Saturday, 23 February 2008

roast chicken w lemon & thyme

One of the set of tasks within my 2008 Food Resolutions was to recreate certain food memories and one which is certainly close to my heart was my mother’s roast chicken.

I suppose since my mother died when I was only a young adult I’d never gotten the chance to learn her recipes or even to learn how to cook properly myself.

I’m only glad that I listened carefully when she talked about food and cooking. What had seemed like mum’s general chatter back in those days, has led me to recipes which would otherwise have been lost.

Her roast chicken is just once such dish. She said she’d read a Stephanie Alexander recipe and had been inspired by the flavours. I remembered her using lemon, garlic and thyme and stuffing the lemons into the chicken cavity but I couldn’t remember much more. With the internet I could Google the particular recipe and add my mother’s additions and variations to come up with the roast chicken I had adored.

My little sister, Amy, had memories of this dish too. She remembers mum, during the latter stage of her illness, perched on a stool in the kitchen and shouting orders on how to prepare the dinner. She was only 17 and putting her hand into the raw chicken cavity was a disgusting memory Amy still can’t erase.

I cooked this recipe for my two sisters in a little remembrance dinner one Sunday. We each poked and prodded and checked whether the roast was done. When we took turns carving the meat I was so excited to see that my very first roast chicken came out pink and moist and perfect. I guess mum was guiding me through it too.

Lemon & Thyme Roast Chicken
My mother, Kay’s, recipe. Serves 4.

1 x 1.6kg chicken
2 lemons, cut into slices
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
Bunch of thyme
Freshly milled salt and pepper for seasoning
Small knob of butter
Olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 180’C.
2. Clean the chicken and pat dry with kitchen paper.
3. Rub a lemon half all over the chicken skin and within the cavity. Do the same with a piece of cut garlic.
4. Stuff the lemons, garlic, thyme and butter in the cavity and more lemons, thyme and garlic between the breast and the skin. The skin should be loose enough to get pieces underneath.
5. Pat salt and pepper over the skin then drizzle with olive oil
6. Put chicken on a roasting rack in a large baking dish. Elevating the chicken means hot air with move underneath it and help even the cooking time.
7. Roast in the oven for 1 hour (fan forced) or 1.5hrs for a regular oven.
8. Chicken is ready when pierced with a skewer and juices run clear or when the drumstick is easily loosened when jiggled.
9. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
*The trick is to cook the chicken at 180’C for 20-30 minutes for every 500g of chicken (depending on your oven strength).
*If you want to turn the juices into gravy, remove chicken from baking dish and pour juices into a saucepan, removing the fat. Deglaze with white wine and scrap pan to clean and integrate flavours cooked onto the pan.
*You can also add vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots, to the roasting pan and bake together with the chicken.

The name thyme covers a genus (Thymus) of around 350 herbaceous plants and shrubs, native to Europe, North Africa and Asia. The stems are narrow and woody while the leaves are dense and evergreen in most versions.

Thyme has been used for millennia for a variety of different purposes: Ancient Egyptians used it for embalming; Ancient Greeks scented theirs baths and candles with it; Romans used it to flavour cheese and alcohol; and in Medieval Europe it was used to aid sleep and prevent nightmares.

It has been believed to bring courage since the times of Ancient Greece and during the Middle Ages in Europe knights and warriors would receive sprigs as gifts.

It’s essential oil contains 20-55% thymol, which is an antiseptic and apparently the active ingredient in Listerine mouthwash. Previously thymol was used to disinfect bandages; kill foot fungus; treat coughs, bronchitis and throat inflammation; and aid childbirth. Gargling water that has been boiled with thyme can be a useful mouth and throat antiseptic.

Unlike other herbs, thyme retains much of its flavour after being dried and is used widely in the cuisines of Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Lebanon and the Caribbean. It pairs well with game meat, lamb, chicken, eggs, tomatoes and cream. Thyme is also a feature of famous spice blends such as bouquet garni, herbes de Provence and za'atar.

This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, of which last week’s recipe also featured thyme. It’s a herb I’ve only recently started to appreciate, so you’ll be seeing quite a few thyme recipes over the coming weeks.

