29 Feb 2012

Highlights of the Fruit & Vegie Bag

I am in a sort of fruit co-op where a delivery of tonnes of fruit and veg arrives at my door every Tuesday and I pack it into bags for 14 local families who come and pick it up from my carport. It is through a company called Harvest Hub. 
From week to week you never know what will come. At first this was hard to deal with for a planner like me, but I have learnt over the years to look forward to the variety and the signs of changing seasons. 

I thought I might show you a glimpse from time to time.


18 Feb 2012

Around the World in 18 Fridays- Week 5- Russia

This week I tried something completely new- I've never eaten Russian food til now, let alone cooked it!

But so far, I'm liking it!

This dish is called 'Slovanka' and it's a sort of cabbage and potato casserole.

It's pretty yummy, and full of veggies!

Plus I served it with an amazing beetroot salad that's also Russian!

But if you're making the salad, I'd reccomend going easy on the garlic- 3 raw cloves is enough to have your breath stinking for days!

Both the recipes are from 'Moosewood Cookbook' by Mollie Katzen, which has sat accumulating dust on a shelf for far too long.

It's an amazing book- we were leant it by a friend a few years ago and fell in love, then by some incredible coincidence we found it at a second hand shop for, like $5!

Sometimes I wonder how these things happen!

But if you're ever stuck for yummy vegetarian recipes, I'd highly recommend it.

And I doubt this'll be the last you hear of it round here!

Solyanka with Odessa Beetroots

Based on: The Moosewood Cookbook By Mollie Katzen

4 medium potatoes
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup firm yoghurt
1 tbsp butter or margarine
2 cups chopped onion
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 small head green cabbage, shredded
2 medium carrots, grated
4 to 5 medium cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp dill
Black pepper, to taste
3 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
Sprinkling of Paprika

For Salad:
5-6 medium beets
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
8-10 prunes, pitted and thinly sliced
2-3 medium cloves garlic, minced (I'd actually recommend either cooking this slightly or using a bit less- you've been warned!)
1/2 tsp salt
Black Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped pineapple (tinned or fresh)

1. Set the oven to 200˚c (400˚f). Lightly grease a large casserole. Put the beets, wrapped in foil, in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until tender. Remove and turn oven down to 180˚c (350˚f).
2. Cut up the potatoes and boil from cold until mashable. (You can do steps 4 & 5 while they boil) Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
3. Mash the potatoes while still hot, adding cottage cheese and yoghurt.
4. Melt the butter or margarine in a large, deep pan. Add onions and salt, and saute for about five minutes. Add caraway and cabbage, and saute about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally and covering in between.
5. When the cabbage is tender, add carrots garlic and dill. Cook about 5 more minutes, and remove from heat.
6. Add the sauteed vegetables, the mashed potatoes, pepper and cider vinegar to the casserole. Mix until well combine, then sprinkle with sunflower seeds and paprika.
7. Bake uncovered 35-45 minutes, or until heated through and lightly browned on top.
8. Meanwhile, to prepare the salad, rinse the beetrootsunder cold water and remove their skins. Trim the ends and coarsely grate. Transfer to a large bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well.
9. Serve and enjoy!

Mia :)

17 Feb 2012

Cookbook of the Moment: "It Tastes Better" by Kylie Kwong

Tidying our bookshelves recently I rediscovered several great books that have been languishing on the shelves as I increasingly "google" recipes or get them from other blogs. I decided I would choose one book at a time and cook my way through the best of it.
Thus it's Kylie Month at our place!
The book is "It tastes Better" by Kylie Kwong. It was a Christmas Gift from Mia. It is all about the suppliers from whom she sources her sustainable and organic ingredients for her restaurant (Billy Kwong's) and a mix of her own and their recipes using the produce. They are very inspiring. It makes me want to leave the city and grow and make my own everything somewhere quiet - perhaps in retirement!!

Tonight was the highlight of the recipes so far - The Chicken Pho. (The "almost" in the blog title kicks in here)

It was a pretty big job to make but was delicious and loved by all. I made a second pot with all the ingredients except the chicken for Mia - and it was just as delicious - so maybe we'll do that version again. I think I'll blog this meal in another post it was so good!

Other highlights have been:-
* Dry fried green beans with miso sauce
* The soba noodle and marinated tofu salad (this may become a regular in our house - fantastic)

* the mussel omlete

* Beer battered flathead with a potato aioli

* Deep fried Silken Tofu with lemon sauce

* Fried cauliflower and spices (the original had chickpeas but as mine weren't ready we went without and loved it) and served it with Beetroot, Fig, Cumin and yoghurt salad

* Slightly Disappointing was the quinoa salad.

* I also set out to make the spring vegetable salad with ricotta - but the weather turned cold while I was cooking and I modified it to be a pasta dish with fresh ricotta, sauteed fennel, sugar snap peas and herbs and it was great, I'm sure the original salad would also have been good on a summery day!

Still to come over the next 2 weeks we have
* Corn Fritters with dill dipping sauce
* pickled eggplant
* steamed blus eye cod with cloud ear fungus and sweet and sour dressing
* Egg with pickled carrot and beetroot
* stir-fried chickpeas with blackbean and chilli
* seared tofu with caramelised tomatoes
* Kylie's fried rice
* Potato and egg salad with tamari and roast garlic
* Lentil, goats cheese and roasted tomato salad.

