By the time this issue of ‘Talkabout’ hits the streets, it will well and truly be autumn. The problem for many of us over autumn and winter – besides just hating cold weather – is that we tend to eat heavier foods, and so stack on quite a bit of weight. In an attempt to counteract this, try to add more salads into your diet over winter. Sure, there isn’t the same selection of salad vegetables, but you only need to be a bit inventive. Substitute some of the vegetables usually used in salads with seasonal fruits, or bake vegetables and serve them cold with salad greens and a dressing. Why give up the good diet practices of summer just because it gets a bit cool. Then spoil yourself with some comfort foods – occasionally.
HALOUMI & EGGPLANT SKEWERS
Haloumi is one of those strange cheeses that tastes totally bland when just cut from the piece, yet develops delicious flavours when barbequed, grilled or fried.
2 red capsicums
1 large eggplant
175g haloumi cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
½ bunch basil, leaves picked
8 large bamboo skewers soaked in water for 15 minutes (if you would like to add some subtle exotic flavours to this dish, use sharpened lemongrass stalks, or long lengths of stripped rosemary (keep leaves at top end for decoration) as the skewers.)
Wash capsicums and remove seeds and membrane. Cut into 24 pieces. Wash and trim eggplant, cut in half lengthways, then into 16 semi-circles. Sprinkle with salt in a colander and leave for 30 minutes to remove bitterness. Dry with paper towel. Cut haloumi into 16 pieces. Toss vegetables and cheese in olive oil seasoned with pepper and sea salt. Skewer a piece of capsicum, followed by eggplant, a few rolled basil leaves, and then haloumi. Repeat process until you have 8 large skewers Finish each with a piece of capsicum. Char-grill or barbeque until tender – about 15-20 minutes. Blend remaining basil with oil to serve with skewers, or use purchased olive tapenade.
Approx $1.50 per skewer
ROCKET & BLOOD ORANGE SALAD
This is my own salad, and can be served as a main course or an accompaniment. Rocket and watercress are two of my favourite salad greens. The peppery flavours are a perfect contrast for fruits, especially stone and citrus fruit.
200g baby rocket
small knob fennel, thinly sliced
2 blood oranges, segmented (if blood oranges are not in season, use ordinary, or ruby grapefruit)
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
punnet yellow teardrop tomatoes
shaved parmesan, to taste
10-15 whole mint leaves
Dressing – combine 30ml verjuice (unfermented grape juice) with 120ml macadamia oil (use olive or peanut if macadamia not available).
Place tomatoes on a baking tray and sprinkle with sea salt, cracked black pepper and olive oil. Bake in a 200°C oven for 20 minutes. Cool. Combine all ingredients except parmesan in salad bowl, sprinkle dressing and mix. Shave parmesan over the top.
Approx $6.00 to make
FABULOUSLY DECADENT CHOCOLATE TART
Pastry; (if you are not successful with pastry making, buy shortcrust from the supermarket)
200g plain flour
100g butter, cold and cubed
2-3 tablespoons cold water
250g bitter chocolate (if you can afford it, Lindt 80% cocoa)
4 yolks (freeze whites for meringues or omelettes)
2 tablespoons rum, or 2 teaspoons rum essence (from supermarket)
100g butter, softened
2 tablespoons ground almonds (almond meal)
For pastry, sift flour and salt into bowl. Add butter, and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles breadcrumbs ( don’t over-fuss). Add water until mixture comes together when pressed. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out thinly on a floured surface and line a 22cm loose-base flan tin. DO NOT STRETCH. Prick all over with a fork, and freeze for 10 minutes. Line with baking paper and pastry weights (if you don’t have pastry weights, use rice or dried beans) and bake at 180°C for 10-15 minutes, until pastry is cooked and starts to colour. Remove and fill with chocolate filling
For filling; Melt chocolate in microwave (50%), or over a double boiler of simmering water. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, yolks, sugar and rum or essence. Fold chocolate into egg mix. Beat in soft butter and fold in almonds. Pour into tart shell and bake at 175°C for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Serve with fresh orange slices.
Approx cost $9.00, depending on quality of chocolate.
Tim Alderman 2015