Pasta ai Pomodori Verdi – Green Tomato Pasta

We still have a lot of green tomatoes. They have kept well in a dark spot with the potatoes, but we do need to use them before they start spoiling. We have been eyeing this recipe from Abbruzzo for a while, and today Mrs BYF decided to give it a try.  Because this is lockdown cooking she did not have all the ingredients the real recipe required, so here is the make do one. It was a very nice, fresh tasting pasta sauce, almost spring like. 

4 or 5 medium sized green tomatoes, diced

1 onion chopped

1 big pinch of nutmeg

1/2 cup marjoram

1 stalk of celery, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 hot chilli. We like hot food so use less if you want

6 tablespoons cooking oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Rigatoni or other cut pasta

Soften the onions in the cooking oil. Add the garlic and the chilli, cook until garlic browns a bit. Add the tomatoes and cook covered to release the juices. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water. When the tomatoes have softened, add the marjoram and nutmeg. When the pasta is cooked ladle a soup spoon full of pasta water on to the sauce. Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the sauce. Mix and serve with plenty of grated parmigiano. 

ENJOY!!

Do not forget a glass of home made red!!

Zucchine

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We have a lot of zucchini, as has almost every one I know. There is quite a harvest of spring onions, too. We have used up all the garden’s onions, but Mrs BYF decided to combine the lot and to use it for pasta sauces, on pizza, in frittata and fritters. The discovery we made was that slow sweated spring onion sliced finely, including the green part becomes really soft and tasty. Add the slices zucchini to that and braise over very low heat. Then, create magic by adding fresh mint and basil! It tastes so good that it may be eaten straight out of the pot in stead of being a part of another dish.

20 Spring Onions

1 Kg sliced Zucchini

1 Hand full of fresh Mint leaves

1 Hand full of Basil

6 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Cut about 1/3 off the top of the spring onions to get rid of the harder leaves. Slice the rest very finely. Fry the onions for about 5 minutes in the olive oil and then cover and sweat on very low heat until soft. Scrub the zucchini and slice very thinly. When the onion is soft add the zucchini and braise for about 10 minutes over very low heat . Add the shredded mint and basil, cover and cook on low until the flavours have blended. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Risotto con le Ortiche – Stinging Nettle Risotto

Our attempt to buy as little as possible from the supermarkets is paying off! It is almost as if we had spent the past 5 years preparing for this lockdown event.  We have not visited the supermarket since two weeks before lockdown started, and will go to get only white vinegar and body wash tomorrow morning as early as possible. The vegetable garden is now going into winter and everything has slowed down in the cool weather, we have some beans, artichokes, cardoon, lettuces, rocket, potatoes, leeks, spring onions, a few green tomatoes, lots of fruit and so on left to pick. One source of greens, however that is growing well now with lots of tender young shoots is stinging nettle. There are a few plants in the chook run that the chooks like to peck at, but they left enough for us to harvest. We love the taste and since today was leftover day, which means risotto with everything in the fridge, Mrs BYF pulled it all together by adding a handful chopped  stinging nettle. The result was so delicious that I decided to share

Stinging nettle also makes wonderful pesto  – just use nettle instead of basil

Risotto with everything and Stinging Nettle

1 Cup blanched stinging nettle. The blanching gets rid of the sting, if you use gloves you can skip the blanching

1 Cup diced leftover roasted lamb (home butchered) including the gravy left in the pot

4 Skinny leeks (out of the garden) chopped including the leaves

4 Spring onions (out of the garden) chopped including the leaves

2 Cloves garlic (out of the garden) chopped

1 Green chilli (out of the garden) chopped

11/2 Cup of Arborio rice

1 Litre of good unsalted stock, I used home made quail and vegetable, kept hot on the side

1/4 Cup or more of olive oil or vegetable oil for frying

1/2 Cup grated parmigiano to sprinkle at the table

Salt and pepper to taste

Mrs BYF uses her trusty medium sized cast iron pot which is good for everything

Pour the oil in the pot, add the chopped leeks and spring onions and fry gently until tender, put the garlic in towards the end of the process to avoid it burning. Add the rice and fry until the first grain pops then pour in a glass of white wine (home made). When the wine has evaporated, ladle about a cup full of stock on to the rice, more if needed to stop the rice from sticking. Now keep stirring to gelatinise the starch in the rice slowly over low heat to make a creamy risotto, intermittently adding a few spoonfuls of stock, not too much at a time. When the rice is almost al dente, it takes about 20 minutes, add the  diced meat and the nettles. Heat through, check for salt and pepper and serve immediately in warmed bowls or pasta plates. Sprinkle with lots of grated parmigiano at the table.

