Category

Summer

[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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A recipe for roast veggies? Yeah, it does sound a bit obvious, but believe it or not, I talk to people who say they don’t know what to do with potato or fennel or carrots. So I don’t assume anything anymore. If you can relate to those people, then I want you to know that you are not alone and we are here to empower you!!

LocalTable wants you to eat what you’re given and not waste anything. This food is too good to be thrown out or composted. A person in your community grew this food for you. This food is not anonymous. It must be honoured by being eaten.

This recipe might seem obvious, but Kat’s now trademarked small twist on a dish means that these were the best roast veggies I’ve ever eaten (sorry, Nana!).

There’s something about roasted vegetables. Crikey, but they’re delicious. It might be a challenge to have the oven on in the peak of summer, but we’re not there yet, so give this one a go.

Roasted summer vegetables

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 3 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cut into chunks
  • 4 small carrots, halved lengthways
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 6 small cloves of garlic
  • Oil for roasting
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • Sprig of rosemary

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200ºC.
  2. Place all the vegetables in a bowl.
  3. Drizzle with oil and balsamic vinegar and toss to coat.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and place in a baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle with rosemary and roast for 30 to 45 minutes until cooked, turning once or twice to ensure even cooking.
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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Cooking and preparing meals is about simplicity. I really believe that Australia’s long-running obsession with cooking shows is because we know we’ll never make what they make on the telly. We get to watch our gourmet chef fantasy played out by others, saving us the trouble to actually do it. Most of us make meals that we know the family will eat, that we can make in our sleep and are easy. Or is it just me? Maybe I’ve said too much.

Point is, simple doesn’t have to be repetitive or boring. What I’ve learned from my friends who are accomplished home cooks is that it only takes a small twist in a recipe to make a new meal.

Take coleslaw. Cabbage, carrot, parsley in a mayonnaise dressing. So familiar, it’s unremarkable. But change the dressing and suddenly I feel like making coleslaw. Kat said that her dressing could have been more mayo-like if I had a better food processor, so it looks a bit chunky in the photo, but I can tell you it tasted great and I don’t care about the creaminess.

The kids still ate it. Bonus.

Coleslaw with cashew dressing

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Serves: 4 Prep Time:

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cabbage, shredded
  • 3 carrots, scrubbed and grated
  • 1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight (or soaked in hot water for an hour)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine cabbage, carrot and parsley in a large bowl.
  2. Drain and rinse soaked cashews. Place cashews in a food processor with apple cider vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper and 1/4 cup of water. Blend on high speed until creamy. Add more water to reach desired consistency.
  3. Pour over the salad and mix well.
6 December, 2018 0 comment
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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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