Don’t forget your sprouts!

It’s easy to get out of habits. One I’ve just remembered to revive is the sprouts and microgreen habit.

At this time of year (summer in NZ) they grow really fast.

These photos both of the sprouts and microgreens are 3 days after planting. 3 days! That’s just amazing.

There are bean sprouts, alfalfa and radish sprouts. For the microgreens the greener one on the right is rocket (otherwise known as arugula), and a mix called “Vitablend”.

The microgreens will take a few more days to be ready to eat, but once they are, I’ll be able to cut them, and they will grow again to be cut some more.

Both are absolutely full of goodness, and hugely cheaper than buying packet sprouts or baby salad leaves. As well as being way cheaper, they taste heaps better too, and because they’ll be freshly harvested, will have more vitamins too.

I do have a sprouter I invested in some years ago, which has well and truly paid for itself now. This has a 5 tier system, with a layer to put the water in, and a layer to catch the water in at the bottom too. However, you don’t have to fork out for a sprouter, you can just use jars with a muslin or breathable fabric cover.

For detailed instructions on growing sprouts look here. 

To learn how to grow microgreens look here. 

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Coming to you FREE! from a stream near you…

It may be grey and stormy enough to have whipped the waves into galloping white horses, but in Auckland in January, it’s still hot and muggy enough to have the sweat dripping off you if you so much as look at a flight of stairs.

Still Salad weather then.

I found a gorgeous recipe for a Peach and Goats curd salad in my Xmas gifted Taste Magazine. It suggests rocket and watercress salad, with yellow and white peaches, parma ham, goats curd and pine nuts. I priced the watercress in the supermarket and it was $3.79 for a bag. Hmm I thought. I know where there’s a little stream…..

So I found proscuitto and goats cheese on special, picked three varieties of lettuce from my garden, along with chives, mint and lemon balm, and then went on the hunt for watercress. I usually have rocket in my garden, but haven’t planted it this year, so I thought my own salad leaves would be perfectly adequate for this, and I wasn’t wrong.

Watercress grows in shallow running water. It grows wild. I thought I knew a stream where there might be some, and sure enough there was! Neither of us had foraged for watercress before, but I’d taken a good look at what it looked like in the supermarket bag, and had a feeling I’d seen it growing before. We had a taste, and voila!

So, these ingredients don’t look exactly cheap do they! The secret is firstly buying on special. Secondly, don’t use it all, unless you’re feeding a lot of course. We just used half the packet of proscuitto, and half the goat’s cheese, so I can feel yet another salad dinner coming on. At the Bin Inn, you can buy tiny amounts of pine nuts. I think my two tablespoons was NZ$1.26 or something ridiculous like that. One tablespoon would actually have been enough. If fresh peaches aren’t in season or cheap for you, you could probably use a sale priced tin of peaches in juice. So by being smart, you can make a meal that would probably cost you NZ$35.00 each in a restaurant and be happy that it cost you NZ$5.00 each.

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to give it a go.

Peach and Goat's Curd Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tbsp cider vinegar

1 tsp Dijon Mustard

1 tsp honey

2 bunches rocket (or other salad and herb leaves)

1 cup watercress sprigs

1 white peach, pitted and cut into wedges

1 yellow peach, pitted and cut into wedges (I couldn’t find one, so I used a nectarine. It was perfectly fine for the task.)

8 slices Parma ham (or proscuitto) coarsely torn

2 Tbsp toasted pine nuts (buy raw and toast yourself – watch every second as they burn in a flash!)

100g goat’s curd (or goat’s cheese)

Method

  1. Combine oil, vinegar, mustard and honey in a screw-top jar and shake until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Arrange salad leaves, watercress, peaches and Parma Ham on a platter. Drizzle with dressing, sprinkle with pine nuts and dollop with curd.

Enjoy!!

 

Kumara and Corn Fritters

These are my favourite fritters.

The recipe comes from the Food in a Minute website. I made the mistake of not measuring the kumara (sweet potato) and put in far too much. This made the fritters very tender. They still tasted great though, but hard to turn and lift.  I also probably overdid the chives. Don’t buy chives by the way. They grow like mad. Don’t even buy the original plant – ask someone who has some in the garden, if they’ve got some they can give you.  Mine grow almost wild and I keep replanting odd bits that pop up all over the place because I use them a lot in Cheese and Chive Muffins.

Kumara and Corn Fritters

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 410g can Cream Style Corn
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs (thyme or chives are great here)
  • ½ cup self raising flour
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup roughly mashed cooked cold kumara
  • 1 egg, separated
  • butter or oil for pan frying

Method

  1. In a bowl mix together the  Cream Style Corn , ginger, herbs, self raising flour, milk, mashed kumara and egg yolk.
  2. In a clean bowl beat the egg white until stiff. Fold the egg white and kumara into the mixture.
  3. Heat a little butter or oil in a non-stick frying pan (the butter helps to crispen the outside) and cook large spoonfuls over a low to moderate heat for about 3 minutes each side.Serve with crispy grilled rashers of bacon, grilled tomatoes and a drizzle of golden syrup.

Bean there, done that!

You know how you get home late after a rehearsal (or sports training or….) and you’re tired and hungry and really don’t feel much like cooking dinner, but you want something that’s easy and nutritious and filling.

This is that recipe! You serve it in ramekins, with a bean mixture in the base, topped with an egg, which you then bake in the oven to finish off.

Big Beans

  • Servings: 2
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Ingredients

1 450g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 slices middle bacon, chopped,  (or 1 very thickly sliced piece cut into lardons – cut off bits sold cheaply are good for this)

1 cup stock – your flavour choice

3 eggs – or the number of baked eggs you would like.

Method

Heat oven to 160 degrees C

Using a non-stick medium sized pot, brown the bacon. Add the celery and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the butter beans, and the cup of stock. Simmer for a few minutes until the beans are hot.

Put the mixture into a pie dish or separate ramekins. We have a big one for my big-eating husband, and a smaller one for myself. Using the back of a spoon, push a dent into the bean mixture and break an egg into the dent.

Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. I prefer my eggs runny inside, but the white cooked, so it’s a bit of a fine line when you take it out, but that’s up to you!

Enjoy!

Celery Leaves

There’s a wonderful young woman near where I live who runs an organisation called “Bellyful” She cooks meals and stores them in her freezer, and then donates them to women who have had a baby recently, and need help getting things organised. She offered some free greens from the local Community Garden, and I went and picked some up. There was one small bunch of silverbeet, and two bunches of celery, which had very thin stalks and were mostly green leaves. I investigated celery leaves on the internet and found a recipe for celery soup. The leaves taste very much like celery does, and apparently have more nutrition than the stalks itself do.

The recipe is on the page Italian Food Forever It uses a couple of Italian Sausages and some croutons to give it a nice crunch. I bought two Italian Sausages from my local butcher for $2.45. He was a bit put out and wanted me to buy more! He looked very puzzled when I told him I was using them as a topping on my Cream of Celery Soup!

Croutons and Sausages cooking
Croutons and Italian Sausage for topping

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