Cauliflower Curry- Frugal Friday

cauliflower || cityhippyfarmgirlcauliflower curry || cityhippyfarmgirl

The good thing about having a blog is that you can see how you have changed over time. Looking back on your words, thoughts, photos and certainly for me, my recipes. Sometimes I feel those recipes need a little shake up.

Now come winter time, this dish (or a variation of it) often turns up on our dinner table. It’s easy, it’s seasonal, it’s super frugal and it deserved a better picture than this one from three years ago.

easy cauliflower curry recipe || cityhippyfarmgirl

 Cauliflower Curry

1/2 a large head of cauliflower

3 potatoes

3 sticks of celery

6 cloves of garlic

1 finely chopped onion

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp curry powder ( a bit old school, but I like it)

400mls coconut milk

Dry fry the spices, onion, garlic (fresh chilli if you are feeling bold) and celery in a little vegetable oil. When they smell delicious, add the coconut milk. Let it simmer for a bit and then add your potatoes and cauliflower. Pop the lid of the pot on and cook it until they are as soft as you like.

curry

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Ricotta Pasta- Frugal Friday

ricotta pasta- cityhippyfarmgirl

pasta- cityhippyfarmgirl

The secret to this dish is quality ingredients in the pasta and the ricotta. Pay that little bit more or even better make your own of both.

Super quick, easy and frugal for a Friday.

Ricotta Pasta

cook up some great pasta

stir through some excellent ricotta

in a pot add some

local garlic and olive oil

quickly stir through some

frozen peas or if you are lucky, fresh ones

pop that on top of your pasta

and roughly rip some garden mint on top

and eat with gusto.

frugal-friday-pasta || cityhippyfarmgirl

simple, everyday sourdough

 cityhippyfarmgirl

cityhippyfarmgirl cityhippyfarmgirl

I’m often asked for a basic sourdough recipe and for some reason I have never done a post that is just simply that. A simple, every day sourdough bread recipe.

Bit of an over sight really as so much of this blog is designated to bread. After three years, I still find making sourdough an incredibly enjoyable experience.

I like to make it, I like to eat it and I like seeing other people start on their own sourdough journey. The contagious excitement of when a first bubble appears of a newly made starter. The shared joy of an exceptionally tasty freshly baked loaf. The jump up and down happy feeling of a new mixer arriving. The relief and happiness of hearing that one of your recipes have been used and loved and now in turn as been passed on to someone else.

I tell you, it’s true bread nerd stuff, but I love it, I really do.

For anyone that has vaguely considered making their own bread and they would like to give sourdough a crack, this recipe might be helpful to start off with.

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If you don’t have a starter here is post on how to make one.

Or if sourdough seems far too daunting at the moment and you would really just rather try making some regular bread, this post here.

Basic Sourdough Bread

400g starter (100% hydration, refreshed and bubbling)

750g flour

500mls water (approx- depends on your starter and flour)

2 tsp salt (or to taste)

Mix your starter, flour and water together either in a mixer or in a bowl with a spoon. Mixing for about 6 minutes. The dough will be kind of rough and shaggy.

Now leave it. Go find something else to do for about 40 minutes. (Bread magic is beginning…or autolysing but bread magic sounds better. You are developing the gluten here.)

Add your salt and mix again for about another 6 minutes or if by hand until you get a smooth dough.

Put it back in the bowl and leave it for about an hour.

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Now you need to do a three way fold. It will take about twenty seconds, (and you are not kneading.) Dough out on to the bench. Flatten a little with your finger tips and fold a third into the middle, then the other third. Swing it round 90 degrees and three way fold the other way.

Back in the bowl for another hour or so, another three way fold, and then back into the bowl again for another hour or so.

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Divide your dough up and shape it. Laying it on lined trays, banetton baskets or tins, cover it with a plastic bag and into the fridge for an over night nap (around 12 hours.) Bring it back to room temperature. (Depends on the household temperature 1-4 hours generally.)

Bake at 230C with steam, (I use a cheap spray bottle of water inserted in to a crack of the oven door when first putting the loaves in.)

Bread is baked when tapped and sounds hollow. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

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Now there 100 types of different ways to make sourdough and each baker will always have there own little tricks and ways to do things. Sourdough is an amazingly versatile beast, that can work in far more ways than regular commercial yeast made bread. There is never a right way or wrong way in my mind. If the end result is an edible loaf of bread that people are enjoying eating, well your way works. Taste buds and preferences can always be catered for as it’s your bread and you can do what you want. As long as you start off with three keys things- flour, water and salt- combine that with time, a little love and you’re in business…the sourdough world awaits.

