Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A book to curl up on the couch with

The first line in Tessa Kiros’ cookbook, Falling Cloudberries, is a perfect prelude:
"My mother’s name is Sirpa Tuula Kerttu Peiponein.
My father’s name is George"

Kiros wrote her recipes like a memoir, rich with family history and wisps of childhood nostalgia. Falling Cloudberries is divided into regional chapters, recounting recipes from her family, her friends, and from many countries and kitchens she has known through her life. With a Finnish mother, a Greek-Cypriot father, an Italian husband, a childhood spent in South Africa, and years working in restaurants across the world, the author fills her book with solid, time-tested and heartfelt recipes.

A sampling of the recipes I’ve been reading, curled up on the couch, no where near the kitchen:

-From Finland: Herrings marinated in vinegar with dill and allspice
-From Greece: Pork with celery in egg and lemon sauce
-From Cyprus: Filo with poached pears and rose petals, pistachio praline and vanilla ice
-From South Africa: Lemon vanilla jam (She suggests it be served with simple sponge cake
and mascarpone cheese. Sold!)
-From Italy: Arugula, parmesean, and pommegranate salad with balsamic vinegar

The recipes read like travel fiction. I love this book.

The bowl of lemons next to the book doesn’t look like much, but I’m just using them as weight to press out the juice in salted chili peppers for Chiles in olive oil, simple, no-fuss recipe that Kiros brought back from Cyprus. It’ll be ready to photograph tonight, and I will update my blog with my (anticipated) success. This recipe works especially well for me because I can never use up all my chilis before they go bad ( I often have to dry them). I’m afraid I’m a bit of a spice wimp.

Chilies in olive oil
Adapted from a recipe in Tessa Kiros’ Falling Cloudberries

40 or so fresh red chiles
a good amount of salt
1 ½ cups olive oil

Slice the chiles into thin disks (1/16 of an inch). Kiros suggests using kitchen gloves, but I didn’t. I was very, very careful not to rub my eyes. Remove as many seeds as you can by putting the cut chilies in a colander and sharply tapping the edge of the sink. Leaving the chilies in the colander, generously sprinkle with salt. Place the colander over a bowl, and cover the chilies with saran-wrap, then place something heavy about the saran-wrap to press the juice out (a bowlful of lemons, for instance...).

Let the chilies sit like this for 24 hours. Squeeze the excess moisture and salt out of them, and place them in a sterilized jar. Make sure the chilies are covered in oil, or else they will spoil. After a few days, the oil will be ready to use (in marinades, on pasta, salads, etc...). Store in cool cupboard.

And a few hours later...

No comments: