Wholefood Cooking

Category: Winter

Old Fashioned Rice Pudding

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This is the kind of ‘a little something’ that I needed on a cold and wintery Sydney day recently.. pure comfort food. And I did indeed need a bit of comfort. I was exhausted after doing the shoot for my new book (out next year), and staying with my good friend (and fellow Whole and Natural Foods Chef) Holly Davis, who helped me, the word we used was ‘shattered’. We were completely shattered, and requiring said comfort food (plus, it was cold). It also seems that rice pudding is back in (mind you it has never really gone away in our house) – I noticed it has made an appearance in this months Delicious magazine, so it seems, we are on trend :) I actually don’t use a recipe, just throw it all in and judge from look, but the all important thing in making a rice pudding is getting the consistency right (not too runny, not too thick) so I’m giving you a recipe. It’s originally from this book (I’ve tweaked it a little) … a truly brilliant book that mum has had for years, it’s well worn and stained, and truly, has all the Australian classics – it’s well worth tracking down.

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But whilst carrying on about how exhausted we were, it was a wonderful time. I call it the ‘seeing the view from the mountain’ time. That time, when you’ve worked so hard (over years and years), taken the enormous risks that you take, putting it all out there – and you finally get the chance to see the beauty of it all. To see this book, that in the beginning (and for quite some time over the past year) I couldn’t see at all where it was leading me, but I kept on following a jungle path – finally I got to see that it was beautiful, and that the whole was so much more than the sum of it’s parts. That takes one talented photographer (Cath Muscat) and stylist (Michelle Noriento), and of course a publishing team who are there for you (Murdoch Books). BUT, it also takes a friend. I’ve had a lot of lessons about what makes a true friendship this year – easy for some to talk the talk, but not walk the walk.  Thank goodness, that I count Holly as a true friend. Thank goodness she knows how to make a cup of tea because we really needed it. The photo below is a screen shot of the teapot from Cath’s instagram account. It also took another hand in the kitchen, and we were loved sharing more time with Trudie Fenwick – a graduate from the 2013 Whole and Natural Foods Chef Training Program. We also had the opportunity to catch up with another graduate (2010) Belinda Pooley (Wholefood Canteen), another true friend and we got to meet her gorgeous new bub.

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A shoot goes like this: you organise what you are going to shoot (we had 40 shots of food + chapter openers + incidentals+ pictures of me) – in 5 days. You organise the shopping list (that was Holly’s job, and no mean feat). You watch in awe as box after box of props are unloaded. You cook your ass off, because that’s a lot of shots you are doing each day. I also keep an eye on the shot so it represents me. No blue plates I say, no twine around everything I say – and in the end, there was blue, and a bit of twine, but I loved it. Loved it to bits. I love who I see this book becoming, I love that whilst I couldn’t see always what it wanted to be, my spirit did and kept me on the path. I think you will like it too. That’s Michelle s hands down there, getting the shot into shape, and below it, is the gorgeous Smeg fridge we used for a shot. Look at the colour – Panna Cotta – it says it all. I literally can’t wait for my new home and cooking studio to be built (that’s another story), but already I have my Smeg oven sorted. I’ll tell you more about that at a later date.

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Before I leave and get to the recipe, I will be putting together a class program next week for August, September, October and November for Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. It will post on the website, FB and newsletter. I’d so love to meet you and I hope you can come along. In the meantime, try this out this winter weekend… serve it with any baked or stewed fruit as desired. Eat it for morning tea, snack or afternoon tea or dessert… it doesn’t matter :)

x Jude

 

Gingerbread and Pear Pudding Cake for the Cooler Weather

BECAUSE IT’S COLD OUTSIDE

Dairy Free, Low Gluten Gingerbread and Pear Pudding Cake with a Lemon Custard Cream

It must be the cooler winter weather, but I’ve been doing a fair bit of baking lately – something wholesome and nourishing for a little treat each day. There’s the very quick to throw together Gingerbread and Pear Pudding Cake above (freezes brilliantly), the Lemon Meringue Pie below for my daughters birthday a couple of weeks ago (which lasts brilliantly because that Italian Meringue is so stable) and a couple of weeks before that, this hearty Pumpkin Bread. Both the LMP and Pumpkin bread recipes are in Wholefood Baking.

