The autumn garden & paleo cracker recipe

So autumn is here and wow what a mild summer it was, the air conditioner has only been on once! The vegetable garden is producing loads of tomatoes, zucchinis, eggplants, carrots, beetroot, assorted greens and purple king beans. I was really pleased with the tomato crop this year mainly because I grew them from seed collected from a couple of tomatoes given to me last summer. I am definitely going to save seeds and raise our own seedlings from now on. The majority of tomatoes have been turned into many litres of tomato puree and ratatouille and luckily our old freezer – which we haven’t used for about 7 years – started up like a charm, it’s already 3/4 full of tomatoes, peaches and apricots and may even fill before the season ends. Don’t know what I would have done without that old freezer because I have a paleo dilemma, I usually make an assortment of chutneys, relishes and sauces but they use up copious amounts of sugar and the paleo diet is pretty much sugar free, so how do I preserve all our beautiful tomatoes? I decided to cook them then strain the mix to get out the skin and some seeds and freeze this puree, I can still make preserves later on if I want to or we have enough tomato puree for a whole year at least. I did make 2 batches of kasoundi – I just had to – that stuff is awesome (recipe is listed) and it’s not so heavy on the sugar as some of my other recipes! Our biggest tomato so far weighed in at 848 grams, apparently that is small in the large vegetable category but it’s the amount of large tomatoes that is mind boggling, as soon as I clear the decks Neil comes in with more and more tomatoes.

I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with the fermentation process and have a continuos supply of milk kefir, fermented garlic, chilli sauce, horseradish sauce, mayonnaise and assorted kimchi and kraut concoctions. My taste buds and stomach are getting used to these unusual foods, I actually crave them now, I even had some for breakfast this morning! I love that fermented foods are jam packed with goodness, delicious to eat in a strange way and I made them myself from our own or out sourced organic produce! Having an assortment of fermented foods to use as condiments will hopefully replace our old chutney, sauce & relish habit and they are a much healthier alternative.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ve been very remiss with my blog writing for a few months now but I’ve been researching, experimenting and adjusting to the paleo way of life and just didn’t know what to write. If you follow the paleo lifestyle then sugar, dairy, grains and legumes are omitted, this may seem daunting but the transition has been relatively pain free for me as I love eating loads of vegetables with good quality protein and fats, honestly I don’t intend to preach but I feel so darn good and satisfied, that’s the only way to describe it, a deep feeling of satisfaction and I eat less because I am not hungry! I probably spend more time in the kitchen because I make absolutely EVERYTHING and we rarely eat out, but at least I know what’s in our food and growing, harvesting and cooking our produce or sourcing organic produce, grass fed meats and wild fish is so much fun! I make one or two batches of dry biscuits or crackers each week, they take about 20 minutes and are so easy, I was asked for the cracker recipe which will follow but I must add that each batch I make is different because of the range of spices, seeds and flavours that make each batch individual. My favourite flavour is black / white sesame seeds but finely grated parmesan cheese is nice too (but it’s not strictly paleo).


Paleo cracker recipe
Print
Recipe type: savoury biscuits
Cuisine: paleo
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
These crackers are crisp and tasty and are wheat, dairy and sugar free.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons of ground linseed
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon of oil - olive or macadamia
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons of flavouring of your choice such as grated parmesan cheese, sesame seeds, assorted spices or savoury yeast flakes - experiment!
Instructions
  1. Grind the linseed (I use my nutribullet which does a great job) and add to the almond meal
  2. Add the other ingredients and mix until a firm ball of dough is formed
  3. The mix should not be wet and if so add a little more almond meal
  4. Divide the mixture in half and roll out between 2 sheets of baking paper
  5. I like to roll it very thin but you could have them a little thicker if you want (they may take a few minutes longer to cook though)
  6. Take the top layer of paper off and cut the dough into shapes of your liking
  7. Leave the dough on the bottom layer of baking paper and place on a biscuit tray in the oven
  8. Bake in a moderate oven for 10 - 12 minutes
  9. The dough should be crisp and golden when cooked
  10. Cool on a cooling rack and place in an airtight container for storage
  11. Cook the other batch as above
  12. I usually make a double batch because they go so fast
  13. They stay fresh for days!

