Thursday, December 26, 2013

New pickle recipes

The garlic pickle, green mango achaar and lemonade syrup are bottled and being consumed. The recipes for the garlic and the mango pickles are at - use the drop down ingredients menu - and Matthew Evans lemon syrup is at

Friday, December 20, 2013

This fortnight's compost

1.      Advergamers play with nutrition by making fast food rewarding.

‘Advergaming is a relatively recent approach to advertising that overcomes many of the limitations of traditional advertising. But advergames are increasingly being used by fast food companies to target children by rewarding play with unhealthy food products... Results suggest young people actively engage with advergames and are more likely to eat unhealthy foods after playing them. While the same also holds for healthy advergames, they are much less common.’

I don’t know which I object to more; the term ‘advergamer’ or the ongoing exploitation of kids to serve commercial interests that create unhealthy kids who then are sold commercial correctives.

2.      Snacking your way to better health

A naughty title because it isn’t really about the kind of snacking many people do. It’s about eating nuts and that ‘very study has indicated that nuts make an independent contribution to health and longevity, even after taking other factors into account.’

I admit that I am happy we have a bag of mixed nuts in the fridge into which I can dip when I have that urge to snack and I do feel righteously healthy when I do J

3.      American food holidays

I just knew you all would want to know that there is this site from which you can find out what food to celebrate on what day with your US friends.

4.      Five reasons why ‘food’ is a massive global

Food is an essential part of health and wellbeing – chosen, prepared, cooked and consumed correctly, food is medicine – it can and has been an enormous catalyst to gains in life expectancy and quality of life to populations around the globe. But – and this is an important ‘but’ – mismanaged, unregulated, recklessly advertised, poorly produced and over consumed, food can have dire public health consequences. And those consequences are currently playing out around the world.’

Not new info but a good summary for the water-cooler discussions we should be having.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Rescue Brinjal Pahi

When you use eggplants in a Sri Lankan curry the recipe often calls for them to be diced, then salted and rolled in turmeric and then deep fried before being added to any masala. I prepped these rescue small globular fruit and then put them into a pahi gravy of coconut milk, coriander, fennel, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, onion, curry leaves, mustard, chilli, sugar and vinegar.

The eggplant has to be deep fried till the flesh is soft enough to easily push a knife point or wooden skewer through it.

The combination of the sugar, vinegar, and the roasted spice mix is beautifully complex on the palate and the eggplant has a lovely smooth texture if cooked well.

The recipe for this is at at Aubergine 2 in the left hand drop down menu.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The predictable post re christmas cake

Made it for this year. The van Reyk matriarch has approved both the texture and the flavour.

Even approved me chucking all the fruit and nuts that used to have to be chopped by hand into a good sturdy electric whirring chopping thingy which may be why the texture won her approval - beautifully fine shreds of the fruit mice mixed in with the semolina to give a fine grainy most texture. I am sure my granny, whose recipe this is, would have been more than happy to give up the knife and arduousness and just press on and let the machine whirr while she go onto other parts of the cake prep that can't be done with a machine, like buttering the greaseproof paper line of the baking tin (I use that new fangled baking paper but am attached to buttering it anyway).

Mind you at some stage in the transition from gran to mum to me I do recall a hand turned bench top mincer coming into play also, so it's not as if I am working outside of a family tradition.  Also somewhere long the way mum began using an elective mixer for creaming the butter and sugar and then adding in the semolina.  I have followed this practice also much as I would love to fantasise about kids sitting around a big copper bowl mixing creaming away as I did when young on our kitchen table. Again, it's majorly handy to be able to give this job over to a machine while I get on with other bits of the prep.

I have retained hand beating the egg whites, however. I have succumbed far enough to using a rotary hand operated beater rather than a whisk, but for the eggs moving to the electric whisk seems just that step too far. Or maybe it's just that expending SOME effort in the making is still sort of gastro-morally necessary.

I also have retained grinding the spices in a mortar and pestle. This is mainly because the quantity is so small that I would never be able to grind it fine enough in my Sumeet, that extraordinary kitchen companion that South Asian cooks rhapsodize about, and which lives up to its hype for grinding spices and turning out perfectly blended mint chutney.

As is putting it all together. I use a bowl which seems smaller to me than the one gran used but then I am bigger than the 7 year old who sat cross-legged with what was to him a cauldron into which gran dropped handfuls of the fruit mince mix and sprinklings of the spices. And the bowl is a good steel one. But I do still enjoy getting a wooden spoon and turning over and over this thickening mass of batter, and let me assure you that it is a wrist-straining effort at first till you add in the required small amounts of pineapple juice, honey, brandy and rose water at which point it gets slightly easier.

The mixing becomes easiest when the beaten egg whites are added. I recall when I first came across the direction to 'fold' egg whites into something and I had no idea what on earth that meant, or more accurately how much folding I was supposed to do - till the egg white was totally integrated?  wouldn't that just defeat the whole purpose of beating air into them? fold while leaving some lumps of egg white sitting there surly? would that lead to meringue pockets in the cake? As it is I have move to the well-integrated position and the cake is none the worse for this.

We didn't have an oven at home, and gran used to take the ready to bake mixture across the road to her cousin's house for the final transforming. She used to use the browning paper test to check the heat of it; I am more confident that my electric oven will deliver the right heat.  

The trick with getting the right moistness and firmness is that once the cake has set enough that when pressed gently on top it stays firm, turn the oven off and let it finish cooking as the oven cools. If you have used the six layers of greaseproof and the extra layer on top the recipe calls for, the cake won't burn as it finishes and you don't run the risk of burning it by waiting, waiting, waiting till you reckon it's ready.

If you want to make this yourself, and you really should give it a go if you like fruit christmas cakes that take several steps away from the ordinary, then you can find the recipe here under Cake 1 in the right hand drop down menu.

I've written more about my gran and her cookbook and reflections on the foodways of a Sri Lankan Dutch Burgher at

Thursday, December 5, 2013

This week's compost


11. Shark fin drops off the menu, conservationists claim victory

‘Shortly after taking office in late 2012, the new Xi Jinping administration announced a crackdown on the use of public fund expenditures, lavish spending and corruption by government officials.
Such a crackdown appears to have already had a significant impact on luxury seafood restaurants and other luxury industries. In the past year, it is this anti-corruption campaign, more than anything else, which is likely to have had an impact on shark fin consumption.’

An interesting argument for which unfortunately the writers of the article don’t provide evidence. The article suggests a more complex set of factors including an abundance of fake shark fin on the market and health concerns.

2.      Audrey’s Kitchen – BBQ Shish Taouk

Bludgeoning garlic. Waterboarding chicken. Gluten intolerance as a genuine mental illness. And a recipe that you do actually feel confident you can cook. This show continues to be sheer genius.

3.      No comment – just enjoy

4      4. Kitchen of the future
‘The central hub in the Microbial Home system is a repositionable kitchen island, including a chopping surface with vegetable waste grinder, a gas cooking range, a glass tank that shows energy reserves and glass elements showing pressure, volume and readiness of compost sludge.’

Santa, you now have my complete Christmas pressie list. Gorgeously designed aesthetically and sustainably.

5     5. Canned Christmas dinner most depressing thing ever

A UK company has put out the ultimate single-serving meal for those who prefer to spend the festive season alone – an entire Christmas dinner with both sweet and savoury layers in a tin.’

This is so going to be on the table if I can get some 

66. More Christmas pressie fun