Mushroom Bahn Mi

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There is nothing more satisfying than cooking and eating a meal that has been grown, created and cooked by people within a bike ride of where you live. I’ve been so lucky to have so many beautiful ingredients at my fingertips lately, that I’m finding it hard to use anything that isn’t local. Hence, I haven’t really been cooking with meat. I’m not vegetarian, vegan or celiac, but I know many who are and love to be able to cater for everyone. Give this Bahn Mi to a hardcore carnivore and I’m pretty sure they will eat it; and maybe even enjoy it immensely (even if they don’t admit it).
I’ve been buying traditional Bahn Mi rolls at the markets on the weekends here. They are beyond delicious. Traditionally made with a smoky lemongrass laden pork mince sausage, fresh coleslaw, pate, and mayonnaise, on a freshly baked vietnamese baguette. It’s a mix of cultures, bound to tantalise the senses.
Here, I’ve challenged myself to a vegan version. Sorry to the traditionalists. It’s just delicious though.
Aside from the mouth-filling flavour of the mushrooms, the vegan mayo and the mushroom pate are stars on their own. They can be used in many other scenarios and you will have leftovers from this recipe to do just this!
I hope you appreciate this humble looking sandwich as much as I did.

On a side note. It is so hard to take photos of food in this heat, along with flies….near impossible. So, please excuse the haphazard photos!

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Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

Vegan Mayonnaise
1 cup raw cashews (soaked in water, in the fridge, overnight, drained and rinsed)
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Mushroom Pate
20g dried mixed forest mushrooms
3 tbs light olive oil
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
250g mixed mushrooms (I used button and shitake)
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup dry roasted walnuts
salt and pepper
3 tsp olive oil spread

Pickled Carrot
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
pinch salt

Lemongrass Mushrooms
1 tbs peanut oil
2 large or 4 smaller portobello or field mushrooms
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs dark soy
1 tsp sesame oil
1 birds-eye chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, white and first part of green part, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and grated
pinch of pepper

The rest
1 small baguette, halved vertically into 2 serves, each half cut in half horizontally
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
handful each of thai basil leaves and coriander
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 long red chilli, thinly sliced

Method

For the lemongrass mushrooms, cut the mushrooms into quarters or halves, depending how big they are. Place in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Leave in the fridge for at least an hour, stirring every so often to marinate, but be careful not to break up the mushrooms.
For the pickled carrot, place all of the ingredients in bowl and stir to combine. Leave in the fridge for at least an hour, stirring every so often.
For the mayonnaise, place all of the ingredients in a small food processor, or a bowl deep enough to use a stick blender. Blend until very smooth. It will take a while, but you want it to be really smooth, no grainy bits. Keep in the fridge until needed.
For the mushroom pate, place the dried forest mushrooms in a bowl with 1/2 cup hot water, leave to soak for at least half an hour. Remove the mushrooms from their soaking liquid. Reserve liquid.
Heat 2 tbs of the olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Cook the onion, garlic and mushrooms, stirring constantly, until cooked, about 5 to 10 mins. Remove from pan and set aside to cool slightly.
Place the drained forest mushrooms, cooked mushroom mixture, parsley, walnuts and remaining olive oil in a small food processor, or a bowl deep enough to use a stick blender. Blend until very smooth. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
Place into one large dish or 2 small ramekins, smooth the tops and place in the fridge to chill for at least 20mins.
Meanwhile, melt the olive oil spread and add 3 tbs of the reserved mushroom soaking liquid. Pour on top of the mushroom pate and keep in the fridge to set.
Once everything is ready to go, its time to assemble the sandwiches.
To cook the lemongrass mushrooms heat the peanut oil in a pan to high heat. Add the marinated mushrooms, and cook, stirring for about 5 mins, or until cooked and slightly caramelised. Set aside.
To assemble the sandwiches, spread the bottom halves of the baguettes with a good layer of mushroom pate, and the top halves with the vegan mayonnaise.
Top each half with the cooked mushrooms, pickled carrot, sliced cucumber, herbs, spring onions, and chilli. Top with the mayonnaise half of the baguettes.
Eat and enjoy!
Tip: they are also delicious, assembled and toasted in a pan, sandwich press, or bbq.

