Borscht: the Beetroot Soup

I love this stuff! Probably because I know how good beetroot is for you. But this soup has other greatness in it too: onion, leek, carrot and cabbage. They’re all powerful anti-oxidant containing veggies. I particularly like veggies of the allium (onion & leek) and cruciferous families (cabbage) because they help to remove heavy metals from our bods (‘de-toxify’ us) but the old carrot’s beta-carotene (for vitamin A production) content makes it a valuable ingredient too.

Borscht is an Eastern European (think Poland, Russia) dish and traditionally includes meat; usually beef or veal but sometimes pork. I prefer to make mine meat-free, though. But when I say meat-free, I mean there’s no chunks of animal flesh in it. To clarify, I like to use a beef stock. But all you veggos out there rest easy… I have made it on a veggie stock base a few times and it’s still just as delicious.

Soups are pretty easy meals to make but when you have a Thermomix they’re even easier again. I’m providing the recipe for both methods, but the Thermomix will yield less because, unless you’re lucky enough to own the newest model (TM51) it simply doesn’t have the capacity to safely hold the same quantities as a large saucepan can.Food Fervour

So, Manual Cooks, you will need: 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped stalk celery, 1 chopped leek, 1 carrot, 2 beetroot, 250gm sliced cabbage, 1 tablespoon tomato paste (or 1 large tomato) & 5 cups beef (or vegetable) stock

Simply warm the EVOO in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion, celery & leek. Sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the carrot, beetroot, cabbage, tomato/paste and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for an hour. Carefully blend in batches

Thermomixers, you’ll need: 30gm EVOO, 1 small quartered onion, 1 roughly chopped stalk celery, ½ roughly chopped leek, 1 roughly chopped small carrot, 1 large  roughly chopped beetroot, 150gm sliced cabbage, 1 tablespoon tomato paste (or 1 large tomato), 3½-4 cups beef or vegetable stock

Placing the onion, celery and leek in the bowl, chop for 5 seconds on Speed 5 then add the EVOO and cook for 4 minutes on Varoma, Speed 1.5. Add the carrot, beetroot and cabbage and chop for a further 5 seconds at Speed 5. Add the remaining ingredients and set to cook for 22 minutes at 100ºC, Speed 1-1.5. Finally, set to 1 min 30 seconds and slowly accelerate to Speed 9.

Serve immediately and ENJOY!

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Slow Cooker Ratatouille

It was one of those days. I had no ideas, no incentive to cook, but I had heaps of veggies I felt compelled to use up.

Nothing even remotely appealed to me in the pages of recipes I scrolled through on the net. All I knew was that I couldn’t use the oven because it was just waaaaay too hot. I vacillated between Thermomix and slow cooker recipes but the slow cooker won in the end, simply because I knew I could leave it on overnight.

A lot of slow cooker recipes are deceiving in that they’re not just one-pot: many require you to pre-cook some of the ingredients. To a lazy cook like me that just doesn’t make sense. I want to throw everything into the crockpot at once, put the lid on and walk away.

So when I found a recipe that fit the bill on Voracious Veggie‘s website (direct link below) I proceeded to adapt it… just by adding more stuff, really.

Slow Cooker Moroccan Eggplant

Food FervourHere’s what I used:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), 1 diced onion, 1 finely chopped garlic clove, 1 small diced carrot, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon chili powder (double this if you actually want to taste it!), ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ cup tomato paste, 1 cup vegetable stock, 8 mushrooms sliced, 1 small eggplant (cubed), ¼ butternut pumpkin (peeled & cubed), salt & pepper.

And this is all I did:

Pour the oil into the slow cooker, adding the onion, garlic and carrot, followed by the rest of the herbs & spices. Mix in the tomato paste & stock next, then add the mushrooms, eggplant & finally the pumpkin. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on low for at least 8 hours (I left mine on overnight… a total of 14 hours!) You can stir it up every now & then if you like.

Food FervourFor my first meal, I mixed through fresh basil leaves, then topped the lot with chopped kalamata olives and crumbled feta (see left). Deeelish. For the next serve, I popped a piece of grilled wild salmon on top of a plateful.

There are so many ways you could serve it up. Super simply, with bread or on toast (mmm, melt some parmesan in or over it!) or as a pasta ‘sauce’. The point is, it’s dead easy, it’s packed with micronutrients and fibre, low in fat & complex carbs (for those concerned about them) and …..it’s just EASY!!! (Yes, I repeated myself.)

