Tag Archives: farmers market

Photo 2: roasted pork belly with potatoes + garlic

A grandfather is someone with silver in his hair and gold in his heart.
~ Author unknown

Condiments: mustard, paprika, smashed garlic, soy sauce, olive oil.

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Fettucine and scattered December thoughts

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.
~Dr. Seuss

The wonder of cherry tomatoes – mmmm unassuming red lockets just waiting to meet your lips and release streams of sweet juice into your soul. The playful look of yellow scallopini, like spinning tops dressed in buttercup playsuits. The crisp morning scent of mint, especially beautiful on unprotected fingers. The magic dust that people call “cinnamon”. The agreeable crunch of macadamia nuts. The foamy sizzle of white wine in a hot pan. The series of sweet pops that fresh snap peas generate. The humble but transformative lemon. The happy union between shallots and garlic which always releases a wonderful fragrance in any hot skillet. The curling, comforting quality of warm fettucine…

I am always interested in observing how ingredients react to other ingredients, to heat, to fingers, to teeth, to time… food is so fun, don’t you think? There are always so many possibilities.

So many possible results or consequences.

So many ways to make things as simple or complicated as you like.

So many ways to nourish yourself or scare your friends.

This evening, I went about making my dinner the Simple and Spontaneous way. That’s been my approach to life these few days, you see, and I’ve rather enjoyed the results of this approach. It’s the path to serendipity.

Over the last two days, I found, as a result of tangled weekend plans or totally spontaneous decisions: a lovely cafe; flamenco by candlelight; a chance to watch a minute or two of live filming with a professional crew on the closed-to-traffic road; a chat with a nice guy at the store about all things molasses; and a cool store.

Being Christmas/silly season, I’ve heard a lot about PLANS and LISTS and BEING ORGANISED lately. And I can see the point of plans and lists… they’re helpful. Fail to plan = plan to fail and all. At the same time, though, I’m finding myself increasingly partial to spontaneity and keeping a very open mind to adventure (within reason). I find that having too many plans and lists gets in the way of real life, if that makes sense; also, they can sometimes cause us to lose sight of the important things…

I don’t want to miss the chance to read or talk to a stranger, while wasting my anger on the stupid bus system in Auckland. I don’t want to plan my weekly menu in detail and overlook that week’s freshest market produce. I don’t want to insist on squeezing into a fuller-than-Santa’s-sack bar and miss discovering another place. I don’t want to let “goals” become more important to me than people. I don’t want to care more about how my Christmas ham turns out than how my family members are doing. And I absolutely don’t want to get caught up in gifting, feasting and festivities and miss the real, non-commercialised essence of Christmas.

Lately my world has been filled with social events, craft fairs, lots-of-work, ideas-sprouting-in-my-brain and invitations to Christmas functions and weddings (whoever told me that deleting my Facebook account would mean no more invitations was wrong). And life is good, but I am acutely aware of the need to focus on the important things.

Also, I’ve been eating all sorts this week, and my stove has been nearly spotless – so tonight I attempted to make a mess in my kitchen and eat some proper home-cooked food! This evening’s haphazard recipe follows in case you are interested… in any case, hope you all have a week of sweet surprises :-)

    Fettucine with scallopini, snap peas, macadamia and cherry tomatoes
    Ingredients:
    A knob of butter
    Olive oil
    1 clove garlic, finely chopped
    1 shallot, finely chopped
    A handful of scallopini, ends removed and sliced horizontally (or use 1-2 courgettes)
    A handful of chopped macadamia nuts
    3-4 tbsp flour
    6 cherry tomatoes
    A handful of snap peas, ends removed
    1/2 lemon – zest and juice
    A few tablespoons of leftover white wine
    1/4 tsp cinnamon
    1 rounded tsp muscovado sugar
    Herbs of your choice (I used dried rubbed basil and chopped fresh mint)
    Chilli flakes
    Method to my madness:
    Set a skillet over a medium-high flame, and drop a knob of butter into it. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, then throw in some salt and enough fettucine for two.
    Place the scallopini halves in a bowl and coat gently with flour. When the butter is hot and beginning to foam (or you can let it brown, but I was hungry so I didn’t), add in the scallopini, shaking off the excess flour as you do. Sprinkle in some chilli flakes and dried basil (rubbing the basil between your fingers as you do). Give everything a good swirl and toss, then add in the chopped shallot, garlic and macadamia nuts. Fry for a bit till everything smells a little more pronounced, then splash in a little bit of white wine and listen to the sizzle.
    Add in some olive oil if the pan gets too dry at any stage. Pour in the snap peas, cherry tomatoes and lemon zest. Add in the cinnamon and muscovado sugar, toss and add another dribble of white wine. Stir well, so nothing burns.
    Once the fettucine is cooked to al dente (approx 11 minutes), drain it, add in the lemon juice and some olive oil, and give it a good toss. Once there are no visible traces of wine, the cherry tomatoes seem ready to collapse and the vegetables are barely cooked, turn off the heat. Stir the scallopini mixture into the fettucine, then plate and serve with a generous sprinkle of chopped mint.
    Yields two servings. Substitute vegetables and herbs for ingredients of your choice, and adjust the quantities of everything as you like.

Royal food for lazy folk #2

Cheese – milk’s leap toward immortality.
~ Clifton Fadiman

It resembled a generous slice of magic swirling dessert set to gather smiles from the Tooth Fairy…

It brought to mind a curious word I seldom think about…

It was better than dessert and the consideration of calories…

It was a jolly good Sunday lunch.

What you do – you slice some of your favourite bread (I used sourdough), lay it flat and add the layers:

    cheese*
    +
    honey**

…and if you are lucky like me and have a beautiful friend who makes you fig and walnut salami, you can add a little of that on too.

