Contributor: Kerrie Maloney
I am writing this as I sit in my garden enjoying some milder weather, glorious blue skies and the feeling of joy and hopefulness that the spring garden brings. All that luscious and bright new growth, fruit trees that are bursting into flower, the citrus with their bountiful crops continue to delight.
Kerrie's grapefruit tree, kept small for easy picking
Our garden is small and we do not have a dedicated veggie patch, instead we plant edibles amongst our ornamentals, however, the sculptural beauty of the chard and rhubarb are clearly more visible at this time of the year as lots of the flowering perennials and deciduous trees are just beginning to take off, reminding me of how much I rely on these plants throughout the year.
Perennial spinach in Kerrie's garden
These two plants along with a few small patches of rocket and perennial spinach continue to provide us with lots of fresh leafy greens. Freshly snipped herbs such as parsley, mint and coriander find their way into many of our meals, they are great ways to lift and brighten the flavour of so many dishes.
This year's coriander crop
This year our coriander crop is possibly the best that we have produced; it is going in and on as many dishes as possible. I also use a lot of chard or silverbeet; finely shredded and tossed into a salad, into curries, as a substitute for spinach in this chickpea and creamy coconut and spinach sauce:
and into savoury muffins such as these: http://kerriemaloney.blogspot.com/2014/09/savoury-muffins.html
The first recipe that I am going to share is a version of Koshary, an Egyptian street food. The base of this dish is cooked rice, pasta, lentils and sometimes chickpeas. I cook up enough of each of the base ingredients to combine and then divide into meal sized batches which I then freeze. It defrosts and reheats really well.
Koshary is traditionally served with a spicy tomato sauce that I also make in larger quantities and freeze. My version takes this and builds on it with a layer of wilted chard/silverbeet and spinach usually added to some sautéed onion and garlic, topped with a wedge of baked pumpkin and drizzled with some fresh coriander sauce. It is big on flavour, filling and totally plant based.
Koshary, greens and glazed pumpkin
1 cup cooked puy lentils/ black lentils or use a can of lentils
1 cup cooked small pasta eg macaroni
1 cup cooked brown rice
I cook 1 cup of each, mix and then divide them up for another two meals. This is also a good way to use up leftover rice and pasta from other meals.
Spicy Tomato Sauce
2 onions finely diced
4 – 6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon Baharat or other Middle Eastern Spice mix
2 teaspoons cumin
Red chilli flakes, a pinch or to taste
2 large tins tomatoes, chopped
Salt and black pepper
Cook grains until just cooked and tender. Do not overcook. I cook them in separate pots; however, they could be cooked together. Drain. If making a large amount, drain, rinse well under running water and allow them to cool thoroughly.
Put pasta, rice and lentils in a bowl and mix well. Divide into meal sized portions. Freeze excess portions. The mixture reheats very well in the microwave so can be made in advance.
Place a serving of the pasta mixture on each plate, top with the spicy tomato sauce.
Spicy Tomato Sauce
Heat a saucepan, add a little oil and the onion, and cook over low heat until the onion softens. Add garlic and spices and cook for a minute until fragrant.
Add tinned tomatoes and simmer until mixture becomes a thick sauce. Add chilli flakes and season generously with salt and pepper.
Sauteed silverbeet and chard
The second recipe is for a type of flat bread or pancake that is made with chickpea flour (Besan). I serve this as a gluten free alternative to flatbreads and will often use it as a base for pizza. My favourite version has shredded chard and a little garlic mixed into the batter.
½ cup chickpea flour
½ cup water
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Extra oil for cooking
½ cup finely shredded silverbeet /chard
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon baking powder
Combine the chickpea flour, salt, oil and water in a bowl. Whisk thoroughly and then leave to stand for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer so that the flour is thoroughly hydrated.
Preheat oven and a large cast iron frypan /skillet on the highest temperature you can, it needs to be really hot.
Carefully remove the pan from the oven and swirl a little oil around the pan. Pour the Socca batter into the pan, swirl to cover the base of the pan. Put it back into the oven and bake until set and the surface is golden brown and hopefully with crispy edges.
Remove from the oven. Use a large spatula to assist and slide the Socca onto a cutting board or plate. Cut into wedges as you would flatbreads.
Rhubarb Pond Pudding
Rhubarb appears frequently on our table. We are happy with it stewed - mostly for breakfast with yoghurt but sometimes with creamed rice for dessert. Great when mixed with apples or quince and made into pies and crumbles or made into a steamed pudding that borrows heavily from the Sussex Pond Pudding. A rather stodgy pudding and a little more work to make but typifies old fashioned ‘puds’ at their best. Think of it as a reward for a couple of hours of work in the garden!
Rhubarb Pond Pudding
2 cups SR flour
125 g butter
1/2 cup cold milk
8 stalks rhubarb
125 g butter, cold and cut into small pieces.
1/2 cup sugar
Zest and juice of an orange
Rub butter into flour or process on pulse in food processor.
Add sufficient milk to form soft dough.
Knead lightly and then form into a ball.
Cover with a bowl and allow the pastry to relax on bench for ten minutes.
Wash rhubarb and cut into small pieces approximately 1.5 – 2cm long and place in a bowl.
Add sugar and the orange zest if using to the rhubarb and toss to coat the rhubarb, add the diced butter and mix well.
To Assemble and Cook
Grease and line the bottom of a pudding basin.
Divide the pastry into 2/3 and 1/3.
Roll the 2/3 out into a large circle and line the basin allowing a little to hang over the edges making sure that there are no holes, cracks or tears in the pastry. Patch if necessary with small pieces that are moistened with water.
Put rhubarb filling into the basin.
Roll out the 1/3 piece of pastry into a circle that is large enough to cover the basin.
Moisten the edge of the pastry in the basin and place the lid on top. Press the edges together and trim the excess. For an extra seal I like to moisten the edge and then roll it over approximately 1 cm
and gently push it down onto the lid.
Place a sheet of baking paper onto a piece of foil, create a pleat, then put this over the pudding with paper side next to the pudding and foil on top.
Secure with a large rubber band or tie it up with string or use the clips that often come with the lid on a pudding basin.
Place the basin (I put mine in a plastic bag as it easier to get it out) in a large pan of boiling water or the steamer basket of a pasta pot and put the lid on.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 ½ hours, adding extra boiling water as needed.
Lift the pudding from the pot. Remove the paper /foil. Run a knife around the edges to loosen.
Place a plate, preferably one with a lip on top and invert the pudding and remove the basin.
Carefully cut into the pudding as the rhubarb and buttery rhubarb sauce will ooze out.
Spoon some of the sauce onto each portion and serve with cream or custard.
Pond pudding with cream