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Dinner

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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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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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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There are potatoes in the LocalTable boxes every week. Firstly, because they’re always available, but secondly, who doesn’t eat potatoes?? Well, apparently, some people aren’t big potato eaters. I know! I was shocked too!

A subscriber mentioned they didn’t really know what to do with them. Well, potatoes do EVERYTHING. They go with EVERYTHING. Best of all… kids LOVE THEM and they’re filling. Unless you have some kind of dietary problem that excludes you from eating potatoes, you will find a way to eat them that you love. I grew up on floury, peeled, boiled potatoes that sometimes had black bits in them. I hate boiled potatoes, so I don’t eat them boiled. Maybe sometimes, but only if they’re small and with the skin on. I often mash them, though. Don’t like mash? Make chips. Don’t like chips? Bake them. Don’t like them baked? Dice them and chuck them in a casserole. And that’s just the very basics.

So here’s a potato recipe and it’s a bit more interesting than the basics. I almost never peel these spuds. They are grown from organically certified seed potatoes that Mick drives down to Victoria to collect. He’s not a certified organic grower himself, but he does grow following organic principles, so eat the peel. A good scrub is enough.

Creamy potato & ham bake

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 4 potatoes, scrubbed, thinly sliced
  • 2 big tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground (grating it yourself from the nut is better)
  • 1/4 cup leg ham, diced (get the good stuff from Dewsbury's Pork or another good pastured pork producer)
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped (or any herb you like)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup tasty cheese, grated (or any cheese you like)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Grease a shallow baking dish that is just big enough so the potatoes aren’t piled too thickly.
  3. Roughly layer the potatoes in the dish. Sprinkle the ham and chives over the top.
  4. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a very low heat.
  5. Gradually add the flour while whisking to form a paste. It will probably just turn into a squishy ball.
  6. Gradually add the milk, continually mixing with the whisk, then do the same with the stock. You can add some salt at this point, but I find store-bought stock is salty enough.
  7. Mix in the nutmeg. Keeping the heat very low, let the mixture thicken, while stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
  8. Pour the creamy mixture over the potatoes, ham and chives.
  9. Bake for around 30 minutes, perhaps longer depending on how big the dish is and what it’s made of, until the potatoes are soft.
  10. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the cheese. Place it under the griller until it browns on top.
  11. Serve as a side dish.

Notes

This works just as well without the ham, or you could add other vegetables to it for a variation.

22 February, 2018 0 comment
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Not a great fan of cabbage, me. But this Sugarloaf variety might just turn me around!

When Fraser from Flood & Drought came up with snake beans and Sugarloaf cabbage (as well as his consistently delicious carrots) for the boxes, I figured it was best to ask him what to do with them.

He sent me a photo of his dinner that night and a rough method. He’d used an Ottolenghi recipe as a guide. I then put a slight twist on it, because I had a couple of different ingredients available. You will probably put your own twist on this version, depending on what you have available.

That’s the right way to cook: ingredients first, recipe second. Don’t have an ingredient? Use something else! Just keep it simple and you can’t go wrong.

I reckon you can split this between 2 for a meal, or between 4 as a side dish. I lightly marinated and pan fried some steak to medium rare (actually got it right this time), sliced it and plonked it on top of the stir fry. Delish.

It’s also really quick. As Fraser said: the brown rice takes about 45 minutes to cook, but after that it’s only 10 minutes for the rest. You can put the rice on and go shower/shave/hang out the washing, so it’s essentially a 15 minute meal if you use black bean sauce from a jar. That gets my vote.

Stir fried snake beans and sugarloaf

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Serves: 2 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • generous slurp of rice bran oil (don't use olive oil, as it will burn and smoke)
  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 1/2 Sugarloaf cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch snake beans, cut into 10cm lengths
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and cut into thin 10cm strips
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional, the black bean sauce I used is garlic-y enough)
  • generous dollop of black bean sauce (get a good one)
  • 2 green onions, chopped for garnish (or coriander or anything you feel like)

Instructions

  1. Heat a wok. Make sure it’s HOT.
  2. Add the oil, swish it around.
  3. Working quickly, chuck in the rice, cabbage, beans and carrots and garlic if using. Keep it moving, keep it moving… stir, scrape, flip, mix.
  4. Plonk in the black bean sauce, keep stirring, scraping, flipping and mixing for a few minutes. Don’t let the cabbage lose its colour. If it’s starting to look grey, get the wok off the heat.
  5. Serve with a sprinkle of green onion on top.

