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Spring

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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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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Silverbeet, spinach, chard… whatever you want to call it… it takes up a lot of space until you cook it.

At the risk of boring you with another of my childhood food stories, my mother (love you, Mum!) used to boil the crap out of it in very salty water, then put a mug of “spinach water” on the table at dinner, from which we all had to drink some. Looking back, I’m like “What the? Why didn’t you just blanch it and we could eat the nutrients instead of drinking the salty-as water they leached into?” Hey, we do what we know, right?

Which is why I didn’t eat silverbeet for many years after I left home. Then I discovered it only needs the teeensiest bit of cooking and it tastes superb! Especially without the gobs of salt (really love you, Mum!). So now I’ll eat it any old how, but in pies is my favourite. You can even eat it raw. You might be surprised what vegetables you can eat raw. Almost anything leafy, also corn, asparagus for example… even Brussels sprouts, so be warned.

I’ve tried a few different spinach pie incarnations, but this one is my favourite so far. Because easy. I’ve never quite got the pastry to puff up how I’d like, but it still tastes great.

Use whatever cheeses you like. I was going to add in some blue, but I’m saving it for Christmas. Some people like ricotta (not a real cheese)… I’m not such a fan. Just use your favourites.

Lazy spinach pie

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch spinach/silverbeet/chard, roughly chopped
  • a generous blob of butter (don't hold back)
  • 1 leek sliced (soft white part)
  • 1 garlic clove (or more, if you like), minced or finely grated
  • 3 or 4 medium sized mushrooms, chopped (don't use the little ones, they have no flavour)
  • 1-1 1/2 cups grated tasty cheese, or cheddar, or cottage cheese (pretty much whatever cheese you like)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan or pecorino (Tilba Dairy make a good one), finely grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, finely ground (grind your own, tastes so much better)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten (retain a small amount to brush onto the top of the pie)
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
  • dusting of flour for benchtop

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Boil the kettle.
  3. Put the spinach in a large pot or bowl. After the kettle boils, pour the hot water over the spinach. 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. Strain the spinach and rinse in cold water. Let it drain.
  4. Gently heat your favourite frying pan.
  5. 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!
  6. Gently cook the leek and garlic 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 continue cooking for at least another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should all be nicely soft and cooked down.
  7. While the leek mixture is cooking, put the cheeses, nutmeg, salt, pepper and most of the beaten eggs in a bowl. Give that a mix.
  8. Add the drained spinach. You need to get as much water out of it as possible. Squeeze handfuls of spinach to do this. Really give it a good squeeze. It’s ok, it’s going in a pie.
  9. Then add the leek mixture and give it all a good stir to combine. Maybe let it cool a bit first, while you sort out the pastry.
  10. Dust the flour over a clean benchtop. Give the pastry sheet a bit of a roll, just to stretch it out a bit. I use a 23cm pie dish and the pastry sheet is about 25cm. I could probably use the pastry sheet without rolling it, but I do it anyway, just to give me that bit extra to work with.
  11. Place the pastry sheet over the pie dish. Don’t worry too much about shaping it into the dish and DO NOT trim the edges.
  12. Tip the spinach mixture into the pie dish. Then – here’s the good bit – fold the corners of the pastry into the middle to form the top of the pie. Oh my lordy, it’s so easy, you won’t believe it. Don’t worry if the corners don’t meet exactly or if there’s a gap.
  13. Brush the top with the remaining beaten egg.
  14. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
  15. Let it cool on the bench for 5 minutes to set, then serve with a salad of whatever you’ve got.
21 December, 2017 0 comment
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I am very fortunate to manage the SAGE Farmers Market in Moruya every Tuesday afternoon (from 3pm! be there!). The market is how I met all of the growers I now work with to supply the LocalTable boxes each week. While I love bringing local fruit and vegetables to people, there’s so much more to our local food system that the market showcases. Seafood, dairy, eggs, beef, lamb, goat and… pork. Amazing tasting, genuinely free range, pastured pork.

