Monday, May 21, 2012

Meatless Monday Recipe. Spinach Pie - of sorts


Serves 6 - Hah! I don't think so! You could stretch it that far if you have a large salad or other vegies to accompany it which I didn't.

Prep time - 15 minutes ... not the way I cook ... I started by wandering outdoors and picking the spinach (or silver beet because that's all I had) peered in the frig wondering which beer would complement the meal best, then poured said beer, (home-brew: Mexican Cerveza for starters) composed and sent an email ... you get the picture.

Cooking time - around an hour from the time it goes into the oven - that would have been more or less accurate if I hadn't changed the recipe. There's the extra 1/2 hour baking the pumpkin first though, so you need to factor that in.

Ingredients -

• Half a large butternut pumpkin (750g) cut into a 2cm dice. I only had 1/2 a golden sweet potato and 1/4 Japanese pumpkin. It was fine. It just needs to be a dense pumpkin, and not one of those watery, airy ones.

• 2/3 cup light olive oil (or vegetable oil) Light!! I don't think so, first cold pressed for me. I used less though.

 • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

 • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

 • 2 brown onions, sliced

 • 2 cloves garlic, chopped ... Only 2! Tut, tut, 4, 6, 8 or so is fine. It depends on how closely you'll be working with people the next day really.

 • 100g baby spinach ... I used more silver beet (Swiss Chard?) because that's what I had. Next time I'd probably double it I think, or even add some parsley or coriander if I didn't have enough other greens.

 • 6 eggs

 • 1 cup self-raising flour ... I used 1/2 wholemeal, 1/2 white. I could have added a spoon of soy for extra oomph.

 • 1 cup grated tasty cheese

 • 250g tub ricotta ... I used 500g because that's what I'd bought and I didn't want any leftovers.

Next time I'd also add some chilli and roasted pine nuts.

1. Preheat oven to 200C (180C fan forced.)
    Grease and flour a 24cm spring form cake tin. (I used kitchen paper and ignored the greasing. I think any sort of pie dish would be fine).

2. Toss the pumpkin cubes with oil, nutmeg, salt and pepper and roast in a baking tray for 30 minutes or until soft and golden brown.

3. In a frypan over a medium heat, saute onions and garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil (and the chili if using it). I use a regular saucepan for something like this because it tends to escape messily when you get to the next stage.

4. Take the pan off the heat and toss the spinach through. The spinach will wilt a little. Put the pine nuts in now.

5. In a bowl, beat the 6 eggs. Add the remaining olive oil and mix well. (I forgot to add the extra olive oil, it didn't seem to matter) Add flour and whisk until there are no lumps. (It's quite thick, like a batter, probably because I forgot the extra olive oil and used wholemeal flour.) Stir through the cheese and season with salt and pepper.

6. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and lower the temperature to 180C (160C fan forced). Toss the pumpkin through the onion spinach mixture. The spinach will wilt further.

7. Place half the vegetable mixture in the base of the cake tin and pour half the egg mixture over. Shake the tin to make sure the egg sinks all around the vegetables. Put the other half of the vegetable mixture in and top with the remaining egg mixture and jiggle it to settle.

8. Dollop the ricotta over the top. Using a spoon burrow down a little so that there is some ricotta nestled inside the pie as well... This was a bit of a challenge because I'd decided to double the ricotta. It worked though, and made a lovely deep snowy topping.

9. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and firm in the middle.

Because I'd tinkered with the recipe, it took a lot longer to cook through. At least an hour, possibly more. It eventually became a glorious golden brown and went really well with a bottle of Toohey's Old. This spinach pumpkin ricotta pie would be nice with baked potatoes and coleslaw.

*If you have a child who refuses to eat meatless food, add some bacon or chopped up chorizo sausage when you're cooking the onion

I copied the recipe some time ago, and don't know where it originally came from. 


