Eating with the Seasons: SEPTEMBER – The Round-up

Finally, here is the round-up for Eating with the Seasons: SEPTEMBER. I’m very sorry to have kept you waiting, and didn’t showcase this month’s bounty until know. For it is a bountiful month, capturing the last of the summer’s glory, and hinting at the colder months to come – the best of both worlds, really. This is what this month’s entries show, too. Read on! I just love this month’s round-up!

 

 

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

 

 

Fruit

 

Blueberries  

 

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Blueberry pancakes ~ Mansi from Fun & Food Cafe (California, USA)

‘Whole-grain Blueberry Pancakes served with sizzling butter and some maple syrup – wouldn’t that be an ideal breakfast every morning?’ asks Mansi. ‘YES’, I say. Why don’t you marry me, Mansi, and make me blueberry pancakes for breakfast every day when the blueberries are in season? Hell, I’m already married and heterosexual, but I’m sure we can work around it!

 

Plums

 

plum ras

Plum Rasam ~ Mandira from Ahaar (USA)

One of the best things about September are plums! Mandira uses them in rasam, intriguingly.  She says that with fresh plums and masoor dal (red lentils), the rasam had a delicious earthiness to it. One thing to keep in mind is that the proportion of dal and plums has to be equal, warns Mandira.

 

Homemade Plum Jam ~ Divya at Dil Se (LA, California, USA)

Divya is thrilled to find out that making jam is not that difficult at all, as she makes this gorgeously-hued jam from seasonal plums.

 

 

 

Vegetables

 

Aubergines

 

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Jiffy eggplant ~ Geeta of Payt Pooja (USA)

To say I’m a fan of aubergine would be a serious understatement. To say I’m a fan of Indian cuisine would be an even bigger understatement, so to say the least: I LOVED this dish! Aubergines (you get me interested, very interested at this point, Geeta), fried with onion, ginger and garlic, and seasoned with mustard seeds, chilies, curry leaves and coriander. I just hope I can get some aubergines at the market tomorrow!

 

Aubergine parmigiana ~ Maninas from Maninas: Food Matters (UK)

I told you I loved aubergines before, I believe (see entry above). :) For me, this dish is ‘the best of aubergines’, and that’s how I called it in the post. With its layers of soft, smoky aubergine that melts in the mouth, slices of mozzarella and tomato sauce, parmigiana is an absolute star dish!

 

Butternut Squash

 

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Butternut Squash and Roasted Red Pepper Soup ~ Sylvie from A Pot of Tea and a Biscuit (Manchester, UK)

Sylvie’s stunning recipe is one of those that bridges the two seasons, summer and autumn. This lovely soup is seasoned with garlic, ginger and red chili. Check out her gorgeous seasonal banner, too!

 

Cucumbers

 

Cucumber Milkshake ~ Priya at Priya’s Easy N Tasty Recipes (France)

Priya contributes an original recipe featuring cucumber in a milkshake, with vanilla and sugar. 

 

Hot Peppers

 

 

Pizza with Pizzaz: Jalapeno Pesto Pizza ~ Ricki from Diet, Dessert and Dogs (Toronto, Canada)

Ricki’s pizza is ‘a perfect combination of smooth, spice, and protein-rich seeds and beans’, using her own first time home-grown tomatoes and mysterious hot peppers. She bought them for jalapenos, but is not quite sure that this is what she got.  Ricki says this pizza was ‘enormously successful and beyond delicious.  ‘ And if you’re wondering how it all worked out with all those hot peppers, Ricky declares it left ‘a pleasant, buzzing tingle on the tongue without chafing.  ‘

 

 

Tomatoes

 

Cannellini Bean and Grape Tomato Salad with Lemon Dressing and Rosemary-Garlic Infused Olive Oil ~ Lisa from Lisa’s Kitchen (London, Ontario, Canada)

I adore this gorgeous dressing that Lisa makes, and the idea of using it with beans and tomatoes. I’d also love to try this with roasted butternut squash instead of tomatoes.

 

Fresh tomato soup with basil ~ Scrumptious from In My Box (California, USA)

This stunning soup requires minimal effort. They roast (tomatoes), you puree. They soup, you happy! But then you do a really clever thing, and add more fresh, diced tomatoes to it, that have previously been marinated in garlic, basil and slat! How genius is that?! I really love this idea!

