Tassievore eat local challenge – feast day!

Yesterday was feast day!

I learned last time I held a Tassievore feast not to be too ambitious. I’d thought about including a dessert on the menu like I did last time, but decided in the end it would make things too busy for me. I could have made a cold dessert ahead of time, if I’d really wanted to, but I’m trying to cut back on sugar, so I ditched that idea too.

Last week I learned that proving my bread dough for too long and in too warm a room leads to bread that is edible, but visually unappealing. It basically spread out like a pancake. So this time I left it for a shorter time and kept it in a cooler room, and baked it at about 10.00 am.

20170528 Flatbread combo

Last week’s Loaf of Disaster

If you read my earlier post on the sourdough class I went to in March with Kate from Garden Shed & Pantry, you might remember the drama I had with the 12+ year old oven. We have fixed the problem with a shiny new oven, which is making cooking so much easier, and I’m glad we got it in time for this weekend.

The result was much improved. At least it looked OK.

20170603 Tassievore 14 Sourdough IG

At the class, Kate explained how the climate affects the properties of the flour, and the end result can be dramatically different in terms of texture if you use flour from a colder climate (like Tasmania) rather than the flour she recommends that’s from a much hotter part of the country. However, the challenge was to use Tasmanian produce, so I stocked up on some Callington stoneground flour that was designed for bread making, and looked at the whole thing as a an experiment.

I let the beef bones simmer away in the slow cooker for a few more hours, before straining it into a pot and letting it reduce. I have no idea how concentrated I’ve made it or what size portions I should freeze it in, but at least I now have beef stock.

20170603 Tassievore 16 Final beef stock

My plan was to serve:

  • Dips, carrot sticks and vegetables when the guests arrived
  • Pumpkin soup and bread as an entree
  • Roast beef with side dishes of pumpkin and beetroot salad, and honey-glazed carrots
  • Cheese, pinot paste and crackers for afters

I was originally only going to do one dip, the smoked salmon one, but as I had more beetroot than I needed for the salad I decided to do a beetroot dip as well. That involved roasting the beetroot, stick blending it and combining it with yogurt and garlic.

A lot of the afternoon was spent cutting up the pumpkin and the other beetroot for the soup and the salad. Cutting up a whole pumpkin isn’t something I do very often, and every time I do it, I remember why I don’t do it. I didn’t lose any fingers so that’s a bonus.

20170603 Tassievore 15 Pumpkin IG

I let the soup cook all afternoon, while I got the other dishes ready. For the chicken stock, I used what I had in the freezer. Whenever we have roast chicken I save the bones and, when I have a bag full in the freezer, I throw them in the slow cooker for 12 hours or so to make a basic stock.

My aim was to serve the beef at about 7.30. It needed about two hours to cook (I like mine well done), so it needed to come out of the fridge at about 5pm. A minor disaster hit when I couldn’t find the mustard I’d bought the day before for the topping.

Catastrophe averted when I found a jar of Tasmanian Rainforest mustard in the cupboard. This is from Hill Farm in Sisters Creek, and no one can remember where or when we bought it, but I’m very glad we did!

20170603 Tassievore 19 Beef Combo

Once the beef was in, it was simply a matter of remembering to put the vegetables in with enough time for them to be ready at the same time as the beef. I always forget that the beetroot takes a lot less time than the pumpkin when I make this salad, so I always end up with overdone pumpkin. One day I’ll learn.

The honey-glazed carrots included honey we got from one of Slabs’ workmates, who has his own hives. That’s definitely the Tassievore spirit!

The night was fun. I saw somewhere that it was World Cider Day, so Slabs had picked us up some from Wille Smiths.  I don’t know who decides these things but I’m not going to complain.

20170603 Tassievore 20 Cider IG

World Cider Day! Yay!

The bread was fine. It was a lot denser in texture than bread made from the flour Kate recommends, but still very good.  And the beef (with the dodgy red wine sauce – the reason I made the beef stock) was great.

