17 April 2011

The highs and lows now that we're cooking with gas

Having lived in the new house for a couple of months, we are still getting used to cooking with gas. For the most part, I love it. For instance, I've always wanted to make my own baba ghanouj but I like it really smokey and have had neither a bbq nor a gas stove . . . but that has now all changed. So the other day, I picked up some beautiful aubergines, eggplants, berenjena - whatever you may call them - and set to.

The most important part of the whole operation, according to Nigel Slater and I'm middle eastern cooks the world over, is charring the skins of the fruit so you get that awesome smokey taste. So basically I took the two eggplants that I had and put them right on the burner of the gas stove and charred the heck out of them until the skin was burnt and the flesh was all soft. And oh how fabulous the kitchen smelled.

Next step - put the piping hot fruits into a colander resting on a bowl. Once they've cooled a bit, peel the charred skin off and discard. During the process, your eggplants will be leeching some water, but you want to get rid of most of it because it's kind of bitter and who needs that! So you can either just sort of mush the flesh with a fork until you've got rid of most of the liquid or sort of chop it up a bit and then mush it. Either way, get as much liquid out as you can and discard it.

You now have a nice load of mushy eggplant. Add to this:
  • 3-4 tbsp tahina
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped as fine as you can
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of one small or 1/2 of one large lemon
  • salt and pepper

Most of the recipes I read for this say you don't need to use a blender but depending on the quality of your eggplant, you may want to. I think mine may have either been a bit old or had some bruising because I got a couple of nasty hard bits that couldn't be mushed with just a fork. And getting little hard bits in your creamy dip is not pleasant, so if you need to, waz it up with the blender if you want to. Finish it off with a sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley.

I served it with some chicken grilled on the bbq after a bit of a greek marinade (lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and oregano) as well as a green salad and rice.

So you'll see in the photo above some fluffy white rice and that brings me to one of the lows of cooking with gas. Now, you see, I have been cooking rice perfectly for many, many years. I took the knowledge passed down to me from my mother and others and then made it work for me (1 cup basmati rice, 2 cups water, pinch of salt and a drop of oil/2 tsps of tomato paste if you want. Bring water to boil. Add rice and bring back to boil. Turn down to low, cover, and cook for 17 minutes). My rice came out perfect every time. Every time. My rice mojo, however, is now lost. I've made mushy rice, I've made some absolutely charred rice, and I've made some passable but mediocre rice. I have not made perfect rice with this gas stove. So there is much to learn. For now, I'm tending more toward the potato!

1 comment:

Sally said...

I've never had good luck cooking rice on a gas stove. I either boil and put in a 250 oven for an hour or I use a rice cooker.


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