Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In which I am freaked out by the turmeric...

OK so I know fresh turmeric is the hot topic this week and you are probably all wondering what I'm doing with mine (or not because you actually have lives!).  Honestly I'm a little frightened and I've been avoiding it - every time I walk past the fridge it calls out like some kind of Poe like heart beating under the floor boards.  Thankfully Kristen's post demystified it all a little for me but the curry recipe pushed me to the precipice of my cooking comfort zone (you are about as likely to see fenugreek seeds in my kitchen as you are to spot a snow leopard in the wild).

So in the spirit of avoidance, today I post for you a recipe that uses some of the more commonplace veg in your box around this time of year - asparagus and spinach.

I've heavily adapted (and vegetarianised) this recipe from one I found here.

Asparagus Tart
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten to blend
  • 450g slender asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 bunch spinach (about 200g)
  • 1 onion
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese 
Preheat oven to 200°C. Cut off 1/2-inch-wide strip from all 4 sides of the pastry sheets. Brush strips on 1 side with some of beaten egg, then press strips, egg side down, onto edges of pastry to adhere, forming raised border. Brush border with egg; reserve remaining beaten egg. Transfer to baking sheet. Chill while preparing filling.
Saute onion.  Add spinach and stir until wilted.  Set aside.
Steam asparagus just until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain. Cut off top 2 to 3 inches of asparagus tops; set aside. Coarsely puree remaining asparagus stalks in processor. Add remaining beaten egg, ricotta, 3 teaspoons oil, and salt;process until thick puree forms. Transfer to bowl; stir in spinach and onion and 1/3 cup parmesan cheese; season with pepper. Spread mixture evenly over pastry. Sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup parmesan cheese. Toss asparagus tips with remaining 1 teaspoon oil; arrange tips over filling.
Bake tart until filling is set, about 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I promise to post again when I finally take up the turmeric gauntlet.

xx Susan (you can find me more regularly over here)

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Monday, November 15, 2010


In our veggie box this week we have fresh turmeric, not ginger!

Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. It gives a characteristic yellow colour to dishes prepared with it. Most people would be familiar with powdered turmeric classically added to Indian curries.

The fresh rhizomes store well if kept dry in the fridge,  wipe dry if they are damp, then wrap with a paper towel and they should last many weeks. 

Turmeric is rich in the mineral Manganese and also iron. Its also rich in antioxidants with an ORAC score of 159277, this compares to dark chocolate at 20823. I think I'd prefer to eat 100g of chocolate than turmeric somehow!!

Turmeric skin is inedible so remove this outer layer with a veggie peeler. Take care when handling fresh turmeric, as it can stain hands and clothing on contact. Use gloves when handling turmeric and use soap and hot water to reduce any accidental staining. The inside can then be sliced, chopped or grated and used to season food. Use fresh turmeric just like ginger. Peel it, grate it and add along with ginger and garlic in your curries. The amount of fresh turmeric would be equivalent to a 2-3cm piece, per teaspoon of dried turmeric powder.

The reported health benefits of turmeric are very impressive

·         A Potent, Yet Safe Anti-Inflammatory

·         An Effective Treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

·         Relief for Rheumatoid Arthritis

·         Help for Cystic Fibrosis Sufferers

·         Cancer Prevention

·         Inhibits Cancer Cell Growth and Metastases.

·         Turmeric and Onions May Help Prevent Colon Cancer

·         Turmeric Teams Up with Cauliflower to Halt Prostate Cancer

·         Reduce Risk of Childhood Leukemia

·         Improved Liver Function

·         Cardiovascular Protection

·         Lowers Cholesterol

·         Protection against Alzheimer's Disease


Suggestions of what to do with turmeric are varied and because it’s so damn good for us, go crazy with it!!
  • Add Turmeric to anything yellow or could be yellow e.g Recipes for eggs, egg salad, spice rub for meats and fish, vegetable dips, steamed vegetables, corn dishes and mustard.
  • Use Turmeric in recipes that are not yellow. Counterbalance the Turmeric with red paprika and black pepper. When making tacos or other food that would look funny if they were yellow, just add an equal amount of paprika with the turmeric to counterbalance the yellow colour.
  • Use it when cooking Indian food – my personal Indian curry recipe is below. Also brilliant in dhals as it goes so well with lentils
  • Adventurous souls even add it to smoothies – I am a smoothie queen but I have yet to do this!!
  • Turmeric can apparently be used to deter ants. The exact reasons why turmeric repels ants is unknown, but anecdotal evidence suggests it works

