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.
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'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.
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
A bite sized snack ball with no added sugar...totally raw too! Written instructions further down, video right here:
100 grams zucchini or yellow squash
100 grams dates, pitted
100 grams walnuts
1 tsp vanilla essence (for fully raw, scrape 1 vanilla bean)
3 Tbs cocoa powder (for fully raw, use cacao nibs and grind them up)
3 Tbs chia seed
100 grams grated coconut
1. Grate the zucchini and set aside. Put dates in a bowl and cover with warm water. Allow both to sit for 10 minutes.
2. Put the walnuts in a blender and blitz until you have a fine meal. Scrape into a mixing bowl.
3. Measure 3 tablespoons each of chia seeds and cocoa powder into the mixing bowl.
4. Wrap the zucchini in a cloth and squeeze out as much water as you can. Drain the dates. Put in a blender with vanilla essence and mix until you have a reasonably smooth paste.
5. Add to mixing bowl and stir thoroughly. Allow to sit 30 minutes.
6. Roll teaspoons of the mixture into ballsl, then roll in grated coconut.
Cooking Times: 0 minutes, it's raw :-)
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Time: 40 minutes
From time to time classic dishes can stand a bit of reinvention, so here's a modern-style waldorf salad. We can do ditch the gunky mayonnaise thank you and also make use of delicious seasonal pears. It's a good make-and-take salad, can also be conveniently be prepared the day before.
1 ripe pear
1 apple (any variety, though I like red-skinned for colour)
1/2 lemon (juice)
1/2 cup water
2 sticks celery
2 small or 1 large carrot
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup raisins
8 leaves fresh mint
1 Tbs red wine or apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbs walnut or macadamia oil
1 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
SuperTassievore: substitute fresh or dried blueberries for the raisins.
Nutfree: subtitute sesame oil for the nut oil; substitute sunflower kernels or pumpkin seeds for the walnut pieces.
Lowfat: take half the oils out of the dressing and replace with water.
Gluten free: Is already gluten free, yay!
A delicious and versatile appetiser using strips of zucchini as wraps. These snacks are surprisingly easy to make and go well at any time of year; although 'summery', they were a huge hit at the Wellness Expo at Glenorchy recently. And a quick hi to all my friends at West Moonah Community House who did a great job organising the event.
about 1 cup of your favourite dip, relish or spread
various cut fresh vegetables, sprouts, etc.
1. If you are planning ahead and can shop specifically for this recipe, choose large, cylindrical zucchini that are reasonably straight. Skin blemishes are unimportant. Wash the zucchini and pat dry.
2. Using a mandoline slicer, make thin slices along the length of the zucchini. The first few will be too thin and unuseable; either compost them or use them for a soup or casserole. You should get about 12 viable slices.
3. Lay the zucchini slices flat on a bench. Sprinkle a pinch of salt along each strip and leave for 10 or 20 minutes. You can leave even longer if you want but 10 minutes is the minimum.
4. The zucchini will be softened by the salt. At this stage you can wash the salty water off or just pat the slices dry with a tea towel.
5. For the filling, you should ideally have some kind of reasonably firm dip and some fresh cut raw vegetables like capsicum, cabbage, salad onion, sprouts, carrot or pumpkin sticks, celery, etc. Brush a teaspoon or two of the dip along the first two-thirds of the zucchini slice. Next, lay the vegetables crosswise. Roll up the zucchini strip, folding it over the vegetables. You can press as you roll so the bundle is tight.
6. Lay each zucchini roll seam side down on a serving plate or on a patty pan. Garnish if desired and serve.
Favourite dips for this recipe include hummus (made from chick peas), ajvar (capsicum and eggplant) and guacamole (avocado). You can make these yourself - yay! - or look for them in the supermarket. You'll find ajvar along with other European delicacies like waffles, pickled cabbage and so on.
You can use white daikon or Japanese radish instead of zucchini for the strips. You will need to leave it a bit longer for the thin slices to soften. The favour is also a little stronger than the mild zucchini.
If you don't have a mandoline slicer I would highly recommend one. They come with various attachments that enable you to do various thicknesses and also make julienne strips. Mandolines - and the very similar V-slicers - are available at homewares stores like Your Habitat, Harris Scarfe and even Shiploads around Hobart.
Actually, the concept is very simple. Take some sweet potato, cut it into a pretty shape and dress it up with a topping or two to make it look schmancy. And there you have it, a very attractive and reasonably healthy canape that can be prepared well in advance.
And once you get the hang of it, you'll see this has plenty of potential. Beetroot stars? Why not. Other shapes? Grab your favourite cutter and populate the hors d'œuvre tray with ducks, hexagons, snowmen, etc. to your heart's content.
sweet potato - an average sweet potato might give you about 10 cut shapes, plus a lot of leftover bits :-) Save them of course; why not make a delicious sweet potato mash?
toppings - in the photo I have used a macadamia creme and a pinch of mixed fresh sprouts. I grow them at home and like to put a few things in the mix such as rocket and cabbage that bring quite a burst of flavour.
The macadamia creme worked very well because it's a little sticky and hence doesn't easily slide off the sweet potato base, and also grips the little floral tripon top.
We blog about once a month on vegan and food topics in and around Hobart.