“Make A Dish You’ve Never Made Before”
This was theme of our 2nd Ghetto-gether. A pot luck dinner party a friend I are starting to organize in Amsterdam once every few weeks. What would you make? Would you play it safe or step outside of your culinary comfort zone? Would you make a cake if you didn’t know how to bake, or make fresh ravioli having never made fresh pasta before? How about hollowing out courgettes and stuffing with a pea mousse with marscapone? Or crab mini quiches?
The idea behind the Ghetto-gethers is that none of us are professional chefs, but we enjoy good food. We all need to eat so why not do it together? It’s a movement. It’s about how we eat, what we eat, and who we eat it with. It’s about inspiration, creativity and pushing our own limits.
It’s interesting how this simple theme can reveal different personality traits. Are you a risk taker? Are you afraid of bringing a bad dish? Do you go for center stage? Even interpreting “new” dish even means something different to different people. To me a new dish was something new out of a cookbook I’ve been wanting to make. But to others it was to make up a whole new dish, or create something from scratch (like fresh pasta). I just had no idea how ALL OUT people would go. Everyone stepped up their game Friday night.
I made a new dish was making out of the Ottolenghi cookbook (shocking, I know) that I’ve had my eye on for months. Honeyed Sweet Potatoes with Chickpeas and Spinach. Sounds good and was definitely tasty, but I gotta say, my dish paled in comparison to some of the guests culinary explosions. And in a way it does represent my personality. I don’t consider myself a huge risk-taker, I’m not good at creating things from scratch, but I am good at following instructions and improvising a little.
So instead of holding a center stage dish last night, I really wanted to up my game with the photography. This week my little mini photo studio came in the mail and what better place to test it out. Of course as soon as I set it up one of the lamps fell over and broke the bulb. Luckily our gracious hosts had a clip on light that ended up working really well. I also just got photoshop, which I’m attempting to learn, and for Christmas I got the 50mm 1.8 lens. So with this perfect storm of photography toys, it’s time to take some more than decent shots. With PJ doing amazing food styling, it was ON. So (almost) every dish created and consumed, first made a pit stop at my portable photo studio for its culinary close-up.
I believe food isn’t just about nourishment. It’s not just what’s on your plate. Food is a uniting force that brings people together, cultivates cultural understanding, and instigates social interaction. That’s what’s behind the success of these Ghett0-gethers.
The idea is that all of the guests from the party put their recipe in the comments section. So that we build a virtual cookbook. So if I loved someone else’s dish, I’d have the recipe here. It becomes a place we can all come to re-live the dishes of the night. Two guests even made dishes previously posted on the blog: Mariake made Cauliflower & Cumin Fritters with Lime Yoghurt and PJ made Brussel Sprouts with Carmelized Garlic & Lemon Syrup. Both from Ottolenghi
We want to grow this movement and hosting more of these parties. If you want to join the next one just email me at email@example.com or find our Edible Europe page on Facebook, and I’m going to update through the blog and FB. And if anyone is interested in hosting, let me know that as well, we’re looking for venues!
Honeyed Sweet Potatoes with Chickpeas and Spinach
200g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked for about 1 hour (or use a standard 400g tin)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
100g baby spinach leaves (or use 200g frozen leaf spinach, defrosted)
10g coriander leaves, for garnish
salt and pepper
For the sweet potato:
500g sweet potatoes (about 2 medium-large)
50g unsalted butter
4 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
For the yoghurt sauce:
100g Greek yoghurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
1-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried mint
Slice the sweet potatoes into 2.5cm pieces. Put them in a saucepan with the remaining sweet potato ingredients. Don’t worry if it seems like a lot of butter, as most of it will stay in the water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 35-40 minutes until the potatoes are tender..
While the sweet potatoes are simmering, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, cumin seeds and coriander seeds. Fry for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato puree, cook for a minute, stirring, then add the tin of tomatoes, the ground cumin and the sugar. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes over a medium heat and then season to taste.
Stir the spinach and chickpeas (drained and rinsed if you used a tin) into the tomato sauce. Cook for a further 5 minutes and check the seasoning again.
Make the yoghurt sauce by whisking together all of the ingredients and seasoning with salt and pepper. I used fresh mint here and thought it was a nice replacement for the dried herb
To serve, spoon the warm chickpeas into a serving dish, arrange the sweet potato slices on top and garnish with the coriander leaves. Spoon the yoghurt sauce on top or serve on the side.
From Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s ‘Ottolenghi’.