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.
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!
I’ve been feeling in a bit of a recipe slump these days. Even though our trip to Hawaii inspired me in a couple of very tasty ways, the dishes were not in the main meal department. Instead, since we’ve been back, I’ve been turning to my favourite tried and true recipes instead of trying new things. All of this is totally normal and fine, except when you are trying to run a food blog. Luckily, last week I had a meeting right next to a very large Asian supermarket and I decided to stop in for a couple of things that we can’t normally get our hands on. While perusing the produce aisle, I saw some fresh lime leaves, which I have never used before. Needless to say, they made me very excited and I knew my slump was over (for now).
Sometimes a recipe is so tightly tied to its meaty roots that making a vegetarian version seems like an unforgivable bastardization of the dish. For me, pho is one of those dishes. Vegetarian pho is something that I have thought about making ever since we went to Vietnam four years ago. Whenever I found a vegetarian version during our travels, I savoured that hearty bowl of soup like you wouldn’t imagine. Even in 40C heat and 100% humidity, the soup was worth it (is it ever too hot for soup?). However, I always suspected that my bowl of pho was nothing like the meaty broth that my travel partner was eating across from me.