Category Archives: cooking

Easy Lunchbox Fillers

Ruby has been going through a spate of not eating her school lunch. Day after day she comes home with a lunch box still full of the lovingly made healthy meal – which takes up a fair bit of time each morning for the lunch-maker (aka Me). She said her friend has quiche for lunch and it’s yummy – so I thought I’d make a batch for this week and see how it goes down.

Here’s the recipe. It’s super easy.

Ingredients

4 eggs beaten.

3tbs grated tasty cheese.

1 red onion diced finely, sautéed gently for 5 minutes until transparent.

3 slices ham diced small. *Omit ham for a vegetarian option

Gluten free pastry sheets (you could use any savoury pastry or puff pastry).

2 tbs cream

Salt and pepper.

1 x 12 muffin tray

Olive oil for greasing.

Method

Preheat oven to 180° C. Mix eggs, cheese, onion, ham, cream, salt + pepper in a bowl. Grease muffin tray with butter or olive oil. Cut out rounds of pastry – if you have an egg ring this can be helpful – and line the muffin tray by pressing the pastry into the bottom of each greased indent. Spoon in egg mixture and bake for 10 – 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.

These will freeze well. You could take them straight out of the freezer in the morning and put into lunch box to defrost.

Bon appetit!

xA

Caramelised Vegetable Lasagne

My bro in law Rik concocted a similar dish last time I stayed with them. I ate it for dinner and then again for breakfast, the texture and flavour…

was SO GOOD!!!

The sticky caramelised vegetables completely rocked. So last week I thought I’d give it a go. The result was better than expected,  both of the staunch meat eaters in our house went back for seconds.

It took me a couple of days to make this because of the cooling time (I didn’t start until late in the day) – so plan ahead if you can. It’s a show stopper of a shared meal and freezes well so if there’s any left stash a few servings in the freezer for easy meals during the week.

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Ingredients

½ of a Pumpkin. Remove seeds, cut into pieces approx 2cm wide. Leave skin on.

5 Gold Kumara (aka Sweet Potato). Slice into rounds approx 2cm wide.

5 Red Onions. Slice into wide strips.

3 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar.

Fresh or Dried Lasagne Sheets. I used Delmaine Fine Foods Fresh Lasagne. Enough to cover the bottom of the baking dish twice.

6 large leaves Silverbeet (aka Swiss Chard). Sliced roughly.

2 Cups grated Tasty Cheese (add in some Parmesan if you like)

1 Tin Crushed Tomatoes

1 Tsp Raw Sugar

Dash of Balsamic Vinegar.

2 Cloves Garlic chopped finely.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Salt and Pepper

Method

Turn oven on to a medium – med/ low heat. In a large baking dish layer the pumpkin and kumara, toss with a little EVOO, season with salt and pepper and place in the mid oven for about 90 minutes – until vegetables are starting to turn golden around the edges and are very soft and sticky. Set aside to cool. When the pumpkin is cool you can easily remove the skin – much easier than peeling while raw! At the same time place the onion in a separate baking dish, drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and season. Cover with lid or tin foil and bake for 40 minutes until onion is soft. Remove and cool.

Take a deep baking dish (mine was approx 40 x 25cm) and smear a little EVOO on the bottom. Line with one layer of lasagne sheet. Distribute half of the pumpkin kumara mix and top that with half of the onion. Layer the silver beet on top and season with s & p, before placing another layer of lasagne sheet. You may have to press this down firmly as the raw silverbeet is a bit bouncy – but will flatten out nicely while cooking. Repeat the first two vegetable layers and then sprinkle grated cheese liberally over the top. Cover and bake in a medium oven for 45 minutes.

While it’s cooking take a frypan and place in the crushed tomatoes, garlic, a dash of balsamic vinegar and s & p. Bring to the boil while stirring and gently simmer for five minutes. Allow to stand.

After 45 minutes remove lasagne from the even and carefully remove lid – it will be steaming hot underneath so please be very careful. With a sharp knife cut the lasagne into 12 pieces. Take a ladle or large spoon and while drawing the cut edges back with the knife (or similar) spoon the freshly made tomato sauce into the cuts so that sauce goes to the bottom of the pan, and around the sides of the dish until it’s all used up. Place lasagne back in the oven uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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Perfectly Baked Kumara

Aka sweet potato, kumara is a versatile, delicious highly nutritious vegetable.

