New Creation

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Our dinner last night was a previously untested creation.  GMan hailed it as a real success.  While there are recipes for Eggplant and Mushroom Stroganoff online, mine is a variation on the beef version I used to make a number of years ago.

Eggplant and Mushroom Stroganoff

1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 red capsicum, diced
1 medium eggplant, cubed
12 mushrooms, sliced
Olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
2 teaspoons beef stock powder
60ml Worcestershire sauce
125g ricotta cheese
500ml water
2 teaspoons arrowroot

Spread the cubed eggplant on a roasting pan, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Roast at 160C for about 15 minutes or until tender.

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Saute  onion and garlic in a frying pan.  Add capsicum, mushrooms and eggplant.  Add pepper, smoky paprika, beef stock powder, Worcestershire sauce and water.  Simmer gently for 10 minutes.  Add ricotta cheese stirring gently to combine.  Thicken with arrowroot blended with a little water.  Cook for a further 2 minutes.

Serve over pasta of your choice.

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NOTES:

I added some finely shredded bok choy which I lightly sauteed before stirring into the stroganoff immediately before serving.

The ricotta cheese was used because it was what I had on hand.  You could substitute cream or evaporated milk to create the creamy sauce.

I used gluten free penne pasta.  Rice would be a suitable alternative to pasta.

This made 2 generous servings.

 

Lemon Curd – My Way

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It is early winter where we live and that means we have citrus fruit in abundance.  The fruit on the Meyer lemon were ripe and we picked them all as this particular variety does not seem to hold well on the tree.

We gave away heaps as well as freezing some juice and using it generously in drinks and recipes.  GMan asked if I would make some lemon curd, also known as lemon butter.

Apart from wanting to use up some of the lemons, I was keen to find a reasonably ‘healthy’ version of this sweet treat.  So, I turned to the ever-useful Google.

This is an indication of the usual lemon butter offerings.

  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 125g butter

After a bit more research I found a recipe which seemed to align with my goals.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Juice of 2 large lemons
  • 4 tablespoons lemon zest

I was keen to try it but moderately sceptical as the proportions are vastly different.

The full recipe is here.  My slightly amended version is below.

First I collected the utensils I needed.  You can read more about my kitchen utensils here.

Low Fat Lemon Curd

Ingredients

2 large lemons, juiced
Lemon zest from 2 large lemons
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs

Grate the zest from the lemons and set aside.

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Juice the lemons.

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Place the strained juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat on low and stir until sugar has dissolved.

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Lightly beat the eggs in a medium bowl.

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Remove lemon syrup from heat and pour slowly into beaten eggs while stirring the mixture with a whisk. Continue to whisk by hand for one minute.

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Return mixture to saucepan; add lemon zest, and heat on low until it thickens―about two minutes.

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Allow to cool then refrigerate.
NOTE:
My concerns were realised as the mixture did not thicken as much as I would have liked.  So, I resorted to my back-up plan.
2 teaspoons arrowroot blended with a little water.
Gently reheat the lemon curd until it reaches boiling point the stir. Add the arrowroot mixture slowly and continue stirring constantly.  Cook for one minute.  Cool and refrigerate .
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This version of lemon curd does not have the smooth richness that additional eggs and butter creates but I am very happy with the result.  It is definitely worth trying if you are looking for a healthier version of the traditional lemon curd recipe.

What We Grow

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One of the by-products of growing your own food is a need for increased creativity when it comes to meals.  What we eat is at least somewhat dependent on what is available in the garden.

Bok choy, a type of chinese cabbage, is a quick-growing vegetable.  Commercial crops are harvested while they are relatively young and generally sold in bunches of three.  We ate some of our current crop while they were small, however, the few remaining plants are now quite mature and strongly flavoured.

New ways to use up the mature bok choy leaves and stems.

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Freshly picked leaves shredded and sauteed with cherry tomatoes, snow peas and mushrooms for breakfast.

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Tonight I made a vegetarian lasagne with layers of lightly roasted eggplant slices, bok choy mixed with ricotta and finally, crushed tomatoes.

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It was topped with a mixture of parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese and flaxseed meal.

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Served with beans and carrots.

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VEGETARIAN LASAGNE

1 large eggplant, sliced
1/2 onion, diced
Handful of large bok choy leaves and stems, sliced and shredded
180g ricotta cheese
Can of crushed tomatoes
Olive oil
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
Salt and pepper

TOPPING

1 tablespoon grated parmesan
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

Place slices of eggplant on roasting tray.  Brush with a little olive oil and bake at 160C for about 10 minutes – until soft.