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I’m usually having that little something sweet as I sit at my desk mid morning – I’m head down, rugged up as I work on a new book (will be some time off before it gets to the shelves) and it’s a delicious and warming part of my day. This isn’t going to be a long post, just a hello and would you like the recipe for that delicious Gingerbread and Pear Pudding Cake ? It would be perfect for the solstice this coming weekend. Serve it warm from the oven, or if left over, warm it up a bit before eating. And the Lemon Custard Cream – a little dairy free number, but if you’d prefer to make a dairy lemon custard, go for it. Just make sure you get something lemony with it… lemon and gingerbread is a gorgeous combination. And the stand mixer below ? It is a toy that belongs to my nieces children. LOVE IT. A little bit of whimsy, but I love the colour and that it is wooden (and not plastic) and basically gorgeous.

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I love winter, love the solstice and love the wild and windy winter weather that accompanies it. I find it a time to turn inward, reflect and hopefully become a little more balanced – a never ending journey I know, but one that I find deeply meaningful. With such short days, and the cold and wind outside, I find a little piece of this cake all warm and puddingy, to be deeply delicious to both body and soul.

GINGERBREAD AND PEAR PUDDING CAKE

Dairy Free, Nut Free and Low Gluten

This delicious cake is based on a recipe by one of my favourite wholefood chefs Myra Kornfeld. I’ve loved and admired her work over many years, especially this recipe and made a quite a few changes to it along the way. With regard to the Oatmeal, in Australia I use the Four Leaf brand, in the US Bob’s Red Mill calls this Oat Flour. Basically you want some bran and germ. At a pinch you can buy rolled oats (stabilised/steamed) and grind them to a rough meal. Make sure the brand of rolled oat is not too  dry. I am considering marinating raisins in some Pedro Ximenez and using them in the cake as well/or instead of the pears. Please remember I use 20ml tablespoons.

1 cup / 135gm oatmeal

1 cup / 130gm unbleached white spelt flour

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate (baking) soda

3/4 tablespoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 generous tablespoon (or more) glace ginger, roughly chopped

1/2 cup /125ml  melted coconut oil (full flavour)

1/2 cup/ 125ml  maple syrup

1/2 cup molasses

3 tablespoons brown rice syrup/ 60ml  (I prefer the Spiral brand)

2/3 cup / 160ml coconut milk (full fat)

2 eggs

3/4 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract (I use Heilala)

2 – 3 medium pears, peeled and cut into thick slices

Pre heat oven to 180c or 165c if fan forced. Line a 20cm square cake tin.

Add the oatmeal, spelt, baking soda, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and glace ginger into a mixing bowl and whisk through to distribute the ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, maple syrup, molasses rice syrup, coconut milk, eggs, vinegar and vanilla. Before you add this to the dry ingredients, peel and slice the pears. Add the wet to the dry ingredients, and stir through until combined – it will be a wet mix. Pour into the baking tin and press the pears into the mix.

Bake for 40 – 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and serve as desired.

A DAIRY FREE LEMON CUSTARD CREAM

2 cups (500ml)  rice milk (or 1 of coconut and 1 of rice, or include almond milk as desired)

1/3 teaspoon agar powder

1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons (30 – 40 ml) maple syrup

1 tablespoon kudzu (or cornstarch)

finely grated zest of one lemon

30 – 60 ml lemon juice

1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

Add the milk, 30ml maple syrup to a small pot and whisk in the agar well. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 8 minutes (from the boil) on a very gentle heat. Stir often as the agar will sink to the bottom and stick.