I have used more lemons, soya sauce/tamari, sesame oil, szechuan pepper and ginger in the last two weeks than I have in have ever used before - but love them!

Her book also contains amazing looking meat dishes that we would rarely use now - two of hers have been past favourites though - a lamb shank braise and her red braised pork.

Red Braised soya beans are also a favourite of ours from Kylie, though not in this book.

I'll let you know how the rest go.


11 Feb 2012

Around the World in 18 Fridays- Middle East- Couscous Salad

Today we're visiting the middle east with a salad for Autumn.

Yes, I know it's not Autumn yet.

But it sure does feel like it!

This beautiful Middle Eastern Couscous salad is perfect for this unusual weather- not too hot and not to cold!

It's amazingly fast and easy- just what we need now schools back!

The only thing that takes a while is the roasting of the vegies, but once they're in you can do whatever you like for half an hour- homework, housework, blogwork!

Warm Roast Vegetable and Couscous Salad

Based on: http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/26536/warm+roast+vegetable+couscous+salad

Serves 4

  • 6 carrots, peeled
  • 2 parsnips, peeled
  • 2 sweet potatos, peeled
  • 2 red onions, quartered
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup (200g) instant couscous
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup (40g) sultanas
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Handful each flat-leaf parsley and coriander leaves

  1. Preheat oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Cut carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes into even sized chunks, and, along with the red onion, place on the tray. Drizzle with oil and vinegar, season, then toss to coat. Bake for 45 minutes or until tender and browned.
  2. Meanwhile, toss couscous in a heatproof bowl with spices, sultanas and salt.
  3. When the vegetables are almost done, stir 400ml boiling water into the couscous until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  4. Add oil, lemon juice, garlic and herbs and lightly toss. Stir through veggies and serve.


Mia xo

5 Feb 2012

Saag Paneer - Indian Spinach and Fried Cheese Curry

One of the cheeses I have been looking forward to making is Paneer. I finally did it on the weekend. It was easy, successful and made a great Saag Paneer (Spinach with Fried cheese) Curry for our dinner.

To make the Paneer I needed:-

  • to bring milk to the boil (2.4 litres),
  • to add lemon juice (90ml) through it just as it boiled, stir it briefly until I could see clear whey separating and take it off the heat.
  • Then I strained it through cheesecloth in a colander.
  • After it drained most of the liquid I pulled the ends of the cloth together to form a ball and squeezed it gently.
  • I then put it on the drainer with a large container of water on it as a weight and left it for 4 hours.

When I unwrapped it this was the final product - Easy!

Next I made the Curry using the following Recipe:-

Saag Paneer
  • 400g Paneer, sliced into 1cm cubes
  • 3Tb Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 bunch Silverbeet, chopped and rinsed (don't dry)

  • 2 Tbspn Butter 
  • 1 tspn Cumin Seed
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 2 tspn ground coriander
  • 1tspn chilli powder
  • 185ml can of Evaporated Milk (the original recipe was for 120ml cream but I didn't have it and Evaporated Milk is lower in fat)
  • salt to taste

Heat 2 Tb of the oil in a heavy based pan and fry paneer until all sides are golden, remove from pan and set aside.
Add butter to pan and saute damp silverbeet for a few minutes until wilted.
Puree the spinach in blender or food processor.

Add the remaining Tb of oil to a hot pan and add cumin seeds. Once they begin to crackle add the garlic, turn down the heat and gently cook until soft.
Add corriander, chilli powder and spiach puree to pan.
Cook for 3 minutes stirring constantly.
Add paneer and Evaporated Milk or Cream and simmer to heat
Add salt to taste.

Serve immediately with basmati rice and perhaps some yoghurt or raita, mango chutney and papadums. 

This quantity served 4 with a little leftover for lunch and was delicious!

The Recipes for the Curry and the Cheese were based  on those in "Making Artisan Cheeses" by Tim Smith , a birthday gift late last year.


4 Feb 2012

Around the World in 18 Fridays- Week 4- Malaysia

This week I was craving something hearty.

Yeah, I know. Hearty means meat, meat, meat.

But not to me. To me it means tasty, flavoursome and warm.

So these Malaysian Noodles (Char Kway Teow) sounded perfect.

And delicious.

My original recipe called for 1-2 TABLESPOONS of Sambal Oelek.

But I ignored it and only put 2 teaspoons, and i was still too hot for Eva!

Perfect for Mum, Dad and I, though.

So if you want an authentic, whole mouth on fire sort of experience, feel free to add more than my recipe.

But don't pretend you haven't been warned.

Char Kway Teow

Based on: http://www.whats4eats.com/pastas/char-kway-teow-recipe

2 tablespoon olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1-2 tsp Sambal oelek (chilli paste)
300g firm tofu
1/4 of a wong bok
500g fresh rice noodles, cut into strips and separated in boiling water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup Mung bean Sprouts
4 shallots, chopped


1. Heat just enough of the oil to coat the bottom of the wok. Add the egg, and cook until just set. Remove, and cut into small strips.                                                       

2. Heat the remaining oil, and add the garlic and sambal 
oelek. Stir fry for about 30 seconds, then add the tofu and wong bok.

3. Stir fry until the wong bok begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and toss through the rice noodles. Add the soy sauce and brown sugar and stir to coat. Add the sprouts and shallots,  and stir fry until soft.

4. Remove from heat and serve alone or with some stir-fryed asian greens.