The best part of my job as market manager is getting to visit all the farms. Earlier in 2017, I visited Dewsbury’s Pork out near Goulburn. I’m not much of a pork eater — I never seem to cook it quite right and I’ve never felt comfortable about the welfare of the animals. But with Dewsbury’s Pork, you can rest assured that these animals are well looked after and get to express their natural pigginess every day. The result is a superior tasting product. I grabbed a great deal from Eli & Ebony at the market recently — 2 x half kilos of pork mince for TEN DOLLARS — because it needed to be eaten or frozen within a couple of days (their products are all vac-packed).

I’m going to make my next spag bol with one of the packs and I made sausage rolls with the other, along with the leeks and fennel from this week’s box. This is my second go at it and I switched up the recipe a bit. Great for lunch, dinner, snacks, picnics… you name it. They are fantastic!

For locally grown Shoalhaven Mushrooms (the BEST), if you’re in the northern part of the shire, check out Alcheringa Cottage, or if you’re in the Moruya area, Southlands Fruit & Veg stock them. Seriously the best mushrooms.

Pork & fennel sausage rolls

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Serves: 4-6 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 1 slug of oil (rice bran is good, don't use olive)
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced, chopped a bit
  • 2 cloves garlic (or more if you like), minced or finely grated
  • a few mushrooms, depending on size, finely chopped
  • 1 fennel (or half if it's huge), finely chopped
  • 500gm pork mince
  • 1.5 to 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup parsley, roughly chopped
  • a bit of fennel top, roughly chopped, not too much
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten (used separately)
  • a few sheets of puff pastry, defrosted
  • a yummy tomato chutney

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC and line a tray with baking paper.
  2. Heat your favourite frying pan over a medium heat.
  3. Once it’s at temperature, add the oil. Gently cook the leek and garlic for a few minutes until the leek goes soft. Don’t burn the garlic! Turn the heat down if it starts to brown.
  4. Add the mushroom and fennel. Cook for 10 minutes or so, stirring. You want the mushroom and fennel to absorb the flavours of the leek and garlic and soften a bit before going into the sausage roll mix.
  5. Take the pan off the heat and let cool a little.
  6. In a large bowl, throw in the pork, breadcrumbs, parsley, fennel top, cumin and one of the lightly beaten eggs. Season (if you’re the type to add salt and pepper), mix well (get your hands into it).
  7. Add the leek, fennel etc mixture and mix, mix, mix.
  8. Place a sheet of pastry on a clean, dry surface. I use the frozen sheets from the supermarket, so I leave the plastic on the back, so it doesn’t stick to the bench.
  9. Make a roughly 4cm thick roll of sausage mixture and place it on the pastry, about 10cm in from the edge.
  10. Roll that baby up (peeling off the plastic as you go, obvs), leaving a 2cm edge. Brush the edge with some of the beaten egg, then seal it up. With a super-sharp knife, cut into 4 mini sausage rolls and place on the baking tray.
  11. Keep doing that until you run out of mixture. I made about 14 last time, but results will vary, as they say.
  12. Brush the tops of the sausage rolls with more egg mixture, then cook in the oven for at least 30 minutes, depending on the oven.
  13. When they look nice and golden-brown and you’re sure they’re cooked through, serve with salad and a really nice chutney. Don’t insult them with regular tomato sauce!

Notes

Make your own breadcumbs, they're so much better! Grab the old bits of bread no one wants to eat, chuck them in the toaster or a low oven for a bit, let them cool, then give them a whiz in a blender or food processor. They're chunkier and tastier than what you buy at the supermarket.

 

You can top the rolls with some sesame and fennel seeds just before you stick them in the oven for a bit of extra flavour, but I didn't have any at the time...

14 December, 2017 0 comment
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Another food from my childhood, but this time it brings good memories.

Mum grew heaps of rhubarb in her garden, so there was a pretty steady supply of stewed rhubarb in the fridge. Super quick and easy to make, she just chucked in some sugar and let it cook down.