Marinated Baby Octopus Salad with Lemon Pangrattato

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After a long day at work, I love the ritual of creating and cooking dinner. Due to my brainless job, I get to spend the whole day thinking about ingredients and coming up with ideas for future recipes. This one came about after an eleven hour shift, I wanted something that would be perfect in this hot weather, on a Friday night, with a cold glass of wine; yet it had to be quick and easy because I was exhausted. This octopus salad really hit the mark. It was so fresh, tasty, interesting and EASY!

I’ve only had octopus twice before, in restaurants, I’ll admit, I’ve never cooked it, and have only come across frozen ones at work. I feel I’d need someone with some experience to show me how to deal with a fresh one. Maybe this year when in Europe…(fingers crossed)
So, I was lucky enough to have access to these beautiful marinated baby octopus, all ready to go in a delicious, vinegary, herby, garlic marinade. This dish really counts on the marinade, as it acts as the dressing for the salad. If you can’t find the brand that I’ve used here, check the ingredients of the marinade in the ones you buy, taste it and see what its missing and add some ingredients accordingly. You want some garlic, chilli, herbs, vinegar, onion, oil and sugar. If you would like to cook a lighter, or gluten free version of this salad, use an alternative to the pasta, such as chickpeas, quinoa or brown rice.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!


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Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

500g small shell pasta, or other small pasta such as orecchiette, or a gluten free alternative
1 zucchini, thinly sliced (a mandolin is ideal)
1 lemon, juiced. Plus 1 cut into quarters to serve
1 small spanish onion, very thinly sliced
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
375g marinated baby octopus (I used Angelikas Bros. brand), large ones halved, smaller ones left whole, marinade reserved
1/2 cup, store bought, lemon and herb breadcrumbs, lightly toasted in a pan (this is the pangrattato)
1 large red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper

Method

Combine the zucchini, lemon juice, onion, tomatoes, octopus (along with it’s marinade), chilli, and parsley, in a large bowl.
Cook the pasta according to packet directions, drain and add to the large bowl of combined ingredients. Stir through to combine and warm the rest of the ingredients.
Check for seasoning and add salt and paper to taste.
Serve with lemon wedges and sprinkle with pangrattato.
Enjoy!

Lemongrass Beef Rice Paper Rolls with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce

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I will not be defeated! Not by bad moods, heat, humidity, self-doubt, flies, loneliness, crap job, or, floppy, ugly un-photogenic rice paper rolls. This was my second attempt at photographing these delicious, but oh-so un-cooperative, little morsels, and I think I’ve managed to semi succeed in making them look good. Sometimes, the styling part of this blog is quite a big challenge, I never really have a plan and just look around at the last minute for something textural and interesting that suits my mood. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But, I figure it’s really good practice for one day when I work in a really high end magazine and get to cook and style delicious food with an endless array of beautiful props. Haha!!

This was the first time I had cooked with red meat since baking a big ol’ ham at Christmas time and man, was it satisfying. Just this little bit of red meat, beautifully marinated and cooked perfectly, was just what I was craving. I’m definitely not one to enjoy a big thick steak but something like this is right up my ally. It’s a great way to make meat stretch between lots of people too, making it much more cost effective.

The dipping sauce that accompanies a rice paper roll is always a big factor in the end result. Classic sweet chilli is always a winner, but by adding a few little things, you can step it up a little and impress you’re guests with a ‘home-made’ dipping sauce. Cheeky.

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Recipe

Serves 4 as a starter

Ingredients

250g beef minute steaks

1 lemongrass stalk, white and pale green part, finely grated

1 tsp finely grated ginger

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tbs fish sauce

1 tbs dark soy

1 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp pepper

peanut oil, to cook

1/4 small green papaya, grated

50g bean sprouts

1/4 red onion, finely sliced

80g vermicelli, cooked to packet instructions, rinsed under cold water

Juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup roasted, chopped peanuts

1/2 cup each of, loosely packed, mint and thai basil leaves, torn

1 tbs sesame oil

1/2 continental cucumber, thinly sliced

12 small rice paper rounds

Dipping Sauce

6 tbs sweet chilli sauce

2 tsp fish sauce

2 tbs tahini

1 spring onion, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Method

In a medium bowl, combine the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, soy, brown sugar and pepper and stir to combine. Add the beef, use your hands to really mix well and coat the meat in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

To make the dipping sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir well to combine. Set aside.

