09 March 2009

Quickie Ramblings from Ask Dino

A couple of friends contact me via email, to ask me various things. In those cases, I'll hop onto a chat program, and we'll talk in real-time, and get the questions answered. Here are the results of some of those conversations. My friend Sz recorded it, and made it coherent. Sometimes, I type quickly, so I don't always make sense.

To do coconut cream
Get a tin of coconut milk. Store it in the fridge, right-side-up for 3 days. Then open the bottom of the tin very carefully. Then drain out the coconut whey. And then, shoomph. Wad of fresh, thick RICH coconut cream. It's about as thick as butter. My mother told me to use it in place of butter, when it's needed for spreading on bread or over noodles or whatever, and it's quite delicious.

The best way to toast nuts
EXACTLY 10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. And make sure the oven is perfectly preheated. This is the same for sunflower seeds to, for the record. Also, feel free to rotate the pan at 5 minute mark.

Pesto Spinach
Start with some olive oil in a skillet, put the WHOLE washed spinach into said skillet, liberally sprinkle with minced garlic. Sauté till most of the water is evaporated. Wait for it to cool to room temp. In the bowl of a food processor, add some chives, basil (STEMS INCLUDED), oregano and walnuts. If you don't like walnuts, cashews or pine nuts will do just fine.

(If you use almonds, blanch them in the microwave to remove the skins) Then pitch in the spinach. Then a few cloves of raw garlic. THEN just grind it down. It'll become a smooth fine paste. And you wouldn't have spent a forutne on all that basil, because the spinach extends it. And you wouldn't be wasting the stems. Then the next time you make it, cut back on the herbs. Continue to cut back until it's mostly just spinach.

It's woooooooooooonderful over steamed basmati rice or over pasta or mixed with bulgur and tomato and radish and cucumber or quinoa with black beans and grated carrots and a dash of olive oil to finish it.

Kale
Kale is really easy, when you have coconut milk. All you have to do is chop it up roughly (and chop up the stems finely).
Then rub everything with a bit of oil and curry powder. Then throw it in a large casserole dish. Then dump in a tin of coconut milk, and 1 tin of water (wash out the coconut milk tin, that is). Bake at 350, covered, for about 25 minutes or so, till it's tender. When it's tender through, top with minced garlic, chopped onion, and let it sit under the broiler till the onions are brown. So. Freaking. Good.

You can't just dump everything in. You have to sort of /rub/ the seasonings and salt into the leaves. Because you know how the edges of the leaves are crinkly and tickle your throat? Rubbing it HARD makes that stop doing that. You have to be very rough with the kale.

When you're doing beans, try this next time:
As they simmer, prep your veg.
Celery, onion, carrots, tomato, ginger, garlic, bla bla bla

Then about 30 minutes before the beans are done cooking, do a quick sautee of the celery, onions, and carrots. Add in a good heaping tablespoon of any of your favourite spice or herb blend. Herbs de Provence works well for me, but regular ol' mrs dash will do, right?

Then add another heaping tablespoon or two of chili powder (not the ground chiles, the one with the garlic powder and cumin and all that junk). Add in a bay leaf or two, and let the whole thing sautee for another 5 minutes, or till the veg are softened and browned well.

THEN add the garlic, onions, and tomato. You want to wait till the end on the garlic because then you get MORE garlic flavour.
It'll be much stronger, and you use up less. Ditto with ginger. (and it needs to be fresh ginger, plz)

So anycow. When the tomatoes have cooked down, add in a good slurp of vodka or red wine or whatever.

Once that's thoroughly cooked out, your beans should be done cooking. Then add that crap to the cooked beans.
If you're in the mood for it, feel free to pitch in some tinned or frozen corn too. And all will be well.
Let it boil for about five minutes to let the flavours mingle. Your house will most assuredly be smelling quite delicious.