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Silverbeet Frittata

Five serves of vegetables a day doesn’t seem like that much. I love vegetables and eat lots of them. But it’s amazing how easy it is to miss a day or two. Lunch at a work meeting,  nice rolls with turkey and cranberry, but really only a bit of lettuce you could count as a vegetable. Late home for dinner, make a quick pasta with a vegetarian tomato based sauce but really only a couple of serves of vegetables in it.

This takes me literally less than 10 minutes to make, and half of that time I can multi-task, it is really delicious, low fat, high protein, low GI, and there’s two serves of vegetables straight up. And one of them is silver beet, which is coming right into season now – I’m starting to pick it in bulk in my garden.. Women specially can use all the iron and folic acid they can get into their diet, and feel so good for it. And I think this might be a good way to get kids interested in silverbeet.

The Breakfast Challenge??)

The Recipe:

(Serves two adults for breakfast)

Into the food processor put:

  • two big silver beet leaves stripped from their stems
  • a spring onion, greens and all
  • a big sprig of parsley stripped from the stem
  • a small sweet pepper, or about a quarter of a standard sized capsicum
  • 4 cherry tomatoes
  • a heaped dessertspoon of low fat cottage cheese
  • a slice of low fat tasty cheese or parmesan
  • 2 large eggs or 3 of the little eggs my bantam crosses lay
  • salt and pepper

Put a teaspoon of butter on to melt in a heavy based frypan.

Whiz the ingredients in the processor for just a few seconds, use a plastic spatula to scrape down and whiz again. The idea is to avoid blending it too much, just chopping the ingredients together.

Pour the lot into the pan, turn the heat down to very low, put a lid on, and try to avoid peeking more than is necessary. Cook for around 5 minutes until the top is just set.  The trick here is to have the heat low enough and the lid on enough so that it sets without the bottom burning.

Meanwhile you can make coffee and toast to go with it.

Cut the frittata into quarters. It should be set enough so that you can flip one quarter on top of another. (If it breaks up, doesn’t matter, just won’t “plate up” Masterchef style!) Turn the heat off and leave it for a minute – the residual heat will make sure the middle (which was the top) sets – I really don’t like unset eggs.

A slice of sourdough toast on the side, and you’re set up for the day.

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For perfect poached eggs, you need very fresh eggs.  You can add vinegar to the water, get it swirling into a little whirlpool, do whatever you like, but you won’t get perfect poached eggs without very fresh eggs.  Fresh eggs cook in one little mound with the white all staying together and a yolk that is high and has a glaze of white over it.  The white sets while the yolk is still runny.  If your eggs are more than a couple of days old, boil or scramble them instead.  It just won’t do it.

From then on, it’s just a matter of a good sourdough toast to put it on (sorry, the infatuation with sourdough means serious contenders for the The Breakfast Cereal Challenge still have to go on top of sourdough). Then they just need a bed.

And we are harvesting the first of the season’s silver beet, which are the perfect bed for poached eggs. Silver beet is a superfood, very high in antioxidant beta carotene, which helps protect against all sorts of chronic diseases due to cell damage, including sun damaged skin.  It’s also a very good source of folic acid, which is good for the immune and nervous systems.  And it’s good for iron (specially if served with a good source of Vitamin C – hence some cherry tomatoes on the side) which helps red blood carry oxygen, which stops you feeling tired and run down.

And best of all, silver beet and white cheese like cottage cheese, ricotta or feta are just meant for each other.

The Breakfast Challenge??)

The Recipe:

Strip the silver beet leaves off the stalks and blanch for a couple of minutes in boiling water.  Drain very well, pressing down to squeeze out excess moisture.

Put them in a blender or food processor with a spoonful of white cheese and, unless you are using a salty cheese like feta, a pinch of salt.

Meanwhile, put some bread on to toast and break two very fresh eggs into a fry pan full of gently boiling plain water.  Put a lid on the pan and poach for a couple of minutes until the white is set.

Serve with chopped cherry tomatoes, both for the flavour and because the vitamin C helps your body absorb the iron from the silver beet.

Sally forth into the day feeling as invincible as Pop-eye!

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I get why people name their sourdough cultures. Navarone (son of Priscilla) is the new love of my life. I feed him, burp him, check him daily for signs of life. I take him on holiday with me to the beach and introduce him to all my family and friends! He’s gorgeous. He even has that sweet baby smell.

As an offshoot of this affair, my new favourite breakfast is sourdough cottage cheese pikelets (or hotcakes if you are in USA). This crush has been going on for a while but I wanted to try them without sourdough before posting about them because I know not everybody can get hold of a culture.  This morning I tried making them without sourdough culture just to see how they worked out. And they were good – I don’t think they were quite as good as Navarone’s but then, maybe I’m biased!

So this is the recipe for Cottage Cheese Pikelets, with and without sourdough culture, though if you can get hold of a sourdough culture I highly recommend it. With its cottage cheese and eggs, this is a high protein, low GI breakfast that will get your metabolism going and keep you energetic and clear headed through to lunch time.

I made these for my sister’s family and the kids ate them hot from the pan as fast as I could make them, with just a dribble of syrup. The recipe made a good breakfast for five of us.

(The Breakfast Cereal Challenge is my 2011 challenge – a year’s worth of breakfast recipes that are quick and easy enough to be a real option for weekdays, and that are preferable, in nutrition, ethics, and taste,  to the overpackaged, overpriced, mostly empty packets of junk food marketed as “cereal” .)

