Friday, October 06, 2006

None For Me Please

Today is the first day of Sukkoth.

I have no clue what this means except that I saw alot of people lugging palm fronds home this past week to make their Sukka, which is a little hut where the more observant eat all their meals over the next week. I think until I came here I had seen and been into one Sukka in my life. Since I have been here I have been in none, although I have now seen any number of variations, from woven fronds, to bamboo garden fencing, to pre-fab plastic monstrosities that can hold 30 people.

Cactus and Sass were over for dinner tonight. We called it our festival meal, but it was really just a regular Friday night dinner - and once again I had all good intentions of having candles and wine, nibbly things before hand and a genuine civilized atmosphere. And as usual everything fell by the wayside and it was my usual moderately haphazard affair.

Sass had talked about making borscht last week, so I thought I would be safe making a variation on a Ukrainian borscht that I had learned from a friend years ago.

It is basically a kitchen sink soup. A peasant's soup, made with whatever is to hand. Beef, chicken, pork, vegetarian. Tonights was an enriched chunky chicken soup with:

  • carotts
  • pumpkin
  • white & sweet potatoes
  • onion
  • fennel (I didn't have celery)
  • chicken chunks & really good homemade chicken stock
  • beets
  • bayleaf, salt, pepper, mace
  • served with a splodge of sour cream

When I put the steaming pot onto the table Cactus made a lady-like face and said she didn't eat beets. As I always do - my mother taught me well - I said she could try some of mine and then decide, but that I was sure she would like it. Sass piped in, surprised, and said "but it doesn't taste like borscht!" and continued to spoon it up. Dubiously, Cactus took a small sip from the proferred spoon and blinked twice, looking at me in astonishment "it doesn't taste like beets" and proceeded to hold out her bowl for filling. They were both sceptical about the sour cream, but having tasted from my bowl, they added that too.

Our main course was chicken wings because I know that both C & S like them, "no clue what they are" beans, and Israeli style chopped salad.

The wings were baked in a simple sweet & spicy sauce that had ketchup (I always use Heinz as a base, it has something about it that adds more depth than plain tomato paste), tabasco, date syrup, pepper, chili powder, and lots of onions. They came out glossy and sticky and perfect.

The salad was another kitchen sink mix. Carrots, fennel, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, onion, coriander, salt pepper, lemon juice and a very generous glug of olive oil. Simple but effective.

And it was even better when the extra sauce from the chicken wings was mixed into it.

Before it finally came out of the oven the mixed fruit crumble had completely scented the air with its cinnamon caramelsugar butter promises. And then it was Sass's turn to say "No thank you", I don't like crumbles. I just smile and nod my head when faced with incalcitrance, and proceed on my merry way. Besides, I know my crumble - it is the I want something tasty, not healthy version - no oats, no whole wheat, no honey, no skimping on the butter, and no amounts, because it depends on the bowl, the amount of crumble you want on top, what fruit you are using.

Tonights' was red and golden delicious apples, nectarines, peaches and plums tossed with a little white sugar, flour and cinnamon with some butter chunks thrown in for luxe. I threw that into the oven to cook and evaporate some of the liquid before the wings went in, then it cooled while the wings cooked and while they were being eaten it went back into the oven with the crumble on top. My crumble topping is less sugar than flour, lots of cold butter - enough to make a barely damp sandy mixture when it is rubbed together. I also add lots of cinnamon, allspice and a dash of salt.

I gave Sass no choice and handed her a small duralex bowl filled with about 1 tablespoon of crumble. While I dished out for Cactus, Sass was busy eating and commenting on how she normally hates crumble, but that this one was different, this one was good, this one was so good she was even going to have some more...

And when she walked out the door, Cactus swiped a big spoonful
for the road...


cactus flower said...

Best crumble I ever ate. Actually had 2 spoonfuls for the road.

aja said...

Thanks C,
Actually, I noticed that, but didn't want to draw attention to it... 8^)