Check out Lia's WHB round-up at Swirling Notions to see what everyone else has been cooking.

References & Photo


Monday, 18 February 2008

strawberry & almond cannoli

This is a great little dessert and is fairly easy to prepare if you can find pre-made cannoli shells at your grocery store.

I recently served these as part of a trio of strawberry desserts which included a shot glass of finely chopped macerated strawberries and an alcoholic strawberry spider.

They’re great little dessert canapés and would easily suit a picnic, buffet or large family meal.

But best of all they taste good.

Strawberry & Almond Cannoli
Anna’s very own recipe. Makes 16.
450g ricotta
100g mascarpone
250g strawberries, halved
½ cup icing sugar
½ teaspoon orange rind
1 tablespoon orange juice
¼ cup flaked almonds, toasted and chopped
50g white chocolate, grated
16 cannoli shells
1. Separate one fourth of the strawberries and cut them into small pieces. Reserve.
2. Heat the remaining strawberries, sugar and orange rind with orange juice until the sugar melts and strawberries soften. Cook until syrup thickens a little.
3. Put the cooked strawberries into a blender and puree.
4. Strain strawberries with a fine sieve to remove excess liquid.
4. In a bowl, beat together the ricotta and mascarpone.
5. Fold in strawberry purée. Taste mixture. If needed add some sifted icing sugar or strawberry juice to sweeten. Be careful not to make the mixture too runny.
6. When you have reached the desired flavour, carefully fold through the strawberry pieces, grated chocolate and flaked almonds.
7. Put mixture in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
8. Spoon ricotta filling into a fluted piping bag and pipe into cannoli shells. Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.
Note: You can turn the leftover strawberry juice into syrup by cooking it a little longer. Pour over ice cream or use as a cordial.


Friday, 15 February 2008

baked jerusalem artichokes

When I saw the pretty, vibrant Jerusalem artichokes in the grocery store, I just had to snap some up.

I had no idea what I was going to do with them, but I know they aren’t easy to come by so I had to buy them then and there and worry about finding a recipe later.

After much Googling and the discovery of some lovely looking recipes, I stumbled across this Jamie Oliver side dish that won me over completely and utterly.

I had cooked with Jerusalem artichokes twice before and both times were a horrible disasters. I was in my early twenties and had no idea what I was doing. The dishes I concocted were so awful Jonas and I couldn’t eat them and I think it turned us off the distinctive taste of Jerusalem artichokes for some time after that.

But thanks to Jamie all that has changed.

This recipe is simply divine. It’s not very healthy but my god it’s worth the calories. The flavour combinations are just wonderful and you could easily do the same dish with potatoes instead.

This recipe not only won me over to Jerusalem artichokes, but it also started my love affair with thyme. I have made two other thyme laden recipes since and I haven’t looked back!

Baked Jerusalem Artichokes w Bread Crumbs, Thyme & Lemon

Recipe from The Naked Chef 2 by Jamie Oliver. Serves 4-6.


285ml double cream or créme fraîche
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 good handful of fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped
3 handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1kg Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced as thick as a pencil
2 good handfuls of fresh breadcrumbs
Olive oil
1. Preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas7.
2. In a bowl mix your cream, lemon juice, garlic half the thyme and most of the Parmesan, and season well to taste.
3. Throw in the sliced Jerusalem artichokes. Mix well and place everything in an ovenproof baking dish.
4. Mix the breadcrumbs with the rest of the thyme and Parmesan and some salt and pepper.
5. Sprinkle all the flavoured breadcrumbs over the artichokes and drizzle with a little olive oil.
6. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes until the artichokes are tender and the breadcrumbs golden.

It’s not from Jerusalem and it’s not even an artichoke. So goes the story of the Jerusalem artichoke.

Also known as sunroot, sunchoke and topinambur, its botanical name is Helianthus tuberosus and it is native to the north east of the USA (from North Dakota to Maine to northern Florida and Texas.

Europeans first took notice of the sunchoke in 1605 when a French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, found them at Cape Cod, but Native Americans had been cultivating them for some time prior to that.

The plant can grow up to 3 metres tall and the gnarly, uneven tubers are similar to ginger roots with a nutty, artichoke flavour.

