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Hot English Muffins – the sourdough variety!

This is not my recipe. Not in the slightest. The full credit for this goes to Susan from Wild Yeast. Nevertheless, breakfast perfection has been achieved and it is my sworn duty to report such wins to you!

Sourdough hot English muffins with scrambled eggs. Just what the doctor ordered.

[ Makes: 8 | Time: 24 hours | Cost: $4 ]
[ Joes Rating: 4 / 5 | My Rating: 4.5 / 5 ]

Ingredients – Sponge

110 g starter
160 g plain flour
100 g wholemeal flour
275 ml soy milk

Final dough

75 g plain flour
1.5 teaspoon agave or ½ teaspoon stevia
1  teaspoon bicarbonate soda
¾ teaspoon salt

Polenta to sprinkle

Method

  1. Mix the sponge ingredients together. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and allow to rest overnight.

    Cover and rest

  2. Add the final dough ingredients and mix to incorporate. Turn out on a clean bench and mix by hand. The dough is very sticky, but resist the urge to add more flour. The mixture will thicken up after a lot of kneading – about 8 – 10 minutes.

    When you start to knead, the dough will be extremely sticky. Resist the urge to add flour!

  3. Use a bread scraper to get the dough off the bench and sprinkle with flour.

    The dough will still be sticky but it will be usable.

  4. Flatten the dough on the floured bench until it is about an inch thick. Use a cutter or a glass to cut out the muffins. Dust the outsides of the muffin with polenta.
  5. Cover and let proof for an hour or three.
  6. Heat a frying pan with a little oil over a low to medium heat. Cook for about 8 minutes on each side, turning regularly to maintain shape.
  7. Cool on a wire rack. To use, slit the muffins with a fork and toast until golden.

    before and after toasting.

Observations

  • I’ve made these several times now with mixed results. Take my advice; don’t allow the sponge to rest for more than overnight. It fails to rise when it’s rested for more. Make sure you allow it the second rest period after its been shaped.
  • Diabetic Note: There is nothing too evil here. Treat it like you do bread – one or two slices is allowable. More will wreak havoc with your blood glucose levels.
  • Ethical Note: Sourdough – enough said 🙂

I mentioned the bread scraper. It is a firm but flexible piece of plastic that is excellent for scraping bowls and manipulating dough. If you are getting aboard the sourdough train, make sure you get yourself one.

 

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Leeks, White Wine and Mussels

 

I happened to be at the Ballina Fisherman’s Coop recently when I spied this rather brilliant product. Kinkawooka Shellfish distribute 1 kg live, cleaned, scrubbed and de-bearded mussels in a bag that retail for around $15/kg. The product is fresh, tasty and easy to use. So, as usual, I jumped before I looked. I acquired some without even considering what I might actually do with them. Nevertheless, I wiped something up that fit the bill.

Leeks, White Wine and Mussels

[ Serves: 4 | Time: 60 Minutes | Cost: $18 ]
[ Joes Rating: 3 / 5 | My Rating: 3.5 / 5 ]

Ingredients

1 kg farmed mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
1.5 cups white wine
1 leek, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped coarsely
1 tablespoon butter
drizzle olive oil
Wholemeal pasta to serve
salt and pepper to taste

The packaging for Kinkawooka Shellfish’s live mussels.

Method

  1. In a deep sided pan, sauté the leek in a little olive oil. When fragrant, add the garlic and stir well.
  2. Add the wine to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Add the mussels and stir once. Place the lid over the pan and sauté for 8 minutes.
  3. Discard any mussels that have not opened. Stir the butter and parsley through the sauce and over the mussels. Season to taste.
  4. Serve hot with pasta and crusty bread.

Remove any that don’t open; they were dead and may be tainted. All mine opened; a testament to their freshness!

