A Food & Travel Blog

Fig & Olive Tapenade or Sundried Tomato Tapenade – The Perfect Home-Made Christmas Gift

15/11/2013 | By

Fig & Olive Tapenade & Tomato Tapenade

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I start to get just a little twitchy at this time of year. Now that the children are older the endless list of school Christmas functions to attend is no longer an issue and this year I have only one set of teachers to buy gifts for. The furtive scurrying about trying to buy, wrap and hide the children’s gifts seems easier too. While the kids are more likely to be around the house, they are buried deep in their caves most of the time and couldn’t give a fig about my comings and goings – unless, of course, they need a lift somewhere. Or food. Or cash. Sigh.

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Cherry Tomato Confit

09/04/2013 | By

Summer seems to be lingering in Adelaide at the moment.  Not in a nasty “Oh, my god it’s going to be how hot today?” kind of way, but in a very pleasant warm, sunny “I think we’ll have lunch outside again” kind of way.  Never mind that my summer clothes are starting to look just a little tired or that I am unable to get away with the five day stubble on my legs – I might as well enjoy the weather while it lasts.  Although, if the weather gods are listening, it would be totally perfect if we could have some rain at night.  My poor garden is very thirsty.

There are still lots of lovely, ripe tomatoes to be found and I’m happy to eat them while I can, but I haven’t quite finished stocking up on some for the duller days ahead.   One beautiful way to save the fresh taste of summer tomatoes is to slow cook them in the oven and store them in oil.  I used cherry tomatoes for this.  These small, red bombs are gorgeously sweet and intense.  Cooking them in this way deepens and compounds the taste, making them little explosions of potent summer flavours in your mouth – evoking the sunnier days gone by.  I’m not too sure how long they will keep in your fridge as I’ve never had the opportunity to find out in this house – they are snapped up pretty quickly.

I’ve been known to eat these with a spoon straight out of the jar, but they are also good in salads, tossed through pasta or on foccaccia.  For this batch I added fresh thyme and garlic, but rosemary, oregano and/or chilli flakes would be quite wonderful too.  The taste of the olive oil will be important here, so try not to skimp on the quality.  Make sure that your jars are very clean – wash with hot soapy water and dry in the oven, or run them through a hot cycle in the dishwasher.  Like so much of my cooking this recipe is dead simple, but the end result is really, really more than the sum of it’s parts.


Cherry Tomato Confit
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Little bombs of summer flavour to brighten up the duller days ahead.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 kg ripe cherry tomatoes, stalks removed, halved
  • 100 mls good olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and very finely sliced
  • Sprigs of fresh herbs of your choice (thyme, rosemary or oregano are great)
  • Sea salt
  • ground black pepper
  • Extra olive oil for storing
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 170C.
  2. Drizzle some of the oil over the base of an oven-proof dish and spread to make a film over base of dish.
  3. Place tomatoes cut side down in dish.
  4. Sprinkle with garlic and herbs, then drizzle with remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook in oven for 40-50 minutes until tomatoes are soft and just collapsing, but not charred.
  6. Cool, then place in jars and cover with extra olive oil.
  7. Store in refrigerator.

 

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Tomatoes and me – Spicy Tomato Chutney & A Quiet Easter Break

05/04/2013 | By

My Easter break this year was a little different from usual – and significantly quieter.  I have finally managed to convince the very hard-working Husband that it is okay to take a break and enjoy some time that is just for him – no work, no kids, no me – although it wasn’t easy to start with.  Last year we managed to persuade him (or bully him, depends who’s telling the story) to accept an invitation to go up to the Byron Bay Blues Festival with a group of friends.

Our family are all big music fans and have been WOMADelaide devotees (or tragics, again it depends who’s telling the story) since it began here, taking the kids in backpacks when they were small.  We all knew The Husband would love Byron Bay, but it took all sorts of cajoling, nagging and manipulation to get him to agree to go away for a week without us and there were even unfortunate scenes in the car on the way to the airport, as he resisted to the bitter end.  Contrary to his expectations, the world did not cease to turn, either in a domestic or commercial sense, he actually relaxed and enjoyed himself and happily set off again last week, leaving me with the assorted offspring.

Given that our eldest has moved out of the familial nest, our son is at the age where he disappears for days at a time and the youngest had an hour-long general anaesthetic to dig wisdom teeth out of her jaw on the Wednesday before the Easter break, I knew things were going to be pretty uneventful over the weekend.  Glad of an excuse to do very little – and to have the remote control to myself – the four day break looked quite good from where I was sitting. (Perhaps less so for my poor, swollen and bruised baby, though.)

