Friday, 15 January 2016

Broccoli and cashew pilaf

"Know who I love? That James Bond. Movie heroes don't come tougher than him. Everything he did was thanks to broccoli and, me being a greengrocer, I know all about broccoli Yum, yum, yum! Apples and fackin' pears"

Actually, Potato Gregg, I think you're getting confused about Albert "Cubby" Broccoli. He wasn't actually a vegetable. He was the film producer responsible for the James Bond franchise.

Broccoli is actually quite a tasty vegetable considering it's often touted as a "superfood", which is usually a synonym for "unevidenced bollocks propagated by people who's grasp of science is obtained from Frankenstein films or somewhere really unbelievable, like the Daily Mail". In the case of broccoli, however, there is actually some evidence to suggest that it does ,as a cruciferous vegetable, have a high content of some compounds research suggests may be beneficial in preventing cancer, plus various antioxidants and is a source of various minerals and vitamins, so eating it is a good thing.

It's the bête noire of many children who generally hate it. Sweary Jr actually quite likes it, probably because it makes him break wind and there is nothing Sweary Jr (or Sweary Sr for that matter) thinks is more funny than farting.

"Bodily functions don't get any funnier than farting"

Oh, for fuck's sake, Potato Gregg, this is getting tedious. Please get another catch phrase or you're going to be featuring as an ingredient in my next recipe.

Anyway, despite its virtuous qualities, it's quite difficult to incorporate broccoli into recipes. It's good on its own as part of a Sunday roast, but in other things? OK, there's broccoli and Stilton soup and from Chinese takeaways you get it with beef and oyster sauce but not much else. Then there's this, a recipe that I've been making for a long time which makes great use of broccoli, pairing it with cashews plus a little spice to make a satisfying rice dish. It's a great accompaniment to anything from the Mediterranean area, be it South  European, Asian or North African. It's also good for anyone wanting a wheat-free alternative to cous cous.

1 mug of decent quality rice (works out at about 200g)
½ a vegetable stock cube
75g cashew nuts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
1 cinnamon stick (about 10cm long)
Black pepper
150g broccoli, broken up into bite-size florets

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 15-20 minutes

Put the rice in a heavy pan and wash it in a couple of changes of water. Drain well and return to the pan and add 1½ times the volume of water as rice. Crumble in the half stock cube and stir well before heating to boiling, turning down the heat as low as possible and covering for 15-20 minutes. When it's ready, the liquid should be fully absorbed leaving nice, fluffy rice.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a deep frying pan or wok and throw in the cashews and brown them by stirring or tossing regularly for 5 minutes or so, then remove with a slotted spoon.

Add the onion, garlic and spices to the hot oil and sauté until the onions are transparent, about 10 minutes. Add the broccoli and stir fry for another 10 minutes or so until tender. If the mix gets dry add a splash of water.

Throw in the fried cashews and the cooked rice. Mix well and serve.

This recipe makes easily enough for a couple of adults and goes well with something like my recipe for pork afelia or perhaps stuffat tal fenek

This is the second pilaf I've done in the blog after my tomato pilaf a few months back.

The word pilaf is derived from the Turkish word "pilav" which is in turn derived (by way of Persian) from the Hindi pulao or pilau.

I know I twat on about this every time I do a rice dish, but do use good rice like Thai jasmine or Basmati, and not that American long grain shit they sell on the same shelf in the supermarket. The rice is the main part of this recipe, so bland, tasteless polystyrene-textured grains just make it not worth the bother. It is the difference between a pilaf like this being something you'd be proud to serve your parents and something you'd serve your parents once you discover they're leaving the house to a local donkey sanctuary.

I don't put any salt in this recipe since stock cubes contain an awful lot.

This could be the last we see of Potato Gregg for a time as I think there is a risk of this blog turning into a ventriloquist act which, though it may be unique in terms of cooking (if you don't count Fanny Craddock and Johnnie), there's probably a good reason for that. On the other hand, I would have paid good money to see the late Keith Harris and Orville do a cookery show where Orville's nappy comes into its own when Keith mentions he's going to be making an orange sauce.

Keith Harris and Orville
I wish I could fry...

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