Wow it is one of those idyllic mornings, where the clouds are sitting in a thick row, just above the ocean. Nothing is moving outside and the sun is trying to poke through. Fingers crossed today will be a sunny day and hopefully no dreaded cold southerlies that seem to fancy themselves at the train station.
SPRING MARKET GARDEN PLATE
I love to rummage around the fridge, and garden to produce a beautiful plate of nibbles. It doesn’t need a lot of work, just a little imagination. At the moment with lovely spring vegetables, perhaps a few slices of salami, or ham, a quick dip and some fresh artisan market bread. You have a quick, light and impressive lunch or pre-dinner nibbles to graze away on.
6 radishes, couple of leaves
2 cloves garlic
250g Greek yoghurt
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
3 Tablespoon Central Otago Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and cracked pepper
Grate the radishes, and squeeze any excess liquid before adding it to the Greek Yoghurt. Crush the garlic so it is a fine paste. Add it to the yoghurt along with the red wine vinegar, pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, add two tablespoons of olive oil and mix well. It should start to go a pretty baby girl pink, and have a silky, creamy texture. Roughly chop the radish leaves and add to the Tzatziki, taste it and adjust the seasoning if needed. Put into a small serving dish and drizzle over the remaining oil.
1 head broccoli
Sea salt and cracked pepper
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Prepare the broccoli by cutting between the florets, keeping some of the stalk attached. Try to keep them all the same size. Have a bowl of iced water nearby, plunge the broccoli into the boiling water and cook for about 1 minute. Remove immediately and plunge into iced water to stop cooking. Drain once cold and put aside. When ready to use, heat up a fry pan and add the cooked, drained broccoli. Do not add any oil as you won’t the broccoli to brown and go crisp. You don’t need to all parts of the broccoli, it just adds a smoky, nutty flavour an interesting texture (great with cauliflower). Remove from the pan and arrange on a serving plate. Drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil, and a gentle squeeze of the lemon, sprinkle a of sea salt and cracked pepper.
Try a variety of flavours, slice into the desired thickness, either serve natural or grill over the barbecue or try baked in the oven until slightly crisp.
Simply arrange a large mound of salami on the plate next to the broccoli.
To finish off the Market Plate, add the dish of tzatziki, some slices of fresh or toasted bread alongside the salami and broccoli. Enjoy!
This is just one of endless variations you could make from the vast selection at the Farmers Market.
Sun-ripened, sun-sweetened strawberries are finally available at the Otago Farmers Market. With strawberries this good, I recommend keeping it simple and natural. Strawberries and cream is truly one of life’s joys!!
Strawberries, Shortbread and Homemade Crème Fraiche
Cherries would work for this perfect pudding.
1-2 punnets fresh strawberries
Homemade crème fraiche - allow 2 days!
1 cup cream
1 Tablespoon buttermilk
230g butter, softened
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon lemon zest
¼ cup icing sugar
Homemade Crème Fraiche - Add the cream and buttermilk to a pot and heat gently, until blood temperature. Remove immediately from the heat and stir, pour into a clean glass jar with a lid (300ml). Let sit at room temperature for about 12 hours. Then put into the fridge for another 12 or until cold and the cream has thickened. It will last up to 7 days in the refrigerator.
For the shortbread: Cream butter in bowl of electric mixer, with the paddle until soft and fluffy. Add egg yolks, and mix well. Add the sugar, flour, baking powder to the butter mixture and mix until just incorporated and the dough starts to come together.
Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and form into a ball. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours, overnight if possible
Heat oven to 180`C
Remove the dough from freezer, coarsely grate it by hand or I highly recommend using a food processor with the grating disc (so much faster). Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and either draw circles on the paper about the size of a tea cup or use round metal cooking hoops. You need to place enough mixture to loosely cover the surface. Do not be tempted to pat the mixture down, and don’t put too much on either as it does rise a little.
Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. As soon as you remove them from the oven, dust them generously with icing sugar. Cool.
To assemble: Top and tail some strawberries, arrange 1 or 2 shortbread's on the plate, add a generous amount of strawberries and a large dollop of your homemade crème fraiche (you may find yourself needing more).
This is simplicity at its best….
You could use strawberries just as well for this.
115g finest-quality dark chocolate
6 tbsp water
500g ripe, flawless cherries with stalks
Break up the chocolate into small pieces and carefully melt it in a bain marie with the water and sugar, whisking to make sure everything is well mixed.
When the chocolate has melted, either divide it between four suitable receptacles, one for each eater, or put it all in a single bowl in the middle of the table, as for a fondue. Then dip the cherries into the chocolate and swing them into the mouth. Messy, but marvellous.