So how did it get its name? They are a member of the Asteraceae family (think daisies) and related to the sunflower, producing large yellow flowers. It is said that Europeans named the plant Girasole, which is Italian for sunflower and that the pronunciation of Girasole sounds similar to Jerusalem and hence the name evolved. No one really knows if this is true, but it sounds good.

The plant yields good amounts of fructose, are high in potassium, fibre and phosphorus, and could turn out to be a good source of ethanol biofuel. Their iron content is said to be similar to red meat, weight to weight.

They contain large amounts of a carbohydrate inulin which can cause digestive problems for some people, including stomach aches and flatulence. This led to rumours that they were inedible, but actually the presence of inulin instead of starch makes them perfect for diabetics.

Fresh roots should be plump and firm because soft, wrinkled roots can have a bitter flavour. If boiled they can become very mushy so steaming and baking are the preferred methods of cooking, although they can be eaten raw. Many cooks recommend scrubbing rather than peeling the tubers.

This is my contribution to this week's Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Erin from The Skinny Gourmet. Head on over for the recap.



Wednesday, 13 February 2008

spicy mauritian choko salad

This is a delicious, spicy and sour salad from the island of Mauritius. The main ingredient choko (chayote) is so refreshing but the green chillies add fire.

I highly recommend this with fish or barbecued meats.

Salade Chou Chou (Mauritian Choko Salad)
Recipe by Madeleine Philippe.
1 kg chokos (chayote)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly crushed garlic
1 medium onion finely sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh green chillies
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1. Heat water in a large saucepan enough to boil all the chokos. Add salt and stir to dissolve completely. Add the chokos and boil for about 20 minutes or until tender. Remove from boiling water and allow to cool.
2. Peel and halve the chokos. Discard the seeds and cut into slices according to preferences.
3. Mix the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, freshly chopped green chillies (if desired) and sliced onions together.
4. Pour over the sliced chokos and carefully mix together without breaking the chokos.

Mauritius is a gorgeous island off the coast of Africa, happily floating away in the Indian Ocean, about 900km east of Madagascar. Together with Réunion, and five other islands, they make up the Mascarene Islands.

Mauritius is so multicultural and comprises of ethnic groups of Indian, African, French, British and Chinese ancestry. The island’s official language is English, media and business is conducted mostly in French and despite all of this the most commonly spoken language is Mauritian Creole.
Today Mauritius is famously known as a luxury travel destination and after seeing some of the photos below you can understand why!

Their cuisine is shaped by their population with hybrid dishes combining French, Chinese and Indian cooking techniques with local ingredients. Unfortunately for the dodo bird, Mauritius was it's only natural habitat and it ended up as one of those local ingredients.

If you want to know more about the choko/chayote you can see this recent post, but I’m guessing in Mauritius it’s probably known by it’s French name: christophene or chou chou.

Map, Photos & Reference:


Monday, 11 February 2008

sidecar, sloecar

Mixology Monday is a seriously underrated event in the blogosphere. If you’re even remotely interested in cocktails and mixed drinks you can learn so much from the knowledgeable bartenders and cocktail connoisseurs who take part.

This month’s theme is Variations and the idea is to take a traditional cocktail and either present it in its various recipes or else tweak it with your own touch. Our host is Jimmy’s Cocktail Hour so head on over to learn about some traditional cocktails and all their variations.

So what did I choose? Well, I love sour flavours so I wanted to focus on the delicious Sidecar.

Said to be invented at Harry's Bar (or the Ritz) in Paris around WWI, and named after a patron who would arrive in a motorcycle sidecar, the Sidecar contains three ingredients: brandy, triple sec and lemon juice.

As the ingredients are few, their quality will effect the final drink and so many people use Cognac and Cointreau as the brandy and triple sec.

Measurements seem debatable and I have seen over ten variations including
1½ parts brandy
½ part triple sec
½ part lemon juice
2 parts brandy
¾ parts triple sec
½ part lemon juice

But these are just the original ingredients and there are many other variations using flavoured liqueurs or substituting brandy for gin or vodka. Interesting variants include the Chelsea Sidecar (gin replaces brandy); the Polish Sidecar (blackberry liqueur replaces triple-sec and gin replaces brandy) and the Boston Sidecar (rum and brandy are used and lime replaces lemon).