Saute diced onion and bok choy stems until soft, add shredded leaves and stir until wilted.  Add vegetable mixture to ricotta and combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add mixed herbs to crushed tomatoes.  Place a layer of eggplant slices in dish followed by the ricotta mixture then tomatoes.  Repeat until all ingredients are used.  Combine ingredients for topping and sprinkle over the lasagne.  Bake until heated through and browned on top.

This is not a definitive recipe but simply what I made today.  The quantities quoted would serve 3 adults.

Last of the Autumn Salad

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You have heard of ‘Last of the Summer Wine’?  Well, this is a little different.

Our meal this evening was Zucchini and Corn Fritters.  You can find the recipe here.

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The accompanying salad was sourced entirely from our garden.  Lettuce, cherry tomatoes and coriander were picked today while the cucumber is the end of the last one which we picked about 3 weeks ago.

We found that cucumber stored really well in the crisper section of the refrigerator.  The lettuce is going to seed but in our mild climate there is a good chance that we will even have some more self-sown ones during the winter months.  There are still fruit on the various cherry tomato plants scattered throughout the garden.  We do not experience frosts here so it is likely that we will continue to harvest a few here and there but it will not abundance we have had during the summer and autumn.  Coriander has self-seeded throughout our garden area and we are thrilled as the flower heads are particularly loved by the bees.

I made the sweet chilli sauce from chillies from my sister’s garden.  The details and recipe are in an earlier post.

Seasonal eating means that we value and appreciate the produce from our garden.  It is probably about 5 months until I next eat cucumber and I know that by then I will be really looking forward to that first crisp crunch.

Not Only Food

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The past couple of days have focused on food recipes but those are not the only recipes on the blog.

You may have seen a recent episode of ‘Gardening Australia’ which featured a recipe for making an exfoliating hand scrub/balm with lemon and rosemary.  I have lemons growing and access to a source of rosemary from a friend so it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Here are the details in case you missed them.

Lemon and Rosemary Hand Scrub

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Rind of 1 lemon
Sprigs of rosemary

The ingredients and utensils assembled.

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Finely chop the rosemary and lemon zest.

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Add the chopped ingredients to the sugar and combine.

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Add lemon juice and oil.  Mix thoroughly.

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Transfer to a sealed container and store in the refrigerator.

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This could make a great gift for a keen gardener.

This recipe is indexed on the tab ‘Recipes – Other’ along with other non-food recipes.

Refreshed and Updated

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It is now over 9 years since I began this blog.  There have been some hiccups along the way which included losing photos from the early blog posts.  Some have been restored and others have not.

After some time, I decided that an index was required as the recipes could be difficult to locate.  I created this but it was incomplete and certainly not up-to-date.  I have worked to rectify that but it will be an ongoing project.  The index contains hyperlinks to the posts containing recipes.  You will find the index under the tab labelled ‘Recipes – Food’ at the top of the blog.

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In an effort to make it easier for users to peruse the index, I have created various categories and listed the recipes in alphabetical order.

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There are over 70 recipes currently listed and include some which have been handed down through several generations as well as more recent acquisitions from friends and the internet and some of my own creations.  Many of the recipes are gluten-free or are able to be adapted to gluten-free as I began to eat a gluten-free diet early in 2012.

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In addition to the recipes I have also updated the blogroll on the right-hand side of the blog.  These are a selection of blogs that I find interesting and which have some similar themes to my own.  Blogs come and go so I have removed several which are no longer relevant or active and added others which have captured my interest more recently.  Please feel free to drop by and check them out.

 

Sweet Chilli Sauce

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As promised, here is the recipe for the sweet chilli sauce.

A couple of weeks ago my sister gave me these chillies.  They are milder than our birdseye chillies and she assured me that they are just perfect for making sweet chilli sauce.

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As always, I consulted Google for a recipe and found this one.  It is from the Australian Women’s Weekly and it was refreshing to find an Australian recipe that I did not have to interpret or substitute either ingredients or measurements.

I had enough ingredients for a half quantity so this is what I used.

Sweet Chilli Sauce

125 gram fresh long red chillies
375ml white vinegar
250ml water
1 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed

Remove green stems from chillies, chop chillies coarsely with their seeds. Process chilli until finely chopped.

Combine vinegar, water, sugar and salt in large saucepan. Stir over low heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Add chilli, boil, uncovered, 20 minutes.
Add garlic; boil, uncovered, about 20 minutes or until mixture is reduced to 3 cups (375ml). The sauce will thicken on cooling. Stand sauce 10 minutes.
Pour hot sauce into hot sterilised bottles, seal immediately. Cool, refrigerate.
NOTE:
I probably boiled mine a bit too long.  I think the cooking times need to be reduced for the reduced quantity.  It looked and tasted wonderful when I poured it into the bottle but the seeds and skin were too hard and chewy.
I left it for about a week while I considered my options.
Yesterday I removed it from the bottle and added about another 125ml of water.  This all went into my high-speed blender which effectively blitzed the skin and seeds.  I then simmered it for about 5 minutes before re-bottling it.
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We had Zucchini and Corn Fritters last night and the sweet chilli sauce was the perfect accompaniment.  It is rather more opaque and smooth than the commercial varieties but the taste is second to none.
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Simply Delicious

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Tonight I made zucchini and corn fritters for our dinner.  I checked out several recipes via Google and this is what I came up with.