 

 

heirloom tomato gazpacho garnished

Lazy Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho ~ Nate at House of Annie (San Jose, California, USA)

I love the pretty and colourful heirloom tomatoes on Nate’s gorgeous blog, as well as his idea for a lazy gazpacho! He just purees the ingredients together and chills the soup. Easy-peasy tomato-squeezy!

 

 

Mixed vegetables

 

Fried Rice ~ G.pavani from Food Lovers (Chennai, India)

G.pavani joins us for the first time with her creative and seasonal twist on fried rice. I’m rather intrigued by her combination of soy sauce and cumin seeds in the seasoning. Sounds like a really good idea!

 

 

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

 

 

Fruit

 

Murcott Mandarin

 

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Murcott mandarin & coconut milk cheesecake ~ Cathy at Aficionado (Sydney, Australia)

I made up the name for this lovely dessert, as Cathy didn’t give it. Forgive me, Cathy, as it doesn’t really give it justice. It is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! It comprises of Crushed cookie cheesecake, murcot mandarin curd, candied ginger and Mystery Coconut Cake. I am very very impressed. Lost for words, actually.

 

 

Vegetables

 

Asparagus

 

Asparagus Frittata ~ Lili from Pikelet and Pie (Sydney, Australia)

Lili makes a lovely asparagus frittata to celebrate the beginning of spring in Australia. She says: “Let the ingredients speak for themselves. Cook quickly and lightly. That is what spring vegetables are all about. After the dreary depths of winter, these fresh new shoots and tender and wonderfully flavourful that they require little seasoning.”

 

 

 

Cooking a hated vegetable dangerously

 

Image: Wikipedia Commons

 

Cooking a hated vegetable dangerously. This is what the Significant Someone would say if he saw me now. But my policy is: the one who is not here doesn’t get a say in what’s for dinner. So I do it my way. Or rather Madhur’s way. Dangerously cooking a plum purple aubergine on an open gas fire! Praying I don’t burn the house down (I suddenly remember that I was born a Catholic). Making baigan bharta, the Punjabi dish of aubergines, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, onions and chilies. Flavoured with a generous sprinkle of coriander. Yum!

Apart from the danger element, simplicity is the name of the game. Simple spicing and flavour, but utterly delectable results. This is my second try at it. I’ve got to admit that I didn’t have the nerve to cook it properly the first time around. Yes, I copped out, and baked it in the oven on high heat. And that was fine, but it didn’t have that characteristic charred taste. Still very nice, if you don’t have a gas hob.

And the danger? It really is not half as bad as it sounds. The first time I cooked this, I watched it like a hawk, but after I realised I wasn’t going to burn my home down, I relaxed. Still, be watchful and careful if you cook it on the gas hob.

This is my entry for my event Eating with the Seasons – July. Aubergines are in season in Britain at the moment. Enjoy them!

Beautiful flower, isn’t it.

Image: Aubergine flower (Wikipedia Commons)

 

Baigan BhartaIndian Aubergine Pate

SOURCE: Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Flavours of India’, my wording

PREPARATION TIME: 5 min

COOKING TIME: about 20 – 30 min

CUISINE: Indian (Punjabi)

SERVES: 3 – 4 as a side dish

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 aubergine

1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 medium onion

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 cm peeled and finely grated fresh ginger

3 green chilies

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I tend to leave it out)

1/2 can plum tomatoes

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

3 – 4 tbsp finely chopped coriander

 

METHOD: 

1. Wash your aubergine and wipe it clean. Remove the stem, and prick it with a knife a few times. Now this step is vital. If you fail to do this, you may have a hot and dangerous aubergine bomb exploding all over your kitchen!

2. Place the aubergine on top of a burning gas flame, and cook moving around until charred. Or simply bake it in the oven until soft to touch. Leave to cool, and then peel.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in the pan until it starts sizzling when you dip a wooden spoon into it. Then throw in the cumin seeds. Let them sizzle for a few seconds, and when they’ve released their lovely warm aroma, add the onions.

4. When they turn golden, add the garlic, ginger and green chilies. Fry for two minutes until the ginger and garlic mellow a little.

5. Add the tomatoes and cayenne if using it, and season with salt. Cook the tarka (the tomato and onion mixture here) until it becomes shiny dark orange and the oil starts oozing out.

6. Now add the chopped aubergine and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables come together. You can do this for a bit longer if you wish.

7. Add the fresh coriander, stir and remove from heat.

I sometimes add a touch of garam masala at the end.

