Cauliflower and Ginger Soup

A new Farmers’ Market has opened up near my Mum and Dads place in Canterbury in the last month or so. It has been such a treat being able to stock up on fresh organic fruit and veg. for the week. There’s artisan breads, a couple of cake stalls, a few hot food trucks, a fresh flower vendor and even pony rides to keep the kids happy. I love being able to speak with the farmers about their produce and where the farms are. It’s good to know that a lot of my purchases didn’t have to travel thousands of kilometres and most of the produce is harvested fresh for these markets.
My stash from a couple of weeks ago….

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Anyway….Cauliflower Soup….

I’ve only recently acquired the taste for cauliflower soup. Can’t believe it’s taken this long…. I tried it with some fresh ginger the other night and it was divine so I thought I’d share….

 

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Cauliflower and Ginger Soup.

30g butter or 1 Tblsp olive oil
1/2 brown onion – thinly sliced
1Tblsp fresh ginger – finely chopped (more or less depending on your taste).
1 medium potato – peeled and diced
1/2 head cauliflower – roughly chopped
Salt, pepper to taste

Melt butter in a medium saucepan then add the onions and cook for a few minutes over medium heat until the onions are soft. Add the ginger and cook for a minute more before throwing in the potato and pouring in enough water to cover them. Bring to a simmer until the potatoes are tender.
Add the cauliflower and a little more water (enough to mostly cover the cauliflower) and allow to steam until mushy.
Carefully blitz the lot and season with salt and pepper.
It doesn’t get any easier than that….

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I served the soup with some cheese and avocado bread roll toasties. Perfect for a chilly winters night.

Enjoy…
We did….

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Breakfast for Dinner – Baked Eggs with Spicy Beans and Tomato

This is a twist on the ever growing popular breakfast dish Shakshuka. A bowl or dish of eggs baked in a spicy tomato sauce. It’s hard to get a straight answer as to the origins of this dish as everyone claims it as their own so let’s just say it originated in the Middle East and everyone has their own version of it.
My sister travelled through Israel a few years back and sampled different versions of shakshuka as she went. Her conclusion – they’re all delicious.
I consider this spicy bean and tomato casserole a base recipe. To it I either add more spice and cook it out longer to serve as a filling for tacos, burritos, nachos etc. or as a topping for baked whole potatoes or as is on crusty toasted bread.

We usually have this for dinner with lots of buttered crusty bread and, depending on the mood, either a glass of red wine or a good cup of tea.

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Of course any beans are suitable for this recipe but we love black beans and I added a can of mixed beans as well.

 

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What you’ll need:-

2-3 Tblsps olive oil

5-6 big cloves garlic – grated or finely chopped

1/2 brown onion – finely diced

2-4 red chillies (depending on how spicy you like it) – finely chopped

400g can diced tomato

2 cans or 800g of whatever cooked beans you have or like

1/4C red wine (optional)

1 tsp brown sugar

2 Tblsps balsamic vinegar

1 Tblsp worcestershire sauce

2 bay  leaves

1 tsp each ground cumin, smokey paprika and ground black pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

salt

eggs

a little feta cheese (optional)

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In a medium saucepan heat oil over medium high heat then add the onion, garlic and chilli and saute for a minute or two. Add the tomato and wine and cook for about 5 minutes.

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Add the beans, seasonings and sugar and bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer gently with the lid on for about an hour and half, stirring occasionally.

Once the beans a soft and the sauce has thickened a little stir in the balsamic vinegar and worcestershire sauce and take off the heat. If the sauce hasn’t thickened much then leave on a simmer with the lid off for another 15 minutes or so.

Ladle beans into individual heat proof deepish dishes, crack a couple of eggs on top of the beans and crumble a little feta cheese over the top of the eggs then place on the bottom shelf under a preheated grill for 2 – 3 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to your likings.IMG_2142IMG_2143

Serve with crusty bread for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Enjoy…

 

 

Avocado Mango Salad

1 nice looking mango? Check.

