Seasonal Secrets 16 July

16/07/2011 | By

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I woke up to a gloriously sunny, but freezing, crisp morning on the hill today.  I grabbed my camera and, a picture of sartorial elegance in my pink pj pants, red fleecy top and aging brown uggies, wandered straight out to try to capture a few frosty frames before the sun melted the ice on the ground.  Of course, on a particularly steep slope the inevitable happened and I found myself quite suddenly on my bum after slipping on the icy ground, but I think the photo’s are worth my small sacrifice.  What do you think?

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Seasonal Secrets – July

09/07/2011 | By

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We’ve really felt the sharp bite of winter up here this last week and with temperatures not making it into double digits again, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if it had snowed.  Winter produce is often a bit humdrum – there is only so much you can do to turnips to make them interesting – but the one thing that is really bountiful this year is citrus fruit.  Thanks to the great rains we have had in the last season our lemon and orange trees, and the citrus trees of anyone I speak to, are quite literally groaning with fruit.  I’ve given away bags of lemons – unfortunately not soon enough to prevent several boughs from snapping from the weight of the fruit.

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I love seeing the brightness of the yellow and orange fruit in the otherwise fairly stark winter garden and recall a comment made to me some years ago by the mother of a friend who was visiting from England.  Visiting us with her daughter, the mother looked out of the window and exclaimed how odd it looked to see the fruit hanging off the trees then turned and asked me if they were real!  I laughed at the time and was grateful to be reminded that we can sometimes take our easy access to a wide variety of foods for granted.

Last year I posted a recipe for making preserved lemons, which can be quite costly to buy but are a fantastic thing to have handy.  We are looking forward to yet more cold and damp weather so I have dug out a fragrant and warming tagine recipe from Nigel Slater’s “Tender | Volume II” for you to knock together this weekend.  A simply perfect use for preserved lemons.   I’d serve this with either couscous or rice.

Tagine of Lamb with Apricots

Ingredients

  • 1 kg diced lamb shoulder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 chopped onions
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 60 gms sultanas
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 good pinch of saffron
  • 750 mls stock
  • 2 475 gm cans chopped tomatoes
  • 175 gms dried apricot halves
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • 1 bunch coriander
  • 1 bunch mint

Instructions

  1. Toss the cubed lamb in half of the spices and leave for at least 4 hours, or overnight if possible.
  2. Next day, heat olive oil and brown lamb in batches and set aside.
  3. Add onions, garlic and the remaining spices to the oil and saute gently until soft and just golden.
  4. Add sultanas, honey,saffron, stock, tomatoes and apricots, then return the meat to the pan, bring to the boil and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cover with a lid, place in an oven preheated to 160C and cook for 2 1/2 hours.
  6. Remove and discard the pulp from the lemon and chop the skin roughly, then stir into tagine.
  7. Remove the meat, boil the sauce over high heat until it is reduced, return meat and stir in the fresh herbs.

Quick notes

I have made some slight variations on Nigel Slater’s original recipe. I have subbed dried apricots for fresh and reduced his very extravagant 1 teaspoon of saffron to a good pinch. He might buy his saffron by the kilo – I sure as hell don’t!  I’d also be inclined to leave the lemons out until I put the fresh herbs in.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time:

Number of servings (yield): 4

 

 

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Seasonal Secrets – What’s in the box 29/30 June

01/07/2011 | By

Well folks, it is a sad week for Adelaide Food Connect subscribers.  No link to this week’s box, but for all the details on the demise of Community Supported Agriculture in it’s current form in Adelaide, check here.

You will note I said “in it’s current form”.  While there is a great deal of disappointment in the Food Connect community, there is far more goodwill and I urge you all to bring it with you when you attend the (yet to be announced) public meeting.  The meeting will be held to address the issues of account settlements, but will also be an opportunity for us all to look at new ways carry on the future of CSA here in Adelaide.  Please bring all of your ideas and enthusiasm to this meeting so that together we can help raise a phoenix from these ashes.

In the meantime, this weekly post will not stop – it will just alter it’s name slightly and will henceforth be known simply as “Seasonal Secrets”.  It may take me a little longer to change the title on the blog page – I’m having a little problem with that. (Any help from Thesis buffs gratefully received.)

So – on to this week.  It’s a glorious day today, but I’m told that winter is on its way back this weekend and what better way to challenge it than with a big pot of soup?  There are plenty of soup options in the boxes this last week and, if you are looking for spinach suggestions, might I suggest shredding it finely and bunging it in with whatever soup you make.  Leek and potato is a favourite in our house, dead simple and can be instant greened up by the addition of the shredded spinach towards the end of cooking, but before the mulching part of the procedure.  Broccoli soup is another simple dish and the spinach won’t be spotted by even the most vigilant teen in an already green soup.

