Sunday, July 26, 2009

Muesli Bar

We had a great week of sunshine and relaxing in Tonga - not so nice to be back to cold winter! The first daffodils are out though, only one month left of winter, yah!

The food in Tonga was delicious - fresh fish everyday!  Mmmmm, tuna.... Yummy fresh fruit salad for breaky and tropical fruit smoothies for lunch. And bonus, even though I LOVE cooking it was great to have someone else do it for me for a week (meals were included in our resort price), and not knowing what was going to come out each night was a good experience too!  Even when MD does cook I still have to 'suggest' what he should make as he 'lacks inspiration' - his excuse!

I want to share my favourite mueslie bar.  I make a batch every week, slice it up then put it in a ziplock bag in the freezer for MD to take for his work lunches - if I don't he's off down to Subway for chocolate chip cookies!  At least this way he gets some healthy ingredients!

Muesli bar
1 c flour (wholemeal or white or a mixture)
1 c oats
1/2 c coconut
1 and 1/2 c mixed dried fruit, seeds and nuts (I use chopped dates, sultana's, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds and chopped walnuts or almonds)
1-2 tsp ground ginger
125ml flavourless oil (I use rice bran)
1/2 c honey

1.  Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2.  Melt together the oil and honey.
3.  Pour the oil mixture into the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
4.  Place in a slice tin lined with baking paper.  Bake at 180 degrees (350F) for 25 minutes or until golden on top.
5.  Remove from oven, allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pea & zucchini zuppa

I'm not sure if this dish is a soup or more a risotto - anyway who cares, it tasted good!  I saw in it the July issue of Delicious. magazine and it seemed perfect for a quick weeknight meal using cupboard/freezer ingredients I had on hand.  We're off to Tonga on Saturday (YAH!) so I wanted to use up some of the food we have rather than going to the supermarket.  

Which reminds me of a conversation I had with M the other day about swine flu. The newspaper was advising that we have 7 days of food on hand in case we had to go into isolation.  Hmmm, do we have 7 days worth of food I pondered?  More like enough for a month or two!  I bought a huge freezer off trade me last year and have stocked it up with excess garden produce and bits and pieces i've found on special.  And as for the pantry - what can I say, i'm my mother's daughter!  It helps being mostly vegetarian - with loads of dried pulses on hand.

Anyway, on to the recipe......

Pea & zucchini zuppa

1.  Heat oil in a large saucepan or stockpot.  Add 2 chopped red onions and cook over low heat until softened, around 5 minutes.

2.  Add ¾ c arborio rice and stir to coat in the onion mixture.  Add 5 c vegetable stock and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat to low and cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes until the rice is almost cooked.

3.  Add 1 and 2/3 c frozen peas, 1 large or 2 small zucchini, thinly sliced, 2 T chopped mint leaves, and 2 T grated parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper and cook a further 3-5 minutes until everything is hot.

Serve in warm bowls with extra parmesan to sprinkle.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Making marmalade!

I love growing my own fruit and veggies, and even though I LOVE our house 'cos it's so close to the beach, the one downside is we only have a 500 m squared section. While I have quite a bit of room for my veggies (I don't think i'd ever say I had enough no matter how much space I had!), I have pretty much reached my limit on fruit trees. I managed to squeeze a few more in last winter but this winter I haven't even been near the garden centre - best to prevent any temptation!  

Anyway, what i'm getting to is our friends bought a house with a HUGE backyard, full of established fruit trees - guava, tamarillo, apple, lemon, nectarine, and grapefruit. And they don't even particularly care for fruit! Foreign to me who eats fruit at breakfast, for morning snack, at lunch, for afternoon, snack, for pre-gym snack (you get the picture!).  Luckily they are happy to share and i'm allowed to raid the garden whenever I like.  You can find my guava jelly (jam) recipe here, and now for the marmalade.....

Grapefruit marmalade

3 large or 4-5 small grapefruit
1 orange
1 lemon
white sugar

1.  Remove green stems then roughly chop grapefruit, orange and lemon and put in a blender. Puree until you have your desired consistency - chunky or smooth.  At this point you can freeze the mixture to defrost later to use in step 2 (handy if you're overloaded with fruit and over making jam!).

2.  Place the puree in a pan and cover with water, bring to the boil and cook 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and pour into a big bowl, then add back to the pan via a measuring jug to see how much liquid you have.

3.  Add the same amount of sugar as liquid (make sure it's white - brown doesn't look so good, been there done that!) and bring to the boil again.  Cook, stirring occasionally until setting point is reached - around 20-30 minutes.  You'll start to see the mixture thickening on the back of the spoon if you rest it on the pot. Test by placing a small amount on a saucer that has been in the freezer - it will start to get a 'wavy' appearance when it's been left for a minute or two.

4.  Pour into jars that have been sterilised in a low oven for 20 minutes. I boil the lids in water to make sure they're sterile too.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Baked potatoes Mexi style

Monthly Mingle: Mexican Fiesta is my first blog 'event', quite exciting!  I was playing around on the net last night and bookmarked a few Mexican recipes that sounded good - ceviche filled avocados, Mexican layered dip, spicy fish tacos....among others.  I was discussing what I might make with my partner and as soon as I got to Mexican baked potatoes he was all like "yes, yes I want those!".  I didn't even get to read the rest!  Poor boy doesn't get many potato dishes - I grew up in a traditional 'meat and three vege' house where potatoes were on the menu EVERY night.  Yes, even if we were having pasta!  You can understand why i'd rather have kumera or pumpkin when a starchy vegetable is required!  Plus I find these two a lot more interesting flavour-wise.  