20170603 Tassievore 22 Soup & bread IG

We had to serve the soup in mugs because we don’t have enough soup bowls

20170603 Tassievore 23 Beef IG

Mustard roast beef

20170603 Tassievore 24 Main IG

Main course

We concluded the night with a selection of cheeses from Pyengana and Udderly Tasmanian, a pinot paste from Grandvewe and the crackers I made on Friday, which went soggy overnight, so I had to refresh them by re-baking them.

20170603 Tassievore 25 Cheese IG

Demolished cheese platter

In the end I was too focused on getting all the food together rather than having a discussion about some of the questions that the Tassievore people suggested as conversation starters in relation to eating locally. Although we did learn that you can buy Tasmanian feta – as used in the pumpkin and beetroot salad. Westhaven does a goats milk feta, which worked really well in this dish (along with the Tasmanian walnuts, which I substituted for the pine nuts in the recipe).

I’m going to reflect on the questions that Tassievore has posed and put some thoughts together in another post, as I think this is already long enough.

Thanks to Sustainable Living Tasmania and the Tassievore Eat Local Challenge for putting this opportunity out there. It’s definitely something I’m keen to continue being involved with in the future.

The recipes
Salmon dip
Beetroot dip
Pumpkin soup: I have been using the recipe for years. I originally found it in the instruction book for a stick blender that broke years ago.
Roast beef: Adapted from Cape Grim Beef’s recipe
Roast pumpkin and beetroot salad
Honey-glazed roast carrots

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Tassievore Eat Local – Weeks 3 and 4

 

The Tassievore Week 3 challenge was to support a business that uses local produce. I didn’t explore this as much as I’d have liked to over the week, mainly because I was focused on walking as much as I could for the Walk In Her Shoes challenge. Even so, since last year’s Tassievore challenge I’ve been more focused on supporting Tasmanian businesses and buying local produce. 20150320 Locavore box from Hill St The Locavore box from Hill Street Grocer is a great way to get hold of in-season veggies from Tasmanian suppliers. I also spent some time at Two Metre Tall Farm Bar – a business that is 100% committed to real food, real ale and that is completely committed to ethical and sustainable production. I wrote a post about Two Metre Tall in last year’s Tassievore challenge, and that sums up everything I love about them. 20150301 Summer fruits cider Moving on to Week 4, and the challenge was similar to last year: Feast with your family and friends on great Tassie produce. I cooked my own feast last year. It was a 5 course extravaganza that started at about 7.30 am and took all day.  I loved doing it, but this time an all day cook-fest wasn’t possible.

I decided to do a soup, a salad and a beef main course. Dessert would happen if it happened (it didn’t). The main was slow cooked osso bucco from Two Metre Tall. The vegetables I used were all Tasmanian-grown, mostly from the local market. I had a minor panic on Friday night when I hadn’t been able to find any locally sourced tomatoes for the beef dish, but the fabulous veggie growers at the market were there with heaps of tomatoes on Saturday morning, so everything was good. 20150328 Tassievore Feast 04A Combo I’d never cooked osso bucco before, and the advice from my friends was the slower and lower temperature it’s cooked at, the better it turns out. According to the recipe, I seasoned it with salt and pepper, dusted with flour and seared it before putting it into the slow cooker with the tomatoes and other vegetables. 20150328 Tassievore Feast 05A Combo In hindsight, I would have started it a bit earlier in the day – maybe 7 or 8 am – to allow a full 12 hours cooking, but it still turned out OK. A bit softer would have been better, but that’s a lesson to learn for next time. It still tasted great.

My other (entree) course was soup, inspired by the menu board at the pub when Juniordwarf and I went out for dinner during the week. Chicken and leek soup. One of the things in last week’s locavore box was a leek, but I had no idea what to do with it. Chicken and leek soup. Perfect! It wasn’t proper Cock a Leekie soup, because that has prunes and rice in it, and I’m not aware of any Tasmanian prune supplier or any rice that’s grown here. So I omitted the prunes and substituted Tasmanian quinoa (from Kindred Organics) for the rice. 20150328 Tassievore Feast 09A Stock The recipes I looked at involved using a whole chicken, so you basically make the stock with a whole chicken and, therefore, cook the chicken meat that you use in the soup at the same time. Then you take the stock and add the cooked chicken meat, plus some extra chopped leeks and chopped prunes, to make the soup. I don’t think I’d do it this way again, as I have a lot of bones and meat left over and frozen from chicken roasts that I use to make stock.

