Tag Archives: potato

Living Below the Line: Ribollita (sort of)

Another day, another recipe, and a quick note.  I know that there are cookbooks out there telling people how to live on very little.  Some of them are more useful than others – I think my favourite is written by Sandra of the $120 food challenge blog, because she has actually been living on a tiny income while writing these recipes, rather than doing the thing where you opine from on high about what those who are less well off should be eating.

I’m posting these recipes for two reasons.  The first reason is that they are a record of what I’m doing, and several of my sponsors (sponsor me!) have asked me to do so, because they are curious about what I’m cooking.  The second reason is that some of them have worked out reasonably tasty and could, with a bit of tweaking (and a bit more money) go into my regular repertoire.  But there’s one thing I haven’t told you about these recipes.

I’m hungry.  All the time.  Even right after lunch or dinner.

Part of this is psychological, I think – I really am very afraid of being without food, and I find myself counting the hours until the next meal, so I’m fairly sure that my brain is telling my body it’s hungry even when it isn’t.  But part of it is that, really, even with all the legumes and carbohydrates and protein I’ve tried to stuff into them, these meals just aren’t as filling as what I’m used to.  The portion sizes are fairly small.  One can survive on them, but I don’t know whether one could live on them in the long term.

What I don’t want is for anyone (especially anyone in the current government, quite frankly) to look at these recipes and think, these look pretty good, obviously living on $2 is easy.

It’s not.  Some of these recipes are quite good – this one, for example, is actually pretty tasty, and I’m quite impressed at how much chickeny flavour a single chicken wing can infuse into a soup.  It just needs a bit of cheese to be perfect, sigh.  But divide it into six servings, and it’s a lot less filling than you might think.


Your Shopping List

175 g borlotti beans, soaked in cold water overnight
1 brown onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 celery stick, chopped
1 sprig of rosemary
8 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
1 chicken wing (skin removed and used for schmalz, if you are feeling dedicated)
2 litres of water
1/2 tsp salt, lovely lovely salt!
200ml tinned tomatoes
stalks and leaves from 1 large beetroot
1 potato, diced
2 bread crusts, torn into small pieces
2 cups mixed frozen vegetables

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Recipe: Roasted Root Vegetables with Creamy Cannelini Bean Sauce

It’s been very quiet around here.  What always happens is that I write a post explaining why it has been very quiet, and apologising, but of course by the time I write such a post, things have self-evidently calmed down at least somewhat.

Things have not calmed down this time.  I am still in the midst of grants, and every time I’m not reading grants I am singing Bach, and then there have been work politics, and then there have been social politics, and let’s not even think about federal politics, and then there have been more grants, and then there have been funerals, and friends being evacuated due to bushfires, and other friends just having thoroughly miserable times, and sick cats, and did I mention the vile, vile weather?  Anyway, what there hasn’t been around here has been a lot of inventive cooking.  And when there has been, it mostly hasn’t worked out very well.  You know things are bad when not only do I get quiet, but I only emerge to cook savoury food!

(And really, I’m fine, just very, very tired and very, very busy.  And I probably don’t need quite so many grants, either.)

Anyway.  I started writing this recipe just before the last round of chaos, and never finished it.  Let’s see if I can finish it this time, eh?  And I will try to see you on the other side, assuming such a thing exists.  In the mean time, in lieu of content of my own, I draw your attention to my Vegetarian Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes challenge, which is attracting some really fascinating recipes.  Hopefully this will feed your hunger for beautiful food while I try to catch up with the difficult work of existing!


I love roasted vegetables and would happily eat them five times a week or more.  But they aren’t quite a meal in their own right, and while I am all too ready to serve them with broccoli in cheesy sauce (or perhaps I should say, cheesy sauce with broccoli) and call them a meal, occasionally I feel the urge to do a little better.  Hence the cannelini bean sauce, which makes everything OK because it has proteiny goodness!

One thing that you need to know about this recipe is that it is possibly the ugliest thing I have ever photographed.  This is not wholly the fault of the recipe, because nothing is at its best if you photograph it after the sun has set, but the whole pinky-beige sauce slopped over vegetables was never going to be an aesthetic triumph.  I think next time, I’d serve the sauce on the side.  As it is, my photos look as though I took a whole lot of beautiful roast vegetables, slopped gravy all over them, then time-travelled back to the 1970s, got out my old Instamatic camera, and took all the photographs under fluorescent lighting.  Only not quite that pretty. 

