Ever tried smoking food at home? James experiments with a smoking gun to make a delicious Middle Eastern influenced smoky starter. Never fear it can be made either with or without a smoking gun.
Smoking food in the home is something we seem to be doing more of. Heath Robinson-style you can do it with sawdust or tea, a saucepan and an efficient extractor fan. It’s not entirely scientific but for certain things it does the job. Does it rather well, come to that.
I was sent a smoking gun
a while back, which goes one further though in some ways a step back from that. It can impart a splendid smokiness to cooked vegetables and generally small items but won’t come close to smoking a side of salmon. Though that’s not the point of it. The point is generally to fire smoke at dishes at the last minute so that not only do they have a smoky flavour, but they also arrive with a waft of the stuff. It’s like eating by a bonfire.
That said, I ought to proceed under the assumption that you don’t have one of these contraptions, and that you’ll do your smoking in advance. Or not – this will be delicious sans
This makes a lovely, Middle Eastern-tinged starter. Serve with warm pitta bread.
For the goat curd
Smoked carrot puree with pickled carrot, hazelnuts and goat curd
500g goat yogurt
For the pickled carrot
25g caster sugar
100ml white wine vinegar
Pinch of salt
For the smoked carrot puree
2 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced
500g carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
500ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
4 tea bags
2 tbsp chopped hazelnuts
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Juice of half a lemon
4 tbsp olive oil
Line a bowl with a clean tea towel and tip in the goat yogurt. Mix with a pinch of salt, then tie up and hang over the bowl to strain for at least four hours.
Mix the sugar, vinegar and salt until the sugar dissolves. Peel the carrot, then peel into ribbons and mix with the pickle. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil over a gentle flame and soften the shallot and garlic for 10 minutes. Add the carrot and stock and bring to a boil. Simmer until tender, then drain. Line a small baking tray with tin foil, then empty the tea bags onto it. Put a fine meshed oven rack – or another sheet of foil prodded with holes – on top and then spread the carrots over. Sit over a medium flame and, when the tea starts smoking, cover tightly with foil. Leave for 3 minutes over a gentle flame, then remove and leave for another 10 minutes. Puree the carrots with a little more olive oil, salt and pepper. Cool.
Toast the hazelnuts and sesame seeds in a dry frying pan until golden. Mix the lemon juice and olive oil with salt and pepper and set aside.
To serve, spread the carrot puree on plates. Top with blobs of goat curd, a scattering of hazelnuts and sesame seed, a few leaves, and a drizzle of dressing. Serve with warm pitta or sourdough.