spring, partings and asparagus
June 1, 2015 § 2 Comments
The sun was shining with so much intensity when I left Toulouse. I am not sure if I was imaging it or not, but the tomatoes growing on our balcony seemed to be gaining an inch a day. Everything, including me was pushing up and reaching for the summer. On my last night, we sat there together, my feet in his lap, eating asparagus with French cheese and wine, looked out over the balcony to the canal. Nostalgia deep in my heart. I missed him before I even left.
Take a bunch of fresh asparagus and cut off the woody ends. Place 1 teaspoon of butter and 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan set on medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add just enough asparagus to comfortably cover the bottom of the pan and gently sauté tossing every now and again so that all the sides become lightly browned. If you want you can place a lid on top of the pan to steam them a little as well. After 2 – 3 minutes add 2 cloves freshly crushed garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking until the asparagus are just beginning to soften but still are bright green with a light crunch. Transfer to a plate and drizzle with a touch of balsamic vinegar. Repeat the process until all your asparagus are gone. Serve with some crusty bread and enjoy.
July 15, 2013 § 2 Comments
The Tropical Garden Spectacular was on a few weeks ago. At the botanical gardens under trees with impossibly huge canopies I watched some local food cooking demonstrations. Lined up on straw bales with the green grass at our feet, some glimpse of paradise on the warm breeze, the chef Selvam Kandasamy from Saffrron, taught a small group of us how to make snake beans, sautéed in spices with coconut and curry leaves. And this my dear friends is a dish to be celebrated.
Snake beans are the lanky tropical equivalent of the green bean and you would be forgiven for thinking them somewhat tough and woody with little flavour. This recipe however does them justice. It is full of flavour, crunchy, slightly sweet, bright green and turmeric yellow. The coconut and chili melts on your tongue. The intermittent curry leaves are bright in your mouth. The beans are cooked hot in a wok for just the very right amount of time making them softly crunchy and fluorescent.
I have made this recipe many times since then and each time I have continued to love it. It is similar to the original made by Selvam Kandsamy except I have used coconut oil instead of peanut oil.
Spicy Snake Beans with Coconut and Curry Leaves
Serves: 4 – 5 as a main or 6 – 8 as a side dish.
Note: If you are in distant and cooler parts wanting to use something more locally appropriate I am sure green beans would also make a good substitute.
3 Tbsp pure coconut oil
2 flat tsp brown mustard seeds
2 flat tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1 red onion finely diced
1 whole fresh red chillis (you can also use 1 tsp dried chilli flakes instead)
1 Tbsp Split yellow lentils (optional)
4 cups chopped snake beans
1/2 cup shredded coconut
A good handful fresh curry leaves
Extra salt to taste
Prepare all your ingredients before hand. Once you start cooking it all happens fast.
In a wok heat the oil on a medium to high flame until hot. Add the mustard seeds, turmeric, onion, and salt. Stir until the onions turn just translucent, then add the chilli and lentils. Continue stirring and add the beans and coconut stirring until the beans are just cooked through but still have a crunch and are bright green. Add the curry leaves and remove from heat.
It is lovely served as a side to fish or on its own with brown rice.
I hope you like it as much as I do.
spiced roast eggplant and zucchini salad
January 13, 2013 § 1 Comment
It is hot! Stinking hot! The kind of heat with thick hairdryer winds. The kind of heat you feel like you are swimming in rather than walking in. The air is viscous, your arms almost float in it.
I never feel like eating much in this weather other than ice cubes, salads and smoothies. Not all at once of course but spaced between episodes of gasping on the couch with a wet towel on my head and the fan on high no less than two feet from my face.
The recipe below for an eggplant and zucchini salad spiced with paprika, cumin and mint, is both light and rich. The dried figs, walnuts and fetta add a lovely texture to the softness of the roasted vegies.
Spiced roast eggplant and zucchini salad
2 – 3 large eggplants
1 large or 2 small zucchinis
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
4 cloves garlic chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Juice of half an orange
1/2 Tbs tamari or soy sauce
1 cup fresh mint leaves roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried figs roughly chopped
3/4 cup toasted walnuts roughly chopped
1 cup roughly chopped crumbled fetta
Preheat oven to 200°C /400°F
Cut the eggplant and zucchini into 1-inch cubes and put in a large bowl. Sprinkle lightly with salt and set aside for about 15 minutes or until juices start to come out of the eggplant. Rinse in cold water, drain and pat dry.
