A Food & Travel Blog

What’s in the box – 6/7 April

08/04/2011 | By

The list of contents for this week’s boxes is here.

I’ve been a little preoccupied with zucchini this week.

I’ve been faced with the challenge of dealing with one of those great big ones.  You know the kind – the ones that someone so generously gives you, and all you can think of is how many meals it is going to take to get through it all, as you smile and accept it gratefully and graciously.  Zucchini is a member of the squash family and, as such, has it’s roots in the America’s, although the variety of squash known as “zucchini” was developed in Italy, probably towards the end of the 19th century.  Anyone who has ever grown them will be familiar with how very prolifically they can fruit.  Indeed, anyone who has ever grown them will probably be familiar with the experience of seeing their friends and neighbours run shreiking as they advance with yet another armful to offer.  However, they are versatile, lend themselves to blending with any number of different flavours and ingredients and contain serviceable amounts of folate, potassium, vitamin A and manganese.

I tackled my monster squash in three different ways.  The first was by baking a chocolate zucchini cake.  I figured chocolate cake with chocolate icing was an easy way to get it down the kids throats with the minimal amount of fuss.  The recipe I used was less than ideal, though, so I won’t be sharing it until it has been quite significantly tweaked – although the icing did the trick for my kids.  Actually, sometimes I wonder why I bother with cake, when all they really want is the icing.

My second effort was to make zucchini soup.  This was very simple and basic.  The potato thickens the soup and makes it quite creamy, but milk can be added if you prefer more body to the soup.

Recipe: Zucchini Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • 3-4 zucchini, diced
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • Chicken stock
  • Salt & pepper
  • Small bunch of fresh thyme, chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in medium sized saucepan and saute onion until soft.
  2. Add vegetables and cover with stock. Bring to boil and simmer 7-10 minutes until potato and zucchini are soft.
  3. Cool for 10-15 minutes, then puree until smooth in a blender or food processor or using a stick blender.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add thyme.
  5. Reheat until hot, but not boiling, to serve .

Zucchini Soup

The last of the beast was put into an old and popular standby – Zucchini Slice.  I had thought that everybody in the whole world was familiar with Zucchini Slice and it was a staple for my children when they were small, who loved it’s cheesiness.  I loved it because huge amounts of vegetables could be hidden in it, so I was very surprised to meet a woman (with both a veggie patch and young children) who was unfamiliar with it.   I include the recipe here for any of you who might not know of it and I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbooks for helping to nourish my kids in their formative years.  Any number of substitutions and/or additions apply here.  Ham or salami can be used in place of the bacon and grated/finely chopped vegetables can be added at will.  This freezes brilliantly, reheats well and is just as nice cold in the school lunch boxes.  If necessary, it can  also be tarted up with fresh herbs, sundried tomatoes and feta, cut into small cubes and served as finger food at parties.  The recipe for this or something very similar can be found on any recipe website – this is just the one that I used.

Recipe: Zucchini Slice

Ingredients

  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup SR flour
  • 350 gms zucchini, grated
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 rashers bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Beat eggs in a large bowl.
  3. Add rest of ingredients, mix well.
  4. Pour into greased, ovenproof baking dish and bake for 40 minutes or until golden on top and cooked through.

Zucchini Slice

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What’s in the box 20/21 October

22/10/2010 | By

The link to this weeks boxes is here.

Sad news about the peas, today, folks so I guess we need to make the most of what’s left of them!  We are still eating ours raw in salads or only very lightly steamed as I just don’t want to compromise the fabulous fresh taste of them.   I have thought it a shame to throw out the shells when they have such a lovely sweet flavour and I found a recipe for pea shell soup the other day.  It was pretty straightforward – just a matter of cooking the shells in stock (the recipe added sugar, but I’m not so sure about that) until they are soft, pureeing the bejesus out of them, then adding some milk and fresh mint before reheating and serving.  I’m thinking it might be pretty good chilled, too.  If anyone tries it I’d love to hear how it turns out.

Fresh cucumbers are coming into season now and I love them with dill.  For a very refreshing salad, thinly slice the cucumbers, layer on a plate or in a dish, sprinkle lightly with salt and leave for and hour or two.  You can weigh them down with a plate if you want to.  Pour off the resultant juice.  Mix the cucumbers slices with chopped fresh dill and some low fat sour cream or some greek yoghurt.  Easy!

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What’s in the box 29/30 September

01/10/2010 | By

The link to the Adelaide Food Connect page with the box contents for this week is here.

Spring is just beginning to sprung up here in the Adelaide Hills – and I know this for sure because we had our first brown snake sighting of the season last weekend!  This is always a slightly interesting time as, when they first wake up after their winter sleep, snakes are hungry, looking for a mate and generally pretty tetchy – not really morning people at all!  Add this to the fact that brown snakes can be pretty belligerent at the best of times and it puts quite a spring into your step when the grass is a bit high.

Early spring is an interesting time for producers, too, as the cold weather crops are finishing off just before the spring ones are ready, but our fresh, organic boxes of produce are still looking pretty good.

There are more peas in the boxes this week and they are sweet, plump and lovely.  I’m still eating them raw and put together a very quick spring salad last night with my cos lettuce torn up, grated fresh carrot, paper thin slices of raw zucchini sliced with a potato peeler, chopped spring onion and fresh peas.  I dressed the lot with a quick squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a good slurp of extra virgin olive oil and served it with slices of fried halloumi cheese (a big favourite in this house).  Another delicious idea is to quickly blanch florets of broccoli and some fresh peas and toss them together with  bacon that has been chopped and fried until crisp.

