Monday, 25 April 2011

Ryvita crackers

I remember when I was little that Ryvita crispbreads were firmly placed in my mind (alongside Weetabix) in a category of inedible foods that tasted like corrugated cardboard. So when a nice PR person asked if I'd like to sample some Ryvita crackers, I was not exactly biting their hand off. However, I think my tastes buds have matured a little over the years and as these crackers are billed as biscuits for cheese, I thought I'd give them a try.

Ryvita crackers come in two varieties, black pepper and golden rye. They both have a very light crunchy texture, but don't shatter everywhere. The black pepper crackers are pretty peppery though, which makes them ideal to go with a super-bland cream cheese, a super-flavoured strong cheese (I had them smothered in Boursin), or for dipping in hummous. The golden rye crackers are much more neutral though and therefore genuinely suitable for a whole range of cheeses. They are also high in fibre and low in fat (though less so when covered in butter or cheese), which is nice if you are into that sort of thing.
Another feature that I fully endorse is the packaging of these crackers. Each box contains about six packets, containing six crackers, which means that you don't have to worry about things going stale or finding biscuit tins. So overall a thumbs up!

Ryvita crackers
I rate them 7/10
Cost: Around £1.25 per pack

Thanks to Wildfire and Ryvita who sent me my crackers in a hamper for free and gratis.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Indian-style carrots with mustard

This is one of my mum's recipes which uses a very typical Bengali ingredient- mustard, and in this case ground whole black mustard seeds. It makes a perfect side dish to go with Indian food, and is pungent with mustard and garlic with a little carrot-y sweetness. For me it's an ideal way to use up a carrot glut, so just scale this recipe up (or down) as required.
You should be able to find whole black mustard seeds in any Indian grocery shop, and then grind them yourself. I use an electric coffee grinder for this, just don't expect to be able to use it for coffee beans too.

Recipe (enough for loads)
1kg carrots (grated)
Around 3-4 tsp ground black mustard seeds
3 medium cloves garlic (crushed)
Small bunch corriander (roughly chopped)
1 medium green chilli
Around 1-2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt (or enough to season to taste)

Put the oil in large pan, and heat until hot but not smoking and add in the carrots. Cook for a couple of minutes, and then add in the ground mustard. You basically want enough mustard so you can see the little grains against the carrot, as in the picture. Give everything a good stir, add in the garlic, pierce the chilli a few times and then add this in too. Piercing the chilli means you should get the flavour from it but not too much heat. Cover the pan and leave to cook for around ten to fifteen minutes or until the carrots are almost tender. Then add in the corriander and salt, stir and cook for another five minutes or so, by which time the carrots should be fully cooked through. Serve with dhal and rice or some Indian breads, or indeed anything that is likely to go with carrots and mustard.

Addendum: Following on-going conversations, my mother says that she also uses a couple of teaspoons of kalo jeera/black onion seeds in this dish- frying them in the oil at the start before the carrot goes in. However, I cook it without and it's still lovely. She also adds that if you are a serious mustard fan, you could also add some shorshe tel or mustard oil. It's pretty potent stuff though, so exercise caution!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Rhubarb and ginger crumble fool

Double layer of fool and crumble only for the truly gluttonous.

There was quite a bit of local rhubarb about in the market when I was in town the other day. The non-wintery conditions meant that making a rhubarb crumble with it didn't seem entirely appropriate, so instead I decided on a fool. Fool is essentially some fruit, sugar and cream, and so is one of the simplest desserts ever.
I had about half a kilo of trimmed rhubarb, cut into chunky pieces. This was cooked with a couple of tablespoons of water, three 'balls' of stem ginger (finely chopped), and about three tablespoons of brown sugar. The amount of sugar you'll need will depend on how sweet or sharp your rhubarb is, so have a taste as it softens and adjust as required. Simmer the rhubarb over a low heat until it's completely cooked and softened. This should take about twenty to thirty minutes.

In the meantime whisk up around 300ml of double cream into soft peaks, with a tablespoon of icing sugar. Once the rhubarb has completely cooled stir it into the cream, and your fool is done! I thought I'd still add a crumble element though, so I used the same method as this rhubarb crumble ice cream to cook some crumble topping separately. The one minor amendment was to add a couple of teaspoons of ground ginger to the mix. Once the crumble had been cooked and cooled, it just needed to be sprinkled over the fool (a ready made alternative would be to serve some ginger snaps on the side). My favourite April fool to date.

NB This fool can also be turned into an ice cream by using the rhubarb crumble ice cream method.