Masterchef Australia is back and I love it just as much as ever. On the program, there is something called a mystery box challenge where the contestants are given a limited number of ingredients to work with and are judged on their creativity and the deliciousness of the dish. Right now, I feel like I am in a mystery box kitchen. We are moving from our apartment at the end of this month and I have been working hard to use up all of the ingredients that we have left in our kitchen. I’ve been doing pretty well so far, slowly making my way through all of the grains and cans of beans that I usually stock up on but as it dwindles, I am having to get creative. I realized that I had an abundance of sesame related things: tahini, white and black sesame seeds laying around and that was where these sesame squares came from. I probably would have never thought of them without the pressure of wanting to not let anything go to waste.
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.
I grew up hating baked carrots. The only kind I had ever eaten were super sweet, sickly, maple glazed carrots, baked until they were completely mushy. I can’t tell you how much I disliked those. Because of that, for a long time, any time anyone mentioned baked or roasted carrots I immediately explained that they were one of the few things that I didn’t like. Somehow though, I have been introduced to the real glory of roasted spiced carrots. Most of the time, they snuck onto my plate as a side dish at a restaurant (and I am more opposed to leaving food on my plate than eating some less than tasty vegetables). It’s also funny how much your tastes can change as you get older. Sometimes the version you had as a child is not a very good representation of what the dish could be and sometimes your taste buds just evolve (olives!). Either way, I try to remind myself to stay open to things that I think I hate, just in case something changes. The other night, I was reminded of the change in my opinion of roasted carrots when I went out to a spanish tapas restaurant and I had delicious roasted spiced carrots: perfectly spiced, ‘al dente’ and slathered in a flavourful sauce.
My imagination when it comes to cookies is fairly limited. I am usually seduced by a good, gooey chocolate chip cookie or ones stuffed full of nuts and dried fruit, and while there will always be a place in my head, heart and stomach for cookies like that, I get excited when I see something I have never thought of before, especially when it comes from a source as deliciously reliable as Yotam Ottolenghi. I have to say, Jerusalem is still my favourite cookbook that I have. My collection is not vast but I always go to it for some inspiration when I am in a rut. I have cooked tons of his savoury dishes, some of which I have shared here (often with very few adaptations). But I got sucked in to his wonderful dessert chapter and these cookies really stood out to me for a bunch of reasons.