Cookbook Challenge: Fortnight 4, Love

Theme: Love
1st Recipe: Braised beef brisket with chilli and tamarind sauce
Cookbook: Blue Ginger

2nd Recipe: Pecan Chai Pie on Cashew Crust
Cookbook: Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen

The theme for this week’s Cookbook Challenge is “love”. Love, love, love. I’m very fortunate in love – I’m married to my best friend and the love of my life (gush) 🙂 . And then there’s the other kinds of love: family, of course – Bro and my mum and dad are ace. Plus there’s friendship love: see BFF for an example!

So to show a bit of friendship love for this fortnight’s challenge, my BFF and I have teamed up and swapped recipes. She selected a few for me, and vice versa. (Check out her post to see what she made.) 🙂

I ended up making made two of the recipes that BFF sent me. One was quite “me” and the other was definitely more her… The first recipe was for a braised beef brisket with chilli and tamarind sauce (that’s me) and the second is definitely all Hannah: a pecan chai pie on cashew crust that is both raw and vegan. They couldn’t be more different! But that’s love, right? Having major differences and accepting them anyway!

Here’s what Hannah said about the beef recipe:

I chose this recipe because it represents the depth of my love for you. Yes, Agnes, your raw-vegan-brownie-making BFF is willingly sending you a recipe wherein the primary focus in a hunkin’ chunk of chunky hunky meat. Also, the simmered cooking process reminds me of your sous-vide experiments, and I also think this recipe might be one that the men in your life could appreciate. See how considerate I am?

In this recipe, a chunk of meat is simmered in a stock flavoured with garlic, ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and soy sauce. I couldn’t resist throwing in some star anise and some sliced chilli so that went in as well. After the meat is tender, it’s sliced and served with sauce made from the stock and chilli, tamarind water and fish sauce. The result: tender slices of beef in a sweet, salty, spicy, sour sauce.

We ate it with rice, and it made for a very satisfying dinner. I would definitely make this again, though I would probably just wing the flavouring next time since it’s pretty simple. Oh, and yes, the men in my life (Alastair and Bro) definitely appreciated it! Good pick, BFF!

And about the raw pie recipe? Before choosing the recipes, I jokingly suggested to Hannah that she send me a raw one. So she did! She said about it:

In all honesty, I hadn’t thought of sending you a raw recipe until you all but begged me to do so 😉 I only have one raw cookbook at the moment, so had a bit of trouble picking a recipe that didn’t include crazy ingredients like coconut butter, agave, or dehydrated bananas. I promise you, though, the other non-raw recipes means “love” just as much as this one 🙂 So don’t worry at all about passing this one over if you want!

I’m a very pragmatic person, and when I say I’m not into the raw food movement – well, it’s a bit of an understatement. However, when I suggested that Hannah send me a raw recipe – I was willing to try one out. That’s love!

The best thing about this recipe is the easy factor. All it involves is throwing stuff in the food processor. Though being someone who bakes a lot, it did feel a bit strange not to have to put anything in the oven! The “pie crust” is made from processed cashews, dates and coconut, while the “pie filling” is made from dates, spices, pecans and water. The crust is pressed into a pie dish, and the filling is spooned on top. That’s it!

I must say that the end result isn’t the most attractive pie in the world – and Bro said that the cashew crust looked like one of those seed bells that you give to birds! The taste is more important than looks though, and if I’m going to be honest… well… it was okay. But it just tasted like nuts. And dates. And a bit of orange. And then more nuts and dates. The flavours didn’t merge to taste like a pie: it just tasted like the individual components mixed together. And it was heavy! I literally could only eat a teaspoon at a time before I had to stop due to the heaviness. The flavour of the dates was also really strong, and I tired of it quickly.

So sorry BFF, this recipe wasn’t for me! But I tried it, and that’s the important thing, right? I can’t say that I’m won over to raw foodism: back to proper cooking for me!

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here.

See what other participants made for this theme at the Cookbook Challenge forum.

Braised beef brisket with chilli and tamarind sauce

Cookbook: Blue Ginger
Serves 2-4

400g beef brisket

Braising Stock
3 tb dark soy sauce
3 tb light soy sauce
8 garlic cloves, peeled and bruised
5cm knob of fresh ginger, bruised
2 lemongrass stems, bruised
3 tb sugar
4 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 tsp white pepper

1 bird’s eye chilli, finely sliced
4 tb tamarind water*
1 tb fish sauce
2 tb sugar

To serve
3 tb fried shallots
2 handfuls coriander leaves
6 spring onions, julienned
lime wedges

Put the beef in a saucepan and pour in enough cold water to submerge it. Bring to the boil. Drain, then rinse the beef under cold running water.

Put the beef in a stockpot of large saucepan. Add all the ingredients for the braising stock plus 1.5L water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and almost “melting”. Remove the beef from the stock (reserving the braising stock) and leave to rest or 10 minutes. Slice thinly. Strain the braising stock into a bowl – you need 170ml (2/3 cup) to use in the sauce.

To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients and the reserved braising stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil. The sauce should taste hot, sour, salty, and a little sweet. Add extra tamarind water, fish sauce or sugar, to taste.

To serve, arrange the beef slices on a plate and pour the sauce over the top. Sprinkle with fried shallots, coriander and spring onions and serve with lime wedges.

*Tamarind water: Cover 100g of seedless tamarind pulp with 300ml hot water for 15-20 minutes. Squeeze and work to dissolve it. Strain the liquid through a sieve and discard the fibre. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Pecan Chai Pie on Cashew Crust

Cookbook: Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen

Cashew Crust
1 cup cashews
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups Medjool (or other semi-soft) pitted dates
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut

1 medium orange, zested, peeled and seeded
1 cup pitted dates
1 tb (15ml) ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp grated nutmeg
splash of water, as needed

4 cups pecans

To make crust, pulse cashews, vanilla, and salt in your food processor. Slowly add dates and process into a dough-like consistency. Empty into a bowl.

Use some of the shredded coconut to “flour” the bottom of a pie pan. Mix remaining coconut into the cashew mixture. Press into the “floured” pie pan.

To make syrup, place orange pulp into the bottom of a blender. Add dates, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg and blend. Add a splash of water as needed to make a thick syrup. Set asice.

To make filling mix pecans, syrup, and 1 tb orange zest well. Spoon filling into pie crust.

Will keep for 4-5 days in fridge.