Red Onion and Pomegranate Salad (Indian #6)

I have no idea if this is actually Indian but if it isn’t, it probably should be. It worked brilliantly as side to that Lamb and Spinach Curry together with some naan and rice and, according to Lizzie, it’s also great at barbecues. It’s not hard to imagine the sharpness and sweetness of this salad matching some smoky grilled lamb perfectly.

Red Onion and Pomegranate Salad (recipe from Hollow Legs)

Ingredients (serves 4-6 as a side)

2 red onions
juice of 2 limes
1 pomegranate
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
A handful of coriander
Salt & pepper

Slice the onions as thinly as possible and set aside. Cut the pomegranate in quarters and squeeze the juice into a bowl. Add the lime juice and the onions and let them marinate for 30 minutes. This will take away the onion harshness and save you from a unsociably stinky breath.

While onions are marinating, toast the cumin seeds and break them up in a pestle and mortar, or wrap them in a tea towel and bash them with a rolling pin. Pick the seeds out of the pomegranate, drain the onions and mix everything together. Add the chopped coriander leaves and season to taste.

Serve alongside a curry or in some pita bread together with some grilled meat.

Previously on Round the World in 100 Recipes:
King Prawn Puri 
Saffron Yoghurt with Fennel Seed Biscuits 
Aubergine in Yoghurt 
Heston’s Chicken Tikka Masala
Lamb and Spinach Curry
Next time on Round the World in 100 Recipes: I finally managed to make good naan bread! Now I just need to get some acceptable pictures of it…

Salt and Snow in Austria

I’m writing this now from the safety of my home and my head is not sunburnt anymore, my legs are not in a stupid amount of pain from skiing and my tastebuds have almost recovered from the salt overdose. The weather was beautiful, the snow was fine (although melting quickly) and the food was filling and intense. That much became clear after the first lunch:

By the way, don’t ask me what any of the dishes are called. My friends told me loads of times but my German skills are non-existent and I’ve completely forgotten. My normal approach was to check what people around me were eating and then point at it until someone told me the name. It worked, I think.

Anyway, the heart-attack in a bowl above consisted of some pasta/gnocchi, loads of cheese, crispy onions and tasted quite good despite (or maybe because of) the fact that it was swimming in fat. My heart was racing and it wasn’t because of the skiing-induced adrenaline.

 

Well, here’s to hoping all the bad food is cancelled out by the fresh air, the amazing views and the physical exercise. Who knew that going down a hill could be so tiring.

We stopped at a hut, and I saw someone eating this giant ball of goodness and I wanted one. I was warned by Phil that it is weird but I wanted to give it a go anyway. Well, it was weird. It’s like a giant steam sponge, which is great, and it’s surrounded by vanilla custard which is even better. But then, rather than throwing some chocolate on the top and in the middle, someone decided it would be a good idea to fill it with some fruity jam with Stroh and sprinkle it with enough ground poppy seeds to get you arrested in most countries. It promised so much but it ended up being plain odd.

And this must be the highlight of our culinary experience, although possibly not in a good way. Cheesy sausage. A sausage oozing with cheese at every touch of the knife. Make your own jokes.

I realised today that I had to add salt to my food twice to be able to taste it. Austria, you have destroyed me. There goes my career as a food critic. But it was a sacrifice worth making since this was a great week with beautiful weather, enough skiing and loads of food and drink. A refreshing Almdudler in the sun is a beautiful thing and it is in that and many other respects that the Austrian Alps are so much better that the French ones.

Stuffed onions (Greek #2)

You know how I said that the next dish would be summery and vegetarian? Well, this one is neither. Maybe a little bit summery but definitely not vegetarian. Not even suitable for those fake-veggies that eat fish but not meat. See, I was going to make something summery and vegetarian, but when I told Alex what I had in mind he said that I would be cheating if I made it. Apparently I promised to make things I’ve never made before. What was I thinking?!

Anyway, a promise is a promise. Get ready for some stinky food, since dinner tonight is Stuffed Onions. I am not sure which area exactly they come from, since they are so many different versions of them around the internet. Most of them say they come from the Dodecanese, so pick your favourite island. They recipe I chose is the one from Elias Mamalakis’s website. It’s in Greek, so I’ll re-write it here in English. I’ve made a couple of changes too.

