27 May 2008

Say cheese, read something else :)

To my mind (and taste too, for that matter), to be able to enjoy food also means to have food you absolutely love and...errr...love NOT. Through learning this I'm learning much about myself, I think.

Lately I learnt that:

1. I'm a girl who generally loves her cheese(es)! Only thinking of this I'm gleaming and feeling content!

2. I'm a girl who does not like certain sorts of cheese I thought I (would) love. With pure, sincere, ever-lasting love. But, alas, no. *sigh* It somehow even feels as if you fall out of love after the engagement. Sad, isn't it?

Oh My Dear Readers, don't arrive to any conclusions too soon. Please. Let me first tell you that I tried. I tried hard.

Pecorino Romano. I first saw 'him' (for more emphasis, I'll call it 'him' if you don't mind) a few years back in Holland. 'He' spent a few days in my kitchen. But nevertheless, I did not fall for 'him', although I sensed I would. Honestly.

Last weekend we met again. On weeks of Italy in Gum*, Moscow. So, I brought Pecorino Romano home. Put a thin sliver of the cheese between two pieces of rye country bread, which I also brushed with olive oil from one side, spread with ginger-apricot sauce and layered with ruccola salad leaves, and set the assembly onto the heavy skillet to cook for a few moments until the bread is golden-brown and the cheese is melted. In overall, the sandwich turned out to be fantastic. But I still did not like this cheese. Again. Oh. Something about it simply does not match my taste, although I'm partial to strong, pungent, flavor-forward, smelly sorts of cheese. Anyway, I want to believe I will get over it with time. (Don't I sound as though I'm in denial, by chance?). As they say, there is time to love and time to turn away.

But then again, I gingerly felt for something else (see below)

*****Ginger-Apricot Sauce/Spread*****
(yes, again the sauce. And sorry guys, no photo this time. *wink, wink, wink* Some things are simply not photogenic, no matter how delishious they taste.)

A handful of dried apricots (sour-sweet variety)

A 5-cm knob of fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 Tsp tabasco sauce

3 Tsp tamarind water - to make which, you should solve 1 Tsp tamarind paste in 100ml hot water (the original recipe, however, suggests you use 3 Tsp soy sauce, which, to my taste, would forward salty tones to the front in the sauce, and I think I wouldn't really appreciate it. So I swapped the latter for the tamarind that blended in the mixture mildly and kept the tastes in balance)

2 Tsp olive oil

1. Soak dried apricots in hot water for 10 mins.
2. Meanwhile, chop ginger finely.
3. After soaking, rinse the apricots. In a blender, process the apricots and ginger until the consistency of a puree.
4. Add the remainder of the ingredients and pulse until thouroughly mixed.

The combination of flavours gives me a distinct warming sensation. A spicy, slightly fiery tickling taste of fresh ginger mixed with dried apricots and tamarind - which add up their fruity tones to the composition - distinguishes or even extracts natural taste and texture of poultry or, say, lean meat; it might as well push forward salty cheese taste (while we are at it).

*Situated right at the Red Square, GUM is a shopping mall (grocery store inclusive) n.1 in Moscow. Feel like splurging? Come here!

14 May 2008

Good manners and my 'pet' sauce

It happened last Saturday when I lost grips to my good manners (it was at a family dinnertime and my parents were not very much impressed, really).

But My Dear Readers, I had a reason! I got so overwhelmed and excited that I simply couldn't help but licking my lips noisily, using my fingers stead of a fork or a spoon and 'ohh la'-ing after each bite I so joyously took. *Generally, I always abide by the etiquette rules. And yet, My Friends, there are occasions when it's simply not the case. Don't you think so?*

And I only hope I might be justified for such a wild mannerism of mine when I tell you this...

I made a Light Basil Dressing Cream.

Obviously, still not convinced, aren't you!? Oh..

Ok, then I'm gonna sound this out to you. It was the FIRST time ever I made a sauce that everybody at the table (7 people) was raving about when tasting and eating. Huh!

Moreover, it is the sauce I'll always make when fresh basil (its green variety) is in season. Yes, this is really very serious. Phew. If I can, I will even call it my pet sauce. Or saucie. Because only something as fresh and full of flavours could actually make a girl get a 'pet sauce' in her surroundings. Creamy and yet light and silky texture, strong but delicate basil flavour enriched with a citrus tang, refreshing taste of a perfect harmony between the sweet, salt and sour, and a long-lasting feeling of lightness, all this you are bound to experience - mannerly or otherwise. *smile*

*****Light Basil Cream*****

(recipe source: Gastronom magazine*, April 2008)

A big bunch of fresh green basil (only leaves)

250 g plain yoghurt

1 Tbs sugar

1 tsp sea salt

1 Tsp lemon juice

3 Tsp extra virgin olive oil


1. Put all the ingredients except for the olive oil in a food mill and blend until pureed.

2. Now set the blender over a low mode and start pouring the oil ever so gently into the pureed liquid.

3. Serve with grilled vegetables, cold potato or pasta salads or as a dip for vegetable sticks (although it is a bit runny for the latter) or whatever takes your fancy, for it is absolutely versatile. And for that matter, indubitably goooood!

4. This sauce tends to thicken when refrigerated, so make sure to bring it to room temperature before using.

*A russian counterpart of internationally renowned Bon Appetit and Gourmet.

P.S. Speaking of good manners...Even gorgeous birds of peace (pigeons) have those moments, too. *insert a smug face here*