Saturday, June 16, 2007

Golden Raisin Chutney

I'm doing it: my brilliant Latin-Indian fusion food idea will soon be realized. I've made a batch of chutney and fried up the plantains, and I'm working on the lentils now. I decided on lentils rather than black beans because I felt like I was leaning too far toward the Latin side of things. Then I discovered that I have Goya lentils, and the packaging is in Spanish. I'm calling them a crossover food. I'm thinking saffron rice. This would be a lot faster to do if I had more pots. Oh well, making do with what I've got is part of what makes cooking a challenge, and the challenge is what keeps me interested.

A word about plantains: good heavens, they are delicious. Why are they so cheap? I think I paid 79¢ a pound for the one I bought at Harris Teeter last week, regular price. I am going to eat plantains all the time.

A bunch of us headed over to City Market this morning, which is always a joy. I enjoy going alone, but I think I do better when I go with people. They notice things I don't, and they encourage me to slow down so I can think more carefully about what I want to buy. Today I ended up with string beans, blackberries, new potatoes, strawberries, sour cherries and some absolutely gorgeous cherry tomatoes. I've been avoiding tomatoes all year, having made a vow only to eat them when they're in season, because they're so disappointing otherwise. These tomatoes were worth the nine-month wait.

I also got my obligatory cinnamon sugar cake donut from the donut guy. He must have just finished a batch, because mine was almost too hot to eat and falling apart in my hands. They're the only donuts I eat, and well worth a dollar apiece.

It occurs to me that if my herbs get robust enough to start cooking with at some point while tomato season is still on, I'm going to make some killer salsa fresca.

I'll let you know how the experiment turns out. I think it's going to be picnic food, since it's all vegan and should taste great at room temperature.

All right, I just tasted the chutney after letting it cool for a while on the counter, and it is fantastic, and definitely recipe-worthy. Here you go:

Golden Raisin Chutney

1/4 c white wine vinegar
3/4 c water
1/4 c sugar
1/2 to 1 tsp minced ginger (I use stuff from a jar by "The Ginger People")
1 tsp ground ancho pepper
cayenne pepper to taste, or leave it out
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, minced
1 c golden raisins

Throw everything but the raisins in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about five minutes. Then add the raisins and cook until almost all of the liquid is gone (it took me somewhere between twenty minutes and half an hour, I think). Cool to room temperature or throw it in the fridge for later.

The basic chutney idea (water, vinegar, ginger, peppers, onion, fruit) is swiped from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, which is where I go when I think, "Hey, how would one go about cooking THAT at home?" Except when I'm baking, I use recipes more to check whether I'm on the right track or not than to dictate exactly how I should cook. I'm afraid that the intuitive approach to, say, cake or bread baking is several years down the road...

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