Happy baking.

Jazzing up your dinner with Pangritata- Frugal Friday

cityhippyfarmgirl

cityhippyfarmgirlPoor man’s parmesan it’s called but eating it, I feel anything but poor.

crunch, crunch, crunch….

 Like any good peasant food, it’s cheap, frugal, uses up what’s available and is rather versatile in jazzing up the most basic of meals.

crunch, crunch, crunch….

You can team it up with what ever you have on hand, looking good at your local farmers market, or getting flaccid in your fridge.. For me, it’s usually some seasonal green vegetables and maybe a little fetta to bump up the protein. (The pictured one was zucchini, peas, and leek.)

Really the possibilities are endless. Just the thing for Frugal Friday.

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Pangritata

In a frying pan add some

Stale bread crumbs (I use the ends of my sourdough loaves, and pulse them in a blender until crumb like.)

Add a couple of slugs of olive oil

a clove of crushed local garlic

zest of an organic lemon

some finely chopped fresh chilli

and some salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly fry it up until golden, (or alternatively bake it on a tray if you have the space in your oven while cooking something else.)

I make a whole big batch and just keep it in the fridge. No idea how long it keeps as it never lasts that long round these parts.

Give it a crack.

the vegetable that everyone forgot- Frugal Friday

Cauliflower.

Remember that one? It’s got a bad rep, as the tastless tree like cousin of broccoli. It’s not though.

In season now, it’s cheap, tasty and adaptable to oodles of dishes… just right for Frugal Friday.

Cauliflower and Potato Soup

A splash of olive oil

Half a head of cauliflower

One large zucchini

Six small dutch cream or kipfler potatoes (the waxy kind)*

One cube vegetable stock (or your own if you have it)

water

Cook it up until soft. Then blitz it up with a hand held blender. Serve with a scattering of lightly fried sourdough breadcrumbs, for some textural crunch.

* Remember all potatoes are not created equal. A good potato can be the making of your dish.

Basmati Kale- Frugal Friday

Kale is something that has been sneaking into more and more of my cooking lately. It’s an easy one to chop up and quickly cook, provided you are not using the stalks which can take a little longer. (It’s also known as tuscan kale or cavolo nero.)

I find it a subtle taste, which somehow quite often gets by The Monkeys.  They seem to ignore the obvious green foliage in their dinner and any time that happens I’m certainly up for making the dish again. Being a dark leafy green it’s also loaded with all things exceptionally good for you.

The leaves cook up quickly like spinach or silverbeet, in a wilty kind of fashion that doesn’t require a whole lot of stove time. Perfect for a Frugal Friday dinner.

I used my flat bottomed wok with this little number because, 1/ I’m addicted to using the thing and 2/….actually there is no two. I just really like using the flat bottomed wok. Easily done in a regular pot though.

Basmati Kale

A couple of slurps of olive oil in the pan

add some diced garlic

the chopped kale leaves

and some basmati rice

cover the rice and kale mixture with water until it’s just over the top

add a good couple of shakes of dried cumin, coriander, (don’t be shy) and salt to taste

pop the lid on

keep a beady eye on the pot, add some more water to the top of the rice mixture when it’s all absorbed

give it a stir around and pop that lid on again

when the water has disappeared again, check to see rice is juuussst about cooked

turn hot plate off and leave the lid on for 5-ish minutes (it’s still doing it’s thing)

serve with natural yogurt or fetta and some local nuts*

for a vegan option just drizzle with extra olive oil and local nuts

and a dusting of dried chilli if you like a kick in the pants.

* I used pecan halves here. Pine nuts, walnuts, cashews etc. would all taste great though. Use what ever you can get that is grown locally. Alternatively try your local bar at closing time on a Saturday night… local nuts a plenty, (although not so great on top of your kale.)

the humble crumble, and a little bit on what I think…

I’ve waffled along on a few other people’s blogs recently about a few things food related. Things that I have felt are important, and before I know it my fingers have typed out half an essay. Rather than completely taking over someones comment sections saying what I think I’m going to try to rustle up a few brain cells and see if I can form an opinion here on my own blog.

Here’s a little snippet of what I think…

(Scroll down to the bottom if you want to skip the soap box waffling and go straight to the crumble.)

* I think it makes sense to eat seasonally.

* I think it makes sense to try and get a lot of your foods as locally as you can, (if you can).

* I think it makes wonderful sense to know what you are eating, and where it came from.

* I think it makes a huge amount of sense to know how to cook.