Zucchini and Corn Fritters

350g potato (cooked and mashed)
1 and 1/2 zucchini (grated)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/3 cup chickpea (besan) flour
1 clove garlic (crushed)
Fresh rosemary and coriander (finely chopped)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Black pepper and herb salt

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Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Add spoonfuls to a hot frying pan with a little oil (I used coconut oil).  Cook on both sides until browned.  Remove to a warmed plate to serve.

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The quantity made 8 fritters.  We had 3 each for dinner served with beans from the garden and some homemade sweet chilli sauce.

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I will post the recipe for the sweet chilli sauce tomorrow.

A Late Lunch

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We were out and about for several hours today and since we did not start early, this included lunchtime.  Rather than stop for takeaway food, we opted to continue our quest which included buying timber and hardware as well as ordering a garden shed.

So, it was almost 3.30pm when we arrived home so I decided to make a main meal.  I am not sure whether to label it as a late lunch or early dinner but we had a delicious mushroom and bok choy risotto.

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Risotto is one of those wonderful one-pan meals that you can make using pretty well whatever ingredients you have on hand to add to the arborio rice mixture.

Here is a recipe based on what I made today but you can be as adventurous as you like when it comes to the flavours.

Mushroom and Bok Choy Risotto

Ingredients

1 cup arborio rice
1 onion, finely diced
Oil
6 medium mushrooms, sliced
1 large bok choy
2 teaspoons vegetable stock powder
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Water

Lightly saute the onion in a small amount of oil in a large pan (I use a wok).  Add the dry rice and toss until coated with oil/onion mixture.  Add stock powder, paprika and 1 cup of water.  Gently simmer, stirring occasionally and add more water as it is absorbed – about 1/2 cup at a time.  The rice will become cooked and somewhat creamy in consistency.

Meanwhile, separate the stalks from the leaves of the bok choy.  Finely slice the stalks and saute in a separate pan.  Finely shred the leaves.  When the rice is almost ready add the mushrooms, bok choy stalks and leaves.  Stir to combine and add seasoning as required.

Serve in bowls.  The risotto can be topped with shaved parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast for a vegan option.

NOTES:  I generally only add a maximum of 2 ingredients to risotto otherwise the flavours can be overwhelmed.  Other options include pumpkin and spinach, green bean and sundried tomato but you are only limited by you imagination.  You may choose to omit the paprika and substitute a can of crushed tomatoes instead of some of the water.

Cooking Day

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Today I cooked.  I was inspired by the large pumpkin I was given yesterday as well as the chickpeas I had cooked yesterday.

The first job was to pack up the baked beans I had cooked overnight in the slow-cooker.  I had some for breakfast as well as these 3 jars to go in the freezer and half a jar which are in the refrigerator to be used in the next few days.

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I then cut up the pumpkin.  The 2 trays of sliced pumpkin have been basted with a mixture of olive oil and balsamic syrup.  These will be used on pizzas. Some of the larger pieces will be cut up and added to the chickpea and vegetable curry while the remainder will be become pumpkin soup.  I pre-roast the pumpkin as it is easier than peeling it and I find that it also enhances the flavour.

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Meanwhile I moved onto the curry.  As well as the chickpeas and pumpkin this also had stalks of choy sum and half an eggplant diced.  I ended up with a total of 8 serves (4 meals for GMan and me).

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I had other plans for the choy sum leaves and the other half of the eggplant.  Using this recipe for Eggplant Lasagne Rolls as inspiration, I made a dish of lasagne using the finely shredded choy sum leaves mixed with half a tub of ricotta that I had in the refrigerator layered with the sliced eggplant and a rich, herbed tomato sauce.  This is ready to be baked for dinner tomorrow night.  I will add a mixture of flaxseed meal and parmesan cheese to the top when it is almost cooked.

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One pizza was for our lunch today which we enjoyed.  The other one is ready for the cheese to be added, cooked and eaten another day.

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All of these dishes were made using a combination of ingredients I had on hand in the pantry and refrigerator with produce I had been gifted and what was growing in the garden.  One of the most important aspects is to ensure that nothing goes to waste.

Finally, I made some more spreadable butter blend.

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Although the title of this blog post is ‘Cooking Day’, it occurred to me when you have access to fresh produce from the garden (either your own or kind friends) there is always something to do.

More about my other food adventures another day.