Heat a griddle pan, frying pan or barbecue to very hot. Add the peanut oil, and cook the beef, for about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside to rest and cool. When cool, thinly slice arose the grain.

In a bowl combine the papaya, bean sprouts, red onion, noodles, lime juice, peanuts, mint, thai basil and sesame oil.

Half fill a large dish with tap water, one large enough to fit the rice papers.

Working with one at a time, put the rice paper in the water for about 20 seconds, or until slightly softened. Place on a clean work surface. In the middle place 2 pieces of cucumber, a few strips of beef, and about 2tbs of the papaya mixture. Fold the bottom end over the mixture, fold the ends in, and roll up to secure. Repeat with remaining rice papers and mixture.

Serve with the dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Tip: To make them look a little bit pretty, instead of mixing the herbs through with the papaya mixture, keep them whole and lay them out on the rice paper before filling and rolling.

 

 

Green Papaya, Rambutan and Crunchy Coconut Salad with Tamarind Dressing

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As I sit here, waiting for these photos to up-load, I look at my hands. They are weathered, scarred, with dirty fingernails and lots of little cuts and pricks due to my current job featuring way to many spiky fish and prawns. I think; ‘I work too hard’. Then, I look up, and see the birds flying past and the beautiful green, tropical surroundings. I feel the warm breeze and appreciate the flavours of the cold spiced rum, lime and soda that I’m sipping on. Then I think; “I’m so, so lucky’.

Life for me at the moment is in such a funny and weird place, between living like a backpacker, working like a Chinese man (I’m allowed to make this judgement, I work with them), and trying to continue with my creative love of cooking and creating. All this, as well as trying to stop every now and then and appreciate the little things, and being part of a relationship that relies on one another to grow and succeed, is somewhat of a juggling act.

I’m not sure if I’m getting it right but there have been a few very exciting developments this week that make me feel as though things could be working out. Stay tuned!

This is a very simple recipe. I’ve been cooking lots of these kinds of meals lately, especially due to the heat and the abundance of produce growing in this yard. It seems ridiculous to go and buy things from the grocery store when we have more than enough food growing in  the yard. We just have to be creative. I think I’ve topped about twenty different way to eat a papaya by now! And if I don’t have to work on a Sunday then I love to go and buy the local produce. This was my first time trying rambutans and I absolutely adored them! We ate this salad with some whiting fillets, simply floured and lightly fried, oh so good.

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Recipe

Serves 2

ingredients

2 small green papayas, julienned on a mandolin or grated

1/2 spanish onion, very thinly sliced

5 rambutan (or lychee), peeled, de-seeded and quartered

1 cup, loosely packed, mint leaves

1/2 cup coconut chips (these are sweetened and roasted coconut chips. You can find them in gourmet food stores and some grocery stores)

Dressing

Thumb size pice of ginger, finely grated

1/2 tsp tamarind puree

1 long red chilli, finely chopped

1/2 tsp caster sugar

1/2 tsp fish sauce

1/4 tsp sesame oil

salt and pepper

Method

For the dressing, grind all the ingredients together in a mortar and pestle until well combined. Alternatively, use a small food processor or stick blender. Or, just very finely chop everything and mix well.

Toss all the salad ingredients together, except for the coconut.

Toast the coconut slightly in a hot frying pan (I know it’s already toasted, but this makes it so much better).

Toss the dressing through the salad, pile onto a serving platter and sprinkle with the still warm coconut.

Enjoy!

 

Tofu Satay with Lemongrass, Coconut and Tahini Sauce (Vegan, Gluten Free)

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I love food on sticks! Especially the beautiful smoky satay sold hot off the grill at the markets here on the weekend, the grill plates are thick with black build up from many years of cooking these delicious morsels, I’m sure it adds to the flavour. Here, they also serve them with Surabi; delectable little steamed rice cakes served with a sweet coconut sauce, I can’t wait to go and get more this weekend and I’d also like to find a recipe for them, though it is proving hard on the internet.