When I make roast chicken I usually cut the back bone out of the chicken before I cook it and spread it out on the baking tray (which reduces the cooking time significantly), then I freeze the back bone and all the other bones, and when I run out of stock I throw all the frozen bones into a pot with vegetables and make my own stock. If we have left over meat from a roast that we don’t use in a couple of days, I freeze that too, so I can use that in a chicken soup. I think I’d have had enough frozen roast chicken and bones to make this soup without using an entire chicken.

Never mind, I now have lots of stock and lots of chicken meat in the freezer. Even without the prunes, the chicken and leek soup with quinoa was a nice basic entree.

I made a similar roast pumpkin and beetroot salad with spinach and goats cheese as I did last year to go with the main course, together with one of my favourite Two Metre Tall ales that I’d been saving for this night. 20150328 Tassievore Feast 17A Combo And while I was waiting I made a tzatziki dip and some carrot sticks because I was feeling a bit peckish. 20150328 Tassievore Feast 18A Combo Juniordwarf made a sign for the night. 20150328 Tassievore Feast 19 - Sign IG I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out. I learned a lot about what to do differently next time, but for my first attempt at two dishes, I think it was a good effort. And everything (except the salt, pepper and olive oil) was Tasmanian.

Thank you to the organisers of the Tassievore Eat Local Challenge. The challenge is a great way to get people thinking about supporting local businesses and eating local seasonal food. Even though I haven’t participated as fully as I’d have liked to this year, it’s been great just to take the time to think about where my food is coming from and to try and source as much as I can from local suppliers. It’s something I hope to continue to do into the future.

Smoky Baked Beans with Chorizo

Last year Slabs, Juniordwarf and I went out for breakfast after spending a night in Hobart, and I ordered a dish of baked beans with chorizo.

I loved it and wanted to find out how to make it myself, so I looked for something similar online. The recipe I found was this one from the website www.myrecipes.com

I meant to cook it last time we went camping, but my laziness got the better of me. Every so often, Slabs would remind me that I wanted to cook baked beans, and I’d think about it and put it off a bit longer.

This weekend we went camping with Lil Sis and Mr Tall and while we were making the list of meals we’d need to bring food for, I somehow committed to doing the baked beans for breakfast today. So I no longer had an excuse.

Because the recipe uses dried beans, I needed to soak the beans on Wednesday night then cook them on Thursday so they’d be ready to take with us on Friday. After having done this, I strongly dispute the recipe’s claim that you only need 20 minutes “hands on” to do it. But that might just be me – I normally need to take the time a recipe gives me, double it and add another half an hour to get an accurate time.

Anyway it was worth all the work. They were delicious!

Here is the recipe:

450 g dried Great Northern beans (I’m not sure what these are. I used haricot beans.)
1 cup diced dry-cured Spanish chorizo (The recipe says “be sure to use firm, dry-cured Spanish chorizo and not soft, raw Mexican chorizo”.)  
4 cups chopped onion (I’ve never measured onions in ‘cups’ before, but it was about 8 small-medium onions.)
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 cups water
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (smoked paprika is brilliant – it makes the dish. I don’t think there’s a substitute. You must use it!)
1/2 tsp paprika
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp molasses
1/4 tsp crushed chilli (Don’t be shy! Use more if you like chilli.)
2 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp chilli powder (See comment about crushed chilli above.)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

What to do:

1. Sort and wash beans. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans. Cover; let stand 8 hours. Drain.

Beans pre-soaking

2. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chorizo; cook 4 min or until fat begins to render. Add onion & garlic; sauté 10 min or until tender.

Onions, garlic & chorizo ready to go

Add beans, water, & next 7 ingredients (through bay leaves); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 min or until beans are just tender.

Herbs & spices – look at the glorious colour of the smoked paprika!

3. Preheat oven to 180°C.

4. Stir brown sugar & the next 3 ingredients (through crushed chilli) into bean mixture. Bring to a simmer.

5. Transfer to oven dish; bake at 180° for 1 1/2 hours or until beans are very tender & sauce is thick. Remove from oven; stir in vinegar, black pepper, & chilli powder.