Serve it with any Indian meal, or even as a dip at parties, or a delicious spread on crusty bread.

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Verdict

This is a lovely way of cooking aubergine. Fragrant, and rather fresh tasting. Mildly spiced, so that the flavour of vegetables really come into their own.

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Other aubergine recipes at Maninas:

Ajvar – aubergine and red pepper relish  V

This lovely relish is probably the most popular condiment of the former Yugoslavia.

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RCI: Bengali Red Dal

Blogging event Regional Cuisines of India (RCI) was started by Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine, to celebrate the rich and diverse cuisines of India, and is hosted by a different blogger each month. I think this event is a fantastic idea, because not only does it encourage us to explore the many varieties of regional Indian food, but the round-ups also provide excellent resources of information and recipes! For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate a page to it that contains round-ups of past events, and RCIs that are yet to come, so that I can find it and refer to it easily!Photobucket

This month, we are exploring the cuisine of West Bengal, and our host is Sandeepa from Bong Mom’s Cookbook.

Food is very important to Bengalis. Traditional feasts are carefully structured rituals consisting of numerous dishes, carefully and laboriously prepared, with different structures and  tastes playing an important part of the meal. Such feasts are always finished off with a sweat, usually based on milk and cream, for which Bengal is famous all over India. Fish (both freshwater and sea fish) and rice are the main staples of this coastal region nurtured by the Ganges river, and a delicate mixture of sweet and spicy flavours is characteristic of Bengali dishes. Mustard oil is the preferred cooking medium, and mustard seeds and greens are also used. Mustard is indeed one of the 5 ingredients in Panch Phoron, a typically Bengali mix of equal amounts of 5 spices: fennel (saunf), nigella seeds (kalonji), black mustard seeds, cumin seeds (jeera) and fenugreek seeds (methi). Coconuts and ginger are also widely used in Bengali cooking, and a touch of garam masala is often added to the food to enhance its flavours. Other characteristic ingredients include red lentils (massoor dal), moong dal (moong lentils), poppy seed paste (posto), mustard paste and mangoes.

To find out more about Bengali cuisine, please check out this interesting and informative article, as well as the Wikipedia entry on Bengali cuisine, which describes the courses in a typical Bengali meal. For a wealth of mouth-watering Bengali recipes, do check out these two fantastic blogs: Quick Indian Cooking & Bong Mom’s Cookbook

1952WestBengal

West Bengal – Wikipedia Commons As my entry, I’ve chosen this gorgeous Bengali dal. I really wanted to make this recipe from Sangeeta’s blog, but then felt a little silly submitting her her own recipe, so I’ve chosen this one, which is similar, and yet different. This recipe features red lentils, or masoor dal, which seems to be a favourite Bengali dal, judging from the recipes I found featuring this pretty little lentil. Another important characteristics is the use of Panch Phoron. The recipe has three basic steps: the lentils are cooked with turmeric and green chili, and then seasoned with onion, tomato and ginger paste; this is then seasoned with dried chilies, panch phoron and garlic tadka. IMG_8532 

Bengali Red Dal

 

 

SOURCE: adapted from this recipe from Rumela’s web

PREPARATION TIME: 5 min

COOKING TIME: 30 – 40 min

CUISINE: Indian – Bengali

SERVES: 3 – 4Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup red lentils
3 1/2 cup water
3 green finger chilies (but see note)
1/2 tsp turmeric, or more to taste
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
4 tbsp ghee, butter or vegetable oil
1 cup minced
onions (1 medium to large onion)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
1 tsp panch phoron mix
4 dried small red chilies
3 cloves
garlic

1/2 tsp sugar (optional)

Method

1. Rinse lentils well, add water, chilies, turmeric and salt. Bring carefully to boil and cook over low to medium heat, partially covered, for 25 minutes. Cover and cook another 10 minutes. Adjust salt.

You will see the lentils go through various stages during cooking. They will first disintegrate and look like little pieces of peel. At this point, they will still taste slightly raw, and have a particular taste that I associate with raw pulses. After some time, they will disintegrate further into a velvety mush, with an addictive and comforting flavour. I find this irresistible!

2. While lentils are cooking, heat the oil or ghee in a pan. The oil is hot engouh when it starts sizzling when you insert the wooden spoon. Then add the onions and cook until they are golden brown, stirring constantly.

