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CRISPY ONION RINGS

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These are great as a snack and work perfectly alongside some grilled steak.

3 onions, cut into 1cm-thick rings

250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk

For deep-frying: vegetable oil

For dusting: seasoned plain flour

Buttermilk batter

150 gm (1 cup) plain flour

125 ml (½ cup) buttermilk or natural yoghurt and dash of milk

80 ml beer

To serve: Sea salt flakes and malt vinegar for serving

Method

Separate onion into rings, place in a large bowl, add buttermilk, season to taste and mix to combine. Let sit in buttermilk until batter is made and rested.

Meanwhile, for buttermilk batter, place flour in a bowl, season to taste and make a well in center. Add buttermilk and beer to well, then whisk until smooth and combined. Stand for 30 minutes.

Preheat oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 180C. Drain onion (discard buttermilk), dust in seasoned flour, then dip in buttermilk batter, shaking off excess in between. Deep-fry in batches, turning occasionally, until crisp and golden (2-3 minutes; be careful as hot oil may spit). Drain on absorbent paper and serve hot with malt vinegar and salt.

Quick Pickled Pears

pickled pears (640x427)

 

Pickled pears add a lovely surprise and they especially go well with a sharp cheddar or blue cheese.  Today I will be paring it up with some of Evansdale fine cheeses.

5 Tbsp cider vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp walnut oil

1 tsp yellow mustard seeds

4 fresh sage leaves, finely shredded

1 spring onion, thinly sliced

2 tsp good quality honey

Pinch sea salt flakes

Grind of black pepper

4 firm pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

Method

Place all the ingredients (except the pears) into  a bowl, give a light mix and taste, adjust the balance of sweet verses tart but do take into consideration the pears will add a lovely natural sweetness.

Peel and halve the pears, removing any core.  Place the pears into the pickling mix and coat gently so that they don’t discolour.

Allow at least 30 minute to marinade but will last overnight.  But best eaten within the day.

 

 

 

 

 

APPLE CRISPS

apple crisps (640x427) (640x427)

These tasty little rounds of apples are a wonderful addition to your lunch box or an accompaniment to a pudding or cheese!

Makes about 20 rounds

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 apples, such as granny smith and pacific beauty

2 Tbsp icing  sugar

Pinch cinnamon

Method

Heat oven to 100C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof or baking paper and set aside.

Fill a medium bowl with ice, water, and lemon juice. Slice the apple into very thin slices (the thinner the better, I used a mandolin) and submerge in the water until all the apples are done.

Drain the apple slices well and place the slices in a single layer on prepared baking tray, dust with icing sugar and cinnamon and bake until crisp and dry — about 90 minutes.

Cool and enjoy.

Store in an airtight container for up to a week!

SWEET PICKLED PEARS

 

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I like these served with cheese or alongside cold meats as a wonderful fresh alternative.

Makes 1 ½ litres

1lemon or orange

10 cloves

2 tsp black peppercorns, lightly crushed

1 tsp allspice berries, lightly crushed

5 cm piece fresh ginger, sliced

1 litre cider or white wine vinegar

2 cinnamon sticks

600g sugar

2kg small

pears

METHOD

 

Pare the zest from the lemon or orange and put in a pan with the cloves, peppercorns, allspice berries, root ginger, lemon or orange juice, vinegar, cinnamon sticks and sugar. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved. Peel, core and halve the pears, then add to the pan and simmer for 15 mins, until the pears are tender. Remove the pears with a slotted spoon and put in a colander to drain. Meanwhile, increase the heat under the syrup and boil rapidly for 15 mins, until the syrup has reduced by about a third and slightly thickened.

 

Pack the fruit into warmed jars and pour over the hot syrup to cover. Seal, label and store in a cool dry place for a month before using

 

 

ROASTED GRAPES!

IMG_4617 (640x427)

This I know may sound a little crazy roasting grapes, but it works surprisingly well.  Harwarden Organics have wine grapes of different varieties such as pinot noir, muscat and Gewurztraminer which are fantastic and when roasted the sugars seem to intensify and make these little morsels explode with flavour.

Roasted Grapes Pre-heat the oven to 200C

Take a small cluster of red, seedless grapes and gently toss it in a bowl with 1 tsp. of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place cluster on a baking tray and roast for 8-10 minutes. The grapes will puff-up, darken in spots, and begin to blister. Serve with a good cheese, fresh bread or simply on their own.

Enjoy them while they’re still warm!

