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I think Yorkshire puddings are the same as popovers in USA, or almost the same.  They are crisp on the outside, almost hollow on the inside little pastries made with a very simple mix of equal parts milk, eggs, and plain flour.  These were baked in regular sized muffin tins and took 25 minutes to cook. They could probably have been a little browner, but my oven is slow to heat up and they are insanely fast and easy to mix, so they would just fit into the half hour of the  Tuesday Night Vego Challenge rules for most people with a non-antique oven.

I use wholemeal plain flour and they work fine. Real wholemeal flour from the wholefoods shop, not “wholemeal style” flour from the supermarket, which is another of those marketing deceptions that drive me nuts. If you read the fine print, wholemeal style flour is white flour with bran added back in. The problem is that wheat germ goes off. So wholegrain four with the wheat germ in it has a shorter shelf life, too short for supermarket stocking.  Lots of real down-to-earthers advocate grinding your own flour because of this. I’m just not dedicated enough to do this, but I do buy wholemeal flour in smaller quantities, regularly, from the wholefoods shop rather than the supermarket.

The other major ingredient is silverbeet, which is in season and in bulk in my garden right now, and is a superfood for a whole heap of reasons –  antioxidant beta carotene (good for protecting against aging inside and out due to cell damage), folic acid (good for immune and nervous systems), iron (good for energy),  and calcium and magnesium and vitamin K (good for bones).

The Recipe:

I’ll write the recipe out for a one person serve of two yorkshire puddings, as in the pic. The recipe scales fine – I actually made it for two this time. You just multiply by the number of people.

Put a teaspoon of olive oil in each cup in a regular sized muffin pan, and put it in the oven. Turn the oven on to heat up. You want a fairly hot oven, and a hot pan with hot oil.

Put three glasses on your bench. Break one egg per person into one glass.  Fill the second glass with milk (semi skim is fine) up to the same level and the third glass with plain wholemeal flour up to the same level.

Tip all three into the blender, or into a bowl, add a pinch of salt, and whisk or blend to mix.

When your oven and muffin tray are hot, pour the batter into the muffin tins, filling them about two-thirds full.

Put it in the oven and bake, preferably without opening the oven, for around 20 minutes till they are risen and golden brown.

While the puddings are baking, make the filling.

Strip the leaf from the stalks of 4 big silverbeet leaves per person.  Blanch them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then drain well, pushing down with a potato masher to get all the water out.

Blend the blanched silverbeet with a good dessertspoon per person of cottage cheese, and 40 grams of feta (low fat is fine) per person.  I like to add a touch of wasabi or grated horseradish too, but that’s a matter of taste.  You might prefer a little spring onion, or sauteed onion, or just as it is.

As soon as the yorkshire puddings are ready, tip them out, cut in half, and fill with the filling.  They’re best served straight away while hot.

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This is a bit of a  Tuesday Night Vego Challenge rules cheat.  Now the days have started really lengthening, even the geriatric chooks are laying so handmade pasta with real eggs was in my mind. And then I was looking for a cake tin deep in the back of the shelf and came across a fluted flan tin that I forgot I had.  And in a moment of inspiration realised it would work to cut pasta.  So I decided to try hand making farfalle.

The next decision was primavera with the lovely sweet baby spring vegetables, or carbonara which would use up another egg, so I compromised by combining both. The whole meal didn’t take much over the half hour of the rules, and it was quite simple and easy, but if I were making it for more than two and trying to get it done in the half hour, I think I’d go for a simpler pasta shape.

The Recipe:

Makes two adult sized serves.

The Pasta

In a food processor, blend for just a minute till it comes together into a dough:

  • ½ cup baker’s flour  (I use the same Laucke Wallaby Unbleached Bakers Flour that I use for my sourdough, but any high gluten flour will work)
  • a large egg,
  • a spoonful of olive oil,
  • a good pinch of salt.

Flour the workbench and knead very briefly, kneading in enough more flour to make a smooth, non-sticky dough. It will look like quite a small dough ball, but a little bit goes a long way.

With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out very thin.  (If you flip it several times while rolling, you’ll find you can easily get it very thin without sticking. The thinner the better.)

I put it onto a chopping board to cut, but that will depend on your bench hardiness. You can then cut it into any shape you like. To make farfalle, I used the fluted edge of the flan tin to cut the pasta into strips about 2.5 cm thick, then into 5 cm lengths.  You can fold and stack the pasta and cut 5 or 6 layers at once to make it a bit faster.  I then just squeezed the centre of each little piece of pasta to make the bow shape.  This is the bit that takes time. Kids may enjoy helping.