It is still pretty chilly in the evenings so soups shouldn’t drop off the menu just yet and I concocted a pea soup that I have served both hot or chilled with equally good results.  This recipe is for those lucky enough to own a Thermomix, but can be adapted very easily and pureed in a normal processor.

Chilled Pea and Mint Soup

6 spring onions
20ml olive oil
900ml stock (stock concentrate and water)
500gm fresh or frozen peas
generous handful of fresh chopped mint

Cut spring onions into 2 or 3 pieces and chop in Thermomix for 5 seconds on speed 6.
Add olive oil and cook for 2 minutes, 100 degrees at speed 1.
Add stock and peas, cook 6 minutes, 100 degrees, speed 1.
Add mint, cook 2.3 minutes, 100 degrees, speed 1.
Puree by slowly bringing speed up to 10 for 1 minute.
Chill for 4 hours.
Serve with a swirl of plain yoghurt or sour cream and sprinkle with extra mint.

Enjoy!

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What’s in the Box August 25/26

26/08/2010 | By

Here is the list for the boxes this week.

After the weather that we have had here in Adelaide, I’m surprised that anyone had anything at all left of their crops!  I’m just amazed that it isn’t all under water or blown away – I know most of our yard is, so I’m pleased to get anything in the boxes!!

The winter fruit is still with us and still great so enjoy it all while you can.  If you think that you just can’t face another mandarin, I found this recipe for a whole mandarin and pistachio cake online and it does look very good – if anyone gives it a try perhaps they might report back on it!  Mandarin pulp would work very well in a basic muffin mix or you could give the kids a treat by mixing it  with some jelly mix and serving the set jelly with ice cream!

I intend making a smooth and creamy soup with our cauliflower and broccoli – that should disguise the cauli enough for the recalcitrant son.  Just cook off some chopped onion in some butter or olive oil until soft, add chopped florets of either or both and stir for a minute or two.  Add some stock and a little white wine or very dry sherry if you feel like it and add whatever spices take your fancy (I like to use some cumin – although I bought some smoked salt this morning and am keen to try it out), cook until the veggies are soft, then whizz it to a state of smooth creaminess with a stick blender or processor.  You can add some cream or milk if you like it a little richer.  Some crusty bread or toasted sandwiches – a perfect wintry dinner!

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What’s in The Box July 7- Parsnip and Apple Soup

07/07/2010 | By

The link to this weeks goodiness is here!

This is real comfort food weather now and there is nothing more comforting than a great roast – plus the heat from the oven keeps the kitchen warm!  There are plenty of roasting veggies in the boxes to keep everyone happy and even if you are a vegetarian there is no need to miss out.  One of my favourite dishes is a big bowl of steamed couscous spiced with ras el hanout and full of roasted pumpkin, carrot, onion, capsicum and zucchini with some chopped up dried apricot or sultanas and chopped preserved lemon mixed through.  Gluten intolerant?  Then use rice or quinoa instead of the couscous!

Of course nothing heats you up better than a bowl of hot soup – so try this to use up some of the Granny Smiths.

Parsnip and Apple Soup
 
Author: Amanda McInerney of www.lambsearsandhoney.com
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
A lovely warming, winter soup.
Ingredients
  • 700 gms parsnips, peeled and chopped in small dice
  • 2 granny smith apples, peeled and diced (if you have a Thermomix you won’t need to peel them)
  • 2 Tblsp butter
  • 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1-2 tsp curry powder (to taste)
  • 250 ml milk
  • chopped parsley for garnish.
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in large, heavy based saucepan. Add parsnip and apples, stir to coat with butter, cover and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add stock and simmer for 10-20 minutes until parsnip is cooked, stir in curry powder.
  3. Puree until very smooth with a stick blender or in the Thermomix.
  4. Add milk and reheat – do not boil.
  5. Serve garnished with parsley.
 

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Celery Soup – WHAT’S IN THE BOX – 5 MAY

05/05/2010 | By

My sources tell me that this week we can expect – again, depending upon the size of box that you receive –

carrots
potatoes
onions
Butternut pumpkin
Pink Lady apples
Granny Smith apples
rhubarb
pears
spring onions
bananas
celery
eggplant
corn
garlic
spinach

With the autumn chill (finally!) in the air, I think that we are heading into soup weather and some of these lovely veggies are just perfect for that.

French onion soup is easy and just divine with a big slice of crusty bread and melted gruyere floating on top – what could be better than a steamy bowl of that, a glass of good red and a cosy fire!?

Corn is another vegetable that lends itself well to a thick, hearty soup and kids just love it.

Everyone knows that rhubarb and apples are an unbeatable combination in pies and crumbles, but how about poached rhubarb and pears, served with a vanilla speckled creme anglaise for a stylish dessert?

If you are one of the lucky ones to get some more of that lovely, crisp celery, but are running out of ideas for it, then you will be pleased to know that I have a great recipe for a tasty celery soup that will use quite a significant amount of it!

Celery soup
 
Recipe Type: Soup
Author: Amanda McInerney of www.lambsearsandhoney.com
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 50 mls olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped (or you can use your spring onions!)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chopped celery – including some leaves for extra flavour
  • 1 ltr chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 bunch flat leaved parsley, chopped
  • sour cream
Instructions
  1. Heat oil and saute onion gently until translucent, add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add celery and stir to coat with oil, then add stock and potatoes. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until celery and potatoes are soft – 15-20 minutes.
  3. Puree until smooth with a stab mixer or in a processor.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled with the parsley.
 

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