Category

Autumn

Sometimes you end up with veggies languishing in the bottom of the fridge crisper. It’s a part of life for most of us. When you participate in the community supported agriculture model, there’s no doubt that, unless you’re a dedicated vegetarian, food can start to build up.

That’s not so much a problem with locally grown food, because it stores for a hecking long time, but yep, there can be times when some of it gets past its prime. So what to do with it?

Definitely don’t throw it out. In fact, you don’t even have to compost it. Not straight away, anyway.

Make your own vegetable stock! It’s probably the easiest thing to do ever, each batch brings its own character to your dishes and — best of all — no additives, no powdered this or emulsified that. Just veggies.

Some great advice I read is to not just chuck out the bits of veg that you chop off as you cook, but keep them in a bag in the fridge until it’s full, then make stock from that! Great idea! You can still chuck the veg in the compost after you’ve made stock from it. No waste plus you’re getting even more value from the food.

Veggies good for making stock: onions, leeks including the tops, carrots, celery including the leaves, fennel including the tops, mushrooms including the stalks, parsnips… that sort of stuff.

Veggies NOT good for making stock: zucchini, potatoes, turnips, broccoli, beans, beetroot… that sort of stuff. They’ll overpower the flavour, or might make it cloudy, and some add an unwanted bitterness.

You can add garlic or spices or even salt to the stock, if you like, but I prefer to have the option of adding those extras when I cook the meal itself.

Vegetable stock

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Serves: 10 cups Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • odds and ends of suitable vegetables, in roughly equal quantities
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2.5 litres water

Instructions

  1. Rinse and chop the vegetables into large chunks and plonk them in a large soup pot.
  2. Let the vegetables sweat on a low heat for about 10 minutes, just in the residual water from rinsing. Stir them a few times.
  3. Add the water, peppercorns and bay leaf and increase the heat to bring to a low boil.
  4. When it reaches boiling, reduce the heat to a very low simmer.
  5. Leave it just at boiling point for at least an hour, occasionally stirring gently.
  6. Remove it from the heat and strain the vegetables through a colander, catching the stock in another pot or bowl.
  7. Let it cool a little, then strain the stock once more through some cheesecloth or a clean cotton/linen tea towel.
  8. Once its completely cool, freeze the stock in useful portions (I had a bunch of jars that hold 1 cup, so I used those).
11 June, 2018 0 comment
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Just about the best birthday present I ever requested was an ice cream maker. I try not to load up with too many appliances (I don’t have a microwave), but the ice cream maker is essential.

I used it a lot when my kids were little and I was avoiding lactose for my older child (made lots of frozen yoghurt), but it’s lain idle for a few years now. We’ve eaten a lot of Connoisseur in that time, I can tell you. I won’t eat cheap ice cream. I mean, what’s the point?

A few weeks ago, I decided to see if I could make even better ice cream than Connoisseur for less (answer: yes I can), using local ingredients as much as possible. We have been eating the most divine concoctions!!

The Tilba Dairy double cream is waaaay too thick to make ice cream, so I’ve been using the South Coast Dairy cream with some Tilba Dairy full cream milk and the combination is perfect.

Enter the persimmons. I find this fruit so sweet, I can only eat a quarter or so before I have to give up. Persimmon is good for dried fruit snacks, but again, it’s really sweet. So I thought: I wonder what persimmon ice cream would be like? And I found out.

It’s really good. Subtle and sweet. I probably overdid it with the vanilla paste and it overpowered the persimmon a bit, but I like vanilla, so I’m not complaining. Next batch will have just a hint of vanilla.

I bought some feijoas at the farmers market the other day…

Persimmon ice cream

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 150gm rapadura (or brown) sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 300ml bottle of South Coast Dairy cream
  • 100ml Tilba Dairy full cream milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla paste (optional)
  • 1-2 sweet (or very ripe astringent) persimmons, cored, peeled and puréed

Instructions

  1. Whisk the egg into the sugar.
  2. Pour in the cream and whisk again.
  3. Pour in the milk and whisk again.
  4. Add the vanilla paste, if using (you only need the teensiest amount) and whisk again.
  5. Pour in the persimmon purée and whisk for a while, but don’t let it get too thick. It still needs to be quite runny.
  6. Turn on the ice cream maker, pour in the mixture and let it churn until it’s lovely and thick. This will vary, but I let it churn for 30 minutes and that was plenty.
  7. Put in the freezer for at least 6 hours before eating.
  8. Serve with anything or eat on its own.

Notes

This makes about 1 litre of ice cream.

31 May, 2018 0 comment
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After thinking I might not be able to source any cauliflower for LocalTable subscribers, turns out there’s actually loads of it available. Even though I do love my veggies super simple and I’m happy just to lightly boil or steam, it can all get a bit same-y, so I thought I’d give this growing trend of cauliflower rice a go.

