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Summer

Fennel is such an interesting vegetable. I was dead suss of it when I first came across it at the SAGE Farmers Market. I’m not big on aniseed flavours, so it took a while for fennel to win me over. But so much of it is grown around here, I figured I must be missing something that many other people knew. So I kept trying it.

And I was right. I was missing something. Fennel is awesome. It’s soooo versatile and there are so many ways you can cook (or not cook) and eat it.

Here’s another way to cook it and it will use both the small bulbs in the boxes this week. It makes a great topping for a steak, instead of the standard fried onion (and is just as simple), or you can add it to the plate along with your other veggies. Tonight, I made a pie, so I just whacked it all in with the rest of the ingredients. Yum!

This version is vegan, but there are other variations using butter that you might like to try too.

Caramelised fennel

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Serves: 2 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 fennel bulbs, halved, cores removed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lime juice (optional)

Instructions

  1. Slice the fennel halves thinly.
  2. Heat a large skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil and then the fennel slices. Spread the fennel out in the pan to encourage browning. Cook for 10-15 minutes, flipping the fennel slices every few minutes, until golden brown.
  3. Season with salt and pepper while in the pan.
  4. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice over the top, if you like.
28 February, 2019 0 comment
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Shishitos are weird little wrinkly peppers that are mostly sweet, but apparently throw out a hot one every now and then. It’s like a chili lucky dip! Except that I’ve never eaten one that was hot, so I’m starting to think that’s a myth.

You can throw them into a salad, if you want, but the best way to eat them is as a salty snack with a beer (or something). They’re a bit fiddly and meh if you try to use them like capsicum in a salad, but they really shine if you chuck them on the barbeque or skillet for a few minutes and eat them whole, seeds and all.

They’re so quick to prepare as a snack, you’ll be eating them in the time it takes you to assemble a cheese platter. If you haven’t come across shishitos before, make sure you give this recipe a go.

If you want the chili kick, throw some chili flakes into the bowl before you put them on the skillet.

Shishito snacks

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • rock salt to taste
  • 1 bag shishitos

Instructions

  1. Preheat a skillet or BBQ grill on a high heat.
  2. In a bowl, add the shishitos to the oil and salt and coat well.
  3. Place the shishitos in a single layer on the skillet or grill and cook quickly until the skins begin to blister, around 5 to 10 minutes. Keep the shishitos moving so they cook and blister evenly.
  4. Sprinkle with a little more salt when you serve them. Optionally add some yoghurt on the side for dipping, sprinkled with paprika.
21 February, 2019 0 comment
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Looking for an easy meal that will use up a heap of veggies? Here’s one. It’s filling, too.

Almost all of LocalTable‘s subscribers are women (nod to the men among us). Some of those women remark that they have men and boys in the family who Just. Won’t. Eat. Vegetables.

Seriously?? What are they eating?? Surely it can’t all be meat, pasta and potatoes.

I live in a bloke-free zone, so I haven’t experienced this problem (my ex ate his veg). I’ve even had subscribers withdraw, telling me they’re not getting through all the food in the box because the males in the house just won’t eat their share.

[exaggerated voice] I find this outrageous!

We are told and messaged and told again that we are not eating enough vegetables. The food in a small LocalTable box should be easily finished off within a week by a family. Two veggie-loving adults could get through it all, even if they have to preserve some of it.

Getting people to eat more vegetables is one of LocalTable‘s most important missions and this recipe is a good one for that. A few good things about this recipe:

  1. potato,
  2. you can throw in some sausage (spicy!) or bacon,
  3. you can use pretty much any vegetables in the box,
  4. it’s all mixed in together, so they’ll have to eat the vegetables as well as the potato,
  5. you can increase or reduce the chili to achieve optimum vegetable intake,
  6. it can be eaten with a fork, so they can shovel it in quickly before they register the vegetables,
  7. it tastes great,
  8. it’s filling and;
  9. potato

Try it. I reckon it’s a winner.

Potato and cabbage stew

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled (or scrubbed, but peeled is nice this time) and diced
  • 2 generous slurps of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 long red chilli, seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, scrubbed and grated
  • 2 small cloves (or 1 large clove) of garlic, minced or finely grated
  • 1/2 head of Sugarloaf cabbage, shredded
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 tin of diced tomatoes (or about 400gm of homemade tomato sauce if you prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 bunch parsley or coriander, chopped

Instructions

  1. Boil potatoes in a medium saucepan until almost cooked, about 5 or so minutes.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or a deep frying pan with a lid. Add the onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the chili, celery and carrots and sauté for a further 3-4 minutes, until slightly softened and caramelised.
  4. Then add the garlic and cabbage and season with salt and the coriander powder. Combine, then cover with the lid and cook for 2-3 minutes. The cabbage will release some liquid and reduce.
  5. Tip in the diced tomatoes, cooked potatoes and about 1/3 cup of water. Stir through and cover with the lid again. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
  6. Just before serving, stir through the butter and herbs.
14 February, 2019 0 comment
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Eggplants are on! It’s another polarising vegetable, isn’t it? I grew up on a very Anglo diet and never heard of or saw an eggplant until I was… I dunno… an adult at least.

