Roasted Butternut Squash, Spinach and Quinoa Fritatta

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I was reading an article in the NZ Herald yesterday about food establishments that had closed due to poor food safety and generally filthy conditions.  The pictures and descriptions included in the article were pretty stomach churning and enough to put you off your lunch.  Unless of course you packed it yourself!  I have always been a great lover of picnics and packed lunches, of opening up little parcels of home cooked goodness and my eldest son loves it too.  As soon as we hop in the car he asks if he can have something from his lunch box.  Not only is it usually a healthier option than eating out but it is so much cheaper.

This frittata is usually a weeknight dinner for us but it makes enough to fill our lunch boxes the next day.  Hot or cold it is delicious and a hearty tummy filler.

If you can pre-roast the butternut squash it will make the recipe much quicker, simply peel it and cut it into cubes, pour over a tablespoon of olive oil and toss together with a little salt and pepper.  Then spread on  baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and bake at 180’c/350’f for around 30 minutes or until soft.

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 You can also prepare the quinoa in advance, just rinse 1/2 a cup of quinoa and throw it in a saucepan with 1 cup of cold water.  Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer, pop a lid on and cook for 10-15 minutes or until all of the water has been absorbed.  Then take it off the heat, but leave the lid on and allow the quinoa to steam for another 10 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and transfer to a bowl and set aside until required.

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When you are ready to bake the frittata simply line a baking dish of 25cm/10″ x 15cm/6″ with baking paper and gather the ingredients together.  Beat the milk, eggs and baking powder together with a 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper.  Add in the garlic, quinoa and parmesan, the spinach and *sun dried tomatoes and mix until well combined, then carefully fold in the butternut squash.

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Now simply pour the mixture into the lined baking dish using a butter knife to distribute the ingredients evenly throughout the dish and finally crumble the feta over the top.

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Place in the middle of the oven and bake for about an hour at 180’c/350’f, you will know when it is cooked as the top will puff up evenly and be a sumptuous golden brown calling you to dig in!

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 It divides into 6 generous portions and you can serve it with seasonal veggies or a salad.  Cucumbers have just become affordable again and happen to be a certain 3 year olds favourite salad ingredient so we had a cucumber ladened Greek style salad with ours.  Yum!

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Roasted butternut squash, spinach and quinoa frittata

prep time: 35 minutes (from scratch), 10 mins if squash and quinoa are prepared ahead of time, cook time: 1 hour
Serves: 6, cost per serve: $2.00 (Using free-range eggs) 

 

Ingredients:

  • 650g butternut squash peeled and cubed
  • 85g/1/2 cup quinoa
  • 250ml/1 cup water
  • 8 eggs
  • 200ml/3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp of each salt and pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 30g/1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 6 or 7 sun-dried tomatoes diced
  • 100g/1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and excess liquid removed
  • 100g/2/3 cup feta, danish style or soft goats cheese
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180’c/350’f.  Peel the butternut squash and chop in to 1-2inch cubes.  Toss with a little olive oil, some salt and pepper, place on a lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until soft.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Prepare the quinoa by rinsing in cold water then place in a saucepan with 250ml/1cup of cold water.  Bring to the boil then pop the lid on and reduce the heat.  Cook for 10-15 mins or until all of the water has been absorbed.  Remove from the heat but leave the lid on and allow to steam for a further 10 minutes.  Once it has steamed fluff it with a fork and set aside to cool.
  3. If you did step 1 in advance preheat the oven again to 180’c/350’f.  Line a baking dish 25cm/10″ x 15cm/6″ with baking paper.
  4. In a large bowl beat the eggs, milk and baking powder together with the salt and pepper.
  5. Add in the garlic, quinoa, parmesan, sun dried tomatoes and spinach.  Stir until combined, then carefully fold in the butternut squash.
  6. Pour the mixture in to the prepared baking dish then top with the Danish style feta and grate over a little nutmeg.
  7. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for around an hour.  The frittata will turn golden brown and puff up when cooked.

Serve hot or cold with seasonal veggies, salad or on its own…Enjoy

Notes: *If you can find sun dried tomatoes that aren’t jarred you will save a bundle, I buy a 500g bag for around $5.00 at my favourite bulk food shop.  When you want to use them simply rehydrate them slightly by placing them in a small bowl and covering them with boiling water.  Allow them to stand for 5 minutes and they are ready to use.

Grapefruit Cordial

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Every other garden seems to sport a grapefruit tree here in Auckland so if you don’t have one of your own you are bound to know someone with one.  More often than not the tree is a prolific producer so some are given away, some are eaten but there is still a tonne of fruit to deal with.  We don’t have a grapefruit tree of our own but our neighbours do and they aren’t particularly fond of the citrusy goodness it offers at this time of year so they often deliver a bag or two which we eat for breakfast, toss in salads and then the rest usually gets turned into marmalade.

A day or two after our last delivery I was wondering what to do with the glut of fruit sitting on the kitchen table when my gardening magazine arrived with a recipe for grapefruit cordial.  I hadn’t thought about making cordial before as we don’t usually drink it, but I read the recipe, which was just a paragraph long, and thought I would give it a go.  I consulted a couple of other preserving books I have to fill in the gaps, as the recipe in the mag was fairly brief.

After a couple of goes I have come up with the following recipe, which is so quick and easy it is well worth a go if you too have a surplus of this vitamin C rich fruit.

So it comprise of just three ingredients; grapefruit juice, sugar and water.  You can juice your grapefruit however you like but if you use an electric juicer just make sure you separate the juice from the foam it produces, I do this by letting it sit for 5 minutes allowing the foam to rise to the surface, spooning the worst of it off then sieving the remaining juice.  You could use a jelly bag or some muslin to strain it , but I was too lazy…quick and easy is what I was going for!

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Next place the sugar and water in a large saucepan or stockpot and bring to the boil.  From this point the cordial doesn’t take very long so while the sugar syrup is reaching temperature wash your bottles and stick them into an oven preheated to 140’C to sterilise them.  Leave them in there until you are ready to bottle the cordial, hot liquid into hot bottles to avoid the glass cracking.sugar syrup and bottles

When the syrup comes to the boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.  Then add in the juice and bring back to the boil.  Skim off any impurities that rise to the surface and allow to simmer for a further 5 minutes.

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Remove from the heat and if you like you can add in a teaspoon of citric acid to give it a little more sour or a teaspoon of tartaric acid which will enhance the truly unique grapefruit bitter, then simply pour into your hot sterile bottles.

To serve just add a splash in the bottom of a glass then top with a tonne of ice, fill with water to the brim and you have a truly superb sunny day quencher. Yum!

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GrapeFruit Cordial

Prep Time10 mins, cook time: 15 mins
total cost: $2.00 (Price of the sugar), makes 2 litres

Ingredients:

  • 1 litre/4 cups water
  • 800g/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 litre/4 cups grapefruit juice
  • 1tsp citric acid, 1tsp tartaric acid – optional

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 140’C
  2. Place the water and sugar into a large saucepan or stockpot and slowly bring to the boil.
  3. Prepare your bottles by washing them in hot soapy water, then rinse well and place them in the oven until you are ready to bottle the cordial.  
  4. When the sugar and water syrup reaches boiling point then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add in the grapefruit juice, bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the cordial from the heat and whisk in the citric and/or tartaric acid (if using) then pour into your bottles and cap straight away.
  7. Allow to cool then label and store in the fridge for up to 3 months.

Back to Basics: Chicken Stock

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I have been trying to get back into the garden, Oscar and I did manage a few hours together last weekend and again today.  We did a bit of weeding and tidied up the strawberry patch and then today we gave them a good feed and mulched them with some lovely barley straw.  We also planted some radish and carrot seeds last week, which, to Oscar’s delight have sprouted already.  Each day we check their progress, radishes are quick to germinate, they don’t require a lot of space and are ready to eat in about 8 weeks so they are great fun for kids to grow.  If you have a fussy eater they might be more willing to try if they have grown it themselves too.2

Anyway back to the cooking.  I thought I would share my stock recipe, it is one of those things that for a little effort (and I really mean little) you get a really tasty reward that will boost the flavour of  a variety of dishes.  It costs virtually nothing as you use the bones left over from your roast chicken and it pretty much cooks itself simmering away while you go about your chores.

You can make this stock with the bones of just one chicken but for a fuller flavour I prefer to freeze the bones until I have a second carcass.  Also if you haven’t used the meat juices from the bottom of your roasting pan to make your gravy then save those too and add them into the stock.

So start by taking your chicken bones and placing them in a large saucepan of stock pot.

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A couple of carrots, an onion or two, a stick of celery, a bay leaf and half a dozen peppercorns are all you need.

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Place them in the pot with the chicken bones.

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Next cover with cold water.

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Bring to the boil, them reduce to a simmer.  Skim off any foam that collects on the surface.

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Continue to cook over a gentle heat for 2-3 hours.  You don’t need to pay it much attention, just skim off the foam as it forms on the surface and then leave it be.

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After 2 or 3 hours the carcasses will have broken down and the stock will have reduced by about half.  If you think it is reducing too quickly simply top it up with a little water and reduce the heat,  Low and slow is the key here.  When you are happy with the flavour of your stock simply remove from the heat, allow it to cool slightly then strain it through a sieve.

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Now it is ready to be turned into whatever you want and chicken stock is so versatile you have plenty of options.  Try a risotto using some of the leftovers from your roast chicken or a delicious chicken noodle soup.  It will keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days or freeze it for use at a later date.


Back to Basics: chicken stock

prep time: 5 mins, cook time: 2-3 hours
Cost: less than $1

Ingredients:

  • The carcasses of 2 roast chickens
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 bay leaf
  • half a dozen black peppercorns

Method:

  1. Place all of the ingredients in to a large saucepan or stock pot and cover with cold water.
  2. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
  3. Skim off the foam and any impurities that rise to the surface.
  4. Continue to cook slowly for 2-3 hours.
  5. When the stock has reduced and you are happy with the flavour and intensity remove it from the heat and allow to cool slightly before straining through a sieve.
  6. Discard the bones and vegetables and your stock is ready to use or store.