25 Jan 2014

what i ate on my summer holidays


Summertime, and the living is easy … which means nothing fancy happened in the kitchen at all. I avoided anything that required a recipe, and instead took my cues from what was literally on my doorstep. Isn’t it lovely being able to wander into the garden and pick a handful of peas and beans for lunch or dinner? Then sit in the garden or at the kitchen bench, something nice and tinkly playing on the radio, a cool drink to hand, podding the broad beans or greenfeast peas in a leisurely manner, then tossing the lot into a steamer basket. I adore being that immediately connected to my garden and my produce — zero air miles; more like only a dozen steps — and it happens best over my summer holidays.

As I said, I didn’t follow any recipes, but cookbooks and meals out inspired me. For example, a late lunch at the Taste with my friend F led to a string of lunches at home featuring soft Turkish breadrolls stuffed with lettuce, mum’s homemade plum chutney, and great slices of salty squeaky chewy fried haloumi. You might not think that’s very flash, but it’s a bit more effort than I usually go to on my weekend lunchtimes!


Another source of inspiration? Here’s a pic I’ve had tucked in my Hugh ‘River Cottage Veg Every Day’ book for forever:


Doesn’t that look so fresh and green and simple? Well, I finally got around to making something like it, using some steamed kipfler potatoes (I’m already achieving my resolutions!), green beans from my garden, some capers and spring onions. And since I have great swathes of parsley that need to be conquered, parsley pesto (though I never follow the recipe anymore, I just cram the ingredients into my food processor and go). Delicious.



That’s mostly how I like to eat in the summertime, mixing cooked veg with salad greens and maybe something substantial like those tender potatoes or cannellini beans, or even some wholemeal penne for a change. A warm weather version of my MONA salad, using zucchini and beans and peas instead of wintery root veg. 



It seems I like my greens a lot.
 
The fanciest I got was making cauliflower rice. Have you tried it yet? Blitz cauliflower florets in your food processor until it resembles rice or couscous, then cook it and serve it just as you would rice or couscous. You could steam it, but I sautéed mine with a little olive oil, onion and garlic, and white wine – as if you were doing the initial steps for a risotto. Just like roasted cauliflower (which I love), this method brings a nuttiness to the cauli which is divine. Stir thru other veg and drizzle with some walnut oil (my new favourite condiment, and it really matches that toasty flavour of the sautéed cauli) and some lemon juice for zing, and you have a big healthy flavoursome meal.

 
I’m back at work now but still trying to hang onto the easy way of cooking meals and enjoying the summer produce (and eating outside whenever the weather is lovely). How do you eat and cook during your summer holidays?

20 comments:

  1. This all looks like delicious, wholesome food e, happy summer cooking to you. We avoid cooking anything that requires too much heat or a long cooking time when it is hot. Although our outdoor wood oven is a great way of keeping the heat out of our actual kitchen!

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    1. hi jane - sorry (everyone) for late reply. was outside enjoying the nice weather over the australia day weekend!
      i agree that oven cooking is great in hot weather, as you can get out of the kitchen while the oven does all the hot work. and an outdoor wood one like yours would be even better!

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  2. Your meals look so green, healthy, and delicious! For me, salads are great for those hot summer days.

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    1. i agree, leaf, though i like tomatoes in my salads and the tomatoes are still green on the vine here at the moment! they seem very late this year.

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  3. That's twice in one week that i've heard "cauliflower rice" mentioned. I do love cauli, so will have to give it a go. I hope your summertime (non) cooking is continuing, e. Sounds like a good plan.

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    1. hello FS! perhaps cauliflower rice is the new quinoa :-) or just a fancy way of getting us to eat more of this underrated vegie.

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  4. I love the freshness of the meals you have prepared... and how wonderful to just step outside into your garden to gather your 'groceries'. I wish my Peter would eat capers. I love them so and they do add a depth of flavour that is quite exquisite. Rachel should indeed try the cauliflower rice... isn't it great?!