That makes eggplant a challenge for me. But I have friends who lurrrve eggplant, so help is close at hand. While I’m still working eggplant out, Kat is all over it and put this little beauty of a dish together this week. It even includes fennel… another of those polarising vegetables. Double winning!

Unlike eggplant, I really don’t understand why fennel is so controversial. It’s the most marvellous thing. I only discovered it within the last five years. I was dubious at first, but now I’m mad for it. Raw or roasted, I just love it.

If you’re still on the fence about either veg, this is a great recipe to try. Not the prettiest dish, but certainly delicious!

Stuffed eggplant

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 medium to large eggplants, topped
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 extra teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried or a small handful of fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried or small handful of fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can white or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 10 to 15 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly chopped parsley to garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  3. Slice the eggplants lengthwise, score the flesh in a diamond pattern, without poking through the skin.
  4. Brush 1 teaspoon of the oil on each eggplant half and place them cut side down on the baking paper. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender.
  5. In the meantime, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in your favourite frying pan.
  6. Add the fennel, oregano, thyme, garlic and salt and cook over medium to high heat for 5 minutes, until it starts to caramelise.
  7. Add 1/2 cup of water and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, until the fennel starts to soften.
  8. Add the beans, cherry tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  9. Top the roasted eggplant with the fennel and white bean mixture, sprinkle with the parsley and serve warm.
7 February, 2019 0 comment
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Recipe day this week was waaaaaay too hot to turn on an oven or hotplate. Like, seriously.

So Kat made this salad. Pretty much just made it up on the spot, then we shoved it in our bellies and it was perfect for a summer lunch.

Just perfect.

Make sure you don’t mix the feta into the salad until right before you eat it, so it doesn’t get soggy. It gives a fantastic contrasting texture and flavour to the rest of the dish.

Watermelon & cucumber salad

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Serves: 4 Prep Time:

Ingredients

  • 1/4 watermelon, cut into chunks
  • 2 cucumbers, halved lengthwise and cut into thick slices
  • 1 cup mint leaves, finely sliced
  • 180g, of feta cheese, cut into cubes or crumbled
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablesoolive oil

Instructions

  1. Combine watermelon, cucumber and mint leaves in a bowl.
  2. In a jug or bowl, whisk together the lime juice, maple syrup and olive oil.
  3. Just before serving, sprinkle the feta over the watermelon and cucumber, then drizzle with the dressing.
31 January, 2019 0 comment
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I almost always have a half-used packet of puff pastry in my freezer, but now that I’ve tried these curry puffs, I’ve added another dish to my arsenal for using up pastry.

I thought curry puffs were complicated. Ha! How wrong I was. Kat whipped these up in a jiffy. A great tip is to boil the potatoes in advance and let them cool and dry out. It will keep the moisture to a minimum and give you crispy pastry. It also means making the puffs themselves takes a fraction of the time.

The spice load in this recipe is pretty conservative. Feel free to throw more in, if that’s what floats your boat. You could also use pretty much whatever veggies you have at hand.

This is another great idea to cook in advance, then keep handy in the fridge or freezer for lunches, light meals or picnics.

Curry puffs

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Serves: 16 pieces Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 500gm potatoes, scrubbed and diced into 1cm pieces
  • 3-4 chard or silverbeet leaves, stems removed and shredded
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon curry powder
  • 4 sheets puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cucumber finely diced
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder

Instructions

  1. Boil the potato pieces until almost completely cooked. Drain and allow to cool.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion, potato and carrot for a few minutes until all the ingredients start to soften. Add the chard, salt and curry powder and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
  3. Heat the oven to 190ºC. Cut the pastry sheets into quarters and place a large spoon of the filling in the centre of each.
  4. Brush the pastry edges with egg and fold into triangular parcels, pushing the filling into the corners and crimping the edges with a fork. Brush the top of each triangular pastry with more beaten egg and place on a lined baking tray.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly and serve with a little of the cucumber raita.

For the raita:

  1. Combine the yoghurt, cucumber and cumin and add salt to taste.
24 January, 2019 0 comment
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Roma tomatoes: good for cooking. Tomatoes that are less than perfect for a salad: also good for cooking.

Pasta sauce: unbelieveably simple and so much better than the supermarket stuff. The secret is to roast the tomatoes. Don’t just make a tomato sauce by chucking them in a saucepan. Roasted is the way to go.

I know. It’s summer. Who wants to turn the oven on? You will when you taste this sauce.