It seems very popular with followers of the paleo diet, which is probably why I’ve steered away. I’m not a diet follower, me. Unless eating locally grown is considered a diet.

Anyhoo, I’m a convert! This was so incredibly easy and quick and it doesn’t even really need a recipe, because the variations for it are endless. Definitely going to do this more often.

This made a great lunch for me (with leftovers) and was almost as quick as making a toastie!

Cauliflower rice vegetable stir fry

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • slurp of rice bran oil (or peanut or any oil that is good for high temperatures)
  • drizzle of sesame oil
  • slurp of tamari (or soy or any stir fry sauce)
  • 1 chunk ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic (or more if you like), minced
  • chilli to taste (fresh or dried), finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped (keep some aside for garnish)
  • 4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 capsicum, chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped
  • 4 handfuls of snowpea sprouts, optional

Instructions

  1. Whiz the cauliflower chunks in a food processor until they look like rice.
  2. Heat a wok over a high heat. When the wok is hot, pour in the rice bran oil.
  3. Add the ginger, garlic, chilli, shallots, mushrooms and capsium. Toss in the oil for a minute or two, taking care not to let anything burn or go soft.
  4. Throw in the cauliflower rice and toss.
  5. Drizzle over a small amount of sesame oil and add the tamari. Toss for a few more minutes.
  6. Divide into bowls and plonk the snowpea sprouts on top, if using.
  7. Serve with a few chopped shallots sprinkled over for a garnish.
12 May, 2018 0 comment
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Vegetables when I was growing up were boiled. Or roasted, but mostly boiled. And that’s fine, but they were really, really boiled. And heavily salted. As such, I had no idea what vegetables actually tasted like until I started cooking for myself and discovered that if you don’t boil the life out of vegetables, they taste magnificent!

Perhaps it’s because of this discovery relatively late in life that I genuinely enjoy vegetables that have simply been steamed or lightly boiled, just beyond blanching. As such, I don’t do fancy things like sauces or bakes for veggies very often.

However, when children entered my life, they didn’t appreciate the magnificence of vegetables nearly as much as me (go figure) and so I discovered the wonder of pouring cheese sauce over just about everything in order to get it into their bodies. It’s such a simple thing to do that will turn anything into a comfort food that no one ever seems to tire of.

So even though I could eat boiled cauliflower all season, that doesn’t make for a very interesting recipe to share, so here’s my super basic cauliflower cheese recipe.

Feel free to add other vegetables to it (of a similar type, so they cook at the same rate) and use any type of mustard and cheese combination you fancy. Then cosy up to this family favourite as the days continue to shorten.

Cauliflower cheese

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 1 small cauliflower head, chopped into medium-large florets
  • 2 large blobs of butter
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup milk (approx)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup sharp vintage cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200º.
  2. Boil the cauliflower florets in a saucepan until they’re about half cooked, then drain well.
  3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a low heat.
  4. Add the flour and mix well with a small whisk to remove any lumps. Let that cook gently for about a minute.
  5. Pour in the milk a little at a time and whisk in well as you go, keeping the heat very low. You want the mixture to be quite runny, so add as much milk as you need. Don’t feel you have to be precise about the amount, just don’t add it too much at once.
  6. When it’s well mixed, add the mustard (to taste) and stir, stir, stir with that whisk.
  7. Then add about 2/3rds of the cheese and stir, stir, stir.
  8. If the mixture looks too thick, then add small amounts of milk and keep stirring. Season to taste, if you like. Simmer for a minute or two, then remove from the heat.
  9. Meanwhile, tip the cauliflower into a shallow baking dish, then pour the cheese sauce over the top, making sure you cover it all.
  10. Sprinkle the leftover cheese over the sauce, then bake for 20-25 minutes. It’s done when the top is golden brown.
26 April, 2018 0 comment
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Celeriac is, yes, very much like celery, but you eat the root, not the stem. The root’s flavour is very similar to celery with a hint of parsley. You can also eat the stems and leaves, but they’re better for using in stocks and soups, rather than eating raw or juicing, like you would celery.

You can boil and mash celeriac, grate it raw into a salad, chuck it in a stew or even roast it. You can do pretty much anything with it, but one of my favourites is to make a soup with it. So I did.

