Apparently summer is in full swing but we are not really feeling it here in Wellington. It’s a bit sad especially for my garden. With a late start to summer, it is still a bit early to enjoy local summer produce like courgettes, summer squashes, tomato, capsicums and fresh basil. It seems my little backyard veggie patch is mirroring the local farmers market this week as one of the abundant vegetables seems to be Italian Kale or Cavolo Nero.
Kale may not be what comes to mind when you think of “summer vegetables” but it is literally all over my garden right now. I find Cavolo Nero very easy to grow and because the plant is continuously growing new leaves for 6 months. I can cut off a few leaves at a time and it just keeps making more!
When faced with a wall of kale (or basil or parsley), I often make a big batch of pesto and freeze some for later. I love love love the earthy deep flavour of fresh kale in pesto and I also want something a bit more spreadable so I could slather it all over my eggs in the morning or on grilled meats off the BBQ. Something more like a pate (which literally means Paste). And with all this yummy kale I am upping my intake of folate, antioxidants and especially vitamin K. (get it? Kale has a lot of vitamin K!).
When I make pesto I tend to use whatever nuts I have in abundance and with this recipe I was inspired to add walnuts from Cameron Family Farms as they were in abundance at the Thorndon Market along with my favorite local sheep cheese maker Kingsmeade Cheese. I picked up a bag of walnuts along with some Kingsmeade Riversdale Pecerino, a bunch of fresh basil and once home I could combine with my backyard kale, new season garlic and fruity Wairarapa olive oil. Combining these ingredients is simple if you have a food processor and in a few minutes you have a Kale Walnut Pate full of summer goodness. Turns out it is delicious on just about anything.
Please enjoy this recipe and tell me what you think!
- 4 cups packed torn kale leaves, stems removed (I used cavolo nero)
- 2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup toasted walnuts
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan
- Add kale, salt and basil leaves to food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
- Add walnuts and garlic and pulse until finely chopped and combined.
- with motor running drizzle in olive oil slowly to incorporate. Add cheese and pulse to combine.
- Store pate in a glass jar topped with a little olive oil.
- Freezes well or in fridge topped with olive oil for 1-2 weeks
Every Wednesday, I receive my farm share of organic fruit and vegetables delivered to me from the Wairarapa Eco Farm. I mostly adore all of the seasonal fresh produce however, there always seems to be a surprise or two in the form of uncommon vegetables that require thinking. To be honest, I don’t always know what to do with these vegetables and often I let them sit quietly in the bottom of the veggie bin awaiting their fate to turn into liquid goo. But lately, I have decided that I need to work smarter in the kitchen to reduce food waste and so I have challenged myself to use everything in my farm delivery each week.
This week I had a plethora of baby micro carrots, colorful baby turnips, baby leeks, baby parsnips (and a leftover bit of cauliflower from the back of the fridge). Roasting vegetables, to me, is such a kiwi thing. I don’t think I ever had a roast vegetable salad in my life until I moved to Wellington. The roasting brings out the sweet caramel flavors and create such an earthy intense flavor. Whenever I can I like cooking with delicious anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, corriander and cumin not only because I love the flavors but because they are real medicine working to combat inflammation-related disease in my body. Combine these intense spices with fresh herbs and nutty brown rice (quinoa would work nicely too), a little tangy lemon vinaigrette and YES, this will make great lunches for a few days.
I will be sharing my new recipes with you all summer season and hopefully come up with some easy new ways to include all of the uncommon veggies that arrive on my door step. Hope you enjoy this flavorful rice salad!
- 3 Tb Olive oil
- 1 cup Organic Brown Rice (or cauliflower rice or quinoa)
- 6 cups of baby vegetables - this could be carrots, red onions, leeks, parsnips, turnips, cauliflower florets, fennel etc. Larger pieces cut in half lenghthwise.
- 1 cup fresh coriander leaves - chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves - chopped
- 1/4 cup dried currants
- 1/2 fresh red chili sliced
- 1 tsp ground Turmeric
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp whole coriander seeds
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp Kashmiri chili or cayenne (optional)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt plus more for seasoning
- 1tsp Honey
- 1 Lemon - juiced
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- Preheat oven to 180 and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Prepare the baby vegetables by washing and slicing any that seem too large. Spread the veggies on the baking tray along with the fresh chili. Add spices and 1tb of oil and toss to coat the veggies with your hands. Spread the vegetables out in a single layer and place the tray in preheated oven. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until beginning to brown at edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool down.
