Showing posts with label garden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label garden. Show all posts

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Comfort Food - Traffic Light Soup

Last weekend was spent raiding family members' gardens for herbs. Well, technically, we were visiting family, but as a happy offshoot of these visits, I came home with a nice swag of chillis, parsley, spring onions, basil, thyme and oregano. The basil, thyme and oregano was stored in the one bag and when I opened it up it smelt like pasta. Or pizza. It was crying out for tomatoes and garlic. I thought it only fair that I complied.

Sitting at work, looking out the window, the sky got steadily greyer, and heavier, and wetter. Summer is officially over, with this storm and the temperatures dropping. Ok, so it's still not super cold, but it's cooler. And it's been a while since we've had such snuggle-worthy, soup and bread weather. So I decided to just go with it. A steaming bowl of hot soup and some crunchy pizza bread to dip into it. Some of the positive aspects of winter! My husband isn't the hugest fan of "just" tomato soup, so as I drove home in the rain, I contemplated what I should add. Sitting at the lights and going through the vegetables I had at home, I decided to go with those colours. Red, orange and green. I know, I know, kinda lame. But it turned out delicious! Red tomatoes and chilli, orange pumpkin, sweet potato and carrots and lots and lots of green herbs.

I then followed through again with the garnish. Red bacon bits, orange soup and green parsley. I already had some cooked bacon bits in the fridge, but if you don't, dice up some bacon very finely, then fry for a few minutes until crispy.

Technically, a roast vegetable soup - but I'm calling it Traffic Light Soup.

Traffic Light Soup
1 medium butternut pumpkin
2 medium sweet potatoes
4 small carrots
2 tbsp olive oil
a few sprigs of thyme
4 ripe tomatoes
2 cans diced tomato
big handful basil
big handful oregano
salt & pepper
1 brown onion
1 red chilli
4 cloves garlic
5 cans of water/stock
cream (or sour cream)
bacon bits

Preheat oven to 180C

Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Lightly oil and place cut side down on baking tray, with a thyme sprig in the cavity. Slice the sweet potatoes and carrots in half length-wise, lightly oil and sprinkle in thyme leaves. Roast for 40 minutes or so until soft.

Mix the chopped herbs, salt, pepper into the tinned tomatoes, put in an oven proof dish and add the fresh tomatoes on top. Roast for 30 minutes or so, until the whole tomatoes fall apart when you touch them.

About 10 minutes before the vegetables are done roasting, saute the onion, chilli and garlic in a tbsp or so of olive oil until translucent. Fill the tomato cans with water to rinse out and add the liquid to the pot. All up I used 5 cans of liquid (3 water, 2 stock). Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer. Take the vegetables out of the oven. Add the tomatoes (carefully!!) into the pot. Allow the pumpkin and sweet potato to cool slightly, then skin and tip into the pot as well, along with the carrots. Stir it all around, then whizz it up until smooth with a stick blender. This can also be done in batches in a normal blender. Check for seasoning.

Swirl some cream over the top, sprinkle on some bacon bits and parsley.

Serve with your favourite bread. This pizza bread is just Lebanese loaves, garlic olive oil, parsley and parmesan, chucked in the oven for a few minutes.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Breakfast Love - Greek Yoghurt and Coconut Souffle

I love breakfast. It's my favourite meal of the day. Maybe the bacon love has contributed to it's special place in my heart, I'm not sure. All I know is that I love breakfast. In fact, before my husband and I started dating, I gave him a little disclaimer that if we were a couple, we'd probably have to go on a few breakfast dates, even though he rarely ate breakfast back then. We now have our own favourite breakfast cafe. On weekdays, my breakfast is fairly steady - oats, greek yoghurt, some form of fruit. Simple, nutritious and yum. I'm not one of those people that get bored eating the same breakfast every day. However, that is "work day" food, so I don't want to eat the same thing on the weekend. I feel like I need something different to celebrate the fact that it's my time. I'm a bit weird like that.

