‘Cado, pineapple and ‘mato salad

Last night, I mentioned that, I was still searching for a suitable side to go with my Kumara curry and salmon hash browns…after five years, can you believe it? I’ve been getting by with rocket salads but I kinda hate rocket…if I’m absolutely honest about it…

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So, on Wednesday afternoon, I sat down with a lot of coffee and considered the problem. What textures and flavours would complement but not compete with the textures and flavours of the hash browns and salmon. There is just a hint of curry in the hashes, mixed with the salt of the salmon and smooth cheesiness of the sour cream that holds the stack together. Overall it’s quite sweet and smooth.

It all came together quickly after I thought of an avocado base….smooth and sweet…with pineapple, sweet with a fibrous texture…with diced tomato…more tart and something else to bite into. Originally I was going to warm this mix in the microwave – it is winter after all – but opted for a natural heat from a sauce derived from the fried avocado tacos at The Guardian by blending all these together:

1 cup of sour cream

2 small chillies

2 gloves of garlic

1 tablespoon of lime juice

1 bunch of coriander

a smidgen of salt and pepper

The black rice was an afterthought left over from the previous night’s beets, feta and rice…I wasn’t really sure what to do with it otherwise but it worked well in our salad.

The first night I only used a teaspoon-sized dollop of the sauce on the salad – wasn’t enough to appreciate all the flavours. I had one hash stack left over plus about a cup and a half of the salad and other stuff in the fridge from a  week of cooking that I needed to consume to free up fridge space.

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So this is Take Two: one curry kumara salmon stack reheated in the microwave (it was already cooked: normally, I would keep the hash mix uncooked), with a goodly amount of greek yogurt on top, with the salad accompanied by a decent-sized dollop of the coriander and chili sauce, topped with feta from the beets and rice dinner…

Mmmm…primo!!!! A great blend of flavours and textures, with bonus points for good use of left-overs…less points for unused salmon which I just remembered is still sitting in the fridge…

…so tomorrow’s challenge may involve smoked salmon, streaky bacon, feta, sour cream, greek yoghurt, a tomato and an avocado. The rest of the pineapple – all fresh here no canned stuff – is destined for smoothies with banana, chia seed, coconut milk and tumeric…

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If we were having coffee

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how great it has been having Mum and Dad come to visit for the last week…we even got some halfway decent weather…

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Leaving on the Northern Explorer, heading south…

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Louie found a new walking buddy

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A quiet spot in the sun

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Can’t keep some people out of the garden

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Dad discovers the media centre remote…

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how great it has been having people to cook for the last week. Breakfast and lunch are pretty much self-help here but our dinner menu was pretty on to it:

Day One: Roast Baby Armadillo on a potato, kumara, parsnip mash. This is quick and easy. I only made half the recipe but added the full cup of milk to the bread which made it a bit gooey. I fixed this with a half cup of almond coconut meal (left over from almond coconut milk) which a. worked to soak up the extra milk and b. added an interesting flavour and texture twist to the meat loaf.

Day Two: South African Curry with brown rice. This can be made with meat or not but I had 500 grams of mice left over from the baby armadillo and, due to my currently congested fridge space, this was a good way of consuming it.

Day Three: Fruit Salad Curry with brown rice.

Day FourChicken and Potato Chowder. My plan was to have this with homemade bread but I got a bit careless and put into too much water. The result was a bread with a heart so hard it burst out of the when I tipped up the breadmaker bowl.

Day Five: Beets and Goat Feta on Black Rice. This was the first time I’ve made this with raw beets. These worked as well as if not better than the precooked one I snagged form the supermarket last time by accident.I did go over on the olive oil and had to up the honey and balsamic to compensate…it all worke don the day though..

