Tuesday 24th January 2012
I’ve just counted all the cookbooks I have on the shelf behind the kitchen door. There are 42. With a healthy spattering of all genres from Moosewood Cookbook to Nose to tail eating. Of those, I regularly use 2 for one recipe in each. 1) Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook to refresh my memory on how to make boeuf
Bourguignon (Pg 220) & 2) Jamie Oliver’s Happy Days with the Naked Chef for his chilli con carne (Pg 31) recipe.
It seems criminal to have a plethora of culinary information at my disposal & still I make the same 20 or 30 dishes. It’s not because I think I’m already a genius in the kitchen nor that I can’t take direction from someone. Quite the opposite, I’m a very good student. If I’m totally honest, it’s because I’m a lazy cook. (I know, hard to believe, isn’t it?) I might flick through the pages of these beautiful books & look at the pictures but if I have to put too much effort into sourcing ingredients or have to spend too long prepping, I’m out. A much easier solution is to look at the photo & make something that looks like the picture in the book. It might not taste the same, but it’ll do.
I have, however, found out over the course of this year that using a recipe makes a huge difference to the result of the dish. Adding the right spices or the correct amount of baking powder really does change the taste & so I’m trying to be a bit more consistent with following the rules.
I find cookbooks are a thing of beauty in themselves. From the design & the anecdotes of the author to the beautiful glossy photographs & the mouth watering recipes. They are the perfect birthday or christmas present for someone who is interested in cooking & being creative. In other words I’ve been bought most of mine by friends & family.
I’m a very lucky boy. 🙂
Rather predictably but not thoughtlessly, this Christmas I was presented with a new cookbook. Jamie’s Ministry of Food. Now, I love Jamie Oliver. I share his attitude towards food & simple scratch cooking. His books, of which I have many, are my go-to books for recipes, or photos in my case!
The book accompanies a successful tv series in the UK (Not so successful in The States) where he campaigns for families to get back in the kitchen & cook simple, healthy food instead of eating the prepackaged, processed stuff. It’s an idea I applaud. Even if he is preaching to the converted, as far as I’m concerned, I think it’s important for people to learn how to cook again & enjoy family mealtimes.
Part of the show, & the premise of the book, is about learning a new recipe & then passing that knowledge on.
“Go on,” Instructs Jamie on the sleeve notes. “learn a recipe today – and Pass it on!”
So I am.
2 lrg carrots
10cm fresh root ginger
2 medium red onions
2 – 3 fresh red chillies
bunch of fresh coriander
2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 heaped teapsoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons sea salt
125g self raising flour
1 litre veg oil
a piece of potato
juice 1 lemon
Peel and finely grate of shred the carrots, ginger and red onions and put them into a large bowl
Finely chop the chillies and add to bowl
Roughly chop the coriander leaves and stalks
Add the mustard seeds, tumeric, cumin seeds, salt and chopped coriander to the bowl
Add the flour and 125ml of cold water and scrunch together well, using your hands until you have a nice thick mixture
Its best to make these in a deep fat fryer, or you can put a large pan on a medium to high heat and add the oil
Drop in a piece of potato – when it floats to the surface and begins to sizzle, the oil is the right temp
Remove the potato using a slotted spoon
Pick up a tablespoon of bhaji mixture, press it together tightly and carefully lower ity into the hot oil
Repeat until you have several on the go
Cook for 5 mins until crispy and golden
Remove the cooked bhajis using your slotted spoon and put them on kitchen paper to drain
Sprinkle with a little sea salt and a squeeze of lemon juice
Repeat for the remaining mixture
Serve with the lime cut into wedges and enjoy!