Thursday, April 22, 2010

Persimmon Cookies

Oh my gosh Morgan made Persimmon cookies! He got the recipe straight out of the Food Connect newsletter this week

2 ripe persimmons, pureed
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg (we didn't have any, so we used cloves)
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup white or raw sugar
115g butter
1 cup raisins (we used dates)
1 cup chopped walnuts (we used almonds)
You can substitute raisins and walnuts for any dried fruit or nuts of your choice. You can also use ground cloves or ginger for extra zing.

Preheat oven to 180ÂșC.
Dissolve baking soda in persimmon pulp, then set aside.
Sift flour, spices and salt together, then set aside
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, beat in egg and persimmon.
Stir in dry ingredients nuts and dates.
Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

I'm not a big sweets person, but these are delicious with a big cup of tea. The spices really work as the weather cools down and we head towards Anzac day and remembrance of the year gone by. This is Australian harvest living.

Chicken Eggplant Cacciatore

On Wednesday I had knee surgery, so I haven't been able to get into the kitchen--and will be unable to return for a couple of weeks. But, I haven't had any troubles eating beautiful food! Tonight Morgan made a variant on this recipe for my dinner. Adding eggplant and green beans, it was really delicious, hearty and nourishing.

3 tbs olive oil
1 breast of chicken (350g)
1/2 red onion
2 shallots (small brown onions)
2 celery sticks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, chopped
2 Mushrooms
1 Eggplant sliced
Handful of green beans
3 garlic cloves, crushed
100ml dry white wine
800g cans diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
150ml chicken stock
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
Chopped flat-leaf parsley and basil and feta to garnish

Heat the oil in a large casserole dish over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook until browned all over. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add the onion, celery, carrot and cook over low heat for 5 minutes until the onion softens. Add the garlic and mushrooms, eggplant and beans and simmer 10mins.

Return chicken pieces to the pan, add the wine and allow to simmer 1-2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, herbs and stock.

Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the olives and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Serve garnished with basil, parsley and feta

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Broccoli and potato pizza

Broccoli and potato are two pizza toppings that taste fantastic, but I haven't enjoyed them since living in New York and Melbourne respectively.

Broccoli heaped high on a pizza slice is a classic choice at Penn Station at 34th street. Now, the Yanks like their pizzas fairly plain. They often go for a single topping, such as pepperoni, broccoli or even just cheese. That's their culture. Where as I'm the sort of person who orders a vegetarian pizza and add chicken.

Potato on a pizza might be seen as carb-loading, the sort of thing Michael Phelps might inhale before an Olympic swimming event. However, when done modestly, the crackle and softness of herb encrusted roast potato pieces is the perfect addition to any pizza. I first tried it in Lygon St. Melbourne and suddenly remembered how good it tastes.

Anyway, before the toppings comes the dough-making athleticism of my beloved husband Morgan! See the recipe here. Last night he even allowed me to touch the stuff mid-knead. I felt like a bit of a duffer, every time I tried to gently squish the dough, it tore. Ah well, practise, practise, practise. :)

While the dough sits to rise. Chop up a sweet potato, 1 potato and 1 beetroot into 3cm-5cm cubes.

Oil a baking tray and add veges. Cover with a little oil, rosemary, tarragon, salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Put in a medium oven for 40mins. Take out the sweet potato and beetroot. Let the potato cook for another 10-20mins.

We use Alfa One Rice Brain Oil Cooking Spray. Rice bran oil has a mild nutty flavour and a high smoking point, which is good in the oven. We use it to spray around the metal bowl for the pizza dough too.

Dough is ready!

Chop up broccoli florets. Make a mixture of olive oil, vinegar (I used pomegranate balsamic), lemon juice garlic, salt and pepper. Use this mixture in addition to tomato paste for the base of the pizza. You can also sprinkle it on top of the ingredients before they go into the oven. You don't want the broccoli to get dry.

Put tomato paste onto rolled out dough. Add grated mozzarella cheese next. Finally add: broccoli, torn salami and slices of roasted sweet potato.

Mmmm, broccoli


For the potato pizza, start the same as above, but then add cubes of roast potato, roast beetroot, 2 slices prosciutto, sliced olives, some crumbled feta and sliced mushrooms


Friday, April 16, 2010

Ginger, lemon and maple syrup tea

This week we have been quite sick with a virus that has hit lots of people we know. How grateful I am to see the knobs of ginger and big lemons in our box this week. It's almost as if the earth knows what we need to get better. This is the absolute best thing I can think of for a sore throat.


Thinly slice a knob of ginger into a jug. Pour boiling water over the ginger. Scrap off some lemon zest and add to the water. Add a few tbsp of maple syrup to taste. Maple syrup has a low fructose level and high levels of zinc, which makes it a healthier option than honey.

Allow to steep for at least 20mins--until cool enough to drink. Add fresh lemon juice when you serve to ensure the vitamin C is not broken down.

I recommend drinking a few litres of this over a period of hours to really make you feel better.

It is important not to add the lemon juice until serving. This way, you can pour new glasses of ginger tea throughout the day without it tasting 'off' due to the lemon juice going stale.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spinach and Mushroom Schlorp

'Schlorp' is a term Morgan and I use to describe a curry or stew-like concoction that (usually) has a high protein and umami ratio. It is thick enough that you eat it with a fork over rice or some other carb. Although, additional carbs are not a necessary part of enjoying schlorp! ;)

Tonight I made schlorp from the bolognese sauce leftovers.

I really wanted to use the rest of the bunch of silverbeet after reading about the high amounts of ALA in dark green leafy vegetables (our bodies can turn ALAs into omega-3s). Of course spinach is high in a lot of nutrients including: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper, Manganese, Thiamin, Folate and Zinc. Whew!

