Monday, July 30, 2012

One Last Pumpkin Recipe

Pumpkin, Chickpea and Other Bits Salad

2-3 C pumpkin, cut into bite sized pieces
2 T oil
2 C chickpeas, cooked and drained
1/2 - 1 C cashews or pinenuts, toasted
100 g feta
1 Spanish onion, thinkly sliced
1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Couple of handfuls of English spinach leaves

1/4 C honey
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 - 2 T orange or lemon juice
1 I extra virgin olive oil
Very finely diced chilli, to taste (optional)

Roast pumpkin in a moderate oven 180C in little olive oil until cooked. Cool

Combine pumpkin, chickpeas, cashews, onion and parsley in a large bowl. Mix to combine.

Combine dressing ingredients in a jug or bowl, mix & dress salad.

Place in a serving dish & crumble fetta over salad.

Note: as this is a salad, feel welcome to adjust anything to taste. I have also made it using sundried tomatoes, adding chargrilled eggplant and zucchini or even wrapping up the salad ingredients in a filo, baking and using the dressing as a sauce.

Image: "Little Pumpkin" by SpunkOnAStick

The Podcast is Up (Finally)

Yes you can now download this show ... oh hang on the ABC already uses that, how about: this week's episode has finished cooking and is available to share.

Passionfruit and Chilli joins Rachel Kenley Fry to talk about the joys and challenges of eating local in Alaska; discovers The Sustainable Seafood Guide; d. and Leigh share recipes to get us through the end of pumpkin season and  we welcome back Pete Bufo for another vegetarian treat.

Check it out here, or subscribe on iTunes - just search for "Passionfruit and Chilli".

Alaska Grown, Because It’s Closer, Fresher, Better

My name is Rachel Kenley Fry, and I am a locavore.

What’s a locavore, you ask? Well, according to Webster’s, this new term means “one who eats foods grown locally whenever possible.”

I grew up on a small farm, so almost everything I ate was local. It traveled from our garden or barn straight to our house. With a spoiled childhood like that, it’s no wonder I grew up to be a certified Alaska Grown food snob. Fresh food just tastes better than food that has traveled the globe to get here. Not to mention it’s healthier for you and supports the Alaska economy.

Because I’m so passionate about Alaska Grown, I’ve made it my mission to turn as many people as I can into fellow locavores. I hope you’ll be one. Local food is more accessible than you might think, and in this column I’ll tell you just how and where you can get it.

The cold, wet weather we’ve had lately has not made growing vegetables easy this summer, but they’re still available in the Valley. Look for Alaska Grown lettuce of all varieties, potatoes, tomatoes and rhubarb in grocery stores, and if you don’t see it clearly marked, don’t be afraid to ask for Alaska Grown produce.

The variety is even greater if you explore the local farmers markets. We have two markets in the core area of the Valley: one on Wednesday in Wasilla and one on Friday in Palmer.

At the markets, you can purchase broccoli, zucchini and strawberries,lettuces, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, zucchini, beets, radishes, carrots, spinach, garlic, Swiss chard, turnips, rhubarb, a variety of herbs, turnips, radishes, collard greens, beet greens, a variety of Asian greens.

Don’t forget to wash down all your veggies with Matanuska Creamery milk, available in stores. Cheese, cheese curds, butter and cream are also available at the creamery. And don’t forget dessert! You can buy ice cream by the scoop at Friday Fling, or buy one of more than 25 flavors at the creamery.

Alaska Hens provides local eggs to Three Bears and also sell broiler hens at Friday Fling. For any other meat needs, visit Mat Valley Meats for anything from beef steaks to yak salami and pork chops to elk patties.

Did you know you can even use Alaska Grown flour for your baked goods? Alaska Flour Co. provides Non-Essentials in Palmer and Allen and Peterson in Wasilla with barley flour and cream of barley breakfast cereal. And once you’ve made some delicious barley products, why not top them with a birch syrup or caramel from Kahiltna Birchworks, available at Non-Essentials or Alaska Wild Berry Products? Or local honey for sale at Turkey Red?

