Thursday, 29 January 2015

Kale and ricotta sausage roll recipe

This is a delicious recipe* that I have been tweaking over the past few weeks.  It is a simple and tasty way to use up leafy greens from the garden (we have a lot of kale at the moment!).  It is also a crowd pleaser since young and old tend to like sausage rolls.  You will need about 30 mins to chop the veggies (I tend to do this in advance earlier in the day and pop them in the fridge) and another 15 mins to roll the filling in pastry and put them into the oven.

Kale and ricotta sausage rolls

To make the kale and ricotta rolls you will need:

500g ricotta
1 onion and 2 small cloves garlic diced
4 leaves of kale finely chopped and 1 swiss char leaf (2 cups of green leafy veggies is required - use spinach or another variety if that is what you have. I remove the chunkier stems from the kale)
1/2 cup grated carrot and 1/2 cup of grated zucchini
2 tablespoons of parsley finely chopped
3 sprigs of fresh thyme - remove leaves from stems
1/2 cup bread crumbs
4 Square sheets puff pastry
Tomato chutney (optional)


Grease two baking trays with butter.  Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius.  Fry onion and garlic in a saucepan until soft and translucent and set aside.  Add leafy greens, carrot, zucchini, parsley and thyme to a bowl and stir through ricotta and bread crumbs.  Add onion and garlic and combine through mixture.

Allow the pastry to thaw for about 10 minutes while you mix the filling, then slice each sheet in half, making two rectangles.  Add mixture in a line along the middle of each rectangle (I like to add mixture to each sheet and make sure that I have used it all up) and lift one side and roll. Turn so seam is upward facing and gently seal, possibly using water to help it stick. Roll over the sausage roll and brush the top with egg. Then sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Cut into desired roll sizes (I cut twice to make four rolls from each half of pastry).  Put into the oven for 15 mins or until cooked and golden on top.  Serve with tomato chutney or desired dipping sauce (optional).

*I adapted this recipe from a cook book that I was given at Christmas time, Something for Everyone by Louise Fulton Keats.  This recipe is quite different from the chicken sausage roll recipe by Louise but I wanted to acknowledge where the inspiration came from.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Would you like to use less cling wrap?

Here are a few simple things you can do to quickly reduce your cling wrap use:

Managing leftovers

Cover up bowls or plates with plates or bowls instead of cling wrap. This is very quick way to cover up your food before popping it into the fridge.  It also uses things that you already have (at no cost) so that is always a bonus.

Plate and bowl food covers
I do find bowls and plates can take up a bit of space if left for a few days in the fridge.  For some items it is definitely more practical to use a resealable plastic or glass container.  I recommend stocking up on a few different sizes of re-usable container.  They are easy to find at the supermarket or general household stores.  It may end up being a bit of an outlay to do this but having the right containers on hand makes it easy to store things as you need to.  If you don't want to buy new things then look for alternatives - op shops might have something or empty jars could be used.  If you buy or find a reusable container each week for a couple of months I'm sure you will quickly have enough to manage with little or no need for cling wrap.

A few of the containers that are currently in my fridge

Using the microwave

Basically the same rules apply here as for leftovers.  Use a re-usable plastic (the stronger or more rigid the plastic the lower the likelihood that chemicals may leach from the material into your food) or glass container.  Or simply cover a bowl with a plate and pop it in to cook.  The best part about using alternatives to cling wrap is that you won't have it melting in your food, further reducing the potential for chemicals leaching and entering your body.

Packing lunch

This is not rocket science - re-usable containers come into their element here, especially the flat plastic containers that you get when you order take away meals.  They are the perfect size for a sandwich to fit and not fall apart (that's right - put the sandwich in UNWRAPPED).  Play around with whatever items you like to take.  I tended to take a sandwich and crackers to work most days which fit perfectly in the flatter take away style container.  If I was taking fresh fruit then I would use a taller container (yes, the sandwich was still UNWRAPPED).

Small containers are great for snacks like nuts or sultanas, which are a great pick me up in the afternoon.

For kids lunches you can use the same approach above or if you're worried about things getting messy (since your child might not take the same care that you would) then buy a compartmentalised lunch box for your child.

You can also buy reusable sandwich holders if you can't handle the idea of a naked sandwich.  However, these can become expensive if your dear little one has a habit of losing things.  For those of you that are thrifty (or have loved ones that are) here is a link to a tutorial prepared by the Eco Faeries on how to make your own sandwich wraps at very low cost.

Storing odds and ends in the fridge

I think this is a big saver of cling wrap that you probably don't even think about using.  Do you automatically reach for the wrap when you have used half a tomato or avocado? Or any other vegetable or fruit? Why not put them all (separately or together) into a reusable container? It's faster and more convenient when you are making your next meal since they are all stored in one container for you to grab out.
The vegetable drawer in our fridge

Are you convinced? Can you imagine life without cling wrap? 

I am so used to doing all of the above things that when a visitor pulls cling wrap out of my cupboard I am always surprised to see it there.  If you do want to try some of these ideas then I would love to hear how it goes.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Post-holiday summer gardening with benefits

After a rather busy and bustling visit to the relatives over Christmas and the New Year we have returned to the garden and our pets with a mixture of relief, exhaustion, excitement and apprehension.  Another year begins.  

I have taken eight months off from the part-time work I returned to last June.  Therefore I have time to languish Turtle with attention and at the same time develop my own personal pursuits, such as Lizzing Lightly, my yoga practice and experimenting in the garden, kitchen and beyond.  One of the main projects I want to focus on is the vegetable garden and making it as productive as we can.  I also want to try and use all of the produce we grow in delicious meals. 

We returned to the garden looking quite lush since our house sitter made a big effort to water a lot during the heat wave that hit Perth while we were away.  The kale that I planted a week or two before we left in mid December has flourished.  The celery, which we planted in about September, has also done really well.
Radicchio, kale and celery flourished in the back garden bed while we were away
The baby eggplants are also going really well.  We planted it, along with a capsicum, in the half wine barrel in Paradise Patch at the same time the celery went in and they are a good use of the space. 

Baby eggplant and capsicum plants in the half wine barrel
Unfortunately the capsicums have been struggling a bit so I've been picking them while they are still green.  I think they either have a disease or the sun is baking them so that one side goes all thin and loses it’s structure.  While I’m home I can keep a better eye on them and pick them if they start to turn.  We eat all of the unaffected fruit.

A couple of the eggplants had sat on the plant for too long so the bottom of them was a bit brown (see pictures) but we returned to a pretty impressive crop of 10!

Our harvest of ten baby eggplants
Our heirloom tomatoes have been a disappointment unfortunately.  We have harvested only a few fruit from three of the plants in pots.  Overall I’m extremely pleased that the garden has survived our absence and that we are getting some food upon our return (we were worried that we would miss out!).
The first big summer harvest - a good reward for our efforts
It’s nice to be home again to tend to our plant babies, although the heat is definitely a challenge to work around.

How is your garden faring? Are you also in post holiday recovery mode?

Wishing you a happy start to 2015. 

Lizzing Lightly