Observations

  • I loved this product; there is nothing like fresh produce to remind you of the simple things in life. Even though they were cleaned, I did pick over them and notice that they were a few with tiny beards still in place.
  • Joe and Brittany both loved the sauce and pasta but hated the mussels. Neither are seafood fans so guess what? More for me!
  • Diabetic Note: There is nothing bad here. I have opted to avoid using cream in this dish but I did use the butter as a lower fat content substitute. Nevertheless, there is only a tiny amount so the only real carbohydrates in the dish comes from the pasta you serve it with. I used wholemeal fettucine.
  •   And best of all, my Australian Sustainable Seafood Guide doesn’t recognise farmed mussels as being an unsustainable harvest and give it the green tick. Its one of very few seafood items that does get a green tick.

Mussels for me! With some berry ice tea. So yum!

 

 

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Turkey English Muffins for Breakfast

I never usually buy commercial bread products. Mine are so much tastier and a darn sight better for me! Nevertheless, I have succumbed and bought a packet of English Breakfast Muffins. The reason behind this is to understand the texture and taste of them because I think my sourdough adventures will lead to a tastier home-made version sometime soon.

So my experiments begin. I must seek awesome ways of eating this delightful muffin. Is this awesome cleverly disguised as a breakfast dish? Id say so, but I may be biased.

Turkey English Muffins for Breakfast

[ Serves: 2 | Time: 15 Minutes | Cost: $5 ]
[ Joes Rating: 5 / 5 | My Rating: 4.5 / 5 ]

Ingredients

2 English muffins
100g turkey breast
2 organic free ranged eggs
1 tomato, sliced
2 cheese slices
handful baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cranberry jelly
salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Slice all the ingredients ready for construction while the muffin is hot.
  2. Split the muffins in half at the join line and toast lightly.
  3. While the muffin is toasting, lightly scramble one egg in a bowl and pop it in the microwave oven for 30 – 40 seconds until cooked. 

    Quick method for light fluffy eggs

  4. Once the muffin has been toasted, spread mayonnaise on one half and cranberry jelly on the other. On the mayonnaise side, add the baby spinach, tomato, salt and pepper, turkey, cheese, egg and more salt and pepper. 

    Construction of a master piece.

  5. Devour immediately.

So yummy

Observations

  • This was so tasty and filling. Much happiness comes from such a complete breakfast!
  • A note about seasoning. If you noticed, I seasoned the muffin twice; on the tomatoes and on the eggs. I believe both require adequate seasoning to enhance their flavours. Do a blind taste test on a piece of tomato and a bit of egg both seasoned and unseasoned and you will understand my rationale behind this.
  • I’ve heard and read a lot of things both for and against microwaved proteins. I hardly ever use my microwave, but this 30 – 40 second zap for one egg produces light, fluffy eggs that are otherwise time-consuming and require a lot of clean up. My only word of caution is to not over cook the eggs in the microwave, unless you want rubber fighting weapons for comic skits.
  • Want a vegetarian version? Just leave the turkey off and perhaps substitute a lentil patty!
  • Diabetic Note: One of these muffins is within my carbohydrate budget. The protein from the turkey, cheese and egg (particularly the egg) keeps me full for hours. While you may be pushing the fats friendship from the egg content and cheese, all in all this is a pretty balanced and awesome breakfast!
  • Ethical Note: I used tomatoes from my garden. YAY! And with any luck, next time I write to you about English Muffins, it will be about my own home made sourdough version. Fingers crossed!
 

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Maltese Macaroni

You may remember a few weeks ago I was talking about making dishes of food for a grieving family? Well today’s dish is along the same chain of thought – comfort food. This dish, commonly refereed to as Macaroni by Maltese people, is a family favourite. It is carb heavy, delicious and just what the doctor ordered when morale is low. There is nothing that brings warmth, comfort and nourishment like Macaroni. Nothing!

There is, however, one important draw back of this dish. It uses tinned corned beef which is a staple meat product in Maltese cuisine. As my regular readers would know, I don’t cook with beef because of the environmental issues associated with beef production. (Read this article for more information). There really is no substitute for it and I have tried to make a vegetarian option of this dish that was a total failure.

So I bring you my ethical dilemma –  Maltese Macaroni.

Maltese Macaroni – to me this is made of winning, and tastes of all things good.

