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Summer

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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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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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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I seem to start most of my recipe preambles with a tragic food story.

I studied German for 5 years in a private girls’ secondary school in the 80s (yeah… so useful). Anyway, the text books were stuck in the 70s and the teachers were stuck in the 50s. Probably the best thing about German was that I wasn’t in a science or maths classroom. Something I now regret, but I was one of those kids you couldn’t tell anything. The other good thing about German was the giggle factor. That language just IS funny (mein Vater *snigger*). It sounds funny and depending on how you interpret some words, you can get some pretty funny translations. “Sauer”, for example, is really what it sounds like (sour), but you can also interpret it as “angry”. “Kraut” refers to the cabbage, but it can also be a herb in a broader sense. Angry herb? HAHAHAHAAHAAAAAAA… no? Maybe it’s just me.

I remember one teacher bringing in some German food from time to time and it was all, without exception, awful. Pfeffernüsse? What the…? This is a biscuit?? And sauerkraut… I can’t even… The stuff we ate came from the supermarket and looked, smelled and tasted gross. I think it had a lot of vinegar in it.

As a result, I’ve never really been keen on making sauerkraut, even though I’ve since eaten sauerkraut and it was really yum. No vinegar, for a start. Just salt. That’s it. Salt. And not much salt either.

I’ve had some veggies backing up in my crisper lately, so I’ve finally taken the plunge, put aside my fear of botulism and made some angry herb. As I started googling around, I realised it doesn’t just have to be cabbage. You can whack any old thing in there (just about) and so I did.

I used up my last watermelon radish, half a bunch of carrots, a whole Sugarloaf cabbage and then some and even one of the beetroots I’ve had loitering at the bottom of my crisper for weeks. Man, they keep well. The beets meant my sauerkraut salad is very red and I would have liked the pretty colours of the carrots and radishes to show through, but what the hey. It still looks great. Just very red.

I won’t know the results for another week, so this recipe isn’t fully tested. But I hope it will encourage you to give fermenting a go at home. It’s super easy. Just don’t poison yourself.

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Serves: 2 x 550ml jars Prep Time:

Ingredients

  • 1.5 - 2 Sugarloaf cabbages
  • 1/2 bunch of carrots, scrubbed
  • 1 watermelon radish, scrubbed
  • 1 beetroot, scrubbed
  • 1 tablespoon Murray River salt (or any salt, I just like using Australian salt)

Instructions

First, sterilise the lids and jars.

  1. Wash the jars in hot soapy water, rinse thoroughly in hot water, drain a bit, then put upside-down in a cold oven. Heat oven to 100ºC. When it reaches temperature, leave the jars in for about 10 minutes, then carefully remove. They need to be completely dry. Turn off the oven when you remove the jars.
  2. Wash the lids in hot soapy water, then boil them in a saucepan of water for 5 minutes. Drain and let dry. You can put them in the cooling oven for a bit to make sure they are completely dry.

While the jars and lids are drying, prepare the vegetable mix.

  1. Peel off the outer leaves of the cabbages, wash and set aside.
  2. Cut the cabbages in half, remove the heart and thinly slice. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Grate the carrots, radish and beetroot and add to the bowl.
  4. Sprinkle the salt over the vegetables.
  5. Make sure your hands are clean and massage the vegetables and salt until they are soft and very watery, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. When the jars are cool and the mixture is quite mushy, tightly pack them with the mixture and pour the liquid evenly between the two jars, leaving a small gap at the top.
  7. The liquid should completely cover the mixture. If there isn’t enough liquid you can top up the jars with a brine made with a ratio of 1 cup water to 1 teaspoon salt.
  8. Fold up the outer cabbage leaves you put aside and squish them on top of the vegetable mixture to help it stay tightly packed and covered by the liquid.
    Wipe the rims (with something clean and dry, like a fresh tea towel) and loosely seal with a lid, so the air can escape as it ferments over the next few days.
  9. Leave the jars on a shelf somewhere cool and away from direct sunlight for 7 days. Check periodically to see if you need to release some air from the jar as fermentation progresses.

After a few days, the cabbage on top might start to look a bit erky. If so, remove it and replace with fresh cabbage leaves (or something else vegetable-y, like carrot or beetroot tops) to keep the mixture pressed down and submerged in the brine.

If you see any scum develop, remove it with a spoon.

After a week, you can eat it! Remove the cabbage leaves (or whatever) on top and keep in the fridge. It should last a few weeks.

1 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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When you ask growers what they’ve got available to supply the LocalTable boxes, sometimes you get an interesting suggestion, like tomatillos.

I’m guessing not many Aussies have had a tomatillo or even heard of them. I’ve heard of them, but never eaten them. This is my first foray, with a recipe from the grower, Sasha Ermichina. I’ve cut back the vinegar content, as it ended up pretty runny and I didn’t add any other liquid. Other than that, it tasted great!

Tomatillo salsa

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Serves: 1 bowl Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 500gm tomatillos, husked and washed in warm water to remove the sticky coating
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 garlic clove (or more!), peeled
  • 1/4 cup white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried or fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
  • some chilli any way you like it (optional)
  • juice of half a lime, or more if not very juicy

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC.
  2. In a baking dish, roast whole tomatillos, onion, garlic and chilli until soft and with a bit of colour, about half an hour.
  3. Transfer to a saucepan along with all the juice in the baking dish. Add the vinegar, lime juice, oregano and coriander and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Let it cool, then transfer to a blender (or use a stick blender in the cooled saucepan)  and purée. Add a little water if you want a runnier consistency and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve with corn chips or anything that will carry the salsa from the bowl to your mouth.

28 January, 2018 0 comment
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