Saturday, November 26, 2011

Green is good

 Recent rain followed by some refreshingly cool weather has left my garden a pretty shade of green.  Everything looks so much brighter with the dust washed off and some new growth emerging.  So today I am sharing some moments from my week; all with a green theme.

Firstly, a second hand purchase.  This groovy old chair came in a set of 5 with a matching green table from my favourite treasure trove in Mildura at Stockdale and Leggo.  The tabletop is featured below.

My freshly clipped topiary olive tree.

I am thrilled with these slightly unusual but beautiful Tromboncino Zucchini which are just starting to produce and threatening to invade half of my vegetable patch.

Finally, this deliciously rich and chunky pesto recipe.  Perfect served on a piece of bread, with pasta or potatoes.  Enjoy!

The papa’s pesto – recipe adapted from The Real Food Companion, Matthew Evans 

80g (1/2 cup) pine nuts*
2-3 gloves garlic
70g (about 2 cups gently pressed) basil leaves
250 ml (1 cup) extra virgin olive oil
40g Italian parmesan cheese, finely grated
40g pecorino cheese, finely grated
Makes around 430g

Put the pines nut and garlic in a food processor and process to form a paste.

Add the basil leaves, then pulse, scraping down the sides regularly.  Add half of the oil, continue processing, then add the cheeses and the remaining oil and pulse to just combine.  The pesto will remain bright green in colour unless you over-process it.  Season with salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste.

Store the pesto in a sterilised airtight jar in the refrigerator for 1 week, although it is best consumed within a few days of making.

* I substitute the pine nuts with almonds as I tend to have almonds on hand more regularly and also find pine nuts turn rancid quite quickly.  

Friday, November 18, 2011

The humble spud

The humble spud...we usually grab a bag of them at the supermarket and eat them roasted or perhaps mashed for the kids and don’t give them much more thought.

little hands inspecting a Kipfler

Digging up our own potato crop last week was incredibly satisfying and also produced some delicious meals.  I planted several varieties and the most successful was King Edward.  I think this was mainly due to this variety being planted in a better patch of soil.

I came up with this little salad after an impromptu Sunday dinner invitation to our neighbour’s property.

Scarsdale potato salad

A good handful of small potatoes, I used Kipfler
A few baby carrots
A good handful of fresh salad and herb leaves, I used rocket, basil and oregano
A few tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper
A few nasturtium flowers, optional

Place potatoes and carrots in a saucepan of water and bring to the boil.  Simmer until just tender.  Drain, return to saucepan and add some of the olive oil.  Toss to coat potatoes and carrots and allow to cool.

Combine potatoes and carrots with remaining ingredients in a large bowl, dress with extra olive oil if necessary.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Garlic, bread and butter

In April I planted tiny slivers of garlic in to the vegetable patch and have waited patiently ever since, eagerly anticipating plump bulbs to be used generously in almost every savoury dish that I cook.

Last Sunday was harvest day and I was not disappointed.  To celebrate our little crop I made this magnificent garlic bread…you must try it!

Garlic and parmesan bread - recipe adapted from Seasons, by Donna Hay

1 loaf sourdough bread
125g butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
sea salt and cracked black pepper
½ cup (40g) finely grated parmesan
1 tablespoon chopped basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F).  Use a sharp serrated knife to slice the bread into 1cm-wide pieces, ensuring you don’t cut all the way through the loaf.  Place butter, garlic, salt and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the butter is melted.  Add the parmesan and basil and stir to combine.  Carefully separate the bread slices and brush the insides with the garlic butter mixture.  Wrap the loaf with foil and place on a baking tray.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden.  Serves 6.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The famous CWA scone

This morning with the lure of a famous CWA scone with jam and cream for morning tea the kids and I headed off to Menindee for the official opening of the new CWA hall. 

The community was shocked back in 2009 when the CWA burnt down but with the help of hard working volunteers the old hall has been replaced with a new, shiny building.  The new hall provided welcome relief from the hot sun as we enjoyed a delicious scone, took some food photos and chatted to friends and family.

I couldn’t leave without a jar of golden Passionfruit Butter made by one of the talented CWA members.  May the hard working ladies of the CWA continue to thrive in communities such as Menindee.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Garden Salad

Few things in life are simpler yet more rewarding than picking a salad straight from the vegetable garden.  No supermarket queues, no over priced or out of season produce and no food miles!  I love to pick a mix of salad leaves and soft herbs such as mint, basil and coriander.

In a few weeks I will have the added luxury of tomatoes still warm from the sun and pretty yet peppery nasturtium flowers.  For now though the simplicity of fresh leaves and herbs with a little bread and soft cheese is perfect.

Simple Scarsdale Salad

A good handful of salad leaves (lettuce, rocket and or baby spinach)
A good handful of soft herbs (mint, basil and or coriander)
A few slices of quality bread, preferably sourdough
A piece of delicious cheese, a soft goat cheese or creamy feta is perfect
A good glug of quality olive oil

Slice the bread into cubes and fry lightly in a little olive oil until golden.  Allow to cool.

Combine salad leaves and herbs in a large bowl.  Add bread, crumble over cheese and gently combine.  Dress with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Enjoy!