Here in Tasmania it's been a long, hot summer, probably the hottest on record. Unfortunately this changing climate has a lot of downside for the island including more fire risk our beautiful wilderness areas (see Richard Flanagan's article for a brilliant summary of this). Some of our traditional crops and farming methods are not faring so well; bushfire smoke can easily ruin berry crops, for example.
The flip-side of this recent season is that many of us growing tomatoes at home have a bumper crop. I was at a friend's Chinese New Year celebration recently and there were cherry tomatoes in/on everything, so I could hardly bring him some from my garden, could I? Luckily tomatoes are so special that you can do a zillion interesting things with them so here's my take on a cherry tomato jam. The effect is somewhere in the middle ground between a pasta sauce and ketchup, and you might be surprised how versatile it is.
Use it for bumping up sandwiches to the next level: try on a piece of toasted sourdough with a layer of hommous, the cherry tomato jam, some black olives on top and shreds of cos lettuce. Use in place of ketchup in, well, everything. Stir it through cooked gnocchi and top with some freshly-chopped parsley, lemon juice and olive oil. Spread it on grilled vegetables. Mixed it with a mashed avocoado to make a creamy relish. Add to a cooked pizza for an extra kick of tomato goodness. Fold through some cooked white beans for your own lovely 'baked beans'.
500g cherry tomatoes
1 Tbs raw sugar
1 Tbs cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon thyme (dried or fresh)
black pepper to taste
Wash your 500g of cherry tomatoes. Depending on how big your cherry tomatoes are, halve or quarter them.
Place the the tomatoes in a small saucepan with 1 Tablespoon each of raw sugar and cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the 2 peeled cloves of garlic (left whole). Simmer for about half an hour on low heat until it starts to get a little sticky. There will be a lot of liquid to start with but it will thicken eventually.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and take out the 2 garlic cloves (keep for soup stock). Stir through 1/2 teaspoon each of paprika and thyme. Allow to cool and keep in a sealed jar in the fridge.
Time: 5 mins prep, 30 mins cooking, plus cooling time,
Gluten-free & nut free: yes
Variations: adjust the spices to send the jam in the direction of your choice. For example use zaatar for a Middle Eastern style jam, galangal powder and lemongrass for Thai/Southeast Asian, some cumin and fenugreek seeds for Indian/South Asian, and so on.
I catered a private dinner recently and was looking for a very low fat dessert to suit a person's dietary needs. It came upon me - grazie, time spent living in Italy! - to try making a biancomangiare with Tasmanian ingredients. A bee-unco-mun-JAR-ay is the Italian version of a blancmange, a semi-soft pudding usually made with nut milk. Making the nut milk is probably the more involved bit of the process. I was quite happy with the end result, which in this case had a little rose fragrance to balance the earthiness of the nuts.
*Note: the nut solids, generically know as okara, can be used for a few different things. Adding them to smoothies is probably the easiest thing to do with them. Okara can also be used for baking, energy balls, burgers and so on.
Time: overnight soaking, 20 mins prep, plus cooling time,
Gluten-free & nut free: yes, and no!
Variations: try making different nut milks and combine with other classic dessert flavours like cinnamon, vanilla, lemon, chocolate, etc.
I've been making these for a while, and they always go down well. That said, there's something inexorably junk foody about hot dogs, even if you make them from carrots. Which is precisely what this is about :-) Yes, good old carrots make a surprisingly effective hot dog. Put it in a wholemeal roll with not too much gunk on top and even I will give it a pass. So for those times when you need to jazz up the junk, try this. It's good. As it happens I made 200 this week for an election day food stall so I thought it was time to post the recipe.
Refried beans are actually darn easy. They are also much better - surprise! - than the canned ones given you can vary them quite a bit to accommodate your taste. And in this case I'm accommodating what I have quite a lot of at the moment: leafy brassicas. Yes, it's that time of year when the bok choy, mizuna and friends are going gangbusters. If you aren't growing your own I'm sure you'll be able to find some at a farmers' market (in Hobart, please support our growers at Salamanca and Farm Gate) or greengrocer. So here's how to make a generous and satisfying pot of refried beans that is also packed with nutrients and fibre.
350g (2 cups) dry beans: borlotti and pinto are my favourites for refried beans
1 Tbs oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 red capsicum, chopped into fingernail-sized pieces
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp garlic (powder, granules or fresh minced)
2 tsp mild paprika
1 tsp oregano
handful of celery leaves, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs vinegar
3/4 cup liquid from cooking beans
1 bok choy or equivalent amount of leafy greens, shredded
1. Soak beans overnight. Drain, cover with fresh water and cook until beginning to fall apart. In a pressure cooker this is about 30 mins, longer on a stove top.
Drain beans and reserve the liquid.
2. Heat 1 Tbs oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion and red capsicum for 3 minutes.
3. Add the dry spices - cumin, garlic, oregano - and fry another minute.
4. Add the drained beans, celery leaves, salt, vinegar and about 3/4 cup of bean liquid. Stir the mixture well and mush the beans. Keep doing this until the beans have reached your desired level of smoothness; I like mine to stay a little chunky for texture.
5. Toss in the shredded bok choy or greens and mix them through the beans, cover the pot and remove from heat. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Serve with rice or a fresh tortilla, some hot salsa and a crisp garnish.
