Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Easter chocolate egg nests - two ways

Last week at the swimming pool, a little girl befriended Sylvia and me.  She started to tell us how much she loved egg wraps.  When I said I didn't like eggs she was astonished.  Sylvia however likes to joke that my favourite eggs are Easter eggs.  I guess she is right.  The novelty amuses me.  Yet commercial Easter eggs are not always the best quality and I quite like my chocolate other ways.  Like in a nest.  With Easter eggs.

Yes, it is starting to feel a lot like Easter around here.  Sylvia is beside herself with excitement as only a 5 year old can be.  I bought the M and Ms speckled eggs.  They were opened in an untimely way but were not long for this world anyway.  I quite liked the crunchy centres.  The Cadbury mini eggs were bought a day later.  I was relieved to find they were gluten free so I could use them for some nests for my celiac niece.  But the solid chocolate centres were less pleasing than the M and Ms.

Chocolate Easter egg nests seems quite a common Easter recipe.  It was my first time making them.  I decided to try them two ways.

One was a BBC recipe using cornflakes.  After making them I realised this is actually a recipe with which British children are very familiar.  E said he had them without eggs when he was little.  I think they are similar to Australia's chocolate crackles.  The chocolate coating was quite soft and took some time in the fridge to set.  Even so they were quite fragile

The  other recipe used coconut.  I only had white choc chips and a block of 70% chocolate.  White chocolate seemed too sweet for anyone and dark chocolate seemed too bitter for children.  (But any sort of chocolate could be used.)  These ones set quickly and were quite hard.  They reminded me of coconut roughs.  Which is a very good thing.

These nests were easy to make and even easier to eat.  They are great to make with young children.  Sylvia was able to help counting out eggs, stirring the mixture and arranging the eggs in the nests.

Both versions could be made without the eggs at any time of year.  The cornflake ones would be best in a cupcake paper (to stop them falling apart) and I would make the coconut chocolate into small balls if you didn't them it big enough to hold an egg or three.  In fact, you could even make them smaller nests with just one egg.

These nests are great for sharing.  The day after making them we had a busy day that was fuelled by nests.  Sylvia took some down to my parents to share with her cousins (and grandparents).  E and I went to see Le Week-end at the movies and had some coconut nests after our dinner at the fish and chip shop.  (I had a burger.)  Earlier in the day Sylvia and some school friends went to see Shrek at the movies and we took the leftover easter eggs along, which the kids loved!

I can see these being repeated in Easters to come.  Maybe we will experiment with them further.  Crispy noodles, muesli and shredded wheat are other ideas.  I have also seen them made with butterscotch chips or chopped honeycomb.  And I particularly love the sound of these coconut macaroon nutella nests.  The possibilities are endless.  And delicious.

I am sending these Easter nests to Rachel Coterill for We Should Cocoa, with the theme of Easter this month.  Stuart at Cakey Boi  has chosen Spring into Easter for Treat Petite and Catherine of Cate's Cates has Easter Inspirations for this month.

Previous easter recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Easter eggs with lime cheesecake filling (gf, v)
Easter egg pizza
Hot Cross Buns
Wholemeal Hot Cross Buns (v)

And a few other GGG ideas for filled chocolates:
Chocolates with almond butter filling (gf, v)
Chocolates with healthy caramel filling (gf, v)
Chocolates with healthy peppermint filling (gf, v)
Chocolates with peppermint filling (gf, v)
Orange and sweet potato filled chocolates (gf, v) 

Chocolate Easter Egg Nests (with coconut)
Adapted from Serious Eats
Makes 10-12

100g 70% dark chocolate, broken up
120g white choc chips (or other choc chips)
1 1/3 cups dessicated coconut
packet of mini chocolate eggs 

Melt chocolate and choc chips in the microwave or on stovetop.  Stir in coconut.  Place spoonfuls of mixture on a lined baking sheet.  Press three mini eggs into the middle of each nest.  Allow to set at room temperature.  (This didn't take took long - perhaps an hour!)  Keep in an airtight container.

Chocolate Easter Egg Nests (with cornflakes)
From the BBC Foood
Makes 12

225g/8oz dark chocolate choc chips
2 tbsp golden syrup
50g/2oz butter (or margarine)
75g/3oz cornflakes
36 mini chocolate eggs (approximately)

Melt chocolate, golden syrup and butter together in microwave or on stovetop.  Mix in cornflakes until well covered.  Spoon a heap onto a lined baking tray and press three eggs into the middle.  Set in the fridge for an hour or two.  Keep in an airtight container at room temperature.