A few months ago, when drinking at The Victoria Room here in Sydney, I stumbled upon a drink called the Sloecar, which was divine. Using sloe gin it was a very simple take on the successful Sidecar recipe. I was hooked.

Sloe gin is a red liqueur made from fruit from the blackthorn tree. Traditionally gin is infused with pricked berries and sometimes almond is added. Folklore even decrees that the berries should be pricked with a thorn from the blackthorn tree, or a silver fork, to ensure good luck.

This website gives instructions on how to make your own sloe gin.

Gordon’s and Plymouth make decent commercial sloe gins while the German style Schlehenfeuer (sloe fire), which is higher in alcohol content, is produced by Mast-Jägermeister.

Anna’s guess on the recipe. Makes 1.
2 parts sloe gin
1 part Cointreau
1 part lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake and strain into a cocktail glass.



Sunday, 10 February 2008

moringa omelette

Firstly, this is my 300th post since I started Morsels & Musings in early May 2006. Yippee!

OK, on to the important stuff . . .

The fantastic grocery store across the street from my home often yields amazing delights. One of which is both the pods and the leaves of the moringa tree. The pods looked like long green jousting sticks while the leaves turned the fridges into a mini jungle.

Curious about the flavour, I asked how to cook the leaves and had a group of elderly Indian women giving me excellent tips on omelettes and simple spice-laden fried dishes. With this much attention and instruction, I was compelled to try it out.

When I got home and Googled the plant I was shocked to discover just how nutritionally exceptional it was. Those little old ladies weren’t lying!!!

In English it's also known as Drumstick Tree, Horseradish Tree, Mother's Best Friend, Radish Tree, West Indian Ben. If you’re wondering if you know this plant by another name, here’s a list of hundreds of names in a multitude of languages.

The women in the shop suggested I fry the leaves in a little ghee with green chillies, garlic and spices but when I saw VK's fried egg recipe I knew I had to Recipe Road Test it and develop my own version to give Jonas a healthy dose of moringa for breakfast.

This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Ulrike from Kuchenlatein, more than two years after VK submitted the original recipe to WHB.

Moringa Omelette
Slightly varied from the recipe by VK from My Dhaba. Serves 2.

5 eggs
1 cup moringa leaves, carefully picked from the stalks and washed
½ brown onion, chopped finely
2 green chillies, very finely sliced
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
Dash white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Ghee or oil for frying
1. Heat a frying pan, pour in the oil or ghee.
2. When hot, add the onions and green chillies and fry till they turn limp.
3. Add the moringa leaves. Sprinkle a little water and ½ teaspoon salt over the leaves, cover with a lid, and let the leaves cook for 5 minutes over moderate heat.
4. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the turmeric powder and ½ teaspoon salt.
5. Remove the lid from the moringa leaves and fry, stirring frequently.
6. When dry, pour the egg batter slowly all over the moringa leaves, distributing the egg batter evenly.
7. When the egg sets, remove from the heat and serve.
Anna’s Variation: This was originally a scrambled egg dish but I decided to turn it into an omelette. I decreased the chilli content to only one fourth of the original. Call me a wimp if you like, but I say VK was pretty tough to have 8 chillies in there!

Moringa oleifera, from the family Moringaceae, grows in semi-arid tropical and sub-tropical areas, thriving in sandy soil. It grows to around 10m tall but is often kept smaller in order to harvest leaves and pods.

The tree is native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas and possibly is widely grown throughout Africa, Central and South America, Sri Lanka, India, Mexico, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Moringa is an amazing tree because almost every part can be eaten and is exceptionally nutritious due to its high vitamin and mineral content. The leaves taste like spinach, pods are said to have an asparagus flavour while cooked flowers are supposed to taste like mushroom. The roots are also eaten, although they contain a significant nerve paralyser and should be avoided.

The pods, also known as drumsticks, are long and are probably the most used part of the tree. They can be added to curries and stews or served boiled or steamed. Older pods yield peas that can be eaten like nuts.

