Tag Archives: vegetables

slow-cooked vegetable curry with little lamb meatballs

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This one couldn’t be easier (& it helped to slightly reduce our pumpkin supply).

Halve and slice one brown onion & start it cooking gently in a few Tblsp of olive oil. Finely slice & chop a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger & add to the pan along with 4-5 finely sliced cloves of garlic. (We’ve just planted our garlic – 2 & 1/2 of our 2-m long raised beds. Should be a great crop.)ย  Continue to cook until the onion is softening & turning translucent, then add 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp ground cumin, as much chili as takes your fancy (I used 1/4 tsp) and 1/2 tsp salt). Cook a little longer, stirring, until the mix is fragrant, and then tip it into the bowl of your slow-cooker where you have already placed

1 butternut squash, peeled & de-seeded & cut into 2cm chunks; 3 medium potatoes, cut into 2cm chunks; a couple of red peppers, cut into strips; and a can of drained chickpeas – or, in my case, cannellini beans on account of I didn’t check the label before opening the can. Add 5oo mL of chicken stock, cover, & leave to cook on a low setting for about 5 hours.

At this point I tasted the curry & decided that although it smelled great it needed coconut; with no little cans of coconut milk in the pantry I added a couple of Tblsp of desiccated coconut instead ๐Ÿ™‚ Plus 3 Tblsp of tomato paste to thicken the mix. Pretty much anything goes in this recipe! (If we hadn’t eaten a lot of spinach the previous night – spinach galettes with tomato passata – I’d have sliced some thinly & added towards the end of the cooking time.)

Stir everything well and then add your meatballs. I used a cup of nice soft fresh breadcrumbs from yesterday’s loaf of beer bread, & added 1 egg, 2 Tblsp of finely chopped fresh mint, 2 tsp of garam masala, 1 Tblsp dark soy sauce & 300g of lamb mince. Mix this together really, really well & shape into small balls about the size of a walnut. They’ll be quite soft. Place them carefully in the curry & leave everything for another hour or so until the meatballs are cooked through.

You could serve with rice but we ate it on its own, with a little chopped fresh coriander sprinkled on top.

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beef cheeks (& even the doubter liked them)

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Well, this has been a rather occasional diary lately, hasn’t it? It’s not that I’ve not been cooking, but rather than I’ve had so much else on my (metaphorical) plate that this blog slipped to the back. But anyway, here we are again ๐Ÿ™‚

A few days ago I called into a new butcher’s shop on the way home (‘new’ in the sense ofย  ‘new to me’; they’ve been there fora while but I’ve never stopped before). Into my basket went lamb sausages, a couple of nice bones for the dog, and 6 beef cheeks. I’d not cooked this particular cut before I thought I’d experiment.

So yesterday morning I turned on the slow cooker & got to work. First up, & sliced & gently fried 2 medium-sized brown onions in a bit of olive oil – I know most slow cooker recipes say to just put them in the pot, but I’ve found the flavours are better if the onions are at least partly-cooked before they go in there. Dunno why. After about 5 minutes I added 6 big cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced, and gave them all another 5 minutes in the pan.

At about the same time I put a cup of dried mushrooms – several different kinds – into a bowl & covered them with boiling water.

The onions & garlic went into the bottom of the slow cooker dish. I put a bit more oil into my frying pan, coated the beef cheeks in cornmeal, and browned each in turn before arranging them on top of the onions. A couple of largish carrots, peeled & diced, joined the meat, & I tucked 3 bay leaves in among them. (One of the things I love about our current house is that all my herbs are in the garden, or in pots, in the courtyard – just a few steps from the kitchen.)

Then I opened a bottle of pinot noir & used a cup of that to deglaze the pan. (My brother – the one that does a lot of cooking – would say that at this point I should have made personal inroads on the remaining wine, but I’ll confess to not particularly liking reds.) I added the leaves from several sprigs of thyme, 500 mL of beef stock, the rehydrated mushrooms (having cut the big ones into smaller pieces), and some of the water from the mushrooms, & brought all that to the simmer before pouring it over the meat & veges in the slow cooker. And left it all to cook on ‘low’ for 8 hours – I turned the meat occasionally but it could have been left entirely to its own devices. By the end of that time it smelled divine & the sauce/gravy was delicious ๐Ÿ˜€

We’d invited friends to dinner (one of whom loves beef cheeks, but the other was decidedly suspicious). To accompany the casserole, we had beans (frozen in the summer when we had a distinct surplus), roast butternut pumpkin (also from the garden) & baked potatoes, based on a Gordon Ramsay recipe I saw on TV recently.

