Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Summer Rice with Basil

I have adapted this recipe from Jill Dupleix in Good Cooking the New Essentials. We probably have it once a week in summer, often with barbecued lamb chops or spicy lamb kebabs on the side.

an onion or leek, finely sliced (whatever is in the garden and ready)
1tbsp butter
1tbsp olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup diced ripe tomatoes (often halved cherry tomatoes)
1 cup diced small zucchini
salt and pepper to taste
handful basil leaves, ripped
fresh parmesan
(sometimes a handful of pinenuts to finish it off)

Gently fry off leek in butter and oil in a heavy based pan. Add rice and stir until coated and hot. Pour in the wine and stir until almost absorbed. Add a little stock at a time and continue stirring on and off (as you would for any risotto). Add zucchini about half way through and a minute before the end the tomato. When just cooked (just a little bite to the rice) stir through a handful of parmesan and the basil. Cover and sit for a couple of minutes. Serve with a light sprinkle of extra cheese, basil and some pinenuts.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Roast Cherry Tomato Spaghetti

Cherry tomatoes are winners for many reasons. They can be grown in all gardens as there are many that are suited to pots. They tend to be the first to fruit and in my experience continue right through to the first frost (although they do look a bit straggly by then). Little monsters love to eat them as they play outside.

This pasta is simple but ultra delicious and quick to make when you are pressed for time. A great weekend lunch or dinner and perfect with a rocket salad on the side.

500g cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
pinch of chilli flakes (to taste)
good spalsh olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper
500g spagetti
fresh basil

Preheat oven to 200*. In a roasting pan mix together the cherry tomatoes, garlic, chilli, oil, and vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes or so until soft. Meanwhile cook spaghetti according to directions, drain well and return to warm pot. Pour over cherry tomato mixture and toss well. Sprinkle with basil and season again if necessary.

Some cherry tomatoes washed and ready to go. I am trying freezing cherry tomatoes after reading a post In My Kitchen Garden. Hopefully they will freshen up winter pastas.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tomato Sauce for Pasta

Last year I discovered a great fresh tomato sauce recipe in Stephanie Alexander's The Cooks Companion. I have adapted it a little to suit me. I make 2kg batches at a time and freeze it 250ml and 500ml containers for use later in the year. It is perfect with gnocchi or cannelloni and makes a great soup if you add a cup of homemade chicken stock and some nice sourdough bread ripped up. Also perfect for little monsters who like plain pasta with tomato sauce.

2kg ripe tomatoes, quartered
4 onions, sliced
8 cloves garlic, sliced
good splash of olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh oregano
fresh basil

In a large roasting dish tumble tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, salt pepper and olive oil together well. Cover tightly and roast for about 2 hours on 180* or until tomatoes have collapsed and onions look soft. Pour into a large pot and gently puree with a hand blender- don't overdo it or the sauce will lose it's texture. Mix through some finely chopped basil and check seasoning for taste.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Finally a Successful Tomato Season

I am really pleased with how the tomatoes have grown this year. I put a lot of effort into a new area for them and have grown them along a bit of ringlock fence. Everyday for the first couple of months they were in I went out and helped weave them in and out through the wire to help support them and as they grew wider I used old stocking to tie them up. The one thing I would do differently for next year is more pruning- I think you need to be a little ruthless with the pruning as they grow.

I seem to be picking about 2kg of tomatoes a day, lots of cherry ones, heaps of tigerella and black Russian and a few huge (up to 400g each) grosse lisse. I pick them just as they start to turn and bring them into the kitchen to finish off, otherwise bugs seem to get to them.

I am going to try and share a great tomato recipe each day this week starting with a classic Australian Tomato Sauce today.

Last year I stumbled across a couple of packets of Saucestta produced by Fowler's Vacola and snapped them up as I have several old Flowler's Vacola bottling books that often mention Saucesetta in old recipes. I decided to make the tomato sauce recipe which is on the back of the packet and in the lastest Vacola book Secrets of Successful Preserving. I was a bit nervous as when you open the saucesetta it is a funny smelling powdery substance with no specific ingredients on the packet- but somehow the tomato sauce actually turned out quite well. Lyssie liked it which is a bonus as she likes dipping things- maybe it will assist with vegetable eating!

Tomato Sauce

3kg tomatoes, chopped
3 large onions, chopped
1.5 kg apples, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp Saucesetta
4 1/4 cups white vinegar

Place all ingedients in a large stock pot and stir well. bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for an hour and a half. Push through a sieve, return to the pan and simmer again until the desired consistency is reached. Bottle and process. This amount made exactly 7 size 20 bottles.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Nigella's Pancake Mix

A few weeks ago I was watching Nigella's Express program on the ABC and saw where she had made her own pancake mix that you just add egg, milk and a little melted butter to. I was quite taken by the idea and after a quick search on the web I found the exact recipe here. Lyssie and I made some (she is a big fan) and they work well as piklets or pancakes, so they make an easy Sunday breakfast or a quick morning tea for the hungry two year olds, also a great birthday present for hungry blokes who claim they can't cook!

Thursday, February 5, 2009


We have been back from a week in Albany for nearly a week now- Gemma reminded me it was about time I updated my blog. It is nice to be back home and get back into routine. Things are much more manageable when the monsters sleep at the right times!

Some pics of the girls in the park at Denmark.

The bounty I returned home to! Finally some tomatoes and eggplant. I will try to do a garden update this weekend as there is lots going on.