Kale & Goats’ Cheese Pesto (and a word about Google Reader)

The monthly village market was on this morning. We’re off on holiday on Tuesday so I didn’t come back with my usual bag loads. What I did get was a big bunch of kale, a sour dough loaf and, my current favourite thing, some hard mature goats’ cheese from the Cromarty Cheese House.

Lunch was a delight.

Kale and Goats’ Cheese Pesto

(makes a small jar full)

200g kale, tough stalks removed and shredded roughly

75g walnuts

50g hard goats’ cheese, grated finely

Rind of a small lemon

1 garlic clove, minced

Extra virgin olive

Salt & pepper

  • Bring a pan of water to the boil and drop the kale in. Cover and simmer for 1 minute. Drain and cool.
  • Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan then whizz in the blender. Remove to a bowl
  • Squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the kale then pop in the blender with the garlic and lemon rind  and a good glug of oil. Whizz this too.
  • Now, I prefer to combine for here by hand. It’s a rougher texture and I prefer that. You might want to continue whizzing in the blended. Either way, add the walnuts and cheese to the kale along with a decent pinch of salt and pepper.

Serving suggestions:

  1. Spread on toast and top with tomato
  2. Stir through pasta
  3. Dollop on a baked potato

Before I go, I’ve just found out on Smitten Kitchen that Google Reader (the way many people keep up to date with blogs) will be no more as of tomorrow. I’ve switched to Feedly. It was simple to import my Google Reader favourites to it and it has a rather lovely layout. Hope I don’t lose anyone when Google Reader retires. 🙂

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Summer Reading Request 2013

I’ve been reading a lot this year.  Usually I go thought phases of reading feverishly every night and weekend for a month or so then I don’t pick up a book for weeks and weeks on end. This past year, I’ve fallen into a different pattern. I read every day at the moment but I’m in no hurry to finish books at all. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been so very, very busy at work; it is, after all, my main way to relax and I don’t need anymore deadlines. Or maybe I’m just mellowing as I mature… Whatever the reason, I like this steady reading routine that I’ve settled into.

These are my favourite reads from the past year:

The Pursuit of Love – Nancy Mitford

I’m a wee bit obsessed with Nancy Mitford at the moment and am reading everything I can find by and about her. Nothing beats this book though. An extremely funny period romance. One of those books I finished and consider just starting all over again.

Red Dust Road – Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay is a Scottish poet and this is an autobiographical account of her attempts to get to know her birth parents: a Highland woman and a Kenyan man. It’s cracking. Funny and interesting and touching. I devoured this book in a day and I keep telling people to read it.

The Fault in our Stars – John Greene

Am I the last person in the universe to read this? Perhaps. Beautiful, emotional, humorous book. Not going to tell you what it’s about because it’ll sound too depressing and that’s not what this book is. Well, it is. But it’s really, really not too. Read it. Really.

Maine – Courtney Sullivan

Despite the troubled characters and tense conversations, there was something very peaceful about this book. It’s all about a mother and her daughters and a summer house in Maine and it’s really rather beautifully written. I have Sullivan’s other novel, Commencement, in my case for my trip to Italy this summer.

The Accidental Tourist – Anne Tyler

I’ve read several books by Anne Tyler and I recognised many of the characters in this novel. It’s my favourite book of hers so far though. Macon is a travel writer for people who doesn’t like to travel and he finds comfort in the rigid routines of his life. Then everything falls apart. A subtle book that’s stayed with me months and months after reading it.

100 Year Old Man who Climbed Out the Window and Ran Away – Jonas Jonasson

Probably should have put this first on the list. I’ve been giving it to everyone as a present! So much fun! Laughed my way from beginning to end.

Heartburn – Nora Ephron

Wry, funny, semi-autobiographical tale of a pregnant woman whose husband cheats on her.

American Gods – Neil Gaiman

Odd and fascinating novel. It’s a journey through America with ancient Gods who’ve seen better days, ghosts, leprechauns and the idols of the new world. Weirdly addictive.

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So these are my recommendations. With seven weeks of holidays fast approaching, I’d love to hear some of yours. 🙂

Oregano Roast Lamb with Vegetables

Wendy has very kindly let me, Lucy ( www.nourish-me.typepad.com ), take over her blog today to talk to you guys, her lovely readers, about the next issue of An Honest Kitchen ( www.anhonestkitchen.com.au ), an e-publication that nutritionist Kathryn Elliott ( www.kathrynelliott.com.au/blog) and I work on. It’s about cooking in an honest, healthy way with real, no fuss ingredients.

When Kathryn and I were challenged by a reader to makeover some classic recipes, to give the An Honest Kitchen treatment to some favourite family meals, we jumped at the opportunity. What a fun idea, one with a practical and healthy outcome. Our Makeovers issue was born.

Roasts are a real favourite for many people. The traditional roast centres on a big joint of meat with hearty sides of potatoes, pools of gravy and all the extra trimmings. It’s a heavy, stodgy meal, one which can leave you feeling stuffed and lethargic at the end. If you’re trying to eat healthy meals, then avoiding the family roast may seem like a good idea, but we’ve gathered some tips to help you make it fresh, lighter and an altogether healthier option.

How to makeover a traditional roast dinner

In the course of our makeovers we developed a few guidelines which you can use to revamp your own favourite roast dinners:

Use less meat: Rather than cooking a huge joint of meat, choose a smaller cut with a bone in it. This will cook in a fraction of the normal time, but you’ll still end up with a juicy and flavour filled dinner. In our recipe below we’ve used lamb shanks which speeds up the cooking time, but also gives you an idea of how much protein you should be eating. It’s all too easy to eat far more protein with a roast than you actually need.

Don’t avoid potatoes: Roast potatoes are an integral part of the traditional roast and while they have a seemingly poor nutritional profile, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of potato. It’s all about the size of the portion you eat and what else you plate them with. Try to make the potato no more than ¼ of the space on your plate.

Make sure you add LOTS of vegetables: Roasting is one of the best ways to cook vegetables. They are simply delicious and you can easily pack a variety of vegetables into the meal. We also avoid peeling and chop the veg into large chunks so there’s no fussy prep work required.

Add flavour: Don’t be afraid to add unusual and strong flavours to your roast, the results can be spectacular. In the following recipe, a fresh burst of lemon juice and oregano adds a lot of flavour.

So. What does a Makeover recipe look like? Like this!

Oregano Roast Lamb with Vegetables

A Greek-inspired roast lamb, where the meat and vegetables are cooked together – so you’re only dirtying one pan – and the whole meal is served with natural yoghurt instead of gravy. To make sure all your veggies cook evenly within the time frame, try to cut them into similar-sized pieces, about 3cm. Serves 2

2 onions

1 bunch beetroot –  roots and leaves

2 carrots

400 – 450g potatoes

2 sticks celery

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 lemon

1 tablespoon dried oregano

600g Frenched (well-trimmed) lamb shanks – 1 large, or 2 smaller

1/3 cup natural yoghurt

  •  Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  •  Prepare most of the vegetables: Trim the ends off the onions and peel away the papery skin. Cut each into 6 wedges. Cut the leaves off the beetroots and put these to one side. Scrub the beetroots, carrots, potatoes and celery – don’t worry about peeling unless they’re very grubby and marked. Cut into chunks, roughly 3 cm – this is important as you want the vegetables to cook evenly. Place all the vegetables in a large baking tray. Pour over the olive oil and gently turn the vegetables over, until they are covered in oil.
  • Flavour the lamb: Juice the lemon, pouring the juice into a shallow bowl and putting the leftover lemon shells in with the vegetables. Add the oregano to the lemon juice and then season with salt and pepper. Put the lamb shanks in the lemon and oregano marinade and rub the mixture into the flesh.
  • Cook the roast: Place the shanks on top of the vegetables, in the baking tray and pour any leftover marinade over the top. Place the tray in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. At the end of this time, remove the tray and gently turn over the vegetables and lamb. Return to the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes.
  • Prepare the greens: While the roast is cooking give the beetroot greens a good wash. You may need to do this in two changes of water. Roughly chop into thick strips.
  • Rest the lamb and cook the greens: At the end of the 30 minute cooking time, take the baking tray out of the oven. Remove the lamb to a plate, cover with tin foil and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Add the chopped greens to the tray and quickly toss them in the juices at the bottom of the pan. Place back in the oven for 7 – 10 minutes, until the greens are wilted.
  • To serve: Once the vegetables are cooked, serve the lamb shanks and vegetables with the natural yoghurt on the side.

For more ideas on making over the meals you love take a look at our publication An Honest Kitchen: Makeovers. An Honest Kitchen (http://anhonestkitchen.com.au/) is a regular publication all about real food that’s good for you. Each issue is full of simple recipes, practical cooking information and healthy eating advice. Our latest edition, Makeovers, in which we revamp popular meals is available in e-format from 11 June.