The leaves are used mostly in Africa and the Philippines, where they are added to a traditional chicken broth called tinola. They have huge nutritional value and in fact studies have found that, weight per weight, moringa leaves have:
- 7 times the Vitamin C content of oranges
- 4 times the calcium of milk
- 4 times the Vitamin A of carrots
- 3 times the potassium of bananas
- 3 times the iron of spinach
- 2 times the protein of milk

The moringa seeds also have culinary purposes since they yield 30-40% oil.

The presscake (solids) left over after oil extraction are extremely useful in purifying water. A website I found said that “[moringa] seeds are highly effective in removing suspended particles from water with medium to high levels of turbidity . . . acting as both a coagulant as well as an antimicrobial agent”. Studies carried out since the 70s have shown that moringa seeds remove 90-99.9% impurities from the water and to treat 10 litres of water you only need 5ml of moringa seed powder!

It’s believed that a family of five would only need two moringa trees to maintain their water supply, although the Moringa stenopetala seeds seem to work better than Moringa oleifera.

Moringa’s international status is growing amongst aid agencies who see the huge nutritional benefits of the plant in areas where people are suffering serious malnourishment. Powder made from dried leaves can be added to gruel and drinks to provide massive nutritional supplements to starving populations.

Animals can also utilise moringa's nutrition. Farmers who include moringa leaves in their animal fodder see significant weight gain and health benefits.

Some of the world’s most poverty stricken areas are prime habitat for moringa trees, which can be grown very quickly: it’s one of the fastest growing biomasses on the planet and, if using propagated limbs, pods are produced around 7 months after planting. This provides a cheap and local resource, making it easily accessible to those who need it. In fact, they can grow it themselves!



Friday, 8 February 2008

korean sweet potato noodles

This cold noodle salad is a great summer dish that’s packs heat from spicy shredded kimchi and a sprinkle of gochugaru (Korean chilli powder).

The glassy dang myun noodles are made from sweet potato starch and have a very interesting chewy texture and are very long, slippery and almost elastic.

They are also known as 당면, dangmyeon, dangmyun, tang myun, or tangmyun, all effectively meaning “tang noodles”. The most common Korean dish using dang myun is jabchae, a beef stir-fry using sesame and soy.

This recipe is my contribution to Presto Pasta Night, hosted every Friday by Ruth at Once Upon A Feast.

The recipe is also another successfully completed 2008 Food Resolution task! Seven down, 38 to go!!!

Cold Dang Myun Noodle Salad
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 2.
170g dang myun
¼ cup grated daikon radish
¼ cup grated carrot
¼ cup grated nashi pear
¼ cup julienne cucumber
¼ cup thinly sliced kimchi (nappa cabbage)
1 scallion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon mirin
1½ tablespoons roasted sesame seeds
½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon gochugaru (Korean chilli powder)
1. Cook dang myun noodles accordining to packet instructions. When finished drain and rinse with cold water.
2. Whisk soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey, mirin, grated ginger, scallion and gochugaru together in a small bowl.
3. Toss salad dressing, noodles, daikon, carrot, nashi pear, cucumber, kimchi and sesame seeds together.
4. Eat cold and enjoy.
Note: the noodles are very long and slippery so if you don’t feel crass you could break them up a little before boiling.
Variations: you could serve this with shredded pork or chicken, stir-fried beef or my personal favourite, chopped tuna sashimi.



Wednesday, 6 February 2008


How can these perfectly shaped little beauties be homemade? I think it’s a lie.

Every now and then my sister, Joanne (aka Shamu), entices us with these wonderful shortbread. I think they’re probably Jonas’ favourite cookies.

I have to admit they are ridiculously good. Every time I eat them I can’t believe how good they are.

Shamu got the recipe from her mother, Lynn, and Lynn can’t remember where she found it. Nonetheless, it’s simple and damn tasty.

Here’s the recipe in Shamu’s own words:

Recipe by Joanne & Lynn. Makes many.