Put a pot of water on to boil and leave the pasta spread out to dry a little while you make the sauces.

The Carbonara:

You don’t need to wash the food processor.

Blend together:

  • egg
  • 80 grams of low fat feta
  • 2 big dessertspoons of low fat cottage cheese

The Primavera:

They are all fresh vegetables that take no time to cook, so this will come together in 5 minutes;

In a heavy frypan, with a little olive oil, add (in more or less this order, giving it a stir with each addition)

  • a small leek, finely chopped
  • a handful of  single shelled broad beans
  • 4 or 5 leaves of kale or silver beet, or a couple of each (just the greens, not the stems)
  • a big handful of shelled fresh peas
  • a big handful of snow peas, chopped into bites
  • a dozen or so olives, roughly chopped
  • half a dozen spears of fresh asparagus, any woody bits removed and roughly chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • a heaped dessertspoon of chopped fresh mint. (The fresh mint really changes it – it’s not essential  but really worth adding)
Take the pan off the heat and put a lid on it to conserve the heat.

Assembling:

  • Cook the pasta in the pot of boiling water until it rises to the surface, which will be in about 2 minutes.
  • Reserve a little of the cooking water and drain the pasta, then return it to the hot pot.
  • Blend a little of the cooking water in with the carbonara sauce to make a cream consistency, then gently toss it through the pasta in the hot pot. Put the lid on and leave for a minute for the egg to just coddle a little and thicken the sauce.
  • Add the vegetables, toss through and serve, with a grating of parmesan and black pepper on top.

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Saag is the dish I order whenever I go to an Indian restaurant, and this time of year, with silver beet and mustard both in bulk in the garden, one of my home cooking regulars.  I posted a vegetarian Saag recipe a few weeks ago, in the  Tuesday Night Vego Challenge series.  This meat version is, sadly, no more photogenic. Traditionally mutton or goat are the meats used, but kangaroo is my red meat of choice these days, and it works really well in Saag.

The Recipe:

Serves two generously.

Heat a little olive oil in a big pot or pressure cooker.

Dice 500 grams of kangaroo steak and add it to the hot pot.

Into a cup, put:

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel or dill seeds
  • the seeds from 5 cardamom pods

(It’s better if you use whole seeds for this)

As soon as the kangaroo meat starts to brown, add the seeds.  You may need to add a little more oil.  Cook, stirring occasionally, till the seeds start to pop.  (Don’t let them burn).

Then add:

  • 2 finely diced chilis (more or less, depending on how strong your chilis are and how spicy you like your food.  Saag is more aromatic than hot though).
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • a heaped teaspoon of grated or finely diced fresh ginger
  • a heaped teaspoon of grated or finely diced fresh turmeric (or substitute a scant teaspoon of turmeric powder)

Cook stirring for a minute or two more, till the spices all coat the meat, then add:

  • a cup of stock.
  • the shredded leaves from a BIG bunch of silverbeet.  Just the leaf stripped from the stem, chopped reasonably fine.  It will be much more than you think should go in, but it reduces, and it’s the heart of the dish.
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cm of cinnamon stick

Pressure cook for 15 minutes, or simmer for 40 minutes.  If you simmer, you’ll need to add a bit more water.

It should end up with the meat and silver beet in a little bit of sauce. Take it off the heat and stir in 3 heaped dessertspoons of greek yoghurt.  Stir vigorously to break up the silver beet and make the sauce creamy.

Serve over rice, and/or with naan bread.

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Saag just isn’t photogenic. Unfortunately, because it is very delicious, and I have bucketloads of silverbeet (chard if you are not in Australia)  in the garden at the moment and saag is one of the very best recipes I know to use bucketloads of it (and still want to come back for more tomorrow).

Saag is a northern Indian spiced puree of spinach (or silver beet).  This far north I never have spinach in those kind of quantities, but I do have silver beet – it’s a garden no-fail this time of year, and it’s a superfood for a whole heap of reasons.  It has lots of  antioxidant beta carotene, good for protecting against aging inside and out due to cell damage.  And it’s  a  good source of folic acid, which is good for the immune and nervous systems and with the number of colds and flu’s going round right now, that’s a good thing. And it has heaps of calcium and magnesium and vitamin K which are all important for bones.