Stuffed Onions

Ingredients (serves 4-5)

6 large onions
2 aubergines
500 gr beef mince
1 1/2 cups of rice
1 glass of white wine
2 tomatoes
300 gr creamed tomatoes (or tomato puree diluted with water)
fresh parsley
olive oil
salt, pepper

To prepare the onions: Slice off the ends and peel them. You want to cut a larger bit from the top (the side where green things start growing out of if you leave them for too long). Boil them whole in salted water for about 20 mins, or until soft. Take them out, let them cool down so that you can handle them and pull out a couple of layers from each one. Put them on a tray and chop up the insides.

For the aubergines: You can either chop them up whole or, if you want to stuff them too, remove the flesh and set them on the side together with the onions.

For the filling: In a large pan, fry the chopped onions and aubergines with some olive oil. When they are soft, add the mince and fry until brown. Then add the rice and the wine and boil until the alcohol evaporates. Next, stir in the tomato puree and some water, let it boil once more and remove from the heat. Mix in the chopped parsley.

When the filling has cooled down a little bit, fill the onions (and the aubergines, if you have some) with a teaspoon. You will probably have too much filling, which is good. Put the rest around the onions, it will get really nice and sticky after it cooks. Cut the tomatoes in wedges and arrange them around the stuffed onions.

Drizzle with olive oil and some more water, cover with foil and let it cook in a preheated oven for at least an hour at 170 degrees. Uncover and let it brown for a further 15 mins.

Serve with bread and some feta cheese if you like.

I claimed at the beginning of this post that I am making something I’ve never made before, but it’s not strictly true. I have never stuffed onions, and they were nice, although a bit annoying to peel when hot. But I’ve made the filling many times before. You can use it to stuff all kinds of vegetables like aubergines, courgettes, peppers or tomatoes. Just remove the flesh and use it in the filling (well, apart from the peppers!).

This dish is best served after it has cooled down to room temperature. If you can wait!

Previously on Round the World in 100 Recipes:
Spetsofai

Next time on Round the World in 100 Recipes: A treat from Crete!

Jamie’s English Onion Soup

OK, I have to confess: Onion Soup sounds like such a great idea but I have never actually had a good one. I’ve had it a few times in our college hall, but there it basically consists of a few bits of onion swimming in some Bisto. To be honest, I enjoyed it at the time, being thankful that it wasn’t their tomato soup: Passata diluted in some hot water with a bit of pepper. Just awful.

It just seems that whenever I go to restaurants that do onion soup there’s always something more exciting to order. For example, Brasserie Gerard apparently does a good one. But they also have a scallop starter. And a baked camembert. And some deep fried whitebait. I just can’t bring myself to order the soup.

Yesterday though, it felt very wintery and, having seen Jamie Oliver making this soup on his show recently, I decided to give it a go. This is the recipe from Jamie’s website and I only made a couple of changes, mainly through necessity.

English Onion Soup (from Jamie Oliver)

Ingredients:

a knob of butter
olive oil
1kg onions (a combination of red and white)
a handful of shallots
2 leeks
1/2 bulb of garlic
2 litres of chicken, beef or vegetable stock
sage
salt and pepper
200gr cheddar
Worcestershire sauce
slices of stale bread

Making it is pretty straightforward. Chop the onions, leeks and shallots. Try not to cry too much. You will probably fail so just go ahead and listen to this and relate:

Next step is to fry the chopped garlic with some sage leaves in the butter and the olive oil and add all the chopped onions, leeks and shallots.

Turn it right down and leave it to cook for about an hour, covered for the first half. They will be very soft at the end of this, and if you want to add some more colour you can just turn the heat up a bit but be careful to stir often so they don’t burn. Add the stock, bring to boil and let it simmer for 15 mins.

Now the fun bit! Toast some bread and put a portion of soup in a bowl. Cover with bits of toasted bread on top until you have a bread lid. Top with grated cheddar and some Worcestershire sauce and pop under the grill until your cheese has melted. Enjoy. Just don’t go on a date afterwards unless it is with someone you’re trying to get rid off. But still, surely there are better ways of doing that.

What I did differently was that I didn’t add the sage because I didn’t have any. I think my onions needed some more caramelising but I had already added the stock when I realised so I had two choices: Add some browning or end up with a pale soup. In the end, I didn’t do either as I spotted a bottle with a bit of “quality” (as in Sainsbury’s Basics, hopefully Jamie will approve) red wine. I actually think it improved the taste and I will definitely use some again next time I make this, but probably before adding the stock.

I was also contemplating swapping the cheddar for some nutty gruyere but then decided to stick to the title and keep it English. I picked a mature cheddar and I have to say it was very tasty, especially with the Worcestershire sauce. I don’t really know what else makes this an English soup rather than a French one and I do hope I haven’t made any francophiles angry! Jamie just made it look too good to resist!