Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chestnuts, Brussel Sprouts, Roots and a Chicory Salad

500g  Bamberg potatoes (German: Bamberger Hörnchen)

300g  Brussel sprouts
300g  Mugello sweet chestnuts , (Castanea sativa Mill.)

400g  Teltower Rübchen (Brassica rapa L. subsp. rapa f. teltowiensis)

3  Belgian endive/ chicory/ Witloof
A hand full of freshly cracked walnuts
Coarse mustard, some lemon

A slow food dish - steaming up a variety of regional vegetables: An old potato variety from Bamberg, Chestnuts from Tuscany, Brussel sprouts and a white regional root from Brandenburg, the Teltower Rübchen. Walnuts from old trees from Lake Constance. Chicory from Belgium. Like so many rare vegetable varieties the Bamberg potato cannot be harvested by machines.

Wash vegetables, scrub potatoes and Teltower roots,  remove outer leaves from brussel sprouts, cut bottom crosswise. Steam till done to your liking.

Heat pre-roasted chestnuts (possible from the markets) in a dry pan gently. Cut skin, peel and check for bugs or blemish. They should be of ivory colour and have no holes.

Wash endive, dry leaves and pluck apart. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix mustard with lemon and add as dressing.

After the vegetables are done. Put sprouts and heated chestnuts in a bowl, sprinkle some butter/olive oil, toss and cover.

Serve all with the potatoes and Teltower roots separate and hot.

Toss chicory salad before serving and sprinkle the walnuts on top.

Sommer, Giorgio, Chestnut seller in traditional Naples costume, 1872

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hazelnut ring

220g spelt flour
10-15g Weinstein baking powder (½ packet)
1 Tbsp honey
1 egg
125g butter

150g hazelnuts ground
50g sultanas
2 Tbsp Schnapps (or lemon juice, or rum)
1 Tbsp honey

1 egg yolk

Put flour in a large bowl.
Add honey in the middle and egg.
Mix together with some flour into a paste using a wooden spoon.
Cut in butter. Mix.
Knead together into a pastry. Add more flour if sticky, more butter if not smooth. Cool.

Wash sultanas. Then soak them in the liquid for 15 minutes.
Mix the nuts, the sultanas and honey into a paste.

Roll out the pastry on a tea towel into a long rectangle about 40 x 10 cm. Fold the edges to make it straight. Turn often while rolling to make it thin and prevent it sticking to the tea towel.
Spread the nut paste into the surface of the pastry. Roll it up along the long side into a long roll using the tea towel. Form the roll into a ring carefully without breaking the pastry surface. Press the ends together.
Place the ring onto a buttered circular baking tray with the seam facing downwards.
Preheat the oven to 180°.

Mix the egg yolk with a fork. Paint it  carefully with a tea spoon or brush in small amounts onto the ring until the whole cake is covered. Carefully paint the sides, inside and outside.
Take a large sharp knife and cut into the outer layer of pastry making the shape of a star on the surface of the cake. When the cake rises the cuts will open up making the star-shape emerge in the oven.

Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 150° and cover the cake with some greaseproof paper and bake for a further 30 minutes. Cool.
The surface of the cake should become a golden brown.

Use more hazelnuts and more sultanas for a more generous filling.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mushroom eggplant with pasta

1 medium eggplant
300g champignons
2 medium red onions
olive oil
pink salt
optional: whole garlic cloves.

Pasta (e.g. Rigatoni, Penne) or Camargue red rice
all organic

Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

Partly peel the eggplant and cut into cubes on a plate. Sprinkle salt on it and leave it standing for 1 hour or more. Pour off the dark juice which settles on the plate.
Wash the eggplant well to remove the salt and squeeze to dry.

Boil water for the noodles.

Heat olive oil in a pan and fry the eggplant in it. When it is golden, add a few tablespoons of boiling water/ tomato sauce and cook till it is done. Put it aside on a plate.

Start cooking the noodles.

Dice the onions. Cut the champignons into large chunks.

Fry the diced onion in the same pan with more oil as necessary. When soft, push the onion to the side and fry the champignon pieces until lightly golden. Add garlic if desired.
Mix the onions and mushrooms together and mix in the eggplant.

Serve with noodles, parmesan and a green salad.

Alternatively you can serve the dish with Camargue red rice and Brussels sprouts.