On the Stereo:
The Best of Blur

Monday, 14 April 2014

NCR Pumpkin, bean and apple soup for a protest

A market, a party, another market and a march.  It was a weekend full of perusing stalls, eating (mostly) good food, listening to ukeleles and walking with like-minded people to declare that we wanted Australia to welcome refugees.  Then I ate soup.  Here are some photos.

Above are photos from the Walk for Justice for Refugees - Palm Sunday.  I was glad to be there.  We saw people we knew, listened, walked and had ice cream afterwards.  Sylvia had a lovely time with a school friend we bumped into.

We went to the Fitzroy Market.  Above is the nice lady who sells the icy poles.  I had a rhubarb and raspberry one.  It was so good.  She is taking a break until Spring.  We will miss her.

Sylvia and I went to a first birthday party with my mum.  The little girl is part of a Burmese family my mum has become friends with.  They were so welcoming and friendly. 

I went to the Flemington Farmers Market.  Lots of good food.  I bought mostly fruit, vegies and bread.   The snail on my kale amused me when I hopped into the car to go home.  After the photo we parted ways.

After the march yesterday we arrive home with little energy.  The reason I had to go to the farmers market was to buy some nice in-season apples.  Those from the supermarket were disappointing.  The old apples went in the soup with some old pumpkin and some beans from the freezer.

Last night it was too hot and a little bland.  I enjoyed some rye bagels and cream cheese on the side.  Today we had leftovers for lunch and dinner.  Extra seasoning helped greatly.  The soup was thankfully light on a day of Easter baking.  We made chocolate nest and my first sourdough hot cross buns.  More on them another time.

I am sending this soup to Jacqueline for No Croutons Required, the monthly vegetarian soup and salad blog event co-hosted with Lisa.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Couscous salad and reflections on the week
Two years ago: Choc chip muesli slice
Three years ago: PPN Carrot Pesto Pasta Bake
Four years ago: Honest soup inspired by a Farmers Market
Five years ago: Tupperware, Arran and Tomato Soup
Six years ago: Family Favourite: Chocolate Pudding

Pumpkin Bean and Apple Soup
serves 4 to 6

2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1kg butternut pumpkin
1 and 1/2 cups cooked white beans
2 tsp stock powder
1 tsp maple syrup 
2 and 1/2  tsp salt (or to taste)
2 large apples
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan and fry onion for 5 to 10 minutes until translucent.  Add garlic and fry about a minute.  Meanwhile trim, peel and chop pumpkin.  Add pumpkin, beans, stock powder, and maple syrup to the pot.  Gradually add salt tasting as you go (if you use tinned beans you will probably need less salt - however the pumpkin and apple are quite sweet so I found this soup needs a bit of salt).  Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes or until pumpkin is soft. Meanwhile peel, core and chop apples.  Add to pot and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Puree.  Stir in nutritional yeast flakes and as much black pepper as you like.

On the Stereo:
Just enough education to perform: The Stereophonics 

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Red peppers: in pasta bake, stuffed and in soup

Sometimes a recipe lodges itself in my mind and refuses to budge.  No matter how I cook around it, I am called by an dinner that must be mine.  So it was with the pasta bake that was called Dad's Friday Night Pasta Dish by Half Baked Harvest which lured me with amazingly beautiful photos, a great story and a simple dish.  The clincher was that red capsicums were dirt cheap.  So let me tell you about my week with red capsicums (or peppers).

I bought a bag of red capsicums on sale.  The pasta bake called but I didn't quite have the time or ingredients.  Instead I roasted a capsicum on a gas flame and made Isa's Roasted Red Pepper Mac and Cheese.  It was very good, especially with the remainder of my sweet potato mash from the enchiladas added.  I loved it but the pasta bake still beckoned.

Then I went shopping and bought more red peppers and basil on sale.  The looming use by date on the basil really pushed me because I knew if I didn't use it, it would be a slimy mess in the fridge.  (Been there, done that!)  I made tofu bacon and considered using the Vegusto vegan mozzarella in the fridge but I just wasn't sure enough (it melted ok but had no strings) and used regular mozzarella.

