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Summer

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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More adventures with eggplant!

Tim and Tobie of Queen Street Growers make a fabulous baba ganoush with their eggplants, which they sell at the SAGE Farmers Market. It seemed pretty logical to me to ask them to share their recipe with LocalTable.

So here it is and it ticks my favourite box: easy-as.

Cooking time is a total guess. Just use your judgement.

Baba ganoush

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Serves: 1 small bowl Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 whole eggplants
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 100ml tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Chargrill the whole eggplants on a BBQ or griddle, turning occasionally until really well cooked. The insides need to be super soft. Everything hinges on the eggplants being really well cooked.
  2. Add all the other ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Scrape out the eggplant flesh, which should be super soft and gooey, and blend with the other ingredients until nicely mixed.
  4. Serve on a platter with crudités and crackers.

Notes

If you don't have a BBQ or griddle, then roast the whole eggplants (180 degrees should do it), but just make sure they're well and truely cooked through.

25 January, 2018 0 comment
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Bushfire pumpkin is a beautifully savoury variety, making it popular for cooking the American favourite, pumpkin pie. Most people here tend to go for the good ol’ Butternut, but it’s a very sweet vegetable, better suited to soups.

The size and shape of this pumpkin also lends itself really well to stuffing. This is a recipe that Tim from Queen Street Growers gave me and just over half a pumpkin fed three of us. The skin is thin and also great to eat. There was nothing left on our plates, which in itself is a small miracle, as my kids often reject pumpkin.

This recipe uses quinoa, but you can use any grain you like. Rice is a go-to choice, but give any grain a go. You can also use pretty much anything else to go in the stuffing. I just grabbed whatever I had in the fridge, so that’s what I’ve listed in the ingredients below. Tim says he’s mixed through some sliced pork sausages and it was terrific. Really, you can do anything with this recipe.

Stuffed Bushfire pumpkin

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 1 x Bushfire pumpkin, topped and bottomed, halved laterally, seeds removed
  • some olive oil
  • salt & pepper for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 silverbeet leaves, well chopped, including stems
  • 2 medium mushrooms, chopped
  • sprinkle of dried mixed herbs
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino or parmesan
  • more olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Coat the pumpkin halves with the oil and season with the salt and pepper. Place them cut side up on a baking tray and bake for at least 40 minutes. The skin should be starting to brown and the pumpkin should be very soft, but not mushy.
  3. While the pumpkin is baking, thoroughly rinse the quinoa, then cook similarly to rice, gently boiling with twice the quantity of water until it is all absorbed (and don’t go outside to water the garden and forget about it on the stove like I did).
  4. When the water has been absorbed, take the quinoa off the heat and use a fork to lightly fluff it as it cools.
  5. Boil the kettle.
  6. Put the silverbeet in a large pot or bowl. After the kettle boils, pour the hot water over the silverbeet. 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 silverbeet and rinse in cold water. Let it drain.
  7. Combine the silverbeet and other ingredients, except the olive oil, in a bowl.
  8. When the pumpkin halves are cooked, remove them from the oven and spoon in the stuffing. Generously drizzle with olive oil. If anything, I found the dish a bit dry, so use as much oil as you like. Maybe make a dressing!
  9. Return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes to warm through the stuffing.
  10. Serve with a fresh garden salad.

Notes

The pumpkin halves hold their shape well and are easy to cut into quarters (or eighths) to serve either as a main dish or a side.

18 January, 2018 0 comment
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While peaches are sublime to eat as is, I thought I’d try to come up with something divinely sublime to do with a peach that was also quick and easy. The interwebs threw up some ideas and I threw in my own twist to come up with this.

It’s butter, it’s sugar, it’s about five different kinds of sweetness that combine to take the peach to new heights. And it’s so easy!

I use rapadura sugar instead of brown sugar. It’s basically unrefined brown sugar and it’s beautifully rich. I get mine from Rustic Pantry Wholefoods in Moruya.

Use whatever saucey or syrupy drizzly topping you like. I happened to have some maple syrup, so that’s what I used, but something like salted caramel sauce would be delicious… even chocolate, if you must.

Important: make sure the peaches are soft and ripe!