115g (4oz) caster sugar
250g (9oz) butter
350g (12oz) plain flour
1. Preheat oven to 150’C (300'F) and lightly grease a baking tray.
2. Soften butter by either leaving it on the bench for a few hours or carefully microwave it so that it is soft but NOT melted.
3. Combine sugar and flour in a bowl.
4. Use your fingers to rub butter into dry ingredients to form a dough. The end product is much nicer if you use your fingers rather than a blender.
5. Use a floured rolling pin to roll out small amounts of the dough & cut out shapes using cookie-cutter.
5. Bake at just less than 150’C (very slow oven) until the cookies barely start to change colour (not sure how long - probably at least 15-20 mins).
6. Enjoy!


Saturday, 2 February 2008

burmese chayote soup

The word choko sounds more like the side effect of laryngitis than a tasty vegetable, but that's the word mostly commonly used in Australia for Sechium edule, known widely as chayote.

I have fond memories of chokos. I don’t know whether this is a true memory or something I imagined, but as kid I seem to recall a choko vine growing along our swimming pool fence and my parents getting more than they bargained for: so much fruit and a rampaging plant that couldn’t be tamed. I think they pulled it out in the end.

When I was a kid there was a great myth that McDonalds used chokos instead of apples in their pies. I love McDonalds Apple Pies and when I heard there were chokos inside, instead of being grossed out like the other kids, I remember thinking that chokos must be pretty wonderful things to taste so good.

This Burmese soup recipe uses chokos perfectly, playing on their natural sweetness and their chameleon ability to take on whatever flavours surround them.

Sweet and spicy, this soup is certainly a quick and easy crowd pleaser. The original recipe recommends serving this dish as part of a curry and rice meal.

Goorakathee Kyawjet Hin (Burmese Choko Soup)
Anna’s variation from Serves 2 as a starter.
1 choko, peeled and julienned
600ml vegetable stock
½ small onion, sliced very thinly lengthways
1 garlic clove, sliced very thinly lengthways
3 tablespoons, finely chopped coriander root
1 tablespoon dried shrimp
1 tablespoon shrimp paste
1 red chilli, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon oil
Fresh coriander leaves, for garnish
1. Heat oil in a saucepan, add onion and garlic and sweat until softened.
2. Add dried shrimp, shrimp paste and turmeric. Fry for a few seconds.
3. Add choko and toss together over medium heat for a few minutes.
4. Simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.
5. Add stock and allow to simmer for another 10 minutes.
Variation: I omitted the dried shrimp, but I am sure this is a traditional element in the recipe.
Note: Liquid from raw chokos can be very harsh on your skin, so oil your hands in advance or wear thin rubber gloves when peeling and cutting.

The choko is a gourd originating in tropical America and it part of the family Cucurbitaceae along with siblings melons, cucumbers and squash.

The fruit, shoot, leaves and root are all edible and if the fruit is not too mature the seed will be soft and edible also.

When selecting choko fruits, look for those with soft spines as this indicates that the fruit isn’t very old. It’s also advisable to store the chokos at room temperature.

The fruits are usually pear shaped and have ridges and slightly wrinkled skin, ranging from pale yellow to dark green. They don’t have to be peeled and you can certainly eat them raw.

One of the largest exporters of choko is Costa Rica, as well as the Veracruz state of Mexico.

The chayote is an important part of the Mexican diet where they are stuffed, used in meat dishes and soups as well as eaten raw in salads. In Mauritius the fruits are boiled and turned into a spicy green salad while in Taiwan choko shoots are the most eaten veggies on the island.

According to Wikipedia, “choko leaves and fruit have diuretic, cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory properties, and a tea made from the leaves has been used in the treatment of arteriosclerosis and hypertension, and to dissolve kidney stones. [The fruit] can also be boiled, stuffed, mashed, baked, fried, or pickled. Both the fruit and the seed are rich in amino acids and vitamin C.”

I’ve never seen a vegetable with so many different names! I just couldn’t believe it so I’ve decided to share some of the names I discovered.

In India it’s known as Seemae BaDhneKayi (Kannada); Katharikai (Tamil), Ishkus (Darjeeling) and DasGoos (Manipur).

