Cream of broccoli soup

cream of broccoli soup

cream of broccoli soup

I haven’t been able to get to my blog as much as I would like to of late but I’ve been busy cooking and not gardening much (well it’s winter and the garden is in hibernation – maybe I am too). I just looked out the window to see a very brightly coloured parrot eating some beetroot leaves I threw out into the garden earlier. I hope he/she doesn’t come back and start eating the garden greens though, it’s always a battle getting the balance right with the wild life and insects. When we lived in the bush it hardly seemed worth all the effort to have wallabies, kangaroos, possums, rats, birds and foxes helping themselves to our produce. I’ll never forget the amazing apples we grew one year, I’ve never tasted anything like those apples, they practically exploded in your mouth as you ate them, well the next year the wildlife found them and that was the end of our wonderful apples. It’s much easier to grow food here in Portarlington, it would be nice to have a bit more land though!

It is still very much soup weather and this week I wanted to make a cream of broccoli soup using the last of the romanesco broccoli, some leeks and potatoes. I served it plain and also with a few crispy croutons and spicy sausage crumbs for an added zing!


Cream of broccoli soup
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Recipe type: starter
Cuisine: australian
Author:
Cook time:
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Serves: 10
A satisfying and hearty soup that's pretty easy to make (cheap too)
Ingredients
  • 500gm romanesco broccoli (or other broccoli/cauliflower) yes use the stem too!
  • 2 large leeks (white part only)
  • 3 potatoes
  • ½ fennel bulb
  • ½ swede
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • bunch of parsley
  • ¼ cup of cream or milk
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 tbs Massel or other good quality stock powder or liquid (I used vegetable)
  • ½ spicy sausage skin removed (opt) - I used an Istra sausage which is fennel flavoured
  • few slices of nice bread to make croutons (opt)
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
Instructions
  1. Prepare all the vegetables by cutting them into similar sizes
  2. Sweat the vegetables in a large saucepan with the oil, butter and garlic over moderate heat for 15 min - stirring often
  3. Add enough hot water and stock to cover generously (I don't like thick soup)
  4. Add the parsley leaves and simmer the vegetables for 15 min or until cooked
  5. Let the vegetable soup cool a little before blending (I used a food processor)
  6. Add the cream or milk (use more cream if you like it extra creamy)
  7. Season and consider extra spices (fennel seeds would be nice)
  8. Fry the sausage meat and croutons together so the bread absorbs the sausage flavour (optional)
  9. Serve with a dob of cream or creme fraiche
Notes
I was given some very good advice from a real life chef who suggested using the broccoli stem only for the initial cooking and adding the flowers at the last minute, this way the soup keeps a vibrant colour! Thanks Chef!

delicious soup

delicious soup

I’m really enjoying brussells sprouts lately, I’ve roasted, fried, mashed, boiled and made soup with them – YUM! We’ve got some growing but they aren’t exactly thriving, hopefully we’ll have some homegrown brussells one day soon.

 

Chicken soup

Well it certainly is soup weather and this week it’s all about chicken soup – first a golden, chicken ball & noodle soup and another of green curry, coconut and chicken. Both soups have an asian style broth base and are served with noodles, vegetables, chicken pieces and minced chicken balls. You could use thigh fillets, a whole chicken or a couple of chicken marylands to make the stock, it depends what is on special. You’ll need about 350gm of minced chicken to make the balls, you can use the mince as it is or add some flavours such as herbs or spices (I added some delicate fennel fronds and some spice mix) for that extra touch.


Chicken soup
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Recipe type: soup
Cuisine: Australian
Author:
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Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 10
A brothy chicken soup full of vegetables, noodles and chicken pieces - to warm the body and soul.
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken thigh fillets
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery greens
  • 1 tin creamed corn
  • ½ large head of fennel sliced finely
  • ½ bunch chopped coriander
  • 1 leek finely sliced
  • 1 whole cob corn (corn kernels removed from the cob)
  • 1 large carrot finely grated
  • 1 small swede finely grated
  • 1 tbs chicken stock powder (I use Massel)
  • 1 tbs finely chopped ginger
  • 3 small capsicums chopped (red, yellow, orange)
  • ½ baby wombok cabbage finely chopped
  • 1 bok choy (sliced)
  • 1 tbs curry powder
  • 150 gm vermicelli
  • salt/pepper
  • 350 gm minced chicken
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • fresh coriander chopped
  • 1 tbs chilli sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 tbs oil - frying the chicken
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 bruised piece of lemon grass
  • Sesame oil & coriander leaves for garnish
Instructions
  1. Brown the chicken thighs on high heat in the oil in a large stock pot
  2. Add the prepared vegetables, ginger, garlic and fry for a few minutes
  3. Add the curry powder and stock powder and cook for 2 min
  4. Add enough hot water with the tin of creamed corn to cover the vegetables and chicken plus a bit more and simmer until the chicken is cooked through
  5. Add more water if needed
  6. Chop the chicken into small portions and return to the soup - simmer
  7. Roll the chicken mince into small balls the size of cherries and place into the simmering soup
  8. Add seasonings such as lime juice, fish /chilli sauce, salt and pepper
  9. Cook the vermicelli pasta in the soup (you may need to add a little more hot water)
  10. Remove the curry leaves, lime leaves and lemon grass
  11. Adjust seasonings and serve with garnishing of sesame oil and coriander leaves

