Sunday, October 27, 2013

Purple Power! Beetroot & Apple Relish

I LOVE beetroot. As well as the gorgeous earthy, sweet flavour I also love the amazing purple colour that looks so fantastic on a plate. This weekend I found myself with 2 bunches of beetroot in the fridge that I hadn't got around to cooking yet and that really needed to be put to use (they were also taking up heaps of crisper space!) so I thought that I would make my own beetroot relish. I happened to have a few really nice organic apples in the fruit bowl as well, so I thought I would put the two together with onions and some spices and see what I could come up with. It was all a bit of an experiment, but the result was so good that I thought I would share it with you all.

Unlike most relishes that are made completely on the stovetop, I did mine mainly in the oven. The reason for this, is that roasting the onions, apples and beetroot will give you a much richer, more complex flavour, as well as caramelising all of the natural sugars found in the ingredients. The resulting relish is quite thick, instead of the thinner, vinegar based relishes that you might be used to.


This relish is beautiful with grilled or roasted red meat, perfect for homemade hamburgers or to enjoy with all kinds of cheese - it is especially good with a sharp cheddar or a tangy, creamy goat cheese. You could also eat it with fresh carrots or radishes as a dip. The other great thing about this tasty purple concoction is that it makes a really excellent edible gift for food loving friends. Just fill up a jar with the relish (gives you a perfect chance to recycle any jars you have lying around in the cupboard) add a cool, homemade label and a gift tag and there you go - a delicious, inexpensive and handmade gift.

Beetroot and Apple Relish

As well as tasting great, you also have the added health bonus of beetroot being ridiculously good for you. It is a powerful antioxidant, choc full of potassium, magnesium, iron, folic acid, vitamin A,C and B6. It is great for lowering cholesterol, stabilises blood sugar and is excellent for fatigue. Lots of good reasons to eat it regularly. Beetroot is currently in season, so it is at it's best right now. What are you waiting for? Embrace purple power.

You will need: 8 large raw beetroot, 3 large red onions, 3 large apples, 4 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 heaped tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon sweet paprika, 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, salt, pepper.

Method: Chop the leafy tops off the beetroot and place the beets in a pot of plain water, ensuring they are covered. Bring them to the boil and allow them to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Drain off all the water and run the beets under cold water. When they are cool enough to touch, rub off the outside skin and stalks with your hands. Doing this in a bowl of cold water makes this process easier, and also stops your hands from getting too stained with beetroot juice. Chop each beet into 4-6 pieces. Put the beetroot aside.

Roughly chop the onions and the apples (you can leave the skin on the apples, but remove the cores) Peel the garlic cloves and cut them in half.

Preheat the oven to 200C

In a baking paper lined baking dish, combine the beets, onions and all of the other ingredients. Season generously with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly (clean hands are best for this)

Bake the mixture in the oven for an hour, stirring it a couple of times during cooking. When done, allow the ingredients to cool.

In a food processor, blend the mixture into a consistency you are happy with. You could make it super smooth, almost like a sauce or a little more rustic, which is how I like it. If the relish is a little too stiff, simply add small amounts of warm water. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if required.

Decant the relish into clean, well sealed jars or an airtight container. Store in the fridge and use within 4 weeks.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Brunch - Pumpkin & Feta Muffins

Morning everyone. I've been out in the garden bright and early this gorgeous Sunday morning tending to my tomato plants - which in time I hope are going to deliver crops of delicious, home grown tomatoes. I didn't have a lot of luck with them last year - they were sad and scraggy looking, and I lost some to a leaf spot thing that attacks the plants and makes the fruit drop. However this year I decided I would read up about tomato growing in my area, to educate myself on what will make happy plants and lots of fruit. I also decided on four very different varieties (two of them heirloom) as a bit of an experiment to see which ones like my backyard. So far they are all going beautifully, looking strong and healthy and already sporting plenty of flowers that will turn into fruit. This morning they got a good watering and a dose of potash, which they seem to love. Fingers crossed I will have some great tomatoes to show you and to eat very soon. The bees are also loving the new flowers, and anything that brings them into the garden is a good thing.

So, as I was out pottering in the garden, I was thinking about what to make for Sunday breakfast/brunch. I noticed that my herbs were looking particularly lush, so I decided whatever it was, it had to include a handful of fresh herbs. I always like to use what I have on hand, so I checked out the fridge to see what might give me some ideas for this morning's breakfast. Today's inspiration was - pumpkin, feta cheese and natural yoghurt. I decided to bake a batch of savoury muffins, full of the sweetness of pumpkin, the tang of the yoghurt and cheese and the freshness of herbs just picked from the garden.