I happily engrossed myself in the pile of books by my bedside, the menu of murder mysteries on the television, the thorough perusal of Paula Wolfert’s book “The Food of Morocco” to select the lunch menu for a family meal on Easter Sunday (harcha, vegetable couscous and salmon poached with preserved lemon, raisins & pine nuts, followed by cheese and chocolate) and the big box of late, cooking tomatoes that I purchased on Thursday afternoon.  In between the above, plus playing on the internet, tending to my daughter’s needs for nourishing, but soft, foods and administering pain relief I had a lovely time turning these bruised and over-ripe fruits in to chutney, tomato sauce (ketchup) and tomato sugo.  I now have a fridge and freezer full of summer ready to brighten up the winter months.

The tomato sugo recipe I use is one that I’ve posted before here.  It is a simple recipe, but oven-cooked, thus maximising the sweetness of the tomatoes, and is a rich base for soups, casseroles or pizzas.  I made the tomato sauce (ketchup) in my trusty Thermomix using my modified version of a gorgeous recipe from the very clever Quirky Jo – check out her version here.  The chutney was my own recipe.  I like a bit of spicy flavour  with chutney, but not too much heat, so I’m generous with the ginger and spices, but less so with the chilli.  Chutney is simple to make, keeps for ages in the fridge, is a deliciously tasty addition to a cheese platter and, like so much else, always nicer when you make it yourself.

Spicy Tomato Chutney
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Condiment
Ingredients
  • 1 & ½ kgs tomatoes, roughly chopped (I used Romas)
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 3 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup sultanas
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ tsp cumin
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 level tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a pot, bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1-1½ hours until thickened.
  2. Sterilise jars by scalding with boiling water or running through a hot cycle in a clean dishwasher. Dry by standing upside down in warm oven.
  3. When cooked, pour chutney into hot jars (pouring hot chutney into cold jars will make the jars crack), seal, cool and store in fridge.

That’s how I filled in my delicious four days.  How about you, my lovelies – how did you enjoy the break?

 

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The Domestic Goddess and the summer produce

18/11/2011 | By

The domestic goddess has been stirring in my breast of late.  As a rule, I can usually slap her back down.   I am very reluctant to establish high expectations on the domestic front as it can only lead to tears – and not necessarily mine.  However, I suspect  a lingering feeling of redundancy brought on by the three month absence of my youngest, who is in Canada on a student exchange, has given that vixen an added burst of strength.  As a result I have found myself wandering to the kitchen with a sense of purpose more frequently than usual in the last week or so and the (remaining) grateful family have enjoyed the products of my niggling insecurities – as well they might. Who knows how long I can sustain this?

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What’s in the box 23/24 February

25/02/2011 | By

Here we are at the end of not only another week, but another month too!  I know I have a fun weekend planned and I hope you do, too, but if you need to check out the list for this weeks boxes first, it is here.

Cabbage makes it’s reappearance in our boxes this week (although I doubt my teenaged son will be thrilled about that), so  thought I might just take a look at making it slightly more interesting by pickling it.  Pickling has a long history and was used as a way to store some fresh foods for long periods.  Pickling in high acid solutions, or salty brine, stops the growth of bacteria and preserves colour and , in some cases, enhances flavour and most cultures  have a preferred method for doing this.  Korea has kimchi made from cabbage and radish, India has achar made from mainly mangoes and limes (but can include any number of other vegetables), Albania and Bulgaria have turshi made from mixed vegetables and Poland’s traditional pickles are  cucumbers and cabbage.  Red cabbage is particularly nice to pickle simply because it looks pretty in the jars and is really very simple  to do.

Shred your cabbage and layer it in a glass or stainless steel bowl, salting between layers.  Weigh it all down with a plate and leave for 24 hours before rinsing well and drying as much as possible with paper towels.

Make sure you have enough vinegar to cover the amount of cabbage you have.  It can be plain white vinegar, malt vinegar, flavoured vinegar, apple cider vinegar and you can add whole spices like peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice – whatever takes your fancy.  Bring the vinegar and spices to boil, simmer for 15 minutes, then cover and allow to steep overnight.

The next day strain your vinegar,pack the shredded cabbage into clean jars, cover with the vinegar and seal.

Leave it for at least a week or two before eating.  There – couldn’t be much easier really!

Printable recipe PICKLED RED CABBAGE.

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When life hands you lemons …

14/07/2010 | By

“…try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.”
Ron White

Citrus season is in full swing here in the Land Downunder and there are huge amounts of exceptional quality lemons, oranges and mandarines available in the stores, on roadside stalls and in back yards in most parts of the country.  Commercially, Australia produces over 600,000 tonnes of citrus per annum, with 76% of it being oranges and, because of our wide range of climates in this big country, we are able to grow citrus from winter through to summer somewhere or other!

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