A Food & Travel Blog

Lemon Chick Pea, Feta & Cucumber Salad

07/03/2014 | By

In theory, it is actually autumn now in Australia, but we all know that March generally has a few searingly hot days up her sleeve – especially here in South Australia. It’s at this time of year that most of us are beginning to look forward to the cooler mornings and evenings. I know many are about to start turning their cookbooks to the comfort foods section, but I’m not quite done with salads yet.

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Another Organic Alternative – Tomato Tart

17/02/2014 | By

Tasty organic tomatoes add real flavour to this gorgeous Tomato Tart – perfect for a snack, a light meal, or sliced up as finger food at your next party.

organic tomatoes for tomato tart

There’s a growing move amongst consumers towards organic food as more people recognise the value of eating chemical and additive-free food – and this organic tomato tart is a simple way to begin adding it to your own repertoire.

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Spring and a Tomato and Three Cheese Tart

06/10/2013 | By

Tomatoes

Like everyone else in this world, I’ve gushed about spring in the past and droned on rapturously about the sunshine, flowers, birdies, bees, blah, blah, blah. That’s all lovely, of course, but there is another side to spring that has slightly fewer charms. I’m talking about the swallows which insist on annually nesting on my outdoor blinds, pooping all over said blinds and the table and chairs below. Or how about the changeable weather with it’s sunshine, gentle breezes, howling gales and pouring rains – often all in the course of just a few hours, meaning I am continuously underdressed or overdressed. Last week the evening temperature up here plummeted to 5C – just when we’d run out of fire wood. Then there’s the skyrocketing pollen counts and the subsequent cost of boxes of tissues and giant economy-sized packets of anti-histamines. And, most exciting of all, the sudden appearance of hungry and aggressively bad-tempered brown snakes who, combined with the triffid like growth of the grass/plants/weeds around our property, make my trips to the hen house to collect the eggs an anxiety-ridden scuttle, complete with long rubber boots and a machete. I’m telling you, it’s not all beer and skittles up here in springtime in the hills.

My first spring roses

Spring flowers, Columbine

There – I’m glad I’ve got that little moan off my chest.

Spring lavender & bee

Spring flowers, Banksia Rose

One thing I always welcome at this time of the year, though, is the reappearance of the first of the seasonal tomatoes. Tomatoes in general are mostly a disappointment these days, with even the pricey, vine-ripened ones failing to deliver much in the way of flavour, and my complete and utter inability to grow them up here means that I’m reliant on those I buy at the farmers markets. However, I recently made a slightly happy discovery with the purchase of a punnet of the mini Roma tomatoes from my local Foodland store. They seem to have a little more flavour than other commercially available tomatoes and really come into their own when slow roasted.

Tomato & 3 Cheese Tart

This recipe uses the tomatoes after they’ve been slow-roasted and, with frozen puff pastry and lots of fresh herbs from my garden, is another of my lazy-girl cheats dishes. I made it for my dear friend Liz for lunch the other day, along with a big plate of brownies for dessert and we were both pretty happy with the meal. Just one tip, watch the baking of this tart like a hawk. I didn’t and let it go just a little too long – it tasted great, but didn’t photograph so well.

Tomato and Three Cheese Tart

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Servings: 4
Author: Amanda McInerney of www.lambsearsandhoney.com

Ingredients

  • 300 gms mini Roma tomatoes halved
  • 50 mls olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch fresh oregano
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry thawed
  • 1/2 cup of grated cheese either mozzarella or cheddar, you decide
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 100 gms goats chevre or feta
  • 1 egg beaten

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 150C (300F).
  • Toss halved tomatoes, 1/2 the bunch of thyme leaves, 1/2 the bunch of oregano leaves, salt, pepper and olive oil in a bowl, then place the tomatoes on a lined baking tray, cut side up. Place in oven and roast for 1 hour. Leave to cool slightly.
  • Raise oven temperature to 200C (400F).
  • Place thawed pastry on a sheet of oven-proof paper, cover with another sheet and roll out gently to a rectangular shape.
  • Leaving the pastry on the bottom sheet of paper, place it on a baking tray and using a sharp knife score a line 2 cms around the four sides of the inside of the pastry, making a 2 cm frame around the edge of the pastry.
  • Sprinkle the interior rectangle with the cheddar cheese and the parmesan cheese and dot with the slightly cooled, roasted tomatoes.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining thyme leaves and brush the pastry edge with egg wash.
  • Bake in oven for 15-17 minutes - no longer or cheese will overcook.
  • Scatter the tart with crumbled goats chevre or feta, then sprinkle with the remaining oregano leaves.

 

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Cheesey Heirloom Pumpkin & Garlic Tart

01/05/2012 | By

After yet more mild weather here in Adelaide, autumn has finally landed big time – well, up here in the hills it has – and I write this post sitting next to my gently glowing slow-combustion stove which I’ve lit for the first time this season.  As I mentioned to you last week, I’m very fond of the comforts of the cooler weather – warm fires, fluffy slippers, red wine and the seasonal foods that are around at this time of year.  Pumpkin always features pretty strongly around now and it is one of my favourite vegetables.