Vegetable Indian curry

Thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped/grated
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped/crushed
2 Tbs coconut oil (or olive oil)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp chilli flakes or 1-2 fresh chillies as desired
10 -12 curry leaves – optional, but if you can get fresh ones they make the dish!!
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric (2-3 cm piece of fresh turmeric grated)
1 red onion, halved and thickly sliced
Approx 1kg of seasonal vegetables e.g 
    Carrot, sliced approx 1/2 cm
    Corn on the cob, sliced in 1-2 cm rounds
    Zucchini (Courgette), sliced into 1-2 cm rounds or half moons
    Kohlrabi or turnip, peeled and sliced into 1-2 cm cubes
    Radishes, trimmed and used whole or cut in half if large
    Button mushrooms, cleaned and used whole or halved 
1 tsp salt or 1/2 to 1 tbs of tamari (wheat free soy sauce)
1 kaffir lime leaf or a squeeze of lemon juice
Small handful of sultanas - optional
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 can of coconut cream 
Heat oil and add mustard seeds, let them start popping (but don’t let them burn).Then add the fenugreek seeds, followed by the chilli, garlic, ginger and curry leaves and stir on a medium heat till fragrant
Add onions and ground spices and stir till onion softens
Add vegetables except corn and stir for at least 5 mins till the veg start to soften
Add remaining ingredients including corn, reserving half the tin of coconut cream

Bring to the boil and simmer for approx. 30mins. Depending on the size of the veg depends on the cooking time. Add the rest of the coconut cream right at the end of the cooking time. Check seasoning before serving.

Serve with basmati rice, mango chutney and poppadoms (I will save my chutney recipe for mango time, unless you are gagging for it now!)

Please tell me what you think,

Cheers Kristine Miles

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Hi fellow food fanatics!

Before the inception of this great site, I had spoken with Kate about emailing out to the group, info about obscure veggies and offering recipes relevant to our mystery boxes each week. I will use this blog format instead and hope you find it useful in some way! Please let me know if you have any requests for info. You can email me on

Beetroot is one of my favourite veggies. I love it raw and cooked, and not so much pickled from a can which is how most people know it. Beetroot is packed with vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C.   They are also an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, sodium and iron. The iron in the leaves are higher than that in spinach.

Plant often mimic the thing they assist e.g walnuts look like little brains and they are rich in omega 3 oils which are essential brain food. The colour of beetroot is reminiscent of blood and as such, is great as a blood cleanser and purifier with its rich iron content. It is suggested that beetroot can normalise blood pressure and dissolve calcium build ups on artery walls. The fibre content aids digestion and beetroot helps to cleanse the liver, both of which assist with healthy blood.

Cooking beetroot will see the loss of some of the vitamin content however the minerals remain largely the same.

When we get those gorgeous baby beets in our veggie box I love to roast them. Trim the stalk leaving a couple of cm and all the skin and straggly bits intact. Toss beets in a little olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and a few grinds of salt and pepper. Line the base of a small baking dish with baking paper and place the coated beets on top, add about 50 ml of water and put the lid on. Roast on 200 degrees for about an hour. Let the beets cool and the skins will just rub off.

Add the roasted beets to salads, accompanied with roasted pumpkin, rocket and feta is delicious! I add some of the roasted beets to hummus making the most stunning pink dip ever! Beetroot and mayonnaise I reckon is a match made in heaven!

Grate raw beets into salad, use the greens if they aren't too manky, baby leaves are great in salad and larger leaves can be sliced into salad or cooked like silver beet.

The best salad ever is 400g raw beetroot, 100g raw carrot, a little red onion, an apple, some coriander and seasoned with salt and pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. In a thermomix it takes 5 secs to chop, in a normal food processor I am not sure.

This is what I love to do with beetroot, I would love to hear what you do too  :)

Cheers Kristine Miles