- Meanwhile add 1 cup brown rice to a saucepan and rinse with several washes of water. Drain and add 2 cups water and 1/2 tsp sea salt to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer and turn heat down very low. Stir, place a lid on and allow to simmer for 30-40 mins. After this time, remove pot from heat and leave the lid on for another 10 minutes. Next, take the lid off and allow rice to cool.
- Next, in a small bowl, make dressing combining 2 Tbl Olive oil, 1 tsp honey (or more to taste) and juice of one lemon. Wisk to combine with a fork.
- Assemble salad once everything has cooled down a bit. The ingredients do not need to be cold just not hot enough to wilt the fresh herbs. In a serving bowl, add cooked rice, roasted veg, fresh herbs, currants and pumpkin seeds and drizzle dressing over the top. Toss the salad together and add more fresh coriander leaves to the top.
Chili, simply put, is something that all Americans have grown up eating and there are about a million ways to make it. Some of my favorite chili’s are vegetarian with mostly beans taking center stage but I also love a hearty beef chili, especially with all the crunchy and creamy toppings that serve to balance out the flavors . Many a fine chili has both beans and meat. I have made chili so many different ways over the years and I have never really used a recipe because at it’s heart, chili is very simple dish.
A few years ago, when I began to address my digestive issues, I learned that my body has a hard time processing legumes which means no more bean chili! I wanted to create a new chili that would nourish my gut while I continue to heal and something that whole family could enjoy. Lately I have been craving this hearty chili con carne made with wild venison and boosted with some healing bone broth. And, depending on who I am serving, sometimes I might add a few beans to the mix or we leave the beans and rice out and eat this as a “Paleo style” meal atop a baked kumera or on top of spice toasted veggies or cauliflower rice. It’s a very flexible meal and I find myself reheating leftovers along side soft scrambled eggs for breakfast or for the teen after school nacho snack.
Lately, I have been cooking with wild meats and we are lucky to have a great selection of game meats around town. I am generally a fan of getting more diversity in our diet and reducing our exposure to pesticides and herbicides and I feel better about these animals living a natural life eating wild foods and foraging as they could not do in paddocks. Also, these wild animals have not been “interfered with” by breeders and I would think they would be a lot closer to their original species. There is a lot of interesting discussion to be had about the ethical considerations of farm raised animals vs. wild and the wild deer in NZ cause damage to native forests by feeding on forest plants, trees and seedlings which can change the diversity of the forest floor. There are many deer control programmes being run my DOC around the country in hopes of controlling the population. So with this in mind, I have been seeking out more wild meat to add to our plate. Especially venison.
I prefer to make this simple and delicious chili as a double batch in my slow cooker and freeze portions for quick lunches and easy meals. The long slow cooking brings out the tender flavors although a similar result can be accomplished in a good heavy bottom pot on the stovetop. The choice is yours!
- 1 kg Wild Venison Mince or organic beef mince
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1-2 tins organic kidney beans (optional)
- 200g organic tomato paste
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes with juice
- 1- 2 cups bone broth (beef is prefered)
- 2 teaspoons chipolte chili powder (optional)
- 1 t ground kelp (Kelp Sprinkles)
- 2 t sea salt
- 2 T “American Chili Powder” or 2 tablespoons ground paprika, 2 t ground cumin, 1 T dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Steamed rice or cauliflower rice (or a baked whole kumera)
- Grated cheddar cheese
- Creme fraiche, sour cream, or cashew cheese (df)
- Chopped fresh tomatoes (only if in season)
- Cubed avocado chunks
- Sliced spring onions or finely diced red onion
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Organic corn chips (optional)
- Fresh saurkraut
- In a large saute pan or skillet brown the venison, onion and garlic over med heat until the meat is no longer pink. Transfer to slow cooker along with beans (if using), tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, stock and spices. Place the lid on and set the slow cooker to low 8-9 hours or high 4-5 hours.
- In a large dutch oven or casserole pan with a tight fitting lid, brown the venison, onion and garlic over med heat until the meat is no longer pink and add in the beans (if using), tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, stock and spices. Mix to combine and place the lid on and set the flame to very low simmer 1-3 hours.