3. Add ginger and stir for 5 seconds. It will stick a little, but don’t worry. You’ll get it off when you add the tomatoes.  Add the tomatoes and continue cooking until the tomatoes decompose into a delicious and fragrant mush, and the oil or ghee starts oozing from the mixture.  Stir so that tomato mixture doesn’t stick. Turn heat to low if necessary.

4. Scrape out the tomato mixture into the lentils and stir it in. Stir in the sugar if using it. Let lentils sit while you make the spiced oil.

5. Do a quick rinse of the frying pan, without soap, and dry thoroughly, or use another smaller pan if you wish. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of ghee or oil and heat over medium high heat. I recommend using ghee at this stage, for superior flavour.

6. When it is hot, add panch phoron mix and heat until the mustard seeds begin to pop, which will take about 15 – 20 seconds. Mind the splattering! Then, add red chilies and fry for another 15 seconds, until they turn a little darker. Turn off heat and add the crushed garlic and let sizzle for about 30 seconds. Stir this mixture into the lentil/tomato mixture and cover the pan quickly to capture the aromas. Leave for a few minutes, and serve with rice. Adjust salt.

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Notes

We didn’t think it was hot enough. Next time, I’ll add either more green chilies, or more dried red chilies at the end. I’ll also try it with or without sugar.

At one point, I thought I used too much turmeric, but I actually liked it the way it was. Red lentils, turmeric and ginger are a fantastic combination!

 

Verdict

This dal was absolutely gorgeous! We simply loved it! The husband almost liked the pan clean! Yeap, we shall be making this again!

The flavours were fantastic, and came in different layers, corresponding to the three cooking stages (lentils, tomato mixture, tadka). As well as tasting great, it had this amazing orange hue that I really loved, and the house was perfumed by the beautiful aroma of panch phoron.

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Festive Food from Dalmatia: FRITULE

At Christmas time, upon entering my Dalmatian home, you will be greeted by a bowl of fragrant and sweet fritule. Shrug off the cold, and close the door behind you. Come in. We will exchange Christmas greetings, and have a chat over fritule, and perhaps a little brandy to warm you up. The next guest will be also greeted by fritule, and by our laughter.

 

For this year’s Festive Food Fair hosted by Anna of Morsels and Musings, I present you –  fritule, a traditional Dalmatian sweet that can be found on every Dalmatian table at Christmas! Fritule (pronounced ‘freetooleh‘) are aromatic bite-sized dough balls, flavoured with lemon zest, orange zest, grape brandy (loza in Croatian) and/or dark rum, and sprinkled with icing sugar. Everyone has a winning recipe of their own, and this one is my mum’s tried and tested version! We made these together this summer. These days, whenever I go home, I use this as an opportunity to learn a new Croatian dish or sweet from my mum, and rediscover the good old familiar dishes. :)

Fritule

 

 

SOURCE: My mum’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 5 – 10 min + the time the dough will take to rise

COOKING TIME: 20 – 30 min

CUISINE: Croatian – Dalmatian

SERVES: Loads!

Ingredients:

50 g of raisins, rinsed and soaked in warm water (this softens them)

1 kg of all purpose flour

3 eggs

3 tbsp sugar

2 sachets of vanilla sugar (or two tsp of vanilla essence)

1 1/2 cube of fresh yeast (40 g), or 3 sachets of dried yeast

1 dl vegetable oil for the dough + more for frying

zest of 1 – 2 lemons

zest of 1 – 2 oranges

2 tbsp dark rum (or loza, grape brandy, or why not both!)

warm water as necessary

METHOD:

1. Put the eggs, sugar, vanilla and vegetable oil in a bowl, and beat together with a wooden spoon for a little. Add lemon and orange zest, and raisins.

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2.  If you are using dried yeast, mix in the yeast in one part of the flour. Then, add this to the eggs.  OR If you are using fresh yeast, melt the yeast in 2 dl warm water. Then add the yeast to the egg mixture, and then the flour.

3. Mix with the wooden spoon. Continue mixing until the dough stops sticking to the wooden spoon.

IMG_7500  4. Leave the dough to stand, until it almost doubles in size. The mixture is going to be warm, but it mustn’t be too warm otherwise it will ruin the yeast (says mum). If your pot/bowl is cold, put it in another bowl/pot filled with warm water. IMG_7560

5.  Pour some oil in a pan – you need to have enough so that the fritule don’t touch the bottom of the pan when you add them to the oil. Heat the oil until fairly hot.