Enjoy with a couple of glasses of home made red wine !!!

Broad Bean Pods

487EBABB-DAB7-4D88-AF29-3F6D2C131F03With temperatures rising and with possible water shortages looming we have to waste less food. What is viewed as food in today’s supermarket shopping culture is a good question. If you have your own garden and you don’t use insecticides, secondary harvests like beetroot and carrot tops, pumpkin and radish leaves and nettles are nutritious and delicious, doubling the harvest of greens in small veggie patches. The main harvest in my garden at present is broad beans and throwing away the lovely young fresh pods has rankled with Mrs BYF for ever.

What we did today was to remove the beans from the pods and save them for later. The pods were rinsed, cleaned and sliced sliced in about 3 mm thick pieces, much as one would slice green beans, to be used in a stew. The stew was so delicious that I had to share the recipe with you.

Broad Bean Pods Stew

500 g any meat, cubed or on the bone. Because I had to make room in my cages I butchered some birds and I used:

2 quails,  wings, neck and the backbone of a chicken. I also added all the livers.
1 onion diced
1 clove garlic chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 1/2 cups of white wine
5 cups sliced broad bean husks
1/2 cup stock, more if needed
6 tablespoon olive oil
pinch of chili flakes or one small chili
sage, about 1/2 cup sliced
salt
pepper

Large pan or dutch oven with a tight fitting lid that will take all the ingredients.

Soften the onion in the olive oil over low heat, do not let it change colour. Add the garlic and meat and lightly brown over medium heat. Turn the heat up and when bubbling add the wine, leaving it to boil the alcohol away.
Add the sage, chili and puree and turn the ingredients over in the pan until well covered. Add the husks and a few tablespoons of stock. Cover the pot tightly and leave to cook over slow heat. Check in 20 minutes for moisture and add salt and pepper. Cook for about 60 minutes or until the meat is tender, adding stock only if necessary. The dish should not be soupy.

Serve with polenta or rice to soak up all the lovely sauce, or enjoy with crusty home made bread and a glass of home made red wine.

Organic, Chemical Free Garlic

Garlic is one of our favorite ingredients and is used and consumed daily.

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When I arrived at my present abode about 5 years ago, the entire garden was one large ball of heavy clay. Even the raised garden beds were totally clay and I cannot understand why people would go to the trouble of creating a raised garden at huge expense and then fill it with clay. Furthermore the garden was covered with plastic ground sheets which in turn was covered by a layer of pebbles. The soil (clay) underneath all of this resembled an old rubbish dump with steel and metal (including old engines) interspersed with glass, rocks, plastic and concrete – this is the 21 st century. I have never seen any viable garden using steel, concrete, stones, glass, plastic and clay as a basis. The total arable area I have for planting food is only about 50 meters square.

Five years later and having turned the “soil” over many times supplementing with at least 800 Kg of lime and a similar amount of gypsum in several applications, as well as many Tons of Quail, Chicken and Rabbit manure and bedding.  I also have very active compost bins and worm farms, all of which goes back into the garden. In the process I have recovered and discarded many hundreds of kilograms of metal, concrete, glass, plastic, rocks and other rubbish. Each season the soils were planted to a variety of crops on a rotational basis. Unharvested greens were chopped and worked into the ground as well. For the first two years I have not seen any earthworms or any other soil live, but lately its is noticeable how the soil ecosystem has evolved and became alive and many earthworms are present.  I am proud to say that I have not once used any chemicals, purchased fertilisers (Except for gypsum and lime) or used any sprays in achieving this.

BACK TO GARLIC

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The garlic patch I have allocated to this crop for the 2019 / 2020 season is about 6 meters square and I have planted it with about 600 cloves of some of my last year’s crop as well as some purchased seed for the sake of variety, which will produce enough to eat, give away and seed for next year.

I preserve garlic in three ways.  1 – Just hang it to dry in clusters or pleated. 2 – Peel and sun dry, then seal in airtight containers.  3 – Peel and put into containers with a little bit of Olive Oil and pasteurise.