Monthly Archives: June 2016

Kitchen news 7th June

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So finally we’re getting the cold weather we’ve been wondering about all autumn… all the wintry effects in one weekend even! One day we’re swimming down at the beach and only a week later we’re battening down the hatches against the #stormageddon! I do love the change of season (for about a week anyway) when the big casserole pot gets brought out for repeat usage on the stove and my pink fluffy slippers are unearthed from the back of the wardrobe.

Luckily in the cottage we had pre-empted the change to cool and had written up some delicious and warming dishes for the menu… Kale and potato soup with poached eggs for example: instead of sautéing off the onion and then sweating in the potato with garlic and other soupy mirepoix bits, in effect layering the flavours, we bung everything in at once, more or less, cook it up and then plop the eggs in to poach in the actual soup itself! The ingredients by themselves nothing to write home about necessarily, but together make up the most tasty and soul-warming combo… and I’ve even had a few parents stop me in the playground to say they had made it at home over the storms.

Moroccan chickpea hotpot has made a comeback too, all the lovely cinnamon, smoked paprika and cumin flavours mingling away in one chunky broth and then finished with my favourite herb of all: fresh coriander. Some kids are yet to fully grasp a love of chickpeas (my own included) but I’m giving it all I’ve got and won’t stop at yuck!

Pizza is back on the menu, this time as a tomato-less pizza bianca, with spinach, roasted garlic and ricotta and it has been going down a treat. Of course it would, it’s pizza!

And we’ve even managed a salad: A warm salad of bok choy, roasted eggplant, goats cheese and the last of the little baby bush tomatoes. The flavours sing with a basil-infused basting sauce, and a little sweet aged balsamic drizzle to finish.

A few groups finished off the current crop of rhubarb to bottle a gorgeous jam with vanilla bean to sell later in the year at Grandparents Day on Friday 16th September and at the Kitchen Garden stall at the Halloween Fete on Sunday 30th October… my store cupboards are looking very healthy already with stocks of bouillon, marinated olives, mandarine marmalade and the rhubarb and vanilla jam all ready to be labelled! So save your pennies for those…

Have a good week and stay warm!

Melissa

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Warm salad of bok choy, roasted eggplant and tomatoes

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This salad can be adapted to pretty much anything you’ve got in your garden, fridge or pantry! You can add cheese, or a boiled egg or two, a tin of tuna or some roast chicken…

Fresh from the garden: eggplant, bok choy, tomatoes, basil,
Recipe source: Melissa
Serves: 4 or 24 tastes

Equipment:

  • Chopping boards and knives
  • Baking tray
  • Baking paper
  • Pastry brush
  • Citrus juicer
  • Mixing bowls
  • Stick blender and cup
  • Measures: ¼ cup, tablespoon
  • Wok
  • Colander
  • Serving bowls
Ingredients:

  • One large eggplant
  • A lemon
  • A couple of sprigs of basil
  • A clove of garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil plus extra to brush
  • Aged balsamic vinegar
  • Flaked salt and black pepper
  • A large handful of bok choy
  • A handful of little tomatoes
  • A log of soft goats’ cheese

 What to do:

To prepare the veggies:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C.
  2. Wash and dry the eggplant. Trim the top end off and cut into thin slices. Cover a baking tray with baking paper and place the eggplant slices on top. Brush with a little olive oil, then slide into the oven and roast for 10 minutes until lightly browned.
  3. While the eggplant is roasting, juice the lemon, peel the garlic and wash the basil, picking the leaves and spin-drying them. Combine together the lemon juice, a pinch of salt, a grind of pepper, ¼ cup olive oil, garlic and most of the basil (reserving a few leaves for garnish) in a stick blender cup and whizz until totally smooth. Take the eggplant out of the oven and flip over. Brush the basil mixture over top and bake again for another 5 minutes or until cooked through and browning.
  4. Wash the bok choy, opening up the leaves slightly to dislodge any dirt, and shake dry over the sink. Slice the bok choy lengthways down the middle, and again into quarters. Heat the wok over a medium flame and pour about a tablespoon of olive oil in, and then the bok choy with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Cook for a few minutes until the leaves have wilted and the bulb part is beginning to blacken slightly.
  5. Wash the tomatoes, remove the stalks and slice – or if small, gently cut in half.

To assemble the salad:

  1. Remove the eggplant from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes.
  2. Divide the cooked bok choy into serving bowls, and then scatter the eggplant pieces on top, and then the tomatoes. Open the packet of goats’ cheese and sprinkle blobs over the veggies.
  3. Drizzle over a little olive oil and balsamic with a pinch of salt and black pepper, and scatter over basil leaves torn into small pieces.