Fry up some garlic and fresh chillies on very low heat in a little olive oil.

Add spinach, mushrooms & 1 cup of chicken stock (the last two are excellent umami flavours). Find out more about umami here

Add lentils (that's to add good vegetarian protein), leftover bolognese sauce (you can use any tomato-based sauce leftovers), 2tbsp sour cream (more umami) & 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice.

Simmer for about 10mins

Serve over brown rice with a little Parmesan cheese (more umami!).

Zucchini, Corn and Sage Pancakes

The method of this recipe is inspired from the original Moosewood cookbook. However, her recipe does not use corn and adds mint instead of sage.

2 zucchinis grated
2 small brown onions finely chopped
2-3 cobs corn
5 eggs separated
50-100g Barambah feta
1/2 tsp sage
Sprinkle smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
approx. 1/2 cup flour

Lightly sprinkle zucchini with salt in a colander and leave for at least 15mins. Then, squeeze out all the liquid.

Simmer corn for a few minutes until the colour changes from light to dark yellow, but kernels are not too soft

Remove corn kernels with a sharp knife

Combine zucchini, corn, onion, feta, egg yolks, sage, paprika, pepper and flour.

Beat egg white until they form soft peaks and then fold into the mixture.

Dollop ladles of mixture onto a medium-hot fry pan with butter and cook like a pancake. Be careful not to have the pan too hot that the butter burns. If it does burn, wipe out the pan with paper towel and start again with fresh butter.

Serve with sour cream or yogurt. Add a little mango chutney to really make the flavours pop.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Proscuitto, silverbeet and ricotta frittata


5 eggs

1 baby brown onion (I love these in the box this week. They are so fresh and sweet. They don't make your eyes weep and don't need pre-cooking)
1-2 cloves chopped garlic
1 stalk silverbeet leaves shredded
100g ricotta
2 slices proscuitto chopped
Salt to taste

Beat eggs together. Add all other ingredients. Pour into a greased oven-proof pan (I used butter). Pop into a medium oven for 15mins.

Ours was in for a little too long. But, the golden colour is gorgeous.

Serve slices next to cos lettuce, baby tomatoes with a little olive oil and balsamic dressing.

Spagetti Bolognese

Wow! Look at my Food Connect box this week. What a crazy amount of delicious food. Yummo.

After a long day on Friday I came home to find Morgan had made fresh pasta. he had seen all our tomatoes and decided to make bolognese!

Fresh pasta

6 eggs
Approx. 550g plain flour (fine flour if you have it)
1 tsp salt

Makes 8 serves

Morgan's method is precise (as always). He says: Knead the crap out of it until it goes 'delish' (approx. 5-min). You will notice that the dough transitions from a thing made out of flour and eggs, to a cohesive, moldable, tangible stuff. When it does that, keep kneading for a bit and put it aside for 1/2 hour minimum. Roll out using a pasta roller into flat sheets, lay them out to dry for a bit, then feed them through a pasta maker to make spaghetti!

Hang the strands to dry on your foldable laundry thingie!

Bolognese sauce

Cook 1kg mince until liquid is gone. Add 1/2 cup wine and cook until the liquid is gone. Add 4 cloves garlic, 3 finely chopped onion & olive oil. Cook, but don't brown the onions. Add Italian herbs and a couple of bay leaves (I threw in some rosemary too). Add 1kg fresh tomatoes + 2 cans of chopped tomatoes blended.

Bring to the boil and then simmer for 1.5hrs with the lid off. We added a little tomato paste 1 tbsp brown sugar, some balsamic vinegar and salt to taste. It's a process of adjusting flavours to suit the palate.

Serve over fresh pasta (3min in boiling water).

I added some Barambuh fetta, spring onions and chopped olives to serve.

When I grew up in Sydney in the 1980s, we ate 'spag bol' quite often. I remember the Parmesan cheese from a long-life can sprinkled on top and the crappy boxed pasta underneath. I love the emotions and memories that come from smell. Cooking this dish certainly takes me straight back to my youth. Not a huge surprise because smell is the only sense to connect directly to consciousness without being mediated by the thalamus. Thus, our experiences and memories are most quickly retrieved through smell. For more on olfaction see my memory blog entries on olfaction.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Eggplant Chilli Paneer

Tonight was 'using up stuff the fridge' night. I saw eggplant, corn and green pepper and immediately thought of making Mexican chilli.

However, with no cheese or sour cream to dollop on top, I made do with frozen paneer cheese and a couple of leftover strips of haloumi

Saute finely chopped onion in olive oil. Add chopped red chillies and a spoon of cumin seeds. Add 2 sliced baby eggplant. Fry for a few minutes. Add 1 heirloom tomato (diced) and 3 garlic cloves finely chopped. Add 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 cup stock and tomato paste (I didn't have any paste left). Add fresh or dried oregano at his point for an authentic Mexican flavour. Add some sour cream if you've got it. I used some smoked paprika and ground coriander at this point. Salt to taste.

Add 1 tin of red kidney beans

Meanwhile fry up paneer cheese. You can buy a big bag from the Indian spice store in McWhirters in Fortitude Valley. It's a great place to pick up all sorts of goodies. Keep paneer frozen in the freezer. Frozen cheese makes life so easy! :)

Fry cubes of cheese in oil and drain on very absorbent paper towel.

Add green capsicum and corn kernels to the bean mixture cook for a few minutes. Add 1/2 lime's worth of juice and diced cheese just prior to serving.

Add chopped coriander and sliced olives to serve. I served it over brown rice, but you can make it more brothy and eat with corn chips if you have them.