Another unexpected hunkering down at home has seen a complete cleanout of my pantry. I discovered large bags of sumac and ground turmeric left over from a photography shoot 18 months ago and just past their best-by dates. Their flavour intensity was a little diminished but they were still usable.
I had two days of turmeric lattes (heat a half teaspoon of ground turmeric, a quarter teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and ginger and a dash of vanilla essence in a cup of milk), then married the remainder with hard-boiled eggs, coconut cream and canned tomatoes and served the combo over rice. Yum!
I added sumac (a slightly astringent, lemon flavour reddish-purple berry which is finely crushed) to a salad dressing for canned beans; sprinkled it over rice; and coated chicken portions before baking. Its flavour is very popular and can easily replace lemon juice in savoury recipes.
The container of pumpkin seeds (pepitos) bought a couple of months ago for nibbles and forgotten, required a little imagination. The seeds were pounded into a perfect pesto making a nutritional powerhouse that tasted terrific.
My bottle of date syrup needed to be finished before it went sugary. So it replaced golden syrup in my traditional recipe for that comfort food Sticky Date Pudding — delish.
STICKY DATE SYRUP PUDDINGS
Make this decadent desert in standard muffin pans if required. The puddings can be frozen and reheated in the microwave.
1 1/2 cups pitted chopped dates
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
75g butter, softened
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon date syrup
1 cup self-raising flour
2 x large eggs
Sauce: 1 cup cream
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons date syrup
2-3 pitted dates chopped, optional
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly brush a 6-hole Texas muffin pan with melted butter. Line with large paper muffin cases and brush with more melted butter.
Place the dates and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir in the baking soda and stand for 15 minutes.
Beat the butter, brown sugar and date syrup until creamy. Add a tablespoon of flour (to prevent curdling) then beat in the eggs one at a time until well mixed. Gently fold in the remaining flour and date mixture.
Spoon into the muffin cases. Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Combine the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the butter has melted. Simmer for 5 minutes. served over the puddings. Serves 6.
PUMPKIN SEED PESTO
Serve as a spread for crackers or crostini. Or thin with a little hot water and serve as a sauce for fish or vegetables.
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitos)
1/2 cup firmly packed coriander leaves and stalks
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the pumpkin seeds, coriander and garlic in a small food processor. Blend until fairly smooth. With the machine running, gradually add the lemon juice and olive oil. Season and add more lemon juice or oil if preferred. Store in a covered container in the fridge for 4-5 days. Makes about 1/2 cup.
SUMAC CHICKEN TRAYBAKE
The chicken can be sprinkled with extra sumac after baking.
8 skinned and boned chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sumac
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1-2 teaspoons chilli flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Dressing: 1/2 cup plain Greek-style yoghurt
finely grated rind and juice 1 small lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Brush a large roasting dish with oil.
Trim the chicken if necessary. Brush with oil. Combine the dry ingredients. Place in a sieve and dust over the chicken on both sides.
Place in the roasting pan and bake for 25-35- minutes, until cooked.
Meanwhile, whisk the ingredients for the dressing, Serve drizzled over the chicken. Serves 4.