Don’t despair if you don’t have all of the veggies I used… the following will substitute perfectly : capsicum, zucchini, actual tomatoes (this will significantly increase fluid content FYI) …even cauliflower and broccoli (just don’t expect the broccoli to hold its colour) The more the merrier! Let me know what you use. 🙂

Broccoli, Kale & Sundried Tomato Frittata

I LOVE frittatas. Mostly because I adore eggs (they’re an incredibly nutrient-dense food) but there’s a host of other reasons…

Frittatas are so. damned. easy. to make. You can put an amazing array of stuff in them (which in turn further inflates their nutritional value) and even better, they can be eaten cold as a healthy snack on-the-run. (They even freeze well …. even though I’ve never tried… coz I eat ’em too quickly!) Apart from the baking time, they’re pretty quick to prep.

I needed to harvest my very healthy kale plant a few days ago, and knowing that I could fit a LOT of leafy greens into a frittata, there was no question about what I’d be making. I had a fair bit of broccoli lolling about in the fridge too so grabbed that, but knew I’d need some ‘punchier’ flavour …so I pulled out the sundried tomatoes. And my addiction to turmeric (more specifically its nutritional powers) has reached the point where virtually every egg dish I make features it. This explains the ridiculously intense yellow colouring:Food Fervour

I used the following ingredients:
125gm broccoli florets, 100gm finely chopped kale leaves (if you find kale too strong in flavour you could easily substitute with spinach) 40gm finely chopped sundried tomatoes, 6 eggs, 1 (heaped!) tablespoon of freshly grated turmeric (you could use the powdered stuff, and less of it, if you’re not as fanatical about it as I) salt & black pepper (important inclusion to help your body receive turmeric’s power) 40gm grated cheddar (or parmesan if you prefer) plus extra for topping.

Super simple instructions:

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC, grease (I use EVOO, that is extra virgin olive oil) and line a shallow baking dish with baking paper, set aside.

First you’ll need to steam your broccoli & kale. The broccoli will take only slightly longer than the kale, so place a steamer in a medium-large saucepan (unless you have another method of doing this – I have a Thermomix – yay for me!) with about one centimetre of water. Whack on the lid and as soon as it comes to the boil, pop in the broccoli. It should only take 3-4 minutes, tops. Haul it out, set it aside, and then throw in all the kale. This should only take about 2 minutes. You just want it to wilt. (Thermies, fill the bowl to the blades, pop the broccoli in the basket and cook 6 minutes Varoma, speed 1-1½. When done, set the broccoli aside, put the kale in the basket and cook for another 2-3 minutes, same temp & speed.)

The broccoli can be laid in the bottom of the baking dish immediately. Then you need to squeeze excess fluid from the kale. You could do this by hand (clean hands of course!) but I use paper towel so that I don’t lose any of the green to my fingers.

Next up, simply beat the eggs with the turmeric, salt and pepper. (Thermies: 5 seconds or so at Speed 5) then pop the kale, sun-dried tomatoes and grated cheese in and mix thoroughly (by hand… you don’t want to pulverise the veggies!)

Now, I opted to spoon the solids (the kale, tomato & cheese) into the baking dish, to fill in the gaps between the broccoli florets … I guarantee if you try to pour the whole mix out you’ll end up with a pile of vege in one spot! Call me OCD, but I’m fairly sure it’ll cook better if the liquids & solids are evenly distributed. I dribbled the remaining egg mix evenly throughout the dish as well.

Food FervourThe final step is to grate however much extra cheese you want, over the top of the entire dish then whack it in the oven for 30-40 minutes (just check it at the half hour mark: when it appears quite solid in the middle, it should be ready).

Unless your knife is very sharp, I’d let it cool a bit before slicing it into pieces. And I dare you NOT to eat any when you do this… 😉

Asparagus & Eggplant Salad with Poached Egg

Time to use up some asparagus! Since it pairs well – and often – with poached egg, I was up for totally up for that today, but I wanted more variety. More veg. With one mini eggplant left in the fridge, I searched for “asparagus eggplant recipes” and found this one pretty quickly… it was quick and easy to boot.

Food Fervour

Here’s what I used:

1 small eggplant, 8 asparagus spears, 3 cherry tomatoes, 1 egg, apple cider vinegar, a handful of rocket, finely grated parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

And here’s what you do:

Quarter the eggplant then slice approximately 5mm thick pieces. Rub the pieces with salt and let rest. Meanwhile chop and discard the bottom 3cm of the asparagus spears then slice into pieces approx 3cm long. Turn the oven grill on to high.

