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Which is a two part dish, consisting of an Asian style omelette in a mildly ginger laced vegetable stock sauce.  It’s surprisingly addictive! I used duck eggs for this one, just because we have them, but chook eggs work just as well.

We are just a few days away now from the Spring equinox, one of the two points in the year when the days and the nights are equal length.  Once upon a time in ancient Europe people used to gather to celebrate the spring equinox. The hibernating animals emerged from their winter burrows to breed, along with a certain mythical rabbit. The flush of spring laying provided eggs in such abundance they could be blown and painted just for the fun and beauty of it.  People marked the balance point between the lengthening days and the shortening nights, and celebrated the eternal cycle of winter death and spring resurrection.

We have “enough” eggs year round – just a few weeks when the chooks are moulting when they are actually scarce, which ironically is around the autumn equinox in the southern hemisphere.  But in spring even the geriatrics lay for a while and we have so many eggs that it is very easy to see how painted eggs became a spring equinox tradition.  Our son visited on the weekend and we fed him and his friends eggs for breakfast and sent him home with a dozen duck eggs.  My partner has the kind of liver that doesn’t produce cholesterol, so he’s eating a couple of poached eggs for breakfast every day. And any respectable  Tuesday Night Vego Challenge has to include eggs.

 The Recipe:

Get everything chopped and ready before you start, because it goes together fast.

The Omelette:

  • Beat 3 duck eggs or 4 large chook eggs with an eggbeater or fork until they are frothy.
  • Add a teaspoon of grated ginger, a pinch of salt, and a dessertspoon of wine vinegar, saké or sherry.
  • Cook in an oiled frypan over a low heat, lid on, till set.  Loosen the edges and turn the omelette over for just a minute, then tip it out onto a board.
  • Slice into strips, ready to add to the sauce.

The Sauce

Prepare all the vegetables before you start cooking.

  • Grate another teaspoon of ginger.
  • Julienne an onion (chop it in half, then finely lengthways) and a carrot.
  • Dice another couple of cupfuls of vegetables – celery, snow peas, peas, mushrooms, kale, silver beet, broccolini, asparagus, chinese cabbage – you want those kind of Asian stir-fry vegetables, but there are lots of choices possible.
  • Mix 1½ cups of stock with 2 dessertspoons of soy sauce, a teaspoon of honey and another dessertspoon of vinegar, saké or sherry.
  • Mix 3 teaspoons of cornflour (cornstarch in USA) in a little water.

When they are all ready, heat up a wok or a large pan with a little oil till it is hot.  Add the onions first, stir for a minute, add the carrots, stir for another minute, then add the ginger and the other vegetables and stir fry for two or three minutes.

Then add the stock and braise the vegetables in it for just a couple of minutes.  You want the vegetables to be tender but still have some crunch to them.

Add the cornflour and stir through.  The sauce should thicken immediately.

Take it off the heat, add the strips of omelette, and gently ladle into bowls.  Serve with extra soy sauce on the side for salt lovers.
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We stopped in at a fish shop on the way home from visiting our daughter at the coast yesterday.  I had just bought a half kilo of squid, thinking calamari, when I noticed they had snapper frames at a ridiculously low price.

Snapper are listed as a sustainable catch, and I like the idea that, when you hunt an animal for food you really should eat all of it.  So I bought two head-and-backbone frames for next to nothing, and this is the result.  Of course then we had to invite people for dinner.  The recipe fed four of us, generously, served with crusty bread, and with the spring vegetables from the garden and the rich, smoky paprika flavoured fish stock it was very good.

The Recipe:

I don’t think my fish stock recipe is in the chef’s manual, but it works.  I just put the frames in my large pressure cooker, cover with water, and pressure cook over a very low flame for an hour.  Then I strain the stock, pressing down with a potato masher to get the last of the juice, and leaving the the heads and bones for the compost.

To 1 ½ litres fish stock (from 2 snapper frames), I added:

  • 2 onions, diced
  • 6 cloves of my new season fresh garlic roughly chopped
  • ½ cup shelled young broad beans
  • 5 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 jar of peeled tomatoes
  • 6 stalks of cavallo nero kale diced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • a heaped teaspoon of smoky paprika

I simmered this for 20 minutes or so, then added

  • 3 zucchini, diced
  • 6 small new season potatoes quartered
  • handful of dill, chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt and black pepper

I simmered this for another 10 minutes until the potato was tender, then added the half a kilogram of squid, cut into rings, brought it just up to the boil again, then turned it off.  By the time I had bowls organised, the squid was cooked.

Served with warm crusty bread.

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Cooking vegetables in my mother’s generation meant boiling them until they gave up.  I am an eldest child, my partner is a youngest, so his mother was a generation older.  Her version of chokos was boiled until they liquified. No wonder  as kids we weren’t great fans of vegetables!

It is amazing how much food culture we learn, for good and bad, as children.  Few of us boil veggies silly these days, but still the tendency is to serve them, more often than not, steamed or boiled as a side dish.

Nowadays I quite often make a meal that features vegetables as the main, not the side dish, and I very rarely use any water that will be drained off.  If you garden, fresh vegetables are so gorgeous that it is hard to improve on just serving them as themselves. One of the very first posts I did in this blog was Roast Vegetables as Themselves. This time of year, there are so many greens so perfectly in season that greens as themselves are worth a recipe.

This is the way I most commonly cook green veggies, as a side dish and quite often as the main with some haloumi sticks or good bread on the side.

The Recipe

Very simply, use very fresh broccoli flowerettes, peas, snow peas, celery, silver beet, kale, zucchini, and or any other green vegetables in season. Trim them and put them in a pot with a tight fitting lid.  Add a little swig of olive oil or a small knob of butter and just a little pinch of salt.  If you like,  crush in a couple of cloves of garlic and a good grating of black pepper.

Squeeze in some lemon juice – for this bowl of greens I used the juice from half a small lemon.  Add a very small amount – a dessertspoon or so – of water.

Put the lid on the pot and cook for about 3 minutes.  Every 20 seconds or so, hold the lid on tight and give the pot a good shake.  Try not to peek or you will let the steam escape.  Ideally by the time they are cooked there is just a nice little amount of juice as sauce and a hint of caramelisation in the pot.

Like the roast vegetables, it really needs nothing else.  With some fingers of haloumi cheese and some good bread this is a meal all on its own, and it’s really worth just appreciating vegetables as themselves.

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