Tag Archives: salad

If I only knew what that ‘something’ was

God has all the time in the world.
~ Antoni Gaudí

Medley ingredients:
Roasted kumara with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Leek rings sautéed with butter.
A handful of fresh pomegranate seeds.
Feta cubes.
Baby spinach, gently wilted.
Fresh mint, chopped.
Squeeze of lemon.
Black pepper.

Something was still missing. Or something that shouldn’t have been there was. Anyone know what? Penny for your thoughts…

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Warm orzo salad with roasted vegetables

She turned to the sunlight
   And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
   “Winter is dead.”
~ A. A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

One of the pleasures of living in Wellington: walking down to Harbourside Market on any Sunday morning and leaving with a bounty of goodness for a reasonable price. I also like the fact that the vegetables are likely to stay fresh for almost twice as long as their supermarket equivalents!

Last Sunday, I exchanged $9 for a bag of garlic, a bag of lemons, an aubergine, capsicums, zucchinis, and a generous selection of big and little tomatoes… I was a happy woman.

I cooked this mostly by sight, taste and feel, and the oven door opened and shut more than I usually allow for in one session of cooking, but hey – dinner got done, nicely, and that is what matters.

    Warm orzo salad with roasted vegetables
    Ingredients:
    1 cup orzo
    ½ onion
    1 aubergine / eggplant (use your favourite vegetables – pumpkin could work well too?)
    1 zucchini
    1 capsicum
    6 or more small tomatoes
    4 sprigs asparagus
    1 tbsp demerara / brown sugar
    1 lemon
    Olive oil
    1 tbsp butter
    Salt
    Pepper
    Ground chilli
    Paprika
    Dried mint (or torn fresh mint, if you have it)
    Fresh herbs of your choice (optional)
    Method:
    Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a flat baking tray with aluminium foil or baking paper, and lightly grease it.
    Peel and dice the onion, and set aside. Zest half a lemon, and set aside. Cut off the ends of the aubergine, then slice it into rings approximately 1cm thick, and halve those rings. If you have time, sprinkle them with salt and leave them to sweat for about 30 minutes – this will tenderise the flesh, reduce any bitterness and make it less likely to absorb too much cooking oil later (I admit I skipped this step on this occasion, as we were hungry). Vertically slice the zucchini into 4 strips. Cut the capsicum into 6 pieces. Place these vegetables with the tomatoes into a bowl, add in some olive oil and toss to coat well.
    Arrange the aubergine, zucchini and capsicum pieces in a single layer on the baking tray, and place in the oven (on the centre rack, if possible) for 10 minutes. Then remove the tray, flip the aubergine slices and bake for a further 10 minutes. Once the aubergine pieces look nicely golden, remove them from the oven and place on a dish. Flip the zucchini and capsicum slices, add in the tomatoes, and replace the tray in the oven. After 10 minutes, take out the zucchini and capsicum. Lower the oven temperature to 150°C and leave the tomatoes to bake to perfection.
    All of this may sound terribly confusing, but it basically comes down to this: when the vegetables tell me they are ready with golden faces, I take them out. Also, tomatoes don’t mind staying in the oven for longer if you lower the heat before too long.
    Meanwhile, place some water in a deep saucepan and bring to the boil. Shake in some salt and the orzo, and cook according to packet instructions. Remove the orzo when it is about a minute from being completely cooked (after approximately 7 minutes of cooking), and drain off the liquid.
    Over medium-high heat, heat the butter (or use olive oil if you prefer), add in half a teaspoon of chilli and paprika each, and a pinch of dried mint – rubbing the mint between your fingers as you go. When you can smell the onion and it begins to turn translucent, break the asparagus sprigs into thirds and add them in. Sauté the lot for 2-3 minutes. Throw in the drained orzo and lemon zest, add in a dribble of water, allow it to be absorbed before adding in a little more (kinda like how you cook risotto), and cook this way until the orzo is cooked through. Stir in the demerara sugar.
    Pour the orzo and vegetables into a large bowl, add salt and pepper to taste, squeeze in the juice of a lemon. Add in chopped fresh herbs, if using. Toss the lot until well combined. Rescue the tomatoes from the oven, which should now be looking juicy and ripe to burst. Arrange them like jewels on an orzo crown. Serve immediately.
    Yields 3-4 servings.