Meanwhile, mix the kudzu and 1/4 cup (60ml) water to a smooth paste. When the agar is ready take it off the heat and whisk in the kudzu slurry – it will thicken immediately. Return to the stove and stir constantly until it comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and add lemon zest, 30ml lemon juice and vanilla. Stir through and taste, adding more lemon juice as needed. Pour into a bowl and cover, place in fridge and cool. Add what will be fairy thick and set mix to a food processor and blend until silky smooth – this will take at least 5 minutes.

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. 

All Is Well

aka SOUL FOOD WILL GET YOU THROUGH

Ready to eat – my version of Red Beans and Rice

I don’t know about you, but the past few weeks have been wearing for me – finishing off a lot of classes, difficulties with the Whole and Natural Foods Chef Training Program logistics – really, just life saying not so gently – no, don’t go this way, but rather this way. Sometimes it takes a great deal of surrender, but I have found over the years that there is always a higher reason and if I just breathe deep and become still enough, not hold on so tight to what I think is the right way, it always works out. Don’t get me wrong – I love teaching and classes, but I’m at that tired point right now but fortunately I have some space, time now to plan for program and logistics for the WNFCTP – no place to be, nothing else to plan for and it’s heaven. I’m going slow and cooking slow (and in some cases, thinking slow if the truth be told).

onion, spices and vegetables ready to go

I want to go and listen to these guys but that would mean I would need to catch a plane and head east  and right now I don’t really want to go anywhere !!! I’m so loving being at home and BEING IN MY home, feeling it’s walls and space holding me. But if I was there in Bellingen, I’d like to go also and get my goat on and who could resist going to a gallery called ” Everything That’s Beautiful Galley” – not me. I’d go, I’d spend and I’d be really wanting to get one of Jay’s glorious vegetable embroideries. Yup. But, I’m not – I’m here loving and being at my desk, at my pace, in my home. But I need soul food and nothing says that more than Red Beans and Rice. Like perfume that brings a memory to consciousness, eating this I am immediately back in the French Quarter at a funky vegetarian cafe I’ve long since forgotten the name of. Red Beans and Rice is classic New Orleans soul food – honest, nourishing, cheap, easy and above all delicious – even Michael Franti has a song about it. Traditionally made on a Monday (washing day) it just does it’s thing simmering along ready for you at the end of the day. There are hundreds of versions, my favourites include those by Bryant Terry (I can heartily recommend both his books – Vegan Soul Kitchen and the new one The Inspired Vegan). This recipe here is a variation from the original in my book Coming Home to Eat – Wholefood for the Family, but I’ve chosen to highlight it here as I think many people just might overlook it. I’ve cooked mine this week with chicken stock I had in the freezer and I would recommend this if you have any digestive issues. It is also a classic example of frugal cooking – deeply nourishing and cheap home made bone stock ensures that you can utilise more of the protein in those beans.

Your beans are cooked when they yield a soft, creamy centre to gentle pressure from your finger. The two in the front are cooked, the one at the back not at all. 

But just a word about beans – organic beans can be problematic in Australia. I’m finding that many of them (black, borlotti, pinto, kidney, cannellini, great northern, etc) don’t cook – ever. What has happened is that many of them are sourced from China – coming into Australia they must be treated in some way. Because they are organic, they are heat treated (in China). You can see in the bean above at the back that it’s not creamy in any way, certainly not cooked and if you could look up close you could just see a little band around the edge of the interior of the bean. This is where the heat has seared it. They never cook. I tend these days in Australia to go for conventional beans. I dream of growing them myself or being in San Francisco at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and buying beans from Rancho Gordo. But, until then, I’m sticking with conventional. Organic chickpeas, split peas and lentils are fine – it’s the beans that seem to be the problem. 

Go and put a pot of these beans on the stove now. If your world is busy and life is throwing up it’s challenges, if money is tight, this will reassure you that indeed, all is well. Body and soul will be nourished.