The Recipe:

Serves two generously.

Into a cup, put:

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel or dill seeds
  • the seeds from 5 cardamom pods

(It’s better if you use whole seeds for this)

Chop and have ready to add:

  • 2 finely diced chilis (more or less, depending on how strong your chilis are and how spicy you like your food.  Saag is best mildly spiced though).
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • a heaped teaspoon of grated or finely diced fresh ginger
  • a heaped teaspoon of grated or finely diced fresh turmeric (or substitute a scant teaspoon of turmeric powder)

Heat quite a decent swig of oil in a big pot or pressure cooker.  Traditionally it would have been ghee, but I don’t like to use quite that much butter.  Olive oil is a bit strong flavoured though. I use macadamia oil, but any sweet or mild flavoured oil would work.

Add the seeds and cook, stirring till they start to pop.  (Don’t let them burn). Then add the chili/ginger/turmeric/garlic mix. Cook stirring for another minute or two, then add

  • a cup of vegetable stock, with some salt in it
  • the shredded leaves from a BIG bunch of silverbeet.  Just the leaf stripped from the stem, chopped reasonably fine.  Lots – at least two packed cupfuls.  I often add a few mustard leaves too.
  • bay leaves
  • 3 cm of cinnamon stick

Pressure cook for 5 minutes, or simmer for 15, then reduce until there is just a little bit of liquid left. Take it off the heat and blend in 3 or 4 heaped dessertspoons of cottage cheese (low fat works fine).  I use a stick blender for this, but you could use a blender, food processor, or even a mouli.

Serve with naan bread for scooping.

Do you have a favourite Tuesday Night Vego Challenge recipe for this time of year?  Links are welcome in the comments.
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I saw outside the local fruit and veg shop yesterday buckets of fresh, local, organic silverbeet at $1.50 a bunch.  (Chard if you are not in Australia). Someone else obviously has silverbeet going nuts – hardly surprising.  It is the time of year for it.  My Italian silverbeet has all gone to seed now, but all the Fordhook Giant is still going strong and looking gorgeous, and I have young Perpetual coming on.

A few months ago, I remember being amazed that anyone was buying the bunches of sad old silverbeet in the supermarket for nearly $6 a bunch.  I hate to think what was on it. Even in my garden with long established populations of pest predators – birds and lizards and frogs, insectivorous bats and predatory insects like mantises –  the little grasshoppers make a mess of it in summer.  From spring onwards I don’t bother planting it.

At the moment I am giving away armloads to visitors and using every silverbeet recipe in the repertoire, but any day now I expect the grasshoppers to arrive and the urge to bolt to seed to win out and the bounty will be over.  Seasonal eating. Make the best of it while it lasts, then leave it off the menu till next winter.

The Recipe:

Serves two generously.

You need bread dough.  You can make a bit specially for it, but where this recipe shines is in how easy it is if you are already making bread.  When you punch down your bread dough ready to put it in the baking tin, reserve a couple of pieces the size of a small fist for this.  I use my wholemeal sourdough, but you could use any bread dough.

In a frypan, saute a  finely chopped onion, then, when it is translucent, add a couple of cloves of crushed garlic.

Then add

  • A bunch (8 or so) silverbeet leaves, stripped from their midribs and roughly chopped
  • 2 dessertspoons of pine nuts (or substitute chopped cashews or macadamias)
  • 2 dessertspoons of sultanas
  • 2 dessertspoons of chopped mint

Cook for just a minute or two longer until the silver beet is wilted.

Meanwhile, break the sourdough into four pieces the size of large eggs.

On a lightly floured bench, roll them out with a rolling pin until they are a bit more than half a centimetre thick.

Spread half the filling over one sheet and cover with another.

Press the edges together to seal, then roll lightly with the rolling pin to press the layers together. Repeat for the other two pieces of dough, with the other half of the filling.

Allow to rest for 30 minutes or so. The sourdough should “prove” a bit and the gozlemes look a bit plumper.

Lightly oil 2 pans and put them on a low heat.

Cook the gozlemes on one side for about 10 minutes, then flip it and cook the other side.

Serve warm sliced into quarters with a slice of lemon.

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My partner’s favourite lunch is microwaved tofu and vegetables with chili (he’s a chili fiend).  I’m not a huge fan of either tofu or microwaves, but hey, I’m not purist. It’s mostly garden vegetables, and I am a huge fan of them!