It was in cooking the angel hair pasta that I came unstuck.  As usual I put on the pasta and checked the packet for time.  This one only took 2 minutes.  Which meant I didn't have the 10 minutes I expected to get together herbed oil to toss the pasta in.  Then a plum crumble slice came out of the oven at the same time the pasta was ready.  In my haste I poured boiling water over my hand while draining the pasta.

The burn really hurt.  I made the rest of dinner with my fingers pressed against a zooper dooper (fruit ice stick) from the freezer and wrapped in a tea towel.  Otherwise it was too painful.  Finally I looked up the web for ideas and wrapped it in clingwrap.  The pain went away.  It was a miracle that I recommend to anyone else unfortunately enough to have this problem.

What with making tofu bacon, grating cheese and chopping parsley, it wasn't quite as quick as the recipe suggested but then I just didn't take short cuts.  It was delicious.  E loved it for the same reason I was a bit unsure.  It didn't have enough vegetables.  It was also a bit oily because I added a bit more oil and the sundried tomato oil.

One of the things I really liked about the recipe was the author saying that when her dad made this dish it was always different.  I would really like to try it again.  Sylvia enjoyed the angel hair pasta tossed with oil before I added the herbs but not after.  I would like more vegies.  I forgot to season the pasta so the bake was a bit lacking in flavour.  I have added a few changes to what I did below to reflect what I would do if I made it again.  If I made it again I would like more capsicums on top.  I'd love to try it with vegan mozzarella.  There are many possibilities.

The possibilities for the dish are not just about how to prepare it but how to use the leftovers.  I also made a lovely vegetable and bean soup last week.  I had decided to serve the remaining noodles with a stuffed capsicum (yes I call them stuffed peppers too - either makes sense to me) but ran out of time.  It was far easier to put the stuffing in the fridge, chop the remaining pasta bake and mix with the vegie soup.  And so delicious.

The next night I had the stuffing and the red capsicums and it was quite easy to just stuff them.  I used home cooked white beans from the freezer, tofu bacon, kale from the farmers market, and some leftover red pepper mac and cheese sauce.  (If you didn't have a cheese sauce you could use some nut butter, nutritional yeast flakes and mustard.)

I used half the vegan mozzarella on top and grated some to mix into the stuffing.  It probably would have been better to cut it into chunks rather than grate it.  The mozzarella on top was brilliant and has converted me from a skeptic to a fan of Vegusto.  The taste is great, the mouthfeel is right and it even crisps on top.  (I still am not a fan of the mozzarella when cold but have been loving it on grilled cheese on toast.)

I was surprised at how well these stuffed peppers worked.  I followed what I did in my nut roast stuffed peppers recipe on the blog.  I wondered if a bit longer might be good as I loved the one pepper was starting to char and blister.  What was really great about this recipe is that most stuffed peppers recipe seem to involve some sort of carbs or grains.  This one is big on protein.  Yet E didn't even feel in need of a slice of bread with this because it was so filling.

I often find stuffed peppers a bit boring and old school vegetarian.  These ones were full of interesting flavours and very modern.  And like the pasta bake, the recipe is open to endless variations.  I am sure I will make these again but with whatever takes my fancy.

I am sending the pasta bake to Manjiri at Slice of Me for Pasta Please which focuses on olive oil this month.  I am sending the stuffed peppers to Avika at A Day Through My Life #70 for My Legume Love Affair, which is managed by Lisa and founded by Susan.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Chocolate lime energy slice, the park and the beach
Two years ago: Purple Pomegranate Stew
Three years ago: Cheesey bikkies: what not to do
Four years ago: Butterscotch Bounty from Ricki
Five years ago: Wholemeal Chocolate Cake
Six years ago: Posh chocolate orange biscuits

Red Capsicum and Mozzarella Pasta Bake
Adapted from Half Baked Harvest
Serves 6 to 8

1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Handful parsley finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
500g angel hair pasta
1/3 cup sliced kalamata olives
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
125g tofu bacon bits, fried til crisp
300-400g mozzarella cheese, grated
3-4 red capsicums (bell peppers), sliced
Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Freshly torn basil, for topping

Preheat oven to 190 C.  Heat water for pasta.  Meanwhile, in a pasta dish, about 13 by 9 inch or a little smaller, mix olive oil with herbs, garlic, paprika, pepper and salt.  Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to instructions on the packet (mine only had to be simmered about 2 minutes).  Drain and toss in herbed oil.  Sprinkle pasta with olive, sundried tomatoes and tofu bacon.  Then sprinkle with about 3/4 of mozzarella cheese.  Arrange red capsicums over the cheese.  Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese.  Bake for 45-60 minutes or until capsicums are well cooked.  Keeps for a day or two in the fridge.