[ SERVES: 6  |  TIME: 90 MINUTES  |  COST: $10  ]
[  JOES RATING:  5  / 5  |  MY RATING:  5  / 5  |  Brittanys RATING:  5  / 5   ]

Ingredients

1 packet macaroni pasta ¹
1 tin hamper corned beef
1 tin tomatoes, chopped
1 small tin tomato paste
1 onion, diced finely
1 cup Pecorino cheese, grated
¼ cup continental parsley, chopped
4 – 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon basil, fresh (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon oregano, fresh (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon curry powder
4 bay leaves
2 free ranged / organic eggs
salt and pepper to taste
dash of olive oil

Method

  1. Bring a large pot to the boil with about 6 – 8 litres of water. Add a good pinch of salt to the water before adding the pasta. Cook the pasta until half-cooked – it should still be quite firm and undercooked ². Drain, rinse and set aside.
  2. In a large frying pan at moderate heat, sauté the onion and garlic in a dash of oil until caramelised. Add the corned beef and stir well until the well incorporated and melted to a liquid like consistency. Add the tinned tomatoes, bay leaves, parsley, basil, oregano and a little seasoning. Stir and let simmer for 15 – 30 minutes until slightly thickened and rich in flavour.

    This last photo is of the sauce sauteing. It has not yet been thickened but I don’t thicken it very much at all past this point. It needs to still be quite thin. See note ² in observations below.

  3. After the sauce has simmered and reduced slightly, taste for seasoning. If the sauce tastes sweet, add the curry powder ³. Thicken with tomato paste ². Remove bay leaves.
  4. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  5. In a very large baking tray, add the pasta and sauce, mixing well to incorporate evenly throughout the tray.
  6. Add the cheese evenly throughout and mix lightly.
  7. Lightly beat the egg and drizzle throughout the tray. Move the egg lightly throughout the dish with a fork – do not over mix at this point.
  8. Cover the baking tray with aluminium foil and bake in a moderate oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and cook until the top layer of pasta is crunchy and well cooked.

    This is time-lapse photos of the pasta cooking.

Observations

    • Note ¹ The type of pasta we use for this dish can be difficult to obtain out of large cities. It is very long tubes of pasta that are quite thick and hold their form without collapsing when cooked. By using this sort of pasta, the egg, sauce and cheese can run into the pasta tubes and each bite is mouth-watering delicious.

      This is the pasta that I use. Note how thick and long the pieces are in this 20 litre boiling pot?

    • Note ²  If you hit al dente during the boiling portion of the cooking, you have over cooked the pasta. You want it to be about half-cooked so when you bite it, it still is really very firm and raw towards the middle but not hard and uncooked. The cooking process will be finished off during the baking phase. This is why it is very important not to over thicken the sauce – the liquid is going to be absorbed by the pasta to finish off the cooking process during the baking phase.
    • Note ³  Sometimes, I find the fresh herbs bring a unique sweetness to the dish that is not always desirable. Traditionally, curry powder is incorporated to bring a balance to the dish. Let your taste buds guide you on this.
    • The flavour of this dish is excellent. Sometimes, though, I add an extra egg if the sauce looks too dry. Be warned, though – don’t make it too eggy!
    • I only use good quality grated Romano Pecorino for this dish. If I am making it for the uneducated, I may use tasty cheese just because its cheaper. At the end of the day, though, the Pecorino adds something special to the dish so if possible, opt for quality. If you like things a bit on the cheesy side of life, then go ahead and add more cheese to the dish.
    • Diabetic Note: I eat this dish and ask, “Why are the gods so cruel?”. There is NOTHING like this dish. I absolutely adore it. It is all things good and homely to me. Of course, it is also carbohydrate heavy which is the diabetics nightmare. The pasta is about 70% carbohydrates and while there is little to no carbs in the rest of the ingredients, a good diabetic should limit their portion size on this meal. Luckily for me, I’m a bad diabetic…

Ok, so this portion might feed two diabetics. (Or one bad diabetic…)

  • Ethical Note: As I said above, this is a family favourite. When we stopped eating beef two years ago, this is one dish I truly missed. Although I have tried to make vegetarian versions of this dish, they fail miserably. This is the first time I’ve cooked it in two years, and it was a real ethical dilemma for me. Joe and I recently discussed minor transgressions with beef to balance diet ect, and we both agreed on one thing. If everyone reduced their beef intake to perhaps one meal a week, our environment would be so much healthier. Being conscious of the impacts of your meal is the first step to a healthier environment.
English: Maltese baked macaroni with shortcrus...

