Wholefood Cooking

Category: Soup

The Healing Bowl

A SMACKEREL MORE: HERBY, CHEESY SCONES

Herby, Cheesy Scones

The days are cold, rainy and short right now and truly, nothing beats a bowl of soup for lunch – right now, pumpkin is high on the list. But I need a little smackerel (as Pooh would say) of something to add a bit more heft to the meal and can I tell you, I do love a herby, cheesy scone. A bowl of gloriously coloured orange soup and one of these scones is a perfect marriage in my opinion and a perfect meal for me. These take no time to throw together, are quick to cook and best of all freeze well – I can just grab one from the freezer to warm in the oven whilst the soup warms up – a quick meal – most often lunch – whilst I am hard at it, here at my desk getting the final bits together for the Whole and Natural Foods Chef Training. I’m incredibly excited, but right now there’s just so much to get through I’m literally just ticking jobs off the list. Latest job ticked off? Order all the dry goods and get a new spare bed for the spare room so Jeanie and Holly actually have a bed to sleep in when they’re here. (And, even more important, my daughter has a bed to sleep in if she stays over, and not a swag on the floor). Jeanie and Holly will both be here for parts of the program teaching and I can’t wait to see them. 

That’s it from me right now, this is a short post but as we move into chef training, I’ll keep you updated and share it with you. Stay warm….

HERBY, CHEESY SCONES

I’ve used spelt flour here as it is my undisputed, all time favourite flour giving a gorgeous crumb and an easier digestion. I’ve used 50% unbleached white and wholemeal, but honestly you can easily use 100% wholemeal if desired. You can also use wheat but will most likely need more milk to bind (as you will if you use 100% wholemeal spelt). The mix should be moist – and please, don’t go playing with the mix once it’s been bought together – no kneading or playing – do the bare minimum !! I added some cooked pumpkin to mine – I had steamed some for pumpkin pie and had about 5 smallish chunks left over which I roughly chopped and added.

130 gm /1 cup unbleached white spelt flour

145gm /1cup wholemeal spelt flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons rapadura sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

generous pinch of fine ground sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

heaped handful of grated well flavoured cheese (not vintage as it doesn’t melt well) + extra for the top

couple of gratings of a fresh pecorino cheese – about 1 tablespoon

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

125ml full cream, non – homogenised milk

125 ml cultured buttermilk or yoghurt

100gm very cold unsalted butter, cut into rough 1 cm pieces

Pre heat the oven to 200c or 180 c if fan forced. Lightly sprinkle a baking tray with extra flour and also a work surface with a generous (1/4 cup) of extra flour.

Put the flours, baking powder and sugar in a bowl and sift in the baking soda. Add the salt, pepper, cheeses, rosemary, half the sage and whisk through to evenly distribute the ingredients.

Combine the vinegar, milk and buttermilk in a measuring cup and set aside.

Using your fingertips or pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles very coarse breadcrumbs (don’t overwork this stage). Add the milks and mix with a large spoon to just combine. The mix should form into a moist, but not at all sloppy dough.

Turn the dough out onto the floured work surface and pat the dough to form a rough circle about 20cm round x 2.5cm thick – you may need to lightly flour your hands. Using a sharp, floured knife cut 12 wedges (you may need to re flour the knife in between cuts) and place on the lined tray, leaving a small gap in between each one. Don’t stress too much if the loose some of their shape, they will still taste divine. I use my knife or palette knife to move the scone from work surface to tray. Sprinkle the remaining sage over the top and as much extra cheese as you like – bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until just cooked. 

Cupboard Love Minestrone

An Easter Weekend

IMG_2963-654x491.jpg

After a beautiful week down south over the Easter break, it’s back into my kitchen, and head down. We were lucky enough to be there for the Giant Pumpkin Festival – (I didn’t put in a bid in the silent auction for a pregnant goat, who was eating all the iris in the garden) great fun, and popped into the CWA (picture above) to get some wonderful fruit. Alas, they weren’t doing morning tea – not enough of them the lady said, there were only a few of the older ones left to run the branch. That’s incredibly sad, those country women are amazing, and the association a national treasure. 

