Monday, 27 August 2007

Cute New Vegetables

Okay a quick post on nutritive and local. I posted a bit here on the subject but there's a few things that aren't covered by that brief post nor the article I linked to.

I've been buying local and to me that means within a few kilometres of Perth (and specifically me!) where possible. Things that are cool at the moment are kohlrabi, a turnip-like vegetable that's currently in season, and some cool black potatoes you can see in this picture, which are purple inside. Only place I've found those potatoes to date is at the Magic Apple continental supermarket on the corner of Nicholson Rd and Albany Highway, who aren't always local produce but at least they are always fresh and of reasonable value.

The more observant among you might recognise the shopping bag in the background as coming from the Yuang Chan Vegetable Market at Canning Vale Market City, it's another place that has veges that just rule. What they sell is always fresh and crisp.

Now to those black potatoes: I have no idea what they are (I found them next to the kipflers but the two are not alike at all) and due to the beautiful plum purple colour of the flesh I am concluding that these are potatoes that have antioxidant properties. Due to the soft nature of the flesh I am also concluding that these are actually a variant of sweet potato, which is fine with me to because the are beautiful drizzled with melted butter and sprinkled which chopped chives. No I didn't peel them, the skins are washed and fine, and it hasn't killed us...

Anyhow - the main thing is that both these places are within a few kilometres of me and both have extremely good fruit and vegetables at the moment - so I'll make an effort to provide a few recipes as I come up with them.

For your part, you have to make the effort and break out of the "ColesWorth Rut" and start buying your fruit and vegetables from markets where the produce is more likely to be fresh and local! And if you don't, I'll send Ghostie after you!

Well, not really, he wouldn't know how to say "ROWR!" but he does get distressed every time the Big Supermarkets take away another choice from us. And you should, too, and remember to ALWAYS BUY LOCAL FIRST...

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Cannelloni Tricolore

NAME: _Cannelloni Tricolore

12 cannelloni tubes
150g finely minced pork
150g fine white fish
100g spinach leaves
100g ricotta cheese
white flour
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1/2 tsp gound fennel seeds
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
1 tbsp tomato paste
150g butter
1 tsp salt
half a medium brown onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 litre milk
2 chicken stock cubes plus two cups water or
2 cups strong chicken stock

Chop the onion really finely, divide into half, divide one half into three. Chop/mince the garlic with the salt, divide into four parts.

Mix tomato paste, the pork mince, one of the sixths of onion, two portions of garlic, half of the fenugreek and fennel, and all the Italian herbs to a paste consistency, use this to fill four of the cannelloni tubes.

Chop the fish, mix with the remaining fennel and fenugreek, one part of garlic, one sixth of onion, a tablespoon of flour, and enough water to form a paste. Fill four cannelloni tubes with this mixture.

Chop the spinach leaves quite finely, mix with the ricotta cheese, the last part of garlic, one sixth of onion, mix together, and use to fill the last four tubes. With that you have the three colours of the flag, so now arrange the tubes in a baking dish two layers deep.

I make a "cheat bechamel" sauce because I don't mess about scalding milk nor with tradition, here's the cheat way:

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the 1/2 of chopped onion that somehow ended up laying there on the cutting board looking forlorn, and lightly fry until the onions are transparent. Add about five to seven tablespoons of flour (you will need to make enough bechamel to completely cover the tubes, and it's better to have more flour as you can thin the bechamel easier than thickening it), and stir well. Gradually mix in the milk in a thin stream, making sure lumps are pressed out at this stage, then add the chicken stock or water and two chicken cubes. Stir until it begins to thicken, then keep stirring until it doesn't thicken any more. Adjust the consistency with extra water to a thick creamy consistency.

Pour the bechamel over the cannelloni ensuring it gets in between and under the tubes, and covers them, then cover the baking dish and place in an oven at 170 degrees for an hour.

One tube of each colour, covered with a bit of the bechamel, is a pretty filling serving. Don't serve grated cheese with this, it has fish. Fine chopped parsley makes a nice garnish. You can serve a salad or something - but not necessary, this will happily stand on its own.