I found this excellent photo of Maltese Macaroni on Wikipedia. See how the sauce ends up thick cause the pasta absorbs the liquid. Note how it holds its form? All hallmark signs of a good macaroni! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 
7 Comments

Posted by on June 30, 2012 in Food: Diabetic Friendly

 

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Goat Stew

Recently I spotted some goat chops at the local health food store. Goat is a hearty flavour rich meat that lends itself beautifully to stewing. It was organic, and at the right price for me to imagine a rich hot dinner full of gorgeous gamey meat. This is my goat stew adventure.

[ Serves: 6  |  TIME: 3+ hours  |  COST: $18  ]
[  Joe’S RATING:  4  / 5  |  MY RATING: 4.5  / 5 ]

Ingredients

500 grams organic goat chops
2 potatoes, diced
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 cup red wine
1 tin chopped roma tomatoes
1 litre vegetable stock
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 tablespoons  parsley, shredded
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 tablespoon basil, shredded
4 – 6 bay leaves
splash oil
salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. In a hot sauté pan, add a little oil and saute the onion. Add the garlic, celery, carrot and herbs. Fry until tender and fragrant.
  2. Add the goat chops and fry until browned. Top stop the vegetables scorching, either remove them from the pan or place them on top of the chops.
  3. Once the chops are semi cooked, deglaze the pan with some wine. Add a tin of tomatoes, potatoes and bay leaves. Add enough stock to ensure everything is covered and braise on a low heat with the lid on for 3 or more hours. Check the pot ever 15 minutes to ensure there is enough liquid covering the ingredients. Stir frequently and top up with stock when needed.
  4. When the meat is tender and the sauce is rich and well infused with flavour, remove the lid and allow the sauce to thicken.
  5. Remove the bay leaves before serving it hot on a bed of polenta, pasta or with hot crusty bread.

Observations

  • I adore meats that have been braised in a stew over a long period of time. There is nothing like the fall off the bone type hearty meat of a stew. Adjust your cooking time to suit your taste. If you require a firmer meat, shorten your cooking time, or length it for tougher cuts.
  • You could serve this with hot crusty breads, polenta, rice, pasta or just on its own! It is so versatile.
  • Notice how my vegetables haven’t fallen apart to mush even though this was cooked for almost 4 hours? Well, that is because I cooked it at a low heat. The trick here is longer cooking times over a lower temperature and careful stirring during fluid checks. A gentle, loving and patient hand will produce better results here.
  • Diabetic Note: What is not to love about this dish? It ticks all my diabetic boxes and my blood glucose levels were fine following this meal (and lunch the next day!!)
  • Ethical Note: I am almost certain that this is farmed goat, but some markets source wild goat that was culled as pest management. Where possible, I would choose the latter. It generally has a gamier flavour and is a wonderful choice for the environment. If you use wild bush meats, ensure that you cook it very well to kill off any parasite eggs and routinely worm your family ever six months.
 

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Red Vegetable Curry

After yesterdays massive meat pizza of awesomeness, it was time to get a veggie fix. Today’s meal is more about using what is available rather than being creative.

[  SERVES: 4  |  TIME: 20 MINUTES  |  COST: $3  ]
[  JOES’ RATING:  3.5  / 5  |  MY RATING:  4  / 5 ]

Ingredients

500 ml vegetable stock
400 ml can coconut cream
1 onion
½ cup potato
½ cup  sweet potato
½ cup pumpkin
½ cup carrot
½ cup cooked chick peas
½ cup mixed frozen corn and peas
½ cup cauliflower
1 teaspoon red curry paste
½ teaspoon garlic
splash of oil
salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Dice the onion finely. Cut the remaining vegetables into bite size chunks.
  2. Over a medium heat, add a little oil to a frying pan. Add the onion and saute until transparent. Add the garlic and red curry paste, stirring well until fragrant.
  3. Add the potato, sweet potato, carrot, chickpeas, coconut cream and enough stock to cover the vegetables. Cover the frying pan with a lid and saute gently until par cooked. This may take 10 – 15 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining vegetables and top up with stock as needed. Cook until cooked throughout.
  5. Serve hot on a bed of rice.