The eggplant should be firm and without black seeds. The mushrooms should be fleshy. In Germany use Steinchampignons, in Australia use swiss brown champignons.

Image Nr. 1:
Segantini, Giovanni, Mushrooms, 1886

Monday, August 20, 2012

Plum pie Brittany style

Plum cakes are popular in late summer in Europe when the plums are ripe. And although the yeast based pastries can taste good, this one without any yeast is our preference. It is based on a recipe from Brittany and unlike many plum cakes is covered with a pastry shell rather than open. When it is cut a little juice runs out which is shared among the pieces of cake when served.
Plum cake is always a little sour. This one is sweetened with agave nectar but not much to keep that special plum flavour.
It is customary to serve plum cakes with cream. With this pie it is optional and certainly a good complementary flavour.

450g wholemeal organic spelt flour
1 heaped tbsp honey
2 eggs
125g butter

1.5kg organic Damson plums (Damask plums)
3 tbsp agave nectar

50g organic icing sugar
lemon juice

Put flour in a large bowl.
Add honey in the middle and eggs.
Mix together with some flour into a paste using a wooden spoon.
Cut in butter. Mix.
Knead together into a pastry. Add more flour if sticky, more butter if not smooth. Cool.

Remove stems from plums.
Halve and stone them. Remove any woody matter near the stems. Cut into quarters.

Butter a 28 cm round spring form.
Cut pastry into 3 pieces for the pie (2 equal, one smaller).
Roll out one piece for the bottom, make 3 cm sides with the small piece. Save the other piece for the top.
Cover the bottom of the pie shell with greaseproof paper and put a few weights on it (e.g. nuts or metal spoons).
Bake on second shelf for 10 minutes at 190°.
Remove from oven, remove paper and weights. Reduce oven heat to 150°.

Arrange the plum quarters in a circular form starting at the outside of the pie shell and overlapping them towards the middle. 
Repeat this arrangement on top of the first layer so that the pie is full up to the level of the sides.
Slowly and evenly pour agave nectar on the plums, rather less than more.

Roll out the remaining pastry and cover the pie with it.
Press down the edges using a patterned object (e.g. knife tip, lemon zester) to seal the pie.
Bake a further 60 minutes.
The pie shell should be light in colour. If the pie looks brown cover with paper while baking.
Loosen the pie from the bottom and sides of the form with a knife after 10 minutes and remove from form. Cool on a cake plate.
Sieve icing sugar. Mix in lemon juice until a sticky mass forms. Decorate the pie with it using a spoon (for example).

It is important to find the right balance between undercooking the plums inside the pastry and over-baking the pastry. Hence the long baking time at a low temperature. To avoid burning the pastry, paper may be used to cover the pie during the baking process. In this way the plums keep cooking inside but the surface is not exposed to strong direct heat.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Feta and Figs Variations

Some alternative ways to combine feta cheese with figs with optional nuts and herbs:

Get some of these resources:
Feta, organic, non animal rennet preferred
Oil: olive or macadamia & vinegar
Herbs: parsley/basil/mint leaves/dried oregano
Nuts: macadamia, hazelnuts or raw pistachios
flour, honey, fresh cinnamon

Choose and Do

Cold platter
Drain and wash feta. Cut feta into slices, sprinkle oil over it. Arrange fresh figs Optional: sprinkle with lightly roasted macadamia, hazelnuts or raw chopped pistachios.

If dressing is desired
1 tsp organic mustard
6 tsp macadamia oil
1 tsp rice vinegar
scatter over arranged feta fig platter

Toast nuts of your choice in frying pan, stirring frequently. Do not burn nuts. Add last minute with fresh herbs
Fried feta variation
Drain and wash feta. Cut feta into matchbox size chunks. Put whole grain flour on plate, mix in some oregano. Roll feta pieces gently in flour. Heat olive oil, fry cheese gently, turning it till golden. Decorate with fresh figs and parsley/basil/mint leaves

Cook the Figs
Add a small cup of honey and ¼ tsp of fresh cinnamon into a frying pan, cook gently for a few minutes. Add the cleaned figs and toss in this mixture for 1 minute. Place figs on feta platter. Decorate with nuts and herbs

These dishes go well with Okra in Tomato Sauce
Coriander pesto is also an accompaniment with the above dishes
More feta recipes here and here

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Native Raspberry Tea and Fruit

Native Raspberry, Rubus rosifolius Sm, (syn. Rubus rosaefolius) occurs in rainforest or on rainforest edges of SE Australia. It is one of many in the Rosaceae family. The (Thimble-) berries are delicious raw or prepared into desserts. The leaves of the Rose-leaf Bramble make a pleasant tasting herb tea, that is supposed to have many health benefits. The plant is very prickly and can be grown in cultivation. Outside its endemic home range it has the potential to become an invasive plant.