If you don’t love baking or cooking, don’t worry — there are plenty of ways to eat local when you eat out. Restaurants like the Bistro Red Beet, Vagabond Blues, Rusty’s and Turkey Red use a wide variety of Alaska Grown produce in their dishes.

If you aren’t sure if what you’re eating is local, ask your server.

Rachel Kenley Fry is a Division of Agriculture intern who writes for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman as part of her internship. She is 2009 Palmer High School graduate

Check out the full article here and while you are there, you can also do a search on The Frontiersman for the rest of Rachel's articles - just just "rachel kenley fry" as the search term. You can also here the chat with Rachel here.

Image: "Alaska" by NehemiahNesheim


Cheddar Pumpkin Pie

1 pie crust (see recipe below)
2 t butter
1 t oil, plus extra for the roasting pan
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3/4 C+ pumpkin and other vegetables (sweet potato, potato or whatever else you have to hand), cut into pieces
2 eggs
1/2 C cream
1/2 t dried thyme (or other herbs, fresh or dried, that compliment your vegetable selection)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 C grated cheese

Heat oven to 190 C.

Put pumpkin and vegetables in roasting pan with a little oil and cook until softened. Remove. Allow to cool a little then mash, puree or blend.

Meanwhile, melt 1 t butter with the 1 t oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 10 - 12 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and beginning to brown. Season with salt and set aside.

Beat the pumpkin and eggs together in a medium bowl. Add the cream and herbs. Season to taste.

Spread the cooked onion evenly over the base of the pie crust. Sprinkle over the cheese.Pour the pumpkin mixture over the cheese and onion. Dot with little pieces of the remaining butter and bake for 30 - 40 Minutes until a knife comes out clean. Can be served, hot, cold or at room temperature.

Note: depending on the amount of vegetables you use, you may need to add a bit more milk or an extra egg.

Savory Tart Crust
2/3 C plain flour
1/3 C SR flour
1/2 wholemeal flour1/2 t salt
125 g butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
1/4 C cold water

This is enough dough to fill a  9" pie tin.

Mix the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until it looks like bread crumbs. Place in a large bowl. If you don't have a food processor, sift the flours and salt into a bowl and rub in butter until the same result is achieved.

In a separate bowl beat the egg yolk and water together and then mix into the flour mixture to form a dough. Form the dough into a ball and then turn onto a floured surface. Flatten into a disc shape and then refrigerate for a few hours.

Preheat oven to 200 C. Roll out the dough to the suitable size, place in pan and fold over the edges to create a double crust. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before baking.

Blind bake for 10 minutes, remove the weights, prick pastry with a fork and bake for another 10 minutes

Based on an original recipe from "Pumpkin - A Super Food For All 12 Months of the Year" by DeeDee Stovel but include the all of d. Tronsons changes. You can hear d. on Passionfruit and Chilli here.

Image: "pumpkin patch" by ~ecil

Buying Local Fish

Just as people have choices between organic or convention farming, grass fed or grain fed beef and sheep, free range or intensively farmed animals, there are a range of factors to consider when buying seafood.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society has made it easy with their Sustainable Seafood Guide - a free, easy to use online database or iPhone app that correlates all of the data and then presenting it in a simple traffic light system.

And when visiting their sight you can also check out the Greenpeace Canned Tuna Guide to find the brands that

Support our Australian fishing industry that is supporting the oceans.

Check out the the interview with Tooni.

Image: "seafood" by protoperahe

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pumpkin Damper

300 g pumpkin, cubed, steamed, cooled, mashed
1/4 C milk at room temperature
1 egg, whisked
3 C SR flour
2 T brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
80 g butter

Preheat oven to 200 C.

Combine the first three ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, sugar and spices. Rub in butter. Mix in pumpkin mixture.

Knead 4 - 5 times, shape into a big round and place on a baking sheet. Score the top of the damper into eight sections. Bake in over for 25 - 30 minutes or until cooked.

Notes: you can always add more cinnamon and nutmeg if desired. Reduce the amount of sugar to create a more savory pumpkin damper.

Hear Leigh share the recipe here.

Image: "pumpkin patch" by shadowtree

Monday, July 16, 2012

Podcast Time

Join us as we wander around Bellingen's Growers Market, find out about the benefits of rainfed rice and we start a periodic series on "local providores" with a visit to the Old Cheese Factory in Reisdale.