Observations

  • I really love this style of meal. It has everything you could want, including firm delicious vegetables and nutty brown rice!
  • To prepare the chickpeas, soak the raw dried peas over night in water, refreshing it in the morning. Before use, boil the chickpeas in water for about 10 – 15 minutes until tender.
  • By cooking the dense root vegetables for 20 minutes before adding the softer vegetables, the colour and texture of the soft vegetables is preserved rather than allowing them to dissolve into the sauce.
  • Diabetic Note: As always, the wiser diabetic option would be Basmati rice. If only I could drag myself away from my delicious brown rice… At any rate, this meal is no problem as far as Blood Glucose Levels is concerned.
  • Ethical Note: I do cook this style of meal quite often as a way of using up the veggies still sitting in the crisper at the end of the week. I hate seeing good food go to landfill, so consider making soups and stews like this to avoid waste.
 

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Carrot Sourdough Muffins

I have made this so many times lately that I thought it deserved sharing. They have become a bit of a staple in the house for morning and afternoon tea treats. This is a delicious way of using up your sourdough starter and although it has a lot of elements, it is so easy. It is adapted from a Richard Packham recipe.

[  SERVES: 2  |  TIME: 40 MINUTES  |  COST: $3  ]
[  JOES’ RATING:  4.5  / 5  |  MY RATING:  5  / 5 ]

Ingredients

1½ cup plain flour
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup active sourdough starter
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup raisins
½ cup graduated sugar OR 1 teaspoon stevia
¼ cup butter
¼ cup milk OR soy milk
¼ cup chopped walnuts
1 free ranged egg
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon all spice
¼ teaspoon salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Grate your carrot finely. If you can only use a coarse setting, boil it lightly for a few minutes until its par cooked. Allow it to cool before using it.
  3. In a bowl, cream the butter and the sugar together until it becomes pale. This will take several minutes.
  4. Add the egg and milk and mix well.
  5. Add the starter, flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Incorporate your dry ingredients into the egg mixture gently. Do not overwork the batter.
  6. Gently stir through the carrots, raisins and nuts.
  7. Half fill your muffin papers.
  8. Cook at 180ºC for 16 – 18 minutes.

Observations

  • It is really really important not to over work the batter. If you give it the bare minimum of work, your muffins will be lighter and fluffier. If you use a blender, your muffins will turn into stones. A gentle hand is needed for this one!
  • I use to cook the carrots but now I use finer grated raw carrots and it tastes so much better. Be guided by your grater size / thickness.
  • When baking, put a bowl of water in the oven so it is moist with steam. This will stop your muffins from drying out.
  • There is a fine line with this recipe between deliciously moist to overcooked and dry. Test it with a knife tip or a skewer from 15 minutes and adjust cooking time to suit your oven.
  • I have tried all manner of fruit and nuts in this mixture. I’ve used almonds and macadamia nuts as well as sultanas and cranberries. What I have mentioned in the ingredients list was my favourite combination.
  • Diabetic Note: I use Stevia where possible. It is a natural substance that is sweet without causing a blood glucose reaction. I use Stevia here to replace half a cup of sugar to my benefit without ruining the texture of the muffins. As a result, I can have one or two of these for morning or afternoon tea without feeling too guilty. Certainly it doesn’t seem to upset my BGL too much.
  • Ethical Note:  I found it to be almost impossible to buy Australian walnuts in the supermarket but the health food store had a few options. Where possible, I purchase locally, but sometimes national options are the only possible ethical option.