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Grumbling about Sir Terry Pratchett

I forgot to say I've got a post over at traverselife on Sir Terry Pratchett and Discworld, here and I've got a beaut vegetarian recipe to share on Monday - it's a variation on spinach pie that's delicious!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Meatless Monday Recipe - Pesto & Pasta

What to do with the mounds of coriander that were wilfully neglected whilst on holiday and to my surprise and delight, flourished?!
Coriander Pesto

  • a bunch of coriander - about 5 x 30cm of stalk length with lush leaves. Strip the leaves, rinse and spin around in a tea-towel to get the water off. Best done outdoors if there is a lot of water - you don't want the kitchen floor to be dangerously slippery
  • 2 or so cloves of garlic (quantity depending on who you'll be working with the next day - more if you want to offend)
  • a squeeze of lemon juice (a half lemon was on the bench looking at me forlornly, I don't usually add lemon, but it worked well in the recipe)
  • a *small handfull of pine nuts ... or pistachio/almond/cashew - are all yummy. I roast them in the microwave - 1 minute on high, then shuffle them about, then another minute and so on till they smell scrumptious. Resist attempting to eat them straight out of the microwave - they're dangerously hot. It's possible to roast them in the oven or in a frypan - no need to add oil - keep an eye on them as they burn suddenly and taste horrible if they're burnt.
  • a sprinkle of chilli - fresh would be better, perhaps 1/2 of one of those tiny mega hot ones
  • a good slosh of olive oil - I use first cold pressed - Aussie of course!
  • a grind of pepper
  • salt isn't necessary

Buzz in a kitchen whizz or with a buzzy wand Bamix kind of thing.

  • now add a *small amount of grated parmesan or similar - buzz again. It should be a consistency that is safe on a biscuit. Not so thick that you cut it with a knife, and not so sloppy that it runs down your fingers and dribbles onto your clothing.  

*Quantities: small handfull is about the size of a small hens egg or what fits into the cupped palm of your hand... as long as it's a small hand

Next: I'll cook up some wholemeal pasta, maybe add a tomato or two, possibly some well cooked chick peas and a very generous dollop of this pesto. I'll possibly top it with some plain yogurt, but maybe not.

Leftovers freeze well in tiny containers or ice cube trays. Do I need to point out if you use ice cube trays they'll need to be REALLY well washed before you use any future ice cubes in a G&T or whiskey.

Coriander Pesto is also scrumptious with cold hard boiled egg, as a sandwich base with some kind of sustainable fish, with cheese or simply as a 'how do I stop eating this' dip on flat bread or bikkies.

**NOTE: This is one of those embarrassing foods that leaves little green bits between your teeth. Be warned!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

May 5th. Full moon beauty.

Full moon rising, reflected in the mudflats. Near Brisbane QLD.
Technical details: taken with my phone, elbows on the deck for stability.

To the left were little fluffy grey and white clouds, gently coloured, delicate against the subtle pink of the sky.

Right now, the full moon has risen, and the water is glistening and shimmering like sparkling diamonds, which sounds trite and cliched, but it's true! The palm is swaying and clacking in the breeze.

Boats, skitter across the water presumably skippered by fishermen planning "the big catch' at high tide. (Last night must have been good as there are large gutted fish along the intertidal zone). Lights from island homes blink with the movement of the trees.

Cicadas are chattering and Edna the possum (there's a bit more about her here) has woken up, her little pink nose just appeared from between the cushions, and is no doubt planning a night of festivity! I suspect she'll scrabble into her hobnail boots sometime around midnight and thud around the deck with cheerful, joyous delight as I try to sleep. The fruitbats have woken and appear as the classic "bat flying across full moon"... "is this my best angle" photogenic shot which my little point and press has no hope of catching.
Maybe I'll get up at 4am to see if there are any meteors to be seen. Apparently we're zooming through the tails of a couple of comets at the moment. It could be good viewing even with the full moon.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Edna the possum

Little ringtail possum, wide eyed and innocent!
Muddy red paw-prints
neatly paired,
track from feast
to slumber between summertime chairs.

Pink toes should be curled in rejuvenating sleep.
Eyes should be closed
snoring gently and dreaming.

Instead, warily awake and alert,
planning her next escapade of bounding gleefully, noisily, persistently, across the grey wooden deck
with joyful abandon ...
- before dawn.