For this, I used 3 large Agria spuds – they are yellow & floury & wonderful when baked. They needed an hour at 180 C. About 15 minutes before the potatoes were done, I finely shredded 1/4 of a drumhead cabbage and cooked it gently in a little butter until it was tender. Then I cut each spud in half lengthways & carefully scooped out the flesh into a bowl, arranging the skins in a baking dish. I mashed the flesh with a little butter & a couple of tablespoons of sour cream, seasoned it with salt & ground black pepper, and then mixed in the cabbage. And then mixed in about 75g of crumbled blue vein cheese – it really lifted the dish out of the ordinary – before popping back in the oven to heat through.

That was such a nice meal – & I think the doubter is converted.

zucchini timbales & tomato coulis

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Last night we had some good friends to dinner. The main course was garlic & sweet chilli prawns, but on casting about for an entrรฉe I decided on this zucchini dish. Mainly because we have zucchinis in the garden, & with this vegetable it seems you have either a glut or a famine. I’ve had the recipe for years but haven’t made it a lot in recent times; it’s from an old edition of the Australian Women’s Weekly microwave cookbook (we’re talking the 1980s here ๐Ÿ˜€ ).

The timbales: first, puree 8 small zucchini in a blender – you could equally well grate them; I’ve done it both ways & both work just fine. Cook the result in the microwave on ‘high’ for 5 minutes & then squeeze out as much of the moisture as you can.

Put the squeezed veges in a bowl & mix in a 250g tub of sour cream (‘lite’, if you insist, a pinch of salt, as much chopped basil as you like (the recipe says 2 Tblsp but I like more than that), 2 Tblsp grated parmesan, & 4 eggs.

Divide the mix between 6 1/2 c moulds (I love my silicone ones; if you are using another kind remember to grease them well) & cook in the microwave for around 7 minutes on med-high – check occasionally. You want them firm in the middle. (They could also be done standing in a dish of water in a moderate oven.)

The coulis: peel & chop 4 medium tomatoes & put in a bowl with a clove or more (I used more as garlic is something we also have a lot of & we all like it) & 2-3 Tblsp tomato paste. Cover & cook on high for 3-4 minutes, then blend to a puree.

Unmould the timbales onto serving plates & serve with some of the tomato sauce on the side. This is a lovely, light, summery entrรฉe ๐Ÿ™‚

macaroni with broccoli pesto

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We had my mother-in-law to tea last night & I wanted to make something a bit different that would tickle her taste buds. Looking in the fridge I found we had quite a lot of broccoli (the result of me buying some at the market before I found the first big head of the season growing in the garden). And in the cupboard we had dried macaroni, so I decided to make a variation on a recipe in the Saturday paper. (A variation that was necessary because I didn’t have basil & I didn’t have pine nuts & I didn’t have the fancy pasta, just the macaroni ๐Ÿ™‚ )

First I set water to boil in a large saucepan, prior to adding the macaroni (about 1&1/2 cups). Then I cut a large head of broccoli into florets before cooking them until just tender. The recipe said just to blanch the veges, but Mum is not a fan of crispy greens unless we are talking lettuce.)

While the broccoli cooked I pulsed 1/2 walnut halves (I know you don’t like them, Annette, but you could use cashews instead – or the original pine nuts!) in my stick blender’s chopping attachment until they were like largeish breadcrumbs, put them in a bowl, & chopped a cup or so of basil mint leaves (new addition to my herb garden & it’s a very vigorous grower) before adding them to the bowl as well. Then I did the same with the broccoli, until it was a rough paste, & added it to the bowl with 1/2c olive oil & a good grinding of salt & pepper.

By that time the pasta was nicely al dente, so I drained it & returned it to the pan along with the broccoli pesto, mixed it all together, & served with grated parmesan atop and alongside some carrots & nice crumbed pork schnitzel.

Mum was very taken with this offering ๐Ÿ˜€

carrot soup – with a twist

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Yesterday, when I did the grocery shopping, I bought a little bottle of star anise. (I love aniseed. When I was little, aniseed balls were one of my favourite sweets; they used to be 8 for a penny at Mr Montgomery’s dairy. The fact that NZ has had decimal currency since 1967 tells you that I was little a loooong time ago ๐Ÿ™‚ ) I bought it, because I wanted to see if I could recreate the lovely soup we had for dinner at Scotts Epicurean, the previous week. And I had a go for today’s lunch.