I spied this recipe for Greek Yoghurt Souffle on pinterest the other day and was intrigued. I've never attempted a souffle before. To me, they are one of those mysterious things that are notoriously temperamental and therefore 'to be avoided'. I've seen many a breakdown in pop culture related purely to souffles that did not rise. But this one seemed relatively easy, and it was made with Greek Yoghurt - a favourite of mine...maybe it was time to give it a shot?

You may recall a previous post about how I'm not a gardener? Well, that doesn't matter to our mango tree, which decided to produce a fair amount of fruit this year. Walking into the kitchen to the beautiful summery smell of fresh mangoes told me that this was the perfect day for trying a light souffle. I replaced the normal flour for coconut flour to continue the tropical flavours, and added shredded coconut to the fruit salad. It didn't rise quite as much as it should have, and flattened quickly, but it tasted amazing. Next time I'd maybe make 4 larger ones, rather than 6 smaller ones to rise more and make it look more impressive!

And if, like me, you decide to make breakfast for someone special, this is perfect for breakfast in bed. It can all be eaten with a spoon, no messy cutting like eggs, bacon and toast have. The do go flat really, really quickly though - so serve them up straight away!

Greek Yoghurt and Coconut Souffle
1 cup Greek Yoghurt
3 large eggs, separated
3 tbsps coconut flour
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
pinch cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar
butter/extra sugar to line ramekins

Preheat oven to 180C (the original recipe called for bottom heating only - who am I to argue)
Butter, then sugar the ramekins, tapping out the excess sugar. Line them up on a baking tray to make it easier to put in the oven.
Whisk yoghurt, yolks, coconut flour, salt and vanilla together in a large bowl
In a separate bowl, beat the whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Slowly add the sugar and keep beating until firm soft peaks form.
Slowly fold the egg white mix into the yoghurt mix, a little at a time. Make sure you fold it carefully to keep the air in the egg whites.
Divide into the ramekins, then put them in the oven for around 15minutes until risen and lightly browned.

Serve with your favourite fruit!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Gardening and Grape Sorbet

I’m not a gardener. At all. To me, gardening is a chore, like cleaning. The only things in our garden that get looked after are the edible things – and even then it’s only a water here and there. When we bought our house, it came with an established mandarin and orange tree, a grape vine, and a mint shrub. Our first summer in the house, we discovered some cherry tomatoes must have self-sown and popped up down the back. I have grand plans to plant more of a vege and herb garden, but so far it has extended only to a jalapeno shrub, a few citrus trees and a few sickly looking herbs on my kitchen window sill. Eventually I will get the motivation, because there is nothing better than fresh herbs and they are so expensive to buy when you use them in the quantities I do. But in the meantime, I will continue to reap the benefits of someone else’s labour and use the abundance of mandarins, grapes and mint that grow in our backyard. (Stay tuned for my mojito cheesecake!)

That’s not to say I don’t like our garden, I love being outside. I have two favourite spots in our garden – a coffee table/bench set-up that we’ve affectionally named ‘date corner’. That’s where my husband and I have drinks and dinners outside to make it feel a bit more relaxed and un-windy and ‘special’ than having it where we do every other meal. And this grape vine gazebo, which we deck out for summer entertaining. In the heat of summer, it’s a good few degrees cooler than anywhere else shady in the yard and it’s just so darn laid back. At the moment we are LOADED with grapes. Thousands of them. It’s brilliant. My husband picks a big bowl full, blends them up and sieves them out to make the thickest, yummiest juice.

Reading through various food blogs the other day, I came across a recipe with grape sorbet on The First Mess, and thought I would steal some of the juice to make my own. (I say steal, because my husband doesn’t like sorbet). Our grapes are super sweet at the moment, so I’ve added a touch of lime juice from the original, and a little ground ginger, because I was in a gingery kinda mood. I’m currently loving eating a scoop of this with my breakfast on the weekends, or as dessert with a scoop of coconut ice cream. They pair beautifully.

Grape & Ginger Sorbet

2 cups grape juice
1 cup water
1 cup agave nectar
2 tbsps lime juice
½ teaspoon ginger powder

Put all ingredients in a large jug apart from lime juice and whisk like crazy to mix. Taste for sweetness, add lime juice if necessary

Place grape mixture into an ice cream machine and follow manufacturer’s instructions.