Many of the salads I make have a wedge of baked kumara tucked away inside or chunks scattered throughout and I thought you might like to know how to bake it. Basically a two step process, all you need is a couple of hours up your sleeve for baking time.

  • Preheat oven to 180°C
  • Wash kumara.
  • Tear off a square shaped piece of foil and wrap kumara so that no skin is showing.
  • Place in the middle of the oven.
  • Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your kumara!
  • Open the oven door and gently press to check softness. Can take anywhere between one and two hours to be perfectly done.

Will be really soft (feels like a ripe avocado) when cooked.

Baked kumara will last for a week in the fridge wrapped in foil, becoming stickier and sweeter as time goes by. Keep them on a plate to catch the sticky juice which ooze out of the folds in the foil.

The orange ones are best for juicy stickiness. Purple have a tendency to be slightly dry.

Great as a spread on crackers or bread, used as a dip with crudités, as a sandwich filling, as chunks diced onto pizza with tomato and cheese, stuffed into ravioli or cannelloni, in salad to add texture and substance and thrown diced into curry or a lamb casserole to add sweetness.

Do you have a favourite kumara / sweet potato recipe?

 

*Nutrition: high in vitamin B6, good source of vitamin C.  Good for warding off colds and viruses, protecting from disease and assisting in formation of bones and teeth. Source of Vitamin D crucial for immune system and overall health.  Contain iron, a good source of mag­nesium and potassium. Kumara are sweet but their natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream, helping to ensure a balanced and regular source of energy, without the blood sugar spikes linked to fatigue and weight gain. High in carotenoids.

Chilli Lime Jam

Our garden is a perpetual experiment and this year I decided to grow chillies.

John at Tumbleweeds Garden Centre advised me to wait until the end of October but Tabasco went into the ground at the end of September and it was lovingly tended every day and kept under a cloche (an upturned 4 litre plastic bottle) to stay cosy for the first month or so.

Eight weeks later it started looking lively upon which Serrano, Jalapeño, Asian Fire and Thai Hot were dug in to keep it company.

This recipe uses a mixture of Asian Fire, Jalapeño and Serrano. I didn’t weigh them but there were 55 chillies harvested. Tabasco and Thai Hot are still getting there.

Viewing cooking as an ongoing experiment also, I have adapted this recipe from Annabel Langbein’s Chilli Jam. The fish sauce was omitted to make it relevant for vegans and vegetarians, sugar was decreased by a fair bit because I didn’t have enough in the cupboard, the amount of chillies and the amount of lime upped, fresh ginger decreased (on advice from friend Sonya Blennerhassett) and there are couple of other added ingredients as well.

As I was in the process of prepping the chillies a pair of sales people knocked on the front door. One was a friendly Indian guy who said that his mother always puts a few grinds of cracked black pepper in her Chilli jam to add texture and depth of flavour.

That’s in there too.

It tastes fresh hot and sweet and the lime really shines through. The consistency is chunky and sticky like home made marmalade without the big bits of peel.

This recipe yielded 4 x 400g jars plus 2 x 250g jars of jam.

Divide it by the relevant amount of chillies you have on hand.

Ingredients

55 medium – long chillies – ripe red or green or a mix of both. Stalks removed and chopped roughly.
3 large heads of garlic, cloves peeled and chopped roughly.
3 x 5cm pieces of ginger, peeled and chopped roughly
10 cups of raw sugar
2.5 cups water
2.5 cups rice vinegar
12 limes, zest and juice.
3 tsp sea salt
Few grinds of fresh black pepper.

You will need: hygienic gloves made of latex or silicon to wear while prepping chillies. This is a must.

Method

Place clean glass jars and lids into the oven on low to heat up and sterilise.

Place chillies, garlic and ginger into the food processor and blitz until mixture looks like a thick paste with little bits of chopped chilli visible.

Place this mixture and all other ingredients into a large saucepan and turn on to a medium heat stirring constantly until sugar dissolves.

Bring to the boil and lower heat to a simmer, stirring regularly to avoid it sticking on the bottom.

Cook in this way until the mixture has reduced by at least a third. This took nearly an hour of simmering for me – it may not take as long for you. Be really attentive so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom.

When it looks nearly done test consistency by putting a small teaspoonful onto a saucer and waiting for it to cool, taste to check if it needs more salt.

When the desired consistency has been reached turn off heat. Use a pyrex or heat proof jug to dip into the jam and pour into heated jars. Screw the lids on and leave to cool. Makes a nice gift and will keep for ages.