GRILLED CHIILI DRESSING

 

cherry chilli (640x446)

Cherry Chilli

Serves 6

3 fresh red chillies

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

3½ Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 small bunch fresh mint, leaves picked and finely chopped

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Method

Prick the chillies with the tip of a sharp knife – this stops them popping or exploding when they are cooked. The best way to blacken the chillies is to hold them with a metal pair of tongs directly into a gas flame obviously if that isn’t possible pop them uder a hot grill. You want the skin to blacken and blister all over.  Place the chillies in a small bowl, cover with cling film and leave for 15 minutes. This way they will steam in their own heat and the skins will peel off very easily.
First this stage I would recommend using gloves at this stage to peel the chillies, open them up and scrape out all the white seeds. Discard these, then finely chop the flesh of the chillies. Put in a mixing bowl, add the oil, lemon juice and mint, and mix well. Season to taste and serve.

You can omit the mint and add coriander or flat leaf parsley if desired.

QUINCE MARMALADE

Quince are in season and it is a short season so with a little effort and a little time you can make any number of delicious jams, jellies, pastes and chutney’s.  Be careful preparing them as they are hard and allow plenty of time for cooking as they can take up to an hour or more. 

fresh quince

fresh quince

(Quince are inedibly tannic in their raw state. When they are cooked, the same chemicals that cause this astringency on our tongues break down and bond with oxygen chemicals to form anthocyanins, the plant pigments that cause fruit and vegetable to appear red).

Make 500ml

4 cups chopped cored peeled quince (about 4 quinces)

3 cups water

2 cups sugar

¼ cup 3mm thick julienne(sliced)-cut lemon rind

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

Method

Combine all ingredients in a large heavy based saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 1 hour and 15 minutes or until thick. (Mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.) Stir frequently and watch closely for catching on the bottom!

When thick and set pour carefully into sterilsed jars and seal or store in fridge

TZATIKI – CUCUMBER

Tzatziki

Makes 300ml (1 small bowl)

300 ml thick Greek yoghurt
2 cloves garlic
1 medium sized cucumber, cut in half and seeds removed
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Pinch salt
1 tsp red wine vinegar

Method
Put yoghurt into a bowl, crush garlic to a smooth paste with a little salt (mortar and pestle is good for this). Add to the yoghurt and mix through.
Grate the cucumber and squeeze out excess liquid (the dryer the better). Add to the yoghurt mixture along with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt, taste and adjust if necessary.
Store in the fridge until required.
Serve in a small dish drizzled with the remainder oil and plenty of flatbreads, and crudities’.

 

 

PICKLED CUCUMBERS

 

Pickled cucumber

makes 3 medium jars

3 cucumbers

2 onions, peeled and halved

about 80g salt

500ml cider or malt vinegar

350g sugar white or brown

4 teaspoons mustard seeds

1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

1/2 tsp peppercorns

Method

Slice the cucumbers and onions very thinly (a mandolin is ideal for this). Layer them in a bowl, sprinkling with the sea salt as you go, then weigh them down with a plate and leave for a few hours or overnight. Drain off the liquid, rinse the vegetables well and drain in a colander.

Combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, and peppercorns in a pan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the well-drained cucumber and onion mixture and bring back to the boil for 1 minute, add the dill.  Transfer the mixture to sterilised jars, using a slotted spoon. Bring the liquid back to the boil and simmer until slightly reduced for about 15 minutes, then divide it between the jars, filling to the brim. Put on the lids and label. The pickle will keep for several months.

 

FRESH CORN, BEANS AND PARSLEY

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Local corn has arrived and when combined with creamy white beans and fresh parsley it makes for a wonderfully fresh alternative to any meal.

Serves 4

1 Tbsp oil

1 Tbsp butter

1 white onion, sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

2 cobs fresh corn, kernels removed

1 420g tin butter beans or cannellini, drained, rinsed and drained again

1 green mild chilli, deseeded and sliced thinly

½ stock cube, veg or chicken

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Handful fresh parsley (I like flat leaf) roughly cut

Method

Heat a medium sized heavy based fry pan up to a moderate heat with the oil and butter.  Once the butter has melted add the onion and cook until softens and sweetens (4 minutes).

Whilst the onion is cooking, peel the corn and with a large knife run the blade away from you down the cob of corn.  This can get messy as the corn is so juicy (I often clear out my sink and place a bowl in it and do it over that). Once you have removed the kernels off the cob add them to the pan with the onions, add the garlic and chilli cook for 2 minutes.  Add the drained beans, and ½ cup of either water or stock, stir to combine and season well.  Turn down the heat and let it bubble away to thicken and for the flavours to mature.

Add the parsley and cook for a minute more, taste and adjust if necessary.

It goes well with grilled chicken, pork chops or fish or quite simply a good green salad.