I didn’t make the stock first for this soup (cheats soup) as I usually do but it worked out fine, full of flavour and a nice colour too! My next chicken soup was tinged green – using green vegetables (apart from corn and swede), and with the addition of a small tin of coconut milk, green chillies and curry paste (I made a stock out of a whole chicken and vegetable offcuts/scraps and used some of the meat as well as chicken mince balls to make up the finished soup). Both soups were delicious!

 

Spicy pumpkin soup and romanesco broccoli

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The perfect antidote for this wintery weather is staying indoors cooking – soup was on the menu today (spicy pumpkin and a ham hock and vegetable soup). I had a lovely time singing along to some rather loud music (Ben Harper) cooking to my hearts content. If you decide to try my spicy pumpkin soup recipe I strongly recommend you put on some of your favourite sing along music too.

Spicy pumpkin soup
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Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Australian
Author:
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Serves: 10
A spicy vegetable soup to warm you up on a cold winter's day
Ingredients
  • 3 sticks of celery sliced
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 40g lemon grass stalks
  • 100g red bull pepper or capsicum (optional) chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 25g ginger chopped
  • 4 red hot chillies chopped (optional)
  • 4 carrots chopped into slices
  • 50g peanut butter or peanuts chopped
  • 600g pumpkin cut up into chunks
  • ½ swede chopped
  • 300g potatoes or sweet potatoes chopped
  • 2 dessertspoons curry powder
  • 2 tsp massel vegetable stock powder or cubes
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • salt/pepper
  • ¼ cream
  • 1 tablespoon of saharan spice mix (from Wildings in St Leonards)
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan place all the ingredients except the cream and spice mix
  2. Saute gently for at least 10 minutes before adding enough water to cover the vegetables and a bit more (I like thin soup rather thick)
  3. Cook on moderate heat until the vegetables are soft
  4. Remove the kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass and curry leaves
  5. Cool for a while and then puree with a stick blender, in a food processor or in a blender
  6. Place back on the stove and add the cream, spice mix and season to taste
  7. Cool and store in the refrigerator or freezer

We dug up the horseradish patch today and replanted some in a new sunny position, I now have some lovely horseradish roots to freeze, use fresh and maybe put some in oil. Pasta man cooked a beef rib roast in the Webber and I experienced freshly grated horseradish on my steak for the first time ever (it was a lovely accompaniment).

I picked the first of our romanesco broccoli plants today and Pasta man thinned out some baby carrots and golden beets- what a lovely combination to have with the beef  for dinner.

horseradish root

horseradish root

 

Grilled vegetable & chestnut salad

Some chestnut growers were spruiking and cooking up their produce at the East Geelong fruit shop the other day, the chestnuts were so delicious I decided to buy some to add to the grilled vegetable salad I planned on making for Sunday lunch (feeding my vegetarian son). It feels a bit strange to be buying fruit and vegetables again after living on our own produce for months, that being said I just love shopping for fruit and vegetables, they are so inspiring – much more than meat. I also purchased some lovely looking asparagus and fennel (my latest favourite vegetable) and the idea for this recipe started to take shape…

 

Grilled vegetable & chestnut salad
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Recipe type: salad
Cuisine: Australian
Author:
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Serves: 4
You could use this as a side dish or a complete meal on its own. Don't forget to put a cut into each side of the chestnut before cooking or they will explode
Ingredients
  • 2 bunches of asparagus (trimmed)
  • 1 bulb of fennel (cut into 0.5cm thick slices)
  • 2 prepared artichokes (in oil) with stalks attached and cut into quarters lengthways
  • 15 prepared chestnuts (roasted and peeled)
  • verjuice
  • olive oil
  • pomegranate molasses or balsamic vinegar
  • pepper and salt for seasoning
  • spice mix of your choice
  • salad greens (I used spinach, rocket and herbs)
  • goat cheese
  • beetroot chutney (recipe on my blog)
Instructions
  1. Lightly oil the fennel and asparagus and grill on a grill plate or on a barbecue until just cooked
  2. At the same time fry or grill the chestnuts in a little oil until starting to change colour (add some spice mix to the chestnuts for additional flavour)
  3. Place all ingredients together and add a splash of verjuice and pomegranate molasses, cook for another minute or two
  4. Place the prepared greens on a plate and arrange vegetables and chestnuts on top
  5. Break up some goat cheese into small pieces and distribute over the salad
  6. Add some beetroot chutney and season with salt, pepper, olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar
  7. Eat immediately with warm crusty bread

 