Peppers stuffed with white beans and kale
Original recipe by Johanna @ Green Gourmet Giraffe
Serves 2

1-2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch of purple kale, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
1/2 cup PPK Roasted Red Pepper Mac and Cheese sauce
2-3 tbsp chopped sun dried tomatoes
1/3 cup fried tofu bacon bits
Handful of parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 large red peppers (capsicums)
100g vegan mozzarella

Preheat oven to 200 C.

Heat olive oil in frypan over medium heat.  Fry onion for 5 to 10 minutes until golden brown.  Add kale and cook another 5 minutes or so until cooked.  Stir in garlic and remove from heat.  Meanwhile mix together beans, cheese sauce, sundried tomatoes, tofu bacon, parsley and seasoning.  Grate about half the mozzarella into the bean mixture.

Prepare the red peppers by removing stem, membrane and seeds.  Microwave each open side down for about 2 to 3 minutes or until softening but not collapsing.  Stuff each with half the mixture, packing it in with the back of a spoon.  Stand in an ovenproof dish.  (I used a small ramekin in my dish to help the peppers stand up.)  Slice the remaining mozzarella and place over the top of the filling. 

Bake for 45 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and the peppers are soft and starting to blister.  Eat hot.

On the Stereo:
Ball of Wax, audio quarterly, volume 26: a tribute to the anthology of American Folk Music - various artists

Friday, 11 April 2014

Gwyneth's Apple Muffins and the rainy school holidays


Yesterday I started my day by baking muffins to take to a friend's place.  When I had planned to bake Spiced Apple Crumb Muffins I had been excited that I had all the ingredients to bake from a Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook from the library.  I hadn't counted on Sylvia wanting to play at 5.30am that morning and my friend's little girl being too sick for us to visit.  Serendipitously, I had another friend who appreciated the muffins.  All was not lost.

Apples are in season right now and this recipe seemed perfect.  Except I didn't really have all the ingredients.  I had most of them.  And what I didn't have, I was able to substitute.  Gwyneth uses spelt flour.  I have used it in the past but don't regularly have it in the kitchen.  There are only so many flours I can fit in my pantry.  I added more regular wheat flour because the mixture seemed so thin.  I was out of wholemeal flour so I used a little wheatgerm. 

I chopped everything finely for Sylvia.  (She has an aversion to bits!)  When it came to sprinkling the crumble topping, she was eager to help.  It seemed there was too much topping for the muffins.  Yet by the time they rose beautifully, they had just the right amount of crumble.  I was most pleased with the muffins.  Perfect golden crunchy domed tops.  The maple syrup gave lovely flavour but minimal sweetness.  And they were soft and comforting.  (My only reservation is that maybe I shouldn't have reduced the cinnamon quite so much.)  It seemed a shame not to share even though we didn't go to see Yav.

Let me pause here to note that the school holidays started on Monday.  They are Sylvia's first school holidays.  It has been a gloomy grey wet week.  I was very glad that I booked Sylvia into a holiday swimming intensive of lessons every morning this week. It has been a great way for her to burn off some energy, even if it is a chore to dry the towels and bathers every night.  It makes me feel better about not being able to get out to the park or riding on her new bike.  Hopefully we will see the sun next week.

I phoned my friend Kathleen and suggested we meet up for a cuppa and a muffin.  We had originally planned to meet last week but I had been sick.  The fates were kind to us.  I was able to share the muffins with an appreciative friend.  Sylvia had great time playing with Kathleen's daughter.  And we were able to have a good catch up after all.  So it seems that the best laid plans of mice and men might go awry but a batch of fresh muffins will always be good thing.