Download the podcast here or just search for "Passionfruit and Chilli" on iTunes where you can also subscribe so you never miss an episode.

Bellingen Community Market

Join us as we take a walk around the Bellingen Growers Market.

Featured today are:
Missing Field Valla (seedlings, soap, vegetables)
Call Rob or Maxine 0417 227 590

Nambucca Valley Meat on the Move (free range pork, grass fed beef)
490 Conarinni Road South
Call John or Elain 02 6529 3190

Happi Hens Free Range Eggs
Mount Mitchell
Call Trish 0419 129 995

Bananas, Dragon fruit
Call Paul 6653 8372

Orange Moon Organic Farm
120 Butts Creek Road
Taylors Arm
Email Amanda

Images: ABC, Happi Hens, Orange Moon Organics, Bellingen Energy Festival, Highland Drover, Nambucca Guardian, Pearl Maya

Rainfed Rice

Slater Farms in Casino wins three big ticks for their product:

  • it is local, 
  • it is biodynamic and 
  • it is rainfed (thus avoiding the problems associated with irrigation).

Check out the website for your local stockists or to find out more of the story of this exciting venture.

For more information on biodynamics, swing by Demeter Bio-dynamic Agriculture in Australia or follow the links from the Slater Farms page.

Braidwood Made

The Old Cheese factory in Reisdale provides a range of services to local producers from an apple press to a commercial kitchen, function room and design studio.

They also sell a long list of local produce that includes cider, wine, pickles, relishes, sauces and jams.

And if that wasn't enough there are also artisan workshops including bread, cheese and sausage making.

Buying local becomes easier when are there places like The Old Cheese Factory in communities and this segment is the first in a periodic series where we focus on businesses and services that are making it easier for people to buy local foods.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tourism opportunity on a plate

Ten years ago Bertie Ahern (Taoseach of Ireland) declared that the boom was getting boomier. In the same year, Margaret Jeffares set up the Good Food Ireland brand.

She had been working in tourism marketing for more than 20 years and saw how Irish restaurants and hotels were getting no kudos for using local produce.

“I saw a massive need for linking agriculture and hospitality together. Hotels and restaurants were crying out for recognition for that commitment to using local food,” she says. “Where was the competitive advantage for the restaurant sourcing local produce over a restaurant down the road that was using imported chicken fillets?”

She decided to set up an all-island umbrella brand for people promoting local produce, with strict criteria based on the philosophy of sourcing local food. “It was a no-brainer for me in the end. If I can drive business into a hospitality sector that’s committed to local food, the hospitality sector will go out to the farmers and buy more Irish food and then more unexplored opportunities will develop for the farmers.”

There is now a national obsession with food and its origins, but at the height of the boom people laughed at her plan to focus on local produce and make Ireland a food-tourism destination.

“It was so pioneering that people were saying to me: ‘Margaret, who really cares whether the food is local or not?’” she recalls. “International tour operators were saying: ‘But you don’t have good food in Ireland’. International consumers were saying: “What have you got in Ireland only bacon and cabbage?”

“They overwhelmingly agreed that the reputation for Ireland as a food producer was very, very good but what we didn’t seem to have was a reputation for our cuisine.”

So Jeffares ploughed a lonely furrow at first, setting up the Good Food Ireland limited company, at home on a farm in Wexford with €50,000 of her own money. Today, she has more than 520 members, including hotels, BBs, pubs, restaurants, cafes, cookery schools, food shops and producers.

“As well as meeting the food-sourcing criteria, they all have to operate at a level that is classed ‘best of their type’,” she says.

The organisation runs workshops and conferences, helping members to market themselves and linking restaurants and hotels with local producers. “So if someone calls up and says: ‘I want to start using free-range eggs. Where can I get them?’ Or, ‘where can I get Irish rapeseed oil?’ we can tell them.”

Members are only accepted after independent inspection to ensure they meet the standards. “Today, the business is mainly supported by membership and sponsorship,” she says. Members pay anything from €450 to €5,000 depending on the size and product type.