- Season to taste and serve in warm bowls on top of rice and allow everyone to add toppings of their choice. A crisp green salad on the side wouldn’t go amiss!
- freeze leftovers as a quick nacho topping
- 100g Lean sirloin beef steak trimmed of fat (organic or grass fed is best)
- 1 Garlic Clove Crushed
- Juice of ½ Orange
- Juice of ½ lime
- Sprinkle of dried chili flakes
- 1 tsp Apple Cider vinegar
- 2 Cups Lettuce
- 1 C Asparagus (or sub cucumber chopped)
- ½ small witlof chopped
- ½ cup torn basil or thai basil leaves
- 1 shallot sliced thinly
- Handful of ripe cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 tsp sauerkraut juice
- 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- Combine orange juice, lime, vinegar and garlic clove in a small glass dish and leave beef to marinate for several hours or overnight.
- Prepare salad bowl by adding lettuce, tomato, witlof shallot in a bowl.
- Heat a grill pan or frying pan on medium heat. Add asparagus and 1 tbl water to the warm pan and cook evenly until done to your liking. Remove and allow to cool on cutting board.
- Add beef steak to pan and cook until browned on both sides and done to your liking (depending on thickness). Usually a good rule is 3 mins per side for rare.
- Remove steak and allow to sit on cutting board for 10 min. When cooled to touch, slice thinly and chop asparagus to 4 cm pieces. Add to salad and top with basil leaves and dressing.
A few weeks ago I was invited to teach healthy cooking with a group of Columbian refuge women who are part of the Refugee Trauma Recovery programme here in Wellington.
When I was thinking about what we could cook together, I suppose comfort food was on the top of my mind. This group of Columbian women and their families have been through horrible trauma, torture and the stress of not knowing what happened to their loved ones who have disappeared and are feared dead. It was very humbling to spend time with these ladies and hear about their struggles. These women are the fortunate of the unfortunate who have a new home in New Zealand but still, they are left with a great deal of post traumatic stress and worry for loved ones left behind. Their healing has only just begun and nothing about it is easy.
But what does food have to do with healing from trauma? Food has the power to heal us in so many ways! Familiar tastes can revive old memories and can make us feel safe and warm. We use food to express love and we in turn feel loved when someone cooks us a home made meal. Food nourishes our bodies and helps us recover from illness. Food from our culture or homeland can be especially meaningful and we can feel very homesick when we move far away and can no longer enjoy these familiar tastes.
I think it is very well known that one of the best healing foods is soup. In fact recent studies have confirmed that soup has probably been a part of traditional human diets dating back 20,000 years! And for good reason.
Every culture has a version of healing soup because people have long known that soup made using the joints and bones of animals has a very special nutrient profile: it is a incredibly healing food because of the breakdown of minerals in the bones as well as cartilage, marrow and skin. These highly absorbable nutrients help fight infections, reduce inflammation, reduce joint pain, regulate hormones, and is easy to digest for people with illness and digestive issues. More recently evidence has shown that it “heals and seals” the broken gut lining in people with permeable gut. Soups made with this “bone broth” are packed full of nutrition as well as being very inexpensive to make and highly comforting.
With this in mind, I thought we could recreate a well known Columbian chicken soup called Ajiaco using produce that is locally available, donated or foraged from around our area in the middle of winter.
The good people at Kaibosh food rescue donate several boxes of food to the refugee group each week and along with some foraged bay leaves, rosemary, a lemon and a few leaves of kale from my home garden we had the makings of a simple soup using a whole chicken. Because we only had a short time to work together, we used this quick cooking soup method which makes a light flavored chicken broth. In order to make a true bone broth, you would remove the breast and leg meat after one hour and return the bones to the soup and simmer for longer to extract all the nutrients. I will be sure to post more about bone broth soon.
We had a lovely afternoon making this simple soup together and enjoying learning about seasonal New Zealand produce and herbs and ways to incorporate them into their traditional Colombian recipes.
- 1 small Organic Chicken or several thighs and legs with bone and skin
- 2 carrots peeled and diced
- 2 ribs celery diced
- 4 garlic cloves finely diced
- 1 onion peeled and finely diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1T chopped rosemary
- 4 medium size potatoes (any variety) peeled and cut into large chunks
- 2 t sea salt plus more to taste
- Fresh black pepper
- 4 cups finely shredded seasonal greens such as kale or silverbeet
- 1 cup loosely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 fresh lemon juiced
- Olive oil for serving
- Add chicken, carrots, celery, garlic, onion, herbs and salt and pepper into a stock pot and cover with filtered water (about 2 litres).