Satay is often associated with peanut sauce, but the word ‘satay’ is actually more in referral to the meat on a stick part. Turmeric is a main ingredient always used on the meat to give it the distinctive yellow colour. Then, depending on where you buy it and what kind of meat is used, governs the type of sauce that is served with it. Chilli sauces, soy based, and kecap manis are all used, while peanut is definitely the most common…AND DEFINITELY MY FAVOURITE. (haha, I didn’t even mean to write that in capitals but I’m going to leave it).

I wanted to create something just as moorish as this street side snack food but with my own healthy twist. The tofu soaks in the marinade beautifully, making it really dark and salty, while the coconut sauce adds a fresh and creamy element, with a tinge of nutty flavour from the tahini. You could replace the tofu with any meat you like, if that’s what you prefer. And serve it with any sides you like, we had some steamed asian greens and a bean sprout and herb salad. Serve rice as well for a more substantial feast.

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Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

375g pack firm tofu

1/2 cup dark soy (regular soy will also work, or replace it with tamari for gluten free)

Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and grated

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp turmeric

About 12 metal or bamboo skewers (if using bamboo, soak them in water for at least an hour)

peanut oil, to cook

Steamed asian greens, coriander, mint, thai basil, shallots, chilli, lime wedges and bean sprouts, to serve

Lemongrass, Coconut and Tahini Sauce

1/2 cup coconut cream

1 tsp red curry paste (or any curry paste you have on hand)

1/4 cup tahini paste

2 lemongrass stalks, white and pale green part finely chopped

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tbs lime juice

1/4 cup roasted cashews

1/4 tsp salt

pinch of pepper

Method

Slice the tofu in half horizontally and then cut into about 12 long, cube shaped pieces.

Combine the soy, ginger, garlic and turmeric in a dish large enough to accommodate all of the tofu in a single layer. Lay the tofu in the marinade, turning to coat, and leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight is fine.

Meanwhile, for the sauce, use a small food processor or stick blender to combine all of the ingredients, blending until smooth. Leave in the fridge for at least an hour for flavours to develop and sauce to thicken.

Carefully push a bamboo or metal skewer up the centre of each piece of tofu, ensuring it stays straight so that it doesn’t come out the side and cause the tofu to split.

Heat the peanut oil on a griddle pan, frying pan or barbecue plate to medium/high. Cook the tofu sticks, about 5 mins or so per side, until dark and slightly charred.

Serve with the sauce and choice of sides.

Enjoy!

Seafood Laksa (kind of)

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This is another favourite from the weekend markets here in Darwin, each stall has their own recipe; all equally delicious. I wouldn’t ever claim this to be anywhere near an authentic replica, I used a lot of what I had on hand, and also tried to use a little less oil compared to the traditional recipes. I love this dish for that reason though, so long as you have a few of the key elements, you will no doubt be able to produce a delicious meal.

Another awesome part about this dish is that half of the elements don’t even get added until the very end, so, by putting all of these ingredients out on the table, you not only make for a colourful and exciting table full of food, you also allow people to top their soups in whichever way they choose. This is a great way of catering for a mix of, meat eaters, seafood lovers/haters, and vegetarians. To the list of toppers I have included in this recipe, you could also add; shredded chicken, boiled egg, cucumber, carrot, cabbage…anything you think might be nice.

One more awesome thing…. it’s incredibly delicious as a cold dish the next day; if you manage to keep any leftovers that is!

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Laksa Paste

Ingredients

1 1/2 tbs dried shrimp, soaked in 1/2 cup boiling water for 10 mins

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp turmeric

2 long red chillies

2 birdseye chillies

3cm piece fresh ginger, peeled, diced

1 red onion, peeled, diced

2 stalks lemongrass, white and pale green part, diced

2 cloves garlic, peeled, diced

10 roasted cashews

2 tsp roasted shrimp paste

1 tsp peanut oil

Method

In a frying pan, over medium high heat, dry fry the spices for about 1-2mins, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and grind into powder.

Place the spices and the soaked shrimp, along with the soaking water, and all the remaining ingredients into a small food processor or a bowl deep enough to process with a stick blender. Process until a smooth paste forms.

