A Food & Travel Blog

Seasonal Secrets – Spring farmers market bounty

11/10/2011 | By

My lilac – I only wish you could smell it!

Spring – it’s everyone’s favourite time of the year surely?!  We all perk up a bit after huddling round the fire for months, shed a layer or two of clothing (and of fat, if we can) and cast a glad eye over the fruit and vegetable stalls at the markets as the new seasons produce starts to appear.  It’s time to air out the house, the dogs and the kids, see what clothing still fits from the last bout of warm weather and review what we’ve been eating in order to fit into a few more of last years outfits (or is that just me?).  Good intentions proliferate, inspired by the gorgeous, fresh harvest available now and visions of fabulously healthy, tasty and low-fat dishes dance about in our heads and even occasionally actually appear on our tables at family mealtimes (or is that just me again?).

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Seasonal secrets 27 August

27/08/2011 | By

The sun is shining on our hill – at last – bringing with it all the hope of spring, and a flurry of blossoms in our orchard.  The plum is out and the quince is budding, it won’t be too long before the apples and fig follow.  Standing in the middle of the orchard the other day, my ears were filled with the blissed out buzzing of a zillion bees – a very happy sound.  While we are all doing a bit of a happy dance around here, it is necessary to keep in mind that winter has probably not finished with us just yet, though, and the sight of some absolutely gorgeous parsnips at the market yesterday reminded me that there is still plenty of satisfaction  to be had from the winter produce.

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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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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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What’s in the box – 1/2 June

02/06/2011 | 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.  So, welcome to winter my friends - this way to the list of box contents this week.

Persimmons are still with us, but it seems they can be frozen and saved for another day.  Simon Bryant was chatting about them on the local ABC radio this week and suggested freezing and eating later, with a spoon, like a sorbet.  He also suggested serving them fresh with mascarpone and honey as a dessert dish.  If you have been tempted by some of the growing range of extras now available, you will have seen the lovely honey that is now available, fresh from Adelaide Hills hives – perfect for pairing with the persimmons.

I have a sweet tooth, but am very lazy, so I my dinner parties can sometimes flag a little at the dessert end of things.  One of my very favourite dessert offerings involves almost no work on my part and results in a treat which never fails to impress.  Purchase a loaf of Paolo’s amazing sourdough bread from the “Extras” section, slice it thinly and lightly toast or crisp it in a warm oven.  Pick up a ripe round of local camembert or brie from Woodside Cheesewrights, Udder Delights or B.-d. Farm Paris Creek and make sure it is at room temperature.  Drizzle the uncut round of cheese with plenty of “Swarm” honey, sprinkle with some toasted,  roughly chopped Enoomah walnuts, serve with the crisped bread and sit back and absorb the praise.

As promised last week, I have another quick, tasty spinach dish to suggest, this time from a new favourite cookbook of mine, Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan.  Her recipe is actually for Swiss Chard Pancakes, but we can be flexible about that.  This also makes quite a large quantity which she assures us can be very successfully frozen for later use. They are made as either a side dish or a main, usually served with a salad, and whatever fresh herbs you have on hand can be substituted for those given here.  I usually add a pinch of salt to these and serve them with a dollop of light sour cream or thick yoghurt.  All in all, it is one of those delightful recipes that can be varied to suit individual tastes, needs and circumstances.

 

Spinach Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 10 parsley sprigs
  • 10 fresh chives, snipped
  • 5-10 spinach leaves, ribs removed
  • Oil for cooking

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 150C to keep pancakes warm.
  2. Place everything but the spinach and oil in a processor and whizz until batter is smooth.
  3. With machine running, add the spinach, but don’t over-process. Try to leave some texture from the leaves.
  4. Heat the oil in a pan and spoon in the batter, either in small amounts for small pancakes, or more if larger ones are desired.
  5. Cook about 3 minutes, until under-side is browned and top is bubbled and setting, then flip to brown.
  6. Place cooked pancakes on paper towel-lined plate, putting more paper towels on top of each one and keep warm in the oven while finishing cooking the rest of the batter.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 5 minute(s)

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What’s in the box 22/23 December

23/12/2010 | By

The link to the boxes for this week is here.

Ok folks, this is it!  Not much wiggle room left now for the last minute preparations so I hope that, like me, you have everything  wrapped, cooked, listed or organized in some serious way.

I’m sorry, I lied just then.

I have yet to wrap anything, I only remembered an hour ago that I hadn’t bought any seafood, and I will get around to writing out the shopping list for the rest of the fresh food real soon – I’m sure.

However, I did promise some salad recipes and here they are.  First up is my very favourite pumpkin salad, although sweet potato works very nicely, too.  I’m very much afraid that I am quite fuzzy on the amounts of the ingredients – I have never weighed them at all, so I’ll try to give an educated guess.  I dress this in several ways, depending on my mood.  You can drizzle the salad with either reduced or straight balsamic or pomegranate molasses.

Pumpkin and Feta Salad

1 bunch young silverbeet or same of baby spinach
3 cups cubed, peeled pumpkin
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 good tsp ras el hanout
1 orange, peeled and thinly sliced
good handful of chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts
175gm (ish) feta cheese, cubed

Toss pumpkin in oil & spread in shallow baking dish, sprinkle with ras el hanout and roast at 180C 15-20 minutes. Cool.
Use the rinsed greens as a bed on a large, shallow serving dish.
Scatter over the pumpkin, orange, nuts and feta.

Drizzle over dressing and serve.

Spinach Salad

My second offering is a spinach or silverbeet salad made famous by a good friend of mine called Susie and is just the right colours for the Xmas table!  It is simply chopped silverbeet tossed together with cherry tomatoes, chopped capsicum, mung bean sprouts and chopped hard-boiled egg.  What sells this one is the dressing which is –
1/3 cup castor sugar
1/3 cup bbq sauce
1 cup oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 grated onion
1/2 tsp salt

Shake, then drizzle on the salad. Sprinkle with chopped, crisp bacon to finish off.

I’ll be taking the next week off to lie around and let my kids wait upon me hand and foot (I wish!).  I’ll be back again in the new year and I hope that everyone has a very happy holiday!

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