Anyway, since I discovered THE BEST way to bake potatoes we've been having them occasionally - especially since, with a tin of beans or tuna it's a meal MD can make easily if he's on dinner duties. Don't worry about the amount of salt you coat the potatoes with - you won't be eating it as it gets brushed off later. Coating the potatoes like this helps to draw the moisture from them giving a fluffy dry inside...mmmmm......

I'm still working things out in blog-world, hence the full Reminder notice down below as I couldn't work out how to just include the Monthly Mingle badge! 

Mexican baked potatoes 

1-2 large floury potatoes per person (I use Agria)
Rock or sea salt
1 tin of chilli beans (make your own if you have time!)
1 grated carrot
1/2 c frozen corn, defrosted under running water
1 chopped red onion
10 button or swiss brown mushrooms
Plain unsweetened yoghurt, avocado and grated cheese for topping

1.  Scrub the potatoes under warm water until they are clean then pierce several times with a sharp knife.  Place salt in a bowl (if you're using rock salt bash it up a bit first in a mortar and pestle).  Roll the potatoes in the salt, coating them all over. 
2.  Place the potatoes on a rack in the oven.  Place a baking tray on the rack below to catch any salt. Bake at 180 degrees (350 F) for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, turning once.
3.  Heat the chilli beans with the grated carrot and corn in a saucepan until hot.
4.  Fry the red onion and mushroom in a pan until the mushrooms are cooked.
5.  When the potatoes are ready (use the full 1 1/4 hours for large ones) remove from the oven and brush the salt off.  Split open and fill with the chilli bean mixture, top with the mushrooms then add your desired toppings.
Enjoy with a green salad.

Serves 2-3


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Zucchini pickle - summer in a jar!

Zucchini are on my must-grow list every summer - they're easy and prolific and can be used in sooooo many ways.  There's only so much zucchini one can eat before being completely sick of them.  That's when I
 get out my jars and make pickles - great over the winter and spring in many dishes, my favourite is mixed with leftover rice, salad leaves, a tin of sardines or tuna, parsley and a squirt of BBQ sauce, mmmmm!  You can also use in sandwiches, salads, on crackers.....

I have about 30 jars of pickles in my cupboard from the summer just gone and it did get to the stage where I was sick of making pick
les or relish (recipe another day!) every coup
le of days and resorted to grating and freezin
g in small portions.

Zucchini pickle

5 large zucchini or 10-15 small ones (a mix of yellow and green looks nice)
2-3 finely chopped onions
1/2 c salt
3 1/2 c white vinegar
750g sugar
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp celery seeds
1-2 tsp turmeric

1.  Cut zucchini into slices, the halve or quarter if large.  Place in a non-metallic bowl with onions, salt and 1 litre of cold water to cover.  Stand 3 hours then drain.
2.  Combine white vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and turmeric.  Bring to the boil then add the drained vegetables.  Bring back to boiling point but do not boil.
3. Remove from heat, pour into sterilised jars (wash then dry in a low oven for 20 minutes) and seal.

You can substitute cucumber for the zucchini, but it's not quite as nice!

Adapted from: Jill Brewis 'In a Pickle'

Monday, July 6, 2009

My favourite breaky!

I love breakfast!  It's probably my favourite meal of the day.  

Three mornings a week I run and, as it's the middle of winter over here at the moment, my runs are at 5:30 in the morning in the dark and cold!  What gets me through the last few k's is the thought of a HUGE bowl of porridge and the morning paper! Bliss.

Porridge with a twist

Ingredients for one:
1/4 c oats (I use a mixture of rolled and whole)
1/2 a pre-frozen banana 
1 T mixed seeds (I use linseed, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame), ground
1 tsp honey
sprinkle of cinnamon
Yoghurt, milk and berries to serve

1.  Place oats in a small saucepan with the banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Add water to cover plus a little extra (I leave mine here to take my run so the banana has time to defrost a bit).
2.  Cook over low heat around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the banana is soft and the oats cooked.  Add the honey and stir until dissolved.
3.  Remove from the heat and stir in the ground seeds.  Pour into a bowl and top with berries, yoghurt and milk.
Enjoy with the morning paper!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Travel, babies and a vegan-friendly frozen treat

Well it's been an exciting few days!  We booked our flights to Spain on Tuesday - was a tense few hours waiting while M got his leave approved hoping that the cheap seats didn't disappear!  It all worked out though and we fly into Barcelona early Sept, pick up our camper and head over to France for a France/Spain/Portugal (and Morocco if time) surf trip!  Soooooo excited, been on my list of things to do for the last 10 or so years, a pre-baby must!!  Looking forward to sampling all the great food the area has on offer.....mmmmmmmmm...........

The next morning I got a phone call to say my sister was going into labour, which would be great except the baby wasn't due until September! I couldn't concentrate on work and decided to drive the 5 hours to be there just in case....  Anyway, she had already had my new niece Luka, by the time I got there, and despite Luka having to stay in an incubator for the next 8 weeks all is well.

Which brings me to the last bit of my post.  I have a vegan friend coming for the weekend.  Not such a biggie as we are vegetarian/fish only anyway.  But will have to remember no dairy, eggs or honey!  Thought I would make some coconut sorbet to have for dessert with fruit.  Only 3 ingredients and very easy!

Coconut sorbet
1.  Place a tin of coconut milk (I use lite), 1/2 c dessicated coconut and 1/2 c white sugar in a saucepan.
2.  Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  
3.  Remove from the heat.  Cool, then place in fridge overnight or until very cold.  Churn in an ice-cream maker.