- Bring to a gentle boil and skim any foam that may rise to the surface. After 15 minutes skim off any bits of foam that are on the surface. This makes for a clear broth and the foam can make the soup taste bitter.
- Next, partially cover and gently simmer for 45 min to 1hr on low.
- Carefully remove chicken and set aside, allow to cool down a bit while the soup continues to simmer. Break up large potato chunks with a spoon or potato masher leaving some large pieces.
- When chicken cool enough to work with, remove meat from the bone and cut into bite size pieces. (I sometimes save half the chicken meat for another use). Return chicken meat to stockpot with greens and parsley. Gently simmer for 15 min. Taste for salt and pepper and serve in bowls with a drizzle of fruity olive oil.
- Save any large chicken bones in the freezer for making your next batch of chicken bone broth.
Adapted from a family favorite recipe for potato and leek soup, the subtle addition of celeriac and the aromatic bouquet garni create a velvety and fragrant soup that is wonderfully comforting on a cold drizzly day. Most of these ingredients usually come in my weekly CSA box during the winter and early spring and the herbs are picked fresh from my garden.
- 2 T Organic Ghee, butter or olive oil
- 2-3 leeks (white part only) cleaned and chopped
- 2 shallots diced
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 organic celery stalks chopped
- 2 small or 1 large celeriac peeled and chopped
- 4 med size potatoes peeled and chopped (I use whatever is in my CSA)
- 1.5 litres homemade bone broth (chicken) or vegetable broth
- 2-3 T chopped soft garden herbs such as chives, fennel fronds or parsley for garnish
- Olive oil to drizzle
- Bouquet Garni: wrap these herbs in cheesecloth, large tea strainer or bouquet garni bag and tie with string. Alternatively, chop thyme, parsley and rosemary and add bay, herbs and fresh ground black pepper to pot.
- 2-3 stems of thyme or lemon thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2-3 sprigs fresh parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 black peppercorns
- In a medium sized stock pot melt ghee over low to med heat.
- Add onion, leek, shallots, onion, celery and gently “sweat” for 30 minutes on low to medium heat until the veg are very soft and fragrant. Give the veggies a quick stir every so often to prevent browning.
- While vegetables are cooking, prepare bouquet garni
- Once the vegetables are soft add celeriac, potato and bouquet garni and pour in the bone broth. Add water if needed to just barely cover veg.
- Bring to a gentle simmer and continue to cook, lid on for 30 - 40 min until potato and celeriac are perfectly soft. Remove bouquet garni and purée soup with hand blender or method of choice until rich and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve in bowls garnished with fresh chopped parsley parsley, chives, fennel fronds, black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Store soup in freezer in individual containers for quick reheating during the week.
I should just call these “kale crack” because they are amazingly addictive. My teen begs, yes, begs me to make these and I can not make enough to keep up with demand! What I love about these chips is that they are a healthy, nutrition packed power snack full of phytonutrients and antioxidants that tastes better than any store bought nonsense. Making these seems quite labour intensive at first, however there is really not that much more to it than making a salad and dressing. A very long drawn out salad that takes several hours before you can eat it. Cleaning the dehydrator on the other hand, is a job I try to contract out.
- 1 large bunch of curly kale
- 1 cup cashews (soaked in water for 2 hours)
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 3-4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons rice syrup
- 1 tsp chipotle in adobo
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
- Soak cashews in water for 2 hours
- Meanwhile, clean kale and strip off tough stalks. Dry kale in a salad spinner to get rid of excess moisture. (If the kale is wet, the chipotle sauce will not coat the leaves.) Keep kale in a large mixing bowl.
- When cashews are ready, strain, rinse and place in the blender along with the remaining ingredients. Blend at high speed until really creamy (about 2 minutes).
- Prepare dehydrator trays for easy access.
- Pour chipotle sauce over kale and “massage” to coat in all the little kale nooks and crannies. Lay each piece of kale on dehydrator trays with plenty of space around each piece to properly dry out. Do not overlap kale. Stack trays and turn dehydrator on to “medium” or “setting 2” or 55 C. Kale is ready when fully crisp which takes around 3-4 hours.