You don’t have to be cooking like a chef, but a little cooking knowledge can go a long way. You need to eat, so maybe you need to cook. Seeing pre-cooked rice, and avocado in a tube in the supermarket makes me sigh. Is this becoming our normal? Cooking rice, surely is no more difficult than learning to tie your own shoelaces, (maybe not at the same age.) It’s tricky to begin with, gauging the right way to do it, but then with a little practice it becomes second nature and you just do it.

Why do people say they can’t cook? This brings up so many questions in my mind. Is it because they have no interest in it or are daunted by being in the kitchen? If kids were brought up watching other adults go about preparing evening meals, I think it becomes second nature and an almost default setting for them. Here, stir this pot while I chop this. Turn it off when you see bubbles. Do this enough times and without even noticing you child has just absorbed some valuable cooking experience. Maybe that experience won’t be drawn upon completely while they are still living at home and busy being an insufferable teenager, but that experience will be invaluable when it’s time to move out. (No need to buy pre-cooked rice and avocado in tubes then.)

It’s never too late to learn to cook. My grandfather in his late 70’s started to cook, and I’m really proud that he has taken that on. Not out of necessity, as my grandmother still produces the majority of the meals, but out of interest. A school fundraising cookbook landed on his lap, and something in the bottom of his belly was ignited. He started to bake. Under the watchful eye of my grandmother, he starting producing snacks and meals and getting an obvious enjoyment from it. I think he also cottoned on to the fact that if he cooked, he could cater things to his own taste buds and not what someone else wanted him to eat. Sweeties!

Simple cooking doesn’t have to be tasteless. I’m sure some of my most stand out meals have been the ones with the least ingredients. Zucchini quickly cooked in some diced local garlic and olive oil, with a little sourdough on the side and I’m a happy woman. For a lot of lucky people there is an amazing amount of choice of foods out there. Simple doesn’t have to mean an un-interesting diet.  Olive oil, garlic, asian/middle eastern style spices, and legumes can be cheap and all help in making a meal mind blowing within minutes. Choice is a wonderful thing. I really value the fact that I have food choice and I don’t want to feel indifferent about those choices.

Celebrity and competitive cooking shows aren’t a bad thing. In prime time television in every corner of the globe there is probably a cooking programme going on. A lot of people have embraced the celebrity chef and televised cooking competitions. If this encourages people to cook, to jump off the couch and head towards the kitchen, surely it can’t be a bad thing.  A celebrity chef as a pin-up idol seems to be a much nicer alternative to some C grade celebrity famous for being famous. If I had a tween, I would much rather posters of Jamie Oliver on the wall than ….some toad who just got arrested again. There will always be some negative things to watching these programmes, but I really think the postitives far out way. I’ll take watching and learning how to cook a souffle over another dead body in CSI something or other any day.

Knowing where your food comes from, brings a sense of value. I love knowing where my food comes from if I can manage it. When ever a meal is produced from either making it myself or buying the ingredients from a producer I have met or know something of… pickle me in ginger if I don’t feel warm and fuzzy from it. I’ll be more inclined to eat in moderation and be mindful of how it tastes. Mouthfuls aren’t being thrown back willy nilly without a backwards glance to the plate.  If I’ve just spent 2 days making that sourdough, I’m damn sure I’m going to appreciate every crumb of it. I’m really proud to be able to produce something tasty to go on the family table. I have a lovely memory of the first time Monkey Boy helped out making dinner. The pride he had, and the joy he got in telling Mr Chocolate, “I made that…isn’t it delicious!”

Knowing how to cook helps with staying on a budget. Knowing how to cook and stretch the ingredients that I have, has taken time and practice, (and still with much more learning to go.) Knowing how to cook gives you cooking options. Cooking to a budget, also makes you resourceful with ingredients. I’m sure that as a family unit we are spending less on food now than when Mr Chocolate and I were Monkey-less. It bugs me serving up the same meal for 3 consecutive nights, I lose interest and so do The Monkeys…But, I do get a kick out of ‘upcycling’ the meal into something else.

Bolognese- to mexican beans- to huevos rancheros

Left over rice- to bread

Dhal- to lentil burgers

Porridge- to sourdough oat bread

I also get a huge kick out of being able to preserve the seasons. Jams, chutneys, marmalades are staples and used daily in our family eating habits. Jams are used to sweeten homemade yogurt, marmalades to jazz up toast and chutneys to take a simple dinner to another level. In time to come, (with more space and more access to produce) I would love to have preserved fruits, tomato sauces, passatas and other goodies all lining my cupboards, but for the moment I’m happy with what I am doing. They aren’t tricky, and it saves us money. Oodles of it, I’m sure.