 

Sweet chilli relish

When I bought these bullhorn pepper (capsicum) seedlings I didn’t realise they had a touch of heat in them so that really added to the pleasure of growing these wonderful plants, they have cropped heavily throughout the summer and are still producing (incredible). To make this colourful, spicy relish I also picked some lemon grass, shallots, garlic and kaffir lime leaves. This is a very handy relish to have in the pantry, you will use it with and in everything!


Sweet chilli relish
Print
Recipe type: condiment
Cuisine: Australian
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
A delicious sweet, hot, colourful relish that adds a sparkle to any dish
Ingredients
  • 550 gram bullhorn peppers or capsicums
  • 125 gram shallots or onions
  • 2 - 3 (or more) red chillies depending on how hot you want the relish
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of white vinegar
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 20 gram stalk of lemon grass- bruised
  • 30 gram of ginger
  • approx 6 cups of sugar (equal sugar to relish)
Instructions
  1. Remove the head and membranes from the peppers and chop roughly
  2. Place the peppers into a food processor along with the peeled garlic, ginger, and onions and roughly chopped chillies (add some salt too)
  3. Process this mixture until it is completely pulped (you may need to do it in batches)
  4. Place the mixture into a large saucepan along with the vinegar, kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass
  5. Boil the mixture for approximately 20 minutes, stirring it often
  6. Measure the quantity and add the same amount of sugar
  7. Place the mixture back on the heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved
  8. Cook for another 30 minutes or until the mixture is thick
  9. Remove the lemon grass and lime leaves
  10. Spoon the mixture into clean, warm jars, turn them upside down for 2 minutes then turn them up the right way and allow to cool before storing for a month (if you can wait that long!)

ready to eat in one month

ready to eat in one month

 

Beautiful beetroot (beetroot chutney recipe)

I think I’m having a love affair with beetroot, the colour is spectacular and when I eat either the root or the greens I feel that the nutrients are going straight into my veins (silver beet, spinach and kale do the same thing to me). Luckily we have enough beets to use as juice, as a vegetable, a dip, or to make chutney or relish. They are easy to grow and  can be grown all year around here, our last couple of crops have grown beautifully, large and juicy and without any of those stringy bits that happen when they get too old. I have already given you the relish recipe and promised to share the chutney recipe, it’s a little more expensive to make and a bit more mucking about but it makes a lovely condiment to have with just about anything (we even have it with salad).


Beetroot chutney
Print
Recipe type: preserve
Cuisine: Australian
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 5 jars
A delicious sweet chutney that matches many food types and adds colour and texture to a meal
Ingredients
  • 1.5kg beetroots (roasted in foil for 1 hour @ 200*C)
  • 3 brown onions finely chopped
  • 3 granny smith apples (peeled, cored, quartered and chopped into small pieces)
  • 500ml (2 cups) balsamic vinegar
  • 80ml fresh orange juice (or lemon)
  • 550gm raw sugar (2.5 cups)
  • ½tsp ground cloves (or other spice such a cumin)
  • 2 large sprigs of rosemary
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
Instructions
  1. Peel and chop the cooked beets when cool enough to handle
  2. Place the beets into a large saucepan with all the other ingredients and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for an hour or until the mixture thickens
  4. Remove the rosemary and spoon into hot prepared jars
  5. When cool, store in cupboard for 1 month before using (if you can)

Don’t forget to cook up the beet’s leaves, they are just like silver beet and so versatile, I added the cooked leaves (pictured) to a spaghetti sauce and put some in an omelette. If you want to make the beetroot dip, roast the beets in foil, then grate them or blend in a processor. I added roasted pumpkin pieces and a roasted bull pepper to my last batch but usually I just add some natural greek yoghurt or creme fraiche with some cumin for a simple, delicious, nutritious and colourful dip. Happy cooking and have a happy easter….