Sweet like a cherry on a cupcake.

* This triple brie with black truffle sandwiched in the middle is made by Over the Moon Dairy Company and is as amazing as it sounds :-) I picked up my wedge from a nice gentleman Roland at Grey Lynn Farmers’ Market on Sunday.

** I received a goodie bag on Sunday which included this jar of Northern Rata honey from J. Friend and Co… I very much enjoyed its delicate/earthy flavour and elegant texture, and look forward to experimenting more with it!

It started when he said “baba ghanoush”

I visited the Auckland City Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning with K, where we lapped up sunshine, pastries and creamy ginger lattes. I also picked up some salad leaves and edible flowers (sandwich ingredients for the week), and a tub of some very delicious tahini!

…Tahini. Back in 2007, this lovely couple introduced me to the wonders of tahini on toast (amongst other things along the lines of havarti and gouda cheese – dangerous!) I remember a time when I spread tahini on every slice of bread I ate. It was like a sesame version of peanut butter – except nuttier and lovelier… novel, I guess, is the word to describe it.

This last Saturday, I chanced upon this stall at the market and chatted briefly with Yinon, the friendly owner and he mentioned the magic words – “baba ghanoush” – which got me thinking…

I’ve only ever had baba ghanoush out of a tub from the supermarket – and in my mind, it’s always been something under the same category as pesto and hummus. Something to slop on bread or on crackers, occasionally with cheese and cracked pepper. It’s never crossed my mind to try making it.

So when Yinon talked a little about the process of making baba ghanoush – baking the eggplants, scooping out the flesh and all, I thought I’d give it a try. I looked up recipes online and jotted down the ingredients I would need, and headed to the supermarket with Mandy late on Saturday evening.

In the end, I didn’t make baba ghanoush. I added capsicum to the list of standard ingredients and didn’t measure ingredient proportions. Mostly because we were running out of time and I was trying to bake a brownie for an evening gatherine too…

So we ended up with something not quite bona fide baba ghanoush, but fun to eat nevertheless. I sliced the eggplants in half and baked them for around 30 minutes – then fried the eggplant flesh with garlic and sliced capsicum, then added the juice of one lemon, a pinch of cumin, a tablespoon of my spices from Morocco, salt, pepper and a few tablespoons of tahini to the mix.

One marvellous thing about food, I find, is that one idea leads to another, one ingredient to many great things. In cooking, I don’t believe it is necessary to follow all recipes with biblical obedience – far better to read it like a story, work with basic methods and leave it to experimentation/inspiration when implementing (one exception is certainly this magic brownie from Molly Wizenberg’s blog Orangette which requires no modification).

Dinner loosely resembled a mezze platter – eggplant and tahini dip, toasted Turkish bread, fresh cucumber slices, fried venison meatballs and sauteed mushrooms.

Overall a fun dinner, and we all agreed the texture of the eggplants may not have been a bad thing after all (more ‘solid’ than baba ghanoush) but I think next time I will include a little less tahini in it, and skip the meatballs. Alas, meatballs and I have trouble getting along in the kitchen – they turned out browner than burnt chocolate and still rather flushed in the middle after 40 long minutes in the pan. Pfft!

For fresh tahini, harissa chilli and other such yummy foods, stop by:
The Chilli Factor – Saturday mornings at Auckland City Farmers’ Market, behind the Britomart Trainstation on Gore Street – look for Yinon! – Phone: 021 141 7348

For more information on your local farmers’ markets or to vote for your favourite market/producer/stallholder (and be in to win a fantastic prize) – visit
http://www.tastefarmersmarkets.org.nz :-)

Porridge, fit for a Queen!

There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.
~ Author Unknown

I’ve just had a wonderful vacation in Christchurch – filled with belly laughs, real talk, yummy food, sunshine, rain – and best of all – time with a few of my Christchurch-based friends. It’s more than I can fit into one blog post, so I’ll make a start with Porridge. :-)

Ian and I went to Christchurch Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning – we didn’t get to stay very long unfortunately, as we wanted to drive to Lyttelton and to Sumner too (I wish one could lengthen weekend mornings. They are just so full of promise and potential)! Neither of us had been to the market before, but we knew without a doubt that we were at the right place when we got out of the car… and were met with some fabulous smells! Mmmmm! We followed our noses (and other similarly nose-led people) in towards Riccarton House.

For a split second, I was jealous of all these Christchurch folk who get to visit each Saturday (had to quickly remember we are hardly a sorry bunch in Wellington too!). Wow, what a great selection of stalls – I could hardly focus on anything, it all looked so good.

We headed in separate directions – Ian went on a search for bread and coffee, while I marched on in a purposeful search for Becs’s stall Posh Porridge, having read about it on her blog! I was very pleased to find it and meet the lovely Becs – even if briefly! It was fun to chat, and I couldn’t resist treating myself to some porridge too. It was pretty tough to pick just one out of five delicious-sounding options… but eventually I settled on porridge with rum-soaked raisins, granola and honey…

In short, I felt like a Queen eating this.

And not just because of the regal bowl it came in!

The porridge itself was something else – creamy, with great texture – and the toppings made it impossibly good. Though it was richer than my normal breakfast, I happily melted into the sweet rummy raisins, honey, custard, golden granola… ahhh. Together with some heady Espresso, this was the perfect start to Saturday!

We drove off with smiles on our faces. I don’t know how we fit in more food at Lyttelton, but we did… (more about that soon).

Christchurch Farmers’ Market – Riccarton House – Phone: 03 348 6190

PS. My crazy and much valued friend Paul surprised me with a camera for my birthday… notice the new and improved photos ;-)