Shake-up (mexican?) salad

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Flicking through a Womankind magazine dad bought as a treat for mum and I, one of the authors shared about a mexican salad with grilled corn and radishes she’d started making. It sounded good. Inspired, I decided to come up with a variation on the green salad that graced the table at my growing-up house most nights. Asher took the photo, isn’t it beautiful? The white and pink of the radishes and feta cheese find their colour-wheel balance in the deep green of the baby spinach. As much as I realise that when you take the trouble to upload a recipe it should be complete I find it hard to keep really detailed notes, salad recipes particularly seem to evolve as I chop and add and mix. I hope there is enough information to tempt you to try something similar and that it turns out just as beautifully for you.

Ingredients:
A box of baby spinach
2 red capsicum
1 green capsicum
2 cucumbers
1 punnet of grape tomatoes
2 cobs of corn
1 pkt of feta cheese
1/2 bunch radish
2-3 spring onions (or shallots)

Dressing
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Method:
1. Chop the capsicum into a rough dice (squares 1.5-2cm), halve the grape tomatoes, slice the cucumber into quarters lengthways, then across-ways into small pieces. Halve and slice the radishes. Slice the spring onion finely and the feta into small squares.
2. Grill the corn cobs on the bbq or on a char grill plate. The quick and sneaky way that I discovered works quite well is the bench top contact grill/sandwich press! Slice kernels off carefully, trying to keep some pieces honey-combed together.
3. Toss the salad ingredients well.
4. Make up the dressing, feel free to add seasonings slowly and adjust to taste.

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Sometimes it’s the simplest of things (or homemade honeyed carrots)

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I think one of the reasons that I like cooking for myself rather than eating out is because, with only a few basic ingredients and a little bit of time and planning you can make such yummy things.

These are some of the baby carrots from our garden, they needed to be ’thinned’ out so that the others could grow but we left it a little late and so by the time they got pulled out they were really beautiful baby carrots in their own right! An heirloom mix you can see some variation in colour; pinky purple blotches and a creamy yellowy colour alongside the more usual orange. We decided to jazz them up by frying them with some oil, honey, lemon juice, thyme and a tiny sprinkle of salt. Delicious!

Sometimes, it’s the simple things.

Greener still (or the continuation of Growing Things)

It is time for a celebration of green things! The holidays have been kind to our little vegetable patch and we wanted to share some of the lovely living things that are growing in our garden. Many of the green leaves are at the stage where I will need to start planning recipes to use them up! We did cook some of the beetroot stalks this week – with capers, olive oil, lemon juice and a little pepper (as per this suggestion) – they were very tasty!

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“O the green things growing, the green things growing, the faint sweet smell of the green things growing! I should like to live, whether I smile or grieve, just to watch the happy life of my green things growing”

Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

Slaw-ish salad

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I’ve never been much of coleslaw fan but had some cabbage at home and saw a recipe in a recent Feast magazine that had buttermilk in it. I had buttermilk in the fridge! What a good way to use it up when there wasn’t enough left for muffins or pikelets! This recipe could also be added to and tweaked but I was really happy with the dressing, hope you like it!

Ingredients:
1/4 cabbage
1 1/2 carrots grated
1 handful of baby spinach finely chopped
4 fresh baby beetroot
1/4 cup chopped almonds
a sprinkling of currents
1 shallot

Dressing:
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 lime

Method:
1. Finely slice the cabbage.
2. Grate the carrots.
3. The baby beetroot in this salad was roasted in the oven with some olive oil, salt and pepper. However, it could easily be boiled or grated fresh in stead. The grating will just make the whole salad more pink in appearance … it will probably taste a bit fresher though. Your choice!
4. Chop the almond and the shallot.
5. Make the dressing by combining the three ingredients and whisking with a fork.
6. Toss the cabbage, carrots, beetroot, nearly all the almonds and currents with the dressing in the serving bowl.
7. Top with the shallot and left over almonds. Enjoy!

