Winter Tomatoes

by Linda on July 12, 2014

sun dried tomatoes

There was a good frost down the bottom of the hill this morning, but in my high, north facing garden, even this time of year we are getting a little handful of tomatoes a day.

But this time of year it’s the tomatoes sun dried in the peak of summer that are the treasure.  They go in pasta and gnocchi and minestrone and on pizza. A whole handful go into ragu or bean stew.  They go on crackers with feta and in tapenade for spreading on toast.  And I have to admit, I have been known to eat them straight from the jar.

The most valuable preserve on my shelf (well, maybe equal first with Preserved Lemons) and they cost me no fuel and very little work to make.

winter tomatoes

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ful medames

OK, so I know somebody is going to protest about the inauthenticity of this.  And the photo doesn’t help.  Ful Medames is an Egyptian dish made with ful, which are fava beans or broad beans.  I make a version with fresh broad beans often in late winter or spring when they are in season and it is much more photogenic. But the strong  lemon/garlic/pepper kind of flavours of ful medames work with practically any kind of beans.  I’ve made this often with dried purple king beans or rattlesnake beans, which yields a much nicer looking light pinky-brown bean dip.  But this one is a real fusion – a middle Eastern dish using American black turtle beans.

I harvested the last of the turtle beans this week.  They were pretty dry on the bush, but we had the wood stove going and it was real bean eating weather so rather than dry them all the way for storage, I cooked them straight away in my favourite bean dish of all. The flavours are amazing – a whole bowl of beans for dinner and you scrape the bottom of the bean bowl.  On this occasion with sourdough flatbread with poppy seeds and crushed linseeds to scoop with.

The Recipe:

  • First soak and cook a cup of dried beans (or if you start with semi-dried beans like I did, a cup and a half).  Bean Basics has the basic method for this.  Soak them overnight or for a few hours, then pressure cook for 15 minutes or boil for about 45 minutes or cook them in a slow cooker for 5 or 6 hours.  Reduce to half beans half water consistency.  For this recipe, you want beans that are very soft.
  • Fry a chopped onion gently in olive oil till soft.
  • Crush or chop a whole corm of garlic (yes, lots!).  Add to the onions.
  • Crush or grind a whole dessertspoon of black pepper (yes, lots!) and add that too.
  • Add salt to taste.  Start with a scant half a teaspoon, but you will probably end up adding more.
  • Add the beans.  Simmer gently, stirring often, for about half an hour. The beans should break up but if you need to you can help them a bit with an eggbeater or a stick blender.  You can make it into a smooth puree if you like - I like it better with some whole or mashed beans in it.
  • Add a third of a cup of lemon juice.  Taste and adjust the salt and lemon juice – you will probably add more of both.

Serve in bowls with pita bread or flatbread to dip.

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by Linda on June 28, 2014

My son is here for the weekend with some of his friends, so I get to do my favourite thing in the world and feed a mob of young urbanites.

But they sleep in!

So while I’m waiting, I thought I might give you a preview.

mandarins carambola grapefruit

First up, winter fruit – carambola, mandarins, grilled pink grapefruit, with yoghurt.

Then poached free range eggs on sourdough toast with lemony garlicy  mushrooms with goats’ cheese.  The mushrooms have been braised in garlic, butter and lemon juice, and I’ll pop these in the oven just as they come to wilt the spinach and melt in the cheese a little.

garlic mushrooms with spinach and goats cheese

With a side of haloumi and winter tomatoes (which I’m very proud of at this time of year) on a bed of rocket.  I’ll fry the haloumi in a little olive oil and dress with  balsamic at the last minute.


With homegrown coffee and homemade sourdough with lime or kumquat marmalade.

lime marmalade

There was mention of lemon butter last night so I’m thinking pancakes with lemon curd for tomorrow’s breakfast.

The wood stove is lit, the sun is shining, music on the record player, guests for breakfast – life is good.


Contemplating Extinction

June 18, 2014

Spotted on my morning walk, a fine fat fellow looking very relaxed in a tree right next to our driveway.  I don’t think it is a tree we planted but the one right next to it is. Our daughter was given some tickets to Currumbin Wildlife Park on the Gold Coast a couple of weeks ago, [...]

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Red Claw Pappardelle

June 12, 2014

I have to confess, this recipe has been in my drafts since Easter.  Mostly because I totally know most of you won’t have access to red claw and so right now you will be thinking mean things at me! But you could do red claw.  My son has them growing in an aquaculture tank in the [...]

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A Turtle in the Star Bath

June 7, 2014

We have a star bath.  It’s a heavy cast iron bath in a very unfashionable shade of green with a fireplace under it.  It sits out in the open with a clear view of the wide starry sky, and on cold winters nights we fill it up and light a fire under it.  A glass [...]

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Planting in Early Winter

June 6, 2014

Sequential planting is such a lifesaver!  This whole year seems to have been routines-out-the-window so far.  I love routines.  Once you have worked a system down to the point where it just works and you turn it into a habit,  it just gets done in incidental time, and incidental time doesn’t count. My sourdough baking is [...]

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Kumquat Marmalade, Lemon Vinegar, Preserved Lemons, Lime Pickle – It Must Be Citrus Season

May 31, 2014

All in about an hour.  I couldn’t bear the amount of citrus sitting around so I found an hour this morning to make preserved lemons (on the right), lime pickles (back left), lemon cleaning vinegar (at the back), lemon vinegar (tall bottle), and at the front, kumquat marmalade. Preserved lemons are ridiculously easy and fast, and they’re one [...]

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Guava Jellies

May 17, 2014

I seem to have dozens of half written posts and  not so great photos banked up, shoved into random folders to get back to after Bentley.  There’s a late pick of turtle beans being slow cooked and turned into a kind of ful medames.  There’s the new induction hotplate so we can fast cook using [...]

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