But I’ve picked up a couple of tips over the years that make this stewed rhubarb better than my mum’s (sorry Mum), like using raw sugar instead of white or caster and squeezing in some lemon juice. Very more-ish. Fantastic with ice cream or on muesli or porridge.

Kate

Stewed rhubarb

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Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of rhubarb
  • 2/3 cup raw sugar
  • half a lemon (or a whole, if it's not very juicy)
  • half a cinnamon stick

Instructions

  1. Cut rhubarb into chunks and rinse.
  2. Chuck the wet rhubarb chunks into a medium saucepan on a low heat.
  3. Add the raw sugar.
  4. Squeeze the lemon juice into the saucepan.
  5. Add the cinnamon stick and give it a good mix.
  6. Cook over a low heat until it goes all stewy. The rhubarb chunks will fall apart and go stringy. Stir regularly. It doesn’t take very long, so don’t forget about it.
  7. Set a timer for 10 minutes if you’re like me and wander away from the stove a lot. Cleaning boiled-over stewed rhubarb residue off your stove is annoying. Check after 10 minutes and keep cooking according to how you like it.
  8. The longer you cook it, the more gooey and toffee-like it becomes (good for eating with ice cream), but don’t let it go too far, or it gets a slightly burnt taste. Keep it runnier for slopping onto your breakfast cereal.
6 December, 2017 0 comment
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I started making this a couple of months ago and I now call it the “Magic Pudding” of soups. This recipe makes a large quantity and the leftovers seem to go on forever just by adding more water (or stock) when you reheat some.

I like it quite thick and stew-like, but you can adjust the soupiness to suit your preference with the amount of liquid you add. The amount of stock in this recipe should be the minimum you use.

I live in Moruya, so I use dried Borlotti beans and biodynamic pearl barley from The Rustic Pantry (what an awesome shop!). The biodynamic pearl barley is such a good price, you might as well get the good stuff. I don’t soak the Borlotti beans beforehand. They’ll cook in the soup.

And there’s no need to peel the spuds and carrots you get from LocalTable… they’re grown without industrial chemicals… so just give them a good scrub and leave the skin on.

The best thing about this recipe is you can chuck in any vegetables you like. Depending on what it is, just add it later in the cooking process. So, if you want to use zucchini, for example, add it about 15 minutes before serving.

This is a fantastic vegetarian meal. Very filling and delicious. Kid approval rating 4/5.

Kate

Vegetable and pearl barley minestrone

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Serves: 6 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 generous slugs of oil (olive, rice bran, whatever you fancy)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely grated
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 potatoes (waxy, like Désirée or Dutch Cream), cut into chunks
  • 2 large carrots (or more if they're smaller!), cut into chunks
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into chunks
  • 300gm dried Borlotti beans (more, if you like)
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 2 generous dollops of tomato paste
  • 1 cup white wine (or alternative, see notes)
  • at least 2 litres vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you're not a vegetarian)
  • 1/2 bunch oregano, no stalks
  • 1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and leek and cook for a few minutes until the onion looks soft and translucent. Don’t cook on a high heat! The sizzle should be gentle.
  3. Add the potato, carrot, celery and beans. Cook for a few more minutes until the vegetables are starting to soften.
  4. Add the pearl barley and tomato paste. Cook for another few minutes while stirring to get everything nicely coated.
  5. Add the wine (or substitute) and let that simmer and reduce for a few minutes. Keep stirring so the vegetables don’t stick to the saucepan.
  6. Add the stock, bring the saucepan to a simmer. Put the lid on and reduce the heat to as low as you can to maintain the simmer. Cook for around an hour and 20 minutes (more if the beans need longer). Stir it once in a while.
  7. Once the beans are tender, remove from the heat and stir through the herbs.
  8. Ladle into bowls. Serve with bread, if you like, but the pearl barley and potato are filling enough.

Notes

I don't drink, so I keep cheap dry sherry in the house for cooking instead of wine, as it doesn't go off in the pantry. I use about half the quantity of wine in any recipe. I really like it! You can also (apparently) substitute a half-half mixture of apple cider vinegar and water, but I haven't tried that yet.

6 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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