SOUL VERSION RED BEANS AND RICE (with pinto beans)

I’ve made this version using pinto beans as it’s much quicker. Chicken stock will give a slightly sweeter end result, but vegie stock will do just fine. I’ve chosen to stick to a slightly more traditional format by adding greens at the end – in this case Tuscan Black Kale. I serve with brown rice. 

1 cup raw (dried) pinto beans, soaked overnight in lots of water to cover the beans by about 3 cm

The Next Day

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon ghee

1 onion – finely diced – if I have a red onion, all the better

1 teaspoon each dried basil and oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

pinch dired sage

2 fresh bay leaves

1 medium carrot cut into small dice

2 sticks celery sliced finely

2 cloves garlic finely diced/crushed

fresh chilli as desired finely sliced

freshly ground black pepper (I sometimes use a mix of black, white and pink) to taste, but generally about 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon (or even more). Remember, pepper is an important part – it has taste as well as heat

pinch asafoetida (or if you have Kombu sea vegetable a 5cm strip

3 – 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

 I used 5 medium leaves Tuscan Black Kale, roughly sliced, but collard greens are the traditional ingredient

1 – 2 teaspoons wheat free tamari

1 – 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley

Add the oil and ghee to a good size stewpot ( I like a 24cm Le Creuset enamel coated cast iron). Add the onion, herbs and vegetables – saute over a very gentle heat for 10 minutes avoiding frying the onion. Add the garlic, chilli and black pepper after 5 minutes, stirring every now and then.

Drain the beans and rinse well. Add to the pot with the asafoetida (or kombu) and stock. Partly cover with the lid and increase the heat to bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 11/2 – 2 hours. Check where the beans are at – they should be just about cooked and most certainly yield a creamy centre to pressure. If they are still like pebbles, you most likely have heat treated beans or they are stunningly old. If so take a risk and put the lid back on and simmer until they are soft – if they still aren’t soft after 4 hours, I would give up. After this time, remove the lid and increase the boil to reduce the beans to a thick, saucy consistency – stirring often. You might like to mash some of them to help thicken the sauce. Before checking for taste and adding tamari and parsley, add the kale or collard greens – sprinkle them on top – I prefer not to stir them through, add the lid and over a very gentle heat, let them steam for 10 minutes or until just soft. Stir through then check for taste – adding tamari and black pepper as needed.

Other traditional ingredients for the dish include red and green capsicums, spring onions (whites and greens), ham or bacon bones or bacon drippings used for the fat. Onions, spring onions, capsicums, garlic and spices would be sauteed in the bacon drippings. 

Apple Brown Betty

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This is my idea of a perfect winter dessert. It’s mostly apple, with a bit of lemon zest, sugar and stale bread, cooked down to a caramelised (if you look hard at the picture, you can see that on the lower right hand side) soft, crispy luscious mess. I’ve just had left overs for breakfast. The bread makes it quite filling (even though there’s not to much there) and it finishes off a meal of soup perfectly. Did I mention it’s easy and quick?

The Betty is a seriously old fashioned dessert – very often made with bread crumbs. I prefer to cut the bread into small dice (always sourdough) – I think it gets too mushy and confused with the crumbs. Almost certainly American (and southern at that), Mum tells me that Grandma used to make this when she was little but would cover the dessert for cooking with the apple peels (rather than paper and foil – see recipe).I first came across the recipe when reading In Pursuit of Flavour, by Edna Lewis – a much loved book and an inspiring woman. I often find myself wondering who was the Betty that inspired or created this if indeed there was one….

A couple of things in the cooking. I’ve found the best dish to use is cast iron – it holds the heat and gives you better caramelisation – in truth, it was my daughter Nessie who used the 24cm Le Creuset first, in a flash of inspiration. The lid makes it all so much easier. You’ll still get great results using a china dish, which you cover (see recipe), but the cast iron gives you sticky, gooey yummy bits. You can use just about any apple, but one that collapse a bit are best – Granny Smith, Mutsu are both good and make sure to slice them very thinly – approx 3 mm. Freshly grate your nutmeg it makes the world of difference, as much of those glorious flavours diminish rapidly after grating.  You can use any sugar, but I do prefer a crystallised sugar here and go for the larger demerara, but can’t see why you couldn’t give a rapadura a go if you’d like.

