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Colour me red, she said

June 11, 2012

Each time I put out an APB for fresh ripe fruit, my call is answered, and I have put out a few.   Again in my life I find myself without feijoa.  I have adolescent feijoa trees in the garden, but they aren’t putting out for a few more years, so I put the word around I needed some, and the call was answered.

Dragged through a hedge backwards, such apt imagery. I scrambled around under a few bushes at the end of feijoa season, and also most fortunately came across Peter Gordon’s recipe via Grant Allen’s column in the Herald for Roasted Feijoa Chutney. It is a little doozie, it reminds me of Boardwalk Empire for some obscure reason, naive and elegant, bootlegging, speakeasy, sweet and a tiny bit baby face Nelson. This chutney is second cousin twice removed from caramelised onion jam. It has fruity, tangy and spicy undertones – a keeper for sure and worth a try if you managed to squirrel feijoa into your nether regions – a phrase here which means the deep freeze. I will reduce the amount of sugar next time, and according to the fab new feijoa blog I found, the manuka branch can be replaced with rosemary. It seems like a lot in the pan, but you can take this to a sticky place beyond the pale.

It has been annoying me for over a week now, I want to use words that have been stuck on play in my mind for the best part of 30 years, the words of a television ad that I vaguely remember. It was a paint ad, could have been for Dulux, but based on their propensity for olde english sheepdogs – I doubt it, and Rolf Harris had Bristish Paints covered. I remember a glowing, flowing almost cartoon like paint pouring image, not very subtle red lips, and a velveteen voiceover “Colour me Red she said” and the words spoke to me. Words used to stick, but these have gone, apart from the first line. I googled and a-youtubed but I can’t find it , you will have to be content with the first line…reward offered for remainder of script.

Colour me red she said…..

Round this neck of the woods we draw closer to the shortest day, or the longest night. The amber of autumn makes room for mossy dankness and colour is found in the most unlikely places. I like hunkering down, making do, eating from the freezer and the pantry, my root cellar.  Root vegetables are like cannisters of sweet nutty colour, squirrelled for later. The foundation of alot of winter dishes is a soffritto, the green, white and scarlet orange, the celery the onion the carrots.

