Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Spelt correctly-life´s a complete beach



Last year was the year of kale and I’m sure that kale will continue to maintain its popularity because people have found that they can do so much with it. The question is, what will be the next big thing? Don’t be surprised by a kale backlash if the once-designer vegetable is replaced on menus.Nothing, it seems, can stop the march of the kale revivalists. Kale ice lollies “Greensicles” in the form of the KaleliciousTM and Greena ColadaTM. are already waiting for the summer sun to come out and shine on on a nation of Green age children.But do these ankle biters know the difference between spelled and spelt? Because some experts are predicting an upward surge in ancient grains,so-called because they have been little altered since they were first cultivated.These are whole grains that are generally high in nutrients and safe for those with wheat and gluten allergies. You’ve probably had quinoa, but expect to be introduced to another oldie-but-goodie, spelt,(an ancient cousin of wheat). It is high in fibre, has a higher protein and vitamin content than wheat, and although not Gluten Free, spelt can be tolerated by some people with wheat sensitivity.Different varieties of Spelt seem to be the buzz words on everybody´s lips at the moment.So like the smart person who invented “Greensicles”I think I have found away to get these “green” children to eat their grains. As Julie Andrews said when you read you begin with ABC,when you sing you begin with Do Re Mi, so when you cook you begin with  re si pi, (not spelt correctly I know but you see where I am coming from). Correct spelling attempts to transcribe the sounds of language into alphabetic letters and correct cooking produces a plate composed of diverse ingredients. I was fascinated by a side to the main on a recent episode of Masterchef.The item in question was called “chilli sand”.I attempted to translate this and make what I thought was a fairly true rendition.I took it literally and using an organic spelt cous cous (This is a tad healthier version of the normal couscous, and I found the taste a little nuttier, wholesome and all in all nicer. ) I set about making a plate of food that would delight any child and make them eat everything on it.Since we are beside the sea here in the Algarve,my theme was summer holidays, surf and turf,buckets and spades and of course, central to my theme, the sand castle.I know you are thinking this is all very Heston Blumenthal,but that is completely coincidental I promise you.My “Life´s´a beach” plate is composed of Thai spiced salmon driftwood,a cucumber wasabi and lime jellyfish,a chilli sand castle, cauliflower rice sea urchin, and that old retro trick - crispy seaweed .Could this whet a difficult young eaters appetite and ensure they clean the plate?
Here´s how I composed the plate

Thai spiced salmon driftwood
makes 24 sticks in total
small bunch coriander
4 sticks lemongrass
! thumb sized piece ginger
4 small red chillis
1 kg salmon fillet
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons Nam pla( Thai fish sauce)
Corn meal for coating fingers 

Chop coriander,lemongrass,chillis and ginger in a processor.Add the rest of the ingredients and process again.Line a shallow freezable container with cling film and fill it with the processed mixture.Put in the freezer until firm but not frozen,(about 1 hour).
Shape into fingers and fry in very hot oil.


Cucumber wasabi and lime Jellyfish
3 cucumbers, deseeded and chopped 
6 gelatine leaves, soaked in warm water until softened, drained
1 lime, juice only
1 tsp ready-made wasabi paste

Blend 2 cucumbers and strain through a sieve.You will need 300ml(1/2 pint) so  juice from the third cucumber if required.
Heat 1/2 juice in a saucepan and whisk in the gelatine until completely dissolved.
Place the remaining juice in a bowl with the lime juice and wasabi.Mix well.Strain the cucumber and gelatine and pour into moulds.Chill overnight.
Chilli sand castle
100g spelt cous cous per sandcastle

I small onion finely grated
1 heaped teaspoon Ras al hanout
tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
small handful pistachios finely choppedsmall handful roasted peanuts finely chopped
small handful roasted salted almonds finely chopped 
Place the grated onion and ras al hanout in a dry saucepan and heat gently until the spices start to give off an aroma,add the chilli flakes.Stir in the cous cous and add the olive oil and lemon juice.Stir to mix well then add 80 ml of hot stock per 100g cous cous.Cover the pan with a lid and set aside.After a few minutes fluff up the cous cous with a fork and mix in the chopped nuts.When ready spoon into dariole moulds and turn out onto serving plates.
Cauliflower rice sea urchin
1 head cauliflower, cored, broken into florets
1/2 cup water (more or less depending on the size of your pan)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt 

● Grate or finely chop the cauliflower florets until they resemble rice grains. (The fastest way to do this is using the chopping blade or grater in a food processor, but it will result in a finer texture that’s a little more like couscous. Pulse to make sure it’s not over-processed.)
● Cook on full power in the microwave for 2 minutes in a lightly covered microwavable dish (reduce to 60 seconds if using one portion’s worth). Don’t add water: there’s already enough water in the cauliflower to stop it drying out.
● If you don’t have a microwave, steam the cauliflower pieces in a steamer (with fine holes, so the grains won’t fall through) or in a sieve set over a pan of simmering water (cover the
sieve tightly with foil to allow the cauliflower to steam) for 2 minutes. Or stir-fry in a hot pan – with a splash of water to prevent it from sticking – for 2-3 minutes, until softened


Crispy seaweed
125 g green cabbage pak choior spring greens
900 ml groundnut oil
1 tsp flor de sal
2 tsp sugar

Set the oven to 130°C/gas 3. Separate the stalks from the stem of the bok choi and then cut the green leaves from the white stalks. Wash the leaves in several changes of cold water, then drain them thoroughly and dry in a salad spinner.  
Roll the leaves up tightly, a few at a time, and finely shred them into strips 5mm wide.
Spread them out on a baking sheet and dry them out in the oven for 15 minutes (they should not be completely dry or they will burn when fried). Remove from the oven and leave to cool. This can be done the day before.
Heat a wok over a high heat, and then add the oil. When the oil is hot and slightly smoking deep-fry the greens in three or four batches. After about 30-40 seconds, when they turn crisp and green, remove them immediately from the wok and drain well on kitchen paper. Leave to cool.
Toss the crispy greens with the salt and sugar.Serve.
 

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