Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A day of this and that and these ... oh and this too

It has been a day of this...

and of these ...

but hold on, this also happened ...

OK so the first one is obvious, hot port, delicious and very necessary given the cold weather, the porridge and chocolate cookies, all 25 of them are now in cookie-heaven, but the last little delight, I think upon description it should be discreetly binned for sounding too disgusting to even contemplate eating, but no - I was wrong.  The first was so good, I made another and the second was so good I made another ... and it's all down to my three year old.  Asked what he would like for lunch today, he replied cucumber with egg.  So that we had.  Fine slices of peeled cucumber, topped with a fried egg and drizzled with green Tabasco (that was just me)  inside a warm blanket of Bretzel granary.  The best sandwich I have rustled up for a long, long time.  The crunch of the cold cucumber with the contrast of the warm soft egg and the kick of the Tabasco was inspired, tasteful and elegant(sort-of).
This evening we had a starter of green beans with cucumber, chilli and tarator.  I have student memories of tarator, the name sticking mostly in my head due to sounding more like an adhesive than something edible.  An Bulgarian architect friend of mine used to make a delicious cucumber and bean salad with what I thought was tzatziki but what in fact she called the dressing tarator.  She used to cook the green beans so that they were very soft, loosing their fresh green colour but taking on an deep almost sweet flavour.  I cooked these this evening so that they retained their bright green colour and had a little bite to them. 
Tarator is of Bulgarian or Turkish origin and is a cool dressing made with breadcrumbs, lemon juice, garlic, yogurt and nuts, either almonds or walnuts.  It is a perfect contrast to the thin slivers of chilli.

Green Beans, cucumber and feta with chilli and tarator

This will serve 2 as a supper dish:

For the tarator
1 slice crusty white bread soaked in a large drop of milk for 15 minutes
45g flaked or whole blanched almonds
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
extra virgin olive oil
lemon juice to taste

Place the above in a small food processor and whizz until all ingredients are combined.  Taste and add more lemon juice, salt and pepper, adjusting the seasoning until you are content.  You can add water to thin it down to your desired consistency.  I like mine quite runny.

The salad
2 large handfuls green beans, topped
1/2 cucumber, peeled, central core removed and sliced longitudinally
100g feta cheese
1 red chilli, de-seeded and thinly sliced
a bunch coriander leaves
a squeeze of lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil

Cook the beans for about 5 minutes in plain boiling water(ie. no salt as this makes the beans tough).
Place these in a serving dish and toss with the cucumber, chilli, coriander, olive oil and feta.  Save some feta for the final topping and drizzle over the tarator.
Eat and enjoy the healthy greens with a little kick of chilli.  Mine was not very tidy in its presentation but you could serve this a small, dainty starter to maybe a chicken and preserved lemon recipe....

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