Kasoundi (spicy tomato chutney)

I’ve been experimenting with spices and Indian flavours for a while and have come up with my own kasoundi recipe (maybe I should call it something else) and would love to share it with you. I had enough home grown tomatoes to make chutney and decided on kasoundi – the last batch only made 5 jars which isn’t much considering all the tomatoes and effort that go into it (no wonder chutney costs so much to buy – all the ingredients and time) but it is well worth it!  The last batch took me hours to prepare because the tomatoes were peeled and deseeded and I was not prepared to do that again, so I cooked all the tomatoes first then pushed them through my food mill to get a thick tomato puree (you get flavour from the skins this way too) and used this as my base. This chutney has a different texture to the last one which was chunky whereas this one is smoother with chunks of green chilli throughout. I’ve had a few complaints that my chutneys and relishes weren’t that hot (I’ve been deseeding the chillies) so I left the seeds in this time and boy does that make a difference – a lovely spicy and HOT chutney.

 

Kasoundi (spicy tomato chutney)
Print
Recipe type: Pantry
Cuisine: Indian
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: loads
A fragrant, spicy chutney that goes well with anything! If you want a HOT chutney then leave in the chilli seeds.
Ingredients
  • 45 gm peeled garlic
  • 80 gm peeled ginger
  • 125 gm peeled shallots (or onions)
  • 120 gm red hot chillies
  • 200 gm green chillies
  • 2 Lt tomato puree (from approx 2.3kg fresh tomatoes)
  • 20 gm lemongrass (optional)
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1 tbs tumeric powder
  • 1 tbs mustard powder
  • 1 tbs mustard seed
  • 2 tbs ground coriander
  • 3 tbs ground cumin
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ cup oil
Instructions
  1. Roughly chop the red chillies, ginger, garlic and lemon grass
  2. Puree the above ingredients to a pulp in a food processor with ¼ cup of oil
  3. Be careful when using chillies, make sure you have the exhaust fan on and do not put your head directly over the bowl
  4. In a wok or large pan cook the mustard seeds until they begin to pop (in the remaining oil) and then add the other spices
  5. Cook for a short time until they release their fragrance and then add the chilli/garlic mix
  6. Cook for 10 minutes on low heat stirring often
  7. Add the tomato puree, vinegar, sugar and salt and stir to incorporate
  8. Lastly add the roughly chopped green chillies, bring the mixture back to the boil then cook on low heat for approximately 1 - 2 hours or until it thickens and the oil is released on the top of the chutney
  9. You must stir it often
  10. Pour chutney into hot (from the oven) clean jars, seal then turn upside down for 2 minutes, then cool prior to storing for a few weeks before using (if you can- or eat it straight away)
  11. Note: I use a jam/chutney funnel - it makes bottling much easier!

 

 

 

Beetroot relish

My pantry is looking rather bleak at the moment, we are down to the last jar of peach chutney, marmalade and beetroot relish. We have a lot of beetroot coming on in the garden, so I need to get cracking on the preserves again. I make 2 different beetroot preserves- a relish and a chutney, the relish recipe featured today is simpler to make and I probably make this one the most. It certainly pays to be able to walk outside and pick beets straight out of the ground for flavour, freshness and cost effectiveness, however, you can buy some lovely looking beets nowadays. We usually grow the long cylindrical beet, they seem to thrive in our garden, don’t take up much space and are heavy croppers. We are growing the cylindrical, regular and small golden beets at the moment. The beet relish has a sharper more vinegary  taste than the smoother chutney style, both have their place in my pantry, I’ll post the chutney recipe later on…