Autumn is a great time of year for devising recipes. The end of summer is usually peak time for lots of different vegetable produce. With so much that is at its best in terms of taste and freshness there are exciting possibilities. Here's a dish that came mostly from my own garden but you should be able to find all the ingredients at a local market in Tasmania. This salad was excellent warm and just as satisying when the cold leftovers had their turn on the table.
Gluten-free & nut free: yes!
Low-fat: use a low-fat dressing instead of the infused oil
Variations: try a different root vegetable instead of or in addition to the beetroot. Try grilled tomatillos in place of the tomatoes.
I guess you could call them burgers. Rissoles. Delicious. Or all of the above!
I wasn't feeling well last week and made myself some pumpkin soup thanks to the advice from Jessica S. That got me thinking a little bit about pumpkin and whether I could do something a little bit different with it. In particular, because it's deep summer here in Australia, I was looking something that would work on a barbecue. Something that would be filling and interesting and itself, yet also go with summery salads and salsas. This is actually the first version and I'm very happy with it; I hope you'll try it. I had the leftover ones in a burger bun with tomato, dill pickles and radicchio (snobby Italian lettuce) and they were great :-)
Makes: 6 patties
Gluten-free: swap the wholemeal wheat flour for buckwheat flour (which, despite the name, is not related to wheat). And try rolling cornmeal or almond meal instead of breadcrumbs. Good to go!
Low-fat: Go for the grill option or use a non-stick pan with no oil.
Variations: add some fresh garden peas for little pops of extra flavour in the burger.
I'm not a big mustard eater but I do like sharp tastes so once in a while it's just right. I also felt like making something I could give as gifts and mustard, being a pretty common food, seemed like a good choice. Who doesn't like home made preserves in jars?! In this case I felt that using the flavour and kick of radishes would be a good complement to the natural characteristics of mustard seeds. In addition I wanted to see if fermenting the mixture as a 'live' mustard would produce a good result.
In the end I was really happy with this; the mustard has lots of depth, good flavour and doesn't simply blow your nose off. It's complex and a little bit fruity actually. I have since tried making mustard this way with a few different seeds - see Variations at the end - and the results are still good. If you love your condiments, you could do worse than try making your own.
Tip: Be sure to use food grade radish seeds for sprouting. DO NOT USE radish seeds for growing vegetables as they may have been treated with a fungicide. In Australia I get my radish (and other) sprouting seeds from Green Harvest.
I was thinking about what to do with broccoli recently. A lot of people like it, of course, and it's also crushingly good for you, so why not come up with some interesting ways to use it? In particular I was looking for something that could be a savoury breakfast item.
These muffins are pretty quick to make and are also good as a snack, a lunchbox item or perhaps on a party platter. I hope you'll give this recipe a try! Any feedback welcome.
Muffins don't keep well in my opinion so make them close to when you will use them...best fresh out of the oven and still warm!
This is an easy yet rewarding casserole with everyone's favourite: potatoes. Floury potatoes (sometimes labelled as 'for mashing') are recommended for this. I used some delightful blue potatoes that you can find in Hobart at the Farm Gate Market.
500 grams potatoes
5 cloves garlic
2 Tbs fresh herbs
1.5 Tbs walnut oil
1.5 Tbs spelt flour
1 litre vegetable stock
1 tsp salt
1. Wash potatoes and cut into rounds just under a centimetre thick. Peel 5 cloves of garlic and slice. Roughly chop the herbs: you can use parsley, rocket, rosemary, whatever you like.
2. Lightly fry garlic in 1.5Tbs walnut (recommended) or olive oil, with half the herbs. When this starts to brown, add 2Tbs wholemeal or spelt flour. Stir until most of the oil is absorbed. Add potatoes, stir to coat & dry fry 2 mins.
3. Add 1l good vegetable stock, bring to simmer, cover and simmer on low heat 10 mins.
4. Stir, add 1 tsp salt and simmer another 10-15 mins uncovered until potatoes are beginning to soften.
5. Mash gently to break up the potatoes into chunks. Place on a serving dish and top with the other tablespoon of chopped herbs. Serve over some toasted crusty or dark rye bread.
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
SuperTassievore: all ingredients in this recipe can be sourced from Tasmania.
Nutfree: use olive oil rather than a nut oil.
Lowfat: per serving contains 10.7g fat, approx 16% of RDI based on 2000 calories/day.
Gluten free: substitute a gluten-free flour such as besan (chickpea), buckwheat or sorghum for the spelt.
Being the middle of winter there are lots of brassicas around. At the Farm Gate Market last weekend I picked up some giant mustard greens. They were so big they intimidated me for a few days (!), then I thought I'd just do something fairly simple with them in a more-or-less traditional Chinese style. This recipe is so simple even a caveman (or -woman) could do it, and yet surprisingly satisfying. The steaming tempers the pungency of the mustard greens and the other ingredients work together to give some lift and texture.
So here goes!
1 bunch mustard greens
1/2 red capsicum (or orange or yellow)
1/3 cup vegan oyster sauce
1 Tbsp crispy fried onions
1/4 lemon or lime
Cooking Times: 5 minutes
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Time: 0
We blog about once a month on vegan and food topics in and around Hobart.