Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Roasted Sweet Potato, Leek and Tarragon Risotto

Tonight we had guests who either weren't keen on mushrooms or chilli. I wanted to use up my sweet potatoes, so risotto was the answer.


3-4 baby sweet potoatos
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 leek (white bit finely chopped)
2 spring onions roughly chopped
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp tarragon (dried or fresh)
2 cups arborio rice
500g chicken breasts
1 litre chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine, sherry or vermouth
1 bunch spinach
1/2 lime
Cream to taste
Parmesan to taste
Pepper to taste
Chilli to taste

Roughly-peel the sweet potato, cut in halves, drizzle in avocado oil and a little salt and roast in a medium oven for 30mins. Avocado oil is really lovely to make roast vegetables and we support Queensland farmers by using it. I bought this little bottle from the Kelvin Grove markets on a Saturday. Roasting makes root vegetables sweeter.

Sorry not to get more photos tonight. Having guests makes things a little hectic! :)

Sweat the leeks and the whites of the spring onions in some butter and olive oil for 5mins. Add garlic and tarragon (if dried, leave to later if fresh) and cook on low for another few minutes. Add arborio rice and cook for 1 minute. Add wine and raise the heat a little. Add chicken stock 1-2 cups at a time. Stir the mixture, but not constantly like a stir fry. Keep the heat low enough to enjoy talking to your friends. Add cream if desired.

In a separate pan cook chicken breasts on fairly high heat to sear both sides to a golden brown (about 3mins each side). Take off the heat, let rest for a few minutes. Carve up into chunks. Chicken should be undercooked because it will then be tossed into the risotto with sweet potato and cooked for another 10-15mins.

Add parmesan and the greens of the spring onions towards the end of the process. Put lid on the risotto and let sit for the final 3mins before serving.

Wilt spinach in a pot, drain excess liquid, squeeze lime juice over it. Mix through risotto as you serve.

Add pepper and Frank's Hot sauce to give it a final zing! [Not shown in picture]

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Persimmon Prawn Rice Paper Rolls

I was inspired by this recipe to make dinner last night.

This is my first time using rice paper rolls. They're fun to play with. You just dip them in water and they become like gladwrap for any food! I served them with hoisin sauce and a chilli concoction.

To make the rice noodles just soak them in hot water for 20minutes or so. This whole meal requires no cooking at all. Just a big bowl of hot water. It's fantastically easy to prepare. I got one of my dinner guests to julienne the persimmon whilst we were drinking wine and catching up. Too easy! :)

For the rolls I used mung beans, prawns, mint, coriander, persimmon, spring onion and rice vermicelli. Per person this costs about $3.50 ($2.50 100g prawns + $0.50 herbs + $0.50 vermicelli and wraps) in addition to the Food Connect ingredients.

I also grated carrot (you can see in the background on the left). But, I ended up mostly ignoring it.

Fresh red chillies, fish sauce, lime juice and garlic.

Friends eating together by candlelight on our balcony. I feel like Jamie Oliver!

For dessert I served roughly chopped apples with brie cheese. I also poached up some pears with muscato, a cinnamon stick, cardamom seeds, cloves and brown sugar. Served with mascarpone cheese with vanilla sugar.Unfortunately I have no photos of the end of the night due to rather a large amount of wine being consumed. Hehe. Yummo!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tuna San Choy Bow

Over the weekend we visited Melbourne and caught up with family and enjoyed a wedding of old friends. Melbourne food is fantastic, but eating out reminds me of how delicious eating in can be.

Getting home tonight I was craving Food Connect veges! My cats were grumpy with me, so I tried (without success) to tempt them with a small tin of tuna. That committed me to making something with tuna. So, here's what I did.

Tuna San Choy Bow

Tuna mixture

1 x 95g can of Sirena tuna
1 clove garlic mashed
2 tsp grated ginger
2 small stalks celery finely chopped
2 tbsp whole egg mayonnaise
Handful of sprouted mung beans
1/2 lime's worth of juice
2 green tops of spring onions (I plant them on my balcony, rather than put them in the fridge)
Splash of soy sauce
A few drops sesame oil
Sprinkle of salt

Mix all ingredients and spoon onto a small cos lettuce washed and peeled. Steam a cob of corn and carve off kernels and sprinkle on top.

Crack fresh pepper over the top and splort garlic chilli sauce according to tastes.

Eat with your hands and sigh a big sigh of relief that you're home! :)

I used Frank's Hot sauce. I got to know this whilst living in the USA. It's a gorgeous product and deserves a place in your chilli cupboard.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Heirloom Tomato Pizza

Last night you didn't hear much from us because we enjoyed leftover curry. Yummo! Tonight I convinced my amazing beloved to make pizza dough for dinner to honour the heirloom tomatoes that just arrived in our Food Connect Gourmet box.