1 handsome avocado? Check.

A little red onion? Yup.

Okay then….

Well it’s way to warm to cook anything so lets make a summer salad and serve it with a few little open sandwiches for dinner shall we?

This has become one of our favourite salads during the last few summers.

Mangos are plentiful and avocados are everywhere.

I made this for the first time several years back and served it with chicken schnitzel.  It has since made an appearance on the dinner table many times (though we no longer eat meat so it’s now served as the main part of our meal).

It’s really simple:-

1 ripe (but not soft) mango – peeled and cut into bite size pieces

1 ripe (but not too mushy) avocado – peeled and cut into bite size pieces

2 Tblsp finely diced red onion

2 Tblsp fresh lemon or lime juice

2 Tblsp olive oil

a few sprigs fresh mint – finely chopped

a little (or a lot) of very finely diced red chilli

a sprinkle of sea salt

a scattering of pomegranate seeds (optional)

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Here’s the difficult part….

Gently toss all the above ingredients in a bowl or on a serving dish.

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Serve…

And because it was 42 o C today, we had little open cheese, tomato, cucumber, beetroot and basil sandwiches (and a chilled glass of white wine).

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Dinner was definitely good.

Enjoy…

 

 

Fun Food Friday – Baked Eggplant Slices

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Gotta love a Friday afternoon. After all, for most it means no getting up early for work tomorrow. It’s that wonderful feeling of unwinding and having a drink (or 3) with a simple long lasting dinner.

Then, it’s Saturday. Time for a nice leisurely breakfast in your favourite cafe, on the balcony or in bed. At least that’s our Saturday mornings, especially since we both stopped going to work on them.

But back to Fridays…

I’m lucky enough to finish work pretty early in the afternoon so I get time to think of something fun to make and eat for dinner. Hence the name Fun Food Fridays.

I stopped off at our local supermarket on the way home and found the prettiest looking Eggplants and decided that baked spiced eggplant, fried haloumi and fresh tabouleh in crunchy lettuce leaves was exactly what I felt like (and a glass or two of a wonderful wine we bought back with us from the Barossa in South Australia.)

Eggplant cooked this way is easy, healthy and delicious. You just season it any way you like, bake it and serve it as part of any meal. It goes perfectly with haloumi…

All you’ll need is:

1 medium eggplant
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Cumin
Cayenne

Slice the eggplant into 1cm thick slices. Brush lightly on both sides with olive oil the sprinkle on your fave seasonings.

Place in a single layer on a baking paper lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 200oC oven for around 30 – 40 minutes.

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While the eggplant was cooking I made a bowl of tabouleh and I pan fried some thick slices of haloumi.

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We grabbed a lettuce leaf each, filled it with some tabouleh, a piece of haloumi and a slice of eggplant then rolled it up and dug in.

Mmmmm…..Delightful….

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Hope you Enjoy…

Warm Roast Veg.and Quinoa Salad

I’m pretty sure just about everyone goes through the “What shall we have for dinner tonight?”  scenario all too often.

There we are standing in front of an open fridge, looking at what’s inside. What needs to be used up? What can do with this little bit of whatever? How can I turn that into a satisfying meal?  And the biggest question of all…What does my stomach feel like today???

Well yesterday my stomach felt like some roast veggies.

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I went through the fridge and the pantry and came up with a chunk of pumpkin, some sweet potato, a zucchini and other bits and pieces. So after looking at all these ingredients I got an image in my head and I acted on it…

I chopped up some pumpkin, a couple of potatoes, a zucchini, half an eggplant, a few chunks of sweet potato, a red onion and a tomato. (If I’d had some beetroot that would have gone in too. I wish I’d had some beetroot….oh well…)

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Into a large bowl went all the veg. along with some grated garlic, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a good glug of olive oil. A toss around to coat the veggies in the garlicky goodness then onto a baking tray. A sprinkle of salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, ground cumin and a scattering of fennel seed. Into a hot oven, 230oC for about 30 minutes until veggies are cooked.

