Archive for the ‘Kitchen’ Category

Thinking about foraging

Last October, I found a bunch of morels on my way to work. I picked them, but not trusting my identification skills I used them to inoculate my garden. I figure I can grow whatever they are, and show them to a mushroom expert when I fine one.

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But it has got me thinking: what could we find if we put or minds to it? I went looking for black trumpets today, and I think I may have found some remnants:

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They look terrible but I think they may have been black trumpets once. No point picking them: there wasn’t much left to identify. I’ll try the spot again later though.

And here is what I think is Hawthorne, from a park:

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There would have been buckets of them. We went looking for white mulberry, but couldn’t find any.

Problem is, the stakes are high with wild food. Misidentification is a mistake you might only make once.

Does anyone have a good reference for foraging? How could I be sure that I’m not going to poison myself?

Mmm beetroot

A friend brought us some beetroots today. Instead of doing them savory like I usually do, I went with sweet:

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It’s 200 grams of melted butter, 3/4 to 1 cup of cocoa, 1.5 cups of sugar and four eggs beaten together, with 3/4 cup floor folded through, then 6 big beetroots, boiled and peeled, then grated. Add salt if you’re using unsalted butter. It goes in the oven at 180 which you turn down to 160 after 20 mins. Skewer should come out a bit gooey. Probably a bit too beetrooty for the kids, so I might do 4 beetroots next time. I like it though!

Cooking with silver beet

Silver beet and rainbow chard were our best performers this year. They seem to be pest resistant and they are nutritious and quick to prepare.

This seasonal sage and pumpkin pasta dish exemplifies it:
Fry a small onion in a knob of butter with about a tablespoon of chopped sage. Keep the heat reasonably high so it all browns nicely. Once brown, throw in about a cup of finely diced pumpkin. Butternut works really well. Let it cook for about 5 mins, stirring so it browns evenly. Add a small pinch of nutmeg and half a cup of white wine.

As this is reducing on a lowered heat, either slice your washed silver beet into ribbons, or just hack at it with scissors. Pop it into your colander.

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Cook the usual quantity of your preferred pasta. When it’s done, simply drain the pasta through the silver beet in the colander. This is enough to cook it. Mix through, and dress with olive oil

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To finish the sauce, stir 2 tablespoons of sour cream and another 2 tablespoons of chopped sage through, thin to the desired sauciness and pop it on the pasta. 

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Top with parmesan, crumbled feta, and/or pine nuts.

I hope you enjoy this with your home grown silver beet!

Using the cheap cuts: trotters

We bought half a pig from friends who have a farm and received a bag of trotters as a bonus! I originally had visions of a hot dark Chinese stew but went with pea and ham soup instead. first I washed and salted the trotters, then smoked them on the bbq:

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Then 2 days in the crockpot:

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(that’s the before; didn’t manage an after)

Picked the bones out:

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The pea part is mainly green split peas, with red lentils and urad for fun.

I’m trying a new trick from dal making: after frying the onions, I added some mostly cooked peas into the frying onions and cooked them up together. Apparently it adds a different flavour.

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And here’s the finished product:

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it still needs to simmer for a bit but it already smells good and the texture is amazing!

The speed of Sprouts

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Mustard sprouts, two days on. Can’t wait to eat them! The Chia sprouts are starting to look sprouty too:

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Don’t mind their slightly odd look; they’ll grow out of it.

Sprouts!

Sprouts are my new favorite thing to grow! Seeds in bulk packs from any grocery store, and just add water!

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These are mustard seeds; we’ve done mung bean and linseed sprouts already, and Chia are on the way! After this I’m going to go for coriander sprouts. Winter had made it hard for the garden to keep up with our fresh veg needs: no idea why it took me so long to start sprouting!

Bake me some pie

After a rather gruesome week I had 10 pairs of chicken breasts and little energy or inspiration so it’s pie! Seared the breasts whole (I just couldn’t be bothered cutting them up) and simmered them in a stock made from 5 roasted carcasses and the remnants from a roast supermarket turkey hindquarter. Once cooked I chopped up the meat and reduced the stock. The pastry is a shortcrust of butter, flour and milk.

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I got 6 dinner sized pies out of this batch: 9 of the chickens were bantam australorp cockerels which had relatively large breasts for their size but still small by shop standards.
I love making shortcrust pastry; not only because raw it’s the favorite food of our 3 year old (besides chicken liver), but because it’s really hard to buy good pastry, but easy to make it. Butter and flour goes in the food processor, process and adjust by adding more of one or the other till you have something like wet sand. Add a small amount of milk, or an egg, and a wee bit of baking powder, mix, and chill for 20 mins. The only caveat is that you mustn’t overheat or overwork the dough: that would make it tough.

Bread developments

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Exciting news, readers: for those not keen to make paneer at home in order to make whey for amazing bread, it looks like two spoons of sour cream will do the trick. These puppies are riding like the dead at zombie apocalypse. A little glutinous rice flour from your Asian grocer and a couple of handfuls of linseeds (flax seeds) also contribute to a dough of superior texture. Results to follow after baking is complete.

Changing the olive water

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Something we probably don’t do often enough. Luckily the olives are quite forgiving during the pickling process.
5.5L of brine wasn’t enough! Decent crop this year.

The good and the bad

The bad part about keeping chickens: looked out the window this morning and saw a rat run across the roof of one of the pens.  (Note to self, must get less lazy cat).

The good part about keeping chickens: just went outside, collected three eggs and scrambled ’em for lunch.

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