Herb Tea
Remove stems, wash, crunch a hand full of leaves, pour boiling water on and let steep for a short time. Drop in a raspberry ( if available).

Queensland Raspberries
Infusion of Raspberries and Passionfruit

Blackberries (Rubus spp.) weed or native?

Okra in Tomato Sauce

500g small to medium okras (finger length)
500g tomatoes
3 large cloves Russian garlic
Olive oil

Pour boiling water over the tomatoes in a bowl. Then cold water after 5 minutes. Peel them.
Add a little olive oil to a pot and heat. Add garlic cloves. Lightly fry for a few minutes.
Add peeled tomatoes. Cover and cook at a low temperature for 1 hour. Stir and crush tomatoes and garlic occasionally. Remove the lid and continue to simmer for another 1 hour until the sauce thickens.
Clean the okra. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan. Add the okra when hot and fry for about ten minutes turning from time to time. Add the fried okras to the tomato sauce and cook slowly for ½ hour.Serve hot or cold. This dish goes well with Feta and Figs Variations

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Taro in Coconut Milk

2 large taro roots (Colocasia esculenta)
coconut milk

Soak the cleaned taro in cold water overnight. Cook for 1 1/2 hours, or until tender. It should be completely cooked or it might irritate your skin and throat. Peel and chop it into large chunks. Heat coconut milk, add taro chunks and heat. The taro should be covered.
Optional: You might want to add hot chili and sliced okras (Abelmoschus esculentus). Taro is also nice mashed, or fried in butter.
Taro leaf stands like edible Water chestnuts (Eleocharis dulcis) in permanent water bodies
Many cultures have eddoecorm as a dessert. The Tongans seem to have a large variety of these 'root' crops.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Kumera Bunya Soup

2 large orange kumeras/ sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas)
5 carrots
5 ripe tomatoes
30 bunya nuts (or waxy potatoes)
3-4 small zucchinis/ courgettes
500 g peas
black pepper seeds & 1 bay leaf
pinches of garden herbs
olive oil
some cooked durum wheat semolina pasta (optional)
all organic and filtered water

Boil 1 liter of water in a pot, add black pepper, bay and garden herbs
Add clean peelings and vegetable off cuts as you go

Pour boiling water over the tomatoes and peel them after 6 min.
Chop peeled carrots, cut into chunks
Fry carrots in hot olive oil for a while, then add chopped tomatoes. Fry, stir, then cover and let it simmer gently for 15 min. Should you run out of liquid, pour some of the hot stock through a sieve into the mixture and cover.
Peel kumera and chop into large chunks, add them with bunya nuts to soup. Close the lid and let it simmer for 40 min. Add peas and small zucchini cubes and cook till they are done your liking.
Shell pasta was added here on day two, but it detracted from the flavours.

Another bunya soup variation is lima beans, stock, garlic, pepper and rosemary. Clip the pointy tips off the bunya nuts.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bunya Spaghetti Napolitana

1 kg ripe tomatoes (skinned, chopped)
1 onion or leek
2 carrots
4 celery sticks
2 cloves minced garlic
1 bay leaf
a dash of agave nectar
black Pepper corns
some olive oil

30 Bunya nuts, (optional)

A cup full of roasted pine nuts

500 g organic durum wheat semolina pasta (spaghetti)

All organic & filtered water

Fry finely chopped onion/whites of leek. Add finely chopped carrots and celery cubes. Stir. After all is translucent, add chopped tomatoes, garlic, agave, bay and peppercorns. Stir for a while simmer gently with covered lid. Add some boiling water if need be to cover the vegetables. Add peeled bunya nuts, cook for 30 minutes or more. Cook covered over a low heat till there is a thick sauce.
Roast pine nuts gently in dry pan. Do not burn. Set aside

Cook pasta "al dente"

Serve separate or mix in large decorative bowl and serve very hot with sprinkled pine nuts.