In the meantime, combine olive oil, vinegar, honey, paprika, cumin, lemon zest, half the lemon juice and chopped garlic. Stir into the salted and washed eggplant and zucchini.
Spread the mixture onto a large baking paper lined baking dish and roast in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until very tender and browned. You will need to check on them and give them a toss halfway through the cooking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Place roasted veggies in bowl and add tamari, orange juice and the last half of the lemon juice. Toss. Stir in the mint, figs, walnuts and feta and enjoy.
January 4, 2013 § 2 Comments
I was camping at the Grampians for new years, watching birds and stars, climbing mountains and drinking lots and lots of tea. It was such a peaceful way to start 2013, and I feel like this year is going to be great! It is just a feeling, which is perhaps more important than any materialisation of the thought, but that’s ok too.
This festive time of year always makes me think of my mum and her bean salad. It often ends up on the table on special occasions and Christmas and new years are no exception.
As easy and very simple dishes often are, this has always been one of my favourites. This year however, I have started making it with some fresh apricots chopped up and thrown in too. There is something lovely about the tartness of the vinegar with the sweet freshness of the apricots and the greenness of the beans and basil. Below, I have put mum’s recipe but feel free to add some apricots if you would like.
Mum’s Green Bean Salad
2 huge handfuls of green beans
A splash of olive oil
A few splashes of balsamic vinegar
A good sprinkle of sea salt
A very good handful of roughly chopped basil
Top and tail beans, cut in half and steam until fluorescent green and crispy. Take off the heat and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Whilst the beans are still warm add the olive oil, vinegar and salt and mix in. Once the beans are cool add the basil.
This salad can be served straight away or left to marinate for a couple of hours and served at room temperature.
October 24, 2012 § 7 Comments
Well, I made it. I am on the other side of something quite big, something that has kept me rather distracted from myself and all the other things I have wanted to do for the past two years. I have finished my masters! And there is a very peaceful knowledge that time is now on my side. It belongs to me again. This is nice. Well very nice actually. Overwhelmingly fantastic!
So here I am with some space, to do something for myself, slowly and how ever I want to. Thats a lovely feeling.
The garden is caught between winter and summer and remains positively neglected and wild. But, this is not so bad, because I know that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Its wonderful to know I can now spend more time taming broad beans, if thats what I want to do. But perhaps more importantly, more time nourishing my wicked taste for very fine delicious things.
Thanks to a very delicious breakfast eaten here and to Jamie Oliver for the idea for this recipe.
Smashed Broad Beans and Peas
2 cups fresh podded broad beans
1 cup fresh podded peas
a decent handful of fresh mint
a decent couple of splashes of olive oil
juice of one lemon
about 1/4 of a garlic clove crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the peas and beans in boiling water for no more than two minutes, drain and rinse in cold water immediately. Pull the outer skin of each podded broad bean – and puree all ingredients together.
Its that easy
Serve on toast with a poached egg and a smattering of finely grated pecorino.
September 30, 2012 § 2 Comments
Here is a vegetarian version of kimchi, a korean type of sauerkraut. I have had a craving for this for a while now, so yesterday I headed on down to the CERES market to pick up the ingredients .
What you will need
6 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups grated carrot
2 cups grated daikon radish
1 Tbsp grated ginger
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 – 1 tsp chilli flakes or chilli paste
1 Tbsp Salt
4 Tbsp Tbsp whey (or alternatively use an extra 1 Tbsp salt)
Place all ingredients in a very large ceramic or glass bowl. Pound with a heavy spoon, potato masher, or a meat hammer to release the juices. Sterilise, a wide mouthed 2 liter jar. Place the pounded ingredients inside the jar and push down firmly so there is a layer of juices above the vegetables. There should be at least 1 inch between the top of the jar and the vegetables. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for 3 days before transferring to the fridge. You can eat straight away, however it will improve after another week or so.
roast vegies and baby beetroots
September 19, 2011 § 4 Comments
I pulled these little beets from the garden today. So sweet!
A friend recently told me about roasting them stalks and all with a dash of vinegar and salt.
Without enough to make a meal of them, here is what I did. Popped them in a tray with pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, cherry tomatoes, garlic, fresh thyme and rosemary. Sprinkled them with salt, a generous helping of olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar. And into the oven at 200°C/390°F they went.
1 hour and 25 minutes later, our old gas oven taking longer than most, out they come.
