Sunday, August 11, 2013
I was supposed to be at a poetry workshop today, but it was cancelled ... so I'm sitting at my desk actually forced to write, rather than just reading about writing, or listening to advice about writing, or even thinking about writing. This is good for me. The academic side of my brain always wants to be prepared for things, wants to look before leaping. But writing's not like that ... you just have to do it.
Some days the words flow out of my fingertips like honey all over the screen, honey that in some kind of reverse magic makes the bees and then the hive and then the field all around the hive and the blue sky. Other days my fingers sit heavy and idle on the keyboard, rocks in pockets. I can never be sure which day will be which, I just open the tap and see what happens.
Even two paragraphs in, I'm still not sure which day today is. Maybe I should dump a bunch of shit in a metaphorical mortar and grind it up and see what happens.
In the meantime, while I sort out what I'm doing today, I'd like to share this dukkah recipe. I love dukkah - it's so incredibly versatile, as a dip or salad sprinkle or topping for eggs/avocados/buttered pasta or even a marinade for lamb cutlets (says my husband). But it's one of those things I'm almost universally disappointed with when I have it at a cafe or restaurant, and I shudder to pay the prices asked for a tiny packet of it at fancy markets and providores.
It's easy, in fact, to make dukkah. Plus, you get to take out your frustrations in a positive and delicious way: by crushing the hell out of roasted seeds. So maybe if you're trying to write something profound and meaningful in your home office (er, bedroom) and things aren't going so well, you can give yourself 5 minutes to toast some seeds and beat them (physically and symbolically) into submission. Plus, you get dukkah.
Now, please excuse me for 5 minutes.
Hazelnut Dukkah with Amaranth Flowers
makes ~1/2 cup
I love the richness that hazelnuts give this dukkah, but you can substitute almonds or cashews or whatever. Dukkah relies on the sesame seeds and the cumin seeds and the salt for its basic flavour, and the rest is just what you have and what you like. I love the way amaranth blossoms brighten up things, an unexpected splash of purple to balance out green or gold or beige. They don't add any taste here, just colour, so if you don't have a patch of amaranth going to seed in your garden - you should plant some (!!), but you can also go without, too.
5 min toasting + 5 min crushing
2 Tbs sesame seeds
2 Tbs pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
2 Tbs hazelnuts
1 Tbs cumin seeds
a big pinch of sea salt, ideally flaked for texture
amaranth seeds and blossoms, for prettiness
*use organic when you can
Toast all the seeds and nuts in a heavy skillet until golden and fragrant. Mash them with a mortar and pestle, or via a brief pulse in a food processor or coffee grinder. You don't want paste - and some texture is nice here. Add the salt, to taste, and serve.
How to serve it? I love it with olive oil and fresh bread (or flatbreads) - just dip the bread in the oil and then the dukkah. But you can also sprinkle it over almost anything for a quick hit of flavour. Dukkah goes well with red wine and wood fires. Let's admit it, we're not really going back to writing today, so we may as well open that shiraz and invite some friends over ...
Less than you'd pay at the shops, and it'll taste fresher, too.