Harbourside Market – Corner of Cable Street & Barnett Street beside Te Papa, Wellington – Phone: 04 495 7895

Aioli, two eggs and a potato

When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.
~ Walt Disney

This evening, I stood across the road from the supermarket, caught in indecision.

I thought about the semi-bare appearance of both pantry and fridge, and the fact that grocery shopping might help that.

I reflected on my heightened state of laziness and the unpleasant idea of being crammed in a box with frenzied folk and bright lights and signs saying BUY ME BUY ME I’M ON SPECIAL [even though I’m crappy and unnecessary].

(I sometimes fantasise about a life free of supermarkets and glad-wrapped chicken and self-imposed walking up and down rows of stressed and tired people, boxed food and trolleys. Anyway, that’s a post for another time.)

The lure of fresh air and sunlight won over all supermarket-related thoughts in the end, so I walked on home.

Back at home, I found a forgotten (but more importantly: very edible) potato, a few eggs and some other bits and pieces. As I mulled over the question of the evening, “what shall I cook from not much at all?” I was reminded of a line someone once told me: “laziness breeds creativity”…

Laziness doesn’t usually seem to yield positive results in anything, but occasionally, it does.

And while I don’t think I’ll try calling my dinner tonight “creative”, I daresay I was pretty pleased with it anyway.

    Ingredients:
    1 potato
    2 eggs
    Handful of chopped parsley
    For the aioli:
    1 egg yolk
    1 tsp Dijon mustard
    1 or 2 tsp lemon juice
    200ml olive oil*
    2 cloves garlic
    Fine sea salt & cracked pepper
    A pinch of paprika
    A pinch of caster sugar
    Method:
    Make the aioli. Peel and smash the garlic with some salt – in a mortar and pestle if you have one, with a knife and a glass jar if you don’t have one (I don’t).
    Place the egg yolk, mustard and lemon juice in a medium bowl; whisk immediately. Keep adding a few drops of olive oil at a time** and whisking the mixture until approximately half of the oil has been poured in. Then pour the rest of the olive oil in a thin and steady stream, whisking as you go, until it is completely incorporated.
    Add in the garlic, paprika, caster sugar, and salt and pepper to taste – give it a last gentle stir. You should now have a glossy, creamy mixture which clings slightly to the whisk.
    Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Wash and slice the potato. Place the potato and eggs into the saucepan and boil for approximately 8 minutes or until the eggs are just hard boiled and the potato slices are soft, but not falling apart.
    Peel and slice the eggs, then place on a plate with the potato slices, chopped parsley and aioli. Mix and eat.
    Yields 1 serving. Keep remaining aioli*** in a glass jar for up to 7 days in the fridge.

* You may want to use some a mixture of light and pure/extra virgin olive oil or just light olive oil if you find the taste of pure olive oil too strong – I love the taste of olive oil, so I just used extra virgin.

** This was my first attempt at making aioli, but I have heard that it is crucial to add at least half the oil in very slowly so it doesn’t get ruined…

*** Lots of uses for aioli: serve with fresh vegetables, pan fried fish, crispy fries – mmm!

Tis the season to have salads

Celebration and inspiration on a plate.