While waiting for the veggies to cook I put 1/2 cup of quinoa into a saucepan with 1 and a bit cups of water. I added a little finely sliced onion and a couple of garlic cloves. This was brought to the boil then the heat was turned right down, the lid put on and it was left to gently cook for 20 minutes.

On the serving plate was arranged some baby spinach, a little green and purple kale. Then the quinoa IMG_1818

and finally the roast veggies. A drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and if you like some feta cheese.

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Oh and the left overs make a great lunch…

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Enjoy…

Hot Days and Chilled Yoghurt Soup.

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It’s too hot. It’s too humid and we’ve definitely over-indulged over the last few weeks.

Oh by the way…Happy New Year to everyone…

Just about everyone around me ate and drank too much and I know this because I ate and drank right along side them.

My family celebrate on Christmas Eve. All my siblings with their families and some friends that have become part of the family head over to my mum and dad’s around 7ish where there is always too much food.

We spend the night singing (out of tune) way too loudly, we dance way too wildly and we laugh like a bunch of lunatics, and would never change any of it for anything. This year was extra special because my sister, niece and nephew arrived from New Zealand at 7ish on Christmas Eve and are here for the holidays.

I only wish I had some photos to share with you of our crazy night. Maybe next year….

Anyway, too much food and wine time is over for a little while. Time to give the old body some healthy and that’s where this delicious and disgustingly healthy and cooling soup comes in.

Cold Yoghurt and Cucumber Soup with mint and garlic. It’s perfect as an entrée or served with Riz (rice and egg noodle pilaf. Check out the link for the recipe) or grilled lamb or just in a big bowl as it is.

You’ll need:-

350g natural Greek style yoghurt

1 large clove of garlic – crushed

2 lebanese cucumbers – either sliced or diced

some fresh mint leaves – finely chopped

250 ml icy cold water

salt to taste

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Now here’s the really hard bit..whisk together the yoghurt and water in a big bowl then stir in the rest of the stuff and serve.

Perfect…

Enjoy…

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Spicy Tomato Soup

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I do try to follow a recipe as it is written, I really do, but the way I see it is a recipe is there as a guideline or idea. You take that idea into your kitchen and let it inspire you to cook something magnificent.

Sometimes that recipe is just what your looking for, except for that one ingredient that you don’t like or don’t have handy. 

For example, I don’t like cooked capsicum. I can easily eat a fresh capsicum and love it but once you add heat to the capsicum, I can’t eat it. Don’t judge me on that, every one has their own little quirks. I just leave it out.

This months The Cookbook Guru‘s chosen book is Neil Perry‘s – The Food I Love and Spicy Tomato Soup was exactly what we felt like for dinner.

Now, I didn’t make any major changes to the recipe, I added a little extra chilli and garlic, and didn’t have any smoked paprika so put in hot paprika and a little cayenne pepper, and of course  some fennel seeds.

The recipe does call for a herby, garlicky paste but it is well worth that little extra effort.

Here’s my version of Neil’s Spicy Tomato Soup:-

For the paste:-

4 cloves garlic – roughly chopped

1/2 red onion – roughly chopped

1 handful flat-leaf parsley

1 handful coriander leaves

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp tumeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

Throw everything in a food processor with a couple tablespoons of water and puree. Set aside.

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For the soup:-

2 Tbls olive oil

2 ripe tomatoes – diced

1x400g can diced tomato

2 celery stalks – diced

1 small carrot – diced

1/2 Tbls sherry or red wine vinegar

1 tsp sugar 

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium saucepan and add the celery, carrot and herb paste. Cook for a few minutes, stirring it often so it doesn’t burn, then add the diced tomato, canned tomato, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and 300ml water. Bring to the boil, lower heat and let simmer,covered, for about an hour.

You can serve it as is, chunky style or you can puree it so you get a thick and smooth soup.

 I served it with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt, a generous sprinkle of chopped fresh coriander leaves and some fresh homemade bread.IMG_1308