Monday, January 26, 2009

Click: Red: Rhubarb


Rhubarb is in season from April to September in the United States.  I bought some when it was in season last year and clicked these photos then.  I made cake with it on the day I got to know about my son's food allergies - It was indeed a depressing day and I almost ate the whole cake.  

I first tasted rhubarb when we lived in Belgium in a restaurant that served it with venison.  It went well with the gamy flavor of venison. I had no clue, what this vegetable was back then. I then came across it in desserts.  

The stalk of the rhubarb is firm, and while red on the outside, it's green inside.  Botanically, rhubarb is a vegetable but it is treated as a fruit, and is used mainly in pies and desserts. I love the tart taste of rhubarb.

To buy rhubarb, look for the firm, plump  and crisp stalks.  Beware - do not eat the leaves as they are poisonous - they contain oxalic acid. Rhubarb should be stored in fridge as it wilts easily.  It can't be stored for more then a few days after you buy it.  Use it in desserts to make cakes, pies, puddings, crumbles and jams.  

I will definitely buy Rhubarb when it appears in the supermarkets this year and will post a recipe here.  

For more information on rhubarb click here.

The above photo is going for Click, it is a monthly food photography event hosted by Jugalbandi.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pasta alla norma - Pasta norma style (with eggplant)

After Indian, the one cuisine that we make a lot at home is Italian. Both my husband and I like to try different Italian sauces and soups.  Jamie Oliver's - Jamie's Italy is one book that we make most of our pasta dishes from.  I almost always have all the ingredients for this pasta recipe in my fridge and pantry.  I love the use of eggplant in this dish as it soaks in the flavors from the tomato sauce. Also, the crumbled dried red chili gives a good kick.  

Serves 4

  • 2 large firm eggplant
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tb sp dried oregano
  • Optional 1 dried red chili, crumbled
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • a large bunch of fresh basil, stalks finely chopped, leaves reserved
  • 1 tsp good herb or white eine vinegar
  • 2x 400g tins of chopped plum tomatoes
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 455g/1 lb dried spaghetti
  • 150g/5 1/2oz salted ricotta, pecorino or parmesan cheese, grated.

Cut the eggplant to quarters lengthways.  Jamie says - to chuck away the seedy fluffy centers, but I use them. Then cut the eggplant across the length, into finger sized pieces. Get a large non stick pan hot, add a little oil.  Fry the eggplant in batches, adding a lttle extra oil if you need to. Give the eggplant a toss so the oil coats them, then sprinkle dried oregano. Using a pair of tongs, turn the pieces of eggplant until golden on all sides. Do the same with the second batch.  

Note: Since I used the insides of the eggplant, I just needed 1 eggplant for the pasta.

When the eggplants are cooked, add the first batch to the pan - at this point you can add the crumbled dried red chili( I use more then one, as I like it spicy). Turn the heat down and add a little oil, garlic, and basil stalks.  Stir so everything gets cooked, then add the vinegar and tins of tomatoes, which you can whiz up -if they are too chunky.  Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes, then taste and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Tear half the basil leaves, add to the sauce and toss around.

Get your spaghetti into a pan of salted boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions.  When al dente, drain in a colander, reserving a little of the cooking water, and put it back into the pan.  Add the Norma sauce and a little of the reserved cooking water and toss together back on heat. Taste the pasta and adjust seasoning, then divide between plates.  Any sauce left on the pan can be spooned over the top.  Sprinkle the remaining basil leaves and grated cheese, and drizzle with olive oil.  

Note: I used grated parmesan cheese.  

This is a really good recipe.