Monthly Archives: September 2012

Coconut rice with sambal and okra

September 22, 2012

Coconut rice with sambal and okra

Page 230, Ottolenghi

 Ottolenghi’s Plentyhas made me rethink many vegetables that I either believed I disliked (eggplant) or was apathetic toward (fennel). His use of herbs and citrus and his innovative and totally simple cooking techniques have made me an eggplant lover and took fennel right into one of my lists of favorites. So I had VERY high hopes for what he could do for my intense hatred of okra.

Earlier this month, B, SG, and I were sitting around a fire, having a conversation about the foods that we hate, when we dreamed up the idea for each of us to make a dish using the most hated food of another of us. B hated black-eyed peas;  SG chose her nemesis, olives; and me? I chose okra. Slimy and muccous-like, I have never found a preparation that made me want to put that in my mouth.  A few nights later we sat down to a rather unorthodox meal of black-eyed pea fritters with homemade tomato sauce and fried sage (made by me), lamb chops with a goat cheese, olive and artichoke compound butter topped with fresh tomato/caper relish (made by B), and sweet-potato crusted fried okra with a bacon/plum compote (made by SG). Our dinner was a huge success for B, who liked all of the dishes, and confirmed an intense okra and olive dislikes for SG and myself.

Still, I was willing to try again. Fresh okra is beautiful and this morning at the Farmers Market, B and  I were seduced again by the bright green pods at a local grower’s stall.

I figured that if anyone (other than SG) could make me like okra, it was Ottolenghi. He has a recipe that barely cooks them, and then adds a glorious chili sambal sauce before serving them over a ginger and coconut rice. I used all of his tricks for keeping the slime at bay — they were barely cooked, and cooked whole with a generous dose of lemon juice (my addition) before being dryed off and then hot seared with the sambal. And? No way. I really do hate okra. Luckily the sambal, lime and cilantro on top of coconut rice was a perfectly delicious meal all by itself for me, while B got to enjoy all the okra she wanted (which was a significant amount, thankfully!)

1 and 1/4 lbs okra
1 big handful cilantro, chopped
2 limes, halved

For the sambal

5 fresh red chillies , deseeded
5 dried red chillies , deseeded
20 red baby shallots, peeled
1 clove garlic, peeled
½ tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp  sugar
1 tbsp thick tamarind water (seedless tamarind paste whisked with a little water and strained)

For the rice

1 and 2/3 cups basmati rice ( I used brown basmati)
½ tsp salt
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 and 1/2 cups water
6 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
6 thin slices ginger

Start with the sambal. Put the chillies, shallots, garlic and salt in a food processor, add two tablespoons each of oil and water, and process for a minute, until you have a fine paste (or do this with a pestle and mortar, in which case add the liquids after you have a paste). Put a wok or large, heavy frying pan on a high heat. Add the remaining oil and, when hot, add the paste and stir. Reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes, until it’s dark red and oily. Off the heat, stir in the sugar and tamarind water, and set aside.  (Alternately, I used store bough sambal — i am sure it was not as good as Ottolenghi’s fresh, but it made dinner a snap!)

Wash the rice in cold water, drain and put in a medium pan. Heat the rice a little, then add the salt, coconut milk, water, lime leaves and ginger. Stir, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to minimum. Cover, simmer for 12 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave covered for another 10 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, bring a medium pan of water to a boil. Add the okra and cook for two to three minutes only. Drain, refresh under cold water and leave to dry.

Gently reheat the sambal, then stir in the okra to warm it up (don’t cook it any longer). Fluff the rice with a fork, and spoon into bowls. Top with okra and sauce, and sprinkle over the cilantro. Put half a lime with each serving, for squeezing over.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Roasted parsnips and sweet potatoes with caper vinaigrette

August 15, 2012

Roasted parsnips and sweet potatoes with caper vinaigrette

Page 16, Ottolenghi


Our yearly pilgrimage to the Michigan woods provided us with opportunities for all kinds of Plenty, including amazing vegetarian food made with great love by both workers and festies, alike. One of my favorite memories of this year was actually our impromptu kitchen shift in the rain, making raita and salads while it poured outside. All of the meals are made in a tent and/or over the fire pits behind the main kitchen, and it is a magical thing to be a part of such loving food creation at such amazing scale. Yep, let’s feed thousands of women today, shall we?

The fire pits are a true labor of love – and strength/stamina!

Oh, the joy of salads (covered in nutritional yeast) at Day Stage is matched only by the unexpected appearance of blueberries at a meal other than breakfast – SCRORE!

Once we made it home, with an SG happily in tow, it had a strange feeling of fall. Luckily that only lasted a few days, with cool weather and the smell of woodsmoke reminding us of our Michigan adventures. One of the first meals that we made once home was a very fall-like pan of roasted vegetables that Ottolenghi pairs with the sweet summer burst of cherry tomatoes.  Add a kale salad from the garden, and this was the perfect Plenty to welcome us home to a month of Plenty!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Sweet corn polenta

July 8, 2012

Sweet corn polenta

Page 266, Ottolenghi


After a day full of summer fun at the park with our dear ones, I came home to make Ottolenghi’s ode to summer, sweet corn polenta with an eggplant and tomato sauce. From coffee and swinging and croquet in the morning to creating a perfect farmer’s market-ingredient meal, it was a quintessential summer day.

This polenta uses actual fresh corn, taken off the cob, to make a polenta that is totally unlike the dried cornmeal version that you have probably had. Trust me when I tell you that this one is the perfect summer version – light and creamy, fresh and just the right amount of sweet balanced with the tomato-y eggplant zing. Enjoy this one, friends!

6 corn ears cooked in 2 1/4 cups water
3 Tbsp butter
7 oz feta, crumbled
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the eggplant sauce

2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 medium eggplant diced
2 tsp tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup chopped peeled tomatoes (fresh or canned)
6 Tbsp water
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
1 tbsp chopped oregano, plus whole leaves to garnish

First make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large pan, then fry the eggplant on medium heat for 15 minutes, until nicely browned. Drain and discard as much oil as you can. Stir in the tomato paste, and cook for two minutes on medium heat. Add the wine and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, water, salt, sugar and oregano, and cook for five minutes, to get a deep flavoured sauce. Set aside.

To make the polenta, chop the very top and bottom off every corn ear. Stand the ear on its base, and use a sharp knife to shave off the kernels. Place the kernels in a medium-sized saucepan and pour in the water, to cover. Add half the butter and cook on a low simmer for 12 minutes. Lift out the kernels with a slotted spoon, and transfer to a food processor. Process for quite a few minutes, to break as much of the kernel case as possible. If the mixture is too dry to process, add a little of the cooking water.

Return the corn paste to the water pan and, over low heat and stirring all the while, cook again for about 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to the consistency of mashed potato. Now fold in the remaining butter, feta, salt and pepper, and cook for two minutes longer. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Divide the polenta into shallow bowls and spoon some warm sauce in the centre. Garnish the eggplant sauce with picked oregano leaves and serve hot.





Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized