As another holiday is upon us, we are again reminded of the awkward seasonality of euro-centric holidays for those of us in the depths of the southern hemisphere. Fasting for lent during the peak of harvest season makes about as much sense as Christmas roasts and egg nog in 40 degree heat. And forget about locally sourcing your Halloween pumpkins in the middle of spring!
A quick trawl for Easter recipe inspiration brings lamb, dried fruit cakes and other springtime staples which need very little in the way of fresh fruit and vegetables – while we’re drowning in peak tomato and more capsicums than you can throw a stick at. Bring on the Easter paella!
Our notions of antipodean holiday eating are upside down, as most of these traditions date back not just to the advent of the Judeo-Christian era but way back to pagan festivals celebrating what was abundant and seasonal at that time of year, in that place.
It’s also no coincidence that two well known religious fasting periods coincide with the hungry gaps in their places of origin – Lent in mid-Spring for Catholic Europe and Ramadan in the dry, late summer in the Middle East. How much easier must it have been to stomach a fasting period (excuse pun) when there wasn’t very much around anyway!
So, here’s to throwing the rule book out on holiday traditions, at least when it comes to food. Except cocoa. It’s got to be in season somewhere, right??
Chocolate Beetroot Mousse Cake
Just like peas and carrots – beetroot seems to be a perfect friend to chocolate in baked treats. It gives an earthy depth of flavour. This recipe is courtesy of Riverford Organic Farmers in the UK…serves 8
- 250g beetroot, pre-cooked
- 400g good dark chocolate, broken into pieces (or just gather left overs and well hidden eggs from your Easter hunt)
- 175g unsalted butter, diced
- 6 eggs, separated
- 175g caster sugar
- 25g ground almonds
- A few drops vanilla essence
Step 1: Blitz the cooked beetroot in a food processor until smooth.
Step 2: Melt the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.
Step 3: Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light, pale and voluminous. This will take 4-5 minutes. Add the ground almonds, vanilla essence and puréed beetroot and stir to combine. Fold in the chocolate mixture.
Step 4: Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Using a metal slotted spoon, very gently fold in, keeping as much air in the mixture as possible.
Step 5: Bake at 180c for 40-45 minutes, until the mixture has risen well, and still has a bit of a bounce to it when pressed.
Our veg boxes this week are a testament to the wonderful food community we have in the Huon. Thanks to our friends we feature gorgeous fruit from mates at Gardners Bay, beautiful beets from one of the finest market gardens in the valley – Scrubby Hill Farm in Geeveston and scrumptious sourdough ciabatta from our local woodfired bakery – Cam’s in cygnet.
As small producers in an industry with famously low financial returns, we often feel the pressure to “go big” in order to justify our efforts and service the growing demand for local, sustainably grown (and delicious) food.
But in our experience, bigger doesn’t usually equal better and almost always brings more problems.
Our preference is to use and contribute to the great work of grass roots organisations, such as the Huon Producers’ Network, who build robust food and growing networks to unlock markets for small scale growers.
This also means customers get to savour a greater variety of produce and get access to some of the tastiest fruit and veg that otherwise might not have made it to market – that is, what’s left of it after we’ve “sampled” some for ourselves…
Baked Beet Risotto
This one popped up in our social media feed courtesy of Eat Well Tas and definitely deserves a whirl. We’ve dropped the sour cream topping from the original but no one’s judging if you add it back in…..Serves 4.
- 500g fresh beetroot, chopped into small wedges
- glug of olive oil
- knob of butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 250g risotto rice
- 150ml white wine
- 700ml hot vegetable stock
- a heap of grated parmesan
- chopped dill (parsley is good too, if you have it)
Step 1: Roast the beets in olive oil at 180C for about an hour.
Step 2: When they have about 20 mins to go, sweat the onion and garlic in olive oil and butter in an ovenproof dish (with a lid) for a few mins.
Step 3: Add the rice and stir through for a minute or two. Add the wine and cook for another few mins. Add the stock and stir, seasoning generously with salt and pepper. Stick it in the oven with the lid on for 15 mins.
Step 4: When done, puree about half of the beets (with a stick blender is easiest), and combine everything together with a good handful of parmesan. Add a squeeze or two of lemon juice if you have it. Serve with the herbs and more parmesan on top (and sour cream if you’re feeling indulgent!).