6. Dip a spoon in the oil. This will stop the dough from sticking to it. Then, take a bit of dough in your hand, squeeze it in your fist, and scoop off what comes out between the thumb and the index by using the spoon. IMG_7586

7. Put the dough ball into very hot oil. And repeat the process: dip the spoon into hot oil, then scoop the dough, then put the dough ball into hot oil. Fry until golden brown. IMG_7574 

8. Turn the dough balls over. Start taking them out when they get this (see below) nice light brown colour. IMG_7564 9. Take them out in batches and put on some tissue paper which will soak up some of the oil.

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10. Put the fritule in a pan and cover with a lid to keep them a little warm.

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11. Repeat the process until you use up all the dough. Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving. Fritule don’t need to live in the fridge, and can last for a few days.

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NOTES:

Surfing the net for some background info on fritule, I came across this interesting idea: add prunes instead of raisins, and slivovitza, plum brandy instead of loza/rum! Which gave me another idea: use apricots and loza, or any apricot brandy! :) Not traditional, but I’m sure it would be tasty! As you can see,the basic dough lends itself to creativity well. Excellent!

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My mum’s tomato sauce OR Mamin sug od pomidora

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Today, I’d like to share the recipe for my favourite tomato sauce with you – my mum’s tomato sauce. This sauce is THE tomato sauce for me – I adore it! Over the years I’ve learnt to like and prepare the more minimalist (onion, garlic, tomato, basil) versions, but this is the tomato sauce I grew up with. You will notice that it is very different from Italian versions. The onions are browned (rather than cooked until translucent), together with carrot, and pepper. Garlic is added together with tomatoes (rather than with onions), and parsley and leaf of celery are used instead of basil.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a very important herb in Croatian, especially in Dalmatian cooking. It’s practically ubiquitous! We use it in meat and vegetable sauces, sprinkle it (together with garlic) over grilled fish – everywhere really! I’m submitting this post to Kalyn for the Weekend Herb Blogging event!

I must admit that this post is long overdue. The sauce was made during the summer, as a part of our zimnica, or winter foods, when the tomatoes were at their best. I had some issues with my posting photos plus slow Internet connection so I’m posting it only now. Unfortunately, the tomato season is finished here… If you can find them, plum tomatoes make a really nice thick sauce.

The pot you see below has the capacity of 9 litres! We make 2 or three of those! We always make a huge batch and freeze it for the winter. We use it with pasta, with polenta (it works really well! it’s one of my mum’s favourite dishes), or to make tomato risotto (simply add rice, and cook it in the sauce. I like to top it with yogurt.) Also, this is the sauce we use to make Stuffed Peppers (punjene paprike). Please note that you may need to scale up or down the recipe for the sauce, depending on how many peppers you’re making (details in the stuffed peppers post).

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My mum’s tomato sauce OR Mamin sug od pomidora

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SOURCE: Mum’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 5 – 10 min

COOKING TIME: 30 – 40 min

CUISINE: Croatian

SERVES: 4 – 6

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INGREDIENTS

Vegetable or olive oil

2 – 3 onions, finely chopped

2 large carrots, grated

2 yellow or red peppers, chopped

1 kg tomatoes, chopped

1/2 bulb of garlic

Fresh Parsley, chopped

Fresh leaf of celery, chopped

Salt, pepper

Sugar

.

METHOD

1. Fry the onions, grated carrots and peppers until light to medium brown (but not burnt). Please don’t skip this step, it’s very important for the flavour of the dish.

2. Add tomatoes, garlic, leaf of celery and parsley.

3. Season to taste and add a little sugar. (I always add a little sugar when I’m cooking with tomatoes. This offsets the sourness of the tomatoes.)

4. Cook until the vegetables are soft, and colour of the sauce turns from bright red to a orange and red. Reduce the sauce to desired thickness.

5. Process the sauce so it becomes smooth. My mother uses a special kitchen gadget for this, but I’m not sure what the word is in English – perhaps tomato press or something like that. (Asked the hubby – he doesn’t know either) The gadget is used to process tomato sauce specifically. It looks like a type of grinder, you pour in the tomato sauce, turn the handle; out comes the smooth sauce, and in stays the tomato peel. That way there is no need to peel the tomatoes before cooking! Perfect!

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Suggestion:

Serve with pasta, with polenta, or make a risotto by adding some risotto rice to the sauce, and cooking it in the sauce. Don’t forget to stir often! :) I like this risotto with a bit of yogurt on top.

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