 

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My Kitchen

I have been watching Masterchef (Australia) since it started up for the season and have been very jealous of all the kitchen / counter space they get to create in. My kitchen is exceptionally tiny. From counter to counter it is just under 6 feet across, and about 3 feet deep. The joys of living in a small flat, I imagine.  I often have several things on the go at once (I am a huge fan of multitasking and cook several meals at once) so I am very conscious of using every square inch of space.

I decided to take you on a tour of my kitchen to share it with you. I have tried to make a panorama of my kitchen for you by mashing a few photos together. Next to the stove on the left is the front door and the right side is the edge of the fridge on the edge of the dining area. As you can see on the window sill, my sourdough, sprouts and kitchen herbs loving the morning light. I have several things in various stage of cooking.

Here are the items to start making my chicken stock. Today I am using chicken wings to make the stock with. The meat will be stripped from the bones and made into a risotto of some variety (Probably chicken and leek) and the stock is made into all manner of food stuffs.

In the portable convection oven I have a loaf of sourdough bread baking. This particular recipe has been a bit of a staple at home for the last week or two and I will share this recipe with you in the next few days so look out for it, sourdough lovers!

Joe works weekends so I like to send him to work with a packed lunch. Roasted vegetables with couscous or rice is one of his favourites. Look for this recipe tomorrow.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Flax Seed Sourdough Bread

This has become my favourite bread. The recipe originally Dr. Ed Wood’s second book, “Classic Sourdoughs : A Home Baker’s Handbook“, but is reprinted on the Sourdough Home.

[  MAKES: 8 – 12 rolls or 1 x 1kg loaf + 4 rolls  |  TIME: 36 hours  |  COST: $4  ]
[  JOES’ RATING: 3.5  / 5  |  MY RATING: 4  / 5 ]

Ingredients

4 – 5 cups white, unbleached flour 2 cups sourdough starter  2 tbsp sunflower seeds ¼ cup flax seeds 1 tbsp poppy seeds ½ cup flax meal 1¼ cups cold water ½ tbsp salt ¼ cup olive oil ¼ cup honey

Method

  1. In a dry warm skillet, toast the sunflower, flax, and poppy seeds until fragrant.
  2. Mix the starter, water, oil and honey together before stirring in the seeds. Add the flax meal and salt, mixing well.
  3. Add the flour one cup at a time until the dough is too thick to stir.
  4. Pour the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until the dough is resilient. The dough is a rather sticky dough, but it’s important not to over-flour the dough.
  5. Once the dough is well kneaded, rest it over night in an oiled bowl, covered with a moist tea towel.
  6. In the morning, deflate the dough, knead briefly, cut and shape into rough loaves or rolls.
  7. Let the dough rest, covered by a moist tea towel, for 30 minutes. Shape into final loaves or rolls.
  8. Let rise, covered, until doubled. This may take up to 18 hours.
  9. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Bake 30 to 45 minutes.

Observations

  • This dough takes time to proof and rest to get good rise. Dont rush the proofing process or you will end up with a heavy flat bread.
  • As we like the heaviness and texture of wholemeal, I use one cup of wholemeal flour in before adding the white flour.
  • Careful not to burn the seeds. If you do scorch them, discard them and start again. Don’t use them or they will taint your dish.
  • Diabetic Note: One or two slices of this doesn’t seem to upset my blood glucose levels too much. The danger for me is to dig in when its hot and super awesome!
  • Ethical Note: Choose quality organic flour for quality bread results. Good for you, and good for the earth.

 

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Stuffed Vegetables

Tonight’s meal is a weird comedy of errors that turned out half decent. The story started 35 years ago in Malta. When I was little, my grandmother would make stuffed marrows. (For the uninitiated, marrows are similar to a zucchini in texture, but are round and mostly hollow.) She would hollow them out and stuff them with pork mince, vegetables, cheese and bread. Sometimes she would even make a soup out of it.

I have been trying for more than 10 years to buy marrows. When I was a child, they were in plentiful supply as my grandfather would grow them in the yard. They are not so easy to source here, and as a result, my desire to emulate my grandmothers master piece has been left on the back burner. Until recently. By chance, I noticed some over sized squash which I think MAY do the trick (kind of). Lets just say that this was error number one.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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