27 July 2015

Save a little bit o' summer

We love our summer vege garden.  We love our winter one too, but there's just something extra-special about the fresh produce in summer - masses of tomatoes, fragrant herbs of all types and stripes, and random rogue potatoes cropping up here and there.  We've always frozen bags of excess tomatoes, for use throughout the winter months, but have been left with a surfeit of other veges (there's only so much we can palm off to others!).  

So, this year we froze even more - some bags had just tomatoes, but others had a combo of pre-cut veges, ready for a winter stirfry, casserole, mac cheese, whatever.  For example, we cut up all our excess capsicums, zucchini, spring onions and stacks of herbs, added them into the freezer bags with smooshed up tomatoes, and lay flat in the freezer.  When we want some we either defrost and use the whole bag, or snap off how much we need.  

KB used some on the weekend, to make a hot salsa to go with our salmon.  So it was the tomato-capsicum-spring onion-herb mix, to which he added a little soy sauce, some crushed garlic and a few capers.  This was all left simmering on low while the rest of our meal came together.  

So yeah, I love our vege garden.  I love being able to share the produce with friends and family too.  But I also really love knowing that some of the excess can be saved, for us to use when the weather has turned down the fresh vege machine for a bit.  'Cause there's nothing like sitting down to a meal and going, yum - this all came from just out the back door :) 

15 July 2015

Just call 'em tasty

 Empanadas.  Cornish pasties.  Half moon pies.  Call them what you will, they're tasty.  As Shakespeare's Juliet famously said, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  

I first came across empanadas a few years ago from my friend Kush's Mum, Clara (thanks Clara!!).  I've brought them out a few times since, sampling different fillings and sizes (chicken and blue cheese is a tasty inner, and mini bite size ones with bolognese filling are a winner for picnics, or birthday parties).  But it's been a while.  So, when I saw Rachel Khoo's posting yesterday, I thought YEAH, let's get amongst it.  I had some sheets of pre-rolled flaky puff pastry in the freezer (which, frankly, was getting freezer burnt and desperately needed a reason to be moved on!), so here we go... 

Makes 8 

8 sheets pastry (feel free to make your own if you wish, good on you - Rachel Khoo has a recipe for that if you click on the link above)
350 g potato - I used agria, nice and firm when cooked
1 chorizo, cubed
2-3 pieces of middle bacon, cut into cm pieces
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
200 g cheese, cut into cm chunks (I used edam) 
1 egg
dash milk
oil/butter for frying
  1. Par-boil your potato and saute the meats with the onion and garlic.  
  2. Mix potato, meats etc and cheese with plenty of black pepper in a large bowl and sit aside, to allow it to cool.  
  3. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees (fan-bake, probably 200 degrees if not).  Prepare baking sheet by either spraying with oil, using baking paper, or both.  
  4. Beat egg and milk together in small bowl. 
  5. Cut out 21 cm circles from your pastry sheets (quite a lot gets wasted, you can roll these pieces back out if you want).  I used a cereal bowl, which was roughly the size circle I wanted).  
  6. Place as much of the filling onto the circles as you can - this won't be as much as you think - making sure you can fold them in half and press closed.  Brush half the circle's edge with egg wash, fold over and press closed around that edge.  
  7. Pierce some holes in the tops, brush tops with egg and sprinkle with some dried herbs or salt/pepper.  
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.  
NB: Next time I make them I'll also add a dollop or two of relish inside them.