Have to admit I prefer the spinach/ricotta and the pork mince cannelloni, but the fish is pretty excellent too. These are all pretty untraditional ways to fill the little suckers too, but then I prefer it that way. Tradition is good, good robust flavour is better.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Zucchini/Eggplant bake

NAME: _Zucchini/Eggplant bake

500g - 1kg Zucchini (or eggplant)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup water (optional)
1/2 cup chopped fresh spearmint
1 tbsp zartar or dried thyme
salt and a pinch of cumin to taste
1/2 cup grated yellow cheese (optional)
1/2 cup crumbled fetta, hamoumi, or similar cheese (optional)
2 very ripe tomatoes (optional)

Slice the zucchini or eggplant into 1cm thick slices. (If using eggplant, sprinkle generously with salt and leave to draw out the liquid for an hour. Rinse, squeeze dry. Test and if stil bitter, repeat. I find one good salting/rinsing gets most of the bitter liquid out.)

Mash or blend the spearmint and add the oils and tomato paste and mix together well. You can add a teaspoon of raw sugar or grape molasses if the tomato paste is a particularly acid one, mixing in well. You may wish to adjust the thickness with the 1/2 cup of water.

Brush the baking dish with EVOO and lay the sliced vegetable in a layer at a time. (I cut slices in half so they will fit all the way out to the edge, your choice.) Sprinkle the zartar or thyme over at each layer, and add some of the tomato paste, then when all vegetable has been laid in the dish, pour in the remaining tomato mixture.

At this stage you can either bake it as it is, or else add the sliced tomato in a layer, then the grated and crumbled cheeses.

Bake in a medium (180) oven for about 30 - 60 minutes, until the cheese is brown.

A side dish - or you can make it a main, served with rice or bourghul and some meat kofta or something.

Eggplant is the right vegetable for this dish but because of its flavour you may prefer zucchini. I've made both and I prefer the eggplant.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Chicken breasts in yoghurt

NAME: _Chicken breasts in yoghurt

2 whole chicken breasts, halved.
1 cup yoghurt
1 cup unsweetened cream
1 cup chopped parsley leaves
1 cup chopped coriander leaves
1 tsp cardamom seeds
2 cloves garlic
4 - 8 stalks spring onion
several sprigs or parsley and coriander
2 eggs
1 cup of yellow cheese such as mild cheddar, grated
some crumbled fetta, haloumi, or peynir kasar type cheese

Ceramic or cast iron baking/casserole dish that will just hold the four half chicken breasts laid out flat, or four small baking dishes to the smae specification as above that are just the right size for a breast half each. (I recommend the latter, I have four small oval ceramic dishes that are ideal, made by Mayfair & Jackson, will add a picture here next time I make this recipe.)

Crush the cardamom seeds in a pestle and mortar, or put in blender, until all crsuhed fine. Add
1/2 cup each of the green leaves, spring onions, all the garlic, and blend or mash again until pretty much liquid. Add the yoghurt and cream, and either mix together or one quick burst blend to mix.

Add remaining finely chopped greens, mix in, and use about 1/3 of this mixture to marinate chicken breasts in a plastic bag for an hour or more.

Place each marinated chicken breast flat in its baking dish which you have brushed with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking, and set aside to marinate some more.

Add the two eggs to the remaining yoghurt/cream mixtures and beat in. Pour a quarter of the mixture around and over each breast, put in the oven at 190 - 200 for 20 minutes. Add the grated cheese in equal parts over the top of each dish, similarly the crumbled specialty cheese, return to oven for a further 20 - 30 minutes, or until the yellow cheese has browned.

Leave to cool slightly and serve in the baking dish, placing this on the plate of each person. This dish can be served with couscous, rice, salads, or a dish like baked eggplant or similar - or any combination, and probably a few more I haven't even thought of yet.

The egg will set the yoghurt/cream mixture around the chicken breast, which is why it's better served in the individual ramekin or dish - but equally, you could make them all in one baking dish and serve to the plate along with the accompanying dishes.

The ceramic dishes I have are oval, about 10cm in the long direction, and about 1.5cm deep, and were part of a set with a much larger similar shaped dish that I have no idea what the set was for as it was a gift one Christmas. I'll do some research...

Monday, 13 August 2007

Homemade Dill Pickles

NAME: _Homemade Dill Pickles

around half a kilo of thin pickling cucumbers
half a litre of wine or apple cider vinegar (you can try different ones)
half a litre of water (see Method for exact amount of water + vinegar)
about 50g - 150g fresh dill
one packet "pickling spices" (see Notes)
level dessertspoonful of rock salt (NOT iodised salt)
half a brown onion (optional)
one clove garlic (optional)
Couple of heatproof jars with sealing lids

Slice the cucumbers to suitable slices, I make mine about half a centimetre thick, try out in jars - set aside as many jars as you will need to fit your sliced cukes with between 1 and 4 cm space per jar. Take the cucumber slices back out, fill the jars with reasonably hot water from the tap, make sure they don't shatter. If they pass the test, go to make the pickling liquid.