Notes: What is balsamic vinegar? Can you eat raw eggplant? What family does eggplant belong to?

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Ricotta fritters

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Fresh from the garden: eggs, lemon/ orange
Recipe source: adapted from a recipe by Tobie Puttock in Daily Italian
Makes: about 20 fritters

Tobie says, “People are likely to fall in love with you if you cook them these fritters – that’s how good they are. They are best served hot but can be eaten cold.” We say start this recipe early as the dough needs to rest in the fridge before cooking!

Ingredients:

  • 400g fresh ricotta
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • Finely grated zest of one lemon (although I used orange instead)
  • A pinch of bicarb soda
  • 3 tablespoons sultanas (I didn’t use these at all)
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 cups vegetable oil (I used Rice Bran)
  • Icing sugar for dusting

What to do:

  1. Drain the ricotta of excess moisture and place it a large mixing bowl with the eggs: beat until smooth.
  2. Add the sugar, lemon (or orange) zest, bicarb soda, sultanas (if using) and flour and stir well to combine the ingredients.
  3. Cover with plastic film and rest the flour in the fridge for about an hour.
  4. Set out a plate lined with kitchen paper.
  5. Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan, and test it by dropping in a pinch of flour: if it starts to sizzle, the oil is ready to fry.
  6. Use a tablespoon to scoop out dollops of dough mix and carefully drop them into the oil. Depending on the size of your saucepan you’ll probably be able to fry just a few at a time.
  7. Cook until the fritters turn a nice golden brown, turning them over to cook if needed, then draining well on kitchen paper.

Warning:

  • Whenever working with hot oil, take extreme care and keep small children and pets well away.
  • Never leave hot oil unattended.
  • Never fill the pan more than half way with oil.

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The best pumpkin soup ever!

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This classic soup recipe has got to be the easiest one of all – and takes no time to cook! If you want to be a bit grown-up you can also garnish with some lightly toasted pine nuts and a dollop of Greek yoghurt but my kids like it just as it is…

Fresh from the garden: pumpkin, leek, thyme, coriander
Recipe source: Melissa
Serves: 6 or 24 tastes

Equipment:

  • Kettle
  • Chopping boards & knives
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measures: tablespoon
  • Scales
  • Salad spinner
  • Large stockpot
  • Stick blender
  • Ladle
  • Serving bowls
  • Scissors
Ingredients:

  • 1kg pumpkin, any type
  • One large leek
  • A small bunch of thyme
  • 20g butter
  • Olive oil
  • A tablespoon of ground cumin
  • A tablespoon of ground coriander
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 2 tablespoons bouillon
  • Flaked salt and black pepper
  • A small bunch of coriander

 What to do:

  1. Fill the kettle to 1.5 litres and set it to boil.
  2. Wash the pumpkin then place on a chopping board and scoop out all the seeds and membranes, saving for the chooks. Carefully slice off the skin – you may need to chop it up into a few smaller pieces first – then slice the pumpkin flesh into thin slices and reserve.
  3. Wash the leek under running water, trimming off the root and outer rough leaves, and slicing half way down the middle lengthways and peeling out to release any dirt trapped inside. Then slice into thin rings.
  4. Wash the thyme and dry it, then strip off the leaves and reserve. Wash the coriander and spin dry and reserve.
  5. Heat the butter and a glug of olive oil in the stockpot until bubbling, then add the chopped leek, the thyme and a good pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally for a few minutes until the leek softens.
  6. Add in the sliced pumpkin and the two spices and stir again, then put the lid on the stockpot and turn right down to the lowest simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Add in the boiling water until just covering the pumpkin, add in the bouillon with a grind of pepper and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile using the scissors, snip the coriander stalks and leaves into tiny pieces
  9. Plug in the stick blender and whizz until super-smooth. Taste to check if there is enough salt and add if needed.
  10. Ladle into bowls and garnish with coriander snips and serve straight away!

Notes: Where does the dirt hide in a leek? Is pumpkin skin edible?

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Kale, potato and egg soup

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Amazing what you can put in a soup isn’t it? Sounds very simple this one, but the flavours and bold and bright at the end. And it’s perfect for this freezing, wintry and blustery day…

Fresh from the garden: potatoes, garlic, kale, eggs
Recipe source: adapted from a recipe on thekitchn.com
Serves: 4 or 24 tastes

Equipment:

  • Chopping boards & knives
  • Garlic press
  • Measures: tablespoon, teaspoon
  • Medium stockpot
  • 4 little bowls or ramekins
  • Ladle
  • Microplane grater
  • 4 serving bowls

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium yellow potatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cooking salt
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 2 tablespoons bouillon
  • 1 bunch kale (about 15 big leaves)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 4 large eggs
  • Flaked salt and pepper
  • 20g grana padano or parmesan cheese
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