Jeffares says she could have 10 times the number of members without the rigorous inspection process, but she could not offer the consumer guarantee of the best quality produce.

Good Food Ireland the numbers:   

522 members who employ more than 5,900 people  

Members had a turnover of €390 million last year

24 per cent are exporting produce and 17 per cent have plans to do so

80 per cent expect growth in earnings this year

92 per cent increased their spend on Irish produce in the last three years 

Read the complete article in the Irish Times

Image of Maraget Jeffares from the article in Irish Times

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Karen Schultz: One family's quest to eat more local food

Three years ago, I didn’t think much about where my family’s food originated.

Beyond the generic grocery store, I simply didn’t know. Then I read a book about a family that spent a year growing its own food and getting to know the people in their community who produced the food.

Chapter after chapter, as I learned about topics such as eating in-season crops and the art of cheese-making, I started to examine the food I served my family.

Where did it come from? Who was producing it? Was it the healthiest available option?

I scoured our pantry and quickly discovered the shelves filled with items produced, processed, or packaged far from Lansing. The next night, I served dinner with small labels on each dish. Mexico. Argentina. Spain. Honduras.

The message was clear: Our food was more traveled than we were and we could do better to support local eco-friendly providers.

That was the beginning of my family’s local food journey.

We had a lot to learn.

My first local meat purchase was 75 pounds of beef from a Mason farmer who doesn’t inject his animals with antibiotics or hormones, a practice some believe contributes to health problems for people. The farmer told me a steer named Big Fella had spent his life grazing on wildflowers and grasses, which seemed like a better life than some of the industrial-sized cattle operations I’d heard about. The farmer invited my kids to the farm and when I sat at the farmer’s kitchen table to write a check, I couldn’t imagine feeling better about my “go-local” kick. And then we made hamburgers; the meat tasted amazing.

Emboldened, we explored farmers markets, visited a natural food store with local options, and asked foodie friends where to find the best fare.

You can’t get more local than your backyard, so I planted a garden. The first year, I harvested a lot of tomatoes, all green and inedible. This year’s garden, my third, already is producing and aims to be my best yet.

When I shop for food now, I always look at where the food comes from and opt for local sources when possible. We still eat a few foods from far-flung places but I’ve also tapped into a movement that tastes good, supports my neighbors, helps the environment, and even saves money.

You can read the full article in the Lansing State Journal.

Image: Karen Schultz from the Lansing State Journal.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What a Great Idea!

The trend toward eating more locally-produced food has the support of a local South Surrey store.

The South Point Save-On-Foods has added a “choose local, eat local” display for customers of the outlet at at 3033 152 St.

Save-On boasts the chain is the number one supporter of local suppliers, producers and growers, include brand names like South Surrey-based Missing Goat Jam, or the tomatoes and peppers that come from Millennium Farms in Delta or Marilyn’s Gourmet Salad Dressings made in Abbotsford.

The store features weekly sampling of local producers.

Promoting local content is seen as a way for customers to support their neighbours’ businesses and keep their money north of the U.S. border.

Other arguments advanced in favor of local foods include the fact that it travels less distance, which means it consumes fewer resources when it is  shipped to the store.

Local foods are also said to be more diverse than so-called monoculture crops that relay on a limited variety of types to ensure durability for long-distance transportation.

Read the full article at the Surrey Leader
Image accompanies the article

Monday, July 9, 2012

Podcast Time

Phil Westwood from Freeranger in Victoria tells us what a free range egg actually is, or should be; Ken Lewis shares the joy of the Dorrigo potato and Pete Bufo continues is culinary tour around the world, this week it is France.

You can download it here or subscribe through iTunes (just search for passionfruuit and chilli)

Caramelized Shallot Tart with Goats Curd and Roquette

50 ml vegetable oil
300 g shallots, whole with ends untrimmed (the ones with the little bulbs, not the spring onion/green onion variety)
25 g butter, softened
30 g sugar
2 sheets puff pastry, cut into 4 x 12 cm circles
120 g goats curd, divided into 4
Lots of roquette

Preheat oven to 180 C.

Heat oil in fry pan, season and cook shallots until brown. Bake in oven for 15 minutes until soft int he middle.

