Archive for the Vegetables Category

A: Hip dips

Posted in Vegetables with tags , , , , , , on November 2, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

Attended a Moroccan-themed dinner last night, where I was asked to make pre-meal munchies and dessert (2 of my favourite courses in terms of preparation time and effort!). I know it’s trite and a little retro, but a platter of colourful dips still sets the scene at a party as far as I’m concerned. It’s a definitive fingerfood, fuss-free, mess-free and possibly healthy! Also, it looks rather pretty. 🙂

From left: Roasted capsicum dip, olive tapanade, basil dip

R and GFM came over last Sunday for a roast-off, and we were able to chargrill all 30 of the red capsicums we had purchased at the wholesale market. Working like a well-oiled machine, our mini production line was able to roast and peel all of the capsicums before sunset, enjoying a cocktail or 3 in between!

Black is back! Putting the char in char grill.

Black is back! Putting the char in char grill.

Messy work, but very worthwhile as our fingertips numb from the heat of the steaming hot capsicums!

Messy work, but very worthwhile as our fingertips numb from the heat of the steaming hot capsicums!

Food for the gods!

Who would have thought burning the crap out of a vegetable could produce such a lush result!

We ended up with 4l worth of roasted capsicums. Not bad for a day’s work, and this set the scene for my first Moroccan-style dip.

Roasted capsicum dip

Ingredients:

3 roasted and peeled red capsicums

250g cream cheese, at room temperature

This fiery paste is potent! Use sparingly and taste as you go. Seriously.

This fiery paste is potent! Use sparingly and taste as you go. Seriously.

1/2 tsp harissa

2 heaped tsp Ras El Hanout (blends vary from brand to brand, so smell it out and add a little at a time)

Method:

Combine all your ingredients and blitz in a food processor or blender. Season generously, adjusting spices as you please!

I make this next dip quite a bit, for no reason apart from the fact that it’s really, really easy and tastes great!

3-Olive Tapanade

Ingredients:

150g pitted kalamata olives

150g pitted black spanish

200g pitted green olives

3 heaped tbsp chopped parsley

1 tbsp rinsed capers

Enough extra virgin olive oil to lubricate

Method:

Combine ingredients and blitz! Season with lots of pepper and extra parsley to balance out the saltiness with some fresh herby goodness.

Leftover tapanade is really nice stirred into steamed rice to make olive-rice. I had this once at a Chinese restaurant of all places, and now will always make more tapanade than I need for this purpose.

Basil dip

This one is courtesy of the pesto that I made previously. All I did here was add 2 heaped tablespoons of roasted pinenuts and more extra virgin olive oil to 4 heaped tablespoons of pesto, and voila!

The night was a roaring success- homemade dips, beautifully cooked lamb tagine, chickpeas, paella, cocktails and great company. Just perfect!

A: Hey pesto!

Posted in Vegetables with tags , on November 2, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

Am quietly diminishing the rest of my wholesale market glut and decided to use the ridiculously massive bag of basil to make the obvious- pesto!

I consulted the all-knowing Silver Spoon for a recipe and was surprised to find that the pesto featured there contained only basil, Parmesan, garlic and olive oil. No pinenuts! Seeing how this is indeed the sagely and wise Italian cooking bible, I opted to follow suit and create a nut-free pesto this time around.

Basically, I used 4 garlic cloves for a blender-full of basil (my blender has a 1.5l capacity), 2 healthy pinches of salt, lots of pepper and enough extra virgin olive oil to lubricate the mix. Then I added in the cheese 1 heaped tablespoon at a time, tasting as I went. So I can’t really say for sure how much of what went into the mix, it’s really a taste as you go sort of ritual, as are most sauce/dip-making pursuits.

The pesto was really, really vibrant. A beautifully luminous green and smelt like summer in a jar. I packed it into an old mustard pot and poured a generous layer of olive oil over the top. This should keep for about a week in the fridge, though I doubt it will last that long!

Waste nothing!

Blenders have certainly come a long way from the rickety over-heating Kenwood mum had when I was growing up. This one looks like it stepped straight out of a sci-fi movie and I simply love it!

R: Beetroot Bonanza!

Posted in gardening, Vegetables on October 30, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb
Just when we least expected it!