As well as a great breakfast idea, these would also be ideal picnic food, or as an accompaniment for a bowl of soup or a salad anytime. These also freeze well, so it would be worth making a couple of batches and keeping some for whenever you fancy something savoury and delicious. As with most of my recipes, you can tailor make these muffins to include whatever flavours you like, or what you have on hand - olives, spring onion, corn kernels, extra cooked vegetables or whatever herbs you have in the garden - the basic recipe will work regardless. These muffins are lovely and moist, as well as being packed with flavour. You can eat them warm or cold, with or without a little butter. Personally, I think they are delicious warm, without anything at all!

Pumpkin and Feta Muffins

You will need: 3 cups raw pumpkin cut into small cubes, 1 diced Spanish onion, Splash of olive oil, 2 cups self raising flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1/2 cup unsweetened natural yoghurt, 1/2 cup milk, 2 free range eggs, Pinch of cayenne pepper, 1/2 cup grated tasty cheese, 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs (I used a combination of thyme, parsley and chives), 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, salt and pepper.

Method: Preheat the oven to 200C.

Combine the pumpkin, onion, a splash of olive oil and a very generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Mix together until well coated. Bake on a tray (I line mine with baking paper for easy clean up) for about 25-30 minutes until the pumpkin is soft. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, yoghurt, cayenne and oil. Whisk together thoroughly.

In another large bowl, put the flour, both the cheeses, herbs and pumpkin/onion mixture. Season well with salt and pepper. Using your hands, very gently combine these ingredients - you don't want to smash up the soft components too much, but you want to ensure that they are evenly combined.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture until just combined. Remember the golden rule with muffins - don't over mix. The mixture should just barely hold together.

Spoon into a greased or oiled muffin pan and sprinkle with the poppy seeds.

Bake for 15-18 minutes. Allow to sit in the pan for a few minutes, before removing them and placing them on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or cold.

Makes 12 regular sized muffins.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Spring Salmon - Gourmet Goddess Returns

Well, it’s been a while but I’m back in the kitchen after a rather longer than intended winter break. The few weeks I thought I would be away from cooking and blogging turned into almost two months, thanks to an overseas work trip to New Zealand (with a week or so of road trip around the North Island thrown in at the end) and our household being laid low by illness in past few weeks. Let’s just say that the cooking that has been happening (when it was happening at all) was very basic and far from Gourmet Goddess worthy, so I promise that you haven’t been missing out on much in that department!

Since my last post, the weather has completely changed, Winter has left us here in Australia and we welcome the start of Spring - and the appearance of a whole lot of gorgeous Spring produce. I love this season, as all my favourite fruit starts to come in to season, especially strawberries, blueberries, mangoes and the first stone fruit – peaches, nectarines and plums. Asparagus is everywhere, and it’s local (although still check the labelling and reject any dodgy imports which may still be around) At this time of the year it is great quality and also inexpensive so there’s no reason why you can’t eat it every day if you wanted to.  One of my favourite things in the world is asparagus, soft poached eggs and creamy goat cheese and I eat this often at this time of the year. Delicious! I have updated the “what’s in season?” section on this page to give you an idea about what you should be looking for at the greengrocer right now. Have a look at the list and get some inspiration for some spring dishes.

I thought I would share a super healthy, light and delicious spring recipe as my first post of this season. It is fast to put together, very good for you and uses a selection of lovely spring vegetables. It is also super low carb (if that sort of thing turns you on) Feel free to add whatever fresh herbs take your fancy, or some chilli for a spicy kick. This would also make a really nice lunch platter – cook a few salmon fillets and arrange them on a larger serving plate to serve a whole bunch of people. I made this dish for dinner last night and it literally took me 15 minutes from preparation to table – and I wasn’t even rushing. Easy and yum!

Pan Fried Salmon with Corn Salsa

You will need:
2 Salmon Fillets (about 150g each), 1 cup cooked corn kernels (I cook the corn on the cob and then cut off the kernels), 3 radishes finely chopped, 1 small Lebanese cucumber de-seeded and finely diced, 1 cup diced fresh cherry tomatoes, 2 tablespoons Spanish onion finely chopped, 1 tablespoon chopped continental parsley, 1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon balm (if you don't have this, substitute with fresh mint), salt & pepper, a drizzle of olive oil for pan frying.

Dressing: 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, dash of Tabasco, 1 teaspoon sugar, salt and pepper. Fresh lemon to serve.

Method: Check the salmon and remove any bones you might find with a pair or tweezers. Wipe the salmon with some paper towels and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the corn, radish, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, parsley, lemon balm (or mint). Season with salt and pepper.

Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Season generously and pour over the salsa mixture. Combine and put aside until ready to serve.

Heat a non stick pan to a medium heat. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the pan. Cook the salmon until golden on the outside but still slightly springy to touch. Be careful not to overcook the salmon or it will dry out.

Serve with the salsa and fresh lemon right away.

Serves 2