Beetroot relish
Print
Recipe type: preserve
Cuisine: Australian
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
A fresh lovely coloured relish that goes well with lots of cuisine types.
Ingredients
  • 750gm fresh beetroot, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 400gm green apples, peeled, cored and chopped (3 apples)
  • 410ml white wine vinegar
  • 95gm (1/2 cup) lightly packed brown sugar
  • 125gm (1/2 cup) white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ pomegranate peeled and white pith removed
  • 1 handful of dried cranberries
  • 2tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a large pan and stir over low heat without boiling until all the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and continue to cook over low heat stirring often for about 20 - 30 min until the ingredients are cooked and the relish has thickened.
  2. Place the mixture into clean, warm jars, sealing them and turning them upside down for 2 minutes. Let the relish to cool after turning them the right way up and leave for a month for the flavours to develop. Store in a cool dark cupboard for up to 12 months and refrigerate after opening.

 

Pesto and Lighthouse Olives

Oils, olives and other goodies

Oils, olives and other goodies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been buying my olive oil from Lighthouse Olives for a few years now; what a delight to take my 3 litre flagon to get refilled with the latest batch of oil and be tempted by other goodies they have for sale. Yesterday I bought a bucket of their olives and was very tempted to buy one of the beautiful rolling pins (every time I go there I want to buy one). I am lucky to live in a region with lots of vineyards and olive groves so buying from the producer is just a short drive away, apart from knowing my oil comes from, I can taste it and choose between varieties and it’s not much more expensive than buying oil in the supermarket!

Olive and other treats

Olive and other treats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The basil is ready for a heavy picking so pesto is on the menu today; this recipe came from a cooking class I did in Positano Italy (with a few adjustments). The recipe did solve a problem for me though as other recipes ask for a cup or so of basil leaves but it depends on how heavily you pack them in the cup. This recipe suggests a set number of leaves which is much better, so here is my tweaked pesto recipe with one magic ingredient….

 

Pesto
Print
Recipe type: sauce or dip
Cuisine: Italian
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
A well balanced pesto mix - very easy to eat
Ingredients
  • 50 - 60 young basil leaves
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 30 gm pine nuts
  • 100 gm finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 150 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • salt for seasoning
  • 1 small boiled potato
Instructions
  1. Gently wash the basil leaves and air dry (be careful not to bruise or crush them)
  2. Add all the above ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until the sauce is ready
  3. If storing the pesto for a while, place the sauce in a glass container and cover with a little olive oil and keep in the the fridge (may be stored for a week)
  4. If using the pesto for a pasta dish, add a little of the pasta water to the pesto before adding the pasta & mix until distributed
  5. If making a dip add a little creme fraiche to some pesto and mix through
  6. Or add pesto to mayonnaise

 

Granita

I was visiting a friend a few days ago and was served this lovely drink – a traditional Sicilian recipe using lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice called granita. The Food Lover’s Companion book says that granita is an ice made from a particular flavouring (fruit juice, wine or coffee) with the proportion of one part sugar to 4 parts liquid – the ice is stirred frequently during the freezing process; this recipe may be used as a drink or to make a refreshing ice. Our lemon tree was struggling in the heat and needed to have some fruit removed, making granita was a great way to use up some lemons. We picked kilos of lemons and ended up with 3 litres of juice of which I have already used half (I will make some lemon ice blocks or maybe some cordial with the rest). So thanks to Tanya for the recipe….

Granita
Print
Recipe type: Drinks
Cuisine: Italian
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 2Lt
A refreshing summer drink using lots of lemon juice.
Ingredients
  • 600ml lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon or orange essence
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • some hot water to dissolve the sugar
  • water to make up to 2Lt
Instructions
  1. Prepare the lemon juice
  2. Boil water and add to the cup of sugar, cream of tartar and essence and stir to dissolve
  3. When sugar is dissolved add the lemon juice and enough water to make bring the mixture up to 2 Lt
  4. Cool and store in the fridge
  5. Serve on ice undiluted or dilute with a little water (could use sparkling) to taste
Notes
I have made two batches of the drink and reduced the sugar to ¾ cup for the second batch because our lemons are meyer and quite sweet.