Celeriac soup

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Serves: 6 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 2-3 generous blobs of butter
  • 1 bulb celeriac, topped & tailed, skin removed and cubed
  • 1 large potato (or 2 small), peeled and cubed
  • 1 leek (not the tough part), sliced thickly
  • 1 large clove garlic (or more), sliced thickly
  • 1.25 litres vegetable stock (or chicken if you like)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Gently heat a large soup pot.
  2. Once it’s at temperature, throw in the butter. It should quietly sizzle and not smoke or go brown. If it does, turn it down, clean the pot and start again! Don’t burn the butter!
  3. Chuck the celeriac, potato, leek and garlic into the pot and gently sautée for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are starting to soften.
  4. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until the celeriac and potato are very soft.
  5. Purée in a blender or food processor in batches until completely smooth. You might like to mash it in the saucepan a bit first to make it easier to transfer to the blender. [ed: I use a stick blender in the pot itself… saves on the hassle and the washing up, just be careful not to splash yourself with boiling soup.]
  6. Return to the pot to reheat.
  7. Season to taste.
  8. Serve with crusty bread. You might also like to drizzle some olive oil or pesto over the top.

Notes

You can also chop up some of the celeriac stalks and add to the soup for a stronger flavour.

5 April, 2018 0 comment
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I had to do a huge harvest of the silverbeet in my garden. It was starting to get a bit out of control and it looked like some disease was setting in, so I gave it a massive prune.

Even with just a few plants, I haven’t been able to keep up with their production and my kids and I are feeling a bit “silverbeeten”. So what to do with it all? Save it for later, that’s what! It’s so quick and easy to freeze silverbeet, or kale or beetroot leaves or chard… any of that sort of leafy green…. it would be criminal for any of this easy-to-grow, cheap-to-buy, super-nutritious food to end up in the compost (guilty as charged).

LocalTable subscribers span the spectrum of cooking knowledge and ability, some are very accomplished and others are more like me: still working things out. That’s why I keep things simple. Firstly, because that’s about all I can manage or have time for, but mainly because those who know what they’re doing don’t need help from me.

So rather than come up with another leafy green recipe for you, I’m going to answer the question I’ve been asked a few times about how to preserve silverbeet (or kale or beetroot leaves or chard or [insert leafy green here]) with some simple illustrated steps.

Frozen leafy greens

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Serves: varies Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • all the leafy greens you can't fit in your bellies

Instructions

Give it all a rinse in case there are any little spideys or snails.

Chop roughly, including the stems! Don’t waste them, they’re delicious. But don’t bother with tough kale stems.

Boil the kettle and pour over the chopped greens. Swoosh around for a couple of minutes.

Drain into a colander and rinse with cold water.

Allow to dry out almost completely. I press it between some clean tea towels.

Pack into zip lock bags (use the salad bags you get in your box!), squeeze out the air, seal and freeze.

Notes

There are variations on this method, like using iced water and vacuum sealing the bags, but I think that's over engineering things. This method works just fine and is low fuss. I preserved the equivalent of two big bunches of silverbeet here and it made 2 x 250gm bags and 1 x 350gm bag. A bag that size is about right for a frittata, but use two or three for a pie or lasagna. Easy!

5 April, 2018 0 comment
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Sad but true, I also have not very fond childhood memories of eating cabbage. Look, the fact is, I grew up in Anglo Australia in the 70s and 80s and cuisine was still pretty much stuck back in The Empire Days. Boiling and grilling with a bit of baking was about it.

But that’s why I’ve been enjoying making the dishes for these recipes. Some of them are favourites of mine since I started working out how to cook stuff that I liked and some of them are new to me. Cooking something new can be a bit of a gamble, which is what this was. I wanted to cook something using cabbage, potato and leek. I found a Hungarian stew called Kelkáposzta főzelék (warning: DO NOT do a Google image search on that) and it made me strangely curious, because it’s basically boiled cabbage, but better, so I chose it.

I didn’t have the right spice in the pantry, so I improvised a bit and even though I ended up overcooking it and it didn’t look much more appealing than the photos of it on the interwebs, it actually tasted pretty good! I also pan-fried some chicken breast coated in dukkah and they went well together. Now I’ve cooked it once, I’d change a couple of things, so I’ve written the recipe to incorporate those changes, which means it’s not fully tested. But I reckon it would be better the way I’ve described it below.

Fraser (Flood & Drought) grew the Savoy in this recipe. He said he grows two types of cabbage: one that’s good to eat raw, the Sugarloaf, and this one that’s good for cooking. So here it is, a really good rainy night comfort food sort of dish that’s not quite a Hungarian cabbage stew (and yes, it was cold and raining when I ate this, hello autumn).

Savoy & potato stew

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 big blobs of butter
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2kg potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • half a Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1l water
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 2 more big blobs of butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons sweet paprika powder
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter over a low heat in a soup pot.
  2. Gently sautée the leek and garlic until soft, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add the potato, cabbage and water and stir through. You can reduce the amount of water to add, if you like, but this dish is meant to be quite liquidy. I drained some off when I served it.
  4. Stir in the cardamom and cumin, salt to taste, then simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.

