Tuesday, June 06, 2006

New Sources of Inspiration

I've added two blogs to my list of favorites on the right: Kuidaore and The Traveler's Lunchbox. Both feature exquisite photos, inspiring selections of dishes, and great writing. Too bad there aren't many recipes on Kuidaore, but there are lots of tips and explanations that will help when making a recipe found elsewhere. For instance, should I ever want to attempt macarons there are some great tips here. And the photos are more than mouth-watering.

The Traveler's Lunchbox has excellent writing and recipes from all over the world. I recently tried one with great results: sweet potato salad (see photo above, which sadly could have used more lighting).

This is not a recipe for meek taste-buds. Feta, black olives, raw onions, cumin, cayenne and cilantro are assertive counterpoints to the sweet potato's mellowness. But for those who aren't frightened, these strong flavors don't compete with each other. It's a bit like when my talkative friends and I have a lively discussion: we all manage to get a word in at the same time and the effect is perhaps noisy but somehow joyful and harmonious as well.

So without further ado, here is the recipe. I'm copying it here, but do read Melissa's original post, as it contains a very amusing ode to the sweet potato.

Recipe: Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Feta-Olive Salad
Copied from: The Traveler's Lunchbox
Recipe Source: Inspired by a recipe in Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons
Serves: 2 as main course, 4 as side dish (can easily be multiplied)

- 2 large sweet potatoes, 3/4-1 lb each
- 200g (about 1/2 lb) block good feta cheese (sheep's milk is the best - try feta imported from Greece or France), cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes
- 2/3 cup black oil-cured olives (or other high-quality olives), pitted and chopped
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
- 1/2 cup (packed) chopped fresh coriander/cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (ground ok)
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds (ground ok)
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- salt and pepper (Astrid's note: salt may be unnecessary due to saltiness of feta and olives)

Something cool and creamy to dollop on top: sour cream, yogurt, tzaziki... even hummus! (Astrid's note: I forgot the dollop, but no one complained)

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Wash the potatoes to rid them of any dirt and place on a foil-lined baking pan in the oven (no need to prick them). Bake until they are completely soft, about 45-60 minutes (depending on their size).

While the potatoes are roasting, make the salad. I like to toast the cumin and coriander seeds before using them, but you don't have to. If you do, just heat them in a dry pan, stirring often, until they smell fragrant and toasty. Set aside to cool, then crush them coarsely in a mortar or with the back of a heavy knife (if using whole seeds). Mix together all the salad ingredients in a bowl and leave to marinate in the fridge until the potatoes are done (add a little more olive oil if it seems dry). When they are, remove them from the oven and place on plates. Slice them lengthwise down the center, folding open to reveal the orange flesh inside. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Pile half the feta salad on each potato, and eat!

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