I’ve not been very adventurous in the kitchen the last couple of weeks. The first week it was intentional, my big pasta bake from my last post, was meant to see me through my week of early shifts and it did. Then I was able to make a surprise visit to my parents for the weekend, and this week while I’ve been on annual leave it has, honestly been mostly too hot to cook anything complicated. I made myself a nice giant couscous and beetroot salad – with sprouting broccoli and baby sweet corn alongside the essential feta cheese – and some tasty beetroot hummus to use up the rest of the beetroot, and those lurking flat breads.
I was thinking about what I could make for the coming week – perhaps a stir-fry? – and I wasn’t feeling inspired, so I decided to look to my cupboards for inspiration and remembered that I had actually documented what was in there so I looked up my list and updated with some new acquisitions. While I was off work I’d given my kitchen a good tidy out, re-organised some cupboards and sorted out some better storage solutions. It seemed a waste to just throw that empty box that the Christmas crackers – the kind you have with cheese, not the kind you pull – came in, it’s a good sturdy plastic box, so now it’s keeping all the less usual dried ingredients I’ve picked up lately for one recipe or another and haven’t got round to trying. (There’s two different kinds of flour, both loose and pre-made polenta, split yellow peas, pinto beans and randomly a bag of caster sugar – spot who intended to bake lots this week before the heatwave hit…) Hopefully having them all in one place will encourage me to actually use them up!
First up we have a can of jackfruit, I dug up a recipe for a bean chilli with jackfruit, because a) I love chilli and lately my chilli has felt a bit uninspired so that seemed a good option for trying out a new ingredient and b) that’s an ideal bulk cook meal for the week ahead. Also, lately I seem to have lost the ability to leave the supermarket without at least one can of some variety of beans or another and this recipe uses several different kinds.
At some point I found a flat-bread recipe that called for corn flour – in the American sense of maize flour, rather than in the UK sense of the starchy stuff you use to thicken sauces – and went to the effort of tracking it down. The recipe book in question had a bunch of recipes that used it so it seemed a good plan at the time. However the recipe book has long been back at the library – and for obvious reasons I can’t get it back out – and most other recipes that I would expect to use it, give substitutions for the sensible reason that it’s actually a weirdly specialist ingredient here, I eventually tracked it down a health food shop, I guess because it’s gluten free? Anyway, eventually I’ve tracked down a tortilla recipe that at least uses some maize flour so that seems a fun accompaniment to my chilli.
That’ll still leave quite a lot of maize flour, so I had the bright idea of making cornbread or at least cornbread muffins, but all the UK recipes I’ve come across seem to use polenta rather than maize flour – and frankly a lot of chefs seem to treat the two as interchangeable, heck the BBC Food website, usually my ally in these matters, offers ‘maize’ recipes that use both polenta and cornmeal interchangeably. I am a terribly confused penguin.
(More importantly, if you’re a vegetarian and therefore don’t put bacon in your cornbread, what do you put in…? Spring onions maybe?)
Finally, given how nice the weather has been lately, it seems like a good time to take another run at making Bubble Tea. After the success of my tapioca pudding, I feel like I have a better grasp of how long to cook my pearls for now, so I have a more realistic view of the time investment required.
I’ve got a few more ideas lurking about, but I think that’s quite adventurous enough for one week…