Thursday, July 23, 2009
You can tell a lot about a person by the type of eggs that are sitting in their fridge.
Are they free range? SPCA approved? Organic or barn raised, battery/cage? Or, these days, even vegetarian (funny, I had always though that chickens ate a diet of grains and cereals but when you think about it, free-range chooks eat worms, insects and other small creatures in their habitat).
Mass-farmed chickens will also be fed certain amounts of fishmeal, bone meal or animal byproducts (don't ask too many questions), so it all depends on what side of the chook yard you sit.
New Zealand exports more than 2 million free range eggs a year and has just developed a technique to differentiate free range eggs from cage eggs by using isotope analysis, ie the difference in the carbon and nitrogen found in the hens' diet which makes up the isotope fingerprint of the egg let's keep it simple.
Now this is really interesting stuff because we will soon be able to buy a gadget that sits on our kitchen bench, which we can use to test our eggs, green for free range eggs and blue for battery or cage eggs.
This will be extremely useful and will sit beside the other great kitchen inventions of the 21st century, including the pizza scissors (for cutting the perfect pizza slice), the frozen ice tray smiles (yes, they do look like granddad's dentures in your glass) and the portable toaster (that fits in your handbag).
Yes, I do look forward to the day that my kitchen bench has in place an egg isotope analysis machine. Until then I will just have to keep buying my eggs from my trusted local egg man whom I look in the eye each week when handing over my cash, whom I know produces the best eggs a chicken can lay, whose reputation relies on good old person-to-person contact that can only be done by buying direct from a trusted food producer.
Try this, the perfect skiing breakfast, for when a hard day on the slopes requires a protein-packed start to the day:
6 eggs, well beaten
2 cups milk
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
6 slices cubed wheat bread
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (grated)
Chopped meat or veges (optional)
Spray an ovenproof pan well with oil. Lay cubed bread in the pan and any meat or veges you like. Add egg mixture, then sprinkle cheese over egg. Cover casserole and place overnight in the fridge. Bake covered at 350 degrees Celsius for 45min, then 10min uncovered.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
When you start scratching the surface of what is in your back yard you come across some hidden talents, and that was the case last week at our monthly slow food event.
Our group of intrepid Marlborough Slow Food foodies were privileged to visit Uncle Joe's hazelnut and walnut factory (I won't even mention that they won Oil of the Show Canterbury two years in a row or a top 10 Artisan Cuisine Award) and Annies Marlborough, followed by a hot glass of mulled wine at the Grovetown Country Hotel.
While I knew that squirrels hoarded nuts over the winter, I had no idea that Malcolm and Jenny's Uncle Joe's orchard would produce such a multitude of nuts, and that their gathering skills would see them become the caretakers for many tonnes of nuts in their Grovetown premises, for eating and cooking as well as for processing into walnut and hazelnut oils and pastes.
The fact that Uncle Joe himself is the legend that sat around the fire cracking nuts with a hand cracker conjures up product integrity.
Leaving the warmth of the nuttery, we travelled in convoy to Annies, where Graeme Giles, enthusiastic as ever, talked to our group about the highs and lows of his business as well demystifying the human digestive system.
After 20 years of Annies products and establishing the standard for healthy fruit bars around the world, there is not much that they have not encountered, and it makes you wonder, where to next?
Well, if you know Graham, he is already looking at the next mountain to climb (which is really no different to selling into international supermarket chains do it one step at a time).
It was time for our group to move on to our last location, the Grovetown Country Hotel. Here we were met by the publican and a hot brew of mulled wine that ended an informative and interesting tour of all things foodie in Grovetown. It never ceases to amaze me what is in Marlborough's backyard.
I am now in Palmerston North. Here is another community in New Zealand looking for information on how to establish a successful farmers' market and food network in its backyard. I wonder what its people will uncover when they start scratching the surface in their region.
Recipes from Uncle Joe's:
MERINGUE FRUIT CAKE
5 large eggs, separated
Cup caster sugar
250gm Uncle Joe's sliced hazelnuts
125g best-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
250g dried apricots, sliced
125g fresh dates, stoned, chopped
Icing sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 120 degrees Celsius. Line a 24cm-diameter cake tin with baking paper.at the egg whites until they just hold soft peaks and no more. Beat in the sugar a little at a time until all is incorporated Fold in the hazelnuts, chocolate and fruit. Pour into tin, smooth the top and bake 1 to 2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven, cool and serve dusted with icing sugar. Serves 8-10.
Delicious and super easy
175g ground or chopped Uncle Joe's hazelnuts
2 Tbsp cocoa
75g melted butter
Pinch baking powder
Mix ingredients together and bake 30 minutes at 150C. Just top with blueberries or any other berries (fresh cherries if you are lucky!). Cover with whipped cream and grated chocolate.
Friday, July 3, 2009
(03) 579 3599 Home
021 935 995 Mobile
www.mfm.co.nz (marlborough farmers market)
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Soup: " is a food that is made by combining ingredients such as meat and vegetables in stock or hot/boiling water, until the flavor is extracted, forming a broth"
If you told me that people would be lining up for soup on the streets of Marlborough 12 months ago I would have crossed the road and walked the other way. If you told me that there would be a farmers' market in the middle of the central business district selling hot soup to promote its producers I would have told you that you were dreaming as we would only ever trade on Sunday mornings during the summer and that was that. Both are now reality and I take my apron off to the consummers of Marlborough for supporting local food producers
Soup is as old as boiling water (clever), and I can still remember being taught how to boil water in a paper bag as a boy scout so that is starting to show my age. Soup orginates from the word "sop" and was advertisied in early french market stalls as a antidote to physical exhustion (more commonly known as three thirty ises). "Sop" recipes started to apprear in cookbooks such as Accomplished Gentlewoman's, The Frugal Housewife and the ever essenetial The Complete Housewife. While cooking techniques come and go there is always the trendy fashions and fads of styles of soup that appear and dissappear from our dinner tables (what ever happend to the classic consumme soup or the chilled beetroot soup) but you just cannot beat a good old fashioed pot of slow cooked winter vegetable soup
Cambells soup Company (yes they are trying to register the brand name Farmers' Market Soup and have done so successfully around the world) sells 2.5 billions bowls of there three most popular soups alone. The Marborough Farmers' market sells 40 L per week on the streets of Marlborough and will with the support of Farmers' Market New Zealand will be opposing Cambells application for brand registration – yes I can see potato peelers being sharpened now as we sip on our antidote for physical exhustion.
Matt from Highfields Winery Farmers' Market Soup (traemarked and registered version)
Matt's Leek and Potato soup with Sherrington's feta and cracked pepper (Highfield Estate)
For a full flavoured soup firstly, preferably a day ahead make a court Bouillon, you will need about 3 Litres.
Take 3 carrots, 3 celery sticks, 1 fennel bulb, 3 cloves of garlic, 5 peppercorns, 3 star anise, 6 Bay leaves and a handful of herbs.
Roughly chop vegetables and place in stockpot with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes remove and allow to cool.
The next day sieve off all the ingredients so as to leave yourself the liquid place back in pot and gently reheat.
To make to soup:
2 Tbspoons butter
1 onion chopped
4 cloves garlic crushed
600g potatoes peeled and cleaned, cut into small cubes
200g chopped and washed leek
3 litres of court Bouillon
1 Litre of cream
salt and pepper
200g Sherrington feta
Melt butter in pot adding onion and garlic, gently brown until translucent, add potatoes and leek and gently sweat.
Add Bouillon and simmer for around 30-45 minutes take soup and pass through a moule or food processor transfer back to pot and gently reheat adding cream and feta. Season to taste and finish with cracked pepper. Yum.