It’s Rachel here… Michelle has been doing such a great job keeping up with the blogging, I’ve been mainly in the background so far, but I thought I’d get on and share some of what’s happening in the kitchen since we’ve started farming, because the growing of food really gets me more excited than ever about cooking food!
One of the wonderful things about getting involved in growing food is the abundance of produce that starts to flood into the kitchen. With this gift comes the challenge of using up large quantities of produce before it goes to waste. Between the food that’s been generously given to us by Rod and Tania at the end of our work on Wednesday’s and the food that is made available to us through TAFE crops on Tuesday’s, we’re having the truly awesome experience of having an absolute abundance of fresh, local, seasonal and organic food that has basically zero food miles and was picked 24hours or less before it arrives in our fridge! This to me feels like real abundance and wealth. We feel so grateful for this and it’s becoming a real joy each week to decide who we can pass on surplus to.
Figuring out what to do with relatively large quantities of produce is both a joy and a challenge. Whilst I love cooking, and it’s importance in my life seems to only be on the increase, I really only became interested in cooking a couple of years ago (when I became a vegetarian) and so there are still many vegetables that I’ve either never used (i.e. Kohlrabi) or that I’ve never cooked, but only eaten out of a tin (e.g. Beetroot). So alongside the newness and excitement associated with learning to grow food, I’m also on a journey of learning to be strategic in what I do in the kitchen with nature’s abundance. So an important part of our blog of course is to share recipe’s and since Charles, one of our readers from the other side of the world, has kindly enquired about a beetroot dip that recently appeared in a photo we posted, I thought today I’d share a couple of beetroot recipe’s I’ve used over the last month as these beautiful ruby red root vegetables have come into season – I hope you enjoy these if you get in and have a go yourself!
Beetroot Dip (from Stephanie Alexander’s Cook’s Companion)
Puree baked beetroots with olive oil, finely chopped garlic and chilli to a consistency suitable for dipping. Add ground roasted cumin and coriander seeds and salt to taste. (There are no specific quantities here, just go by feel and while you can serve this with toasted pita bread as part of a platter, we found it went splendidly as a condiment alongside our vegetarian lasagne – see pic previous blog).
Here is another recipe, which we’ve just finished eating for a late and lazy lunch on this beautiful Sunday..
Beetroot and Potato Pierogi (otherwise known as dumplings)
(taken from Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion – I love Stephanie!)
- 1 free range egg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water
- 60 butter melted
- 3.5 cups plain flour (plus extra for rolling)
Beetroot & Potato Filling
- 200g beetroot, peeled and cut into 3cm cubes
- 1/2 cup water
- 250g waxy potatoes, peeled and halved
- 60g butter, melted
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make dough, put eggs, salt, water and melted butter in an electric mixer with a paddle beater. With the motor running, spoon in the flour, beating on medium speed until you have a smooth and elastic dough. Transfer the dough to a floured chopping board or bench and knead for 1 minute or so, then put into a bowl and cover with a damp cloth for 1 hour. (Note, we don’t have an electric mixer, so I did this all by hand. I simply poured all the flour onto the bench, made a hole in the middle and then poured all the other ingredients (which I’d mixed together) into the hole (and as I did this I used a fork to bring in a bit of flour at a time to mix with the liquid. Doing this bit by bit means the flour and liquids slowly get mixed together on the bench no worries. Once you’ve mixed it all, then chuck fork to the side and start to knead. I kneaded it for over 20 minutes and it was hard, but satisfying work!).
Preheat 180 degrees Celsius.
To make the filling, put beetroot into a baking dish with water, cover with foil and roast for 45 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, cook potatoes in a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water until quite tender. Drain Vegetables.
Push potato through a potato ricer (I just used a masher) into a mixing bowl. Process beetroot in a food processor until quite smooth (I tried to use the masher for this but it didn’t work, so don’t try that. I ended up using a hand blender/bamix thing, which got it done, although if you do have a food processor, I’d definitely use it for this job as it was quite difficult without one).
Combine beetroot with potato, transfer to a mixing bowl and work in melted butter using a wooden spoon. Taste for seasoning and add salt if desired. (I would suggest adding quite a bit of salt and pepper). Allow filling to cool completley.
Divide dough in half and cover one piece with a damp cloth. On a well floured chopping board or bench and using a well floured rolling pin, roll out the other dough half until very thing. Cut into rounds using a 6cm scone cutter (or upside down glass as I did).
Place 1/2 teaspoon filling in the centre of each round, then fold dough over to enclose filling and pinch edges together.
Transfer to a floured baking tray or chopping board (make sure the pierogi don’t touch as they’ll stick together) and continue until all rounds are filled.
Repeat rolling, cutting and filling process with the second piece of dough. Remember you can freeze any leftover pierogi you don’t wish to cook yet.
Preheat oven to 100 degrees Celsius. Place either sour cream or melted butter in 2 ovenproof serving dishes and transfer to oven to warm.
Bring wide pan of lightly salted boiling water to the boil over high heat. Drop in as many dumplings as will fit comfortably in a single layer. When they rise to the surface (about 6 minutes she says, but in my case this took only 1 minute? But I left them for 6mins anyway), scoop them out with a slotted spoon, then leave them to drain for a moment on a folded dry tea towel. Transfer to serving dishes and stir to coat with sour cream or butter. (Dumplings double in size when cooked. We find between 5-7 is a filling meal).
When all dumplings are cooked, add chopped chives and season with salt and pepper, then serve.
*Note: We did as described above the first time and they were OK, but then Michelle, for our lunch today, changed it around and this was awesome! She added goats cheese alongside the beetroot mix before folding up the dumplings. Once they’d cooked she put the dumplings into a gratin dish that had been in the oven pre-warming (at 150 degrees C) and contained 20gm of (melting) butter and a tbsp of pesto. She left the first batch in the oven as she cooked the second batch. The second batch also made it into the oven and then to serve she put them on a pre-warmed plate, scattered it with parsley and seasoned it all with salt and pepper and also scattered more goats cheese all over – it was really yummy and I think a big improvement on the basic recipe. Also, the first time we had them we found they cooled down really fast which wasn’t very nice. So using pre-warmed serving bowls and cooking the dumplings in the oven for a short time (5-10 minutes) helped this dish maintain its heat.