Firstly apologies for being MIA the past month. I ventured back into my old life of travel which took up more time than I anticipated BUT did confirm I made the right decision to open another door and walk through while leaving the old door closed. Hindsight is sometimes a wonderful thing.
Now that I am back to where I love to be – the great outdoors helping people improve their life and back in the kitchen. Where to begin is the easy part - what is in season this month. What can I expect from my local farmers market? I enjoy pottering off to the market and being surprised by what the farmer has brought along.
My local market is Randwick and the lovely family farmers of Oakville always offer to cut the ends of things. Produce that you won’t necessary use but this begs the question what can you use? Every part of the fruit, the vegetable, the meat, the fish?
A show I watch is MKR (My Kitchen Rules – yup reality television but bear with me). Irishman Colin Fassnidge’s team started with a couple from country Victoria, Eve and Jason. Their entrée was Herb Crusted Rainbow Trout in Fish Broth.
Not only did they use the trout Eve painstakingly de-boned but Jason used the scraps of the fish for the broth. Using every part to make the dish “sunshine in a bowl” and given extra credit due to using every part of an ingredient so there is nothing to waste.
Let’s go back to what’s in season and how we can use some throw away parts of the produce.
Don’t you hate it when you are paying by kilogram and the stalk is about 3 inches long!? I heard a segment on the radio once about saving money and funnily enough this was one of them. One lady stood in the supermarket and broke off the stem so she wasn’t paying for the weight of the stem when she just cuts it off anyway.
Must admit I did try this once with a little embarrassment. Hmmmmm….to save embarrassment what can we do so use all of the broccoli? I needed to clean out a few vegies this week so I got my beef mince out of the freezer, my ‘nearly’ bendy vege (broc included) out of the fridge. Love the florets of broccoli but to do with the stem? Hail gods of the greens – dice the stem like you did with the carrot, the zucchini and capsicum….waste not want not as I was taught growing up.
When in season, same can be done with Kale. I usually just sliver the leaves off and toss the stem in the compost bin. If I’m going to a BBQ and need to take a salad, I can julienne the stems and toss them into my salad for that extra crunch and bitterness. The other flavours in the salad will detract from the bitter taste of the kale.
Frequently checking on my edible balcony, there is a little grizzley angst when I find a tomato has been half eaten and not by me. Behold no more. Your fresh goods may not have survived but the seeds within the fruit/vege may have so there is no reason why not to use them to harvest a new crop. Join a seed savers network or search on the internet on how to do it.
I always leave the skins on my carrots but what about the potato? Why throw them away when the skins on vegetables have the most nutrients and goodness. After washing the potato and peeling, instead of putting them in the compost, lay them out on a baking tray, sprinkle a light coat of salt and coconut oil before baking them until they are crispy and golden. A much better, and healthier alternative to the commercial packets.
The skin of a watermelon is not to be eaten but it does work great for a mould, a container and the presentation of serving a dish or drink in one is fun for children and adults alike.
Considering what is in season this month and wanting to make some truffles for a birthday gift, the following recipe didn’t allow me to use all of produce plus it produced extra ingredients which I have put to great use.
Red Velvet Coconut Truffles
Recipe by Best Of Vegan
Image by Tara Jayne (truffles; left over beet water from boiling to be used in smoothies, as a juice or cooking; chips; powder)
Makes about 20 depending on the size
½ beetroot (peeled, make sure it’s not too big)
1tsp beetroot powder*
1C desiccated unsweetened coconut
2tsp cacao powder
2Tbsp almond butter
2Tbsp melted coconut butter^
2Tbsp maple syrup
White Chocolate Coconut coating
½C melted cacao butter
¼C coconut butter
2Tbsp maple syrup
1C desiccated unsweetened coconut
1. Mix all the truffle ingredients in a food processor until you obtain a dough-like consistency (if it’s too dry, add some almond butter or maple syrup).
2. Form the dough into 1 inch truffles using your hands.
3. Place the truffles in a container and put them in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes while you make the coating.
4. For the coating, melt the cacao and coconut butters in a small pan on low heat (careful not to burn them).
5. In a bowl, mix the melted butters with the syrup using a whisk or a fork. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes.
6. Using a tooth pick or your hands, coat the truffles with the white chocolate mixture one by one and dip them in the coconut to coat.
7. Place them in the freezer or fridge for about 10 minutes before eating.
8. If there’s any white chocolate coating left, you can either coat the truffles a second time or freeze the mixture in an ice cube tray to make vegan white chocolates (add cacao powder to make regular chocolates).
Note: if you don't have a food processor, you can either use your blenders pulse function or omit the beet and use more beet powder. You may have to adjust the other ingredients' amounts.
*You can make this with the other half of the beetroot however does need to be prepared prior. Thinnly slice the beet and place in a dehydrator for 8-12 hours. If you do not have a dehydrator, lay them on a baking tray and put them in the oven at a very low heat (40-50°C) for about 8hours until they are crunchy. Once they slices are done, grind them in a blender to a fine powder (or as close to a powder as your blender/food processor will allow).
^If you can’t find coconut butter, it is easy to make your own. Just blend a packet of shredded or flaked coconut until smooth. A food processor can be used but will take a little longer than a fast blender.