Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stuffed Zucchini

So we grew up on stuffed zucchini...whenever one got away on the plant and came into the kitchen with tough skin and big seeds, Mum would stuff it with mince and cheese...YUM!
Being that I am a mostly vegetarian now, and we have a garden that also grows zucchinis of size, I needed to come up with a new stuffing plan.
Upon return recently there were a couple of large yellow zucchinis in the garden that my husband was particularly proud of!

Zucchinis first must be gutted - remove the seeds!
I remove the seeds after cutting the zucchini in half long ways (again, apologies for the strange angle of the image, I still can't figure out why it does that!).
I then made a rice, tomato mixture which involved sauteeing off some leeks from the garden, a cup of rice, a handful of chopped fresh tomatoes, a big handful of parsley and one and a half cups of water or stock - salt and pepper. I cooked this through, using the absorption method.
I then added it to the zucchini.
The next bit involves cooking the zucchini.
So I place the two halves together and wrap them in foil and placed them in a large baking dish.

This is then baked at about 180 degrees for 25-40 minutes, depending on the size and bulkiness of the zucchini. You want it to be soft in the middle.

The finished product was delicious and served with a garden salad (literally from the garden!), with lettuce, spinach, sorrel, radish, cucumber and celery.
You definitely don't want to eat the skin, but the flesh of the zucchini is melt in the mouth delicious!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tomato Tart

Well, I just thought this particular recipe was the most delicious thing I had eaten in a while and had to share it...whilst on the tomato rampage!
Soooo simple really!
I made a simple shortcrust spelt pastry (2:1 flour and butter - of course I use nuttelex) and blind baked it.
It is important to blind bake it well because otherwise the tomato juices leak out!
Of course you can use bought pastry - the gluten free pastries are not too bad!
Slice up some beautifully ripe tomatoes (in our case they were just picked off the vine that morning) grab a tub of bocconcini...and layer (tearing the bocconcini is the best fun)!
Bake in the oven until the cheese has melted and it is warmed through (between 20 min and 1/2 hour).
Serve with lashings of fresh basil and ground black pepper and devour!
Seriously, incredible!
We didn't even add anything else to the plate on this occasion, just ate the tart!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dried tomatoes

We are still dealing with the tomato glut so the other day I decided to dust off the food dehydrator my friend gave me and give it a go.
I sliced the tomatoes as you would to go on a sandwich and placed them in the dehydrator. It took about 8 hours all up.
I then drowned them in canola oil and put them in the fridge.
They are an AMAZING addition to a cheese platter, so much sweeter than the shop bought ones!
One day when I get some time I am going to make a sun dryer because I was very conscious of the power the dehydrator uses and am not sure how 'environmentally sustainable it is'...in the meantime, I keep the drying to a minimum and we enjoy the tomatoes in moderation!
Sorry about the angle...these are the dried tomatoes in canola oil! YUM

Monday, December 20, 2010

Not quite a Risotto, not quite a Pilaf

I was trying to figure things to do with my beautiful tomatoey puree but couldn't be bothered standing by the stove and cooking for ages (yes, it does even sometimes to people who like cooking!). I wanted rice, so thought I would make an oven baked rice dish. I haven't read a recipe for it before but I did recall a colleague of mine years ago making me a baked tomatoe (tinned) and zucchini rice dish way back when (in Coonamble actually, when I was doing a stint working there in the arts!)... I digress.
So..I have tomatoes and zucchinis fresh in the garden...it should be good!
Our leeks are also particularly lovely at the moment, they are just starting to get a bit of size about them and are still nice and sweet, so I cut one of those up for some extra flavour. I browned them off in a little olive oil so they were wilted and had releaed their pungent aroma.
Next I chopped a few small yellow and green zucchinis. I didn't even bother browning them off because they already looked gorgeous and I thought they might lose some of their integrity with extra cooking.
I added the leeks, the zucchinis and one and a half cups of rice to a baking dish. I added two tablespoons of my home made tomatoe puree and then added 3 cups of water to it and stirred it around some. I also added a little thyme and oregano for additional flavour.

Just before the cook off!
I covered the baking dish (which I might add I have owned since I left home in 1996!) and cooked for about 30-45 minutes in a moderate oven.
The finished result was light and fluffy!
The dish is done!
To garnish I added some basil leaves at the end, just wilting with the heat of the rice and lightly pan fried home grown eggplant (aubergine) which is DIVINE...and I cannot tell you how much more I LOVE eggplant than ever before!!!!
I also added some home made fetta cheese and a few drops of the tomatoe puree for colour and extra tartness.
For a boring throw together, I don't want to cook dinner dish, this is definately a winner!
It tasted even better the next day for lunch!

