This past weekend, I was at a potluck and had one of the most delicious eggplant dishes that I had ever tried. I immediately had to ask where the recipe was from and lucky for me, it was sitting in Jerusalem, one of my favourite cookbooks. I couldn’t believe that I had overlooked the recipe, but when I found it in my book later that night, I wasn’t too surprised. It was one of the few recipes in his book without an accompanying picture. I am so drawn in by Ottolenghi’s gorgeous photographs that I can’t help but skim over those that are unlucky enough not to have a stunning, colourful, full page photograph right next to it. Either way, I knew I wanted to make the recipe as soon as possible but to make it a full meal, I decided to make eggplant and mango salad rolls for a little twist on a classic.
As soon as I saw a recipe for homemade hummus posted on I Will Not Eat Oyster’s blog, I knew I had to give it a try. Hummus is one of my all time favourite dips (it’s main rival is guacamole). I knew if I was going to spend the extra time soaking the chickpeas, it was going to be the centrepiece to a very special dish. I wasn’t going to just snack on it with vegetables or sneak a thin layer into a sandwich (which I also did with leftovers), I was determined to make this hummus the star of the show. And it is. A thick layer of creamy, lemony hummus is the base for this entire dish but it’s the combination with everything else on the plate that makes it the ultimate hummus. If you are ever going to make hummus into a meal, this is how you do it. I have been making my way through the leftovers of this for a whole week and am not complaining.
A few months ago, a friend of mine came over to teach me how to cook a few Indian dishes, which we then shared with a bunch of our friends. I wrote about the Baingan Bharta that we made, back in September, but there was one more dish from the evening that I have been meaning to make again ever since. While we were cooking, I was making sure to take some notes so that I would remember the spice and flavour combinations. I wasn’t overly organized, so I scratched it down on a paper bag that I had lying around the kitchen. I have held off throwing out the paper bag for months for this chutney recipe. When she first described a cashew date tomato chutney, I had no idea what to expect. Little did I know that the sweet, slightly tangy, mildly spiced side dish would actually enhance all of the other ones. With every bite I took of the dal, the baingan bharta, the kofta, I added a bit of the chutney to the spoon and it enhanced every single one of the dishes. I don’t really know why it’s taken me so long to get my act together and re-make it but this was the week, and I was so happy that I could finally recreate it.
One of the weirdest things that happened when I started this blog was my struggle when I had to measure ingredients. I never, ever measured anything (other than for baking purposes) before I started this blog and it really threw me off. My process for making sauces and dressings was to throw things into a bowl, taste and adjust as I went. Basically, it was very difficult for me to guess what a shake of this or a squirt of that measured in terms of teaspoons and cups. One of the disasters that stands out in my mind was when I tried to make these charred brussel sprouts for the blog last year. I had been making versions of these brussel sprouts all winter and they were one of our favourite dishes. I felt like I had the process down perfectly: lightly steam, drain, char in the same pan and dress with a delicious sauce. But, when I tried to measure out what I normally just throw into my pan as my sauce, everything was off. It was disgusting. The biggest problem was that I used way too much of everything and the brussel sprouts were drowning in their glaze. I never attempted the blog-version (i.e. measuring) of these again, until now. We finally bought our first batch of brussel sprouts this year and I forgot how much I love them. I can’t believe we have gone so many months without these. Either way, they are back and this time, I measured with much more skill. Now you can make them too!