I am sending this post to Michelle at Utterly Scrummy Food for Families for the Simple and in Season food challenge, run by Ren Behan.  I am also sending the muffins to Healthy Vegan Fridays #13, hosted by Suzanne at Hello Veggy, Anna at Herbivore Triathlete, and Kimmy at Rock My Vegan Socks.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Topsy Turvy Dinner: savoury chocolate muffins and cauliflower rice - and a cat fight
Two years ago: PPN Holiday cooking - Nut Roast and Pasta Napoletana
Three years ago: Autumn Apple Cake
Four years ago: PPN Mee Goreng
Five years ago: A Nutroast Tribute
Six years ago: A Long-winded Nut Roast Post

Apple and walnut crumble muffins
Adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow's Notes from My Kitchen Table (online here)
Makes 12 muffins

6 tbsp white flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp wheat germ
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
3 tbsp rice bran oil
1 tbsp soy milk

1 tbsp cornflour
2 small apples peeled and finely chopped (mine weighed 260g)
125ml rice bran oil (or another neutral oil)
150ml maple syrup
150ml soy milk
250g white plain flour
50g wheatgerm
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon (I used 1 tsp)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
60g toasted walnuts (I forgot to toast) finely chopped

Preheat oven to 180 C (or 350 F).  Line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin papers or grease.

Prepare topping by mixing all the ingredients in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Toss chopped apples with cornflour in a small bowl and set aside.

Whisk together oil, maple syrup and milk in a medium to large mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients except walnuts.  Mix until combined.  Fold in apples and walnuts.

Spoon into muffin tin.  Sprinkle with all of the crumble topping mixture.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (I did 30 minutes).  Cool on a wire rack.

On the Stereo:
Late Night Tales: Nouvelle Vague: Various Artists

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

True North: Coburg cafe

Recently we noticed a brand spnaking new cafe had opened up at the local shopping centre.  Then an acquaintance said her friends were running the place.  Full of hope, I went there for brunch on Sunday and then returned for lunch this week.  The reclaimed timber and green walls were welcoming and fresh.  The menu is full of eggs, breads and fancy sandwiches.  I was pleased to find that there were some good vegetarian options.

Before visiting, we checked online for more information and found that according to The Three Thousand, it is in "Coburgia"  where "the beards and tattoos [are] encroaching on the Nonas and fruiterers".  Be warned that I also got sidetracked by a cafe of the same name in America.

Upon entering on Sunday lunchtime, we found that indeed The Three Thousand is right.  It was bustling with hipsters and drawing interested looks of passerbys.  Or perhaps it was just the David Tennant look-a-like making coffee.  Despite being busy, the service was prompt and friendly.

The menu was in a small print and I didn't have my glasses.  Everything seemed expensive and mysterious.  I asked about vegetarian options and was delighted to hear that they have vegan bacon and vegan chorizo.  (Hopefully the menu will eventually note these options.)

I decided to try the BLT.  The Bacon (or facon) was thin and crispy, the Lettuce was crunchy, the Tomatoes and mayonnaise kept it saucy and the seeded sourdough bread was dense and pleasing.  On the side were some fancy corn chips.  I loved this as a light lunch.

Sylvia was disappointed to hear that they were out of waffles.  Instead she had some of the lovely seeded sourdough with honey.  E had an egg and bacon roll which came with sauerkraut and relish.  He enjoyed it but found the roll a little crunchy.  I loved the green decor, E loved the cats decorations and Sylvia was very pleased to get a little Easter egg as she left.  We headed off to our play (A Pocketful of Joy at La Mama) feeling very satisfied.

This week I returned for lunch with my mum and Sylvia. I brought along my glasses and found the prices looked more reasonable when I could read them properly.  It was a different vibe on a weekday.  Not so busy, less of the hipsters and no David Tennant look-a-like.  The Go Betweens was on the soundtrack, however.  Now that is my sort of music.

I already knew what I wanted: The Reuben sandwich with vegan bacon instead of the pastrami.  When I asked the owner he said it might taste a bit odd.  But they did it for me.  It was great.  I have never had a Reuben sandwich and this mix of vegan bacon, cheese, sauerkraut and mustard was a delicious mixture of crunch, melty, sharp and spicy.  With chips and a pickle on the side.

My mum had the asparagus and ham quiche with salad.  She said it was delicious and that they got the pastry right.  Sylvia was very pleased to have the waffles with maple butter, pecans and caramelised banana.