Look at these beauties!

I made an olive oil, garlic, lime juice, mystery herb (minty thyme or oregano?), rosemary, salt and pepper marinade.

I allowed the oil, herbs and garlic mixture to meld with the fresh tomato whilst Morgan's pizza dough was constructed. I have no idea how he wrangles the yeast and flour into submission, but I appreciate it so much. Thanks baby!!!

I take shortcuts that make sense. These pizza tomato pastes sit in our fridge for months and save time.

Rocket, marinated tomatoes, cheddar cheese, green capsicum, sliced mushrooms, olives, fresh red chillies, spring onions and the leftover Castello on top.

In the oven for 10-15mins

Oooooh yummmy!!!


What a good life

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Eggplant, Mushroom & Pumpkin Thai Curry

The next challenge is: eggplant! Tonight my booful husband Morgan made thai curry.

1 onion finely chopped
3 baby eggplant cut in slices
2 small sweet potatoes diced
1/4 butternut pumpkin diced
4 swiss brown mushrooms sliced
Marinated tofu
1 can coconut milk
Green curry paste (from a jar)
Fish sauce
Fresh coriander
Lime juice


Salt the eggplant and leave to drain out the yucky bitter juices. At the same time put pumpkin and sweet potato chunks into a moderate oven for 1/2 hr.

Update: Apparently fresh, small eggplants don't need to be salted--thanks to my readers for pointing this out. I guess living for so long with old, stale supermarket produce has affected the way I approach my veges.

Pre-dinner snacks of rice cakes, re-fried beans, (tin of re-fried beans mixed with sour cream, lime juice, garlic, jalapeno, pinch of cumin) and spouted mung beans.

Saute onion in some peanut oil. Add curry paste (plus extra red chillies if you wish) and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add eggplant (well-rinsed), mushrooms and coconut milk and bring to the boil (add a few kaffir lime leaves and a spoon of palm sugar if desired). Simmer for ten minutes. Add the roast veges, tofu and fish sauce and heat through.

Serve with fresh coriander on brown rice (we were lazy and used a microwave pouch).

Eggplant triumph! :)

Cleaning up the kitchen tonight I saw the empty bags from my tofu and rice and thought I'd share them. Anyone living in Brisbane can buy these at a local supermarket.

Soyco Tofu & microwavable brown rice. It's so easy to have these long-life items in the fridge and pantry to make week day meals a breeze.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Creamy Broccoli and Tarragon Soup

We have loads of broccoli! There's only two of us, so cooking food that makes good leftovers makes sense. Time to make soup!


1 onion finely chopped
2tbsp butter or olive oil (I used a bit of both)
1 carrot finely chopped
1 stalk celery finely chopped

3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 tsp tarragon
1 litre beef stock
150ml sour cream

2 heads of broccoli chopped into little florets
1/2 lime
Cheese slices with low melt threshold (e.g. castello)
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions in butter/oil for 5mins. Add carrot, celery, garlic and tarragon and cook on low for another 10mins. Add stock and bring to the boil. Add sour cream and broccoli and simmer for 15mins or so until the broccoli softens. Ladle batches of soup into the blender. But, don't get too carried away. Some of the natural texture is tasty. Squeeze lime juice in just before serving.

Add cheese and chives on top

Watch it melt! Nommy. :)

This is a really filling soup! I tried to eat a slice of toast after a big bowl and it was overwhelming.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

BBQ Roast Kangaroo

Sunday is a good day to do some work on my PhD. After messing about for the morning I cycled off to the office with my lunchbox full of treats.

Banana cake, figs, banana, honey-encrusted macadamia nuts and apple slices. I took a side jar of yogurt to schlorp over the top of the fruit when I got to work. Yummo!

For dinner Morgan and I made BBQ roast kangaroo. We cooked the mini-roasts by searing the roo on both sides for a couple of minutes and then covering the lid of the BBQ for 25mins on a low heat. Once off the heat wrap in foil and let sit for 10mins before slicing. Cooking times are similar to the same amount of medium-rare beef, but without the damage to the Aussie environment! :)

I served roasted sweet potato and butternut pumpkin in rosemary and olive oil (30mins on 180 degree oven). I made a quick rocket salad with lime juice and olive oil. Plus chickpeas and quinoa on the side.

1 cup quinoa
1 tin chickpeas
2 cups beef stock
3 tbsp sour cream
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 red onion finely chopped
handful of olives finely chopped

simmer quinoa, chickpeas 1/2 garlic and stock for 5mins (covered). Add red onion, sour cream and remaining garlic and simmer for 10mins. Take off heat and add olives and pepper to taste.

