Welcome to Eat Well Every Day

Welcome to Eat Well Every Day!

I've spent years researching nutritional information, food ideas and recipes, because cooking and eating - especially with family & friends - are some of life's great pleasures. And guess what- healthy food doesn't have to be boring! It can be exciting and delicious!


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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Colour-change your Menu to Autumn Tones

Autumn has just arrived in Australia, and I feel as though I have emerged from a long hibernation. Now at last the cooler weather is starting and I’m beginning to feel alive again, and looking forward to being creative with the season’s foods.

Those intervening months have seen floods, cyclones, droughts and bushfires in various food producing parts of the continent, which as well as causing pain and loss to the people affected, also means some fruits and vegetables are scarcer and more expensive than normal. But, the canny shopper can generally find a bargain, especially if they don’t mind surface blemishes, or produce that needs to be eaten or preserved quickly. As ever, the rule is “don’t go with a specific food item or recipe in mind, go and see what produce is cheap and plentiful, and base your meal around it.”

Autumn – a colourful season for produce

Summer’s on its way out, and so are all the tropical fruits, berries and stone fruits. No more mangos! Some summer fruits are lingering, but no longer at their peak – late ripening plums and the last of the melons. Rockmelon & honeydew melon are still sweet and relatively cheap, so farewell summer with a melon bowl.

But in their place is a colourful cornucopia of autumn fruits: many varieties of apples and pears, nashis, grapes – red, black and green, figs – purple and white, an abundance of limes, passionfruit, oranges, tamarillos, cumquats and persimmons. All of them packed with Vitamin C and other antioxidants, fruit sugars, fibre and flavour!

Veg it up in Autumn

Glorious as the autumn fruits are, they don’t have it all to themselves. There are lots of colourful, tasty and healthy vegetables waiting for the discerning cook to choose them.

For end of season salads before the weather demands warm meals there are Fuerte avocadoes with their deep green glossy skin darkening to a purplish brown as they ripen, red, green and yellow capsicums, cucumbers and late season tomatoes.

Autumn veggies are some my favourites, coming as I did from a cold climate state. Pumpkins come into their own in Autumn, and when the weather gets cold enough, I’ll be making pumpkin soup with my home-made chicken stock. That warm golden hue comes from pumpkin's rich supply of alpha- and beta-carotenes. Pumpkin also goes remarkably well with lamb or chicken in a slow cooked casserole, or as the old Aussie favourite: lamb chops with mashed pumpkin, peas and potato. Or roasted in the oven either with a lamb roast, or in a baking dish with onions, garlic, potatoes, some olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and rosemary stems. The smell as they’re cooking is positively aphrodisiacal!

Other veggies offer themselves for creative colourful and flavour-rich dishes – shiny purple eggplants (aubergines), for example, appear in Greek, Turkish, Lebanese, Egyptian, Indian, and probably lots of other nationalities’ cuisines, usually with onions, tomatoes and garlic. Leeks and zucchini are also wonderful mixers, adding their own gentle flavours to soups, casseroles, quiche fillings, omelettes and bean dishes.

Mushrooms are in their element in autumn – the delightfully named ‘Slipper Jack’ which grows in pine forests and is related to porcini, is available at gourmet greengrocers. But for the mushroom lover on a budget, the standard white mushroom is wide open as big meaty flat caps, great for grilling or roasting, stuffed with a breadcrumbs, thyme, garlic and olive oil.

Then there’s sweet corn. Available all year round frozen or tinned, these are nothing like fresh sweet corn. Corn on the cob is a childhood favourite, simply boiled or steamed and slathered with butter or olive oil. The butter runs down your chin, the corn skin gets stuck between your teeth, the corn cob burns your fingers – the experience is sheer messy fun!

So, to the recipes:

One for the meat-eaters among us, and one for the vegetarians. I’ve adapted a Lebanese recipe for stirfried chicken strips marinated in lime juice, by adding julienned pumpkin.

Chicken with lime and spices

4 chicken breast fillets, or 8 chicken thigh fillets (thigh fillets have more flavour and are usually cheaper than chicken breast)
3 tablesp freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tablesp olive oil
1 teasp ground coriander
1 teasp ground cumin
½ teasp turmeric powder
at least 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
A chunk of pumpkin about half the quantity of the chicken pieces, cut into julienne strips

Cut the fillets into thin strips and marinate in 1 tablesp of the oil, with the lime juice and spices. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, longer if possible.

Heat remaining oil in wok or heavy frying pan. Stirfry the chicken strips for about 5 minutes, add the julienned pumpkin continue stirfrying until both are cooked, about another 5 minutes.

Serve in pita bread or on rice, garnished with the fresh mint and with hummus and or salad on the side.
Serves 4-6

And from my 40-year-old Greek cookbook, comes this Greco-Turkish eggplant dish, Imam Bayaldi.
Imam Bayaldi

1 kg (2lbs) small to medium eggplants
6 ripe tomatoes, or 1 large tin tomato pieces
4 onions, chopped fine
4 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
1 tablesp parsley, chopped
1 teasp sugar,
1 cup olive oil (you may not need all this)

Cut the eggplants in half and spoon out the seeds and most of the pulp, leaving a thin layer inside the shell. Discard seeds, and put the pulp in a dish. Sprinkle salt inside the shells, and stand upside down in a colander for 30 minutes. Either fry eggplant shells gently, or cook in boiling water, until cooked but still firm.

Mix together chopped onions, garlic, tomatoes, sugar, parsley and eggplant pulp, and season with salt and pepper. Gently fry the mixture in about ½ cup of oil. Allow mixture to cool and stuff into the shells. (If the mixture is too sloppy, firm it up with breadcrumbs or ground almonds.) Drizzle a little more oil over the top

Pack the filled shells into a wide bottomed pan or baking dish and either cook gently on top of the stove or in a medium-low oven for 45 minutes. Leave to cool and serve at room temperature or warm.
Serves 4-6

Buon Appetito!