In fact, the photos are so bad that I’m not going to show them to you at all, for fear of putting you off, because this is really a delicious (and wonderfully easy) meal.  Anyway, the point I’m getting at is that if you make this and it turns out looking really rather dreadful on the plate, don’t despair – you are almost certainly doing it right.  But it probably isn’t a dinner party dish for any money.

Honestly, though, ugly or not, I love this meal.  It’s going to become a regular on my cool-weather vegetarian (indeed, vegan!) menu.


Your shopping list

2 smallish sweet potatoes
6 little potatoes, like pink fir potatoes
6 baby carrots
1 long beetroot, or two small ordinary ones
1 onion
1 red capsicum
olive oil
lavender salt, or salt, pepper and rosemary
400 g tinned cannelini beans
150 g slow roasted tomatoes
2 garlic bulbs, roasted
1/4 cup good olive oil
zest of one lemon
salt, pepper, rosemary

Now what will you do with it?

Aargh, it’s so long since I made this recipe that I barely remember what I did!  Well, first, one must roast the vegetables.  Peel them and chop them into inviting-looking shapes.  Because really, this will be the only inviting thing about this recipe.  I think I may even have kept the little potatoes whole, because they were these adorable, thumb-sized things which really didn’t need peeling or chopping at all.  The carrots, I peeled and then sliced in half lengthways.  The beetroot got chunked, the sweet potato was sliced very thickly and those slices were quartered, and the onion was cut into half moons.  The red capsicum was sliced.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.


Microwave the beetroot for about 5 minutes in a tiny bit of water in a bowl, because it will otherwise take far longer than everything else put together.

Now fling all the aforementioned veggies onto a huge baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, pepper and lavender salt (or ordinary salt and lots of rosemary), and bake everything for 45 minutes to an hour, turning after about twenty minutes or so, and again at the 45 minute mark if you think the veggies aren’t done yet.


Making the sauce is even easier than this.  Drain the cannelini beans and put them in a blender with the slow-roasted tomatoes, the roasted garlic, the olive oil, lemon zest, and seasonings.  Blend until you have a thick sauce.  Add more olive oil if you think it needs filling.


Serve the veggies with the sauce poured over, or poured onto the side to dip them in.  I feel a side dish of green beans or broccoli or even a straightforward green salad would be an excellent addition to this meal.


Eat.  Pretend not to notice that this is very ugly food indeed, because it really does taste amazing.



This meal is gluten-free and vegan and nut-free and low GI, and if you skip the onions, it’s actually not too terrible on the fructose side of things.  Amazing!

You can roast any root vegetables that appeal to you.  You can heat the sauce up, or instead of blending it, you could put everything except the oil in a saucepan (with just one splash of oil), sauté it up a bit, and then mash it with a fork or potato masher.  At this point, it’s more a mash than a sauce, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  You might even add an extra tin of beans in these circumstances and make it a real side dish.

And… that’s it from me.  It’s bedtime in the house of cats.


One year ago: Recipe: Inside-Out Salad

Two years ago: Market Day: High Summer Masquerading as Autumn

Recipe: Root Vegetable Rösti with Peach and Black Bean Salsa

I’m not sure if these technically count as rösti, since they are not all potato, and they do contain a lot of egg to hold them together.  More like fritters, really.  But when you find yourself with a fridge full of root vegetables on a hot evening, fritters or rösti are one of the better options for not heating the house up too much.

Also, they are very pink.  This should not be understated.  Sometimes, pink food is important.

I was a little disappointed in the salsa – it was milder than I intended it to be, and needed a bit more zing.  Next time, I’d add more lime or lemon, and more chilli. And maybe some cumin?  But it did provide a good contrasting freshness to the fritters, which, being composed of root vegetables and eggs and then fried, were not precisely light!

Not a perfect meal, but a rather nice one for a summer evening.  And worth recording, so that I can play with it another time.


Your Shopping List

3 medium potatoes
1 largeish beetroot
4 medium carrots
1 small red onion
1 medium sweet potato
1/2 teaspoon of tarragon
pepper, salt (lavender salt is nice here)
4 eggs
oil and butter for cooking
5 peaches
5 roma tomatoes
2 avocadoes
2 red chillis (or more, to taste)
juice of one lime and one lemon
1 tin (400g) of black beans
1 small bunch of coriander

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Recipe: Pizza Serafina (Sultana pizza)

Sultana pizza

I work in a Medical Research Institute, and the nature of research is that people travel a lot for their careers.  My current Divisions include scientists and students from France, Germany, Switzerland, Algeria, China, New Zealand, Sweden, The Netherlands, The Cook Islands, Afghanistan, Japan, Brazil, England, the USA, Serbia, Spain, Iran, India, Scotland… oh yes, and a few Australians. (I’m sure I’ve missed a country or five in there, actually).  And of course, at least half of the Australians  – myself included – in the lab have parents who were born overseas.