I want to make a trio of soups, a tricolour of bon vivant starting with the carrots, onion and celery and finishing with layers of stocky root vegetables – colour me red she said, borscht, colour me cumin like carrot, colour me blue like brocolli.
A borscht is usually made with a deep dark beef stock – but down home chicken stock does this borscht nicely.  This carrot soup is vegan and the broccoli is vegetarian.  I make a generic vegetable stock – with a few litres of vege stock up your sleeve you are pre-pared and ready to roll soupwise.  I do like a good home made chicken soup, and a beefy stock gives definite depth – but much flavour can also wrested from a basket of veg set to boiling water.   Very very easy to create 3D soups without animal bits if that is your thing.  The vege stock is perky, deep and full of umami goodness.  I use carrots, onion, celery and leaves, thyme and a packet of dried shitake mushrooms with a mystery guest – Chinese fermented black beans.  Cook, strain, reduce.   I always always freeze the carcasses of roasted free range chickens and make my own tasty chicken stock, all you have to do is stick them in a pot (there are usually also leftover roast veges and lemons&herbs I shove up it) with cold water and bring to the boil and reduce – all that is required is seasoning. I have tetrapaks in the pantry for emergencies.
Roasted Beetroot Creamed Borscht
4 large beetroot – cut in half and roasted in tin foil, cooled and largely cubed
olive oil, a dram
1 dsp dill seeds,
1 large onion sliced thinly, sauteed till soft with dill seeds
1 litre self induced chicken stock
seasalt and freshly ground pepper
sour cream to serve
fresh dill, chopped
Roasting the beetroot creates even more sweet earthy flavour and I like to go back over the wall and get eastern, I imagine cows in a dill field with beetroot lying all over the place, past life Soviet Union stuff again probably.  Heat the stock, add the beetroot and onions, blend with a stick blender, season season season – use lots of salt and pepper.   I used the stick blender to prove it could be done – so you don’t have to.  I like to put a spoon of horseradish sauce in the bottom of each bowl or serve with sour cream, some chopped dill and crusty bread.
Carrot, Orange and Cumin Soup
4 large Ohakune carrots, sliced thinly, mandoline I love you
1 large onion, sliced thinly
2 tbsp cumin Seeds
1 litre vege stock
Juice of 1 orange
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil
Carrots and cumin go together like, well,  carrots and cumin.  My handy dandy Flavour Thesaurus places carrots in the woodland category alongside nuts and butternut pumpkin and if you look up cumin & carrot you can see it says ‘see carrot & cumin’, funny. Moroccan styles.  Saute onions and cumin in stock pot, add carrots and continue to cook until onions are translucent and carrots are just not that crunchy anymore.  Add vege stock and blitz like crazy, then add orange juice – serve with a dab of olive oil and crunchy croute.  A light soup with delicate flavour – nice to drink out of a mug.  Chopped herbs like that nice boy coriander goes well.
Broccoli and Blue Cheese Soup
1 large onion sliced
1 tsp hazelnut oil
2 tbsp olive oil
2 heads broccoli, thinly sliced
1  litre vege stock
blue cheese
salt & pepper
Any qualms about eating blue bacteria are more than offset by the anti-cancer properties of broccoli – it’s true.  Don’t worry about the hazelnut oil, I just need to use mine up before it goes rancid.  Saute the onions and broccoli in the oils in a large pot until broccoli starts to go bright green.  Then add the stock and cook until broccoli is soft, then go hell for leather in a machine of some kind, blender,  foodprocessor or my favourite – my thermomix.   You then can add crumbled blue cheese to serve.  I often find cut price packets of cheese at the Family Barrow a downtown deli in Auckland – a very handy spot for food ingredients if you live in the middle of the Pacific Ocean like I do.
It is pretty hard to write about food on the internets these days without fear of plagiarising another writer, whether professional or amateur, it feels like a race to write with any seasonality or innovation, especially in a country as small as New Zealand. I don’t believe there is much left to write about that hasn’t already been, but you can’t beat the classics.  Which is why they are called classics and why people never tire of them.  Rice pudding is a classic, it is warm sweet and comforting – and I like how I have learnt about Asian style rice pudding.
I have seen two versions of a recipe I have been keen to try.  Glutinous rice is ever so popular in Asian countries like Thailand, and is quite different to the grass which shall henceforth be known as ‘wild rice’, it looks inky, exotic and pretty and  it is.  Black Sticky Rice Pudding is begat of rice pudding, arroz con leche, congee and sweet risotto and has become the little darling of my all day breakfast and is the ultimate comfort food.
This recipe is an overnight success – you need to soak the rice overnight – if like me you live on an island far away from cosmopolitan shops- you can get this rice from the asian suypermarket behind the foodhall down mercury lane off K road -or your local Asian supermarket.  The remainder of the ingredients are easily available.
Sweet Black Sticky Rice Pudding w Coconut Cream & Fruit
1 cup Glutinous black rice (aka Thai black glutinous rice)
1 kaffir lime leaf (lemon or lime leaves)  – pandan leaves ideal yet hard to find
1 400g tin coconut cream
3 x palm sugar stingrays + water of same weight (sub brown sugar)
1 vanilla pod
sliced ripe banana  or pineapple
Soak rice over night, rinse and drain well. Put in pot with enough water to cover by 3cm then add the kaffir lime or lemon leaf.  Cook, covered until rice is cooked through – this can take over 30 minutes, cover and rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook palm sugar and water with the split vanilla pod until syrup is desirous and reduced, you do not need to grate the sugar – it will dissolve.  Stir the syrup through the rice and serve with coconut cream poured over the top.  Look at it – it is a beauty to behold.  Add sliced fruit and try not to go back for thirds.  This can be eaten for breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, tea, dinner, dessert, supper and midnight snacks.
NOTE BENE:  All coconut creams are NOT created equal, in most cases do not be under any illusion that you are dealing with 100% coconut.  Indeed, lurking beneath the swaying palm tree labels usually awaits additives, preservatives and emulsifiers with added water!  Here is a photo line up of the GOOD guys – the products I would buy – the brands I refused to buy had between 50 and 80% coconut – the remainder being added water  AND preservatives, emulsifiers and something else I can’t remember and wouldn’t choose to buy anyway.
Ceres Coconut Cream – Creamy & Unsweetened – Organic coconut (min 65%) water & guar gum
Kara UHT ‘Natural Coconut Cream’ – Fresh natural coconut extract, stabilizer
Kara UHT ‘Natural Coconut Milk – ‘Classic’  – Fresh natural coconut extract (90%) – water, gm free stabilizer (Xantham gum) E415 Guar Gum E412, Carrageenan E407
Ayam – Premium coconut cream ‘100% natural’ – 100% coconut kernel – No preservatives, no added water, no additives, gluten free
Needless to say – I bought and used the Ayam.

From → Recipes

One Comment
  1. lynley ruck permalink

    Ok – so amidst the excitement of Masterchef NZ with Waihekean Ana coming 2nd, we have been eating/drinking all of the above mentioned soups. By golly they improve with age, the carrot and cumin one is like a curry-in-a-cup and tastes great with a squeeze of lemon juice. The broccoli and blue cheese looks worse for wear (that’ll be the blue cheesey bits) though still tastes great, but I re-whizzed the borcsht lite in the thermomix, drizzled a tiny drop of both sherry vinegar and truffle oil (I know!) a dab of sour cream and fresh dill, by all that is sacred, it is sublime

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