Friday, 5 August 2011

Harissa Paste

Every so often I find myself with an over abundance of an ingredient. More often than not it's because my grandfather was a bit over enthusiastic and gave me far more than I needed. He has several chilli plants and I found myself with a glut of the hot little devils not too long ago. I'm a bit of a chilli fiend and I always like having a fast an easy way of getting a bit of heat into whatever I'm eating. A great way of doing this is with a pungent and intensely hot Harissa paste.

You will need:
10 Chillies (more or less depending on how hot you like it)
5 Garlic cloves
2 Shallots
2 peeled Tomatoes
2 table spoons each of Caraway, Cumin and Coriander seeds 
Olive oil
A blender

The paste is pretty simple to make. Just throw all of the ingredients into the blender and go. The spiced do need to be toasted and ground first though. This is to open up the flavours and make the paste as pungent as possible. Do ensure to add salt and pepper and enough olive oil to bring it all together. Once the paste is blended to a smooth paste put it in a wide pan and cook over a medium heat until it thickens up and dries out a bit. Let the paste cool down, put it in a jar and cover the top with olive oil. It keeps in the fridge for a long time. I made mine a couple of months ago and I’m still going with it. I little bit of this stuff goes a long way.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Cauliflower & Cheese Pizza


Here's a little video that my friend and I made last years. It was our entry for the "Pimp my Pizza" contest at the Lucky Coq and Bimbo Deluxe. This little bit of food porn was enough to get us the wild card entry and this pizza went on the menu for six weeks.

If you want to have a go at making it for your self you will need the following:
Baby Spinach
Spanish Onion
Mascarpone, Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese
And any pizza base of your choosing

It's not all that hard to put together. It's a pizza, not rocket science. You just have to make sure to blanch the cauliflower before you put it on your pizza. Then it's a simple matter of covering the base with mascarpone, spreading out the cauliflower, spinach and onion and topping with the other two cheeses. If you are so inclined a bit of roasted garlic couldn't hurt. Season well, then... bake it... bake it. Enjoy.

Roasted Garlic: Put it in everything

Ever since I made the notorious "Chicken with forty cloves of Garlic" a while ago, it became apparent that everything should have more garlic in it. When garlic is roasted it loses its spicy sharpness and becomes intensely tangy and wonderfully warming. While it complements a roast chicken exceedingly well, it is by no means a one trick pony and there is a very simple way of getting perfectly roasted garlic with very little effort.

Take a bulb of garlic and slice the bottom of it off. Keep the bottom attached to the bulb and wrap it up in foil. Bake the garlic package for about 30 - 40 minutes in a moderate oven. That's it. When you can squeeze the garlic out of its paper, its done and now you have one of the most versatile ingredients know to man.

The roasted garlic is an excellent addition to any simple garden salad or as a way to give your mash an extra kick. Add the garlic to any pasta sauce or soup to give a hearty winter dish some extra warmth. If you're game you can just eat the garlic as is. It might seem a bit crazy but, as part of a cheese platter or or a dip, the intense garlicky tang can become something you downright crave.