First, I melted 25 g of butter in a large saucepan, before adding a finely-sliced brown onion & a minced clove of garlic & setting them to cook gently. On top went 2 medium potatoes, cut into small dice (I don’t usually bother peeling spuds if they’re going into soup; I just give them a good scrub). Once the onion was becoming translucent I added 6 peeled carrots, sliced about 5 mm thick, 2 star anise, and 1 L of chicken stock. Then I covered the pan & left everything to simmer very gently while I took the dog for a walk.

When we got back I put some scuffins in the oven, then pureed the soup with my trusty stick blender & served it – once the scuffins were cooked, with a spoonful of sour cream in each bowl. (It’s on Scotts’ brunch menu with creme fraiche, but I didn’t have any.)

Success! The husband said, this tastes just like what we had at Scotts the other night ๐Ÿ˜€

pumpkins – stuffed & in pie

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While the husband & I are both really fond of pumpkin, we don’t want to eat it the same way all the time ๐Ÿ™‚ The mini-pumpkins are just the right size for 1-2 people (well, some of them are – others would do for 4 & have some left over), so one night I decided to stuff them. This is probably the cheat’s way to do it ๐Ÿ˜€

All I did was cut out a ‘plug’ around the stump of the stem – this would act as the lid – and then used a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Then I got a packet of Uncle Ben’s savoury rice out of the pantry & used some of that, mixed with a little crumbled feta, to pack the cavity in the pumpkin before adding a couple of Tblsp of water and replacing the lid. (The rest I cooked & served as a side dish for the benefit of the daughter, who professes not to like this particular cucurbit fruit.) And then it went in the oven for 30-40 minutes at 180 C. Couldn’t be simpler, & tasted wonderful.

And for another option – well, my science blog-buddy Darcy has shared his favourite pumpkin pie recipe:

500g pumpkin (cooked)
3/4C sugar
1tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp ginger
3 eggs lightly beaten
150mL evaporated milk.

Mash pumpkin and blend ingredients together. Pour into pie dish lined with sweet short crust pastry (We usually get the pre-rolled stuff from the supermarket โ€“ much easier to work with). Bake @ 180C for 25 min or till skewer comes out clean.

Eat hot or cold with whipped cream โ€“ I prefer cold, straight from the fridge.

I usually do double the mix so I donโ€™t have half a can of evaporated milk lying around.

I’ve yet to try this one – but we’ll see what the next lot of dinner guests think ๐Ÿ™‚

And then of course there will be pumpkin curry, & pumpkin soup… And I’ve got a rather nice recipe for pumpkin bread too!

a couple of dips

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When catering for the daughter’s birthday party, one of the things I made was a gloriously pink beetroot dip. One of her friends was asking about recently & so I thought I’d share it here, along with the yummy bean dip we had as a starter the other night.

Beetroot dip: drain a 480 g can of beetroot (sliced, chunks, baby; it doesn’t matter) & put it in a blender along with a 250 g tub of sour cream, and 1 tsp ground cumin. Blend till smooth & season to taste. For the party I served it with chips made from gluten-free wraps, as two of the guests are coeliac. (Which reminds me – until recently it’s been quite hard to get gluten-free spices. I was flabberghasted to find, on reading the labels, that many of them contained gluten. Presumably as a filler?)

Zesty red bean dip: this one’s from the wonderfulย Ultimate Vegetarian Cookbook, by Alison & Simon Holst.ย Put a clove (or more – I inclined to more ๐Ÿ˜› ) of garlic into your trusty blender, along with 1/2 c roughly chopped parsley, 2 Tbl coriander leaves & stems (ditto), 2 Tbl olive oil, 2 tsp lime or lemon juice, & either 2-3 spring onions (cut into 2cm lengths) or a small red onion (also roughly chopped. Blend until smooth. Then drain a 480 g can of red kidney beans, keeping the liquid, & add the beans to the blender before processing everything until smooth & well blended. You can add some of the bean liquid if the mix is too thick. Taste it & adjust the seasoning – the Holsts suggest adding some sour cream if the flavours are a bit sharp, but I didn’t find I needed to.

Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