Tomato on Foodista

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tomatoes galore

We have tomatoes going rotten on the ground we have so many, or we don't get to them quick enough to beat the little fruit fly (damn it!)...but I have been doing some really gorgeous things with them recently - I will have a few posts on tomatoes!
First, the best thing to do with abundant tomatoes, like those below (one pick mind you!) is to turn them into a concentrated puree. I decided to attempt to make my own tomato paste.
Incredible vivid red tomatoes with an even more rich flavour!
First I chopped up the tomaotes into rough quarters (ensuring that I threw away any that had grubs in them...a very disappointing process some days :()
Cut up and ready to go in the blender!
Then they are tumbled into the food processor and blitz to within an inch of their life. All you are left with is a runny tomatoe soup.
At this point you could turn it into gazpacho if you like, though I am not fond of cold soup, so haven't yet!
I then add the puree mixture to a pot and simmer on a low heat for about 40 - 60 minutes until it is thick and most of the liquid has been evaporated or absorbed. What you are left with is mainly seeds, but the heady tomatoe flavour of this delightful brew is incredible!
Soooo much better than any shop bought tomaote puree you could imagine!
I rather like this arty shot!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rain brings abundance

The rain in our region is continuous and has been devastating for people who have been unable to harvest their wheat crops. I really feel for these farmers who, after surviving 10 years of drought were super excited about a bumper crop...and not it is sodden and lying flat in the paddock.
For us the rain has brought green to our life, which you have to be grateful for, particularly in this dry part of the planet!
Our veggie patch continues to produce gorgeous quality produce and despite a bit of white mouldy stuff on the zucchinis and cucumbers, which makes the fruit drop off or rot at the flower end, everything is growing incredibly - we haven't even watered for a week, which is FUN!
Incidently, I got a great tip for the white mouldy stuff on the zucchini in the supermarket yesterday (another local veg garden fanatic!) - take off the affected leaves and spray what is left with milk that has been left to sour. She said to make sure you get the affected leaves out of the garden as it spreads like crazy! I took all the leaves off yesterday afternoon and plan on souring some milk today to spray this afternoon, will let you know how it goes!

I thought I would share our December 1 haul with you, this will set your tastebuds up nicely for the goodies to come out of this delicious abundance!
December 1 veg haul - a small pick!
The first thing I did was roast the root veg, the last of the swedes and a couple of golden beetroot (hubby's fav) and enjoyed them with a delightful quinoa and zucchini slice (recipe to come!).

The last of the swedes were roasted perfectly!
In truth the swedes were a little chewy, I suspect we left them a little long (they were flowering when I picked them!), but the beetroot was, as always, to die for...sweet and earthy and moorish!
Have a wonderful day, whatever it brings!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The last of the mulberries

It has been an age since I wrote, mainly due to the fact that I have been on the road consuming only things that other people have cooked for me.
I have to say that this last trip (15 days) away was the best I have had in regards to my health, I had only two minor minor stomach incidents! I  suspect that my acupuncture master and the nuferm that I take are certainly doing their trick, that and I am getting much better at having emergency food in my handbag and am forcing myself to stop and eat!
Anyway, thought I would share a DELICIOUS mulberry treat with you, since the tree is now bare and the only delightful flavour packed treats we have left are in the freezer, waiting for one of those miserable winter days when you long for the taste of spring!

This mulberry smoothie not only tasted amazing (would have been heaps better if I had bothered to take the stalks out of the mulberries!) but was really good for me too!

Mulberry Smoothie
500 ml organic soy milk (or whatever milk you like)
1/2 cup mulberries ( you can substitute for any fruit you like or have handy!)
2-4 tbs plain yoghurt (home made in my case..YUM)
1tsp chia seeds
1tsp Nuferm Plus (high probiotic superfood stuff...GREAT).
1 tsp honey (I am using this incredible honey we found on the great ocean road it is RARE VEDIC ORGANIC HONEY and is raw, pure, unheated and untreated, you have never tasted honey like it!)
Handful of ice
Sometimes I even throw in a handful of muesli for extra crunch and carbohydrate!

Blitz together and enjoy as a fulfilling, satisfying and out the door quick breakfast!