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[in full Oprah voice] AAASPAAARAAAGAAAS!!!

Such a tricky thing to grow and this season, the weather has been making it particularly tricky for Don the asparagus man out at Cooma. He brings it to the SAGE Farmers Market when it’s on, so I make sure he puts enough in the van for LocalTable when he comes to town.

If you’ve eaten asparagus from a supermarket lately, then you will be blown away by the difference between those tasteless, hard, chewy things and these tender spears of heaven. My tippity-top favourite way to eat them is lightly sautéed in butter with lemon juice, pepper and parmesan, but these tarts with caramelised red onion that Kat made are real contenders for the top spot.

Cheese, caramelised onion & asparagus tarts

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 3 red onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • 100g fetta cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon rind, grated
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Instructions

First, get those onions caramelising. Use up the bottom half of the asparagus spears by slicing them thinly and caramelising them with the onion.

  1. Heat your favourite small frying pan over a low heat and pour in the oil.
  2. Add the onions and sliced asparagus bottoms with a good pinch of salt and cook very slowly for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the pan. This must be done slowly over a low heat!
  3. When the onions are soft, add the sugar and balsamic. Continue to cook over a low heat for a further 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sticky and caramelised.
  4. Remove from the heat and let cool (stick it in the freezer if you’re in a rush).

Now make the tarts.

  1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC and line two trays with baking paper, lightly greased with oil or butter.
  2. Combine the cheeses, parsley, and lemon rind in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cut each pastry sheet in half and place the 4 sections on the lined trays. Score a 1cm border around each sheet (don’t cut all the way through).
  4. Divide the caramelised onion mixture between the pastry sheets and spread to the scored lines. Repeat with the cheese mixture and arrange the asparagus tops on top.
  5. Brush some melted butter around the pastry edges and bake for around 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before removing from baking paper.
20 December, 2018 0 comment
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After Kat made those scrumptious roasted summer vegetables, she decided to make it into a soup, just because.

So we snacked on some of the veggies, picking out and eating all the carrots, because she didn’t want them to make the soup an icky colour, then we finished them off for lunch in liquid form!

I swear, that soup was something else. I am going to roast vegetables before making vegetable soup a lot more often from now on.

Roast vegetable soup

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 1 onion
  • 6 small cloves of garlic
  • Oil for roasting
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • sprig of rosemary
  • 1 cup vegetable stock

Instructions

  1. Roast the vegetables as described in this recipe.
  2. Place the roasted veggies in a blender or food processor and blend, adding stock slowly until desired consistency is reached.
  3. If you’d like it runnier after adding all the stock, keep adding water in small amounts.
  4. Heat and serve.
13 December, 2018 0 comment
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These spring rolls are the first spring rolls Kat has ever made and they were a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Look how perfectly she fried them!!

Sometimes we avoid cooking certain things because we think they’re beyond us, but I watched Kat make these and thought “hmmmm, I reckon I could do that”.

Funny how all it takes to get over a hurdle is to just see if you can jump it.

Having eaten this dish, I’m already thinking about what other variations I can make. You can put all sorts of different veggies in these things. But whatever you do, make sure you use an oil that’s recommended for high temperatures and make sure it’s hot when you put those babies in.

This is another really good idea for kids. They love anything fried, amiright? And guaranteed, these will go down better than the slightly soggy spring rolls you get from the take away. Just watch out when you bite into them! No traumatising mouth scalding, please.

Spring rolls

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Serves: 6 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and grated
  • 4 cabbage leaves, finely shredded
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 100g vermicelli noodles
  • 2 tablespoons tamari sauce
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 12 sheets spring roll pastry
  • Small quantity of water mixed with a little cornstarch
  • Peanut or rice bran oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Defrost 12 sheets of spring roll pastry under a damp tea towel so the edges don’t dry out.
  2. Soak the noodles in boiling water for 10 mins. Drain and use scissors to cut into smaller lengths.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in wok and add the carrot, cabbage, onion, garlic, noodles and tamari. Cook for about 5 mins or until vegetables are soft.

To wrap the spring rolls:

  1. Place a sheet like diamond on a clean surface and place 2 tablespoons of filling in the nearest corner.
  2. Start to tightly roll the wrapper, fold over left side, then fold over right side. Paint a little of the cornstarch mixture along the edge and close it up.

When all the vegetable mixture is used up:

  1. Heat the peanut or rice bran oil in wok to high temperature. You’ll need enough oil to almost cover the spring rolls.
  2. Cook the spring rolls in batches, turning to ensure both sides are golden brown.
  3. Place on a cooling rack for a few minutes to drain excess oil.
  4. Serve hot and crispy with your favourite Asian dipping sauce.
6 December, 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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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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This recipe is more because I am dealing with a cucalanche at home. I never thought one plant could produce so much food. I can’t give them away.