But, back to my kitchen – when you’re deep into plain crumb cakes and they are playing with your head, you need a good grounding dinner – and one that’s quick. 

IMG_2955-654x491.jpg

IMG_2957-654x491.jpg

Thus, I’ve harvested the last of my borlotti beans, and put together a quick minestrone made from what was in the fridge.  I love these beans when they are fresh – so creamy – you should be able to find these available – they are often called Cranberry Beans. A very generous dollop of home made pesto (I still have masses of basil) and I am a happy girl. I am off the firm belief that a house is not a home at this time of the year without pesto.  This recipe is very forgiving, and open to your own interpretation – it’s principal based, rather than ingredient based. I know I’ve done this recipe before – but there are infinite variations upon the theme and you can tell how much I love it at this time of the year.

Minestrone Soup

If you don’t mind a bit of organic, nitrate free bacon you can chop that up first and cook it in the pan, allowing it to render out some of it’s precious and nutrient dense fat to then cook the onions. You don’t need a lot, and it provides amazing flavour. If you want to make this even more sustaining, try adding 1 – 2 tablespoons pearled or natural barley – just be sure to soak it overnight first (in some water with a tablespoon whey or 2 teaspoons yoghurt or kefir). Drain and add this in the beginning – it will take a good 80 minutes to be nice and soupy creamy.

good splosh of e.v.olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or a good stem of fresh

small stem fresh rosemary – finely chopped to equal 1 teaspoon

1 cup fresh borlotti beans 

2 medium carrots – dice approx 1 cm

2 – 3 ribs celery – cut approx 1 cm

1 bulb fennel – cut into 1 cm slices approx

5 – 6 tomatoes roughly chopped into small pieces  or 1 440gm can 

1 medium zucchini – cut into small pieces

Firstly, develop a flavour base. Add the oil to a medium size stew pan (I use my 24cm dutch oven), onion, garlic and dried and fresh herbs. Cook over a gentle heat for approx 10 mins, not frying, just developing a little colour. For Fresh Beans – You will need to give them a head start – add the beans, and cover by 3 cm with water (or stock if you are lucky enough to have some). Cover, leaving the lid ajar, and cook for 40 mins on a gentle simmer before adding the other ingredients. For Cooked Beans (from a can or your freezer), simply add the drained and rinsed beans. Add the carrots, celery, fennel (if it has some of those lovely fronds, chop those up and add those too) and the tomatoes. If they are fresh tomatoes, give them a bit of time to sweat out their juices, so leave it to very gently cook with the lid on for about 20 minutes, then continue on. Barely cover with water or stock and gently simmer until the vegetables are cooked – approx 30 minutes. If you’ve added barley, you may need longer.  If the soup is too thin, increase the heat and reduce it down – play with this – the liquid should take on a thicker appearance, and not be watery. Taste, add a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (I haven’t added the salt earlier on as it toughens the beans). Add the zucchini and cook for another 5 – 8 minutes. I don’t bother with a sweetener to balance the acidity of the tomato here, because the pesto will help with that, but if you need maybe a touch of something sweet – rapadura sugar, apple juice, vino cotto – just a tiny touch of something. Serve with a good dollop of pesto.

Pesto – Classic

This keeps brilliantly – freeze in small bags for a cold winters day, or place in an clean glass jar, covered with olive oil by approx 3 mm, in the fridge for 2 – 3 weeks – if indeed, it lasts that long and is not eaten.

100 gm pine nuts

good pinch sea salt – coarse is good

2 large handfuls of fresh basil

50 gm grated parmesan or pecorino cheese

3 cloves garlic – crushed

80 ml e.v.olive oil

Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Try not to blend for too long – pesto should be chunky, not a smooth homogenous blend.  Alternatively, to make it by hand (with less washing) use a mortar and pestle: place the salt, nuts and cheese into a mortar and pound until you have a rough mix. Add the basil a bit at a time, and pound it down – when it’s all broken down, add the olive oil and gently mix through.

Pesto – Dairy Free:

100 gm pine nuts

3 large handfuls fresh basil

2 teaspoons white (shiro) miso

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

100 ml e.v.olive oil

Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined but still a little chunky. Taste and adjust for flavour – you can also lightly roast the pine nuts.