Afterwards, I was curious about the sweet pie of the day.  My mum and I shared a slice of the peach, honey and cinnamon pie.  For research, you understand!  I had thought it would come warm and was surprised it was room temperature.  I wasn't very keen on having it served with cream poured over it (one of my childhood dislikes).  The pastry was nice but I am not really into pastry.  It was the peach the drew me to the pie and the peach that I loved.  It was scrumptious.  Juicy and flavoursome.

There is lots of more interesting food to try.  If I get there again in the next week or two, I might sample a hot cross bun.  E wants to try a gingerbread cat.  I quite liked the look of the salad sandwich (with feta as optional), the bagels look lovely and I really would love a version of the huevos rancheros without the eggs.  Along with Eastern Bloc and Little Deer Tracks, it does seem that the hipsters are moving into Coburg.

True North
2a Munro Street, Coburg
03 9917 2262
Open: weekdays 7am - 4pm, weekends 8am - 4pm
True North Facebook page

True North on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Frugal vegetable stock revisited

Home made stock has such lovely depth of flavour.  However I only make it occasionally.  While it is just a matter of simmering some vegetables, herbs, salt and water, it still takes a bit of energy, space and dishes.  Once I do it I always feel such a domestic goddess.  I first found the frugal freezer stock idea years ago.  Given that I am still using this method, I thought I would revisit the recipe with the tweaking I have made over time.

I have always disliked that making stock involved throwing out the cooked vegies.  This frugal stock mainly relies on using the ends and peelings of vegies that we usually throw away anyway.  It takes me a while to collect the scraps so I just store them in a plastic bag in the freezer until I have enough scraps or enough energy (whichever comes first).

However I (and some others) found that just using scraps could leave a bitter taste in the stock.  I started to add a whole onion and a whole carrot - roughly chopped.  Using both scraps and whole vegetables seemed to help balance the flavours.

The other change I made to making stock has been to use my pasta insert for my stockpot.  It came as part of my saucepans package when I purchased it years ago and I don't use it for pasta very often.  The pasta insert is brilliant for cooking the scraps in so that when the stock is cooled it is quite easy to lift out all the vegie scraps.

Lastly all I need is enough room in the freezer to store all the stock.  Once it is in there, it is lovely to be able to take out a tub of stock and toss it into a soup or stew.    It is quite a dark stock but adds great flavour to a hearty soup or stock.  (Here are some examples of how I use it.)  What's not to love about fresh stock, recycling and keeping your costs down.  All achieved with very little effort.  No wonder it makes me feel like a domestic goddess.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: In My Kitchen - April 2013
Two years ago: WHB Purple carrot soda bread, wildlife and sandcastles
Three years ago: Strawberry muffins, new oven and an allergy
Four years ago: SOS KC: Beets, Greens and Chickpea Curry
Five years ago: Carrot Miso Soup
Six years ago: Pumpkin Apple and Sage Risotto

Frugal Freezer Stock

1 bag of vegie scraps*
1 onion
1 carrot
a few cloves of garlic
4-5 cups water
5-6 tsp salt
fresh herbs from garden such as rosemary, thyme, bayleaves

*I keep a plastic bag in the freezer and add vegie scraps as I trim and peel vegies.  It can be over a few weeks.  The main vegies I make sure are well represented are onion, celery (a stump of a bunch is great), carrots and other root vegies such as celeriac, turnip, parsnip.  I also love to include most vegies trimmings such as pumpkin skin and seeds, zucchini ends, leek trimmings, parsley stalks, tomato cores, sweet potato peelings, potato peelings.  I avoid brassicas such as cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower, because I read somewhere they have a strong flavour that can be quite smelly. The amount of vegies usually varies but is about enough to fill my stockpot once the pasta insert is in it.

Place pasta insert into stockpot (if you have one) and tip frozen vegies inside it.  Roughly chop onion, carrot and garlic cloves but don't bother to peel or trim.  Throw into the stockpot with frozen vegies.  Add water, salt and some fresh herbs (or trimmings of herbs).  Taste water to check it is salty enough and add more salt if necessary. 

Cover and bring to the boil.  Give a good stir (I poke at it from time to time with a wooden spoon).  Simmer for about15 to 20 minutes or until vegies are soft enough to crush with a spoon.

