Archive for category Recipes
I don’t know how ajvar is usually used, and I’m not even sure I pronounce it correctly, but many years ago I discovered that it makes a great base for nachos, or just a great nacho topping by itself, so with this recipe, I may offend Balkan and Mexican chefs alike. Quantities are all approximate… use as much of each thing as you feel like.
1 jar ajvar (spicy or mild, depending on how spicy you want your nachos and how many other ingredients you’ll be adding)
1 or 2 large packets of corn chips (you probably need more than you think. I prefer nacho cheese flavour.)
1 small container of sour cream or crème fraîche (you probably need less than you think)
plenty of grated cheese (I find Sbrinz cheese is great for nachos.)
1 or 2 onions (optional)
1 can red kidney beans (optional)
some kind of hot sauce, to taste (optional)
Chop and fry the onion(s), if using, in a large frying pan. Empty the ajvar into the pan. Swill a small amount of liquid from the kidney bean can, if using, or water, in the ajvar jar to dislodge any additional ajvar, and pour that into the pan. Drain the rest of the liquid from the kidney beans (if using) and empty them into the pan. Stir and heat up the mixture to a good eating temperature. Add hot sauce to taste, if using.
To serve, put a few large serving spoonfuls of the mixture onto a plate. Cover it with a layer of grated cheese, and if necessary, microwave briefly to melt the cheese. Add a dollop of sour cream. Serve the corn chips on the side so they stay crunchy and are less messy to handle.
To eat, scoop up some ajvar mixture, cheese, and a little of the sour cream with a corn chip, and put it in your mouth. You probably know how to do the rest.
Serves 2 or 3, as a main dish, if all optional ingredients are used.
In 2009 in Geneva, I made a pavlova for my birthday. In 2012 in Sweden, some friends made me a pancake cake. This year, in Vienna, I went to two concerts between the time my birthday started in New Zealand and the time it ended in Austria. When Sara Chicazul goes to a concert on her birthday, she makes cake, Nanaimo bars, cupcakes, or Nanaimo bar cupcakes, for the entire audience, so I decided I’d have to do the same. While I did help Sara with Nanaimo bar cupcakes before JoCo Cruise Crazy 4, I was a minion rather than an evil genius, so I don’t really have the expertise to make a lot of cupcakes myself. What’s more, I had a French exam the day of the first concert, so I didn’t have a lot of time. Instead, I made about the third simplest food that can be made with puffed rice (a.k.a. Rice Krispies, Rice Bubbles, Ricies.) I made Rice Krispies Treats (a.k.a. Rice Bubbles Squares, or some other combination of a word for puffed rice and either ‘treats’ or ‘squares’) with Austria’s famous (i.e. I’d never heard of them until a tour guide told us about them the first time I visited Austria) Mozartkugeln (a.k.a. Mozart balls, followed by sniggering) mixed in.
So here is the recipe for what I’m going to call Mozartpuffreisschnitten. Serves two concert audiences including performers (bigger than Viertel, smaller than the first JoCo Cruise Crazy, which the Nanaimo bars were made for) with enough left over for a peckish post-birthday girl.
- One 300g bag of marshmallows — I used a bag of white ones, but the ones pictured here are multicoloured because I took the picture of my spare pack after making them.
- One 170g bag of Mozartkugeln Minis.
- About six cups of puffed rice cereal. It turns out, going by my quick look in a few shops and the word of a few locals, that there is no such cereal available in Austria. Luckily, I had enough that I’d brought with me from Switzerland, but I had hoped to get some more to be sure, and was quite surprised by this lack. Probably any light cereal that isn’t too sweet would work. I saw several cereals that seemed like good candidates, but they were 30% honey, which seems like overkill when you’re adding 470g of candy. But hey, it’s your birthday, you’re allowed twice as much redundantly superfluous overkill as you want.
- A little bit of some kind of oil (probably optional.) I found a recipe online that said to use butter, but I didn’t have any, so I used sunflower oil. I don’t think the oil is really necessary anyway.
- Some non-stick baking paper.
- Cornflakes to garnish (optional.) I’d bought them as an emergency filler in case of insufficient puffed rice, and decided to stick them on for decoration and to reduce stickiness.
Pour the oil, marshmallows and Mozartkugeln into a pan, and put it on a medium heat.
The chocolate will melt first. It turns out there’s no solid, unmeltable centre in Mozart balls.
Soon the marshmallows will start to get gooey. Have fun mixing them with the melted chocolate.
Soon enough the marshmallows will be fairly smooth, and you can make streaky patterns in them with the chocolate. Take a note of how you feel at this moment: this is what it was like to create Jupiter.
But eventually you’ll have to say goodbye to Jupiter and say hello to smooth, uniform, light brown goo. Don’t worry, Zeno, you don’t have to say hello and goodbye every time the streakiness changes.
Turn off the heat and pour in the puffed rice, stopping to mix it in a couple of times. Add more if there still seems to be enough goo to hold it. You’d be surprised at how much can still be mixed in when it already looks fairly dry. Pour it all onto the baking paper such that it’s a few centimetres high. Or make it into a giant Mozart ball; I don’t care. Add cornflakes or whatever garnish you like that will stick on.
Once it’s cooled, cut it into squares, or rectangles, or smaller balls, so it’s easier for people to eat. Don’t worry about it too much; it’s easy to tear into smaller chunks with your hands, so if your concertgoers want smaller pieces they can have them.
Everybody who tried the ones I made said they liked them. Some had tried Rice Krispie treats in the USA and missed them. In my opinion, the finished product didn’t taste too much like Mozartkugeln, so if I did this again I’d use more of them. The only other time I’ve made Rice Krispie Treats, I added Sprüngli chocolat chaud grand cru and it made it really chocolatey. The classic recipe is just puffed rice and marshmallows, so of course it’s good with any amount of Mozartkugeln, including zero.
I am working on some more writing-related things, and I encourage people who are here for the writing to go to the launch of Offshoots X (which includes my poem, Role Reversal) after the September 19 workshop but since Writing Cards and Letters finished I also have time to play with other things, such as video.
For my birthday this year, I made my favourite dessert… a New Zealand invention called a pavlova. It’s like a giant meringue which is soft in the centre. Since my friends often ask how to make one, I filmed myself making it in time-lapse mode. I also took photographs of the ingredients, mostly in multilingual Swiss packets, which might help people looking for the ingredients in French-, German- or Italian-speaking countries. I then added music and titles to create this video recipe: