"We do not live an equal life, but one of contrasts and patchworks; now a little joy, then a sorrow, now a sin, then a generous or brave action".
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Rare are the people who would accept to live an insipid and hollow life without highs and lows or a uniform existence in which nothing good or bad happens and days flow in a homogenous way. At first, the thought of eradicating all troubles, drama, conflicts and discords is very appealing, but when you start to meditate a little more on the question, you soon realise that the lack of a healthy Russian mountain-style peak of emotions would be pure hell. Nobody can feel alive when neutrality surrounds them. Humans need to experience pain, sadness, despair, negativity and anger in order to understand the true meaning of pleasure, happinness, hope, positivity and peace. "Negative" and "positive" or Yin and Yang energies rule our world. There is no doubt that good and evil exist...
The same can be said about alimentation. Bland food is generally shunned, but on the contrary, dishes rich in different aromas always meet a frank success. There is absolutely nothing worse or more boring than vapid chow. It makes you lose your appetite as it is uninteresting and dull to the point of no return. The act of feeding then only becomes mechanical and its sole purpose if to fill the stomach. Eating should not only maintain your body in vigour, but should also uplift you soul, bring you joy, make you dream and titillate all your senses. It is an everyday celebration that can be compared to a Pagan life glorifying ritual.
As you might have guessed by now, I have no problem admitting that I am a zealous worshipper of firework flavors and a crazy spice enthusiast who loves to surprise my tastebuds rather than make them go to sleep with plainness. My passion for cuisines that rock is immense and I do not tolerate any form of taste obscurantism. Forbidding yourself to indulge in a meal is a crime and an insult to the almighty power that gave us the opportunity to materialize our spirit in the human form we impersonate and to walk this earth. It is our duty to make the most out of the time that has been granted to us during our current incarnation.
I am a buoyant hedonist and an open-minded woman of extremes who has schizophrenic tastes and who cultivates an attraction for intensity and things that are in total opposition to one another. For example, I enjoy the cold season as much as the hot season. My idea of great climatic and atmospheric conditions usually differs from that of others. The perfect weather for me is when the sky is azure blue the sun is shining blindingly and the air is dry as well as reasonably hot - you can hear the birds singing a symphony and the grass is lush green -, but it is also when the skies are pitch black and threatening, lumps of clouds hover in the abysmal sky, the wind is blowing tempestly, lightening is striking wildly, rain is falling in big drops - you want to stay home and curl up in the settee with a cup of warm tea and a breathtaking vampyre romance book - or when the air is freezing cold and snow is dancing in the heavens above- you can admire the naked and frosty trees that appear like ghosts, the snow covering the landscapes, flocks of crows screaming hauntingly.
This contrast can also be observed in other domains that are close to my heart. Photos or artistic creations that talk to me are soft, dreamy, colorful and have pastel tones, yet I am a total sucker for dramatic pictures or illustrations that are dark, glooomy, morbid and monochromic. My interest in music are also quite neurotic as I listen to a wide variety of sounds. Those can be classified into two antagonist and distinct styles that can be described as "ugly", raw, agressive, grim, violent, nihilistic, dissonant, ominous, tenebrous, extreme, unorthodox, insolent, metallic, testosterone-fueled/war-like (Black Metal, Death Metal, Doom Thrash, harsh EBM, etc...) or beautiful, peaceful, empyrian, soothing, ethereal, bluesy, romantic, feminine, atmospheric, bubbly and luminous (Ambient Music, Electro Pop, Goth Rock, Blues, etc...). My choice of films is pretty eclectic too. I am able to watch thrillers, horror flicks and switch over to dramas without a problem (as long as they are not big cheesy Hollywood productions - I am a fan of small budget films, especially those from Scandinavia and Germany). Idem when it comes to homes, apparels and the masculine gender. Modern Botta-like buildings or design residences has as much effect on me as cute little old stonebuilt English cottages, NOLA Garden District mansions, American log cabins or Scandinavian colored (red, blue, white, yellow and brown) wooden houses. Funky, classy, sassy, boyish, gothicky, rock'n'roll and romantic clothes generally catch my eyes. Men I find attractive cannot fit in one category either as I have never had one particular type of man (I do have one selection criteria, though I must admit that I prefer lean males...). It all depends on how charming they are and how much charisma they have (however, I have a boyfriend, so I am not free anymore ;-P) . And the list can go on forever...
At the end it all comes down to character. I am fond of people or things that have personality. It is not suprising then that I appreciate food that hails from all four corners of the globe and crave ambrosial sweet treats as much as I dream of savory and fragrant specialities. I am addicted to yummy yums that make my drool, bring a smile to my face and make my mouth sing.
So, while I was reading the latest issue of Jamie Magazine (one of my favorite publications and a real source of inspiration), I stumbled upon a Mexican-inspired recipe for a tantilizingly crimson sauce that immediately caught my eye and fascinated me.
Jamie Oliver's funky "Hibiscus, Chipotle & Hibiscus Salsa" looked insanely palatable, unique and promising that I had to make it immediately! So, I went in the kitchen in order to check the contents of my cupboards and fridge to make sure that I had all the ingredients I needed on hand. Luckily, I could proceed to cook straight away and was able to concoct a zesty relish.
As I always have the tendency to make modifications to all the recipes I test, I made no exception with this one. I tweaked it to my convenience. Instead of only using one kind of chilli, I decided to combine chipotle chillies together with ancho chillies. I also thought it might be awesome to add a sprinkle of Peruvian oregano (less pungent and more lemony than its Mediterranean alter-ego) as well as a splash of olive oil and replaced the red vinegar by sherry vinegar.
Needless to say that I was pleased with the final outcome (impossible to fail when cooking one of "The Naked Chef's" dishes). The sauce was delicately tangy, ever so slightly sweet (cherry tomatoes & red onions), delightfully fresh, lushly smoky (chipotle chillies), elegantly chocolaty (ancho chillies), lightly herby, subtly garlicky and had a lovely intensity/deepness. A fabulous condiment that adds a touch of sunshine to any meal!
~ Cherry Tomato, Dried Chilli And Hibiscus Salsa ~
Adapted from a recipe by Jamie Oliver found in "Jamie Magazine", May/June 2011.
Makes about 400ml salsa.
2 Dried chipotle chillies
2 Dried ancho chilies
10g Dried hibiscus flowers
3 Red onions, cut into quarters
5 Cloves garlic, skin on
240g Cherry tomatoes
2 Tbs Tamarind paste
2 Tbs Sherry vinegar
1/2 Tsp Peruvian dried oregano
4 Tbs Olive oil
1 - 1 1/2 Tsp Fine sea salt (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Cut the cherry tomatoes in two and with the help of a teaspoon discard the seeds. Set aside.
2. Put the chillies and the hibiscus in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cover with 120 ml boiling water.
3. Over low heat, simmer gently until you get a thickish deep red syrup.
4. Strain the juice into a bowl and discard the chillies as well as hibiscus flowers. Set aside.
5. Heat a non-stick frying pan or griddle (cast iron) pan until extremely hot, then add the onions. Char on all sides.
6. Halfway through the charring, throw in the garlic and let them get soft.
7. Once the garlic is well charred, peel and throw in a blender together with the tomatoes, syrup, onions, tamarind paste, vinegar, oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper.
8. Blitz until you obtain a thick, smooth and homogenous sauce.
You can replace the sherry vinegar by red vinegar or white wine vinegar, and the Peruvian oregano by "normal" oregan (the flavor will be slightly diffrent) or even thyme.
This sauce can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for about one week.
Serve with grilled veggies or meat/fish, fried or hard boiled eggs, jacket or oven fried potatoes, or use in a burger or a sandwich.
~ Salsa Aux Tomates Cerises, Piments Séchés Et A L'hibiscus ~
Recette adaptée d'une recette de Jamie Oliver trouvée dans "Jamie Magazine".
Pour environ 400ml de salsa.
2 Piment chipotle séchés
2 Piments ancho séchés
10g de Fleurs d'hibiscus séchées
3 Onions rouges, coupés en quartiers
5 Gousses d'ail, avec la peau
240g de Tomates cerises
2 CS de Pâte de tamarin
2 CS de Vinaigre de sherry
1/2 de CC d'Origan séché du Pérou
5 CS d'Huile d'olive
1 - 1 1/2 CC de Sel de mer fin (selon goût)
Poivre noir, fraîchement moulu, selon goût
1. Couper les tomates en deux et enlever les graines à l'aide d'une petite cuillère. Mettre de côté.
2. Mettre les piments et l'hibiscus dans une casserole et ajouter 120ml d'eau bouillante.
3. A température basse, faire cuire à petits bouillons jusqu'à obtention d'un mélange sirupeux et rouge foncé/pourpre.
4. Passer au chinois et jeter les piments ainsi que les fleurs d'hibiscus. Mettre le jus de côté.
5. Faire chauffer une poêle anti-adhésive ou en fonte à haute température, puis quand elle très chaude, ajouter les quartiers d'oignons et les faire "carboniser" légèrement (griller) sur tous les côtés.
6. Quand les oignons sont à moitié "carbonisés"/grillés, ajouter l'ail et le laisser cuire afin qu'il soit mou et grillé.
7. Une fois que les gousses d'ail ont été grillées, les peler et les mettre dans votre blender avec les tomates, le sirop, les oignons, la pâte de tamarin, le vinaigre, l'origan, l'huile, le sel et le poivre.
8. Mixer afin d'obtenir une sauce épaisse, homogène et lisse.
Vous pouvez remplacer le vinaigre de sherry par du vinaigre de vin blanc ou rouge, et l'origan du Pérou par de l'origan "normal" (le goût sera un peu différent) ou même du thym séché.
Cette sauce peut être conservée au frigo, dan un récipient hermétiquement fermé, pendant une semaine maximum.
Idées de présentation:
Servir cette salsa avec des légumes, de la viande ou du poisson grillé, des oeufs au plat ou cuits durs, des pommes de terres au four ou en papillotte, ou comme garniture dans un burger ou un sandwich.