See also
Tomato sauce with noodles

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bunya Pine Nuts: How to Prepare for Cooking

When bunyas are ready to harvest they fall to the ground. Forget about climbing up the tree to get them. The leaves are very sharp and the nuts are right at the top of the pine. When they start falling they continue for a couple of weeks in late summer. Before that you can see if a tree has many nuts by observing its crown.
Depending on the softness of the ground under the bunya tree the large cones may be intact after they drop down. If this is the case, take the whole cone home where you can get the nuts out cleanly. But usually the nuts are scattered when they hit the ground which makes it easy to get them out but they may be dirty and need washing when you get them home. They are also among sharp leaves so be careful with your hands.If your bunyas are in a cone still, break the cone open and separate the individual nuts into a container. Be careful of sharp edges.The nuts have a tough shell which is quite leathery. It needs to be cut and will not break like a walnut or almond as it is not woody. I cut them with secateurs, slicing a thin piece of the skin on the edge lengthwise. Then you can get the secateurs to grip and cut more until the kernel comes out.I have also had success with a serrated knife, but it is hard to keep the nut still while cutting.Other people use a cleaver to cut the whole nut into two pieces and then extract the two kernel halves. This may be a faster method but may also require practice and a good method for keeping the nut in place before you chop it.When you have extracted some nuts place them in water to remove the thin brown skin. This comes off easily after just a short dip in water leaving a white and brown kernel.
Bunya nuts come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some are small, round and white, others are pointy and usually they are a little brownish. A little brown gives them more character. They should taste waxy and the little white ones tend to be a bit powdery.
You will need to cook the nuts for 30 to 45 minutes. If they are undercooked they are dry. When cooked in a sauce they adopt the flavour so be careful what you cook them with. They have a unique flavour which can be overwhelmed by other foods. Given the extensive preparation it is important to be able to taste them.
An alternative approach is to roast the nuts in their shells in hot coals as recommended by a friend. We have not tried this but are advised that the nuts are very tasty and the shell is easy to remove after being in the fire. This has been a traditional Aboriginal cooking method for millennia. The trees/forests have been cultured by Australian indigenous people in their management of abundant landscapes.
Bunyas are best eaten fresh. However, when you have found a lot of bunyas you can freeze the nuts in their shells. You need to prevent the nuts from sprouting if you want to eat them. If you keep intact cones, the nuts tend to sprout inside the cones so break them up and put the nuts in the fridge.
If your fridge is not big enough for all the nuts, store the remaining nuts in a well-aired, dry place out of the sun, for example in a string bag, to prevent fungus. A short blast of direct sunlight helps to prevent fungus growth beofre you put them in a cool place or in the fridge.

Bunya Pine Nuts with Aubergine
Bunya Spaghetti Napolitana
Kumera Bunya Soup
Bunya Pine Nuts in Coconut Milk 
Bunya pine nuts in green tomato sauce 
Bunya Mushroom Ragout with Buckwheat noodles
Bunya Lima Bean Soup 
Bunya Nut and Macadamia Burgers
Bunya Pine Nuts with Sauerkraut and Pasta

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bunya Pine Nuts with Aubergine

20 peeled Bunya Pine nuts, Araucaria bidwillii
2-3 large aubergines (eggplants)
3 leeks, the white parts only
2-3 skinned tomatoes
2 small carrots
olive oil
black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
All organic & filtered water if possible

Peal the aubergine partially
Cut into large pieces, salt and toss
Chop the leek finely, fry in olive oil.
Pour boiling water on the tomatoes. Stir, add chopped carrot
Skin the tomatoes, chop finely and add to pot
Cover let simmer, then add pepper & bay and a little boiling water to cover all.
Let simmer with closed lid. Add the bunya nuts, cover, let cook for approx. 30 min. After the aubergines have been drained of their dark and bitter juice a few times, wash them in filtered water and press the pieces with your hands thoroughly. Place on dry clean towel. Heat oil in frying pan and fry pieces golden.After the vegetables are nearly done add the fried aubergine pieces to the pot and simmer for another 5 – 10 minutes. The aubergine chunks should not disintegrate. The bunya should be waxy and soft. Serve hot with a green crispy salad.

Bunya Pine Nuts: How to Prepare for Cooking