The Recipe:

Separate three small or two large eggs

Beat the whites till they are stiff.  (This is so easy with an old fashioned eggbeater – takes literally 20 seconds)

Use a stick blender or food processor to blend the yolks with

  • 1 cup wholemeal self raising flour
  • ½ cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 2 dessertspoons honey
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
    • OR a scant ½ cup wholemeal self raising flour
    • mixed with ½ cup of plain low fat yoghurt
    • and a  dessertspoon of lemon juice

Fold in the whites. (It will make a pikelet batter that is a bit stiffer than a standard mix)

In a heavy pan, over not too high a heat, fry spoonfuls of mixture in a little butter till they are golden and set.
Serve hot from the pan, just as they are, or with a dribble of honey or syrup.
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The picture doesn’t really do justice to the hearty, spicy, creamy goodness of this.  It is one of my favourite breakfasts, and so fast and easy I often make it just for me.  So this is a one person recipe, and the kind of  high protein, high fibre, low GI, low fat, low calorie breakfast that people like me with low activity need to find tempting! It’s easily adapted though for more people or more active people, and it also makes a good Sunday night dinner when you are hungry but don’t feel like cooking or eating anything too elaborate.

(The Breakfast Challenge??)

The Recipe:

Serves one – double or treble for more.

This recipe, like just about all bean recipes, starts with “soak your beans”.  Bean Basics tells you why and how.  I use my home-grown Purple King seeds, but you can use kidney, pinto or black turtle beans.  Fresh beans will cook faster than old beans, so if you are buying beans, look for Australian grown ones with the latest “best before” date.

I start with ¹/3 cup of dried bean seeds, soaked overnight in cold water.  In the morning, I put the beans on to cook in the pressure cooker with 1½ cups of water and pressure cook for 10 minutes until they are very soft. (Larger, older beans will take longer).

While the beans are cooking, I sauté together one onion, finely diced, a couple of cloves of garlic, and half a chili in a little olive oil.  If you don’t like it spicy hot, you can substitute some diced capsicum or a good pinch of cumin for the chili, or just leave it out.

As soon as the beans are cooked, tip them, water and all, into the pan with the onions.  There should be just about the right amount of liquid to get all the tastiness out of the pan. Boil to reduce if necessary. You want something that will blend to dip consistency. Add two good dessertspoons of low fat cottage cheese and a pinch of salt.

Blend this mixture, using a blender, food processor, or stick blender, until it is smooth and creamy.  Add salt to taste – beans need a bit of salt – and serve with flatbread and a spoon.

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Not a great photo – I hadn’t intended to Witches Kitchen these.  I was just about to serve  out some left over vegetable soup for lunch and visitors turned up.  These came together in 20 minutes while chatting to the visitors, and with a few additions to the soup, made a knock up lunch into a feast.  They turned out so well, they had to go here.

The Recipe:

Turn the oven on to heat up.  These like a hot oven.

Into your food processor blend together, just until they are combined:

  • 1¼ cups of wholemeal self raising flour
  • good pinch of paprika
  • 4 good dessertspoons of low fat cottage cheese
  • one egg

You should end up with a soft dough that you can knead.

  • Strip the corn off a cob.
  • Chop one or two spring onions, greens and all.
  • Chop 50 grams of low fat feta cheese into little cubes.

Flour your work surface well, tip the dough out onto it, tip the corn, onions and cheese on top and knead the lot together.  You don’t need to knead much – not like bread – just enough to combine it all well.

Pat the dough out to about 3 cm thick and use a small glass to cut out scones.

Place them close together on an oiled baking tray.  Use your fingers to dob a little oil on the top of each scone.  Bake in a hot oven for about 15 minutes until they are lightly browned.

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Christine at Slow Living Essentials wrote a great post a little while ago about creating a “meal tree” for a new mum.  This is my turn in a meal tree to celebrate the arrival of baby Hilah.  It is one of my favourite recipes for this.  Silver beet for its folate and its iron, feta and cottage cheese for their calcium, eggs for their protein,  nothing in it to upset breast feeding, easy to transport, good hot or cold, and the whole thing easy enough to make and drop off on my way to work this morning.

The Recipe:

This recipe makes two pies (I made one for our dinner as well while I was at it), each around 25cm diameter.

Turn your oven on to heat up.

Strip the green leaf off the stems from a large bunch of silver beet and blanch for a couple of minutes in boiling water, just to wilt the leaves.  Drain well, pushing down with a fork or a potato masher to squeeze out all the water, and allow to cool a little.

While the silver beet is cooling, make the pastry.

In your food processor, blend together 1¼ cups of wholemeal plain flour and 120 grams of cold butter, chopped into little cubes.  Blend for a minute until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Add water, a spoonful at a time, until you have a soft dough that you can knead very briefly then roll out.

Flour your work surface, divide the dough into two balls, and roll it out to fit your two pie dishes.

The Filling:

You don’t need to wash your food processor.

Blend together:

  • the cooled, blanched silver beet
  • 200 grams of cottage cheese
  • 300 grams of feta cheese
  • 6 to 8 eggs, depending on their size.

Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shells.

Sprinkle a little grated cheese over the top.

Bake in a moderate oven for around 45 minutes until the filling is set and the pastry is browning.  The filling will set a bit more as it cools.

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