(This is the mandarin and watercress salad with crumbed jalapenos, brazil nuts, baby beets and cherry tomatoes…)

Estadio – 17-19 Blair Street, Wellington – Phone: 04 801 7960

A shiny new header – and a kitchen experiment

The trees are God’s great alphabet:
With them He writes in shining green
Across the world His thoughts serene.
~ Leonora Speyer

I’m not sure there is an adequate way to describe art which makes your heart twinkle… alright, see the new header graphic above? How can one not smile at it? Do you like it? I think it’s more delicious than a generous slice of moist banana-chocolate cake… it makes me wish I was sitting up on that tree branch asking you to come up and join me for a cup of tea. It’s a dream, is it not? I hope you like it too, especially if you visit my blog often… thank you Mr Piper for designing it! :-)

Tonight was the first night in awhile of cooking for all my flatmates again, and I couldn’t decide what to make. Steak? Pasta? Something crazy? In the end, I decided to make do with whatever I could find…

So. Four potatoes. One pack of chicken thighs. Leftover salad. An orange. A lonely nashi pear. A small handful of hazelnuts. An even smaller handful of dried apricots. Hmm…

I like mentally choosing a dish, and going to the supermarket to buy what I need. I like walking around the market, thinking about what to make and buying what I need for it there. I like having a lot of ingredients to choose from and work with. Spontaneous as I am, I usually like feeling prepared ingredients-wise when I’m cooking for others… tonight, though, I decided to relax and try cooking something out of nothing, so to speak.

It was good fun.

Of course, our cupboards and fridge were not too desolate, which made things a little easier. I sliced the chicken thighs into mini strips, washed and cut the potatoes, set some rice to cook in a bubbling saucepan of water.

I fried the chicken strips in warm, shimmering olive oil with garlic, mustard, paprika and chilli, adding the apricots, hazelnuts and a sprinkle of dried basil and mint in later. Boiled the potatoes. Zested an orange, cut most of the orange into cubes, tossed it all in with the leftover salad and left a wedge of orange out to make a simple orange juice salad dressing. I dusted the nashi pear pieces with some salt and added them in to the salad (sweet and crunchy, so good!).

And there we have it… a random dinner. Ate with my flatmates, and it was great. As a bonus, Matt was so good as to wash the dishes too. :-)

Goodnight!

These are busy days

I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see.
~ John Burroughs

Today, I wanted to break the glass on the universal globe-governing Clock and pull out its hands.

How can there be so many things to do and so little time?

Tonight is looking to be a very late night for me, so logically, a proper cooked dinner was in order. I went to the supermarket after work and came home to cook this from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries” (long time no cook-through, I know):
#54 Lentils, Rice & Red Onion Salad – Page 348

I was initially dubious about the method Tessa gave for cooking rice, but it certainly worked well. This meal is great on a cold night, the different parts of this salad come together to form a cohesive symphony and it is pretty filling too.

Modifications: I added some rosemary, a tiny bit of paprika, curry powder and cinnamon. I also halved the quantities as it was just Jono and me tonight.

The picture above depicts this morning’s breakfast: pear, avocado and capsicum salad with a squeeze of lemon juice, some fresh rosemary leaves and black pepper. (I’ll probably be adding rosemary into everything for awhile now too, as my mom gifted me with a big bag of fresh rosemary sprigs from their garden…)

K gotta run.

Like a sack of gold…

If rich food can kill, people live dangerously here.
~ Alice Furland

… rich food galore tonight in the Treehouse, with Matt, Jono and honorary flattie Ms Char :-)

From Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:
#34 Carrot Cake – page 259 (which Matt is taking to work, thankfully)
#35 Pan-Fried Veal Chops with Lemon, Sage & Mascarpone – page 315

Matt taught me how to ‘chop’ walnuts today: with a wooden ladle? Looked like fun too…

Carrot rain.

Getting ready to cook the ‘veal chops’ (ok, they are actually lamb chops because veal was nowhere to be found at Moore Wilson’s)

Rich, rich sauce…

Finished products:

Non-cookbook:
A simple salad of carrot, capsicum, mesclun, lemon, mint
Brownies from Orangette: see ‘Best-Ever Brownies’ (mix pictured near the top of this post)

I’m a little lacking in prose tonight, the day has gone by so quickly… I am sleepy… goodnight…

Oh! Before I forget!…… 1. Thanks Matt for cooking some of the time with me! and 2. Last day of ‘Revolt of the Mannequins’… the dear ones escaped!

Alright, goodnight for real now. Au revoir.