Tag Archives: Salad

Australian garlic vs imported garlic – what’s the difference?

When you toddle off to the shops to pick up your produce do you ever wonder where it comes from? If you are anything at all like me, then you are probably trying to make the shopping as fast and as painless as possible, as you slot it in between the other multitude of tasks on your agenda on any given day. It is generally easy – and necessary – to just whizz through the shop, grab what you need and get on to the next thing and grocery shopping really shouldn’t take up too much head space – or should it? If we are to have any control at all over what we are putting in our family’s mouths we need to be as informed as possible because even the simplest of purchases can become an ethical dilemma these days.

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Cooks and carrots!

The biennial, international food and wine festival, “Tasting Australia”,  is coming up here in Adelaide in a few weeks time. It is a week long “foodie-fest” which also involves some industry events, including the awarding of the Le Cordon Bleu World Food media Awards. This year South Australia’s own Wakefield Press has had three of their publications nominated for the prestigious awards – “The Blue Ribbon Cookbook”, by Liz Harfull has been nominated for Best Hard Cover Recipe Book (under 35 Euro) and Lolo Hobein’s “One Magic Square” and John Barlow’s “Everything But the Squeal” have both been nominated for Best Food Book.  The nominations come from a jury of over 50 international food industry professionals looking at the best the world has to offer in the field of food media and Wakefield Press have every reason to be deeply chuffed for scooping three nominations in such a competitive arena!

To read the rest of the piece that I wrote about these three books you can look at the full article on Boomerang Books Guest blog!

I have previously mentioned my lovely eldest daughter, the Cupcake Queen, in my literary ramblings.  She is in her late teens and can be quite frustratingly faddish and picky with her foods.  One of her pet peeves is fresh coriander.  She seems to be able to sniff it out and repeatedly turns her nose up at it, picking it out of anything and everything or simply flatly refusing to eat it, just like a two year old!  I have put this behaviour down to her contrary teenage stage of life and tend to address it by threatening to strangle her if she complains about her meals which, admittedly, has had no perceivable positive effect to date.  So you can imagine my surprise when I came across an article in the Dining & Wine section of the New York Times entitled “Cilantro Haters, It’s Not Your Fault“!

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Grilled Vegetable Salad – with a twist!

I like cookbooks.

No, that’s not true. I love cookbooks!
I am developing quite a significant collection of new, secondhand and antique recipe books, with a fondness for pre-WW11 Australian editions. I particularly love Middle Eastern and North African cuisine and happily snap up any in that area that I happen upon. As I find it almost impossible to pass up the opportunity to add to the growing stash of beautifully designed and photographed books available, I have had another bookcase installed in my kitchen – and I have promptly filled it!

I can spend hours just looking through them, admiring the gorgeous photo’s and imagining wowing my family and friends with gastronomic feats of brilliance – modestly bowing my head and blushing as the tributes drop about me like petals.
Of course, back in the real world, my culinary efforts are constrained by the mundane considerations of time, motivation and the food vagaries of teenaged kids who, when presented with another ethnic masterpiece, beg for sausages (the Woolies ones!) and mash.

Because of the unsophisticated and ungrateful palates of my offspring, I generally use any unsuspecting dinner guests to try out my latest recipe ‘find’ and I frequently adapt the recipes I obtain from books, beefing up or re-arranging the flavours to suit my personal preferences. I know that it is often considered rash to experiment with food for the first time with guests, but I have been lucky and am yet to have a failure. Of course, I am turning around 3 times anti-clockwise and sprinkling magic fairy dust as I say this!!!

Which brings me to the salad that I served to some friends last night – all of whom are food fanatics like myself. This was a beautiful, fresh and tasty salad that can be tricked up in numerous different ways. Here is the version I served last night, followed by a variation that I will be trying next time around.

Unfortunately, this salad was devoured before the camera could record it for posterity!

GRILLED VEGETABLE SALAD

2 punnets of cherry tomatoes
3 bunches of asparagus
3 zucchinis
100gms baby spinach leaves
500 gms Haloumi cheese (please try to get a Cypriot one – others don’t come close)
120 mls extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
black pepper

Dressing
2 tbs basil pesto
30-40 mls extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 170C

Rinse, dry and halve cherry tomatoes, mix them with 1/2 of the olive oil, season with sea salt and pepper and spread them out in a baking pan. Roast for about 50 minutes, until they are semi-dried and starting to caramelize. Leave to cool.
Chop off and discard the ends of the asparagus and blanch in boiling water for 2-4 minutes, then immediately refresh in cold water.
Trim off ends from zucchinis and slice very thinly lengthwise, with either a vegetable peeler or – if very brave and confident – a mandolin.
Toss asparagus and zucchini slices in rest of the olive oil and season to taste.
Preheat the bbq or a ridged pan, if cooking inside, and briefly char grill the asparagus and zucchini, until they get those nice dark marks.
Slice the haloumi into 2 cm slices and char grill, also.
Combine all the cooked vegetables with the baby spinach and cheese, tossing gently to display all the different bits.
Blend the pesto with enough olive oil to loosen it up nicely and drizzle this over the salad just before serving.

Variation –
Next time I make this I will add some char grilled eggplant to the vegetables, substitute a good feta for the haloumi and dress it with tahini mixed with yoghurt in place of the basil dressing.
What the heck – I think that I’ll sprinkle it with some chopped, toasted almonds or some toasted pine nuts, too!!