Friday, June 21, 2013

Loving Soup Minestrone

We have had a breakthrough this winter, the kids now like soup, I would go as far as saying they love soup! Even Willa, who is only 1 1/2, can feed herself a bowl full. At first I thought it was just pumpkin soup so stuck to that for a few weeks then I ventured into pea and ham and they ate that too. Then I just threw in all the vegies I had and made a sweet potato and random vegetable soup and they even loved that, in fact they requested it for the next few nights in favour of whatever else I had made. Imagine if I served them up a bowl of boiled sweet potato, zucchini, cauliflower and broccoli; there is no way they would touch it but in soup form they are going back for seconds. I have to admit that sour cream and crispy bacon bits are a pretty popular addition.

This week we had minestrone. My wonderful husband had it ready when I got home from 3 days away. We weren't sure how the kids would go with soup with chunky vegetables, so we just pureed theirs, adding some cooked pasta afterwards. Again it was a hit with them and me.
This is probably my favourite soup. You can make it with whatever vegies you have on hand, I have included my favourites in the recipe. My Mum used to include a small piece of stewing beef in the soup which she would shred into the soup before serving, I prefer the addition of chorizo but you might like to try this.
1 chorizo, diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion
1 leek, chopped (optional)
3 sticks celery
1 carrot
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
handful fresh herbs eg. parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano; chopped
4 bacon rashes, chopped
½ C red wine
2 L stock, chicken or beef
800g tin tomatoes, chopped
1 parmesan rind
2 zucchini, diced
½ cauliflower, cut into small florets
½ bunch silverbeet, stems removed and shredded
handful soup pasta or spaghetti, broken into short pieces
handful basil leaves, chopped
parmesan, grated
Heat a drop of oil in large saucepan or stockpot. Fry chorizo until golden, turning to cook all sides, set aside.
Heat remaining oil, cook onion, leek, celery, carrot, garlic, herbs and bacon over low heat until soft, at least 10 minutes. Turn up the heat and add red wine and allow to sizzle. Add stock, tomatoes, parmesan, zucchini and cauliflower and cook until vegetables are almost cooked. Add silverbeet and pasta and cook until pasta is done.
Serve with basil and parmesan. and buttered toast for dipping.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Homemade and Homegrown Barbecue Sauce

With our bountiful crop of tomatoes this year I made a barbecue sauce. I couldn't find a recipe that I liked so I looked at about 10 and made up my own. Most of the recipes were based on bottled ketchup, not quite sure if this qualifies as making your own sauce and it wasn't what I had in mind. I started with a large colander full of my tomatoes and added a whole range of spices, sugar, herbs and other flavourings.

Lots of recipes also included Liquid Smoke. I didn't run out and buy some but I was tempted, maybe next time...
The sauce is great! it has a slight spicy kick so if you want to share it with your kids leave out the chilli (we are quite happy to be selfish and keep it to ourselves). We eat it on egg and bacon rolls, lamb steaks, chicken burritos, pulled pork... Know I think about it I don't think I made enough.

Homemade and Homegrown Barbecue Sauce
5 C tomatoes that have been peeled, seeded and chopped (I started with a large colander full of whole tomatoes)
dash vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 chillies with seeds, chopped (optional)
3 tsp paprika (2 tsp smoked, 1 tsp hot)
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp cumin
5 thyme sprigs
2 tbsp coriander leaves
1/2 C brown sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 C cider vinegar
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
In a large heavy based pan sauté the onion, garlic and chilli in the oil until soft. Add dry spices and continue to fry for about a minute, until fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients including the tomatoes and stir over heat until the sugar is dissolved then simmer for an hour or two until thickened.
Puree in your best pureeing appliance. I am a big fan of the stick blender but this is a time to pull out the blender from the cupboard and wear the washing up. Puree as well as you can then return to the pan through a sieve.
Taste! Adjust for sugar, salt, flavour and spice.
Return to the boil and pour into sterilised bottles. Store in the fridge.

It's been awhile

It's been 11 months since I posted. How did that happen? It wasn't a deliberate break I just got caught up in the busyness of life and lost a bit of motivation in the kitchen. My middle daughter Ava was on the Failsafe elimination diet all last year so that took all the head space I had for cooking. Thankfully she is done with it so we have been enjoying eating family favourites altogether this year but I haven't been very adventurous.

During this time my youngest daughter Willa has doubled in age! She is now an adorab1e 20 month old who runs around, demands "bickies" and" nanas" and loves her big sisters. Here is a photo of her, just because she is cute and a post can't have no photo!

So I will be back shortly to share some new and old favourites...