A sort of Salad Niçoise

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… well at least it is inspired by the traditional French recipe but the way we had it a few nights ago. A really easy meal that is fresh, full of vegetables and will also really sustain you (the potatoes, eggs and fish make it ‘stick to your insides’). At our house it was a staple Friday night dinner because it was healthy, fresh, quick and easy. I’ve added a few variations … because I had different ingredients! Steamed/blanched broccoli is good too, as are olives. When I made this one I accidentally pulled the tinned salmon (not tuna)* off the shelf and it was fine like that too!

Ingredients:
Torn up lettuce leaves
Baby spinach leaves
2 roma tomatoes
1/2 red capsicum
1/2 Lebanese cucumber
1 handful of green beans
1/2 eggplant
Spray oil
salt and pepper
1 shallot
boiled eggs (about 1 1/2 to 2 per person)
baby potatoes (about 3-4 per person)
tin or two of tuna (in olive oil if you like, then you won’t need as much olive oil to dress the salad*)
Olive oil
1/2 lime
salt and pepper

Method:
1. Boil the eggs (into rapidly boiling water for 6-7 minutes – this will give you a slight softness in the yolk). Remove from the hot water and place in a bowl of cold water to stop the grey ring of sulfur developing round the yolk. Peal as soon as they are cool to touch (in the bowl they have cooled in with the water … this usually helps get the shells off).
2. Cut the potatoes in half or small pieces (so they are all roughly the same size) and boil in a big saucepan. Remove and set aside to cool.
3. ‘Top and tail’ the beans (remove the tops and the bottoms) and cut in half. Blanch the in boiling water till just done, place in cold water to refresh. Set aside for assembly.
4. Slice eggplant finely, spray with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake till soft. Set aside for assembly.
5. Tear iceberg lettuce leaves and toss with baby spinach leaves in serving bowl. Add the chopped roma tomatoes, capsicum and cucumber. Half the eggs and add both the potato and eggs. Toss salad gently.
6. Top with finely sliced shallot and eggplant strips.
7. Serve with chunks of tuna, olive oil, lime juice and salt and pepper.

Playing with Shepherds Pie

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This recipe is very general because I made it a few weeks ago and it was one of those I’ll-have-a-go-at-this-and-vaguely-refer-to-a-recipe-but-mostly-just-go-for-it recipes. It worked out pretty well too! Its genesis was due to the fact that I had a packet of mince that needed cooking and some left over cooked cous cous that needed using up. My mum would be proud of me, using up ingredients I already had! Anyhow, it was my first attempt at cottage/shepherds pie and I was really pleased that it was so well received!

Ingredients:
2-3 cups cooked cous cous
500g beef mince
Olive oil for frying
1-2 onions
2 carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 cube of oxo beef stock
Worcestershire sauce to taste (1/2 a cap full perhaps … its strong!)
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
400g tin of diced tomatoes
Low fat tasty cheese to sprinkle on top
Optional: you could also add a bay leaf to the mince while its cooking or perhaps some garlic. I didn’t and was still very tasty. It’s a very flexible recipe though!

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180˚C.
2. Finely dice the onion and celery. Peel and grate the carrot.
3. Heat some oil in a frypan or wok and sauté the onion till clear, add the celery and carrot and sauté till beginning to turn soft. Remove and set aside.
4. Heat a little more oil and add the beef mince to the pan, brown. Add the vegetables, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and tomatoes. Cook till mince is cooked through. Check flavours (if too salty/strong, try to add more vegetables, if too mild add more tomato paste or stock or sauce).
5. Place mince in a baking dish and then crumble the cous cous over it (I did one layer, then sprinkled some cheese, and then another layer and then sprinkled more cheese … I would recommend this method!).
6. Bake till cheese has melted and turned a golden colour.
7. Serve with salad or steamed green vegetables.