This is incredibly quick and easy and very refreshing for lunch during summer. Ever since I discovered the chilled beetroot soup, I’m a huge fan of cold soups for lunch now.

In this, my first attempt, I added too much Dijon mustard. When my friend and local grower Kat (Luna Harvest) tasted it, she said I’d discovered the recipe for McDonald’s Big Mac special sauce. She loves it, although it definitely wasn’t what I was going for! But she was right… and after she said it, I could only taste the Big Macs of my youth when I ate this. Not so sure if I want to be reminded of that particular food experience.

Don’t let that put you off! I’ve adjusted the recipe below with that in mind. You might also like to add a little water, if you prefer it thinner. I only have a stick blender, so it’s quite chunky.

Chilled cucumber soup

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Serves: 6 Prep Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 large cucumbers (more if they're smaller), halved and seeded, chopped
  • 1-2 cups Greek yoghurt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup dill
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper for seasoning

Instructions

  1. Put the cucumber, yoghurt, lemon juice, onion, garlic, dill, parsley and mustard in a blender or food processor and blend or process thoroughly.
  2. Pour into a bowl, season with salt & pepper, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  3. To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of dill.

4 January, 2018 0 comment
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This recipe was shared with the LocalTable community by Kath, one of our subscribers. There was a generous bunch of beetroots in last week’s box, so if you’re still working your way through them, then definitely give this recipe a try.

It’s easy-as, although it needs some considerable cooking time, then a heap of chilling time, but it’s not complicated and is incredibly delicious. If you’re on the fence about beetroot, then try this soup! You’ll be a beet-lover after the first silky slurp.

Chilled beetroot soup

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Serves: 6 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 3 medium to large beetroots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 brown onion, chopped (or maybe try a leek)
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or finely grated
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish cream (or more)
  • small bunch chives, chopped
  • small quantity dill, chopped

Instructions

  1. Combine stock, beetroot, onion, carrot and garlic in a saucepan. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  2. Simmer for an hour, more if necessary, depending on how big or small you chopped the vegetables. Test now and then. The vegetables must be very tender.
  3. Cool in the saucepan for about 30 minutes.
  4. 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 saucepan itself… saves on the hassle and the washing up]
  5. Pour into a bowl, mix in the sugar and season with salt and pepper (if you wish, definitely a bit of salt).
  6. Cover and chill in the fridge until refreshingly cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.
  7. Put the sour cream into a bowl, add about 1 tablespoon of horseradish cream and mix well. Add more horseradish cream to taste, if you like. Chill the mixture in the fridge.
  8. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls (it’s even better if you have time to chill the bowls for an hour as well), add a dollop of the sour cream mixture and top with equal amounts of chives and dill.
28 December, 2017 0 comment
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I grew up hating asparagus. My parents used to eat it on a plate of salad FROM A TIN. It smelt horrible and tasted worse. I swore I’d never eat it. Then one night, as an adult, I was a guest at someone’s house and they proudly announced they were serving asparagus for entrée. I gulped and steeled myself to eat what they gave me – I didn’t want to be one of “those” guests.

What I ate was not asparagus as I knew it. It was something divine and this has remained my favourite way to eat it ever since.

Finger licking!
Kate

Simple sautéed asparagus

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Serves: 2 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • a generous blob of butter (don't hold back)
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • half a lime (or a whole, if it's not very juicy)
  • a sprinkling of finely grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • cracked pepper

Instructions

  1. Trim off the ends of the asparagus. Where you cut depends on how thick the spears are and how woody they are. Try flexing a spear to get an idea of where the deliciousness stops and the woody bit starts.
  2. Gently heat your favourite frying pan.
  3. 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!
  4. Chuck the spears in the melted butter and gently sautée. Keep the spears moving so they don’t brown. Jiggle the pan or roll them around with a spoon or tongs.
  5. Give them between 5 to 10 minutes. You’ll judge this best yourself. It depends on your pan, the type of heat, the thickness of the spears. You want them to have a lovely rich green colour, but don’t let them overcook.
  6. Squeeze the lime over them while they’re still in the pan. Give them another jiggle and a swizzle.
  7. Tip the spears onto a lovely white serving dish, butter an’ juice an’ all.
  8. Sprinkle with cheese and crack some pepper over the top.
  9. Eat with your fingers.
  10. Wipe your chin when you’re done.
30 November, 2017 0 comment
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