Day Six: Curry Kumara Hash Browns with Salmon and a neat salad. These hash browns are really nice but I’ve never been able to find a decent side to go with them. In the past I have relied on a dodgy rocket salad but I’m not really a big rocket person. Last night I tried a bit of an experimental salad and sauce that worked really – both of them…more to follow on that soon…

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how impressed I was when the train arrived 15 minutes early on Friday…but then it was almost 15 minutes late this afternoon – life balances out but the lesson is to wait in the cafe with your coffee and the crispy fire until it actually pulls up…

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I’m humbled to have gained a seat on the National Park Community Board. Elections aren’t until October but the position wasn’t contested so it’s done and dusted. I’ve probably just signed myself for even more work but I’ve got some catching up to do getting into this community. I’ve lived up here since 2004 but it’s only been since I started to work in the Park that I’ve started to get involved…yes, I do miss the Defence travel sometimes but it doesn’t outweigh coming home each night…

If we were having coffee, I’d be telling you how excited I am to be getting into some new ventures in the Park…

Beets, feta and rice

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

Source: Dream | The Daily Post

This is one of those kitchen experiences where everything just came together perfectly…a dream to prepare and more so to consume…

The foundation was another of Jen Rice’s cracker recipes, Roasted Beets With Goat Cheese And Honey…if you have any interest at all in spicing up your kitchen and your diet, you really must check out Jen’s site Sugar Soil: it’s chock full of great ideas and cues to try different ingredients. Living in rural New Zealand, our local shops don’t have the same range of more exotic items as larger centres: at the moment, I’m making regular purchases from Happy and Healthy for things like root tumeric, agar, black rice and bulk almonds and chia seeds.

Anyway…as I’ve discussed on a couple of occasions previously, my green journey is driven by a desire to eat and be more healthy and less by any philosophical issues – although the Hot Doc’s insights into what gets pumped into commercial chicken and cattle gives me pause – so I’ve not gone entirely vegetarian or diary-free, just adjusted my habits for more healthy outcomes…which is why I’m quite comfortable with the dairy content of this particular dish…

As you can see, it is quite simple to prepare but I did make some minor changes:

I thought that I was buying baby beets at the supermarket: I was but it was only when I opened the packets to actually use them that I realised that they were precooked. I should have and will in future just buy normal beetroot.

Jen’s cooking time for this is up to four hours in the oven – I don’t get home from work til around 6 and there is no way that I will be waiting til after 10PM for dinner. My cunning plan was to just toss it all in the slow cooker while I was at work. This sounded like a good plan until I found that the beets were precooked.

I wanted a rice base to bulk it out as a meal – as writ in the original recipe it is more a snack or an entree than a meal in its own right – so set up a cup of black rice to pre-soak through the day so that the only cooking and delay in the evening would be cooking the rice.

I couldn’t find any goat feta locally so opted for the stuff from cows…I think I’ll survive.

I used black sea salt instead of normal salt – I bought some of this just to try but then found I had run out of normal salt any way so it is going into anything calling for salt.

I warmed the honey so it would mix better with the balsamic and spread over the beets.

I was worried that the precooked beets would just turn into mush after a day in the slow cooker. I needn’t have worried as they were still nice and firm when I nervously lifted the lid off that evening.

From there it was just a matter of flicking the rice cooker to ‘cook’ and dicing up a third of the feta…and then racing up to the National Park Village just before it closed to get the Greek yogurt that I had forgotten on my way home – they had none so I had to settle for natural yogurt: not a biggie for this non yogurt connoisseur. They only had a mega container though so will be applying yogurt to the next week or so of meals just to burn it up…

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Yes, my plating still needs work but OM-bloody-G!!! Did this taste good or what??? The best meal I have eaten in a long time – if I do say so myself – even better than the coriander tacos from Eat in Ohakune or my meal at Kokako the last time I was in Auckland and I COOKED IT!!!!

The challenge now is to be able to recreate this success next time. yes, it is possible that the sugars in the beets and the honey contributed to some extent to my sky-rocket level of satisfaction and enjoyment but then my serving also filled me up…

Whether by accident, chance or skill (most likely one of the first two!), this meal offers a great combination of texture and flavour:

The soft smooth beet, yoghurt and cheese is offset by the texture of the black rice.

The sweetness of the beets and rice is balanced by the more tart cheese and yoghurt.

Even the colours work well with the dark red of the beets and the black of the rice contrasted nicely by the lighter cheese and yoghurt.

There’s not really anything that I would change about my ingredients or preparation of this dish – if it ain’t broke… – other than use raw beets next time and see if I can find some Greek yoghurt…This was the first time that I had used the black sea salt and the black rice but both performed well: many recipes mention the need to soak the black rice overnight but it came out well after soaking through the day and also came out of the rice cooker, even after presoaking, better and cleaner than normal white rice…

15 out of 10 on the yummilicious scale!!!!