Thursday, 15 December 2011
In the box this week was a bunch of mixed herbs. Lettuce Deliver introduced these a couple of weeks ago, and they're an exciting addition to my weekly order. The grower decides what the pick of his crop is for the week, so the bunches are a surprise when they arrive. This week the bunch contained rosemary, thyme, oregano and tarragon.
Tarragon can be hard to find elsewhere, and being a soft herb, it doesn't keep for very long once picked. This week is proving to be a bit haphazard when it comes to cooking dinner, so I decided to make a tarragon pesto to preserve it until I get round to cooking with it. It will most likely become the seasoning for a pre-Christmas roast chicken dinner next week.
Equal parts fresh tarragon and parsley leaves
a handful of macadamias or almonds
a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp crushed garlic
Place everything into a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth but not obliterated. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Wednesday, 14 December 2011
I'm not posting my pudding recipe here - some things are best kept secret!
However, for your viewing pleasure, some steps from the process of making a steamed Christmas pudding.
Step 1: Boozy Dried Fruit and Breadcrumbs
Tip: Make sure all the fruit is cut to a similar size for an even texture. And you have to make the breadcrumbs from an unsliced loaf of plain white bread. Nothing fancy!
Step 2: Steam
Tip: Really large puddings need a long time to cook. If you're cooking for lots of people, consider making smaller puddings in dariole moulds. These took 40 minutes to cook in the pressure cooker. If I remember correctly, they took nearly 2 hours in the slow cooker on HIGH.
Step 3: Do not open until Christmas!
Tip: Pudding is better when it's had a couple of weeks in the fridge for the flavours to develop. These little gems reheat perfectly in the microwave.
Pudding is much easier to make than a Christmas fruitcake, so it's a good recipe to try if you want to make something traditional but don't trust your baking skills.
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
I realised that some people might want the recipe for the stuffed zucchini from the other day. It's very simple, and the good news is that once you've tried it, you can use the same technique to stuff other vegetables such as eggplant, peppers, squash, pumpkin or tomatoes.
You can make this a vegetarian dish by substituting the mince for a mixture of lentils and TVP (soy mince).
Essentially, take your favourite recipe for burger patties/meatloaf/rissoles/meatballs and stuff it into a vegetable :)
A note on the hollowing-out process. My zucchini was very large, and insides containing the seeds had become fluffy, so I scraped it all out and it went to compost. If you're using smaller zucchini, save the insides and use them to make some frittata or pasta sauce.
|The making of...|
Stuffed Zucchini (serves 4)
1 large or 4 medium zucchini
500g beef or lamb mince
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1/4 cup finely diced red capsicum
1 tsp cumin seeds (whole)
chilli flakes to taste
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp chopped italian parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat an oven to 180degC, and line a large tray with baking paper.
To prepare the zucchini, remove the stem end, and a very small section from the flower end. Slice the zucchini lengthways. You may need to shave a little off the side so that it sits on the tray without wobbling.
Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat and add a little olive oil. Cook the spring onions and capsicum for 2-3 minutes until soft and tender, then add the cumin, allspice, chilli, garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant. Take off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
In a large bowl mix the mince, egg, rice, onion mixture, parsley and season well with salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix - it gives the best consistency.
Fill the zucchini with the mince mixture. Wet your hands and smooth off the top of the mixture. Cover lightly with foil.
Place in the oven and cook for 45minutes, then remove the foil and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the mince has browned on top. The zucchini should be nice and tender.
To make a quick tomato sauce, add 1 tin of chopped tomatoes to a frying pan over a med/low heat. Add 2 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp minced garlic, salt and pepper, and some paprika and/or chilli powder (I used hot smoked paprika). Allow to gently bubble and thicken.
If the zucchini is very large, you can carve it up and serve, or just serve the smaller zucchini whole with sauce spooned over the top. Serve with some salads and perhaps some hommus or greek yoghurt.
Monday, 5 December 2011
|Oops! Need to harvest a bit earlier next time...|
Remember those adorable little baby zucchini I posted about a couple of weeks ago? One of them turned into this 1.5kg MONSTER!
So we celebrated the start the summer harvest with a dinner featuring lots of tasty things from the garden.
There was the monster zucchini, green beans, basil, lettuce and rocket, and some baby radishes (probably picked before they were ready but I couldn't resist!)
The tomatoes are growing up and up, but there's nothing ready to eat yet. The eggplants have flowers on them now, as do the button squash and chilli plants. The carrot seeds are sprouting. The rocket has bolted and gone to seed, so it might be time to replace it with some rainbow chard. The tiny dwarf bean plant is putting out an incredible amount of delicious beans - we might have to plant another!
Zucchini stuffed with Minced Beef and Brown Rice with a Spicy Tomato Sauce
Red Cabbage Salad
Green Bean and Capsicum Salad
Tomato and Basil Salad
Toasted Pita Bread
I was a little worried that the zucchini might have been bitter after growing so large, but it was still sweet and delicious - hooray for home grown vegies!