Half fill each jar you're going to use with vinegar, tip that vinegar into a stainless steel pot. Keep about a cupful back to place in a blender with most of the roughly chopped dill. (Keep a few small sprigs to decorate the jars.) Add the lightly blended dill and vinegar liquid to the vinegar in the pot, then do the same measurement (half the volume that jars need) with water and add that to the pot too. Add the salt and the pack of pickling spices and bring this mixture to the boil. Slice a few rings of onion per jar, half a crushed peeled clove of garlic if using, and get the reserved sprigs of dill ready.

Once the pickling mix is boiling reduce to a simmer and allow to simmer for a few minutes, meanwhile refill the jars with very hot water and leave to stand for a few minutes, then use a tea towel to emtpy them and fill up with a few onion rings, the sprig of dill, the garlic if using, and then the cucumber slices as you did before. Using a fine strainer, pour enough liquid into each jar to come right to the top. Fish out a peppercorn or two from the pickling spices and add to each jar, then close the lids lightly. I do this stage with the jars sitting in the sink, just in case.

After about five minutes the jars will have cooled a bit, close the lids tightly and allow to cool to room temperature. Once at room temp, place in refrigerator or a very cool storeroom for a week. The boiling pickling liquid will have just blanched the cucumbers without taking the crispness out of them, and the flavours will have percolated through by then.

Anywhere that a side dish of dill pickles is called for. I loved these with the Borschtchi I made the other day, and they have a nice light flavour due to the water diluting the mixture.

These pickles will keep for a few weeks at any rate, but mine never last that long... Also, I realise that some people says that there should never be water involved in the pickling process but every rule is made to be broken, and this recipe needs the lighter flavours.

Pickling spices are sold in packs in most supermarkets but if you want to, just toss a dozen peppercorns in the mixture instead, and a couple of crushed dried bay leaves. Some fennel seeds will give an aniseed hint, or some caraway seeds a slightly more European flavour. Experiment is the key. Also, you may prefer not to use an onion ring for flavouring, nor garlic - and certain things go better with certain vinegars, I used white wine vinegar for this recipe and it is perfect.

I have a so-called "bullet blender" which means I tend to use it a lot - you can also fine-chop the dill and add it to the pickling mixture, but I find that the blender does the job faster than I could, and more uniformly. Your call...

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Borscht Stew

NAME: _Borschtchichi

about 1kg - 1.5kg beef belly/ribs (need some short bones for flavour and some fat and meat to shred)
50g - 100g bacon
2 large brown (white) potatoes
2 large brown onions
1/4 a large dense cabbage
1 turnip (optional)
1 swede or parsnip (optional)
1 carrot
1 stick celery (optional)
2 cloves garlic (optional)
1 fresh red beet, raw preferred, or about 100g tinned beetroot and liquid.
1.5 litres vegetable stock
salt and pepper.

Separate the meat and fat from the ribs if you have ribs, put the bones aside. Cut the meat and fat across the grain into 1/2cm strips and chop/shred those strips. The aim is to have about a hlaf to one kilo of beef shredded. Place in a larg heavy bottomed pot and place over high heat, start rendering fat and frying the shredded meat. Add the half teaspoon or so of salt at this stage.

Cut the ends off the two onions and then cut them into 8 wedges each, lengthways, put in the pot with the frying meat. Shred the bacon, add that. If you are using the garlic (recommended) cut the ends off the two cloves, smash them flat with the blade of your knife, and add them to the pot at this stage. Unless the skins are very hard, don't worry about peeling the skins off, they add flavour and will be pretty well cooked by the time the dish is finished. Keep turning occasionally while:

Cut (shred) about half the amount of cabbage you have and add that to the pot. Keep turning occasionally (reduce heat slightly if it's burning too fast) and prepare the rest of the vegetables:

Cut the tops and ends off the root vegetables, peel one of the potatoes. Put the other potato and half the carrot aside for later on, along with the remaining cabbage and the celery if using.