Lift the pasta insert out and drain off any stock.  (If you don't have a pasta insert, you will need a large collander with a large pot beneath to tip the stock into and drain stock from the vegie trimmings.)  Discard trimmings.  Ladle stock into containers and freezer if desired.  I freeze a lot of mine in 2 cup tubs but I like to have a few different size tubs as well.

On the Stereo:
It: Pulp

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Sweet potato, zucchini and olive quesadillas

Last week saw very little cooking in my kitchen.  Last night I realised that I had been so busy and poorly that I had only cooked one meal during the week.  I went to the movies, attended Sylvia's first school concert, had parent teacher interviews, had meetings and babysat my niece.  It was good to go out for dinner and eat meals from the freezer, when I wasn't so sick that I could only eat vegemite on toast.  My fridge however is still full of vegetables.  So last night I made some rather good quesadillas.

Quesadillas ticked a few boxes.  They were a good way to try some of my new Vegusto vegan mozzarella cheese, they used up some of the vegies that were begging to be put out of their misery, and they were fairly easy.  The original recipe for Zucchini, Olive and Cheese Quesadillas from Cooking Light used low fat mozzarella and feta cheese. 

I didn't have any feta and wanted to keep it vegan.  So I used a sweet potato that I half cooked about a week ago.  It was looking expectantly at me every time I opened the fridge.  I also had plenty of cherry tomatoes and some zucchinis from the farmers market.  And I couldn't resist adding my favourite spice, smoked paprika.

The sweet potato was a good choice in adding more vegies and helping the quesadilla stick together.  I've had problems with quesadillas holding together in the past but these flipped over with no problem.  In fact, with the sweet potato, you could probably omit the cheese altogether or even mashed in a few beans instead. 

It was my first time using Vegusto.  It grated ok but clumped together when I tried to sprinkle it on my tortillas.  I could taste the meltiness from time to time in the quesadillas but I don't think it was the best way to feature it and look forward to using it in more meals.

I had thought of making some refried beans to have on the side but I didn't have the energy.  I found that the quesadillas made a satisfying meal without them.  E said he could have eaten more.  Some refried beans and salad would make this a larger meal.  As it was, E just added some Tabasco because it wasn't quite spicy enough for him. 

I am sending these quesadillas to Vanesther at Bangers and Mash who is hosting Mexican Month on the Spice Trail

I am also sending them to Helen at Fuss Free Flavours for the Extra Veg challenge that she hosts with Michelle from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Sushi with sticky walnuts and edamame
Two years ago: Plum almond tart
Three years ago: WHB: Plum and Cinnamon Oat Slice
Four years ago: WHB Easter nut roast and reflections
Five years ago: Pooh Bear Honey Slice
Six years ago: Seduced by Strawberries and a Pudding

Sweet potato, zucchini and olive quesadillas
Adapted from Cooking Light October 2001
Serves 2

1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 small to medium zucchinis, grated
1/4 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp smoked paprika, divided
1 cup mashed sweet potato
1 tbsp white miso
4 (8-inch) wheat tortillas
1/2 cup (2 oz) mozzarella cheese, divided (I used vegusto)
1/2 cup chopped cherry tomatoes, divided
1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives, divided

Heat olive oil in a large frypan over  medium heat and fry onion and garlic for about 5 minutes or until onion is translucent.  Add zucchini and fry another 5 to 10 minutes until zucchini starts to brown.  Turn off the heat.  Mix in oregano, 1/4 tsp of smoked paprika and season with a good pinch of salt and a good grinding of black pepper.  Scrape into a small bowl and set aside.  Use a paper towel to wipe out the frying pan to be ready for the tortillas.

Mix the mashed sweet potato with miso, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper (or to taste).  Spread half the mashed sweet potatoes over a tortilla, or enough to cover it but not too thickly.

Preheat frypan over medium heat.  (I didn't add any oil.)  Have the mozzarella, tomatoes and olives ready.  Place a plain tortilla on the pan and scatter with half the mozzarella, half the zucchini mixture, half the cherry tomatoes and half the olives.  Top with the tortilla spread with sweet potato, with the vegetables facing downwards.  Fry for about 3 minutes or until golden brown.  Carefully flip over and fry another 2 minutes or until golden brown on the second side.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.  Cut each quesadilla into four and serve hot. 

On the Stereo:
Listen, Listen: an Introduction to: Sandy Denny