I stirred together a handful of chopped coriander, some mint, 2 tablespoons yoghurt, a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and served it with the vegies.
It made for a fine lunch on a warm windy day.
the first of kale
May 30, 2011 § 3 Comments
Arriving in our bountiful vegie boxes fresh from Ceres Fair Food it brings a smile to my heart. There is something comforting about the grandma skin like leaves, green and dusty grey, krinkled like a well worn landscape. Its tough and rubbery exterior is deceiving. When cooked its facade melts as it turns deep green, softly crunchy and tangy.
Here is how I ate my first winter kale.
To start with, I took some labna, which you can make by following the recipe in my last post, and rolled it into balls.
I mixed together some paprika, rosemary, salt and garlic.
I added olive oil and dipped each ball.
I washed the kale, removed the stalks and chopped it roughly.
I placed the kale in a fry pan with more garlic, some butter and a little olive oil and cooked it until just wilted.
Then I popped it on some crusty toasted bread along with the labna.
And I ate it all up.
It was delicious.
Autumn and Chutney Red and Green
March 18, 2011 § 2 Comments
The days are whirling on by. Why is there such a fine balance between being too busy and not busy enough. I have hit too busy hard and have resorted to that all to familiar feeling that any tiny spare moment in the day must be made productive. At the same time I am trying preciously to hold onto stolen moments alone in the garden, or a walk down a quite evening street, or a good stare at the ceiling whilst lying in bed. A life without time to smell winter on its way, or missing the precise day autumn turns the leaves on the trees, or not noticing the loveliness of a miserable cold day, isn’t worth living to me.
So Autumn has snuck up and run me over. It comes with cold toes and dewy grass, turmeric days, darkening evenings, soup cravings and way too many tomatoes in the garden.
This Tomato Chutney recipe originated from a friends brother. Its evolved a bit along the way but was so damn good to start with that it would be a shame to change it too much. The recipe calls for green tomatoes but because ours are still ripening I have used red ones instead and just used a bit less salt. If you are using red ones you also don’t need to let the tomatoes sit over night in the salt as the recipe suggests.
2 kg tomatoes roughly chopped
700 g onion finely diced
700 g grated apple
1/3 of a cup salt (if using red tomatoes 1/4 cup will do)
2 cups dark brown sugar
400 g sultanas or raisins
400 g dates roughly chopped
2 and 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp turmeric
1/2 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp whole cummin seeds
1 Tbsp whole coriander seeds
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp mustard seeds
/2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 Tbsp whole cloves
1 Tbsp whole pepper corns
Put the tomatoes, onion and salt together in a bowl and leave to rest overnight (this is only necessary if you are using green tomatoes).
Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to the boil for a couple of minutes. Simmer and stir regularly for 45 minutes.
In the meantime pre heat the oven to 140°C. Clean about 10 jars in hot water. Place the jars on their sides in the oven until they have dried. Boil the lids in a saucepan of hot water.
Pour the mixture, it must be still boiling hot, into the hot jars and tighten the lids immediately.
Because there was Silverbeet
February 16, 2011 § 2 Comments
I went to a friend’s house the other day and there in their front garden was the biggest chilli bush I had ever seen. It was about one and a half metres tall and covered in chillies red and green. Apparently they grow like this in the tropics and apparently that is just the kind of summer we have had here in Melbourne whilst I have been away. Tropical at 37 degrees south! Everything is growing, growing and growing. The grass fluorescent green is impossible to keep restrained, the tomatoes race to rot before they are picked and the silverbeet with huge happy leaves laughs in the rain and sun.
I woke up this morning and new I couldn’t ignore it any longer. It needed eating. And because it is the middle of the week it needed to be something quick and easy. So here is something very simple for a fresh summer breakfast when you want something a bit more than just toast or muesli.
Silverbeet and Tomatoes with Lemon and Almonds on Sourdough (serves 2)
2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger roughly chopped
6 – 8 big silverbeet leaves washed and roughly chopped
A big handful of tomatoes roughly chopped
2 Tbsp tamari (if you don’t have tamari soy sauce will do)
Small handful of almonds roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet, lightly sauté the garlic and ginger in a little oil. Add the silverbeet and cook until it just starts to wilt. Add the tomatoes and tamari and continue to cook until the tomatoes just begin to become soft but still hold their shape. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on sourdough toast with a squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkle of almonds.
Enjoy your day!!