A salad to make you think pink

There are posters all around my workplace at the moment exhorting us to ‘think pink’ for breast cancer research. As far as I can tell this involves bringing some ‘pink’ baking to work, pitting it against that of your colleagues and then eating the results. A nice idea, perhaps, but I’d rather make this pinker than pink salad instead.

Think Pink Salad
I’ve made two versions of this in the last few days. The first was very simple – just shredded beetroot and carrot tossed together in a yoghurt-tangelo dressing. The second was a little bit fancier – shredded beets again with about a cup of cooked red quinoa, some chopped spring onions, a bit of chopped mint and a handful of toasted sunflower and sesame seeds sprinkled over the top. It looks amazing, tastes fantastic and – best of all – is the sort of thing that’s very good for you. It’s not so good if you’re wearing a white shirt, but that’s another story.
Here’s how to make the dressing (which turns very pink as soon as you introduce it to the beetroot).

1/2 cup natural yoghurt (I used some homemade yoghurt that was quite runny)
juice and zest of a large tangelo or orange
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, to taste
salt and pepper

Whisk the yoghurt, tangelo juice and zest and olive oil together to mix, then add the vinegar/lemon juice to taste. Season well, then pour over the salad. This makes enough for a two beetroots’-worth of salad, which serves four.

Do you like pink food? What’s your favourite?

The 24-carrot weekend

It has been a long weekend here thanks to Labour Day today – in which we are supposed to have the day off in honour of our forebears who fought for the eight-hour working day. Instead we worked our iPad-tapping fingers to the bone outside.

In between various other achievements over the weekend we dug out hundreds of flax roots, ripped up metres of weed mat, rehomed the ailing lemon tree, dug in compost and scattered coffee sacks of mulch. Then I planted eight sweetcorn seedlings, six strawberry bushes (I know, I should have planted them weeks ago), one patty pan squash and one unidentified curcubit – my little helper took the label off the punnet and I’m not sure if it’s a cucumber or watermelon. There’s a lot more planting to be done but I ran out of steam (and Zoodoo).
Oh and the Boy Wonder harvested 24 carrots planted by our house’s former owners, a little bonus that wasn’t in the real estate advert. We’re going to roast them with cumin seeds and garlic, though the carrot in the far right of the picture above looks like it is ready to get up and run away before that happens.

How did you spend Labour Day? And how is your spring/autumn garden looking?

Green Butter Beans

She waved the rockmelon in front of the man in the apron like it was a weapon. “Excuse me,” she said imperiously, “where is this from?”
The man in the apron, who looked well-used to dealing with questions delivered in this manner, smiled kindly at her and said, “Australia, madam”.
“Thank goodness,” she said, sweeping past me as if I was a carton of bruised apples. “As long as it’s not from Argentina or somewhere.”
I looked at the man in the apron and we shared a moment of amused complicity. Then I went and gathered up a bagful of illicit round beans – also from Australia – and put them in my basket with some olives from Greece and some lettuces from up the coast. Like Mrs Rockmelon, I try very hard not to buy any imported fruit and vegetables but it’s hard staying on the straight and narrow.
The beans we are buying at the moment are stupidly expensive and I hate to think when they were picked, but once you’ve tried them like this you’ll be buying them too. Unless, of course, you do live in Australia, in which case you are probably craving something grown somewhere else.

Green beans with butter
This isn’t really a recipe, more an admition of guilt. All you do is blanch some green beans (which you have diligently topped and tailed, if you are me, but not if you’re my husband), then drop a good tablespoon or so of unsalted butter into the pot. Let it melt and grind over lots of salt and pepper. Eat immediately. Use olive oil if you’re not eating these straight away because as lovely as butter is, it’s not so good when congealed.

Are you guilty of breaching the 100-mile barrier when it comes to food? What’s your favourite out-of-season treat?

Treat me: Macaroon slice

It’s been a long time coming but this week it really has felt like spring.
Our neighbour’s magnolia tree is in flower, I’ve heard rumours of asparagus in the shops and we have bluebells in our garden. At least, we have bluebells in a pile on the back steps after some small hands helpfully picked them.
With any luck the settled weather will return and I’ll be able to make it into the garden tomorrow. Then I’m going to sit on the back steps with a cup of tea and a piece of this fragrant macaroon slice and look at where the bluebells were.

Coconut macaroon slice
Macarons are all very well, but I’m more of a macaroon girl myself. This is a new and improved take on something my mother used to make a lot. It’s chewy, coconutty and you can whip it up in one bowl. I think it’s an appropriate entry for this month’s Sweet New Zealand.
Base
125g butter
2 tsp golden syrup
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
3/4 cup dried cranberries
finely grated zest of one lemon
finely grated zest of one orange
1 tsp baking soda, dissolved in 1 Tbsp hot water

Topping
100g butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups dessicated coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a brownie tin or similar (about 20 x 30 cm or smaller).
Make the base first. Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a small pot. Mix the flour, sugar, coconut, cranberries and zest together in a large bowl. Add the baking soda and water, and the butter mixture, to the dry ingredients. Stir well, then press into the prepared tin. Bake for 15 minutes.
While the base is cooking, melt the second measure of butter and set aside. Put all the other ingredients in a large bowl (use the one from earlier) and mix, then add the melted butter.
Pour this over the cooked base and return to the oven for another 15 minutes, until golden brown and set.
Let the slice cool completely in the tin, then lift out and slice with a serrated knife. Makes about 24 pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Have a good weekend, everyone. If you’re looking for something to do after you’ve made this slice, why don’t you cast a vote for The Kitchenmaid in the 2012 NetGuide Web Awards. Just paste the URL (that’s this bit: http://kitchen-maid.blogspot.co.nz/) into the ‘Best Blog’ section. Thanks ever so x

Clean and soba

One of the things that most exercises my brain is the constant struggle to think of things to take to work for lunch. It’s more than a little embarrassing sometimes to sit at a desk piled with cookbooks and food-related press releases eating banana on toast (though I do point out the toast is homemade to anyone who asks). Yesterday though, while digging about in the pantry for some teabags, I had a lunch epiphany that merits sharing.

Miso Soba Salad
This is fast, easy, cheap, good for you and very portable. Think of the noodles as a base to which you can add lightly cooked broccoli or green beans, or grilled chicken, or strips of omelette – or all of those things. I’ve just discovered karengo fronds and am addicted to their salty, seaweedy goodness. If you can’t find them, try snipping up a sheet of nori (the green stuff that sushi gets rolled up in) instead.

180g (two skeins) soba noodles
3 spring onions, finely chopped
2Tbsp sesame seeds
2Tbsp karengo fronds or a strip of nori, cut into little shreds

Dressing:
1Tbsp miso
2Tbsp hot water
juice of half a lemon (about 2 1/2 Tbsp)
1Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Cook the noodles in boiling water for four minutes. Drain immediately and rinse in cold water. Tip them into a bowl and toss through a teaspoon of oil to stop them sticking together. Toss through the spring onions.
Toast the sesame seeds and nori or karengo for a few minutes in a dry pan. Be careful, as the seeds will burn the minute you turn your back. Set aside.
For the dressing, put the miso and hot water in a small jar with a lid. Shake well until the miso dissolves. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and shake again until mixed. Pour this over the noodles and stir well. Sprinkle the toasted seeds and seaweed over the top. Serves two.

What do you take to work for lunch?