Es­sen­tials

The Press - Zest - - Eat - Fair­fax

health ben­e­fits. ‘‘Co­conut oil has an im­pres­sive fatty acid pro­file and can help mod­u­late good and bad choles­terol ra­tios,’’ says food specialist Catie Gett. The oil has a high smok­ing tem­per­a­ture, which means it can be heated to high tem­per­a­tures be­fore it ox­i­dises, mak­ing it a great op­tion for cook­ing.

SEA­WEED

There are many types of dried sea­weed and they’re a great go-to for adding tex­ture and umami. The rec­om­men­da­tion is to re­con­sti­tute your favourite, tear it and add it to sal­ads, or en­hance a seafood pasta sauce with pow­dered kombu.

CHI­NESE SAUSAGE

Food critic Terry Du­rack loves the con­ve­nience of Chi­nese lap cheong sausage. ‘‘I al­ways keep a pack in the fridge; I love the sweet pork­i­ness it brings, not just to Chi­nese dishes and stir-fries, but just steamed, sliced and siz­zled for 10 sec­onds in a hot pan then tossed over fish and rice for a quirky surf-and­turf ef­fect. Din­ner is done.’’

BUCK­WHEAT FLOUR

The pseudo-ce­real grain is from the same fam­ily as sor­rel and rhubarb and good for those fol­low­ing a gluten-free diet. You can buy it as a ready-to-use flour, or buy the groats and grind it yourself for a fresher flavour. Buck­wheat groats can be sprouted and roasted, then cooked in a light broth to make tra­di­tional buck­wheat por­ridge. Good too for bli­nis and Nor­mandy-style crepes.

BE­YOND BAL­SAMIC VINE­GARS

Ex­pand­ing your reper­toire of vine­gars can un­lock many new culi­nary tricks and recipes. Fair­fax food writ­ers are fans of nat­u­rally fer­mented Bragg Or­ganic Ap­ple Cider Vine­gar, as it is both health-pro­mot­ing and a starter for all sorts of fer­ment­ing. Also rec­om­mended; soak­ing a cou­ple of ta­ble­spoons of cur­rants in red wine vine­gar for an hour or so be­fore din­ner. Drain and use the vine­gar with olive oil to dress a leaf salad, and scat­ter with the cur­rants – lit­tle bliss bombs of sweet­ness and acid­ity.’’

POME­GRAN­ATE MO­LASSES

Mid­dle East­ern flavours are still pop­u­lar and pome­gran­ate mo­lasses is en­dur­ingly ver­sa­tile for both savoury and sweet dishes – meat­loaf to cof­fee cake. Karen Mar­tini says ‘‘it has a con­cen­tra­tion of flavour, as well as an amaz­ing sweet and sour bal­ance. Re­cently I made a meat­loaf with haloumi, pis­ta­chios and oregano, and glazed the top with some pome­gran­ate mo­lasses, which gave it a de­li­ciously sweet and sharp ac­cent. I do an ex­otic ver­sion of Eton mess with Per­sian fairy floss and cubes of pome­gran­ate mo­lasses and cran­berry jelly. I also make a Dan Lepar­din­spired spiced cof­fee and date loaf, which I skewer holes in and drench with pome­gran­ate mo­lasses while it cools, which makes it ex­tramoist.’’

DUKKAH

While this Egyp­tian dry mix is not un­usual now, its spicy, se­same-seedy good­ness is used in new ways – scat­tered over fried eggs, shak­shouka, leafy green sal­ads, soups, roast veges, and swirled into yo­ghurt and smashed feta to serve next to grilled fish, chicken, lamb, or as a crust for oven-baked fish.

TIME

With our grow­ing in­ter­est in cre­at­ing culi­nary things on the home front, per­haps the most vi­tal in­gre­di­ent we should be stock­pil­ing is time – time to ex­per­i­ment, time to ex­plore mar­kets and un­usual sup­pli­ers, time to hone new skills and get cre­ative.

Green pop-up: All hail kale.

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