Almond pesto- Frugal Friday


Pesto is one of those dead easy, whiz it up and away you go kind of meals. The only thing that stops me is pine nuts. Yes, I love them, they are delicious. However I can’t source any local ones and they are really quite expensive. Swapping the pine nuts to a cheaper and more local nut works just as well though.

I’ve made it with pecans, walnuts before and for this one it was almonds. Blitzing whole almonds in a blender (skins on) then adding 2 bunches of fresh basil, some grated parmesan and some great local olive oil. It’s an accompaniment to lots of dishes. It never lasts long in this house, but this amount will give a good sized jar, which I just top up with some extra olive oil, and then keep it in the fridge.

Eat it stirred through pasta, a little chopped up chilli and extra parmesan.

Mixed with rice, baby spinach, and crumbled fetta.

Or simply on some toasted sourdough, bruschetta style.

What’s in season Sydney?

Wandering through the Eveleigh farmers markets at Carriageworks last weekend, I was tickled pink by all the gorgeous produce that’s in season at the moment. (Speaking of pink, the pink lady apples have been delicious lately.) I was here wandering with a foodie friend, a friend who understands the subtle delight of an amazing mushroom and some locally produced olive oil. The morning was ours and wander we did.

I’d been meaning to come here for quite a while. I’d been impressed by the artisan markets on a Sunday but had yet to open my reusable shopping bag at these ones. So with a skip in my feet and coins in my pockets, we set forth.

I was also on the hunt for the Slow Food Sydney Seasonal Food Guide. Only a few people were selling them around Sydney, and I wanted one. I felt like I had been doing better with knowing what was in season, but I could still do with knowing more.

I was happy to see the smiling faces of the girls from The Little General with a stall. I had met them at the Masterchef Live foodie festival last year and had taken home some of their gorgeous extra virgin olive oil. I’m a big fan of olive oil. It’s such a simple thing that can really make any dish. Along with the prices, the differences in extra virgin olive oil tastes are huge. If you haven’t had any locally produced fresh extra virgin oil, dunked with a little crusty sourdough and perhaps a little taste of chevre… I’d suggest hopping to it. Skip the big brand imported stuff that’s on sale, (it’s probably on sale for a good reason.)

The swiss mushrooms have also been delicious. Not a week has gone by that I haven’t found a bag of good mushrooms skipping their way home. Don’t waste your time with the tasteless supermarket ones. There is no taste comparison…none.

Potatoes. Why, oh why did it take me so long to discover the wonderful world of potatoes? I’d dismissed them as a nothing vegetable long ago. Then last year I started getting Foodconnect boxes and in it were different types of potatoes. Truly a revelation. These weren’t tasteless boring, chunks of bland. Instead, little wonderous dirt covered beings and here before me was the stall that showed all those potatoes in their true glory. Toss me a potato, and get me to tell you the name and I wouldn’t have a clue, not a tooting clue though. So with that in mind, I asked for a mixed bag, (as I couldn’t decide which ones were more alluring.) Round ones, long ones, purple ones, yellow ones…

Knowing that the potatoes were grown just a hop skip and a jump away made them even more appealing. Highland Gourmet Potatoes is a family run business located in Robertson, Southern Highlands.  Sydney has two potato seasons a year, (I now know this, as I found the seasonal guide!)

saphire potato

Broccoli is one of the seasonal goodies that I can’t get enough of at the moment. Along with gai lum (chinese broccoli), kale, swiss mushrooms and pink ladies (although they are coming to an end) they have all been making regular encore presentations to the family table. Give me a plate full of broccoli cooked up with a little garlic and olive oil (The Little General), and I’m a happy woman.

and the best thing about going to somewhere like this with a foodie friend, is that you get to sample twice as much.


Eveleigh Farmers Markets

every Saturday


A foodie gathering

What to do when a friend says I have free tickets to a foodie event, would you like to come on Sunday?….Hmmmm, let me think about that. Yes! Food and free ticket. Doesn’t get much better.

What are we seeing?

Master Chef Live. Billed as a live theatre and cooking festival, running over 3 days in December, it’s the first time the reality TV series has branched out in to this sort of thing. With cooking demonstrations, an extensive list of top Australian Chefs, junior master chef, hands on cooking classes and more food samples from producers than is possible for one City Hippy Farm Girl’s tummy. I have to say it was fun!

Some stand outs of the day were.

Brasserie Breads (top picture) 25 minute lesson on sourdough making. I have long wanted to do one of their classes and it just hasn’t happened for various reasons. Now, I’m not sure that I need to. I was able to get lots of little tips in that condensed lesson, that I am as ‘keen as mustard’ to try out when making my next batch of sourdoughs.

Geoff Hudson from The Italian Gardener (Italian vegetable and herb seed from Franchi Sementi, est 1783), was a likeable and knowledgable fella that just makes you want to go stick your fingers in some dirt and start gardening. Specialising in heirloom varieties from Italy, he had a vast array of seeds that made me yearn for a garden even more…one day, one day. (The website has an extensive selection of Italian vegetable treasures, along with an organic section.) In the mean time I am going to try my hand at a few chillies in a pot and I couldn’t resist buying some tomato seeds that may find their way down to my mother’s garden. (With a few fruit firmly set aside for me!)

The Little General was selling some knock out olive oils. Sam Mancini (on left) is the one pictured on the great looking bottles as a two year old. As a kid, The Little General was what he was affectionately known as. Locally produced and based in Griffith, in the Riverina area. This is a family run business that seems to be doing some great things with their olive crops, as this olive oil really was a delicious drop. I couldn’t resist buying a bottle as it was begging for some home made sourdough to be dunked in it…dunk me, dunk me.

There were two other stand outs of the day. One them being Rochester Ginger, a non- alcoholic ginger drink that came in two flavours, or two levels of gingery deliciousness. So I was quite happy to find out that one of their stockists was just local to me. I think this particular one may find itself being drunk quite a bit over Christmas, I do love anything with a hint of ginger.

Mayfield Chocolates is quite possibly the best chocolate I have tasted in quite awhile. Incorporating some distinctly Australian flavours in these tasty little numbers such as, Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey, Macadamia, Lemon Myrtle, Wattleseed, QLD Rum, and Kakadu Plum. An Australian company that is based out of Brisbane. If you live in the surrounding areas good luck trying to stay away from these once you have had a taste. Lucky for me, I don’t live in the area, (and for now I will ignore the fact that they have a n Express Post Trackable postage option….it’s for the best.

A lovely day out that introduced me to some great local products that I didn’t know about. Time to sample a lovely array of tasty delectables. A chance to listen to some top Aussie chef’s speak about things they are passionate about and pass on some handy cooking tips. To also watch a master baker pass on his skill and knowledge with sourdough, (and you know that’s where my heart lies…deeply embedded in sourdough.)