Having my own vegetable garden would be lovely, but… I can’t grow more than a few token extras where I am. So, by choosing to buy from local farmers markets, or using CSA boxes when ever I can, (and it’s convenient) it helps with buying locally, eating fresher and knowing what’s in season. When I shop at the local fruit and vegetable shop or supermarket, yes, it’s convenient by being all in the one spot, but I wouldn’t have a clue whats in season. Not a tooting clue.

The internet is full of recipes. Lots of them. You can learn how to make just about anything you could possibly imagine at the click of a button, and this I think is rather lovely.

So tell me…  what do you think? Everything up for discussion if you have the time and the inclination…

The Humble Crumble

There are so many variations on the humble crumble. It can be a quick an easy dessert stand by, and without it in my life there would be a huge crumbly hole.

The quickest and most basic way I have found is to…. melt 100gms butter. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar, and then add one cup of plain flour. Fork it through so it resembles bread crumbs and then lay it on what ever seasonal fruit you have.  Chopped fresh plums, cooked apples, mixed berries….endless possibilities. It can go in single ramekins, a large deep dish, a low flat dish, an oven proof pot. What ever you have that is bakeproof is fine. Fruit in and crumble mixture on top. From those three topping ingredients you can build. Additions of oats, lemon zest, ginger, coriander, vanilla, almond meal, make it cake-like, crispy, cobbler-esque…

So many combinations of deliciousness! Then bake it all at 180C, until golden.

sweet potato dhal- frugal Friday

Dhal

Cheap to make. Healthy to eat. And tasty.

There is a lot to like about dhal. I use red lentils as they cook pretty quickly and they are an easy one to get by The Monkeys (on a good day.)

I will make a very basic dhal and then dress it up with what ever I have going. This week was served with some basmati rice, a dollop of natural yogurt, a spoonful of tomato chutney and some fresh chopped cucumber/ tomato. Use what ever you have though…some chilli for a kick in the pants is always good too.

Sweet Potato Dhal

In a pot add

2 good slurps of vegetable oil

a diced brown onion

3 cloves diced garlic

an inch of fresh diced ginger

a couple of shakes of

cumin

coriander

tumeric

brown mustard seeds (if you have them, I didn’t for this one)

fry until smells deliciously fragrant

add 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils

2 cups of water

stir it round and pop the lid on, (at a medium heat)

chop up your

sweet potato

and whack that in the pot, along with another

2 cups of water

salt to taste

stick the lid on and keep the temperature on low until the the lentils have cooked themselves soft and the sweet potato* is cooked through.

You can use any vegetable that is seasonal. I’ll quite often use pumpkin, sweet potato or silverbeet.

Pasta Frittata- Frugal Friday

Pasta frittata. So darn tooting easy, it’s not funny.

About 5 minutes before you want to eat dinner. Get that left over cooked pasta out of the fridge. Depending on how much pasta is there, add a few eggs. Use a fork to mix it through, you want the pasta well coated. In a thick bottomed frying pan add a good couple of slurps of olive oil, then pop in your egg pasta. Spread it round until it’s even, whack the lid on, medium heat and it’s ready when there is no runny bits of egg.

Too easy.

Want a bit more taste to it? Add any cooked vegetables that are also lingering in the fridge, (garlic roasted vegetables, steamed broccoli, garlicky zucchini etc). What ever you’ve got, stick it in with the pasta and egg mixture, and pop that lid on.

Or keep it plain, and serve with a seasonal salad.

As this is a very budget friendly, minimal effort, easy peasy, healthy kinda dinner. It will leave ample room to savour the Chocolate Brandy Layer Cake for later.

Buon Appetito.

sweet potato leaves, it’s Frugal Friday

Sweet potato leaves have come up a few times in my Foodconnect box. At first (along with my red amaranth) I didn’t know what to do with it. A little playing though and another healthy leafy green vegetable to add to my growing list of all things good.

Now what to do with it?

It cooks up similarly to regular spinach, quickly and in a wilty kind of fashion. I used it here with potatoes, as I seem to have discovered there are good potatoes to be had in this world. Who knew!

In my trusty flat bottomed wok, (or use any old pot).

I added 2 good slurps of olive oil

an onion and diced garlic

pop in some already cooked chopped potatoes

give it a one two

add some sliced capsicum (peppers)

and the plucked whole sweet potato leaves

wilt it all on down for a minute or two

serve and drizzle with a little extra olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.