What to do:

  1. Scrub the potatoes then chop it onto centimetre cubes. Peel the garlic cloves and squeeze them through the garlic press.
  2. Add potato, garlic, salt, water and bouillon to a medium stockpot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer.
  3. While the potatoes start to cook, wash the kale and shake dry over the sink. Remove any thick, tough stems and chop them into tiny pieces. Add the chopped stems to the pot with the potatoes and simmer for 2 minutes.
  4. Stack the leaves of kale on top of each other. Slice them crosswise into thin ribbons, and add them to the pot with the potatoes and kale stems. If necessary, add more stock or water to the pot to just about cover the kale.
  5. Cover the pot and let the soup cook for 8 to 10 minutes. The soup is ready when the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, and when a ribbon of kale has become tender, but has not yet become stringy or pulpy. Stir in the vinegar. Taste and season with more salt and fresh cracked pepper. Also add more stock or water if a more liquid soup is desired.
  6. To finish, crack the eggs into little bowls, and then gently slide them into the soup. Ladle some of the soup broth on top of the eggs to submerge them. Put the lid back on the pot and cook for 4 minutes. When done, the whites of the eggs should be opaque, but the yolk should still be soft. If the eggs break into the soup before they are poached, just use a fork to swirl them into the soup.
  7. Carefully spoon the eggs into a soup bowls. Ladle the soup on top. Finish with a grating of grana padano cheese and a thin drizzle of olive oil and serve.

Notes: What else could you put into a soup? What else could you use instead of kale?

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Spinach and roasted garlic pizza

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This pizza bianca uses no tomato sauce, instead creamy ricotta is mixed with blanched spinach, roasted garlic and grated mozzarella and is quite the delicious thing!

Fresh from the garden: spinach, garlic, basil
Recipe source: Melissa
Makes: 4 medium pizze

Equipment:

·       Medium stockpot

·       Measures – cup, tablespoon, teaspoon

·       Foil

·       Colander

·       Bowls – large, med

·       Chopping boards & knives

·       Salad spinner

·       Scales

·       Grater

·       2 baking trays

·       Pastry brush

·       Wide egg lifter

·       Pizza cutting wheel

·      Serving plates

Ingredients:

·       A 500g quantity of Hugh’s Magic Dough

·       1 head of garlic

·       Extra virgin olive oil

·       2 cups ricotta cheese

·       A large sprig basil

·       A teaspoon of dried oregano

·       Cooking salt

·       Flaked salt and black pepper

·       A big bunch of spinach

·       225g mozzarella cheese

 

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 190C.
  2. Divide your dough into two balls and leave to rest before working.

For the topping:

  1. Fill the medium stockpot with water and set it to boil with a tablespoon of salt.
  2. Separate out the garlic cloves – do not peel them! – then lay out a large square of foil and place the unpeeled garlic cloves on top. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a couple of pinches of cooking salt. Fold the foil into a sealed but loose packet and place on a tray in the oven. Roast the garlic until soft for about 25 minutes, then remove from oven and set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic out of their skins, discarding the skins into the compost and reserving the garlic.
  3. Increase oven heat to 230C to prepare it for baking the pizza.
  4. Meanwhile wash the spinach in plenty of cold water and shake dry over the sink. Slice off the stems and then when the water in the pot is boiling, add all the leaves in to blanch together. Put the lid back on and cook for 3 minutes until the spinach has wilted. Carefully drain into a colander placed in the sink, then press out all the water with a wooden spoon. When as dry as can be, turn out onto a chopping board and finely chop.
  5. Wash the basil, pick off the leaves and spin dry, then tear into small pieces.
  6. Weigh the mozzarella cheese and then grate it.
  7. Add half of the peeled garlic cloves to a medium bowl. Smash with a fork. Add the ricotta, a tablespoon of olive oil, basil, oregano, a pinch of salt and grind of pepper. Mix well.

Assembling the pizza:

  1. Lightly oil your baking trays and spread with a pastry brush.
  2. Roll and stretch out the pizza dough into two large rectangle shapes large enough to fill the baking trays, and then place on the greased baking trays.
  3. Top the crust with tablespoon-sized mounds of ricotta, as evenly spaced as possible. Scatter with the chopped spinach and remaining garlic cloves. Scatter mozzarella cheese over the top.

Baking the pizza:

  1. Bake at 230C until the crust is crisp and golden and the cheese is melted and bubbling for about 10 minutes.
  2. Use this time to make the dough for the next class if needed.
  3. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before slicing into squares with a pizza cutter and serve.

Notes: What does to blanch mean? What happens to the garlic when it has been roasted?

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