Set a small saucepan on the stove and fill with about 5-6cm water on high heat. Cover and while it comes to the boil, rinse the salt off the eggplant and pat dry with paper towel. Then coat it generously in oil (EVOO) and spread the pieces out under the grill.

Throw the asparagus in the boiling water (to blanch), removing with a slotted spoon after a couple of minutes. Don’t tip out the water, we’re going to recycle it! Set the asparagus aside and check the eggplant; it should be ready to turn over.

Return the saucepan with the water to the stove, adding a dash of apple cider vinegar. Break the egg into a small cup or bowl then, as the vinegar water returns to the boil, grab a spoon and begin stirring the water in one direction quickly to create a ‘whirlpool’. Tip the egg right into the eye of the whirlpool then remove the saucepan from the heat source immediately and cover with the lid. The egg will keep on cookin’ in this hot environment (about 3 minutes for the perfect soft centre) as you continue your prep…

Lay a bed of rocket on your plate, placing the asparagus over the top. Remove the eggplant from the grill and scatter on the plate, then add the quartered cherry tomatoes.

Using the slotted spoon again, gently remove the egg from the saucepan, resting briefly on some paper towel to drain excess fluid, then place on top of the salad. Shower the lot with the grated parmesan, drizzling some EVOO and seasoning with salt and pepper before chowing down. You could add a little vinegar or lemon juice as well if you prefer.

Food FervourIt’s a perfect ‘light meal’ ….but I was a little hungrier than I thought so I ended up cutting a few extra pieces of parmesan to nibble on while I cleaned up. 😛

 

Turnip Scrambled-Egg-Omelette

So I bought a turnip at the farmers markets a few weeks ago because I’d never cooked with one before (I’m doing this kind of thing a bit more of late) and then …forgot about it. But today was the day. And I was stoked to find a recipe that involved eggs …because I’d just done some weight training… perfect timing for a high protein meal.

As usual, I was compelled to tweak the recipe I discovered on the Amateur Gourmet (direct link here) because I wanted to use up a few other things as well as increase the meal’s nutritional density. I’ll admit from the get-go that my omelette failed …to look like an omelette that is. I’m not so good at making perfect omelettes mostly because I refuse to use non-stick cookware. I’d hoped I’d have more success with my porcelain coated frypan as opposed to the stainless steel ones I usually use but… it wasn’t to be. :/

Food Fervour

I used: 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), approx 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 peeled & coarsely grated turnip, ½ small capsicum finely diced, 1 small finely chopped garlic clove, 1 small finger of turmeric, 1 finely chopped shallot, 1 tablespoon tamari, 2 eggs, black pepper & sea salt.

Placing the frypan over a medium heat, I added the butter & half the EVOO and as it warmed I pressed as much fluid out of the grated turnip as possible, with paper towels. I added the turnip and cooked for about 5 minutes (occasionally stirring) before adding the capsicum, garlic and finely grating the turmeric into the mix. I let that lot cook, seasoning with the salt & pepper, for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Whisking the eggs with the tamari then adding the chopped shallots, I turned the heat down to low, before pouring the egg mixture over the vegetables in the frypan, tilting it to prevent the egg from running away from the veggie mix. After a couple of minutes I scraped the edges of the omelette (realising then that it wasn’t going to stay in one piece for me!) to loosen the egg from the base of the frypan, then I began to turn ‘chunks’ of the omelette over bit by bit, to cook for 2-3 minutes more. This is basically where it became scrambled eggs. 😛

I served it up with a piece of avocado toast, some fresh tomato and gave it a good sprinkling of nutritional yeast (my current obsession due to its high protein and B vitamin content, specifically folate (B9) and B12). I was surprised to find that, rather than overly salty, it tasted relatively sweet (that was definitely the capsicum). Needless to say I cleaned my plate. 😉

Zoodles with Chickpeas & Pesto

It was time to harvest my crazy flat leaf parsley plant today. Because parsley is rarely the star in any recipe, I kinda knew I’d be making a pesto. What else can you make with an over-abundance of any green herb? I chose a Parsley & Walnut recipe I found on Taste.com.au (link to that recipe here ) …but halved the ingredients because (1) I’m single and don’t eat much and (2) I didn’t really have enough parmesan cheese left to make the full batch…