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Serves: 6 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 3 peaches (white or yellow flesh, whatever is in season), halved and seeded
  • 6 peach-stone-sized blobs of butter (don't use margarine)
  • 2 tablespoons of rapadura sugar (or just brown sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ice cream (any flavour you like, make it fancy)
  • maple syrup for drizzling

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Place the halved peaches, cut side up, on a shallow heat-proof dish.
  3. Drop a blob of butter into each of the hollows left by the peach seed.
  4. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the peach halves.
  5. Bake for at least 15 minutes. The peaches should be soft, but not mushy.
  6. To serve, place each half in a bowl or dish, top with a scoop of ice cream (we happened to have boysenberry gelato), then drizzle with the maple syrup. It won’t look too pretty, but it will taste amazing.
11 January, 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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I’m still working eggplant out. So many people I know absolutely love it and relish its summer arrival. I’m dubious, but I’m determined to discover what my friends love about it. I’ve cooked some pretty bleargh eggplant in my time, but as I keep saying: I am not a cook.

But this is community supported agriculture and we must eat what we receive in the box! So I turned to Tim and Tobie of Queen Street Growers (ex-chefs at The River, turned market gardeners) for a foolproof, easy-as way to cook eggplant and this is what they gave me.

The great thing about this recipe is you get to decide how much you want of just about all the ingredients. Add as much garlic, ginger and chilli as you want. No need to be precise, just bung some in and see how it comes out. Adjust it for next time, if you want to.

I’ve also discovered there’s quite a debate around whether or not to salt the eggplant before cooking it. Salt extracts moisture and tenderises, but when I asked Tobie, she said it’s uneccesary and she doesn’t salt eggplant. So I didn’t! And it came out fine.

Stay tuned for more adventures in eggplant.

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Serves: 2-4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants, cut into approx 1 cm pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or finely grated
  • 1 knob of ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • chilli (fresh, dried, flakes... whatever, just add the chilli however you like chilli)
  • small quantity of oil (peanut or ricebran is good, don't use olive)
  • soy sauce or tamari for drizzling
  • coriander, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Gently heat the oil in your favourite frying pan. You won’t need much, just enough to thinly cover the pan.
  2. Chuck in the chopped eggplant. It should gently but determinedly sizzle, not crackle, when it hits the oil. Stir or toss to coat all the eggplant and fry until almost cooked and starting to look a little golden, around 15 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat down a little and add the garlic, ginger and chilli. Cook for another 5-10 minutes. Don’t let the garlic burn.
  4. If necessary, tip the eggplant onto some paper towels to drain excess oil.
  5. Serve with steamed rice and drizzle with soy sauce or tamari (only a little) and a generous sprinkle of coriander, if you like coriander (I didn’t have any when I made this).

Notes

This can be eaten as a side dish, or add some tofu or chicken to the rice and it's an entire meal.

4 January, 2018 0 comment
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This recipe was suggested by another LocalTable subscriber, Mellissa, who also happens to be a friend of mine. A few weeks ago, she sent me a recipe for caramelised fennel, but I never got around to trying it. When she sent this one to me, I said “what’s with you and caramelising stuff?” to which she replied “um hello… sugar and butter”.

Obvious, really.

When I made this, I forgot to put in the cumin. It was deliciously scrummy without it, but I will make sure I try it with the cumin next time.

Again, this is super easy. Again, don’t peel the carrots and parsnips. Just give them a scrub and you’re good to go. Unless stated otherwise, all the food in the boxes is grown without the use of industrial chemicals.

I ate this with a friend for lunch, straight off the plate with our fingers after photographing them. This meant they were warm not hot, which was lovely. If you served them with a little less drizzle, they would make a great finger food at a party, I reckon.

Caramelised carrots & parsnips

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 bunch baby carrots, tops trimmed (or if only big carrots are available, cut lengthways into halves)
  • 4 medium parsnips, tops trimmed, cut lengthways into quarters
  • 2 big blobs of butter (don't hold back)
  • 2 big spoons of honey (can't have too much)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • fresh rosemary leaves to sprinkle

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Melt the butter and honey together in a medium to large saucepan. Stir in the cumin.
  3. Take off the heat and chuck in the carrots & parsnips. Toss around to fully coat them in the mixture.
  4. Transfer onto the baking tray, making sure the vegetables are in a single layer, and pour the butter & honey mixture over them.
  5. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, then check their progress. They should be moist and tender, but not squishy. I did a total of 25 minutes, but everyone’s oven is different.
  6. Serve on a beautiful white platter, drizzled with some of the butter & honey mixture from the baking tray and sprinkled with a few rosemary leaves.
4 January, 2018 0 comment
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