Serve roast kangaroo with sides, cranberry sauce and Dijon mustard

What you're going to see on this blog is some repetition of ingredients. This is what happens when you're a real person with a finite kitchen and fresh produce.

Some items get used over and over again until they're used up. Sorry if it seems predictable! luckily we get a new box of exciting ingredients each week to experiment with.

Speaking of exciting ingredients. I've begun storing my vegetables inside these crisper snap-lock bags. They let the ethylene out, which helps prevent spoilage. I reuse the same bags over and over again. They really help keep all my produce fresh.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Warm beetroot and quinoa tabouleh

I like the constraints of box living. The lack of choice is actually incredibly freeing. I would prefer someone else choose for me than have to figure it out at the markets. I love inventing food to fit what nature provides. On a slightly more spiritual level, I like to feel the moods of the earth and know her influence on living things. We are lucky to have such plentiful food and I am grateful for it.

Really, I appreciate that farmers are making any produce at all. I tried to grow herbs this summer and whilst they began well, by the end of the flooding rains punctuated by no rain, my own forgetfulness or my cats leaping into them... they're all done for! The sage and tarragon are the only things left and some sort of bug has eaten most of 'em! Heh.

It's an interesting psychological difference between the fearful way I 'choose' produce in the supermarket ("it must be perfect") vs. the joyous way I accept a box of Food from Food Connect ("I trust it will be good"). I can't quite explain it, but there you are. :)

Anyway, tonight I wanted to use the single fresh beetroot that I got in my Gourmet Box this week. I had some parsley left over from last week and limes, so a beetroot and quinoa tabouleh inspired by this recipe was worth trying. I was very excited because I've never used quinoa before. Have you?

Quinoa is grown in Bolivia, but grows in Australia if farmers wanted to develop our industry. ;)

Quinoa has a similar proportion of protein to meat--taking water into account--and remarkably contains a balanced set of essential amino acids. These are the proteins humans cannot manufacture by ourselves. Apparently NASA is rather impressed by this ancient grain (NASA Technical Paper 3422).

1/3 cup quinoa (wash carefully! See the comment from my Boliva-traveling friend)
2/3 cup stock
1 beetroot* grated
1 onion finely chopped (I used white, though red is recommended)
1 tbsp olive oil
big handful of parsley
1/2 lime's worth of juice
1 tbsp aged red wine vinegar
black pepper


Dry roast the quinoa in the frying pan for a minute or two. Add stock and simmer covered on low for 15min. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5mins. Saute onion in olive oil for 10mins or so.

Combine beetroot, parsley, lime juice, vinegar and pepper in a bowl. Beetroot and parsley are both fantastic nutrients, containing all sorts of great antioxidants and vitamins.

Add onion mixture, quinoa and beetroot mix to make a salad. Voila!

Look how crazy the quinoa is! The little grains look like tiny eggs with tails floating off. This stuff is so much tastier (and healthier) than cous cous. Apparently it sprouts fast overnight, releasing even more nutrients.

Plus, this recipe was super-yummy. The textures really pop and it's super fast and easy to make. 20 minutes to noms.

* Ingredients in green come from Food Connect

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fish Tacos

Look at that cos lettuce and rocket! Wow. :D I love getting food straight off the farm.

For the curious, there's a QEII coronation tea cup that my grandmother bought when she and my dad were in London in 1953. Next to it is a pirate pub shot glass from Pirate museum @ Nassau. I bought it on a Disney cruise with my brother.

Jalapenos are in their prime and limes are filled with juice. It's the perfect time to make mexican food.

Harvest time also means lots of tomatoes! Fresh salsa is so easy to make and stays fresh in the fridge for a week. It's a great way to use up some fresh tomatoes.

3 tomatoes diced
1 onion finely diced
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1/2 lime's worth of juice
1/4 bunch of coriander finely chopped (including stalks, that's where the flavour is)
A few olives roughly chopped
Jalapeno finely chopped to taste
Salt to taste

Fish tacos
500g hoki fillets
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lime's worth of juice
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1 pkt taco seasoning (I was feeling lazy)
3/4 cup water

Mix all the salsa ingredients in a bowl and let sit for an hour or two. The flavours get better with time. Rub the hoki filets in the cumin, oregano, olive oil, lime juice and garlic and cook in a medium oven for 20min. Remove from the oven and add to a saucepan with taco seasoning and water. Heat for 3minutes and serve with fresh avocado, salsa and shredded lettuce.

Today was my first avocado for the season. I made a super-easy mash-up of avocado, lime juice, coriander and salt. Yummy!!!

Lay out ingredients onto a heated flour tortilla

Roll up the burrito into a parcel and enjoy! :)

I forgot to use the gorgeous green capsicum that is also in plentiful supply right now. Next time for sure!