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13 June 2012

Bali Bliss & hubby cooks Get-Well-Soon Soup

Welcome back Vegie Patchers... it’s been an eventful few months. Our winter vegie crops are now ready for harvesting, and we continue to pick from it daily to add a little home-grown freshness to our meals. So let me share a few highlights of what we have been up to these past few months. Over Easter we shared a magnificent family holiday in Bali. Aah, the serenity ;) What beautiful people and a unique culture, so self-content. We stayed in a couple of different locations to mix it up (this is how we love to travel), including a villa with the extended family completely surrounded by rice paddies, and later up in the gorgeous mountains of eclectic and vibrant Ubud. We enjoyed quality family time at its best, saw some stunning sights & sunsets & sunrises, had regular (read: almost daily!) massages, and ate some absolutely delightful food. Balinese cuisine is distinctly tropical marrying nicely with its environment and what is readily available. We ate some sensational snapper on the beach at Jimbaren Bay as the sun set; had many a satay chicken stick; beautiful nasi goreng; succulent, juicy, spicy and fresh roast pork in Ubud; beautiful banana roti pancakes as well as a guilty pleasure of poolside burgers with the lot at a resort (best ever!). I have included a few pics below of some of our Balinese highlights (mostly food related of course!)below:

On return from Bali I hit a bit of a lowlight (is that a word?) where I ended up with such intense stomach pain, in and out of hospital, with the end result of having my gallbladder removed! It’s now been about 6 weeks and I’m happy to say that I once again feeling chipper, back to my old self and back in the kitchen (how I have missed it so!). My lovely husband, family and friends have been amazing in helping me recover. My gorgeous husband Mr K has too taken to picking our produce and whipping up some healthy family dinners, so I now have a sous chef for VPTP! 

Here’s a lovely spinach, broccoli & potato soup he made recently. Just beautiful simple flavours, very easy to throw together, low fat and above all really delicious! I have plenty of recipes coming up so stay tuned, there’s plenty more to come. Enjoy Mr K's Get-well-Soon Soup

Prep time needed: about 15 min. cooking time: 20min.

Stuff needed from kitchen: a few big saucepans, sharp knife, chopping board, blender, wooden spoon

From my vegie patch:
450g broccoli, cut into florets
100g spinach leaves/silver beet
01/2 cup fresh basil leaves

Other ingredients:
Olive oil spray
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1L (4 cups) salt-reduced vegetable stock
400g potatoes, peeled, coarsely chopped
½ cup natural yogurt (I use low fat, but use full fat if you prefer)
Fresh basil sprigs, to serve
Crusty bread slices, to serve

Let do it:
1.       Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Spray with oil.
2.       Add onion and stir for 5 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute or until aromatic.
3.       Add stock and potato. Bring to boil. Cover. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes.
4.       Add broccoli and simmer for 6-7 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
5.       Add spinach. Simmer for 1 minute or until just wilted. Set aside to cool.
6.       Add basil leaves. Blend one-third of mixture in a blender until smooth.
7.       Transfer to a clean saucepan. Repeat twice with remaining mixture.
8.       Cook soup over medium heat for 2 minutes or until heated through.
9.       Combine fresh in a bowl. Divide soup among bowls. Top with pesto cream and basil sprigs. Serve with bread.

Soundtrack for my hubby as he cooks me this delicious soup (true!): I got burned by Bamboos and Tim Rogers

08 April 2012

Apple Coconut & Lime Pie. A sweet taste of Thailand

I have been lucky enough to travel to Thailand a few times, it’s such a diverse and interesting place to visit with a rich history, stunning beaches and equally stunning food. The last time we went was in 2001, which although is now over 10 years ago, I can remember so vividly. We were tipped off about a secluded little paradise called Rai Lay beach. It’s a small peninsula located between Krabi and Ao Nang in Thailand. Accessible only by boat due to the high limestone cliffs cutting off mainland access. These cliffs attract rock climbers from all over the world, but the area is also popular due to its beautiful beaches and quiet relaxing atmosphere. Accommodation ranges from inexpensive bungalows popular with backpackers and climbers, to a 5 star resort. We stayed in the former. I love how the Thai people use fresh and complimentary flavours of lime, coconut, coriander and tropical fruits in their food. For me, a little street stall became my daily breakfast ritual of sticky banana caramel roti pancakes for breakfast (salivating as I write this!). This recipe immediately reminded me of Thailand and uses the last few apples from our tree, and some of the limes purchased from the farmers market recently. For this pie, the apples are baked in lime custard and create a slightly tart flavour, yet the sweetness of the coconut and apples balances out for a fresh and layered mouthful of pie. Before you know it you’ll be serving up another piece of secluded paradise, as one is never enough.

Prep time needed: about 30 min. baking time: about 1 hr. 30 min.

Stuff needed from kitchen: medium pie dish, baking paper, cling wrap, large mixing bowl, beater/food processor, chopping board, medium saucepan, and wooden spoon, apple coring device optional.

From my vegie patch:
5 x apples peels, cored & sliced thinly (I use a cool apple coring gadget)
1 x lime: zest and juice required(courtesy of Farmers Market)

Other ingredients:
1.5 cups x plain flour
1 x egg
100gm x butter
0.5 cup x caster sugar
few tblespn cold water

for the topping:
2 large eggs, beaten with a fork
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 tablespoon honey

Let’s do it:
1.       Preheat the oven to 180 C/375 F.
2.       To make the crust: Combine the flours, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse into crumbles.
3.       Add the egg and continue to pulse.
4.       Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time and work the dough until it detaches from the bowl. Wrap in plastic wrap pop in freezer for 30 min.
5.       When ready to use, take pastry out of the fridge and roll into the shape of a circle. Lay baking paper in pie tin, lay out pastry and make small holes at the bottom.
6.       Blind bake pastry in over for approx. 15 min, until starting to slightly cook on base and sides (I use baking beans for this)
7.       To make the rest of the tart: In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar, lime zest, lime juice and coconut milk.
8.       Arrange the slices of apple on top of the crust and add the egg batter.
9.       Bake the tart for 45 minutes, or until the crust is light brown, and the flan is set. Leave to cool for 30 minutes before eating. Ideally, serve warm with some sort of delicious ice-cream or natural yogurt.

Soundtrack for delicious desserts (while imagining you are on a secluded beach): Moon Safari by Air
Rai Lay Beach (pic courtesy wikipedia.)

01 April 2012

Potato, Rosemary & Garlic Pizza. Perfection.

The truth be told, there is not a lot in our urban vegie patch at the moment that’s ready to harvest so its times to get creative ;) All our summer produce has grown and been lovingly consumed. Mr K has started to plant our autumn/winter harvest so we have some beetroots, cabbage, fennel, broccoli, chicory, beans, and dill happily in their infancy growing bigger by the week.  Still plentiful from summer is spinach, rhubarb, rosemary, basil and mint. Not a lot to choose from, but that’s what eating seasonally is all about right? This recipe is all about keeping it very simple, and keeping it down to a few quality ingredients. The Italian’s are onto something here.  This recipe makes 3 large pizza’s (I use a baking tin to cook it on). The crust is thin and crunchy; the garlic is a must and combined with potatoes and rosemary, makes a beautiful simple dinner or lunch for a bunch of friends. Serves at least 4 hungry folk. Enjoy

Prep time: approx. 45 min. Resting time for dough: approx. 1hr, 15min. cooking time: about 40 min

Kitchen stuff needed: Sharp knife, chopping board, 2 x baking trays (1 will do if that’s all you have), baking paper, rolling pin.

Our Rosemary, starting to flower
Ingredients from the garden:
4 x sprigs of rosemary

Dough Ingredients:
500g strong white bread flour
1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
1 x 7g sachets of dried yeast
1/2 tablespoon golden caster sugar
Around 320ml lukewarm water

6 x garlic gloves, minced.
2 - 3 x potatoes finely chopped
50gm x soft feta, crumbled.
Olive oil
Sea salt

Let’s do it:

1. Turn on over to 180 C/375 F
2. Pile the flour and salt on to a clean surface and make an 18cm well in the centre.
3. Add your yeast and sugar to the lukewarm water mix up with a fork and leave for a few minutes, and then pour into the well.
4. Using a fork and a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well and mix into the water. It will look like thick porridge. Continue to mix, bringing in all the flour. When the dough comes together and becomes too hard to mix with your fork, flour your hands and begin to pat it into a ball.
5. Knead the dough by rolling it backward and forward, using your left hand to stretch the dough toward you and your right hand to push the dough away from you at the same time. Repeat this for 10 minutes, until you have smooth, springy, soft dough.
6. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let double in size for about 45 minutes.
7. Divide pizza dough into 3 balls and roll out each ball until it is approx. the size of your baking tray.
8. Pop grease proof paper down on baking try and carefully lay your pizza base down.
9. Spread evening about a third of minced garlic and olive oil on base, covered with slices of potato, some rosemary sprigs and about a third of the crumbled feta.
10.         Place the tray on the middle rack and bake for about 20 minutes.
11.         We had two baking trays going at once, or go with just one if you want to take it slowly.

Once out of over, top with some sea salt and enjoy this simplicity of these flavoursome pizzas. Enjoy with a Margaret River Shiraz.

Soundtrack for Pizza with friends: Moo, you bloody Choir by Augie March 

 My gorgeous Vegie Patch Gardeners tending to our plot