March 23, 2011 § 5 Comments
Bacon is a treat for me. I rarely purchase it because I worry about how happy those little pigs might have been in their lives. But as much as the well-behaved wholesome environmentalist in me protests, I secretly love bacon. I have tried not to, but the pleasure has remained, pure bacon enjoyment when it is on my plate. So in order to overcome my internal battles, I have justified eating it every now and again, provided its happy bacon. The bacon I have used in this recipe is biodynamic and free range, which if you are in Melbourne, you can find at Belmore Biodynamic Meats in Thornbury.
Now I also happen to think that a very good place for bacon, possibly even the best, is in soup. In saying that, I have to admit I have a bit of a soup obsession. It is probably my most favourite food in the whole wide world. If I had to choose just one thing to eat for the rest of my life, it would be soup, no questions asked.
This soup came about because as usual for this time of year there are whale like zucchini’s everywhere. I think the zucchini is balanced nicely with the richness of the bacon and the freshness of the lemon and thyme. You may have begun to notice my love affair with lemon and thyme… if not, Im sure you soon will, they seem to make their way into a lot of my cooking these days.
Recipe for zucchini and bacon soup
Good splash olive oil
1 large onion diced
4 – 5 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp paprika
zest of 1/2 a lemon
3 – 4 medium-sized potatoes (I used toolangi delights, purple and beautiful)
About 1.2 kg zucchini
1 good tsp good quality vegetable stock
couple of sprigs thyme plus more for garnish
4 free range organic bacon rashers
Juice of half a lemon
In a large saucepan saute the onions and garlic until soft. Add the paprika and lemon zest and stir until fragrant. Add the potatoes, zucchini, stock, salt and pepper. Add enough water to just cover the vegetables. Simmer until the vegetables are nice and soft. Add the thyme, simmer for a tiny bit longer and then blend with a potato masher. If you have a blender feel free to use that, I don’t have one so i work by hand but I also like the no machine approach of the potato masher because I’m a bit quaint like that.
Slice up the bacon and fry in a pan until browned. Add to the soup along with the fresh lemon juice.
Serve in nice deep bowls and top with a bit more lemon rind and fresh thyme.
Serves 4 big bowls with a bit left over for lunch the next day. Because soup is always better the next day!
January 9, 2011 § 3 Comments
The markets in Makeni, shoulder to shoulder with hot crawling crowds carrying their buys and sales and indeed, their handbags, on their heads for convenient hands free shopping. The way is particularly slow, pedestrians congested in the narrow spaces between the stalls, every productive piece of bare earth used for displaying neatly balanced towers of onions and stacks of maggi cubes, portions of salt, plates of roasted peanuts, handfuls of chillies and piles of dried fish. However this is not really a market, it’s meant to be a road lined with stalls, but they inevitably spread to encompass the whole space. When a car wants to pass through, it noses itself into the crowds as women hurriedly gather their trade and punters squeeze against the sides of the street.
It is here one sunny day that I spy amongst the dry and smelly fish, a big beautiful deep green pumpkin. ‘Yes mam, yes mam’ says the soft and rounded lady sitting behind her display holding the pumpkin out to me on a seemingly particularly stretched out arm. Her body reaches heavily out over the fish towards me. She is guessing I will be stupid and white enough to pay her almost a dollar for this one so she won’t take any chances with me missing the cue. And she is right of course, I can’t resist. Soon it is heavy in my bag on my shoulder as I balance my new weight on the back of the Okada home, weaving through the cars and pedestrians. I am happy with my buys today, also tucked away in my bag, tiny bundles of individually wrapped dried thyme that I find with excitement amongst the maggi cubes and salt in the markets but just never recognised before.
What then? Well not traditional but predictable, pumpkin soup with spices brought gallantly all the way from Morocco, pumpkin fritters that leave me wanting to cry and finally, Pumpkin in a Skillet with Thyme, Lime and Chilli.
Recipe for Pumpkin in a Skillet with Thyme Lime and Chilli
This recipe makes for a lovely snack and is so simple. But lets not mistake lack of complexity for lack of tasty because it is the latter indeed. I can be grateful for that here where you are far from overwhelmed by an abundance of variety and reminded of how effective just a few ingredients can be.
You will need
About a quarter to half a pumpkin sliced roughly 5mm thick
Oil for frying
Thyme to taste
Chilli powder to taste
1 or 2 limes
1-2 fresh chillies, seeds removed and finely sliced
In a skillet or heavy based fry pan gently fry pumpkin over a medium heat until golden brown and crisp on the outside but soft in the middle.
Sprinkle immediately with thyme, salt and chilli powder and serve with a squeeze of lime and sprinkle of fresh chilli.
Eat straight away; it is best hot and still crisp.