Do give it a try, and I hope you love it as much as I do. Oh, and before I go – yes, I agree the font is way too small, and we’re in the works of updating the blog site….

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APPLE BROWN BETTY

 serves 4

If using a china dish, choose a dish with a good surface area rather than a similar capacity that is deeper with less surface area – 22cm diameter x 4.5cm depth, with a capacity of 5 cups is good.

4 – 5 pieces good sour – dough bread, crusts removed cut into 1 cm dice. You need 3 cups approx (gently packed) bread cubes.

½ cup raw or demarara sugar

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

grated zest from 1 lemon

40 gm unsalted butter – melted

800 gm apples – if bruised, extra to compensate

Pre heat oven to 200c or 180 if fan forced.

Combine the nutmeg and sugar in a medium size bowl – remove 2 tablespoons of this and set aside. Add the bread cubes to this bowl (that has the larger amount of sugar) together with the lemon zest and toss through to mix with the sugar and nutmeg. Add the melted butter and toss through to distribute the butter evenly.

Peel the apples and cut into quarters. Remove the core and cut into 3 – 4 slices, approx 1 cm thick. Place 1 cup of the bread cubes on the base of the baking dish or 24cm cast iron French oven. Layer half the apples over the bread, then top with ½ cup bread cubes. Layer the remaining apples and drizzle 60 ml water over them. Top with the remaining bread cubes, and sprinkle the reserved sugar and spice over this. It will be very, very full but will bake down. Pat down and best you can, and cover with a piece of baking paper and foil, with the foil on the outside, and the baking paper touching the apples.

Bake in oven for 40 – 45 mins, or until the apples are bubbling and noticeably cooked. Remove the foil and paper (or lid) and bake for a further 15 mins or until lightly golden, crispy and caramelised.

Going Green

Hearty Winter Meals from the Vegetable Garden

I have more greens in my garden than I can handle – the winter rains (thank goodness) have made everything grow, grow, grow – honestly, I think they grow as I stand there watching them. Because my garden went in late this year (Anzac Day – 25th April), the big boys have not yet matured – broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and leeks, but the greens – silverbeet, rainbow chard, Tuscan black kale,  freckles lettuce, english spinach and coriander have -they’re all grown up and are ready to party.  

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If you look hard you can see the freckles lettuce (an heirloom variety), and the english spinach with the sugar snap peas beginning to climb.” width=”480″ height=”http://wholefoodcooking.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/IMG_0600-375×500.jpg”>  If you look hard you can see the freckles lettuce (an heirloom variety), and the english spinach with the sugar snap peas beginning to climb.

So what to do with this bounty? For breakfast I’m picking big, fat leaves of english spinach and folding it into an egg scramble (but would also be good with a tofu scramble – there is a recipe for that in Wholefood – heal, nourish, delight) with coriander thrown in at the last minute. The smaller leaves are going into salads (my current fave is the Beetroot, Goats Cheese salad from Coming Home to Eat, Wholefood for the Family), or tossed simply into butter to wilt with salt, pepper and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg as a side dish, or folded into the soups at the last minute – the young Tuscan black kale leaves are great for that also. But with it’s oxalic acid, silverbeet/chard is best cooked – so it’s going into   lasagne, quiche, Hunza Pie from Wholefood – heal, nourish, delight, and the silverbeet and pasta gratin from that book also (as does the english spinach and kale). I also made the yummiest ‘sausage’ rolls the other night, with cooked silverbeet (you can see it cut on the table in the picture above), drained well, chopped up and mixed with some cooked onion and mushroom, pesto (made in late summer and stored in the freezer) and ricotta. A young goats cheese (I would use the Ringwould Blanc, here in Western Australia) or if you wanted a dairy free version of this, you could use the tofu ricotta from Wholefood – heal, nourish, delight. So – lots, and lots of options!! Heidi Swanson also has a great recipe for chard (silverbeet) and white beans, in her book Super Natural Cooking, it’s simple and delicious. But, I thought we’d do this – Chard, Mushroom and Rice Bake. This is the dish I was making as I wrote my introduction to my previous book, Coming Home to Eat. I’ve been cooking it for years and it was a regular as my daughter Nessie was growing up, in one version or another.  This version sees the addition of the high protein grain, Amaranth. When served with a dessert, it makes a simple and sustaining dinner, it packs well in a lunch box, or can be gently warmed for breakfast. It keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days.