Notes

I don't even have a wok. I used a big saucepan and it still came out great. Whatever you use, just make sure it's really hot. We're not after a gentle, slow sizzle here. It's quick and frenetic.

8 February, 2018 0 comment
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This is a recipe that is familiar to probably everybody: frittata. Or my version of it anyway. You can make frittata a bizillion different ways. It’s basically just vegetables, cheese and eggs cooked into a pie. It’s the ultimate user-upper of whatever you’ve got. I make mine in a baking dish in the oven, but I’ve seen a few different methods.

I used cherry tomatoes from my garden, but Romas are great as well… not so juicy. Slice or chop them, your choice. Same with the spuds. I also used warrigal greens instead of my usual spinach, which added a lovely flavour. The Dutch Cream potatoes are also a good choice for a frittata as they are the waxy type of spud, rather than the floury type.

Zucchini is great in a frittata… ah heck, anything is. Some people insist on adding ham or bacon. OK, then. Whatever. Anything goes!

I never make the same frittata twice, so this is just the way I made it last time.

Leftovers are also really great for lunch the next day.

Oven baked frittata

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • a slug of oil (olive, rice bran, whatever you fancy)
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated (or more!)
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed and grated
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • a few mushrooms, halved and sliced
  • 2 potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into 2cm chunks (or sliced)
  • 1 bunch warrigal greens, leaves removed and chopped
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1-2 cups tasty cheese, grated (or combine with a hard, sharp cheese as well)
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • a splash of milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC.
  2. Grease a baking dish (not too big).
  3. Boil the potato chunks in a saucepan until they’re at least half cooked to almost cooked, then drain well.
  4. While the spuds are boiling, gently heat your favourite frying pan.
  5. Once it’s at temperature, add the oil.
  6. Gently cook the leek and garlic in the oil for a few minutes until the leek goes soft. Don’t burn the garlic! Turn the heat down if it starts to brown. Add the mushrooms and grated carrot and zucchini and continue cooking for at least another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should all be nicely soft and cooked down. Take it off the heat.
  7. While the spuds and leek mixture are cooking, boil the kettle.
  8. Put the warrigal greens in a large pot or bowl. After the kettle boils, pour the hot water over the the greens. Give it a bit of a swoosh around until the leaves are wilted and take on a rich colour. This should only take a couple of minutes, max. Drain well.
  9. Toss the leek mixture, potato chunks, warrigal greens, cherry tomatoes, cheese and parsley into the baking dish and carefully mix around a bit.
  10. Add the milk to the eggs and season with salt and pepper, then pour over everything in the baking dish.
  11. Bake for around 40 minutes. Check it at 30 minutes. Cooking time will vary according to the size, shape and thickness of your baking dish, so you’ll have to use your judgement. It should be nicely golden on top and firm but not dry in the middle.
  12. Let it stand for at least 5 minutes so it can set.
  13. Serve with a salad.
1 February, 2018 0 comment
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One of the LocalTable subscribers, Susan (we have a few Susans), once mentioned that she wasn’t a big shallot eater, but when faced with more shallots than she knew what to do with, she consulted the great Google oracle and made spring onion jam. Nice one!

When I ended up including a big load of red onions in the boxes last week, I remembered Susan’s idea and thought I’d give it a go with red onions. My first attempt ended with red onion toffee, but my second attempt was a winner! Super duper yummy with a stinky, hard cheese I bought at the SAGE Farmers Market on Tuesday.

Who knew a jam made with onions could be so good? And it also meets one of my key recipe criteria: it’s easy-as (as long as you don’t over cook it).

Red onion jam

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Serves: 1 small jar Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 red onions, halved and sliced
  • 2 generous blobs of butter
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (get the real stuff, it's worth it)

Instructions

  1. Gently heat your favourite frying pan.
  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 pan and start again! Don’t burn the butter!
  3. Chuck the onion in the melted butter and gently sautée until it’s very soft, about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the sugar and cook over a low heat for about another 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  5. Tip in the vinegar and cook for about another 15 minutes. Keep stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool a bit.
  7. Spoon the onions into a jar or dish, then pour as much of the liquid in as you like. It will thicken as it cools, so don’t worry about it being runny. You might not want to use all of the liquid.
  8. Let the jam cool to add to a cheese platter, or serve slightly warm to top meat dishes.

19 January, 2018 0 comment
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