A Food & Travel Blog

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.

We’ve had a pretty busy weekend so far, and it’s only just begun, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I keep this brief.  I’m putting together a platter of nibbles to share with some other parents as we chaperone/supervise the senior football party tonight – and only other parents of teenagers can really know what kind of night we are in for!  To accompany a generous donation of cheeses from my friend Kris Lloyd, the Woodside Cheesewright, I have made a couple of dips to help keep us well nourished over the course of the evening.  The sight of the aforementioned parsnips sent me hunting through my books to find a way to incorporate them into a dip and, mindful of the fact that I haven’t shared a new spinach recipe in a while, I’ve added a spinach dip to our repertoire.  Both dips are very slight variations on a couple of Greg Malouf recipes, the spinach from “Saraban” and the parsnip from “Arabesque“.

Spinach, Turmeric & Sultana Dip


  • 2 Tbsp sultanas roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • sea salt
  • 250 gm spinach
  • ground black pepper
  • 200 gm thick natural yoghurt
  • lemon juice


  1. Blanch or lightly steam spinach, squeeze out as much moisture as possible and set aside to cool.
  2. Saute shallots in oil until soft and translucent, add sultanas & turmeric. Cook for 1-2 minutes further, set aside to cool.
  3. Roughly chop cooled spinach and mix spinach, salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste with the yoghurt.
  4. Add shallots, sultanas and turmeric – either by mixing through or drizzling on top.

Parsnip Skordalia


  • 500 gms parsnips
  • 200 mls milk
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 30 gms fresh breadcrumbs
  • 60 mls olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper


  1. Chop parsnip and cook in milk until very soft.
  2. Mince garlic with 1/2 tsp sea salt.
  3. Puree parsnip in milk, minced garlic, lemon juice, cumin and breadcrumbs in food processor.
  4. Add the oil in a very slow dribble through the top until all incorporated.
  5. Season to taste.

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  1. grant nowell

    What a wonderful blog, beautifully written about lovely food and your experiences. The parsnip dip sounds fine to me.

  2. ganga

    Oh goodness, such goodness. They look wonderful. Greg does dips so very well.

  3. Kate

    Those dips look addictive. Good luck with the footballers !

  4. Sally

    Been there, done that (with the teenager!) Phew! I’m glad it’s behind me, but it all worked out beautifully. No real worries, after all.

    I love reading about spring and the end of winter. Wishing I could fast forward to it here–we are waiting for Irene’s arrival in Boston, which right now is bringing us dark and gloomy skies and rain. Summer’s almost over and it makes me sad. I think I could make the spinach dip now with what I have on hand–need something to nibble on as we stay holed up here until the storm passes!

  5. Ann

    The parsnip dip has got me very interested. What kind of dippers did you serve with your delicious dips?

  6. Amanda

    Grant – thanks for the kind words. The parsnip dip tasted much better than it looks!
    Ganga – I love just about anything that Greg does.
    Kate – We made it through the night, but it was a long one!
    Sally – I am thinking of you and all my US readers, today. I hope you all stay safe.
    Ann – Actually, I forgot to take a pic, but I made a loaf of fig and walnut bread to serve with the dips – very yum.

  7. Sharyn Dimmick

    Parsnip skordalia! Brilliant. I’ll have to try it once — I never know what to do with parsnips and my mother, whom I live with, does not like them. And your spinach dip recipe is the best I’ve seen (no yucky ingredients).