The one and only that made it

A little garden can be full of big surprises~! GFM’s done it again! 🙂

A: Pickle in a tickle

Posted in Vegetables with tags , , on October 28, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

What better way to address an abundance of cucumbers than to conjure up a batch of pickles! Bread and butter pickles, to be precise. (Apparantly named for the fact that they go really well on buttered bread. The creativity there is mind-blowing.)

I consulted my all-knowing fail-proof Pickle and Chutney Cookbook. That’s Digby Law’s Pickle and Chutney Cookbook to you northern hemisphere dwellers who are yet to experience the privilege of reading this New Zealand classic. It’s got no pictures, no interesting Nigella-esque anecdotes or fancy language. Just really, really good recipes for pickles, chutneys and preserves. I love it. I keep it in my car when planning my chutneys or pickles just in case a bargain catches my eye in the shops (it was VERY useful at the wholesale market!).

Bread and Butter pickles

Ingredients:

8 large cucumbers, unpeeled and sliced

3 large onions, sliced

4 large green peppers (I used red seeing how an entire box of red peppers just happeded to be sitting on my dining table.)

1 cup salt

9 cups cold water

1.8 litres malt vinegar (I found 3 varieties of malt vinegar at my local supermarket- light, dark and spiced. I opted for light this time.)

1 tbsp turmeric

1 tsp mustard seed (I used black)

1 tsp celery seed (Had none so upped the mustard)

Method:

Combine vegetables in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and add the water. Let stand for 3 hours. Drain without rinsing.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan. Heat until boiling, add the vegetables and bring back to boiling point but do not boil.

Pack into hot, clean jars and seal.

Ready to eat in 3-4 weeks and should keep for 6-12 months.

“A jar of pickles can be extremely attactive when arranged with care.” – Digby Law

A: Get stuffed!

Posted in Vegetables with tags , , on October 26, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

A mountain of produce still sits on my dining room table, begging to be stewed/baked/fried/bottled. I managed to utilise some of the capsicums last night by making stuffed peppers but had some leftover stuffing, which I saved for lunch today.

Arrived home starving this afternoon and after a quick consult, it was decided that stuffed mushrooms would solve a multitude of issues– leftover stuffing, mushroom glut and imminent starvation!

I used Karen Martini’s recipe for stuffed capsicum, which strikes a balance between my obsession with stuffed vegetables and man’s need for meat at every meal. Her stuffing consists of fried onion and garlic mixed with cinnamon, mint and chilli, breadcrumbs, egg, beef mince and parsley. I stuffed the mushroom with the mince mix, topped it with chopped tomato, parmasean and a knob of butter. Lots of seasoning and into the oven at 220C for 20 minutes!

We probably could have had this with a salad or bread on the side but for a light lunch, this was just perfect. In fact, I think I prefer the stuffed mushroom version to the pepper version!

A: Whatever we do, we’re not buying any tomatoes…

Posted in Vegetables with tags , , on October 25, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

And so our journey into the realms of bulk-buying began at the wholesale markets on an early Saturday morning. R and I decided that no matter what, no matter how cheap, how plump, how beautifully presented, we were NOT going to even think about purchasing tomatoes as we knew of another place where we could get tomatoes cheap without needing to buy an entire box.

To say the markets were bustling would be a gross understatement. Buyers looked stressed at the very least, as they jostled their way through trolleys and crates and perilously stacked produce to procure the very best deals possible. No one should have to shop for fruit and vegetables this way, I thought to myself as I stressed vicariously through a sea of supreme bulk-buying experts. As the minutes ticked by and the crowds thinned, our shopping experience relaxed ever so slightly, helped incredibly by the drastically falling prices and great bargains that presented themselves as closing time approached (markets operate from 7-10am). R and I deduced early on that we must have been the most relaxed/excited/slow moving people in the entire building and a cursory glance about the place quickly confirmed this!

This is a great way to shop if you have friends to share the very generous portions in which produce is sold. It appears that the majority of shoppers are probably in the food business, but greedy gluttons are more than welcome! Occasionally, buyers get together to share boxes of fruit or vegetables and everyone leaves happy.

We definitely left very, very happy.

Needless to say, R and I combined have the self-control of a midsummer bush fire and of course, ended up with a massive box of tomatoes (how could we say no at A$5 a box???). Add to that a box of red capsicums at $20, positively gargantuan mushrooms (we counted 25 of them for $15), a shopping bag of basil for $2, 15 punnets of strawberries for $10 (still a little annoyed about this as the price dropped to $5 just before we left. Grrr.), 11 cucumbers for $4 and 3-for-$1 pumpkins equals very, very successful shopping trip!