Transfer to a jar and keep refrigerated. It will last about 1 -2 weeks.

Seafood Laksa

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 tbs peanut oil

12 large green prawns, peeled (reserved), de-viened, tails left on

1/2 cup laksa paste

6 cups fish/chicken/or vegetable stock

400ml coconut cream

250g firm tofu, cubed

250g green beans, trimmed and halved

1 tsp coconut sugar

1 tbs fish sauce

Juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper

500g firm white fish fillet, cut into 4cm cubes

200g vermicelli noodles

200g wide rice noodles

Bean sprouts, spring onion, chilli, coriander, mint, thai basil, fried shallots, roasted peanuts, lime wedges, to serve

Method

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Fry the reserved prawn shells for about 3 mins, until they turn red. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving as much oil in the saucepan as possible.

Add the laksa paste to the saucepan and cook, stirring, for 2-3 mins.

Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium, add the coconut cream and bring to the simmer. Add the tofu, beans, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and some salt and pepper and allow to simmer for 10-15mins.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan of boiling water, cook the rice noodles and vermicelli, cooking the thicker ones first for about 2 mins, then adding the vermicelli for about 1 min. Strain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

Add the fish and prawns to the laksa. Turn off the heat and allow to gently cook through for about 5-8mins.

Divide the noodles between the serving bowls. Top with the laksa, ensuring even distribution of ingredients.

Top with remaining ingredients as desired.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caramel Banana and Buckwheat Crunch Ice-Cream (Vegan, Raw, Gluten Free)

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I’m a sucker for crunchy bits in my ice-cream, I love the textural difference of the creaminess and then, once in a while, a nice crunchy sweet thing pops between your teeth, although I find you never get enough of these awesome bits in store bought ice-creams.

I’d had this paper bag of buckwheat kicking around the car since I was back on the east coast of Queensland, where I had come across a cute little health food store in the middle of a fishing town. I figured it was time I did something with it. Also, a freezer full of bananas, and five or so trees here with huge bunches growing very quickly, called for some banana ice-cream!

Out of all the vegan ice-cream recipes I have tried, this one is by far the richest, sweetest and most creamy, while being the most natural at the same time! When it comes to vegan sweets, sometimes I find that many of the recipes call for so many ingredients, sometimes ones that aren’t always easily accessible. That’s why I love how simple this ice-cream is. If you wanted, you could make it with nothing but the frozen banana and it would still be delicious!

The buckwheat crunch is so good, you can use it in many other ways, like on top of fruit salad, yoghurt, other desserts, or part of a granola or trail mix. Or just eat it on it’s own. You can buy ready made ‘buckinis’ from health food stores if you don’t want to bother with this part of the process. Although it’s easy, it does take a couple of days. If you don’t have a dehydrated, you can dehydrate it in the oven by putting it on it’s lowest setting and leaving the door ajar, it should take about 8 hours. Or, if you’re impatient, like me, and your not too worried about it being technically raw, then you can just bake it in the oven at 160 degrees celcius for about 20-30mins, or until crunchy.

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Buckwheat Crunch

Ingredients

1 cup raw buckwheat

1/2 cup maple syrup (or liquid sweetener of your choice, you can use honey if you you don’t need it to be vegan)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

Method

To activate the buckwheat, place it in a large jar or bowl, cover with water, make sure there is enough water for the buckwheat to absorb. Cover, and soak in the fridge overnight.

The next day, drain and rinse the buckwheat with a sieve, rinsing until the water runs clear. Return it to the jar or bowl and cover with water again. Soak in the fridge for another 8 hours or overnight again.

Drain and rinse the buckwheat, again unit water runs clear. Drain well. Place in a bowl with the maple syrup and spices and mix well.

Spread out onto dehydrator trays (or baking trays, see alternative methods above). Dehydrate at 40 degrees, overnight.

Store in an airtight container.

Caramel Banana and Buckwheat Crunch Ice-Cream

Ingredients

4-6 bananas, peeled and frozen (I used 6 as they were very small organic ones, but if you get the big ones from the supermarket just use 4 or 5)

1/2 cup pitted dates, firmly packed

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup buckwheat crunch

Extra buckwheat crunch and toasted coconut chips to serve

Method

Chop the frozen banana and place in a food processor along with the dates and vanilla. Process until smooth.