I’d love to hear about your meals from the winter garden, and whilst we are updating this blog page so we can chat freely, facebook is also a great forum. I’ll look forward to hearing about them!

A note to anonymous who asked about cocao powder – I’m going to answer that on facebook!

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As a note, I really prefer to blanch my silverbeet/chard in a large pot of boiling, salted water rather than fry it in a pan – it gives a much softer texture. Place them in the pot stem first, and cook for 2 – 5 minutes, depending on how old or tough the stems are. 

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Still a few tomatoes left from my farmer!! I like to do this in cast iron, this is a favourite Mario Batali one I got for $20.00 (yes you read right) in the U.S

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Cooked and Yummy

Mushroom, Chard or Silverbeet, Rice Bake

You can bake this in virtually any ovenproof dish, but a loaf shaped dish makes it great for cutting. I use my favourite cast iron loaf pan, measuring 28cm x 8cm, with a depth of 4cm, taking 85 mins to cook. The fundamental rule is the deeper the dish, the longer it will take to cook.

1/4  cup medium grain brown rice

1 teaspoons amaranth.

1 teaspoon whey or lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons butter or ghee

1 onion, finely sliced

150 gm mushrooms, sliced 5mm thick and roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

300 gm Rainbow Chard or Silverbeet, any thick stem chopped off.

½ cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese

250 gm ricotta cheese

2 eggs

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tomato thinly sliced

¼ cup pine nuts, roughly chopped

Add the rice, amaranth, whey and ½ cup water to a small bowl. Cover and leave to sit out on the bench (or in the fridge when the weather is warmer) over night or during the day.

Because amaranth is so fine, draining the soaking liquid really doesn’t work. Just place the entire contents – rice, amaranth and soaking water, in a small pot, cover and gently bring to the boil. Cook over low heat, making sure no steam escapes through the lid. Cook for 45 – 50 mins from the time it comes to the boil. Check at about 40 mins, and if you’re absolutely sure there’s not enough water, add a touch more. Amaranth doesn’t cook pretty – it may all look a bit stodgy, but will be fine when embraced by all the other ingredients. When cooked turn into a medium size mixing bowl.

Pre heat the oven to 180c

Add the olive oil and butter to a medium frying pan with the onion and mushrooms. Cook over a medium – high heat for approx 5 mins, stirring every now and then. The mushroom should be lightly browned and there should be no liquid in the pan. Add the garlic, and stir through, cooking for another minute. Add the mushroom mix to the grains. Add the rainbow chard and 1 tablespoon water, and cook over a gentle heat, turning a few times, until it is well wilted. Give it a squeeze with some tongs, and drain off any liquid that remains. Add the chard to the mushroom and grain mix, stirring through. Leave to cool for a few minutes before adding the parmesan, ricotta and eggs. Season with salt and pepper, and stir through well. 

Place the mixture into a baking dish, patting it down. Arrange the sliced tomatoes on top and sprinkle with the pine nuts. Bake for 60 – 80 mins, or until the centre is set. It will ooze and bubble around the sides a little, this is fine, and will add to the flavour. Allow to cool a little before serving.