Sinner and Saint!?
As the summer draws to a twilight, freshly cut grass kind of close I would like to take you on a journey. A journey to the most kicking it, heath conscious yet ‘tipsy after only a couple’ end of summer party. Where regrets of excess and frivolities of good times are washed away buy a vegan, one of your 5-a-day feast. And the booze will probably help numb your conscience as well!
But wait. “How should I approach this?” you ask, “I’ve had a summer of double cone 99s and strawberry and lime Kopparberg. I need to be heathy!” Fear not intrepid food blog reader for I am here to offer you two recipes: One a tequila laced, home fermented party starter, the other a centre piece show stopper that contains no meat or dairy, insured to get that healthy wow factor for your friends and family.
“Who is this handsome and intelligent thing of dream creator?” you ask, well my name is Nic and I’m here to rock your world. For a couple of hours at least. My passion for all things glutinously consumed or imbibed will soon become clear in my stories of merriment and wonder.
So, let’s start at the begging of our tale and talk you through the steps you will need to do about a week before your shindig. Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present:
“The Twilight Tepache”
What you will need:
1x large Kilner jar
1x organic pineapple
2x red chillies
100g fresh ginger
300g Demerara sugar
1.5ltr still mineral water
For the final drink:
1x bottle gold tequila
1x bottle crème de mure
The key to this incredible, fermented drink is time. The ingredients and methods are very simple and this is a staple drink in Mexican food vendors and tacorias. We’re going to turn it up a notch by adding a splash more grog at the end.
Top and tail your pineapple and slice lengthwise into quarters. Remove the inner core as this can become bitter but leave the skin on if you managed to get an organic pineapple as it harbours lots of good bacteria for fermentation. If its not organic, give it a quick wash before you start prepping.
Roughly chop your chillies and ginger and add to the jar with the pineapple, Demerara sugar and about 500ml of the water. Close the lid and give the jar a good shake to help dissolve the sugar before adding the remainder of your water.
Leave your Tepache mixture in a cool dry place for three days, ensuring to ‘burp’ the jar every 24 hours to ensure the pressure of the fermentation does not build up. After three days your mixer should hiss as you open the jar and bubbles should rise from the bottom. Hey, you created a living thing! You’re practically a god! Culinary God at least!
Yep, more waiting I’m afraid but it will be totally worth it. Strain all the solids through a fine strainer to leave your with a slightly effervescent, vegetal liquid which need funnelling into fermentation grade, pop-top bottles and let rest in a cool dry place for another two to three days. This step will add a second fermentation and make your mixture really fizzy so make you are ‘burping’ your bottles every twenty-four hours and then you can control how fizzy it gets.
The fun bit!
Get yourself the prettiest glass at the party and fill it full of ice. Glug in around 25ml of the tequila and about half the amount of crème de mure. Top the booze with your beautiful creation from the pop-top bottle an soak in the applause of your party goers as they sip on this warming, fruity and refreshing cocktail all in the name of garage style science. (Strawberry and lime Kopparbergs are a thing of the past!!)
Just in case you are feeling a little guilty about a seven-day long process to get your party goers ‘liquored up’; don’t fear. I’m now going to talk you through a super healthy, 100% vegan, party centre piece dish that will astound your revellers and have them coming back for more! Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present:
“The Whole Roast, Real Deal, Captivating Cauliflower”
What you will need:
1x large head of cauliflower
For the aubergine & tahini dressing:
3x cloves of garlic
300g coconut cream
For the liberally sprinkled garnish:
100g pomegranate seeds
For the pickled onions:
1x red onion
500ml red wine vinegar
100g white sugar
50g nigella seeds
100ml Good quality olive oil
Salt & pepper
We have a bit of roasting, a bit of blending and a bit of pan work to do but don’t fret; all of this can be done at a liberal pace as the cauliflower cooks or you can prepare everything in advance and assemble when the cauliflower is ready.
Take the top off the aubergine and slice length wise dress with 25ml of oil, salt and pepper and throw it in the oven for one hour.
Trim the base of your cauliflower ensuring you have removed as much green as possible and have left a flat bottom so it will sit comfortably in the oven. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and place the cauliflower in for ten minutes, remove, slice a small slit in the top to allow the heat in, cover with foil and roast in a 200c oven for one hour. Remove the foil and add 25ml of the oil, salt and pepper for the last twenty-five minutes to char up the top of the cauli.
Place the onion (sliced into petals), red wine vinegar, sugar, angelica seeds and a good pinch of salt into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for five minutes before turning off the heat and letting rest for one hour. Et viola; super quick, super tasty, super pretty pickled red onions.
While the cauliflower is finishing in the oven, scrape the insides of the aubergine into the blender with the juice of the lemon, the garlic, tahini and a pinch of the sumac. Start to blend slowly, adding the coconut cream until you have a smooth but not liquidy consistency.
Place your cauliflower on a decent size platter and add a final touch of salt and pepper. Add you slightly warm aubergine and tahini dressing to a squeezy bottle to allow you to ‘zig zag’ a pattern liberally across the cauli.
Confidently and from a height; sprinkle the mint, parsley, pomegranate seeds and sumac over the entire dish and platter.
Finally drop a good helping of your pickled red onion petals over and the dish is complete.
Get your friends around your favourite pick-nick table, pour everyone a glass of your Tepache, and drop your beautifully roasted cauliflower into the middle of the table. Serve with middle eastern accompaniments like a couscous salad, grilled flatbreads and some home made hot sauce which I will touch on in future blogs.
So that’s it, my intrepid summer dream chasers. You can have a bit of naughty with a bit of the good stuff at the same time. But remember to consume things in moderation. Especially heathy food: tequila is 100% better for you ;)
Until our next journey.
Peace and hangovers!