Transfer to a bowl and stir through the buckwheat crunch.

Freeze for 6-8 hours, or overnight.

To serve, top with extra buckwheat crunch and toasted coconut chips, or other toppings of your choice.

Enjoy!

 

Roasted Pumpkin, Pistachio and Ricotta Dip

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Dips, cheeses, marinated vegetables, chutneys, preserves, olives, salted meats, crackers, nuts, breads, fruits and tapenades….all of these things sound like heaven to me. Just put as many of these beautiful little treats as you can on a plate, pour some vino and you’re in for a good time. No need for dinner either, if you do it right!

This dip came about as a result of some roasted pumpkin, garlic and ricotta, leftover from making empanadas (to which I will post the recipe for in the next couple of days). We are really into eating well on a budget at the moment, which has resulted in some really creative and delicious meals. It’s so satisfying sitting down to a meal knowing that it cost us about $1 to make. I love getting home from work and looking through the garden, picking a few things that I want for dinner and seeing how others are coming along. The rains have finally settled in which means we should have a bumper crop of sweet potatoes coming on soon. I am so grateful to the beautiful people that have allowed us to look after their lovely house and friendly animals, it’s such a great experience.

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Ingredients

1 cup roasted butternut pumpkin

2 cloves garlic, roasted in their skins, squeezed out

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/4 tsp chilli flakes

1 tsp lemon juice

salt and pepper

handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

1/2 cup firm ricotta, crumbled

1/3 cup pistachios, shelled, roasted and finely chopped

Method

In a small processor, or with a hand held stick blender, process the pumpkin, garlic, cumin seeds, chilli flakes, lemon juice and the salt and pepper. Add a little olive oil if it’s too dry.

Stir through the parsley, ricotta, and pistachios. Check for seasoning and add more if necessary.

Serve with crackers, vegetable sticks or whatever you like!

 

 

Steamed Artichokes with Mustard Dipping Sauce

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I’ve  always wanted to try this beautiful looking dish but never have due to it seeming much too difficult and fiddly. Well, guess what! It’s so easy and way more delicious and exciting than I had anticipated! It’s a lovely way to get the party started as you will undoubtedly have to explain to your guests that these beautiful flower like vegetables are actually edible, and then how to go about it. It’s hard to explain, and doesn’t sound great when you do, but once you try it with your own mouth you will see why it’s been a popular way to eat artichoke for centuries. I have even seen it described as the lobster of the vegetable world.  The sweet and tangy mustard dipping sauce works perfectly with the creamy artichoke meat and made even better with a crisp, cold glass of white wine in the other hand. Perfect entertaining food as it’s entertaining in itself, delicious, and won’t fill up any tummys too much before anything else you may have in store.

So, to explain how to eat this funny looking vegetable. Once you have steamed it and allowed it to cool a little (see recipe), simply pull away a ‘leaf’ from the artichoke, dip the meaty end in the sauce and then place in your mouth while still holding the end of the ‘leaf’. Then use your teeth to gently scrape away the meat as you pull the ‘leaf’ back out of your mouth. Once you get to the middle of the artichoke you will see a sort of hairy section, this is inedible, discard it. Under this though is the artichoke heart, depending on the age of your artichoke, it may be firm and able to be lifted out and chopped into pieces to eat, or, if it’s an older artichoke, it will be soft and you will need a spoon to scoop it out. It’s delicious!

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Recipe

Serves 4 as a snack

Ingredients

2 artichokes

1/8 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/8 cup honey

2 tbs grain mustard

salt and pepper

Method

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, with a steam basket and lid on top.

Trim the stalk from the artichokes, as well as any dark and dry leaves around the base. Cut off the first 2cm from the top of the artichoke as well.

Once the water is boiling, place the artichokes in the steam basket and steam, lid on, for about 45mins to an hour, or until a ‘leaf’ is able to be easily pulled away.

Remove from the steamer and allow to cool. The artichokes can be eaten warm or at room temperature.

For the dipping sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine. Place in a small bowl to serve alongside the artichokes. Serve with a large empty bowl for the scraps. Enjoy!