Sausage rolls

ready to eat

ready to eat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weather is cooler this weekend and I decided to make sausage rolls – they’re always good to give away to appreciative family members or to freeze for a rainy day. I used to make lots of sausage rolls when the kids were little, they were perfect food for parties, feeding hoards of hungry mouths and were a popular item at the school cake stall at the local footy game and sold like hotcakes. I like to add lots of vegetables, herbs and seasonings to the meat mixture, the sausage rolls don’t seem so heavy with the addition of the vegetables and must be better for you! Luckily the vegetables and herbs are fresh from the garden, so all I had to buy was the pastry and meat; I used black sesame seeds to dress them up a little! They go very well with my spicy tomato relish, so much so it can be a little hard to stop eating them – another reason why I give them away.

ready to cook

ready to cook

 

Sausage rolls
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Recipe type: snack, lunch or party time
Cuisine: australian
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 50 pieces
Yummy sausage rolls with hidden vegetables and herbs
Ingredients
  • 5 or 6 sheets of butter puff pastry
  • 500gm minced beef
  • 500gm sausage mince (could use mince pork)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup fresh or dried bread crumbs
  • seasonings (salt, pepper & I added saharan spice mix for a little zing)
  • herbs (I used a generous amount of basil & parsley with a little sage)
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
Instructions
  1. Thaw out the pastry
  2. Heat oven to 180*C
  3. Prepare oven trays with baking paper
  4. Grate carrot, zucchini and potato (squeeze out excess fluid)
  5. Mix all ingredients together thoroughly (should not be too wet- add more bread crumbs if so)
  6. Cut the pastry sheet in half and lay a line of meat mix along one edge
  7. Brush other edge with a little water or milk
  8. Roll up firmly overlapping the pastry so it won't split open
  9. Cut each roll into pieces or leave whole to cook and cut later
  10. Place on oven tray not too overcrowded
  11. Brush each roll with milk and sprinkle with sesame seed if desired
  12. Cook in hot oven for 25 - 30 min or until they are golden brown and the meat is cooked
  13. Cool on biscuit trays or eat immediately
  14. Will store in the fridge for a few days or freeze

This recipe is for my brother and children who one day may get the urge to make sausage rolls (and anyone else for that matter) and wonder how I used to make them!

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
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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

 

Too many zucchinis and garden talk

 

What a great weekend for getting out in the garden, thank goodness that scorching weather is over for now. It always amazes me just how much pruning and tidying up needs to be done in such a small garden. Every weekend we can fill a large green bin and the worms get their fill too. Pasta man picked a bucket of zucchini after a pick only 2 days ago, so I have made another zucchini slice and a pot of soup and still have some left to grill for dinner. The first eggplants are ready to pick and soon we will be inundated, there are some lovely looking chillies and long green capsicums, can’t wait till they turn red (red are sweeter) and looking forward to putting them all together. I would like to have a go at making this amazing barbecued chilli and tomato sauce – my sister’s friend (an italian recipe) makes every summer, I’ll have to ask for the recipe or just have a go myself. Unfortunately the beans are not happening yet, might not be a good season for them here or poor seed perhaps. The cumquats are starting to turn orange so it won’t be long till I’ll be making marmalade or boozy cumquats. I wasn’t going to write another blog this weekend but it just happened so here is my recipe for zucchini and ham soup, mind you every time I make it it’s different but today I made it like this….

Zucchini and ham soup
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Recipe type: Lunch or starter
Cuisine: Dutch
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
This soup is creamy and chunky; the combination of ham / bacon, zucchini and potato go so well together, and it uses up 8 zucchini!
Ingredients
  • 8 med sized zucchinis cut into rounds 6mm thick
  • 1 onion, shallots or leek chopped
  • 1 garlic clove chopped finely
  • 4 med sized potatoes chopped into chunky pieces
  • 250gm speck, ham (or smoked ham hock meat) cut into small cubes
  • 1 massel stock cube
  • olive oil
  • seasonings
  • 2 tablespoons creme fraiche or cream
Instructions
  1. Fry the bacon pieces or ham until turning light golden and the fat is rendered (use a splash of olive oil in the pan).
  2. Add the vegetables and continue to cook on low heat for 10min stirring often (watch it doesn't stick, if it starts to caramelise that's great).
  3. Add water and stock cube to cover the vegetables plus a bit more.
  4. Bring to the boil and simmer until the vegetables are tender.
  5. To get a creamy consistency you need to use a potato masher or a bamix stick style blender or put a cup or two of the mix through a blender.
  6. I like it creamy with chunks of veg and meat but you may prefer all creamy.
  7. Add the seasonings to taste and gently stir through the creme fraiche or cream ( do not boil now).
  8. I added some left over mash and thinly sliced Rookwurst to the soup.
  9. Serve or cool for storage (I freeze it for an easy after yoga dinner, work lunch or weekend snack).
Notes
You can use any vegetables, I especially like Brussel sprouts, parsnip or celeriac and I often make a stock with a ham hock and vegetables and add the meat to the soup.