Friday, 29 February 2008

The sublime to the noochly weird

This is a random post about two things I ate this week. One was a beautiful breakfast dish which I just had to photography as it looked so pretty. I often eat fruit and yogurt for breakfast, based on whatever fruit's in season (or in the freezer). I make it a rule not to buy fruit from outside Europe - UNLESS it's reduced and about to be thrown away. Much as I hate the idea of air-freighting goods, air-freighting them and then wasting them is much much worse. That's how I ended up the proud possessor of this fruit last week:

I know it looks as though it's destined for sushi, but it's actually a dragon fruit which is the fruit of a cactus, native to Central and South America and Southeast Asia. Frankly, how could you resist it on its name alone, let alone its alarming yet enticing pinkness? Inside it's surprisingly white, with lots of tiny little black seeds .
It's very mild in taste, and quite watery - to be honest a trifle disappointing given its exciting outside, but very nice with some vanilla yogurt, melon and assorted seeds. It was certainly a hell of a lot better than my last reduced-produce buy, the custard apple, which was basically just seeds and not really worth the effort. This one at least made my breakfast look happy.

The second unusual thing I ate this week was tonight's dinner. We'd vaguely thought of having jacket potatoes, but on the way home I had a sudden craving for macaroni cheese. To be honest I've been vaguely wanting to eat macaroni cheese for months and months, but The Scientist doesn't like it (he says it's too stodgy which surprised me as stodge is generally a good thing in his book), and I'd always had other plans to cook when he was away. Since he was happy with his potato though, I thought I'd seize the opportunity, and - why be hung for a lamb when you can be hung for a sheep - use the vegan 'cheezy' sauce I'd been reading about in my new copy of Veganomicon.

I was very hungry by the time I got home from a day of intensive conferencing and student advising, and got the pasta on as soon as I got in through the door (actually as soon as I'd opened and shut the back door twice while the indecisive pooky cat made up his mind which side of it he wanted to be on). I wanted to put roast squash in with the pasta and sauce but was too hungry to roast that and then bake the pasta, so the squash went in on its own. The pasta was put on to boil, and the tome that is Veganomicon was hauled out. The recipe is based on nutritional yeast, which I had bought against just such a purpose at the weekend. You just fry some garlic, add some thyme, salt, turmeric, stock-and-flour, nutritional yeast (or 'nooch' if you're a pro vegan) and stir vigorously. When it's thickened you add some mustard and some lemon juice. Point 1: it was much browner than I'd expected. Not a problem, I thought. Yuck said The Scientist. No matter; he had his potato. I stirred in the cooked pasta and added some sweetcorn and olives just in case I didn't like the taste after all (note how I was starting to waver). Into the oven it went.

I was quite impatient by this stage and so it only baked for 10 minutes or so which was a shame as it didn't get a chance to crisp up as much as I would have liked. Too hungry to debate it further, I dived in. Point 2: this sauce is really....weird. And I'm being quite polite there. It was very dense in taste, almost too overflavoured, and drowned out the taste of the corn. I ended up lightening the taste with some yogurt and raw tomato as it was just too heavy. 'Hmmmm' said I. 'I like jacket potatoes' said The Scientist, 'how's your yeast?'

I had been very intrigued about this recipe and so I don't regret making it at all. I will, however, not be making it again. If anyone would like to suggest things I did wrong, or ways to improve it, please do say, but it's not going to be one I'll be trying to sneak under The Scientist's radar any time soon. I used wholewheat pasta - it's not just the sauce that made it so brown, in the interests of fairness. I am still, however, craving macaroni cheese :(

I have higher hopes for tomorrow night, when we have a new challenge for dinner: Scientist meets Masterchef. Report will follow...

By the way, people who tell me they're reading my blog: it would be nice to hear from you in the comments!!!

1 comment:

LisaRene said...

I too have purchased a custard apple in the past and was horribly disappointed, it was the oddest thing and I'm still not certain what or how it should be eaten.

I read my husband the saga of the nutritional yeast mac and cheese and he is joining the Scientist and sticking with a jacket potato!

The Fat Free Vegan has a mac and cheese recipe that is one of her most asked for recipes. You may want to compare it to the one you used.

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