Sunday, February 1, 2009

Did you want some bread with that?.......a day of cooking side dishes

Today I organised a family dinner and was planning for the whole week to cook up a new type of meat I haven't used before. I finally decided on duck in a plum sauce and serve them with Chinese pancakes......well things don't always go to plan. One Thea had already bought her steaks and then my Mum was quite stern she was cooking a special sausage dish. Therefore I could not really add more meat, even poultry or game, onto that.
That would normally be fine as I would usually then do some amazing dessert BUT another Thea had been assigned to make crepes. So what was I left to cook??? My Mum told me to do salad. I was 'over the moon' at the prospect. I told her they probably would not be our standard Greek Salad, but use some 'exotic' ingredients and will be a bit different.

I saw it as a challenge, I needed to make salads interesting so they could be more than 'just a side'. So this morning I drove to the fruit shop and just picked up what looked good that day, then I would work out the combinations. Pomegranates were huge, red and firm.........into the basket they go. String beans weren't small dark and withered, but quite the opposite, so they went in to. I needed some more nuts so I got a packet of walnuts as I thought I could incorporate them in some how. I did have a lot of other ingredients at home but I wanted these to be the main ones.

Once home I thought I wanted to make a few more things, not just salad, maybe some bread and biscotti, since I wasn't allowed to do a dessert. It was still 11am by this stage so figured the biscotti would be first up. I have been craving aniseed biscotti recently so I fumbled through the pantry hoping we still had aniseed, and I was in luck.

View Aniseed Biscotti (Paxamathia) Recipe

So as they were cooking I decided to make Turkish bread. There is a lot of variance between recipes. Some had milk, some had honey, but I eventually decided to make a simple mixture with yeast, water and oil.

View Turkish Bread Recipe

I served my bread with home made tahina, which is one of the simplest dips to make.

View Tahina Recipe

Finally I prepared the salads which were really a matter of throwing together all the ingredients.

View Pomegranate, Walnut, Rocket & Ricotta Salad Recipe

View String bean, cucumber, feta and mint salad Recipe

So I will admit sides can be quite fun, and it was a challenge which I did enjoy. It makes you think of ways to make such dishes more exciting and forces you to use some ingredients you may not always use to mix things up a bit and add some variety to your dishes.

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