The perfect accompaniment to soup is a fresh, warm, cheesy savoury muffin and, depending on what you put in them, they can just about be a meal in themselves.  They are also very easily frozen – brilliant for a weekend bake-up to save time on school lunches during the week.  These are limited only as far as your imagination and I’ve put some suggestions at the bottom of the recipe – so knock yourselves out!

Basic Savoury Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups SR flour (white or 1/2 wholemeal, 1/2 white)
  • approx 1-2 cups of additions (see suggestions)
  • 1 cup milk (or 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup milk)
  • 125 ml oil or melted butter
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven 180C.
  2. Grease or spray muffin tray.
  3. Mix dry ingredients together.
  4. Mix wet ingredients together.
  5. Blend together, mixing until only JUST combined.
  6. Spoon into muffin pans and bake 20-30 minutes or until they are golden brown and spring back when touched.

Quick notes

It is generally wise to combine grated cheddar with parmesan for a cheesy muffin or the fats in the cheddar will be too heavy for the muffins.

Variations

A combination of grated cheddar cheese and grated parmesan, cubed feta, grated zucchini, carrots, pumpkin, chopped capsicum, chopped roasted capsicum, mushrooms, olives, finely shredded spinach, chopped sun dried tomatoes, chopped bacon or ham, finely chopped fresh herbs, chopped nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds etc.

Cooking time:

Number of servings (yield): 12

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Seasonal Secrets – What’s in the box 22/23 June

24/06/2011 | By

This weekly post is aimed at offering some simple recipe suggestions to the subscribers of Adelaide Food Connect weekly fresh produce boxes.  It can be a challenge to deal with the same seasonal produce week after week and I hope to help inspire with fresh ideas.  The link to the list of contents for all the boxes is here.

It’s the end of another week and we are now officially over the “hump” of winter, with the celebration of the winter solstice yesterday – our days will now gradually begin to lengthen, although we have a long way to go yet folks.  I was thrilled to find parsnips in my box this week and will be celebrating with a big roast over the weekend.

I spent a bit of time cooking last weekend and some of you who saw my Facebook posts were keen check out the recipes which I promised to share today – so here they are, as promised, although at the cost of a spinach recipe this week.

First up was a very simple Moroccanish carrot and red lentil soup.

Carrot and Red Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 4 medium carrots, cubed
  • 200 gms red lentils
  • 1-1/2 litres chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
  • sal & pepper
  • lemons

Instructions

  1. Heat oil over moderate heat and saute onions and garlic until soft and golden.
  2. Add carrots and continue to saute until they are just beginning to change colour and caramelise a little. This helps to bring out the sugars in the carrots, making the soup richer and sweeter.
  3. Add lentils, stock and cinnamon stick. Bring to boil and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes until the lentils and carrots are soft.
  4. Remove cinnamon stick and puree soup with a stab mixer or cool it and put it in a processor and whizz until smooth.
  5. Return to pan, add cumin, coriander and season to taste.
  6. Reheat over gentle heat until hot, but not boiling.
  7. Serve, adding a good squeeze of lemon juice to each bowl.

Number of servings (yield): 6


I also made a cake which was an old favourite, shared with me by a friend more years ago than I care to remember, that I had completely forgotten about.  It popped back into my head last weekend when I was searching for ways to use up my glut of lemons.  It is quite rich, but seriously good – and especially wicked with an extra drizzle of pouring cream over it.


Lemon, Apricot & Ginger Sour Cream Cake

Ingredients

  • 185 gms butter
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/4 cups caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 chopped, dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup chopped, crystalised ginger
  • 3/4 sour cream
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb soda

Instructions

  1. Grease and flour a 20cm Baba or ring tin.
  2. Preheat oven to 160C.
  3. Cream butter, rind and sugar until pale and fluffy, add eggs one at a time and beat until combined.
  4. Fold in apricots, ginger and sour cream.
  5. Sift flour and bicarb together and fold into mixture.
  6. Spread evenly in prepared tin and bake approx 1 hour.
  7. Leave in tin for 10 minutes, before turning onto cake rack to cool.
  8. To serve, dust with icing sugar.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s)

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Seasonal Secrets – What’s in the box 15/16 June

17/06/2011 | By

Hello my lovelies and welcome to another week of winter and winter food.  This weekly post is aimed at offering some simple recipe suggestions to the subscribers of Adelaide Food Connect weekly fresh produce boxes.  It can be a challenge to deal with the same seasonal produce week after week and I hope to help inspire with fresh ideas.  The link to this week’s box is here.

