Waste Not, Want Not, Paper Chef # 9, The Local Edition
Stone Fruit Salsa, Herbed Yoghurt & Chilli Chips
Every month, Owen over at Tomatilla hosts an event he calls The Paper Chef. The premise is, that all entrants create a recipe based on a list of the same four chosen ingredients. As I was away for the weekend, in LA, without a chance to do any food shopping, I thought I wouldn't be able to enter this time round. But when I saw the ingredient list, I realised I just might be able to rustle something up, afterall, from what I aready had in the house.
The Ingredients: 1- Dried Chillies 2- Peaches 3- Edible flowers 4- Anything at all that really is local - the more local the better.
(click on any of the photos to enlarge)
On Sunday evening I emptied a pot of local plain yoghurt made by St Benoit into a piece of cheesecloth and left it overnight, to drain in the fridge. Although this radically reduces the yoghurt's volume, it makes it deliciously thick and creamy.
You can't get more local than our little deck, just a few steps away from the kitchen. On Monday evening I harvested some of the herbs I have been growing with various degrees of success. A few chives and a chive flower, plus a some mint leaves from a plant that is quickly recovering from a recent near-death experience. I snipped the chives into little pieces and blended them together with the thickened yoghurt.
Office colleagues sometimes leave excess produce from their gardens in the kitchen at work. A few weeks ago someone left homegrown chillies. Hot green ones and some even hotter red ones. I helped myself to one red and two green. I had already used one of the green ones and I left the red one to dry in the sun. Yesterday evening I ground the red one up, seeds and all, to make a course chilli powder. I added just a pinch of it to some oil. I then ground a large piece of dried Ancho chilli from Tierra Vegetables and added that to the oil together with a generous pinch of non-local sea salt. I found some Western Sierra wholewheat pitta breads in the freezer. According to the map, they are within the San Francisco foodshed. The wrapper claims that the flour used to make them is organically grown in accordance with the California Organic Foods act of 1990. They were purchased some time ago at Wholefoods. I defrosted them, split them and cut them into triangles, before brushing them with the oil/chilli mix. I popped them on a tray and baked them for just a few minutes at 400F until crispy. (Be careful not to overcook, burnt chips taste bad!) Remove from oven and leave to cool.
The ingredient list specified peaches. But you have to remember here, guys, rather than trash what I already had in the house, I was determined not to let anything go to waste. Owen clearly stated "It is also absolutely OK to substitute ... just try to substitute with something close to the original to remain in the spirit of the occasion." I still had a couple of pluots left in the fridge that I bought nine days ago from Hidden Star Orchards. Well, they are stonefruit, they are round and peachy-coloured and they do make an excellent peach subsitute. Perfect for making salsa. I chopped one up and mixed it with minced mint leaves, a little of the green chilli cut into the smallest pieces imagineable, some finely diced red onion and a squeeze of lime. (Limes from the Central Valley).
I served the salsa with the chilli chips and the herbed yoghurt which I sprinkled with the pretty chive flowers for added flavour and decoration. I surprised even myself. The three elements came together exceedingly well. Cold, creamy yoghurt, spicy crispy chips and crunchy, refreshing salsa bursting with flavour. Great combination, most of it local and all of it made with items that needed to be used up. How local is that? I didn't even leave the house. Result!
It was really so simple and easy, anyone could make it. I would definitely make it again. It's amazing how much better freshly ground chilli tastes than the pre-ground stuff. You really can taste the vegetable behind the heat. I served it for dinner, to accompany some absolutely scrummy, more delicious than you can imagine, Lamb Crepinettes with Cumin, Mint and Orange Zest that I had in the freezer. Yes - of course they were from The Fatted Calf. Another local success story.
PS The judge for this month's event is Jennifer at Taste Everything Once