Great 4 x 10 cm tart shells with butter. Dust with sugar.

Place shallots evenly and snugly in the shells. Place puff pastry on top, tucking in the sides with a spoon.

Bake for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes then invert onto a plate.

Place goats curd on top each tart and top with roquette.

Recipe supplied by Pete Bufo

Image: "Roquette Salad" from SantePratique

Potato Roti (Allo Paratha)

2 large potatoes
1 - 2 C flour, plus extra for dusting

1 green chilli sliced small
1/2 t turmeric
1/2 t garam masala
2 T vegetable oil
Warm water as required
Salt and pepper, taste

Boil potatoes till tender, allow to cool a little, then grate.

Mix the flour and spices in a large bowl. Season. Mix in the grated potatoes. You should have a semi-firm dough that does not stick to your fingers so add oil and enough warm water to achieve this. 

Divide the dough into 10-12 balls with lightly oiled, clean hands. Dust the bench or board with flour and roll each ball into a thin 6" circle.

Heat frypan over medium-high heat and cook the breads until they are speckled with golden dots on each side. This should take about a minute per side.

Remove from heat, brush with butter and serve.

Note: you can amend the spice blend to suit your tastes and you could also include ginger, cumin, garlic, onion, mint, fenugreek or whatever else tickles your fancy.

Recipe suggested by Ken Lewis

Image: "Roti Time" by butterflies2pretty

More Than The Humble Spud

Dorrigo potates have a well deserved reputation for quality - and it is even more exciting when they are organic. Ken Lewis from Stringbark Farm at Dundurrabin, just outside of Dorrigo.

Do you know which varieties are 'waxy', which are 'floury' and which are the all rounders? Do you know when to use which variety of potato where. This site is a great starting point, and this one includes a few more varieties.

For more information on growing your own potatoes, or to order some potato seed, call Ken 02 6657 8255 or see him at the local growers markets between Bellingen and Armidale.

Image: "Potato" by Jacqou

Free Range Eggs

It shouldn't be a hard question - what is a free range egg? Most people would imagine chickens running around grassed paddocks, scratching up worms and .... well being chickens and that is what they pay for when they buy eggs labelled as free range. But things are not that simple.

Phil Westwood from Freeranger Eggs in Grantville, Victoria helps us understand what are the current definitions as well as discussing the proposed changes.

For more information check out the Free Range Farmers Association. Choice also has a great article that is worth a read. And you can keep right up to date by checking out the ACCC.

So, what can consumers do?
1) Look for credible accreditation - the term "free range" is not representative of consumers expectations, if you are thinking you chooks live like those in the picture. Check if your eggs are supplied from an accredited free range farm, or Humane Choice approved or a similar branding. At the moment most farms selling pastured eggs (as opposed to 'free range'), are accurately branded but there is no certification process.
2) Visit your farmer - ring up and ask to come and meet the chooks. All farms have some biological hazard procedures (such as washing boots, or not getting in the paddocks with the animals) but if your farmer continually says no to a visit, then maybe you need to think about what they are trying to hide.
3) Contact your members of parliament. The time for comment in this round has closed but it shouldn't be taken off the agenda - and whether this is an animal welfare issue for you, or just truth in labeling - we need legislative clarification.
4) Let your wallet do the walking. While the pollies and the egg industry are sorting out the bits and pieces be aware that your consumer buying power is speaking for you - spend your money on a brand of eggs that represents your stand on the issue, whatever that stand is.

Image from Freeranger Eggs

Bits and Pieces

Pete and I started talking about his recipe and ended up discussing half a dozen things so I though it was important to put in some follow up information.

Snail forks: I got the snail fork half right (as you can see from the pic) but they don't have little hooks on the end.

Purging snails: another thing I (almost) got right - the most common way to purge snails is to allow them to fast for about 5 days. Some googling has told me that you can feed them cornmeal, oats or bran just before this time, but the most common method remains a fast.

River Cottage: home of all things wonderful - currently on ABC1 but check out their website for more info.

