top, and some herbs – I thing spring onion rounds it off nicely.

 instead of squeezing the tomato I tried this simple tomato sauce made with fresh grated tomatoes, chillies and olive oil, as I`ve seen done in a few places.A nice touch but as this is such a good dish, it can do without.

On the business plan front, my friend Ben, star that he is, came through and mailed me some very good work, or at least I think its good, as I really am clueless about these things, and I don’t speak a word of corporate( note to self – make sure no potential investor reads this blog).

But I still have a lot of work to do before my Wednesday meeting, which I will have to do on Tuesday because as I said, it is my wife’s birthday today.We are not doing much, as our birthday budget was blown  on anti aging face cream made of pearl dust and mashed up babies  that costs like a ski holiday, and a sunday roast at Hix oyster and chop-house( which was meant to be amazing but was actually pub grub quality at thrice the price. Such a shame, when there are so many nice places we could have gone to in this town) so with no money left for a present, I promised her a poem, and I only do Haiku, so here goes –

I want to give you all I have

all I have

is you

So to my only reader and the love of my life, my beautiful, fat, white swan – Happy birthday.


Let the beet rock

I wonder how many food bloggers have used this pun. For me it was this one or ‘let the beet go on’. so cheesy.

I had this salad as a mezze dish on the menu of my imaginary restaurant since forever. it is based on something a mother of a childhood friend of mine used to make – I think it  is Algerian or Tunisian but I`m not sure –  she would dress boiled beetroot with oil and orange juice, fresh ginger, currants and coriander.

 Combining beets and oranges makes perfect sense, as both are winter things and the fresh ginger, that somehow combines the beets earthy notes and the oranges` sharpness really  brings it all together.

 Years later, when I tried to make it, I couldn’t get the orange flavour to come out enough unless I added buckets of juice,and it would overpower. I ended up making a sauce with whole oranges, vinegar, honey and chilli, like a spicy marmalade, and leave it quite chunky, so you get a big hit of orange every now and then. I didn’t think the currants were very useful there, and the coriander was replaced with sweet, fragrant basil, and the result, I think, is quite special, and delicious.

There are a few ways of cooking beets – you can boil them in water, but then you dilute the flavour and sweetness. I would always roast them in the oven whole, which concentrate their flavor, than just squeeze them out of their skin, but I recently saw a friend chef of mine peel the beets before roasting them, which seems like a lot of unnecessary effort, as peeling them after they are cooked is so much faster and a lot easier. but he said that this way you get a far better result, with the added flavor of the roasted, slightly charred surface of the vegetable.  I had to try it  but I really didn’t want it to work. it goes against my grain to do things in a certain way when there is an easier, more efficient way to go about it. I had visions of myself  doing nothing but peeling bags of beetroot, walking around with stained hands all the time… bit of a drama in my head. but you can glean from that something about the person I am, and also how busy I think the place will be. Got the beets in the oven, sauce cooking, camera cleaned of beet stains and cleaned again after this picture was taken

 There is no comparing the amount of flavour in these beets compared to anything I had before.they were so sweet and earthy, so intense and just a bit smokey, completely worth the extra effort that ,dramas aside, is not that much of an effort after all.

Dice the beets, dress with olive oil, fresh ginger and salt, orange sauce and basil on top, and wish my photographic skills will one day be able to this beautiful dish justice

The man without the plan

These past few says have seen me trying to complete my business plan, before submitting it to potential investors, bank managers, friends and wives.There are a lot of web guides to writing a business plan, none of them state hours of spider solitaire as an essential step, likewise going to matinees at the Ritzy, reading the Argos catalogue, going to buy shelves, hanging shelves, going for coffee, talking to elderly neighbours… you get my drift – no progress was made on the business plan. I gave myself a deadline, set a meeting with a bank guy for next Wednesday to discuss my finance options, so I will have to be ready with something. I put all my hopes on my friend Ben, a marketing Exec, who is  in town on a visit and is coming over for dinner, or so he thinks : The plan is to sit him down in front of the screen and starve him untill he comes up with something presentable. This guy is gonna have to sing for his supper tonight.

Didn’t turn out quite like that.  ‘lets see what you’ve got so far’, it’s not much, but I’ve shown him.                                                                     have you ever seen a spreadsheet prepared by a chef?  not a pretty sight, and not something you want to inflict on your friends. To be fair to Ben, he did try, and he gave me some very useful pointers, while polishing off glasses of Pinot.  thirty minutes in, second bottle already half empty (half full?)  we both get quite hungry, I give in and bring the food, and we all forget all about the job at hand.

I’m the first to admit I am not a numbers man, and not a business man, if I was I would have had a real job. Sitting in front of a spreadsheet is my idea of hell, and the prospect of taking my ideas to the bank is something I would do a lot to avoid, but it is an indispensable part of what I`m trying to do, and if I can`t do it, than I have failed before I started. so goodbye spider solitaire, Argos catalogue, DIY jobs and  dear old neighbour Reeny. at least untill next Wednesday.

Dinner came out nice, will write all about it later. I think I can get at least three posts out of this dinner, maybe four, if you count this one. maybe I am not such a strategic disaster after all.