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    1. lizzy, harvesting and cooking such fresh meals is a treat i never take for granted.
      and the zinginess of capers is such that you can't sneak them in to a meal and hope peter won't notice them... oh dear!
      for something so simple, cauli rice is amazing, especially (i think) when sauteed. we're onto something here!

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  5. Hugh would be proud. Well done.

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    1. :-) thank you louise! what a thought.

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  6. Yum...your dishes look fresh and delicious. I especially love the thought of picking fresh from the garden. (I am secretly jealous) I also enjoy experimenting with flavours and finding the right balance. Though I tend to eat too much along the way. :)

    Lately I have been experimenting with salads too by tossing in a small tin of 4 bean mix (well drained) with either a small amount of finely diced artichoke hearts or sundried tomatoes.

    Yesterday I made my Summer Sauce which is basically fresh baked tomatoes, garlic and basil based for my daughter' friend. I love introducing teenagers to new flavours. I then made a bread and butter pudding and it was a hit! Ooh, I also bought some Saffron so might try a saffron rice soon.

    Summer is here and we are having fun!

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    1. how could B&B pudding NOT be a hit? even this hot weather... it would be squidgily rich served the next day, fridge-cold. yum.
      i love the sound of your summer sauce - all my tomatoes are green on the bushes still, so i'm nowhere near having thick tomato slices on toast with basil (a fave summer meal) let alone enough to cook up. i love those simpler summer tomato sauces.
      yay for summer!

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  7. Delicious. I too am a fan of RC and HFW and Veg Everyday is one of my favourite books. That and the Meat Book. (They are either poles apart or a marriage made in heaven. I'm not quite sure which.) I definitely have to try cauliflower rice now - sounds awesome!

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    1. ha, you just made me chuckle, bek!
      go the cauli rice - hope everyone likes it now. but if you like cauli - or even if you're indifferent - i think you'll enjoy this cooking method. whenever i have made it, i think it is both filling and incredibly light - good at this time of year.

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  8. It's so hot here, I'm avoiding the kitchen as much as I can! But I love all your pesto dishes e! And need to go hunt some halloumi, not easy to find in these latitudes.

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    1. hi paula. once again you surprise me, with what you do and don't have available in your part of the workd (ugh, that sounds horribly judgmental but is not meant to be). i'm sure haloumi was a bit of a special deli-only thing here until recently. but it's worth the hunt, paula!

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  9. Right, I'm going to run out and buy a cauliflower and give cauliflower rice a go. I will also try to find the Veg recipe book at the library. I love summer salad meals too. We often eat a rustic version of nicoise salad - just steamed potato tossed in garlic mayo, soft boiled eggs, divine local hot smoked salmon and all the greens we can muster from the fridge. I am slowly starting to get more adventurous with a salad, moving on from the basic green-with-chunks-of-tomato-and-capsicum boring variety..

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    1. oooh, jo you have reminded me i have a funnyversion of nicoise mad with brown rice that always looks so substantial and nutty, i must try it once i get ripe tomatoes.
      there's a whole world of exciting salads out there for you to try, jo!

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  10. Love all of these! And the cauliflower trick is on my must try list from now. Our lunches are very basic (with a two and a four year old they have to be), but we do like what we call a scrogan bowl - which is just cut up fruit, veg, salad items, some cheese and maybe some ham, all in little piles in a bowl (nothing mixes!!). Otherwise it's sandwiches or eggs. But I do do very simple, summer inspired dinners like pasta with feta cherry tomatoes and zucchini (from the garden),

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    1. simplicity is best during the sumemr heat, no matter what your age! 'scrogan' - i've never heard of that word, barbara!!

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I've had to turn word-verification back on - the robot-spammers are loving my orange pudding too much at the moment! I hope you understand - and I hope you'll still leave a comment at Dig In. I love hearing your thoughts, knowing someone is reading, and will always reply. Unless you're a robot-spammer.