Cheesy Cauliflower: (as opposed to cauliflower cheese) I blogged about this when I first made it because it was so good and so easy but reproduce it here:

Dead easy and particularly delicious. For the cambembert: cut it into wedges, dip in flour, egg and breadcrumb and then deep fry until golden (but no so golden that the cheese has melted). For the sauce: cook cauliflower florets of 1 biggish cauliflower in milk with 1 bay leaf and 1 clove until the cauliflower is tender. Remove bay leaf and blend until smooth.

Dip cheese into sauce and grin madly :-) All up, from start to finish, about 15 - 18 minutes.

PS: The left over sauce made a scrummy topping for toast lol

Snail fork image: Hospitality Wholesale
Cheesy Caulifower image: Pearl Maya

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Podcast is Up

This week we take a quick drive down the highway to talk to Penny Love-Lipinski about the Camden Public School garden, we catch up with John from Byron Bay Chillis to find out about them and this weekend Sawtell Chilli Festival and Pete Bufo drops by with another vegetarian recipe.

Download the podcast here.

Camden Public School Garden

A school with an award winning garden helping students to connect with where their food comes from, the taste sensations that result and a range of environmental activities. no wonder they are award winning!

Swing by the schools website for more details on what they are doing that includes, but goes beyond, just teh three R's.

Check out the chat with Penny Love-Lipinski here.

BBCC Ultimate Pumpkin Soup

4 C cooked pureed pumpkin
1 tin coconut cream
1/3 bottle BBCC Fiery Coconut Chilli Sauce
4 shallots
1 T freshly grated ginger
1 C chopped red onion
1 T butter
1/4 C mild chili sauce (optional)
1 C water
2 cubes chicken or vegetable stock cubes, crumbled
1 C milk
Yogurt or Sour cream (to swirl)

Saute shallots, ginger and red onion gently in butter. Add water, stock cubes and milk and mix through. Add pumpkin, coconut cream and sauces. Heat through. Season to taste.

Serve with a swirl of yogurt or sour cream.

Recipe supplied by Byron Bay Chilli Company

Byron Bay Chilli Company

Surely one of the best chilli sauce makers in the world - with an almost complete set of international awards to prove it - Byron bay Chilli's are also home to salsa and corn chips. Drop by their website to check out your local suppliers, buy some delights online or check out a great range of recipes. And if you would like someone else to do the cooking, and you are in Byron Bay, swing by OzyMex - it is just by the main roundabout, you can't miss it!

For listeners closer to Bellingen, swing by and meet John and co, have a taste and a chat at the weekend's Sawtell Chilli Festival. And if you aren't a big chilli fan, drop by anyway as Sawtell's First Avenue explodes with food, entertainment and color.

Roast Fennel with Breadcrumbs, Parsley and Parmesan

2 large fennel bulbs
100 ml olive oil
4 T water
1 T butter
1/2 C roughly chopped parsley
4 sprigs thyme
2 thick slices ciabatta
3 T freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 200 C.

Cut fennel vertically into wedges. Cook wedges in frypan in a little of the oil until browned. Add butter and water and for for another 3 minutes.

Put fennel and the stock it is cooking in into oven dish. Sprinkle over parsley and thyme. Rip up bread into chucks and scatter over fennel. Sprinkle over the rest of the oil, season to taste and sprinkle over Parmesan.

Roast for about 20 - 30 minutes.

Recipe supplied by Pete Bufo

Image: "Fennel" by Ewwiej


We continue our reconciliation celebration with a chat with Noongar Elder Carol Petterson and take a wander around the Bellingen High School Community Garden

You can download the podcast here.

Food Brings Us Together

Noongar Elder Carol Pettersen joins us in the kitchen to discuss her life as well as sharing some food stories. Carol is an amazing woman and you can find our more here when Carol won the Elder of the Year (Female) at the 2008 Naidoc Awards.

A real honor and a privilege to share time with an incredible person. You can download the podcast here.

Bellingen High School Community Garden

Bellingen High School's Community Garden is an integral part of Bellingen. Located at the high school it enables students to both grown and cook their own food. After school hours it becomes a community space. Working bees are held every Sunday afternoon. No experience necessary. For more information, or to find out how you can get involved, check out their Facebook page.