You could really easily add some olives or zucchini or both. If you want some meat in there, add some prosciutto (or bacon for us plebs) or even simply ham. With a salad and some crusty bread, not much can beat this for summer comfort food.

Roasted tomato pasta sauce

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Serves: 2 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 500g tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • as many garlic cloves as you like, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 or 3 sprigs fresh oregano, stems removed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 220ºC
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  3. Place tomatoes cut side up on the tray.
  4. Slice garlic cloves and stick a small piece in each of the tomatoes. If you have leftovers, just scatter them on.
  5. Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes and sprinkle with fresh oregano leaves. Season with salt and pepper (don’t skimp on the pepper, cracked is better than powder).
  6. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes.

At this point, you could use the roasted tomatoes in a salad or as a side dish, OR you could make the world’s best pasta sauce.

  1. Allow the tomatoes to cool slightly, then blend in a food processor to the desired consistency.
  2. Stir through pasta or zucchini noodles. You could also use it as a pizza sauce.
17 January, 2019 0 comment
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Soooo many ways to eat zucchini! But I’d bet most of us cook it. Baked, barbequed, in a pasta, in a casserole, in a soup, in a quiche. Even making zucchini noodles. Oh my, but zucchini is a versatile veg to cook.

Fewer of us would think to eat it raw. It is fantastic in salads. Yes, OK, we have cucumber for salads in summer, but don’t ignore the humble zucchini because of your love for cucumber. And can cucumber do this?? No, that’s right. It can’t.

This recipe is super quick and so very tasty. Once again, it’s all in the dressing. As Kat remarked, who would have thought that a bit of lemon and mustard could create so many delicious and simple meals? And then I said, I know, right?

Make this right before eating. If you let it sit too long, the zucchini will start to sweat and soften too much.

Simple zucchini salad

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Serves: 1 as a meal or 2 as a side salad Prep Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 zucchini, peeled into thick ribbons
  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/4 cup parmesan flakes
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat a small frying pan over a low to medium heat.

Add the walnuts and lightly toast. Keep the walnuts moving so they don’t burn. When they are ready and smelling toasty, put them aside.

In a medium to large bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper until well combined.

Add the zucchini ribbons and parsley to the bowl and gently toss with the dressing. Using your hands works best.

Transfer the dressed zucchini and parsley into a serving bowl and sprinkle over the toasted walnuts and parmesan cheese.

10 January, 2019 0 comment
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Continuing with our approach to recipes (keep it simple, with a twist), this recipe for potato salad will astound you.

Potato salad for me was always trotted out at barbeques and I associate it with being heavy, sometimes gluggy, sometimes dry and too vinegary. I’ve not really been a huge fan, frankly.

But once again, Kat has found a way to reignite my interest in dredging up an old food memory and enjoying it with fresh tastebuds. If you’ve got blokey blokes in your family who love their carbs but you find potato salad too heart-attack inducing, this version will please all of you. The dressing is light and tangy, but it’s still reminiscent of those potato salads drowned in mayo of old.

It’s quite an 80s sort of dish, don’t you think? So we decided it should be served in a glass bowl. Voilà: an homage to the 80s barbeque with a 2019 update.

Potato salad with yoghurt dressing

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 5 medium potatoes, scrubbed, cut into chunks
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • half bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Greek yoghurt (we used Tilba Real Dairy plain yoghurt - perfect)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Boil the potatoes until cooked, drain and allow to cool completely.
  2. Combine the potatoes, onion and parsley in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl or jug, thoroughly combine yoghurt, oil, mustards, vinegar and honey. Season with salt to taste.
  4. Pour over the potatoes and mix well.
3 January, 2019 0 comment
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These muffins were, to borrow from my kids, “a bit extra”. They were really good muffins. Soooo soft. When we impatiently ate them still slightly warm, they stuck to the paper cases a bit, but eaten the next day, the cases peeled off perfectly. The muffins were still soft and fresh and weren’t any less enjoyable eaten not-warm.

Give them a few seconds in a microwave if you must, but I don’t own a microwave, so room temp with a hot cuppa was just perfect.

This recipe is low sugar, but don’t tell anyone, because it totally doesn’t matter. They are delish!

Blueberry muffins

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Serves: 12 muffins Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup oil (canola is good)
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup full cream milk
  • 150gm blueberries
  • icing sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Put 12 muffin cases into a muffin pan.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder and bicarb in a large bowl.
  4. Combine the honey, eggs, oil, yogurt, and milk in another bowl. Using a large jug instead makes the next step easier.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Stir until just combined.
  6. Fold in the blueberries.
  7. Add a tiny bit more milk if the mixture seems too thick. The batter should be soft and drop off the spoon, not stiff or runny.
  8. Fill the muffin cases almost to the top.
  9. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean.
  10. Cool on a wire rack, then store in an air tight container, if they make it that far.
27 December, 2018 0 comment
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