Pumpkins are grown all around the world as commercial food crops, for animal feed and for ornamental reasons.  In fact, of all the seven continents only one – Antarctica – is unable to produce them, with the biggest producer-nations being the United States, Canada, India and China.   They are a versatile and adaptable vegetable and the variety of dishes which can be prepared are not just limited to the flesh of the plant.  Pumpkin seeds are a popular and highly nutritious snack food when roasted and also yield an oil which contains essential fatty acids, and is considered a delicacy in parts of Europe.

There is a vast variety of pumpkins and squash which can be grown, but you would be forgiven for being unaware of this fact as the range available in supermarkets is limited to only a very few.  Once again, here is where farmers markets and CSA’s come into their own as the producers not bound to the limited growing options of the large retailers can experiment with smaller crops and some of the lesser known or forgotten varieties.  Jupiter Creek Farm subscribers will have found some lovely, little orange pumpkins called Potimarrons in their boxes of late.  These are a French heritage variety whose name derives from “potiron” for pumpkin and “marron” for chestnut, due to their aromatic chestnut flavour when roasted.

I combined mine with some local garlic which I had preserved in olive oil, some cheesey pastry and a jar of sublime marinated feta from Udder Delight’s Divine Dairy range.  I made the confit garlic in my Thermomix, but it can be done very simply in a saucepan too – directions to do this are included.

Cheesey Heirloom Pumpkin & Garlic Tart  
Ingredients
  • 200 gms plain flour
  • 100 gms butter, cubed & chilled
  • 25 gms finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 50-60 gms iced water
  • 500gms slice, peeled pumpkin
  • 2 tbs chopped, fresh sage
  • olive oil
  • 5-6 cloves confit garlic, mashed
  • 200 gms feta (marinated is nice)
  • 1 tbs chopped, fresh sage
  • 1 tbs toasted sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Place flour, butter and cheese in food processor and whizz until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.
  3. With the machine running, slowly add the iced water until the dough just comes together. DO NOT OVER-PROCESS or it will shrink on cooking.
  4. Turn it out onto benchtop, knead lightly, then wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate for 1/2 hour.
  5. Toss pumpkin slices in sage, olive oil, salt and pepper, spread in a shallow baking tray and cook for 15-20 minutes until just soft. Cool.
  6. Remove pastry from refrigerator and roll out to fit rectangular, loose-bottomed tart flan (or whatever one you have). Place baking paper over the dough and weigh it down with pastry weights or dried beans. Blind bake for 12 minutes.
  7. Spread the mashed garlic along the base of the flan, crumble 1/2 the feta over this, then layer the cooked pumpkin. Crumble the rest of the feta on top and sprinkle with chopped sage.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden and cheese is melty.
  9. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
 

The confit garlic is very simple to do and a great way to make the most of locally grown garlic while it is available.  I have my friend chef Mel Haynes to thank for this recipe.  I first tried some which she had made on the stove-top at her house and went home and adapted it for the Thermomix. She has kindly allowed me to share it with you.

Begin by peeling 4-5 heads of garlic.  I use the method suggested by Saveur.com in this video – it’s not perfect, but does work surprisingly well.  If you have a Thermomix simply add the peeled garlic to about 500 mls of really good olive oil, set the temperature to 80C, reverse stir setting and let it go for 2-3 hours.  Start checking after 2 hours.  You do not want the garlic to change colour, but it will become soft when done.  If doing the garlic in a saucepan, keep the heat just under a simmer for the same amount of time and, once again, keep an eye on it.  If it changes colour the taste will alter.  If you have a cooking thermometer you might like to use that.

Store the finished garlic in the oil in a sealed jar.  Keep refrigerated and use the extra oil for whatever takes your fancy – it’s delicious!

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Seasonal Secrets – Honeyed Turnips

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.

Honeyed Turnips
 
Author: Amanda McInerney of www.lambsearsandhoney.com
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
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.
 

 

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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Simon Bryant cooks a Leek and Feta Tart for Adelaide Botanic Gardens Kitchen Garden Project

28/07/2010 | By

Every Aussie foodie – and more than a few International ones, too – have heard of Stephanie Alexander, who is something of a living National treasure.  Her latest, and perhaps most ambitious, contribution is the The Kitchen Garden Foundation which aims to put both a vegetable garden and a working, multi-station kitchen in Australian schools and to make pleasurable food education a part of the primary school curriculum.  Here in Adelaide, in recognition of the fact that there will be a percentage of schools for whom this dream will not be manageable, the Adelaide Botanic Gardens Foundation has supported the development of a Kitchen Garden within the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, with hopes for an educational kitchen in the future.   The garden flourishes with seasonal produce and at this stage most of that generally goes to the  kitchen of the Botanic Gardens Restaurant.  This garden is planned to be an teaching resource for not only children and schools, but also an aid for immigrants so they can see and learn about the food plants which grow in their new home and as an inspiration for any potential veggie gardeners – and I guess that is all of us!

The project was launched during “Tasting Australia”, in April, at the splendid “Home Grown Gala Dinner”, cooked by Simon Bryant, with guests that included Peter Cundall, Maggie Beer and Stephanie Alexander.  Some of the fresh produce used at that wonderful dinner came out of the Kitchen Garden and last week I was invited to a “Botanic Gardens Harvest to Plate” cookoff in the Botanic Gardens to show off the last of the current crops in the garden.  The Foundation enjoys a close relationship with the Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Market Kid’s Club and our chef last Tuesday, again the wonderful Simon Bryant, employed a handful of these enthusiastic novice chefs to help him out with the prep work for lunch.

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