So tomorrow we are celebrating Australia Day a day early by having a lunch for our two Divisions, with everyone bringing a dish from home.  Wherever home is for the person in question.  (I wish I could say this was my idea, because I think it is absolutely wonderful, but one of the RAs came up with it, and more power to her.)

As it happens, I’m one of the few people in the lab who is of Italian extraction, and since food from home often means food of one’s childhood, I’ve decided to have another go at making my Nonna’s pizza recipe.  So far tonight, it’s been a case study in why you should add the water gradually, but we’ll let that pass for now. 

Nonna, as I believe I’ve mentioned before, had two traditional pizzas she made  for us when we visited – one topped simply with oregano (green pizza), and another topped with tomato passata (red pizza), and maybe the odd olive or anchovy or pepper.  (It’s the cuisine of poverty – you don’t have many ingredients, but you make the best of the ones you do have.)  But she was also very fond of spoiling her sweet-toothed grand-daughter, so when I was quite little, she invented a sultana pizza which she would make at the same time.  I’ve never really grown out of it.  I’ve also never made it successfully, largely because until recently, the only recipe I had for Nonna’s pizza was extremely vague – Nonna knew all the quantities by feel and cooks pizza ‘until it is done’, which is not very helpful to the novice cook!  The recipe I have now (via my aunts) has actual quantities for everything except the water, and, as I will explain later, I’ve learned this evening just why the water measurement is as vague as it is – so I’m hoping I’ll get it to work (I’m writing this while I wait for it to rise the second time).  I’m also going to make oregano pizza, of course, but what I’m truly hoping to feed my colleagues tomorrow is my Nonna’s sultana pizza – pizza Serafina!

Your Shopping List

2 small potatoes (about 165g)
1 kg bread flour
1 tbsp salt
35 g fresh yeast (the kind that is a beige, spongey block, not the powdered kind)
100 ml olive oil, plus more for your hands.  Oh yes, definitely more for your hands.
‘Enough water to make a sticky dough’.  This is somewhere between 450 and 550 ml.  Which is to say, it was 550 ml a couple of weeks ago, but tonight that turned out to be way too much and my dough is impossibly sticky and I couldn’t knead it properly at all.
2 tbsp oregano, or 175 g sultanas and 2 tbsps raw sugar, or about 500 ml passata, or pick two of these options and use half of the quantity.

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Recipe: Beetroot Gnocchi

Back before I started obsessing over sourdough, I reviewed Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros.  I’ve been wondering which recipe to choose from her book to share with you as an example of her work.  Should I pick the gorgeous jam shortbread?  The stuffed pancakes that I make for dinner party after dinner party?  The risotto that started me making my own stock?  This is my blog – surely I should choose one of the recipes I’ve really got mileage out of…

But there’s one recipe in this book which to me symbolises exactly why I love the book so much.  I’ve only made the beetroot gnocchi once – it’s the sort of dish which is too light on vegetables for a main course and a bit too much for an entrée, as well as being a little rich and fiddly for everyday fare.  On the other hand, it is absolutely spectacular to look at and lovely to eat – like an earthier, deeper sort of potato gnocchi. Which is pink!

Don’t serve these gnocchi with an ordinary pasta sauce – it would be a waste.  Tessa Kiros suggests serving them with melted butter, toasted pine-nuts, basil and parmesan.  Pesto would also work and, actually, a traditional creamy carbonara would be kind of cool, and would follow the whole insane pink theme.  Or you could just go with the decadence and melt some blue cheese over them.  I’d add a good winter salad of baby spinach, red onion, raisins,  orange segments and walnuts for a side dish, and dress it with sherry vinegar if you have it – you need something earthy and acidic to cut the richnessAnd I’d probably do baked apples or poached pears for dessert.  Hmm, I think I’ve just talked myself into making this next time someone comes for dinner – it’s the right season for it…

Finally, I should mention that this recipe got extremely silly.  This should not be blamed on Tessa Kiros, who writes her recipes with enthusiasm but also with sanity, something which I seem to have overshot this time around.

Your Shopping List

500g potatoes – the floury kind, not the new kind
1 medium sized beetroot, steamed until very tender, and then peeled
200g plain flour
50g parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten

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