I thought we’d take a little look at the humble turnip this week.  There continues to be a degree of confusion over what (if any) difference there is between turnips and swedes – confusion which is addressed, although not resolved, in this article from the UK”s “The Guardian”.  Turnips are generally judged to be pretty boring, having a fairly bland flavour and little nutritional value, aside from their vitamin C content which is presumably largely destroyed on cooking.  The Scots love them and make one of their national dishes (mashed neeps) from them and the Romans used to slow cook them and pound them up with honey, vinegar, grapes and oil.  They are very useful for bulking up soups and casseroles and the green tops (the most nutritious part of the plant) can be cooked or used in salads.  The serving suggestion I have for them is pretty simple and takes a leaf from the Romans book, although it might also be worth sprinkling them with some ras el hanout or baharat seasoning to give them a little more interest.

Recipe: Honeyed Turnips

Ingredients

  • 2-3 medium turnips, diced or chopped into even sized pieces
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • OR
  • Ras el hanout
  • OR
  • Baharat seasoning

Instructions

  1. Cook turnips in boiling water for 3-4 minutes until just done, but still a little firm.
  2. Drain and shake pan over heat to evaporate any remaining water.
  3. Reduce heat to moderate/low, add butter and honey and stir gently to coat, continue cooking over low heat to caramelise a little.
  4. Season as desired.

Number of servings (yield): 4

Honeyed Turnips.

My spinach suggestion for this week is a hearty soup – perfect for rainy, wintry weekends like the one we are predicted to be facing.  There is loads of nutrition in this soup (you could even bung your turnips in if necessary) and all it needs is some crusty sourdough bread to complete the meal.  The basic Lemon, Lentil and Spinach soup recipe is here, but I think I might be adding some cinnamon and cumin to it when I make it – just because I can’t help myself.

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What’s in the box – 8/9 June

11/06/2011 | By

This weekly post is aimed at offering some simple recipe suggestions to the subscribers of Adelaide Food Connect weekly fresh produce boxes.  It can be a challenge to deal with the same seasonal produce week after week and I hope to help inspire with fresh ideas.  The link to the contents of the boxes this week is here.

Icy days up here on the hill with the temperature struggling to make it up to double digits.  This weather is very bad for my waistline as I cook up rich, hearty casseroles, vats of soup served with crusty bread and butter, hot chocolates and, with the slow combustion stove quietly humming along,  the urge to bake is simply overpowering.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a particular fondness for Moroccan and Middle Eastern food.  There is something about the fragrance of the spices used in these cuisines that really sings to me so I am always on the lookout for new (to me, at least) ways to incorporate them into my own cooking.   This week I found myself with an over-abundance of organic onions from past Adelaide Food Connect boxes at the same time as I serendipitously saw a Moroccan recipe using copious amounts of the same.   This dish, Chicken Mezgueldi, is a chicken tagine flavoured with ginger, preserved lemon, saffron and turmeric and served with fragrant caramelised onions spiced with more ginger, cumin, cinnamon and sweet paprika.  Don’t be put off by the amount of ingredients as it is really quite simple to make.  I cooked up a pile of the onions the day before I made the dish and refried them a little, just before serving, to give them more of a browned caramelised finish and they were just perfect served on top of the slowly cooked, aromatic chook.

This week’s spinach recipe comes to you from Tessa Kiros’ lovely book “Falling Cloudberries“, a record of some of the recipes she grew up with and others shared by friends and family.  It is another simple recipe that can be tarted up in loads of different ways if you wish.  This would make quite a lot of rice, so I would probably halve these amounts to serve as a side dish.

 

Spinach Pilaf

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 30 gms butter
  • 120 gms spring onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1.2 kg spinach, chopped
  • 300 gms long grain rice

Instructions

  1. Heat the butter and oil in a large pan and saute the spring onion until softened. Add the garlic and stir for another moment, then add spinach and mix through.
  2. Add the rice, stir through and season with salt and pepper. Pour in 700 mls of water, bring to the boil, lower the heat and cover pan with a lid. Cook for about 15 minutes until the water is evaporated.
  3. Remove from heat, fluff the rice with a fork and cover the pan with a clean cloth and allow to steam for a few minutes more before serving.

Variations

I would be very tempted to add any or all of the following to this – chopped preserved lemon, currants, toasted slithered almonds or pine nuts. I would also stir through a good slurp of olive oil or melted butter before serving – but then that’s probably what gave me my “full” figure…

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time:

Number of servings (yield): 6

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