Plump and juicy, each and every one a perfect round of meaty mushroom goodness!

Plump and juicy, each and every one a perfect round of meaty mushroom goodness!

I must admit, as we unpacked our haul at R’s place a remorse loomed over me ever so briefly I can liken it only the the guilt that washes over one the morning after a one-night-stand. Yes, it seemed like a great idea at the time but oh-my-god what have we done?!?!?!?!?! As with all guilt, I soon washed this one under the rug and proceeded to plan my preserving rampage for the week!

Pink lady apples and just-ripe tomatoes just screaming to be made into chutney!

Pink lady apples and just-ripe tomatoes just screaming to be made into chutney!

Made stuffed peppers and grilled mushrooms for dinner, while man (who is all-embracing of excess in every way, shape and form) insisted that the strawberries needed to be attended to first as they were bursting with ripeness and MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO ROT!

Enter: strawberry jam.

A: Meat and 2 veg.

Posted in Meat, Vegetables with tags , , , , , , on October 19, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

It’s always nice to have family visit. I find entertaining family a far more relaxed affair than when friends come around. Someone’s always keen to do the dishes and clean up after and you don’t feel too bad letting them do so! Most importantly, when they’re halfway around the world most of the year it’s just really, really good seeing them every so often– the food only makes it better!

30 degrees (that’s celsius, to you northern hemisphered dwellers)+ sunny+ blue skies= BARBECUE!!!!!

We were given a beautiful barbecue by R and GFM for our wedding, and are keen to use it every chance we get. Yesterday was just perfect for a sunset dinner on the balcony, and that’s just what we did.

Stopped by Dubrovnik butchers (featured here for all the wrong reasons) on my way home from work for the all-important sausages, then decided to add a touch of Asia for my homesick Aunt as I marinated the chicken wings and porterhouse steaks.

Don't forget to chuck as much of the marinade on the meat when you cook it. WASTE NOTHING!

Thai-style marinade (enough for 1 kg of chicken wings)

Blend/grind:

2 stalks of lemongrass, hard bits trimmed off and discarded

Zest of 2 limes

4 cloves garlic

5cm knob of ginger, peeled

2 large red chillies

4 tbsp palm sugar

Add The juice from 2 limes and 3 tbsp fish sauce and blend till reasonably smooth. Marinade chicken for 30-60 minutes (the combination of the lime juice and lemongrass will cook the chicken quite quickly and toughen it if you leave it for too long). Cook on the barbecue or in the oven at 180C for 20-30 minutes.

The sesame seeds crisp up and add a nice texture to the thinly-sliced steak.

Korean style marinade

Combine:

3 heaped tbsp Korean hot bean paste (see below)

3 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine

1 tbsp dark soya sauce

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tsp sesame seed oil

2 tbsp sesame seeds

Marinade beef for 2-3 hours before cooking.

I love this stuff. Hot, sweet, salty all at once. A great addition to stir fries and marinades.

Korean hot bean paste: I love this stuff. Hot, sweet, salty all at once. A great addition to stir fries and marinades.

Man did a good job cooking up the meat, as men do. He even made a decent effort plating up this carnivorous feast!

Gordon Ramsay, eat your heart out!

Got meat?

Made a couple of salads to accompany this heart-stopping platter.

Warm potato salad

As the salad doesn't contain mayonaise, it actually makes for a decent late-night raid through the fridge or even a morning-after brunch addition!

As the salad doesn't contain mayonnaise, it actually makes for a decent late-night raid through the fridge, or even a morning-after lunch addition.

I do this one a lot. It’s really easy and comprises of dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and whatever herbs you can get your hands on. I opted for chervil, parsley, dill and spring onion. Chop it up, toss wamed potatoes in the mix and voila!

Not so good as a leftover, although the pumpkin on its own makes for great eating!

Not so good as a leftover, although the pumpkin on its own makes for great eating!

I use Jamie Oliver’s recipe for spicy pumpkin from his first book and simply toss the hot pumpkin through spinach and snow pea sprouts for a really hearty side-dish.

Good food, great company and fine weather. Every weekend should unfold like this one!