While the stew is cooking, prepare the roux (basically a thickener).

  1. Melt the extra butter in a pan and stir the flour to make a paste. Mix well and constantly.
  2. After a couple of minutes, start adding some of the water from the stew to the paste, a tablespoon or two at a time, stirring constantly until it reaches a nice saucey consistency, not too runny and not too thick.
  3. Take it off the heat and stir in the sweet paprika.
  4. Pour the roux into the soup pot and simmer for another 2 minutes.
  5. Serve as a side dish, or as a stew on its own.

Notes

A waxy potato would be best in this recipe, but I only had Sebago at the time I made this one. They were OK, but I overcooked them slightly and Sebagos are less forgiving.

22 March, 2018 0 comment
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In a sweet moment of synchronicity, I came across this recipe as I was adding a blog post to the SAGE website from a member who had written about what’s good to eat at this time of year. I’d already been thinking about finding a carrot recipe and here it was, falling into my lap. So I made it.

It’s my favourite kind! Easy!! Chuck stuff in a pot, let it cook for ages. Blend. Eat.

Carrot & ginger soup

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Serves: 4-6 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • generous slurp or two of olive oil
  • 1 bunch carrots, scrubbed and chopped into chunks
  • 5cm cube fresh ginger root, scrubbed and roughly chopped
  • 5 heaped teaspoons cardamom powder (or grind your own from toasted cardamom pods)
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • coconut cream (optional)

Instructions

  1. Gently heat the oil in a soup pot over a low heat.
  2. Add the cardamom, ginger and carrots. Shake the pan to coat in the oil, then pop the lid on and sauté over a very low heat for 20 minutes. Check and stir occasionally to make sure it’s not too hot and sticking to the bottom.
  3. Pour in the stock, bring to a boil, then simmer over a low heat for 40 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly before blending to a smooth consistency. I use a stick blender for less washing up. Add more hot water if you like.
  6. If you’d like a creamier soup, mix in as much coconut cream as you like and heat through.
  7. Garnish with fennel or coriander or pretty much anything you like.
  8. Serve with crusty bread and maybe a salad or some steamed greens on the side.

Notes

This soup freezes well. Maybe freeze before adding any coconut cream. You could also add a whole leek (white part) to this recipe.

15 March, 2018 0 comment
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Cake!! I haven’t given much thought to the sweeter side of things when it comes to recipes, but I’m going to address that now.

This recipe came from a friend of mine who answered my plea for ideas to use pumpkin. It came to me as a photo of a handwritten recipe with oven temps in fahrenheit. I must ask her where it comes from, because it sure is delicious! I can’t stop eating it.

Once you’ve cooked and mashed the pumpkin, making the batter is quick and easy, mixed with a spoon, so minimal washing up. Then it’s just a matter of waiting the HOUR it takes to cook… and letting it cool. So hard!

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Serves: 1 loaf Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup self raising flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil (not olive oil)
  • 1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 eggs
  • Icing sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Grease a regular size loaf tin (not too small) and line the base with greaseproof paper.
  3. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
  4. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake in the oven for 1 hour.
  5. After 1 hour, use a skewer to test that the loaf is cooked. Let it sit for 5 minutes before turning onto a cooling rack.
  6. Dust with icing sugar before serving with a properly infused pot of leaf tea.

Notes

The recipe just calls for mashed pumpkin, so cook it how you like. I baked it, because I hoped it would bring a richer flavour.

8 March, 2018 0 comment
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Thanks to LocalTable subscriber Sue N for this one. It’s just baked pumpkin, but baked pumpkin done soooo well.

I think my greatest shortcoming as a cook is my blandness. I just can’t be bothered, but when you can make something as basic as baked pumpkin this good for not much extra effort, I feel motivated to start thinking about the everyday a little differently.

Baked dukkah pumpkin

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 1kg pumpkin, peeled and chopped into large-ish chunks
  • 2 tablespoons dukkah
  • a hunk of lard
  • sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Steam the pumpkin chunks for about 20 minutes or until about half cooked.
  2. While the pumpkin is steaming, preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  3. Let the chunks cool enough to handle, then roll in the dukkah to coat.
  4. Throw the hunk of lard in a baking dish. Put the baking dish in the oven just long enough to melt the lard.
  5. Place the dukkah-covered pumpkin in the baking dish and coat with the lard.
  6. Bake the pumpkin for about another 30 minutes, or until pumpkin is fully cooked.
  7. If you’re using the pine nuts, lightly roast them in a frying pan on the stove while the pumpkin is in the oven.
  8. Serve as a side dish, sprinkled with pine nuts and with sour cream.

8 March, 2018 0 comment
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