Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Winter salads

It's quiet in the garden at the moment.  There are only a few flowers...

A very pretty salvia that seems to flower all the time
 We have been busy cutting wood.  Never too young to learn how to wield a splitter....
We had to hurry before the rain came...

I made a really good crunchy chopped green salad the other day.  There is so much lettuce and celery in the garden I feel obliged to use it.  The salad veg seems to be happy in the winter even though it isn't a salady time.  More lettuce/celery concoctions will follow.  I shredded lettuce, any sort, celery, fennel, and any other green things I could find in the fridge, a bit of cucumber, some finely sliced broccoli and half an avocado from memory.  Make a dressing:  (this is based on one from smitten kitchen
1/2  cup buttermilk
1 tblsp good mayonnaise
1 tblsp apple cider vinegar
1tblsp verjuice
1 teasp sugar
1 tblsp chopped chives
salt and pepper
Add or subtract any ingredients to taste.  Toss in a bowl with the dressing and finish with some toasted flaked almonds.
The other thing I've been experimenting with is farro.  The one I use is from Mount Zero, which is near the Grampians, not far from us.  Farro is a grain that is similar to brown rice but with more nuttiness and a bit less stodge. It can be used in the same fashion as rice, lentils or couscous, in salads, soups and risottos.   I went for a warm vegetable salad.  First  toast the farro in  a pan over a medium heat, which was the recommendation on the back of the packet.  Be careful not to burn it.  
Put it in a saucepan, cover with water and simmer for 20 minutes or until it is soft.  Choose any vegetables you like,  I had a haul  from the garden...
Chop them, drizzle with olive oil, season and roast for 20 minutes in a hot oven (about 200), more if you like them a bit crispy.
Mix the vegetables and farro in a big bowl and dress with olive oil, lemon juice, a good dash of vinocotto and salt and pepper.
These salads are great on their own, but would also go well with these tasty little lamb ribs...
These were blanched in boiling water then marinated in:
1 tbslp olive oil
1 tblsp dijon mustard
1 teasp malt vinegar
2 tblsp tomato sauce (homemade)
1 teasp maple syrup
1 tblsp dried oregano
Leave them for a few hours and either barbeque or roast in a hot oven until nicely browned.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Long weekend

We are recovering from a lovely long weekend.  It is a bit of a tradition that we have a houseful of friends, we eat, we drink, we do lots of farmy things and on the Sunday we go to a friend's picnic in the paddock, which seems to get bigger and bigger as the years go on. 

We had some slow roasted lamb and picked veggies from the garden to cook, chased sheep
and got so muddy the kids hung their boots in the tree to dry...
We made mulled wine to take to the picnic on Sunday.  It was, I have to say, the best brew yet.

which was pretty much the tone of the weekend.

All good fun.  But back to the usual grind and I was thinking about a conversation we had over the weekend about getting dinner on the table every night and keeping it interesting...

It can become a chore.  Here is a super easy lamb recipe that is an oldie but a goodie.  Mum used to cook this using older, tougher chops, but I used some loin chops that were left over from the weekend and they worked well.  This is perfect to stick in the oven when you are on the way out the door for afternoon sport.

SAVOURY CHOPS - Serves 4-6, depending on the size of the chops

6 chops - use any cut
2 tblsp each of the following:  brown sugar, cornflour, vinegar, tomato sauce (homemade if possible)
1/2 teasp each of ground ginger, curry powder and mustard powder
1 1/2 cups water
2 tblsp sherry
salt and pepper

Trim chops of excess fat and put in a casserole dish.  Mix all the remaining ingredients and blend well.
Pour over chops and if you have time, marinate for a few hours.  Don't worry if you can't.  
Cover with a tight lid and cook at 150c for two hours.   Good with mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A few winter goodies

I love winter.   Now that the Aga is on all day our kitchen it toasty warm it is time for some slow roasting and winter casseroles.  Yesterday was cold, wet 'n miserable all day and, with fires roaring, I got to do my favourite thing, which is hang out in the kitchen and catch up on some cooking and inside jobs.  I made some lemon cordial from the new season's lemons..
I can't tell you how much I am loving roasted cauliflower.  You need to cook it in a hot oven with a lick of oil so it gets burnished on the edges.
Whilst I am happy to eat it on its own, it enters a new realm when doused with a tahini sauce:
To make the tahini sauce, blend 3 tblsp olive oil, 2 tblsp tahini (unhulled if you can get it), the juice of a lemon and 2 tblsp tamari.  Give it a good mix around then taste it and add more of whatever you think it needs.  Add  little water if it is too thick.  I usually go heavy on the tahini because I love it, but you may prefer it to be more lemony.  You can add a bit of honey if you like it sweeter.  
Then sprinkle over some toasted sesame seeds and some chopped parsley.  I serve it with a blob of greek yoghurt sprinkle with some sumac.

Here are some other things I have made this week:
Slow roasted shoulder of pork
I slow cooked it for 7 hours then flashed it in a hot oven for 30 minutes to crisp up the crackling.  It was  incredibly tender.
Tarte tatin for dinner on Saturday night (rhubarb in the centre)
At last some carrots have been successfully extracted from the veggie garden.  In the past I have never had much luck with carrots, but this time I dug a deep trench and filled it with a light potting mix to plant them in, then gave them lots of liquid fertilizer.
The broccoli has been wonderful too.

One of my favourites
I planted two of these beautiful camellias in a pot outside the kitchen window.  I love the buttery cream flowers, hopefully there will be more to come.  Another reason to love winter..

Friday, June 1, 2012


Hi ho, some good news...this is a full rain gauge:
Yes, we have now had a couple of inches of rain, so things are looking up in this neck of the woods.  And we are having some glorious sunny days so the grass is growing.
I picked a lovely haul of veggies from the garden the other day...
The coloured silverbeet (or rainbow chard) was beautiful, just pan fried in a little oil until it's soft and wilted.  Peppers that won't ripen.  Really, what do you do with them?  I roasted and peeled them, but they need something else, not quite sure what.  That white thing that looks like a turnip is actually a beetroot, I planted lots of different colours and they are amazing when roasted.  The rhubarb is flourishing there seems to be a steady supply all year..
Ages ago I saw a recipe somewhere for Rhubarb Jam made with Earl Grey tea.  A fossick in my tea cupboard uncovered lots of varieties of tea, but no Earl Grey.  So I decided to use a rose tisane I got from T2.

EASY RHUBARB JAM - with rose tisane

4 tblsp rose tea leaves
2 cups boiling water
750g rhubarb, or thereabouts
600g sugar (I don't like it too sweet, normally you would put in equal measures of fruit and sugar)
Juice of one lemon

Pour boiling water over tea leaves and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes.
Chop rhubarb.
Strain the tea into a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Add rhubarb and lemon juice and simmer until the rhubarb is soft (about 5 minutes)
Add sugar and stir until dissolved.  Boil until setting point is reached.

To check the setting point of jam, put a saucer in the freezer when you start to boil it.  After about 15 minutes put a spoonful of jam onto the saucer and return it to the freezer for a couple of minutes.  Take it out and run your finger through it, if it wrinkles the jam is ready.

Remove from the heat and cool slightly before putting in sterilised jars.  Apply liberally to toast, scones or pikelets.