In the rest of Asia it has many other names such as harp jeung kwa and fat shau kwa (Cantonese), goorakathee (Burmese), labu siem (Indonesian), hayato-uri (Japanese), labu siam (Malay), sayote (Filippino), fak mao and fak meo (Thai) and su-su and trai su (Vietnamese).

Meanwhile in Europe it goes by zucca centenaria (Italian), xuxu (Portuguese), čajota (Slovenian) christophene and christophine (French) and amcık kabağı (Turkish).

In English speaking countries it’s also called choko, pear squash, chouchou, custard marrow, sousous, chocho, mango squash, cho-cho, vegetable pear, mirliton and merliton.

Islands around the world have their own names too, including chouchou (Mauritius), chocho (Jamaica), militon (Haiti) and pipinola (Hawaii).

Most of the world seems to use the Spanish word, chayote, which originates from a similarly sounding word in Nahuatl, an indigenous language spoken in central Mexico. Apart from this, Spanish speaking countries have other versions such as tayota (Dominican Republic) güisquil, perulero and pataste (Guatemala, El Salvador & Honduras), papa del aire (Paraguay) and papa de los pobres (Colombia).

That’s a whole lot of aliases for one little veggie.

Funny enough that the country of origin for this dish also goes by two names: it’s official name Myanmar and it’s old name Burma. It’s capital Yangon is also known as Rangoon.

After reading the Wikipedia entry on Myanmar, it seems that many people still call it Burma. Most Australians my age seem to call it Myanmar, the name used by the Burmese people since the 13th century.

Myanmar is the largest country in mainland South East Asia, but it is also one of the poorest. It borders India, Bangladesh, Tibet, China, Laos and Thailand and has huge tracks of coast along the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. Its position between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator means it sits squarely in monsoonal Asia.

Myanmar has at least 108 different ethno-linguistic groups, showing considerable ethnic diversity among the population of 55 million (approximately).

Its wildlife is also very diverse, with tigers and leopards in the jungles and rhinos, buffalo, wild boar, antelope and elephants in the north.

This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Claudia from Fool for Food, a pretty blog with posts in a combination of German and English. Discovering her Karamellpudding recipe has really put my German language skills to the test.

References : [Map]


Friday, 1 February 2008

gnocchi gorgonzola

This has to be one of the simplest pasta dishes to prepare. Whack some cheese in some cream and melt it, toss it through some baby gnocchi and indulge!

I love the pungency and velvety texture of gorgonzola. It really is a beautiful cheese.

This is my contribution to Presto Pasta Night, founded and hosted by Ruth from Once Upon A Feast.

Sugo di Gorgonzola
Anna's very own recipe. Makes about 350ml.
175g gorgonzola piccante, diced
150ml double cream
pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons toasted pinenuts
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped finely
1. Put the gorgonzola, sugar and cream in a saucepan. Add plenty of ground pepper.
2. Heat gently until the cheese melts.
3. Add the chives then use immediately.
Note: Can be served as an accompaniment to veal or as a pasta sauce, both sprinkled with chopped walnuts.

Gorgonzola is a cow’s milk cheese that developed blue veins from a spore (Penicillin Glaucum) native to caves in the Po Valley of Lombardy, Italy, where the cheeses were hung to mature.

The cheese is very creamy and smooth, so it’s easy to melt into sauces, risotto or fondues. It’s also a characteristic topping in the quattro formaggio pizza. The delicious flavour is unfortunately sullied by the knowledge that gorgonzola has a 50% fat content!

These days gorgonzola is one of only three cheeses to be restricted to a zone of production (Denominazione di Origine Controllata). Parmesan and Roquefort are the other two. The area where gorgonzola can be made includes the provinces of Novara, Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Cuneo, Lecco, Lodi, Milan, Pavia, Varese, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, Vercelli and Alessandria.

Gorgonzola is formed into 10kg wheels and aged at low temperatures before being punctured with rods to allow the spores to enter the cheese.

There are two varieties of gorgonzola. Softer, younger versions are known as gorgonzola dolce (sweet). They are aged for around 3 months, have a milder scent and are easily spread on bread. Firmer versions are labelled piccante (spicy, strong) and are aged for 6 months. They are saltier, crumblier and have stronger flavours, best suited to salads and as ingredients in meals.


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