Now even before I’d finished creating it I knew how I’d be enjoying the first serving: zoodles. Zucchini noodles, for those not in the know. Because I’m not a huge fan of Italian food – pasta and the like – I’m a bit clueless about the uses of pesto: besides as a dip, all that comes to mind is its presence in pasta dishes (total cliche). So, there it was: raw zucchini spiralled into spaghetti-like strands, to be crowned with my parsley pesto… BUT… what in between? I can’t just do ‘pasta’ & pesto: I mean, where’s the nutrient density in that? ‘Myright?Food Fervour

This is how my (single serve) meal came together:

I popped a frypan on the stove, splashing in a little EVOO and setting it to a low heat. Then I cut about a quarter of a red capsicum slicing it thinly lengthwise. I added it to the frypan.

Next I ‘zoodled’ (spiralled) half of a medium sized zucchini, and arranged the ‘pasta’ bed on my plate. I added approximately ¼ cup of (cooked) chickpeas to the frypan, with the now softening capsicum and gave it a little stir. Then I retrieved some feta & my freshly made pesto from the fridge, and my nutritional yeast from the pantry. There really wasn’t much left to do…

With the chickpeas warmed and the capsicum soft, it was time to plate. (Too easy, right?) I topped the zoodles with the capsicum first, creating a kind of ‘nest’ with them, then I tipped the chickpeas into the centre. Plopping a good dollop of the pesto on top of them, I cut a little piece (maybe 20gms?) of feta, crumbled it over the lot and finished with a sprinkle of (about 1 teaspoon of) nutritional yeast.

It’s a nice light veggie meal, like a ‘warm salad’ in a respect. I found the sweetness of the capsicum tempered any bitterness of the walnut & parsley pesto, and then there was delicious saltiness of the feta and nutritional yeast. If you want to give it a go (NB vegans simply omit the feta) I’d love to know what you think. 🙂

Roasted Lamb Steak, Brussel Sprouts & Broccoli

I saw – somewhere – a picture of oven roasted brussel spouts the other day and I couldn’t get it out of my head. Even though we didn’t eat these fellas often as kids, I’ve never really hated them unlike the majority of people on the planet. So when I saw a bag of organic brussels at the markets on Saturday morning, it was ON!

I’m envisioning heaps of olive oil & garlic. Then I see broccoli in the mix. This is getting good! I bought some fresh grass fed lamb steaks at the markets as well, and since (er, excuse the candidness) it’s getting close to ‘that time of month’ I really feel like a good dose of haem iron.

So, here’s my dinner adventure for tonight:

Food FervourI used 3 ( yes 3!) garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, (approx) 100gms grass fed lamb steak, 1 small carrot, 7-8 brussel sprouts, 4-5 broccoli florets.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC

Finely chop 1 garlic clove, add 1 tblspn Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspn EVOO & 1 squeeze (approx 1 tspn) lemon juice, mix then marinade your lamb steak (approx 100gm) for at least 10 mins…

Quarter (lengthwise) 1 small carrot then, adding 1 tablespoon EVOO, 1 finely chopped garlic clove and salt to a (preferably glass) baking dish, throw in the brussel sprouts, and rub with the garlic, oil & salt mix. Do same for the carrot quarters.

Next, pop a small frypan on the stove, on high heat. Meanwhile prepare (slice) your broccoli florets. A drop of EVOO (about 1 teaspoon) will tell you when the frypan is hot, then you want to pop in your lamb… and I’m talkin’ 20 seconds tops…. turn it over, another maximum of 20 seconds then pull it off the heat. Unless prefer your meat a little more ‘rare’ (in which case just allow it to ‘rest’) add it to the baking dish with the veggies and pop it in the oven. Set your timer for 5 minutes.Food Fervour

Drizzle oil over your broccoli florets, squeeze some more lemon over then then massage the lot through. (Did I mention you should have washed your hands before you started cooking?!) When the 5 minute timer sounds, add the broccoli (& the meat, if you haven’t already) to the baking dish, turn the carrots/brussels if you wish, and reset the timer for 15 minutes. If you can remember, try to turn everything at about 7-8 minute mark. (I usually do this by deliberately setting my timer for 7 or 8 minutes… no forgetting then!)

When the timer sounds for the last time, it’s time to serve and enjoy. I think what made the dish for me was the sweetness of the Worcestershire and the wonderful tang of the lemon. Deeelish!