I’m not a huge fan of tofu because soy beans contain a number of compounds that can cause health problems,  it takes a fair amount of processing to get tofu from soy beans, and they are one of the most genetically modified and unsustainably farmed crops on the planet.   Nutrisoy and Soyco are a couple of brands that don’t use genetically modified soy beans.

I’m not much of a fan of microwaves either, mostly because they have such limited uses for so much consumer electronic junk.  But Lewie has a microwave at his work and it is an easy, no mess way to cook lunch, especially if you have an inactive office job.

The Recipe:

Part 1: The Dressing/Marinade

I make a jar of this because we use it for all sorts of dishes.

In a jar, shake together:

  • 1 part olive oil
  • 1 part lemon juice
  • 1 part soy sauce
  • 1 part sweet chili sauce or chili jam
  • a clove or two of garlic crushed
  • a similar amount of ginger crushed
  • a little sesame oil or tahini

This dressing or marinade will keep in the fridge for weeks.  Use a few dessertspoons over the vegetables in the lunchbox.  They will toss themselves on the way.

Part 2: Tofu

Fry some cubes of tofu in a little oil till browned.

Part 3: The Vegetables

This is just simply chopped garden vegetables in season.

  • Chinese cabbage
  • Silver Beet
  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Snow Peas
  • Red Onion

(I have a zucchini plant surviving in my garden, but really it shouldn’t be in season.)

Assembling and Cooking:

Vegies and cooked tofu in a microwavable lunch box with a lid, with a couple of spoonfuls of dressing.

At work at lunch time shake the lunchbox to cover everything in dressing and put the whole thing in the microwave for 4 to 5 minutes (more or less, depending on how crunchy you like your vegetables.)

Feel so glad you brought lunch rather than succumbed to a burger.

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This recipe is challenging. It is much better the next day.  Now that is hard to achieve in our house!

I don’t have a freezer, not even a little one in the fridge.  We live with stand alone solar power, have done for nearly 30 years now.  It’s a very good way to learn about the electricity use of various appliances, and how to make educated decisions about their costs and benefits. And a freezer has never warranted the cost.

Thus I’ve never got into the habit of cooking ahead.  But this one, when I make it I make a decent sized batch and we eat it for a couple of lunches and dinners.  It’s just as good cold as hot and good enough to still look forward to the third time!  We rarely manage to postpone the first serving, but the second one the next day really is much better.

If you’ve visited here before, you will know my thoughts about kangaroo as the red meat of choice for Australians. This recipe is a kind of fast and easy moussaka-ish dish rendered double healthy by using, besides the very lean kangaroo, low fat dairy foods, eggs, and lots of vegetables.

The Recipe:

Part One: The Meat Sauce

This is simply a matter of making your favourite  bolognese sauce using 300 grams of kangaroo mince. My version is:

In a heavy fry pan

  • brown 300 grams of kangaroo mince in a little olive oil, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Add two diced onions and two diced carrots and continue cooking till they start to brown.
  • If you like a bit of spice, add a sprinkle of crushed dried chilies or chili powder
  • then add
    • lots of chopped garlic,
    • some diced mushrooms,
    • good handful of finely chopped oregano,
    • and (this time of year) a jar of tomatoes.
  • Depending on how rich your tomatoes are, you might also add a spoonful of tomato paste.

Salt and pepper to taste and simmer for a few minutes till it is a nice thick sauce consistency.

Part Two: The White Sauce

This version is much faster, simpler and healthier than the traditional bechamel.

In a food processor or blender, blend together:

  • 3 eggs
  • 250 grams low fat cottage cheese
  • 250 grams low fat greek yoghurt
  • 60 grams low fat feta

Part Three: The Silver Beet

Remove the centre vein from a dozen large silver beet leaves but don’t chop the leaves.  Blanch by pouring boiling water over them in a pot, putting the lid on, and leaving for a couple of minutes, just to soften them so they will lie flat.

Part Four: Assembling and Baking

The baking dish I use for this is 30 cm by 20 cm. Spread half the meat sauce over the bottom, then a layer of silver beet, a couple of leaves thick over this.Spread half the white sauce on top, then the other half of the meat sauce, another layer of silver beet and another layer of white sauce.

Sprinkle grated parmesan lightly over the top, then bake in a medium oven for around half an hour until the top is lightly browned.

It’s great served with a green salad with a vinaigrette dressing.

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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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