Monday, October 3, 2016

Deliciously simple unusual spring vegetarian entree

This is the time of year, early spring, when the garden is producing all kinds of bits and bobs but not the massive and diverse array that you get later on in the warmer months. There's quite a bit of lettuce and rocket, and the asparagus have just started, as well as fresh garlic and spring onions. In the greenhouse, the tomatoes are just starting too but are pretty thin on the ground. And there's lots of herbs--coriander, chives, sage, parsley, oregano, etc. Bits and bobs as I mentioned but pretty nice ones! Of course salads are a big feature at the moment, but even though I love salad(and we have it at every meal at the moment, sometimes as entree, but more often as a digestif after the main course) there are times when you want something else, particularly in the entree department.
So here's a dish that uses several of those early spring elements in an unusual way: a vegetable/herb pate, with battered crispy sage leaves and fresh garlic. Very simple to make and quite delicious!
You'll need(for 2 people--increase quantities as needed):
For pate:
A good handful of rocket leaves
Four asparagus
A little fresh garlic(if possible)
Handful garlic chives
Lemon juice
Teaspoon sour cream
Salt, pepper
For the battered sage leaves and fresh garlic:
A small bunch of sage leaves per person(say four or five small leaves on a stalk)
Fresh garlic(bulb plus green stem)
Salt, pepper
Cook the rocket with a little butter and only a drop of water. When cooked, chop up fine. Steam the asparagus till tender, then chop into pieces. Chop the garlic chives and a small amount of garlic chives. Mix it all together with a little lemon juice, salt, pepper, sour cream. Leave aside till cool.
Meanwhile make a simple batter with flour and a little water(needs to be thick enough to coat the leaves and garlic). Immerse the leaves and garlic till they are well coated. Fry them in hot oil until crispy and golden.
Serve with the vegetable pate in middle, surrounded by the crispy leaves and garlic. Add tomatoes to decoration if you like. Enjoy!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Roast carrots with feta and lemon/honey dressing

This makes a lovely entree, or a vegetable side dish, as you wish. Persian in influence, it's been slightly adapted (by me!)
It's also very simple.

Carrots, cut lengthwise
Olive oil
Juice of half a lemon(or lime)
Two teaspoons good honey
Salt, pepper
Some feta, crumbled(we used Bulgarian sheep's milk feta, which has a very fine flavour but you can use goat's milk feta if you want or even cow's milk)
Some chopped chives or other herbs

Coat the carrot sticks with olive oil. Roast the carrots. Mix the lemon juice and honey. Take the carrots out when almost done and coat them with half the lemon and honey mix, then out back in oven for a short while, till they get sticky. Take them out of the oven, pour the rest of the dressing over them, crumble the feta on top of them, and chopped herbs. Serve warm.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Home-made version of Scottish 'Cullen Skink'

David's Cullen Skink--with accompanying whisky!
The delicious fish soup known as 'Cullen Skink', which originates from the town of Cullen in Moray, on the north-east coast of Scotland, is deservedly famous for its hearty and satisfying mix of flavours. Traditionally, it's made with fresh and smoked haddock, potatoes and onions, but a very good version can be made with all kinds of tasty white fish, both fresh and smoked.
And that's exactly what David did recently, creating a delicious Aussie version of Cullen Skink, using, as a base, fresh leatherjacket and smoked cod. Because both fish are quite flaky, they work well in Cullen Skink. But you can choose any other kind of white fish, smoked and fresh.
His recipe is quite simple, but it's good to make the soup hours ahead of the time you plan to eat it, for the flavours to develop--even up to 24 hours (after making it, cool it and refrigerate it, of course)

White fish--fresh, and smoked
White wine
Salt, pepper
Parsley, chopped

Poach the fish for a few minutes in a mix of white wine and water, adding a little salt and pepper. When the fish is cooked, remove and put in a bowl ready to add later. Cook diced potatoes in the fish water.
Fry some chopped onions, add a little parsley, then set aside.
When potatoes are cooked, add the onions, the rest of the parsley, and fish back to the stock. Add a little more white wine/water mix, if necessary. Check seasoning. Stir and let simmer for a few minutes, till everything is well mixed, but do not let it cook so much that the fish starts disintegrating! Turn the heat off and let the soup sit for a while--even for a few hours.
Cullen skink makes a great one-pot dish: and goes well with some good whisky!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Pavlova volcano: A spectacular dessert recipe from illustrator Anne Spudvilas

Anne Spudvilas is an absolutely wonderful illustrator based in regional NSW whose rich, gorgeous work has adorned the books of many Australian authors, including myself. And today, with her permission, I'm presenting on this blog another rich and gorgeous work of hers, this time of an edible kind! It's the pavlova volcano, and it's absolutely spectacular!

This recipe brings back memories of two wonderful New Year's Eve celebrations on the Murray River when i first came here.   Julie Chambers, director of the Art Vault where i did two wonderful printmaking residencies,  makes this as the 'piece de resistance' at her long long New Year's Eve dinner table.

My version of Julie's specialty.  
Make three pavlovas. Home made are best and if they don't look too flash it doesn't matter.  Break them into large pieces and begin to construct your volcano using vanilla icecream and whipped cream to hold it all together. Add 4 punnets of assorted richly coloured berries.  Pour over two more punnets of assorted berries, pureed with 1/2 cup orange juice and 1 tbspn of liqueur added (i love Cointreau).   

Ah yes, a million calories but SO delicious :-)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Boiled eggs as centrepieces to entrees

I love boiled eggs--at breakfast, lunch, and at dinner--the latter especially as part of a colourful entree. (Our chooks of course produce beautiful eggs!) In this post I'm featuring two such entrees, which are very easy to make, and start off with one boiled egg per person. Each entree also features a dab of tasty red Danish lumpfish caviar--optional of course, but a different type of egg :-)
Peas, different types of tomatoes, and herbs--with eggs!

Yellow tomatoes, red tomatoes, crisp-battered sage leaves and crisp-battered scraps of smoked salmon--with eggs!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Garden bounty

Tomatoes and herbs from the garden, mushrooms from the paddock(after rain)

A home-grown cornucopia

The late summer/autumn fruit has been great this year! Missing in this pic: lovely figs too!

Lovely creamy mash made from home grown spuds(with sumac sprinkled on top)

roast baby tomatoes

Thursday, February 4, 2016

New England summer vegetables and lamb Sunday lunch

Made a lovely Sunday lunch the other day for some friends--a fragrant and delicious meal built primarily around the produce of our New England(Australia) garden, accompanied by tender and juicy New England lamb.
The raw ingredients first:
Eggplants(aubergines) green capsicums, herbs, lamb, tomatoes and garlic for the ailoli crumbs(for the lamb)

Field mushrooms picked that morning in our paddock(there's been lots of rain, so we are enjoying good mushrooms!)

The full meal--grilled lamb(which had been marinated in lemon, garlic and rosemary first) with sauteed Kipfler potatoes, capsicum and tomato stew, fried aubergines with crouton crust, tomato salad with special dressing(below) and green salad. All vegs and herbs from our garden!
Tomato and basil salad with a dressing made from a little olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and a little pomegranate molasses

Entree(not illustrated as forgot to take the photos!) was very nice wild game pate(bought) served with fresh field mushrooms, lightly sauteed, with tarragon(our own produce!), and mushroom and spinach pesto(bought). Dessert(also not illustrated) was a fruit salad of our own produce: plums, melon and blackberries, served with a quince and rosewater icecream of my own confection! The whole washed down with a very nice Riesling.