Shred or grate the turnip, parsnip, swede, half carrot, and one potato, I grate them onto a plastic cutting sheet, feel free to use a large bowl. By now the shreds of beef should be browning and the onions garlic and cabbage also cooking nicely. Once there's a bit of brown happening, add the shredded or grated vegetables, they will form the basis for thickening the stew. Stir to coat with fat and browning, and to let the juices from the vegetables deglaze the pot. Add the vegetable stock and the beef bones, bring all to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer in this way for at least two hours, preferably four, stirring every 30 minutes or so.

Chop the remaining cabbage roughly, cut the carrot and the potato into cubes, and the celery into thick slices. I don't peel this potato, just wash and clean it, this will add a nice touch to the schtchi. Raise the temperature slightly and simmer for another 45 minutes to an hour. This is not critical, you just want the newest batch of vegetables you added to be "stew soft." Remove the bones if you like, or they can be left in - I like them left so they can be picked for their meat and marrow, your choice though. Skim the fat off the top and dispose of, it has done its job.

Serve in bowls with thick slices of buttered German dark rye bread on the side, otherwise buttered crusty rolls will have to do. A dollop of sour cream (or yoghurt, or plain cream) can be added to each bowl as well, and you take a spoonful of schtchi with a bit of cream each time, very yummy, don't stir the cream through. You can serve up to eight people, six is around the recommended number.

My grandma did the thing with shredded meat and bacon, and adding some cabbage to fry with the meat, to "give it some taste" as she used to say. I know she sometimes also added bay leaves, and/or mustard, or horseradish cream. I haven't seen that in any recipes online so maybe that was her particular foible. I prefer horseradish if I'm going to do this.

Also, don't be forced to sticking with beef - I use that as it's common, gran used whatever meat was around, the key thing was to have enough fat the fry the meat without using any other dripping or butter. If you prefer, you can shred lean meat and use oil to crisp it in but the flavour will not be there.

Also - you can during the simmering process decide if you want to evaporate the water and make more of a stew, or cover the pot and have a more liquid soup. Either way is good, Granma's was sometimes a soup one day and then had vegetables and a shot of paprika added and became a stew the next...

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Not taken. This serves four to eight easily, and has about half an allowance of fats per person if serving six (and depending on how much fat was in the meat, of course -- and don't forget how much is on the bread.)

Monday, 6 August 2007

Casserole Pig (okay I don't know a real name for this...)

NAME: _Casserole Pig

0.5Kg diced pork, about 2-3cm (1") cubes
100g bacon.
1 medium brown onion
1 parsnip medium
1 carrot medium
6-8 small or 2 large potatoes
1 stalk celery
1 broccoli piece around 200g - 300g in size
0.5kg of brown mushrooms
2 cups stock, vegetable or beef
2 heaped tablespoons white flour
1 litre fresh water
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon grape molasses or 250g red grapes, preferably seedless.

Peel and cut up the root vegetables into chunks as large as, or larger than the pork. Cut broccoli into similar sized florets, and the celery stalk into 2.5cm slices. Roughly chop the grapes if using them, and chop the mushrooms quite fine.

Put a film of oil into the pot and heat, add the pork and bacon pieces and the caraway seeds. Fry until all the pork pieces begin to turn brown, add the flour, stir well, and allow to fry until pieces begin to brown and a layer of browned flour appears on the base of the pot. Add the chopped mushrooms and chopped grapes, stir through, add the stock and most of the water. Stir until all the browning has lifted from the base of the pot. Add the rest of the vegetables (except the broccoli) and bring to a simmer while stirring regularly.

Transfer to a casserole dish with a lid, place in oven at 170 degrees, and leave for around two hours. (Until vegetables are becoming soft. At this point add the broccoli, stir through, cover again and return to oven for a further 30 minutes.)

Serve with thick sliced buttered rounds of dark rye bread, preferably rye with caraway.

German Caraway Rye - Get it at Temptations Bakeries around Perth - it's perfect! for this dish.

My Mum made this and sometimes it went in the casserole and the oven, other times it went on the hob and got simmered for half a day - you could also use an electric slow crockpot I guess. Very filling and warming in the cooler weather. I don't know what to call it so - "Casserole Pig." Deal.

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: If you used lean pork, very little fat. I have not calculated the good active ingredients but it's definitely your full serving of vegetables.


Email Subscriptions powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe to all my blogs at once!

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz