Sunday, 30 October 2011

A-marketing and a-pickling and a-quiche-making

I hadn’t been to the Victoria Market for a while, but when E mentioned the sudden appearance of mangos about town I was down there like a shot. And what a transformation had taken place! There were verily mangoes, for like a dollar each, but also huge smooth eggplants at $2 a kilo instead of the shrivelled seedy $7/kilo offerings of a few weeks ago. Lebanese cucumbers were $1.50/kg, and so were delicate little zucchinis. I also loaded up with $1 strawberries, $5/kg swiss mushrooms, $1 bunches of baby asparagus, $2 silverbeet and loads of other stuff, and was back on the train to Parliament without even needing to go to the bank. Amazing what can be managed when spring has sprung and the Meat Hall and Deli is left for another more prosperous week – one that hasn’t seen expenditure on tax bills and flights to Europe, don’t you know. (It’s the one week of the year I can sound this sick-makingly yuppieish, and I’m trying it on for size.)

So because all this largesse wouldn’t fit into my narrow fridge, I had to think like a frugal pre-war housewife and preserve it and generally use it up some other way. I’ve never pickled anything before, but Alida Irwin’s all over it and has been known to ask for Fowler's Vacola sealing rings for Xmas. And so, unlike a pre-war housewife, I googled cucumber pickles and zucchini pickles and was rewarded with the Zuni Café’s zucchini. No sterilising, too easy with the food processor slicing attachment, and at last an opportunity to get out the Japanese pickle press.
The small pickle press could barely handle half a kilo of zucchini...
...but lo, it gave up its juices and reduced by half.

And then I made Dr Ben’s Cucumber Kimchi, scaling it down to three cucumbers.

 To use up some ingredients to eat sooner, I took a leaf out of Martha Stewart’s website, and another out of Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table, which I’ve done before, and sort of made up a leek and asparagus quiche. For the pastry case, I followed Martha Stewart’s Favourite Pie Crust just because it was there, with the addition of 15 minutes’ blind-baking in a 180C oven.

 a bit of butter
a clove or two of garlic, finely chopped
1 large leek or 2 small, sliced
2 bunches asparagus, sliced into 2cm bits
4 eggs
a cup of milk and cream, proportions as desired – I went half & half, then to the gym
2 tablespoons seedy mustard
some thyme leaves

Saute garlic in the butter until fragrant, add the leeks for a few minutes, then the asparagus for about 8 minutes until reaching tenderness but still bright green. Allow to cool slightly before adding to the waiting blind-baked pastry case.

Briefly whisk together with a fork the eggs, mustard, thyme, and milk/cream, and salt and pepper. Pour over the leek and asparagus, and put in the still-on 180C oven for about an hour or until it’s golden on top and only moves slightly when jiggled.

Meanwhile, the rest is earmarked for later – there will be Ottolenghi’s Mango Soba Noodles with Aubergine and Mango, a recipe beloved of the Quiltmaker, and Roasted Cauliflower with Dill from the same book, Plenty, and spanakopita, and an actual cooked breakfast of mushroom and spinach. And by Cup Day it will all be gone.

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