The final stages of cooking

Discard bay leaves; sprinkle with green onions & parsley.

P365 – Day 53 – bake-a-rama

Now that Juniordwarf goes to school, I only have one day a week at home with him.

What this means is that all the home/mum ‘stuff’ I used to do on two days I now only get one day to do. Last year we had organised activities on both days, so with getting ready, going to whatever it was, doing errands on the way home and whatever else we did, those activities ended up taking at least half of each day. By the time we got home from those activities, neither of us really ever felt like doing much for the rest of the day.

It also meant that I felt a lot less inclined to do any meal planning or cooking in preparation for lunches and morning teas, so basically I never did any of that.

Well this year it turns out that there is no organised activity anywhere that I’m aware of on our ‘home’ day, which is great. You know why? Because we don’t ‘have’ to be anywhere at all. We have the whole day to do whatever we want. If we have to do errands, we can finish them in an hour or so, and be back home before we know it, rather than have to extend the time we’re away from home when we go out to do something structured.

So I’ve decided that Tuesday is going to be our ‘preparation for the week’ day. We’ll do the shopping, bake some treats for morning tea, make anything we need for meals during the week, do the washing . . . and we’ll hang around, build forts, read books, tell stories, listen to music, go out into the garden . . . whatever we want to do. And we’ll have time to do, if not all of it, then most of it.

Today was the first day of this, and it was fantastic.

I may have overestimated what I thought I could get done and it’s true, I ended up still in the kitchen at 9pm cleaning everything up, but today Juniordwarf and I baked some ANZACs and some banana bread, we made savory toast for lunch, I made chicken stock, dinner and did the time-consuming stuff for tomorrow night’s dinner. We did the shopping, we went to the library, we had coffee (he had a babycino), we did two loads of washing and we played with the dog.

Whew!

And you know what? Even doing all that stuff, I didn’t feel stressed, or tense or overwhelmed at all (except for the one time where everything had to come together at once at dinner time), and I had one of the best day’s I’ve had with Juniordwarf for ages. I didn’t waste time on the computer, and when I did go on it, I did what I had to do and got off, and I didn’t feel guilty.

It makes such a difference when we have no obligations whatsoever. Much as I’m glad we had the organised activities over the past four years, it’s nice right now for both of us to have a rest.

So in the spirit of the best cooking blogs, here are our recipes:

ANZACs
(Courtesy of the Central Cookery Book, by A.C. Irvine, 17th Edition, Published 1992 – the Tasmanian classic.)

130g butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 cup flour (we use plain wholemeal)
pinch of salt
1 cup coconut
1 cup sugar (we use dark brown sugar)
1 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons bicarb soda
2 tbsp boiling water
6 drops vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
2. Grease 3 oven slides. (We use baking paper and we only need 2.)
3. Gently melt butter and golden syrup (do not boil or burn).
4. Sift flour and salt (I skip this step. Wholemeal flour doesn’t sift well.)
5. Add sugar, cocout, rolled oats and vanilla to flour and salt.
6. Dissolve bicarb soda in water.
7. Mix all ingredients together well.
8. Put out in small balls on oven tray, allowing room for biscuits to flatten and spread out during cooking. (Or in Juniordwarf’s case, squoosh some dough together and throw onto the oven tray.)
9. Bake in oven 10-15 minutes (I recommend watching them very closely after 10 minutes.)
10. Allow to rest on tray for ½ minute before lifting off with a spatula to cool on cake cooler.


Banana bread
(Courtesy of Superorganisermum. Except her recipe has blueberries and I didn’t include them.)

150g butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 ripe bananas, peeled, mashed (see notes)
2 cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2  cup milk
butter, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. 
2. Grease base and sides of a 7cm deep, 11cm x 21cm (base) loaf pan. Line with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang at both long ends
3. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until pale. 
4. Add egg, in 2 batches, beating well after each addition.
5. Stir in banana. 
6. Sift flour and baking powder over banana mixture. 
7. Add milk. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
8. Spoon mixture into loaf pan. Smooth surface. 
9. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. (Ours needed over an hour.)
10. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Lift onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 10 even slices.